girls’ night

Jordan stays late working hard in the psych lab on Thursday nights. I get together with my cousin Katie and my neighbor/new favorite person Robin. We make cocktails and dinner and have a grand old time just us girls, Willow and Honey included.

This Thursday, Robin took the reigns and made a delicious barley and mushroom risotto. I made a salad with arrugula, baby spinach, blood orange and candied nuts. Today, I’ll share my recipe for candied nuts that are perfect in just about any salad.  This recipe was inspired by incredible green beans that my friend Katie Norton made for me while we were in college. (Katie is now a pastry chef in D.C. and you can visit her blog here). Oh how I wish she could attend our girls’ nights!

Candied Walnuts, great for salads or as a ice cream topping
1/2 – 3/4 cup walnuts
2 T butter
1/2 cup sugar, white or brown
2 t worcestershire sauce
a dash of paprika
a dash of salt

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sugar. Melt the sugar, stirring occasionally until it becomes carmel in color. Add the paprika, salt and worcestershire sauce. Stir. Turn off the heat and add the nuts. Stir to coat. Pour the nuts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. As they cool, you can break them into appropriately sized pieces. Toss with salad and enjoy!



baking therapy: blood orange olive oil cake

I’ve never made or eaten an olive oil cake, but I generally like all things in loaf form and this recipe from Smitten Kitchen was absolutely irresistible. A special thanks to Deb of Smitten Kitchen for doing all of the legwork and finding the most perfect olive oil cake. This cake is delightful, moist, citrusy and balanced with a delicate olive oil flavor – a wonderful dessert or breakfast. Without a doubt, I’m adding it to the permanent repertoire.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Compote, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the cake:
Butter for greasing the pan
2 blood oranges
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

Whipped cream and orange-honey compote,  for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. Grate zest of 2 oranges into a bowl. Add sugar and mix with your hands to evenly distribute zest.

Halve one of the oranges and juice it into another bowl. Add buttermilk. Pour mixture into the sugar-zest mixture and whisk well. Whisk in olive oil and eggs.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gently fold dry ingredients into wet ones. Mix until just combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50 – 55 minutes. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes and then unmold. Serve with orange-honey compote and whipped cream.

For the compote:
2 blood oranges
2 navel oranges, tangelos, or other citrus fruit
1 – 2 T honey

Supreme the 4 oranges. Cut off bottom and top of fruit so it sits upright on the cutting board. Cut away the peel and pith following the curve of the fruit. Cut the orange segments out of their connective membranes and let them fall into a bowl. Drizzle with honey and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir and serve with cake.