Friday, May 31, 2013

Upside-Down Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze

If you visit the Minnetrista Farmer's Market at this time of year there won't be much available yet in terms of produce, but one thing that many stands have now is rhubarb.  Growing up in Minnesota, we always had rhubarb in the spring and early summer and it is one of my favorites.  My sisters and I used to pick stalks off the plant in our yard and chew on it while playing outside.  We imagined that it made us "cool" that we were able to tolerate eating something so tart.

This cake highlights the tart flavor of the rhubarb, while providing a sweet background of delicious cake and gooey glaze.  Although the rhubarb starts out on top, it will move to the bottom while baking. So for that reason, I decided to serve the cake upside-down.  This cake is easy to make and scrumptious to eat.  My kids gobbled it up!

Cake Ingredients
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze Ingredients
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray and dust with flour; set aside.
  2. Mix rhubarb and the 1/4 cup sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together all remaining cake ingredients until well blended.
  4. Pour batter into the prepared pan and evenly distribute the sugared rhubarb over the top of the batter.  
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Run a knife around the outside of the cake and tip the cake out onto a serving tray.  While the cake cools, make the glaze.
  7. Combine all glaze ingredients in a small bowl and beat until smooth with a whisk.  If necessary, microwave it for a few seconds to melt any lumps.
  8. Drizzle glaze over the cake.  Serve.

Adapted from Strawberries and Cream Coffee Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Zoopolis 500 - The Greatest Spectacle in Tortoise Racing

Today, Andrew and I decided to take advantage of the Indianapolis Zoo membership we bought this year to attend their annual Zoopolis 500.  This event is always held the Wednesday before the Indy 500 and this year was the 33rd running of the Zoopolis 500.  We were a little worried about the weather when we were driving through pouring rain on I-69 to get there.   At one point, I even completely lost sight of the road.  But luckily the storm passed and we had perfect weather the whole morning at the zoo.  We had a great time and enjoyed a special day together!
Winners drink milk 

Posing with the 500 Festival princesses

Buttercup, the American Dairy Association mascot 
Kiburi, one of the Indianapolis Zoo mascots 
Indianapolis Motor Speedway chief announcer Mike King talks to race car driver Tony Kanaan about Sunday's race

The pricesses and mascots parade in before the big race
At last, here come the 5 radiated tortoises that will race

The tortoises in their parade wagon

Loading the tortoises into the starting gate

And they're off!
Go go go!
Will it be Marco or Scott for the win?
Its a tie!  Cheers from the audience pick Marco as the winner
Tortoises don't drink milk, so the pit crew takes on that task for Marco.  (Meanwhile, multiple TV cameras are filming every second of this guy drinking milk.)

The reward for the tortoises is lots of fresh fruit

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

One of the best things I get to do every month, without my kids, is attend my Ball State Women's Club activities.  I'm a member of their Ladies' Gourmet cooking interest group, which is just so much fun.  Each month, 4-5 of the members take a turn cooking a themed dinner for the rest of the group.  We've had some awesome themes such as South American, Egyptian, Southern Hospitality, and Taste of Barefoot Contessa.

Tonight, our group is having its end of the year bring-a-guest potluck.  Normally, I attend this potluck solo since getting a babysitter on a weeknight is not something we prefer to do.  But this year, my Dad is visiting me from Minnesota for the week, so I am delighted to bring him as my guest.

The theme of this year's potluck is "Take a Page From Your Favorite Cookbook".  I would have to say my favorite cookbook is a binder of my own recipes that I have adjusted and tailored to my tastes.  I rarely use any other cookbook since I get most of my recipe ideas from the internet.  So, tonight I'm bringing a double batch of my Southwestern Quinoa Salad from my binder.  Its one of my favorite dishes.  I love it so much I think I could eat it every day!

Southwestern Quinoa Salad
·      1 cup quinoa
·      2 cups water
·      1 can of no-salt added corn, drained
·      1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
·      4 green onions, sliced
·      2 TBS lemon or lime juice
·      2 TBS cider vinegar
·      4 TBS honey
·      1 tsp salt
·      1 tsp ground mustard powder
·      1 tsp cumin
·      3 TBS chopped cilantro (optional)

Place the quinoa and the water into a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and cook until all water is absorbed (10-15 minutes). When done, the grains will appear translucent. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and let cool.

Put the corn, black beans, green onions, and cooked quinoa into a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon or lime juice, vinegar, honey, salt, mustard powder, and cumin.  Stir the dressing into the salad.  Mix in the chopped cilantro, if using.

Chopped tomatoes and/or bell peppers can also be put in this salad, if you like them.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rhubarb Crumb Bars

A couple days ago a friend of mine who works at the Downtown Farm Stand posted on Facebook that rhubarb was in stock.  I was there within 30 minutes!  I wasn't really sure what I wanted to make with it, but I love rhubarb baked goods.  Today, I baked these absolutely delicious rhubarb bars as an after school snack.  We weren't quite able to get ourselves to wait until the bars were cooled before eating them, but they were very delicious warm!

Rhubarb Crumb Bars
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 24 bars

4 cups fresh rhubarb (chopped into 1/4 inch pieces)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick spray.

In a bowl, stir together 1/2 cup sugar, the cornstarch and rhubarb. Let this sit while you make the shortbread dough.

Place 1 cup sugar, baking powder, flour, butter, egg, salt, and cinnamon in a food processor.  Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Pour the crumb mixture into a bowl and gently stir a couple times, if any of the sugar or flour didn't get fully incorporated.

Pat about 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan.  Spread rhubarb mixture evenly over the crust.  Crumble remaining dough over the rhubarb layer.

Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until top is slightly brown.  Cool completely before cutting into squares. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

New Minnetrista Shop

If you haven't heard, Minnetrista has combined their two different gift shops into one new expanded gift shop, located in the Orchard Shop space.  I have loved shopping the Minnetrista shops since I moved to Muncie to get unique and local gifts.

I decided to stop by today and check out the new digs and I was impressed.  I was especially excited to see they have added an ice cream novelty freezer.  I can't wait to take the boys for a treat while exploring the gardens or walking in the nature area.  And I couldn't leave without buying something for myself, a new bird feeding stand shaped like a red gerbera daisy.  (I used Mother's Day as an excuse!)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fancy After School Snack

Last Saturday I went with a group for lunch at The Ruby Pear, a tea room in a historic home in Noblesville.  I really enjoyed the experience and I look forward to taking the boys sometime for an extra-special outing.  The tea I had there was the best tea I've ever had in my life!  One of my favorite parts of the lunch were the cucumber tea sandwiches.  They had an herbed cream cheese on them that made them much more delicious than any other cucumber sandwiches I've tried before.

Since we had leftover cream cheese, plus a cucumber on hand from a previous produce delivery from The Downtown Farm Stand, I thought today would be a great day to re-create that cucumber sandwich for my lunch.

In my mini food processor, I blended 4 oz of cream cheese with some fresh dill, a few chives, and a couple shakes of garlic powder.  That herbed cream cheese spread on some bread with some thin slices of cucumbers really hit the spot on this warm day.

After school I turned the remaining herbed cream cheese, cucumber slices, the dill, and some whole wheat crackers over to the boys and they had a great time making little after school hors d'oeuvres with them.