Monday, September 11, 2017

Comfort Foods & Recipe for Linda's Lemon Cake



Look for my upcoming peice in the Falmouth Enterprise, Fall Home Supplement. I wrote an article offering ideas for using slightly healthier alternatives in our favorite comfort foods.

We can have the comfort we crave and eat healthy too! I shared a delicious recipe there for a healthier version to a baked Macaroni and Cheese. I made it yesterday, pictured above, to have throughout the week to add to my daughters school lunch. The recipe calls for cottage cheese as a healthier option and tastes delicious.

In case you'd like to bake yourself a bit of comfort this week here is my recipe for Linda's Supreme Lemon Cake included in my cookbook "Meet me in My Cape Cod Kitchen: Recipes for Seaside Living" (Published by Schiffer, 2015) that I mentioned in last weeks post. If you decide to make it be sure to share with a friend or two.

It's an easy recipe and so moist.

Linda's Supreme Lemon Cake

For the Cake:

2 sticks butter, unsalted and softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup grated lemon zest

For the Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease well a 48 ounce Bundt pan. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar, and butter at medium speed, scraping bowl often until creamy (2 to 3 minutes). Mix in lemon juice and buttermilk until well blended (about a minute).
2) In separate bowl mix together flour, powder, soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture and mix well.
3) Continue mixing on low adding the eggs one at a time and then mix in the vanilla until well blended then mix in the lemon zest.
4) Pour batter into greased bundt pan. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
5) Let cake cool 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack to cool completely.
6) To make the glaze, in small bowl, stir all ingredients. Generously spread on cake as desired.




Friday, August 25, 2017

Linda's Lemon Cake & Small Acts of Kindness




"No act of Kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." ~Aesop

     I get compliments often, either from people who have used my recipe themselves or eaten a slice of a Lemon Cake I  personally baked about how yummy it is. It feels so good to make people a little bit happier from something so simple as a thick slice of just baked lemon cake.  It's a Bundt cake with lots of fresh squeezed lemon juice in the recipe.
    Recently, one of my daughters traveled to see a friend in Malibu, California. They met in Boston at College last year and he invited her out for a visit. I knew she'd be staying in his family home so I decided to bake a few treats for them and drop in the mail so it would be there in California when she arrived as a thank you to the family for hosting her.
     My daughter was spending a week in Colorado before the California trip so it made sense that I send it directly to them in hopes it would arrive prior to her arrival.
       It seemed like such a small and easy act of kindness that would be appreciated. My daughter tells me they sat around the dinner table and enjoyed the fresh baked treats together. Later I received a super sweet hand-written note from the whole family thanking me.
Today, more than ever it feels as if we must keep offering our simple acts of kindness no matter how small they may seem because as the quote above suggests they are never wasted. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

New Story & Food Class available, Join Me!



Good Morning, I'm so excited to share my new online writing class with you called Story & Food!

 It's available through Story Circle Network, a wonderfully vibrant organization dedicated to supporting women to tell their stories.

At the end of the class you'll have your own collection of favorite recipes  and related personal stories as a keepsake for your own kitchen or available in time for holiday gifts.

Details can be found on the link below with a short video and a place for you to share with friends.

Story & Food with Linda Steele


Look forward to having you join me

Happy Story & Food to you!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Deep Gratitude for the Gift of the LIbrary

"If you have a garden and a library you have everything you need." ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

Last night I gave a talk about my book at the Brewster Ladies Library. I am so grateful for the chance to have spent a bit of time there. There was a lovely audience and the staff was super helpful. I brought fresh baked Lemon Cake and Celebration Cookies and didn't leave with a crumb. I talked about how my book came to be and shared personal stories around food.

We talked about some of my tricks of baking good rolled sugar cookies either frosted or not. And I described one of my favorite salads and how my Summer Vegetable Tart is a great light dinner option now.

I shared where my Nana's No Fail Sugar Cookie recipe came from too. One of the shapes I often bake are my Lobster Shaped cookies, pictured above. I feel so grateful for the gift of a good library and I want to offer a sincere thank you to Brewster Ladies Library for inviting me.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Shifting into Summer

"One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by." ~Jeanette Wells, The Glass Castle

Last weekend I hosted my first summer get together of 2017. I invited a few friends I had not seen in awhile over to enjoy appetizers and conversation on my deck.
As a woman born and raised in New England I can appreciate something about each of the seasons although it has always been and will be summer that has my heart. I love to host get together's in the summer. There's something light and fun about them that I don't feel as much throughout the year.
I love that the days are longer, the sky is often clear and the temperatures warm.
And spending a simple day at the beach is one of my all time favorite activities. People seem to be more friendly this time of year and life seems a little more simple.
Yet this summer in particular there has been an unexpected change in our plans as my youngest daughter fractured her elbow on the First day of Summer. Talk about bad timing!
I am doing what I can to help her stay comfortable and positive. In the meantime we may find ourselves reading more often the books that we've always wanted to read or sitting under a tree with a good friend enjoying a cold glass of lemonade or a popsicle. Maybe even trying a new creative interest.
Summer always seems to be about shifting gears to a slower pace and this summer especially I want to surrender to what the day has in store for us at a pace that feels comfortable.
And who knows, we may be pleasantly surprised at where our slower pace takes us in our creative pursuits.
Wishing you a joy-filled summer at a pace that feels right for you.
And I am wondering what do you do to Shift into Summer so you can enjoy more fully all it has to offer?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Aprons


Happy Friday & Happy Baking!

I've been working on a project for a few months now that I finally made progress on today and I'm excited to share it with you. I created a line of aprons that I can use as a gift package to go along with my book. I have starfish and whale shaped sugar cookie cutters too. I love the way they turned out.

You can now buy my book along with one of my apron designs and cookie cutters as a Gift or for yourself.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Potato, Fontina and Rosemary Tart with a Quick Story


Last Sunday I felt like being creative in my kitchen. I wanted to come up with tasty new combinations. We were expecting a snow storm so I decided to get a fire going early in the day.
I went shopping before the storm hit.

I already  knew I wanted a big pot of chicken soup to have on hand for the week. I love making new versions of tarts and quiche especially to go with hot fresh Soup so I came up with a Potato, Fontina and Rosemary tart.

It was yummy and so easy to throw together with just a few ingredients. I want to share it with you here. But first a quick story.

Last week, I was invited to be a speaker at a We Can Mentor Meeting.  As a Certified Women's Group Facilitator I want to support and inspire the women involved there to embrace a regular self care practice that could bring a sense of peace and renewal to their hectic lives.

I wanted to give them tools so they would know how and where to begin. The talk went well. The women were engaged and we shared thoughtful discussions around the topic of self-care. One of the women who attended looked familiar yet I couldn't quite place where I knew her from. As my talk came to a close she approached me and said " I remember you from the Ladies Night Out in Hyannis last year you were selling your book." She was there with a friend and they were looking for a gift for another friends birthday who used to live on the Cape but now resides in Arizona. There friend was turning 80. She bought my book that night and planned to give it to her friend the following week as they were planning to meet in Arizona for a birthday celebration.

The woman at my talk told me she just happened to chat with her friend a day earlier and she mentioned how much she absolutely loves my book! She said she enjoyed the stories and all the personal items I included. It was good to hear her kind words.

 When you create something --a poem, a work of art or a book and it goes out into the world it takes on a life of its own and you don't really know entirely what happens to it. When I put that book together it was a true labor of love and I was so glad to hear how much she enjoyed it.
The Potato, Fontina and Rosemary Tart is not in my collection as it's something new so I will share it here in case you feel inspired to give it a try,

Potato, Fontina and Rosemary Tart

1 Puff Pastry
4 medium sized potatoes, sliced thin (if you have a mandolin use that as you want the potatoes to be so thin they are transparent)
1 Cup fontina cheese, cut into small cubes
1 Tbsp. Rosemary

1) Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet roll out the puff pastry flat.
2) Place the potatoes in a circular motion to cover the pastry and top with the cubes of cheese. Sprinkle the rosemary on top.
3) Bake for about 25 minutes or until potatoes are soft and the pastry is puffed and brown.

Baker's Tip: If you don't have a mandolin and aren't sure you can slice the potatoes thin enough to cook through shortly you can place them in a bowl with a bit of water and place in microwave to pre-cook for about a minute.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Eve Menu & Wish List


I'm hosting a Christmas Eve Open House.  I love planning what I am going to make for a party. To one friend who asked what I was serving, I said, "the menu looks a lot like my life overall. Plenty of old traditional favorites and a few new food forays."

I  decided to make a large pot of  Chicken Noodle and Thyme Soup to have warm on the stove and a  crock-pot of meatballs and hot sausage. I'm serving a Green leaf Salad with fresh red berries. a baked brie with fig jam and chopped pecans wrapped in pastry dough. For something new, I'm making Lobster Cakes and roasted red pepper mini quiche.

For dessert, we're baking "Nana's no Fail Sugar Cookies", a blueberry pie and Double Chocolate Brownies. To add to what we traditionally serve, I also baked Italian Wedding Cookies and a Gingerbread Cake with a spiced glaze.

Among my guests, I invited a wonderful new friend I met at the writing group I attend and her husband. I  even invited my ex-husband's new girlfriend and her son. A friend told me, "wow, that takes a lot of courage." To be honest, I can't disagree with her on that. I'll always care about my family and my ex-husband is very much a part of that.

Besides, life is short (preciously so at times) and far too often we lose people we love or care about deeply because we don't have the courage it takes to hold a space for what we really want for ourselves or for them or even what they want for themselves.  At the end of the day, I want the people I care about to be happy above all else.

What do I want for Christmas?  I honestly can't say there is a single material thing I need or want. Last night my daughters and I had a dance party in our kitchen and after we laughed over a game of  "Catch Phrase" --I've decided all I want for Christmas is much more of that-laughter and dancing with my daughters.

Whatever you are hoping for this Christmas, my wish is that you receive it. Dream big and remember the best gifts are the unexpected ones!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Simple Recipes for Surviving First Apartment


It's been a great summer here and although there's so much to love about the Fall, I feel a little sad to see the summer go. I'm so grateful all of my kids have been happy, healthy and home and I have thoroughly enjoyed having them here.
 Over the past week with the reality setting in that two of my three beloveds are going back to college, and I know denial won't stall this fact, I've been thinking of things I might do to help send them off and get them settled.
 My daughter Bella is starting her Junior year at Lesley University and has decided to rent an apartment in Boston with a few of her friends. It's such an exciting opportunity for her and yet it will be a big change because they won't have the luxury of going to the cafeteria for a quick meal before or after class!  As mom, I don't want her to starve or only eat ice cream and tortilla chips.
 So when she asked me recently if I might write out a few easy food recipes to help her get started I thought that was a great idea. She's a great help around the house, but she's simply not used to preparing her own meals.
 Then it got me thinking that would make a great cook book collection for young adults starting out-something like

"Simple Recipes so you won't Starve in Your First Apartment" .

For now, I will start with a small collection of hand written recipes I can send along with her. And maybe a bag of groceries or two.
The first three I thought of are Big Salads, Basmati Rice with Fruit and Cashews and Avocado Quesadilla's. Each are healthy, fresh, with minimal ingredients and easy to prepare.
Big Salads at our house are simply a combination of fresh chopped leafy greens, fruit, nuts and vegetables with a light home made dressing of balsamic vinegar, honey and garlic and maybe a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
The Avocado Quesadilla's are thin slices of avocado, sharp cheddar cheese grilled with two buttered tortilla's and browned on a skillet until the cheese melts. The Basmati Rice dish is something so simple that I've made for years especially in the fall when everyone seems to head in different directions and you need something ready made to grab and go.

Basmati Rice with Blueberries and Cashews

1) Cook the rice as directed. Basically it's one cup rice per one and a half cup of water and a dash of salt. Let the water boil then reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes. Basmati rice has a nice nutty flavor that is great for adding and blending in different fruits and nuts of choice.
2) Mix into the rice a cup of fresh blueberries and a cup of chopped cashews stir until blended.
3) Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, the blueberry juice from the fresh blueberries will melt into the rice a little and the combination is so simple and good.

We have also made this rice dish with fresh peaches, we often add the peach juice to give it a sweeter taste or we add pecans instead of the cashews. When winter arrives and there is less fresh fruit available we opt for mixing in frozen spinach with the cashews and rice instead then adding salt and pepper to taste and a Tbsp. or so of butter for a bit of creaminess.

And I hope she knows she can always come to visit and I will make her something to eat.


Friday, July 22, 2016

The Joy of Having Daughter's with Summer Birthdays

"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability". Sam Keen


In the past month, we have celebrated my daughter's turning 12 and 20. I feel so blessed to have not one but two daughter's with summer birthdays. In June, Sophia and I took some friends to the Vineyard to celebrate. I baked a Butter Pecan Cake with a Buttercream frosting. We ate it on the Ferry and shared it with those around us.

Last weekend, Bella and I treated ourselves to a weekend of fun. We hiked, went kayaking and took a super fun Dance Yoga class together. We enjoyed a Blueberry Cake with a Lemon Buttercream frosting.

At the end of the weekend we went down to Chappy Beach to watch the sunset. We brought Pizza and thick slices of cool watermelon. We swam until the sun dipped out of sight. My son joined us too.

Summer is all about allowing ourselves the joy of being lazy. I hope you are enjoying your summer and finding ways to be a little lazy.