Friday, July 8, 2011

4th of July Recap and Recipes!

Hey guys! I’m back from vacation and I had a blast. Since fireworks weren’t banned where I was in Arkansas, I was able to watch (and hear) a LOT of fireworks. One night, there was a fireworks show just a little ways down the lake and we were able to boat over there and get “front row” seats. We were so close that my eyes and neck began to hurt from looking straight up for so long!

Being at my Aunt’s lake house during the summer means two things, seeing many of my extended family and tons of food!

Here’s the dessert display for just one of the nights there-
That chocolate bundt-cake type thing in the corner was DANGEROUS! 

My Aunt Ruth’s tres leches cake was SO good! I especially loved it with all of the festive fruit. I never really thought of making one before, but now I SO have to! 
Anyone have a good recipe?

Another cake I actually really enjoyed was this lemon pound cake. It was dense but yet had this amazing moisture to it that was saturated with lemony flavor. The lemon-sugar glaze must have seeped into the cake.  I think it was probably store bought, but I need to find a recipe for something like it ASAP!
Also, my Aunt Sarah got a cake just for me to celebrate me graduating from high school. Gosh, everyone knows me so well! Not only was it a carrot cake but it was also a natural one from Whole Foods!
Cake never looked so good...
No iffy ingredients here-
The pumpkin really made this cake orange!
Of course, it tasted phenomenal. The frosting wasn't that sweet and the cake was perfect!

I didn't just eat at the lake house, I made a couple things too! Everyone seemed to really enjoy everything I made and I got many compliments (thanks guys!). Many of my family members asked for the recipes, so I'll post them on here so yall don't have to go searching for them yourselves. I even made a couple new things that I hadn't tried before, so I'm glad that they were a hit! 

First up, pancakes. I had a couple aging bananas (okay a LOT of aging bananas from volunteering for a race and taking extras) so I decided to take them along with me on the trip. I came across this wonderful recipe for vegan oatmeal banana pancakes from Colorful Palate and was immediately drawn to the short and healthy ingredient list. All you do is grind all the ingredients in a blender and you're ready to go!

I might try grinding the oats first before adding all the ingredients next time just so I don't over-mix.  

Changes I made:
- added 1 more teaspoon of baking powder the second time I made them (yes, I made them twice! That good) and thought they turned out much better (a little more fluffy and less doughy)
-added about 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-added in toasted walnuts & dark chocolate chips on the griddle before flipping!
-I didn't do this because there was no cinnamon at the lake house, but next time I might add 1/2 teaspoon or so of cinnamon!

This recipe easily serves 4 people, but since its vegan it can just as easily serve 1 person by just quartering the recipe! That's what I love about egg-less recipes...

Another recipe I made that I had not tried before was a healthy cheesecake dip! It's a blend of low fat cream cheese, silken tofu, powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and just a dash of salt. I actually found the recipe while browsing Food Gawker at the lake house was immediately inspired to make it. It comes with a blueberry topping, but I was lazy and just made the cheesecake part. I served it with honey wheat pretzels (trying to imitate the flavors of graham crackers) and strawberries. Click here for the recipe from An Edible Mosaic.

I peeled off the frosting (which had become almost a bit "fondant"-like oddly) from the last small piece of carrot cake and crumbled the cake into the remaining couple tablespoons of the cheese cake dip. Uhm, MAGICAL! Kinda like a cake ball but..not? Whatever it was, it was good...

I also made my "famous" roasted tomatillo guacamole. I'm glad that everyone liked it as much as my family does!
My cousin, Oscar, gave me a good idea for the next time I make this guac. Although it has amazing flavor, it's not a very spicy one. If you want it spicy, I'd suggest using a whole jalapeno or even a whole serrano.

The other hit I made was my beloved Ceviche.
This was gobbled up faster than anything else on the table! It's great with chips (and I even brought along some corn tortilla to make me some microwave chips!) and really refreshing to have when there's so much other heavy foods.

I used a bit more avocado then last time, used a medium-sized can of sliced black olives, and 2 cups of tomatoes since last time (pictured above) there wasn't enough of them. Even then, I think there wasn't enough tomatoes! Next time, 3 cups! Also, I think I'll increase the red onion to one cup.

It was so fun making food for others to try (and love!) and seeing so many of my extended family members. I'm so happy that next fall (when I will be going to University of Arkansas) I will be only a couple of hours away from most of them instead of 9 hours. :P

Happy Friday!

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