RECIPES

ORANGE RICOTTA POUND CAKE

Orange Ricotta Pound Cake

Another favorite tradition of the holiday season: baking and gifting the tastiest Orange Ricotta Pound Cake. A super simple recipe originally sourced from Giada De Laurentiis, it's my absolute favorite thing to bake and gets all the rave from family and friends!

The recipe yields 1 9x5x3-inch loaf or 4 mini loaves. I use the mini aluminum loaves that come in a pack, which I find are much easier for gifting purposes.

Orange Ricotta Pound Cake

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the baking pan
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (I used all-purpose)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 table spoon granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 orange, zested (clementines are great, too!)
  • 2 tablespoons amaretto
  • Confectioners sugar (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan with butter. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend.

2. Using a mixer, cream the butter, ricotta and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running, add the eggs 1 at a time. Add the vanilla, orange zest and amaretto until combined. Add the dry ingredients, a small amount at a time, until just incorporated.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. For the mini loaves, I let them cool completely in their pans and left the aluminum on for wrapping. Optional: dust with confectioners sugar before you wrap.

HOW TO PACKAGE A LOAF FOR GIFTING:

I struggled with wrapping my bread last year, and this year have it down to a science. Wax paper works best for larger loaves, but I just use parchment paper for the minis. Cut a sheet of paper the width of the longest side of the loaf pan. Pull both ends up together above the bread, then fold the paper down several times in two or three crisp folds until it is flush with the top of the bread. Secure with twine and add a touch of greenery to finish. Side note: it's also a great way to 'dress up' giving a gift card, as it can be slid under the twine.

For storage purposes, you may want to place it in a bread box or bag after 24 hours since the sides are exposed.

Enjoy!
 

HOW I MEAL PLAN

meal plan with toddler

We are knee deep in toddlerhood these days and I'm finding myself scrambling for time (and energy!) at the end of the day to cook up anything substantial in the kitchen. I've always wanted to try meal planning and stumbled upon a fun, healthy plan on lifestyle/mom blogger Emily Schuman's blog, so I decided to give it a go. We were thrilled with the results and how easy it was to prepare. And a major win, it's fool-proof with a toddler's palette.

At just around 60 bucks for groceries and 60 minutes of preparation, we had meals for 6 nights. These recipes couldn't be easier to throw together, and the best part, most of the ingredients may already be stocked in your kitchen.

easy quinoa bowl

Here are the different meal combinations we made:

  1. Chicken quinoa bowl with veggies, topped with an over easy egg, and honey-soy sauce glaze
  2. Roasted chicken spinach salad with peppers, avocado, and hard boiled egg
  3. Nachos with ground chicken (or taco beef), peppers, avocado, black beans, cheese, and salsa
  4. Ground chicken taco salad with quinoa, romaine, black beans, avocado, and salsa
  5. Roasted pepper quesadillas with cheese and salsa
  6. Spinach salad with all the leftover brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and peppers

The simple grocery list:

Staples I usually have on hand:

  • avocado
  • onion
  • fresh garlic
  • spices: paprika, crushed red pepper, oregano, parsley, thyme
  • canned black beans
  • shredded cheese (your choice)
  • corn tortillas
  • tortilla chips
  • eggs
  • honey
  • soy sauce
  • olive oil
  • lemon
meal planning

Helpful tips + tricks:

  • My top tip: don't wait until nighttime to start the prep work of washing and cutting the vegetables. Do it in the afternoon, so your not rushing to get everything done at once.
  • The chicken breasts, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts and peppers are all baked on a pan for 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Don't forget the salt, pepper, and olive oil.
  • Slice the chicken breasts in half so they are thinner and bake alongside the sweet potatoes and brussels. Top with garlic cloves.
  • The simple, organic quinoa from Whole Foods 365 line is my favorite. I make a huge batch of it by cooking the entire bag. I love having chilled quinoa in the fridge at all times for a quick hearty addition to almost any meal.
  • Remember to let everything cool off at room temperature before you pack and store in the fridge.
  • We've had these glass bowls for years and they are perfect for All The Prep in the kitchen. And we love IKEA's food containers with the convenient heating vent.

What are the ways you like to meal plan? Any favorite go-to recipes?