Gorgonzola Spinach Salad with Walnuts, Bosc Pears + Pomegranate-Thyme Vinaigrette

Gorgonzola Spinach Salad

It’s not baking – but my god, do I need a break from baked goods!!

GORGONZOLA SPINACH SALAD WITH WALNUTS, BOSC PEARS + POMEGRANATE-THYME VINAIGRETTE

Yields:  2-4 servings

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 1 fresh Bosc pear, cored + thinly sliced length-wise
  • 1/2 cup quartered walnuts
  • 3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or other soft blue cheese
  • 3 tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk olive oil, vinegar, pomegranate and lemon juices, mustard, honey and thyme. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. In a large serving bowl, combine spinach, sliced pear, walnuts and Gorgonzola. To serve, drizzle with prepared vinaigrette and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.

*Re-posted from my old blog, Cucina Fresca.

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Orange Chocolate Cupcakes

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes FINAL

Happy Holidays, baking gods and goddesses! It’s a shame that December is nearly half over, and I’ve only just started sharing holiday desserts. Better late than never, I suppose – and this one is a winner!

I was first introduced to Terry’s Chocolate Oranges by my dad – a man with little sweet tooth and no love of chocolate, yet strangely obsessed with the combination of orange and chocolate.  Several years ago, in an effort to find a holiday dessert the entire family could enjoy, I started tinkering with this flavor combination in a variety of desserts, including cookies, brownies, mousse, and finally, cupcakes. Gold mine! This recipe for Orange Chocolate Cupcakes is not only one of the few desserts my dad raves about, but also the most popular dessert I’ve ever made. Yes, EVER. Indulge in moderation, and enjoy!

ORANGE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Yields:  24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • Terry’s chocolate orange (optional)

For the frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp orange extract

To make cupcakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175 degrees Celsius). Line two 12-hole muffin tins with paper cups; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together dry ingredients. Add oil, coffee, and milk and mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, and orange extract, then beat for an additional 2 minutes (batter will be thin).
  3. Pour batter into paper cups and bake in preheated oven for 19-23 minutes (or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out cleanly). Remove cupcakes from pan and place on cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting:

  1. Stir melted butter and cocoa powder in a bowl until evenly mixed. Add confectioners’ sugar and milk; beat until smooth and easily spread. Stir in vanilla and orange extracts to taste.
  2. Frost cupcakes. To garnish, dust with Terry’s chocolate orange shavings (made using a microplane grater). Enjoy!