One-Bowl Cherry Chocolate Cake

I think I was shocked the first time I learned that not everyone loves chocolate-covered cherries as much as I do. To me, they just are the ultimate flavor--the tart burst of cherry, almond-like liqueur, and rich dark chocolate all around it.

Seriously, what's not to love?!

But for some reason there are people who are just not fans. And you know what I say to that?

More for me!

(And for you, if you love them, too!)

This past weekend, Eugene and I drove to my parents' house in New Jersey to celebrate their anniversary with a casual bbq in their backyard. My dad asked me to bring some baked goods, so I decided to play around with those cherry and chocolate flavors that I love, and made this cake.


The combination of rich dark chocolate cake with a layer of fresh cherries baked right in is absolutely perfect! Pure almond extract added to the batter plays up those "cherry liqueur" notes. If you love chocolate-covered cherry candies, you will ADORE this cake.

A few things to note about the cake. This calls for Dutched cocoa, which is different than regular cocoa as it has been alkalized. It also has a richer almost Oreo-cookie-like flavor. Definitely don't skip it!

The cherries in this cake are fresh cherries. You want something like Bing cherries. Please do NOT use candied or jarred cherries--those will be way too sweet. It's all about that combo of tart and sweet here.

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One Bowl Cherry Chocolate Cake
Makes 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek-style)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch cocoa powder (do not use natural cocoa)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and stemmed

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" springform pan and set aside.

In base of electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the egg and beat additional 3 minutes. Add the yogurt, vanilla, and almond.

Balance a mesh sieve over the bowl with the wet ingredients and pour in flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift dry ingredients into the chocolate base, and then stir until completely incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading out evenly. Top with cherries (it's ok if they layer on top of each other--they will sink during baking).

Bake about 65 minutes or until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing sides and transferring to a rack to cool completely.

Blueberry Chocolate Espresso Sorbet

Berries and chocolate have long been an amazing combination (hello chocolate-covered strawberries!), and the combo is no less awesome when turned into a smooth and cool sorbet.
This Blueberry Chocolate Espresso Sorbet is the ultimate summer treat, with a killer combination of bright berries, rich cocoa, and just a hint of jolt from espresso.

I know you might think espresso seems like a weird addition, but trust me...it just works!

A bit of vodka in the recipe will keep the sorbet lovely and scoopable, but if you prefer, you can absolute skip it (though it will then be a bit harder to scoop after the first day).

I love pairing this with rich dark chocolate brownies and a handful of fresh blueberries on top.

Enjoy!
 

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Blueberry Chocolate Espresso Sorbet

Ingredients
1 pint blueberries
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 cups espresso
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 ripe banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vodka
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
Combine the blueberries and 1/2 cup water over medium heat. Let simmer until the berries burst and become syrupy (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

In a separate saucepan, combine the espresso, sugar, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips. Let simmer, stirring occasionally until sugar and chocolate are melted.

Pour coffee mixture into a blender with banana, vanilla, vodka, and salt, and puree until very smooth. Cover, and chill at least 4 hours or overnight until very cold.

Pour chilled mixture into your ice cream maker, and churn as directed. 5 minutes before end of churn, add the cooked blueberries. Transfer to a container, cover, and freeze at least 4-6 hours until set.

English Pea, Strawberry & Feta Salad with Minty Lime Vinaigrette

During the summer, all I want to do is eat color. The brighter and fresher, the better. I stock my fridge with as much produce as it can hold, and then stand back to admire it.

(Seriously. My phone and instagram are full of snapshots of the inside of my refrigerator on grocery day.)

This gorgeous Pea, Strawberry & Feta Salad is one of the dishes I served while up in Vermont this past month, and it just screams warm weather days to me.

It's a surprising, but delicious combination that is incredibly easy to put together. The peas are blanched slightly (either fresh or frozen will work!), then tossed with strawberries and crumbled feta. The dressing, made with lime juice, fresh mint, and a little honey--is the perfect companion to this dish, which happily straddles the place between salad and side.

If serving this for a crowd, I would recommend making the dressing separate, then adding it just about 10 or so minutes before serving to keep all the colors bright and fresh.

While I kept it as-is, if you'd like to bulk the salad out a bit, handfuls of fresh spinach or peppery arugula would be a nice addition.

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English Pea, Strawberry & Feta Salad with Minty Lime Vinaigrette
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 pound english peas (fresh or frozen)
1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, minced + more for garnish
Kosher salt, black pepper


Directions
Boil peas 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water, then place in a large bowl. Add the strawberries and feta.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together lime juice, olive oil, mint, salt, and pepper.

Just before serving, add the dressing to the salad and toss to coat. Garnish with additional mint leaves.

Roasted Strawberries with Balsamic Glaze

One of my favorite things about cooking for large groups is that it forces me to be creative. The groups that I serve generally have varied dietary restrictions and preferences, so I do my best to create recipes that will work for a maximum number of people.

That's how this simple dish of Roasted Strawberries with Balsamic Glaze came about. I needed to figure out a dessert that would work for folks who are gluten-free, vegan, and avoiding refined sugar.


I took fresh berries, removed the stems (but left them otherwise whole so as to keep the juices in the berry), and placed them in a baking dish. 20 minutes in the oven was all they needed to become plump and tender. I then drizzled them with a simple balsamic reduction (made while the berries roasted), and served.

They were glorious, so quick and simple. The non-vegans enjoyed them over some ice cream, while those who could eat wheat crumbled in cookies. You can also layer this over yogurt or pound cake, or serve topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Really so many possibilities from such a simple dish.

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Roasted Strawberries with Balsamic Glaze
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 1/2 pounds strawberries, stems removed (but not hulled)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, cut into a chiffonade

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a ceramic baking dish with coconut oil, and arrange the berries a single layer. Roast 20 minutes, or until berries are tender.

While berries roast, place balsamic in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Let simmer about 5 minutes, or until vinegar has reduced by half into a thick syrup. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

When berries are ready, use a spoon to drizzle with balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with mint leaves and serve hot.

Giveaway: Win a $100 from Shari's Berries!

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I've got a sweet treat for you today!

I'm working with Shari's Berries to spread the news about their amazing cake pops (seriously...SO good!), and will be giving away $100 worth of Shari's Berries gift credit to one lucky reader.

Shari's Berries has long been one of my go-to's for last-minute gifts for family and friends.

(And...I'll just be honest...a LOT of my gifts are last-minute.)

But it's OK, because I know that I can pop online to their website, and easily select a delicious edible gift that I'm confident my loved one will enjoy, and have it to them anywhere in the country within 1-2 days, guaranteed.

I've always been a fan of their chocolate-dipped strawberries, but now I'm excited that they offer cake pops, too! They come in five super popular cake flavors including chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, peanut butter with Reese’s®, and cookies n’cream with Oreo® Cookies.

The cake pops arrive individually wrapped in an elegant box--a detail that I especially appreciate because it means you can enjoy them one at a time without worrying about the rest spoiling.

It's also great for office or corporate gifts, since people can each grab their own treat to enjoy at their desks.

I love entertaining, and cake pops are always such a fun choice for dessert. They're easy to grab and eat, and don't require additional plates or napkins. (Read: less mess and no dishes!)

I got to try all five of their flavors (yes. My job is rough), and loved how the sweet, crisp chocolate shells cracked to reveal moist, tender cake inside. The vanilla tasted like the birthday cake of my dreams.

I kept taking tiny bites and then I actually had Eugene bring most of them to work to save me from myself.


 

GIVEAWAY:

Want a chance to try these yourself? You're in luck! Enter below for your chance to win a $100 gift certificate to Shari's Berries, which you can use to buy a gift for friends, family, or even yourself (I won't judge!) 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also...check out this cuteness:

This post is sponsored by Shari's Berries. Thank you for supporting companies like Shari's Berries who make it possible for me to keep creating great content and recipes for you.

Cumin Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

This tangy and slightly-spicy yogurt sauce is a regular at my home. I love serving this with fish tacos (another regular around here!), using it as the base dressing for chicken or tuna salad, or even with crudite as an easy dip.

Note that it's important to use Greek-style yogurt for this (full-fat, please!), as it will be too thin with regular plain yogurt.

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And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me

Thanks for reading!     


Cumin Cilantro Yogurt Sauce
Makes 2 cups

Ingredients
2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt (preferably full-fat)
Zest and juice of 1 large lime
1/2 bunch cilantro, ends trimmed
1 small garlic clove
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions
Combine yogurt, lime zest and juice, cilantro, garlic, and cumin in a food processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, and serve chilled.


Summer Living: July POPSUGAR Must Have Box

Earlier this summer, I was offered the chance to check out a POPSUGAR Must Have box, which is a fun subscription service featuring a surprise selection of fun, girly, full-size products delivered to your door each month. I agreed, and was thrilled when my July box arrived!

Let's see what I got, shall we?

I'm totally a hat girl, so I was really happy with this packable wide-brimmed sun hat by Michael Stars. You can crush it up to stuff in your suitcase, then pull and reshape perfectly.

I'm always buying big sun hats and then throwing them out  because they get destroyed during my travels no matter how carefully I pack them, so this is genius.

I confess that I literally squealed when I saw the SunBum sunscreen and cooling aloe lotion in the box.

This is my favorite sunscreen brand, which I discovered when I stayed at The Standard in Miami back in May. I even raved about it on Instagram here. It smells amazing, is paraben-free (SO important!), can be used all over, including the face, and leaves my skin feeling soft and silky. I really recommend picking up a couple bottles of this!

I haven't tested out this TKO jump rope yet, but I might bring it with me on my next Vermont trip for an easy gym-less workout I can do right in my room.

Hopefully I won't knock over any priceless antiques while jumping.

(On second thought, perhaps I should take it outside...)

Pretty chevron paper straws from Acme Party Box Company for fun summer cocktails (I actually use these in my iced coffee, too!).

And these Dang toasted coconut chips really do live up to their name (dang good!). I like these sprinkled on top of yogurt with blackberries and lime curd--it's like dessert for breakfast.

I'm obsessed with these brightly colored French Bull chevron salad servers. These will definitely be making an appearance at my next dinner party.


There was also a tube of Revlon Bold Laquer mascara in there as a little bonus.

Overall, I'm loving all the goodies inside my box, and am actually signing up for next month's. If you'd like to get your own, pop on over to the POPSUGAR Must Have website and sign up. (There is still time to get the August box!).

xoxo

Alejandra

POPSUGAR provided me with a complimentary POPSUGAR Must Have box. The opinions I have shared about the box are my own and POPSUGAR did not tell me what to say or how to say it, and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

Brazilian Shrimp Salad + A Giveaway!

While I admit that I have zero interest in soccer, one thing I did love about the World Cup was that it seemed to get people excited to explore new international recipes and flavors.

As the host country, Brazil definitely (rightfully!) got the most culinary attention, and I loved being able to read about different Brazilian recipes and cocktails that people were enjoying while watching the games.

To keep the momentum going, the folks at McCormick asked me to create a recipe featuring the Bahian Seasoning Blend, or Tempero Baiano--a traditional Brazilian spice and herb mix that's used as a base in many local recipes, and which has been getting a lot more attention lately. (Think of it as Brazil's local equivalent to an Indian garam masala or Chinese five spice.)

Containing oregano, smokey cumin, fragrant white pepper, and heat from ground cayenne, it's a flavorful blend that adds instant kick to any dish, but is also super simple to make using these very easy to find spices.

I include the proportions below for this recipe, but I totally recommend multiplying it, and making a big batch to use while cooking. You can use it on grilled meats, sauces, dips, and even salad dressings!

Since it's summer (and hot!) I decided to make a Brazilian-inspired shrimp salad using the spices, and some other fresh seasonal flavors.

With a creamy dressing and lots of color from fresh peppers and scallions, it's a bright and flavorful dish that's perfect for entertaining.

(I like serving this one with large corn chips or sliced bread on the side for dipping.)

It also makes AMAZING sandwiches--try stuffing it into warm, toasted hot dog buns for a twist on the classic lobster roll, or wrap it up inside a tortilla for an easy picnic lunch.

You can even serve it as a main course for lunch or a light dinner by piling it over salad greens like I did here.


GIVEAWAY
As part of this campaign, McCormick is giving away a $50 McCormick 125th Anniversary Prize Pack containing spices, a McCormick recipe book and a canvas tote.

To enter to win, all you have to do is comment below with one of you favorite flavor stories of the season--whether that's a scoop of tart lemon ice cream or a juicy burger or a dish you remember from childhood. Tell me about the best thing you've enjoyed at home or while traveling and be sure to include the hashtag #flavorstory with your comment.

For ever story shared, McCormick (who are currently celebrating their 125th anniversary!) will also donate $1 to United Way (up to $1.25 million) to help those in need around the world.

And to read and share more fun food and flavor stories, visit flavoroftogether.com.




RULES: US residents only. All entries must be in by 5PM EST on August 1st. One winner will be randomly selected and contacted via email.


This post is sponsored by McCormick. Thank you for supporting companies like McCormick who make it possible for me to keep creating great content and recipes for you.

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Love Always Order Dessert?
Let's connect! Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest, become a fan on Facebook, or sign up to receive my once-a-week e-mail updates. And if you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, please don't hesitate to e-mail me. Thanks for reading!      
 

Brazilian Shrimp Salad
Serves 6

Ingredients
2 1/2 pounds small (salad) shrimp, cooked, peeled, and deveined
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain yogurt
Zest and juice of 1 whole lemon
2 3/4 teaspoon Bahian Blend spice mix (see below for recipe)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, finely diced
1/3 cup sliced scallions

For the Bahian Blend
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

Directions

Place shrimp in a large bowl
In a separate small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon, Bahian Blend, and kosher salt.

Add dressing to the shrimp along with the diced peppers and scallions. Toss to combine, then cover with plastic wrap and let chill and marinate at least two hours.

Serve shrimp salad with chips as an appetizer, in hot dog buns as sandwiches ("lobster roll" style), or on top of greens as a main course.

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