Jess's No-Guilt Vanilla “Shake”

from: The Birthday Cake Book

For the Cake
2-3 T soft unsalted butter and 2-3 T all-purpose flour for the pan
2 1/4 C sifted cake flour
1 T plus 1/8 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to the consistency of mayonnaise
1 1/2 C plus 1/2 C granulated sugar
5 extra-large eggs, warmed in their shells
3 fl. oz plus 1 C sipping-quality bourbon
2 C (7 oz) toasted pecan halves
mint sprigs and leaves for decoration

For the Sauce
1/4 C fresh orange juice
1 T fresh lemon juice
4 C peeled and coarsely chopped fresh peaches (6-8) or thawed drained premium-quality frozen peach slices

This cake is best if made 1-2 days before you plan to serve. To make the cake, set your oven to 350. Brush both bottom and sides of a bundt or tube pan with butter and coat with flour. Knock off the excess. Sift the four, baking powder and salt together in a bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on med speed until creamy. Continue beating while sprinkling in 1 1/2 C sugar a tablespoon at a time then beat until very light. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until blended after reach, then beat until very light and creamy. Add the flour in three parts (sprinkling i over the bowl), alternating with 3 oz bourbon in two parts – beat on the lowest speed possible and just until each addition disappears. Sprinkle over the pecans and fold the batter with a large flexible rubber spatula to finish blending thoroughly. Smooth into the pan, slightly pushing the batter up against the sides and the tube.

Bake in the middle of the oven until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the cake, 55 to 60 min. Heat 1/2 C of the bourbon and 1/4 cup of the sugar together stirring until the sugar dissolves. Pierce the top of the cake with a fork then pour the syrup evenly over the cake. Cool 15 minutes in the pan on a rack then turn out onto the rack, rumpled side up, to cool completely. When cool, heat the rest of the bourbon and sugar as before. Set the cake smooth side up, pierce as before and pour over the syrup. Wrap air-tight and set in a cool place to mellow for up to 2 days before serving.

To make the sauce, in a food processor or mixing bowl, blend the orange and lemon juices and then add the preserves and briefly blend. Turn into a bowl, add the peaches and stir gently until each slice has been moistened. Chill, tightly covered, at least 1 hour. This is at its best for about 4 hours.

To assemble the cake, just before serving, unwrap the cake and set it, smooth side up, on a platter. Plant a banner of greeting and arrange the (peach colored) candles, tucking a mint leaf or two beside each candle. Garland the bottom with branches of mint. Serve each piece of cake on a plate, encircled with peach sauce.

from: TheKitchn

1.5 ounces goat cheese
1.5 ounces whole-milk ricotta
(or 3 ounces of either goat cheese or ricotta)
2 cloves garlic, peeled with root end trimmed off
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
10-12 ounces of spinach, washed and spun dry
salt and pepper to taste

Add the cheeses, garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor and mix until combined. Add the spinach and run the food processor until the mixture has formed a thick paste. If the spinach won't fit all at once, add it in batches. Taste for seasonings, adding salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed.

from: TheKitchn

1 pound campanelle pasta (or your pasta shape of choice!)
1/2 cup pasta water
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces of baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 cup hulled English peas or sugar snap peas (or frozen peas)
1/2 cup spinach pesto (more as needed)
grated Parmesan for sprinkling on top

Bring a large amount of water to a rapid boil, add a palm-full of salt, and cook the pasta to al dente. Before draining the pasta, scoop out about a half cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the mushrooms until they have released all their moisture and are golden brown–about five minutes. Add the hulled peas and toss until warmed through–about 30 seconds.

Add the pasta to the skillet and pour the pesto on top. Toss to combine everything. If the sauce is looking a little “loose” or you'd like it a bit creamier, add a splash (just a splash!) of the pasta water. Stir and add more pasta water if desired.


Sweet Chili Lime Sauce
3 Tbs Sugar
3 Tbs Reduced Sodium Tamari (or soy sauce)
1 3/4 Tbs Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 Zest of the Lime
1/2 tsp Red Chili Flakes (or 1-2 fresh hot chilies, minced)
1 Clove Garlic, pressed, optional
1/4 tsp Salt
4 Mint Leaves, chiffonaded

3/4 Cup Quinoa, rubbed/rinsed in cool water, drained
1/2 Zest Lime
2 Bruised Cardamom Pods, optional
1 Tiny Stick of Cinnamon (a broken piece of a larger stick), optional
1/4 tsp Salt
1 1/3 Cup Water

Wok Steamed Collards
1 Bunch Collard Greens, middle veins removed, washed
2-3 Tbs Water
1 Pinch Salt
1 tsp Lime Juice

Combine all the ingredients for the quinoa in a pot that has a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, then turn off heat. Do not open lid. Let steam for 10 minutes before serving.

Prepare the sweet chili lime sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together until the sugar and salt is dissolved.

Drain tofu and cut it into small triangles. I slice the block into 8 rectangles, then each rectangle in half to make two squares per rectangle. I cut each square diagonally to make four triangles per square.You can cut the tofu however you please, but a thinner, smaller shape will work best for this method.

Heat a well-seasoned cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. A 10″ skillet will fit all the tofu, so if you’re using a smaller skillet, you’ll need to do this in batches. In order to properly “dry fry” the tofu, you’ll need a pan the tofu won’t stick to even without any oil.

Spread the tofu out in one layer in the pan. Using a spatula, press the tofu. The liquid will squeeze out and boil away, and the tofu will begin to turn golden. The more water that evaporates, the sturdier the tofu will be, so be gentle at first to prevent the tofu from breaking up. After several minutes, flip the tofu over and press the other side. After about 10 minutes of dry frying, you can turn off the heat and set the tofu aside for finishing later, or proceed to adding the sauce. (You might want to set the tofu aside before finishing in order to to prepare the collards).

To finish the tofu, bring the pan back up to temperature if it’s not already very hot. You want to heat the pan and the tofu over high heat, making sure the tofu is hot all the way through. Add the sauce and stir to coat the tofu. Turn off the heat. The sauce will bubble up, reduce, and form a glaze. If it isn’t bubbling up and forming a glaze, turn the heat back on high and cook until the glaze is.. well.. glaze-y.

Stack the collard leaves on top of each other, 3-4 at a time, and roll. Slice the roll in 3/4 inch segments. Run your knife through the chopped collards to make smaller pieces, then add them to a wok with the water, lime juice and salt. Cover with any lid that will contain the collards and cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes until the collards are steamed and tender.

For plating, arrange the collards atop of a bed of quinoa. Add tofu over the top, drizzling any leftover sauce over the dish. Garnish with lime slices and mint leaves. Serve.

from: TheKitchn

1 pound broccoli
2 tablespoons water
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1/2 small onion or two shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped flat parsley
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup feta cheese (low-fat if you like), divided
1/4 cup water

Cut the broccoli into small florets and steam on the stove or in the microwave with the 2 tablespoons of water. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Cook the onion and garlic until it just begins to soften then add the broccoli. Cook for several minutes or until the onion turns translucent. Add the parsley and cook until it's well wilted. Pour in the lemon juice and simmer for about two minutes.

Transfer to a blender and add 1/4 cup of the feta cheese and the 1/4 cup water. Puree until smooth, adding a drizzle of olive oil and a little more water if it sticks and turns to a lump. Puree until as smooth or chunky as you prefer.

Taste and add any necessary additional salt and pepper. Serve with a good ridged pasta like rotini.


3 lbs summer squash
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup saltine crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
saltine crumbs

Wash squash, cut in half lengthwise, then in 1/4-inch slices. Combine with chopped onion and cook in water to barely cover until both are tender. Drain thoroughly, pressing out excess water with back of spoon. Mash squash and onion with potato masher. Mix with half the butter, the cracker crumbs, eggs, sugar, to taste, salt and pepper. Pour into greased casserole dish. Pour remaining butter on top and sprinkle with additional cracker crumbs. Bake at 375F for 45-60 minutes, or until top is golden brown and bubbly.

from: a Jess original

1 C skim milk
2 T splenda
2 t vanilla extract

Put the ice in your blender and pulse until you've got a nice icy consistency. Pour in the rest of the ingredients and blend until nice and frothy. Pour into your favorite cup and ENJOY.