Gingerbread Cake with (the Perfect) Cream Cheese Frosting

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This time last year: Haystack Cookies (2013)

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I made this cake for a Christmas party during the holiday break.

I am now back at school, eyeballs deep in reading and homework, craving this scrumptious cake and holiday memories it brings!  Ug. Why do the holidays always pass so quickly?!

I have made several cakes in my lifetime, however I tend to save my cake-making for my trips home. The rational for that is entirely health focused, and not at all because I’m a generous person that wants to share my dessert. I want to eat dessert every day, but if I make a cake while living on my own, I know that I’ll eat that entire monster by myself. Thus, I tend to wait until I go home, so I can take my family down with me, and allow them to eat some of this cake for me! Thoughtful, I know.

So, this Christmas, as is my tradition, I tried a new cake recipe, and think I found a winner! We ate that cake up in a matter of hours, oohing and aaahing over the moist consistency, the rich flavor, and the perfect icing. I am pleased to say, my family ranked this cake at the top of my cake recipes- competing only with my Carmel Apple Cake with Apple Cider Frosting.

In my mind, this cake is a winner for two reasons. One, the gingerbread cake is a unique flavor that is a perfect winter recipe, standing out at any dinner party or holiday gather.  And two, the icing is PERFECT.

There is no doubt that cream cheese icing is my favorite type of icing.

For some reason, I really hate all icings where I can noticeably taste the powdered sugar (I know, said no sugar-addict ever), and the presence of the cream cheese adds rich flavor, masking the powdered sugar flavor.  However, Even if I did like the taste of powdered sugar, the addition of the cream cheese makes this icing soooooo much richer, thicker, and in general more delicious. Thus, in my mind, there really seems to be no other option! Cream cheese icing is always the way to go.

And as far as cream cheese icings go, this icing is the best recipe I have found to date! That’s right, every cake from here on out will be topped with this perfect icing recipe. Get excited.  The consistency was perfect, making it easy to ice, not too runny, and long lasting without losing it’s form. Win-Win-Win!

Thus, if you’re missing Christmas, or family, or are eyeballs deep in work, I suggest you treat yourself to this cake. I promise, it will make your day better.

Come back soon!

– Sarah

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Cake Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ~ 1/2 cup cranberries  and mint leaves (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ and grease a 9-inch springform pan.*

2. In a glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together the boiling water, baking soda, molasses, and granulated sugar. Whisk until he sugar is dissolved, and set aside.

3. As the molasses mixture cools, combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, making powder, and salt in a separate large bowl.

4. Whisk the vegetable oil and eggs into the molasses mixture, and then add to the dry ingredients.

5. Fold the dry and wet ingredients together until evenly mixed, and then pour into the baking pan.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, cool for five, and then gently remove from the pan. Allow to cool completely before icing.

7. While the cake cools, make the icing. Using an electric stand mixer, whip together the cream cheese and butter until pale and fluffy. Thoroughly mix in the vanilla extract and powdered sugar, cover, and refrigerate until ready to ice.

8. Optional: Once iced, chop up 1/2 cup of cranberries and arrange around the rim of the cake for decoration. Garnish with a few mint leaves.

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Notes and Tips!

  • Don’t have a 9-inch springform pan? Using an 8-inch square pan, or a 10-inch spring form pan will work as well! However if you use the later option, decrease cooking time slightly.
  • Source: Cooking Classy
  • Yield: 10 servings
  • Like this recipe? Try these other scrumptious treats from A Rented Kitchen as well! (Recipe links found below photos!):

Harvest Salad with Fruit, Herbs, and Goat Cheese

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This time last year: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal (2014)

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Never have I ever truly craved a salad. I wish that was my life, but sadly, it is not. Chocolate, bread, coffee? Yes. I crave those every day. Salad? Mmmmm not so much.

However, a few weeks ago my dear friend Rachel invited me over to her house for lunch, and we whipped this salad together. The combination of goat cheese, fresh herbs, fruit, and colorful vegetables made for one of the most refreshing meals I’ve had all season! Thus for the first time, I was truly craving salad!

As the last glimpses of summer slip away, I had to dig up this recipe and enjoy the incredible combination of fruit and vegetables! No surprise- it was just as good as I had remembered it, and I am going to be enjoying it all week long!

If you’re not a huge salad person, give this a try. If you’re a huge salad person, you’re welcome for just changing your life.

Life should be colorful. Life should be healthy. Food should taste like this.

Dig in 🙂

Love, A Rented Kitchen

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Salad Ingredients:

  • 4-8 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
  • ½ cup fresh basil and parsley, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 ears grilled corn, kernels removed from the cob (or one can of corn- no sodium added)
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • ¾ cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 peach, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • ½ cup mixed toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), pecans, walnuts, and/or pistachios
  • 1 avocado, pitted + chopped
  • 4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ -1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, basil, parsley, thyme, corn, tomatoes, red pepper, blackberries, peach, jalapeno, and nuts.
  2. In a separate mason jar or small bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients until fully combined.
  3. Top the salad off with avocado and goat cheese, toss once more, and serve with dressing on the side or drizzled over top. Enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Want to add more protein? Try warming up 16 ounces of chickpeas and throwing those into the mix! They are an excellent healthy source of protein!
  • Source: Half Baked Harvest
  • Like this salad? Try these other healthy and seasonal dishes from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links below photos):

Strawberry Goat Cheese Quesadillas with Mint and Caramelized Onion

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The World’s Most Delicious (and EASY!) Chocolate Cake (2014)

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I don’t know about you all, or if this is just a Georgia thing, but there are strawberries Everywhere! It’s awesome!

For the last few week I have been eating strawberries like they are going out of style, and I have no intention to stop.

My normal method of eating strawberries is to slice them up and put them in my morning oatmeal or on top of a bagel. However, I have grown to really love strawberries in the main course and in side dishes. People do not expect to see strawberries in their wraps or in their salad, but I have never received a complaint!

So, if you’re feeling a little springy, healthy, and like trying something new, give these delicious quesadillas a try! Strawberries on the dinner table or in the lunchbox will make everybody happy. 🙂

Come back soon!

Love, Sarah

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Ingredients*:

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 box of button mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar (or regular BV)*
  • 1 pint of strawberries, rinsed and sliced thin
  • 5 sprigs of mint leaves, rinsed and diced
  • 6 ounces honey goat cheese
  • 10 whole wheat tortillas* (Use gluten free quesadillas if needed!)

Directions:

  1. Slice the onion and mushrooms into small strips/ bite size pieces.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and beginning to brown. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, and cook for another few minutes until the onions look slightly caramelized. Remove from heat.
  3. Assemble the quesadillas by spreading a layer of goat cheese on a tortillas. Top with sliced strawberries, diced mint leaves, and a hearty spoonful of the onion/mushroom mixture.
  4. Place in a large frying pan over medium heat, and top with another goat-cheese spread tortilla. (Do not use oil or non-stick spray! The oil will make the tortilla soggy and ruin the quesadilla!). Cook for a few minutes on each side, remove from the skillet, and cut with a pizza cutter.
  5. Serve warm and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • I made these quesadillas for a potluck, which is why there are 10 tortillas listed. Feel free to half the ingredient list to fit your own serving needs!
  • Looking for Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar? I got mine at a specialty Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil store in Kansas City, however grocery stores such as Whole Foods also carry a variety of vinegars, and any fruit flavored balsamic vinegar will have a similar affect! If all else fails, regular BV will also work well!
  • Like this recipe? Try these other spring dishes from ‘A Rented Kitchen’ (recipe links found below photos!):

Harvest Peach and Cherry Summer Salad

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There are a lot of pros and cons to moving around the country. However, one major pro to moving from Kansas to Georgia, is Georgia peaches. Holy cow, there is seriously nothing better than Georgia peaches!

Last summer my family had the opportunity to go pick peaches while on vacation, and I went a little crazy with the peach recipes. However, despite my deep love of the fruit, this ingredient combination was one entirely new to me. As strange as it may sound to combine some of these sweet and savory flavors together, the flavors beautifully compliment each other, blossoming under the dressing and making this fruit salad unique, visually striking, and delicious to eat!

If you have any summer peaches left sitting on your window sill, try whipping together this delicious fruit salad. You just might fall in love.

Not ready to be so bold and adventurous with your last sacred peaches of the summer? Try these other delicious peach recipes from ‘A Rented Kitchen’! Like I said earlier, with peaches, you just can’t go wrong.

Peach Favorites:

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow peach
  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • 1 cup cherries, halved and pitted
  • 2 Tablespoons basil, chiffonade (roll up and chopped into ribbons)
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon agave nectar
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Slice the peach into thin slices, and toss, along with the cherries, into a medium sized serving bowl.
  2. Cube the tomato into one-inch chunks, and add to the peach and cherry mix.
  3. Gently stir in the herbs.
  4. In a small measuring cup, whisk together the lime juice, agave, olive oil, salt, and pepper until thoroughly blended. Drizzle over the herbs and fruit, serve, and enjoy!

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Notes and Tips:

  • Yield: 2-4
  • Source: The Kitchy Kitchen
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious treats and salads from ‘A Rented Kitchen’! (Recipe links below):

 

Ginger Peach Sweet Tea

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I don’t know what it was that made me get so into making beverages- the mason jar movement, turning 21, a deep hatred for aspartame?

Whatever it was, in the last few years I have absolutely loved concocting my own yummy, fizzy, fruity drinks- of which this recipe is a perfect example.

In my opinion, summer seems to be the perfect time to whip up a new and fresh beverage of choice, because who doesn’t love the idea of sitting on the porch with a nice glass of ice tea? Or, more realistically in our busy world, who doesn’t love the idea of walking in the door after running errands in the heat and having something chilled and refreshing to sip on? You do, you know you do.

Thus, I bring you my new favorite drink- Ginger Peach Sweet Tea. This pitcher contains so many of my favorite flavors, I could literally drink all of it in one sitting if I did not pay attention! It’s that good.

Invite a friend over, get a glass, kick off your shoes, and enjoy the taste of something homemade for a minute. You’ll be glad you did.

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Ingredients

  • 3 family-size tea bags
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 (12-oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed (I accidentally made the lemonade, then added the tea/mint/sugar to it)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 (1-liter) bottle ginger ale, chilled
  • 1 (1-liter) bottle club soda, chilled
  • Optional: fresh peach wedges for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, boil four cups of water. Once boiling, add the tea bags and mint leaves, and continue boiling for one minute.
  2. Remove the pot from heat, and stir in ½ cup sugar and ½ cup additional water, stirring until the sugar is melted.
  3. Once the sugar is melted, return the lid to the pot, and allow the tea and mint leaves to steep for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the lemonade using the lemonade concentrate, as instructed.
  5. Once the tea is done steeping, discard the mint leaves and tea bags, and add the tea to the lemonade pitcher.
  6. Chill until ready to serve, and then stir in the ginger ale, club soda, and peach wedges. Enjoy!

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Notes and Tips!:

  • Adapted from: Southern Living
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious beverage options from ‘A Rented Kitchen’! (Recipe links found below):