Blue Cheese Polenta with Rosemary Blistered Tomatoes

Blue Cheese Polenta with Rosemary Blistered Tomatoes

Wanna know something fun? We’re getting married in 99 days!

We’re in double digits – this thing is really gonna happen!

I mean, I think it’s gonna happen. As soon as I get my dress fitted, buy wedding shoes (I want peep toe flats!), pick out the menu, and buy us some plane tickets home. All of the planning is under control for the most part, but a few of the remaining to-do list items are pretty necessary for us to tie the knot. For example, I think it would be nice if we showed up for our own wedding, don’t you? Unfortunately, cross-country airfares seem to be plotting against us…


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Blood Orange, Rosemary and Pine Nut Upside Down Cake

blood orange, rosemary & pine nut upside down cake

Nate is going out of town this weekend, and I plan on taking full advantage.

blood orange, rosemary & pine nut upside down cake

Starfishing in my bed. Drinking the whole pot of coffee. Parking in our one covered parking spot. And cooking all his least favorite foods.

Now, you can’t get much more easy-going than my partner in crime. He’s an adventurous eater, and happily eats anything I put in front of him. He never once complained during my 6 months of strictly vegan cooking – I think that pretty much says it all. But there are a few flavors he doesn’t prefer… and some of them happen to be my favorites.

blood orange, rosemary & pine nut upside down cake

That’s why I’ve had my weekend blog cooking menu ready since Monday. I won’t give it all away, but the general idea is this:

– Something with tahini.

– Something with horseradish.

– Something super spicy.

(Those are going to be different dishes, by the way. Not looking to make anything with so much horseradish that I cry.)

Anyway, I can’t wait. For the cooking, that is! I’ll miss Nate while he’s gone :)

But I’m getting ahead of myself… that tends to happen on Fridays when anticipation for the weekend is running high. In the meantime, I give you this glorious cake.

blood orange, rosemary & pine nut upside down cakeThis was inspired by my mom, who has taken to emailing or texting me whenever she eats something that I need to try. (Thanks Mom!) A while back, she emailed me a picture of a blood orange upside down cake she’d made, saying that she loved the idea of it, but didn’t think the recipe she’d followed had ended up looking or tasting as good as expected. She was sure I could do better! I wasn’t as sure… but I too loved the idea, and really, any excuse to cut into one of these beautiful blood oranges is enough to tempt me. Challenge accepted.

Blood Orange, Rosemary & Pine Nut Upside Down Cake |

Mom said the recipe she used wasn’t flavorful enough. Luckily, I had long ago bookmarked a rosemary, pine nut and orange cornmeal cake to try at some point. This seemed like the perfect opportunity! And so this lovely cake was born.

blood orange, rosemary & pine nut upside down cake

If blood oranges aren’t available where you are, by all means use regular navel oranges. Opt for ones with thin peels, if you can, since you’ll be putting orange slices, peels and all, on the bottom of this cake. The peels do add a touch of bitterness, so you can cut them off before slicing if you’d like, but I do think the look with them on just can’t be beat. So pretty!

Blood Orange, Rosemary & Pine Nut Upside Down Cake |

And if you’d prefer to use the oranges just as a garnish, you don’t have to eat them. I kind of like peeling them off and eating them first :) But be warned: you may want a sharp knife to cut this cake. Otherwise you run the risk of dragging the oranges all over like you’re eating a slice of pepperoni pizza. Just sayin’.

This cake is sure to impress, on both looks and flavor. The rosemary, pine nut, and orange combo in the base of the cake is delicious, and then topped with more oranges, butter and brown sugar? Don’t mind if I do.

blood orange, rosemary & pine nut upside down cake

5.0 from 1 reviews
Blood Orange, Rosemary and Pine Nut Upside Down Cake
Hands-on time
Cook time
Total time
Yields: 8-12 pieces
  • 1 stick plus 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 blood oranges, sliced 1/4-inch thick, including peel (I recommend buying a few extra oranges in case you're a messy slicer like me!)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp finely grated blood orange zest
  • 2/3 cup full fat Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and position a rack in the center of the oven. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Melt 3 Tbsp butter in the microwave. Stir in brown sugar until melted. Spread in the bottom of the cake pan.
  3. Arrange orange slices in an overlapping circle on top of the brown sugar mixture, with a few slices in the middle.
  4. Sift the flour into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the cornmeal, baking powder, salt, pine nuts, rosemary, and orange zest and stir to combine.
  5. Add the Greek yogurt to a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking thoroughly between each addition. Whisk in the sugar.
  6. Using a wooden spoon, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two batches, mixing until homogeneous. Melt the remaining stick of butter and mix in.
  7. Pour the batter over the orange slices in the cake pan. Bake 40-45 minutes, until edges of cake are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs.
  8. Run a knife around the edges of the cake. Cool completely on a wire rack. Once completely cool, invert onto serving dish and peel parchment paper away, if necessary.
  9. Serve and enjoy!
Adapted from Cake will keep for several days in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Three Roses Cupcakes for The Bachelor

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Warning: A million cupcake photos ahead. It was too hard to narrow these down, so I didn’t even try. Try not to drool too much.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you why I made these cupcakes. Three little words: BACHELOR SEASON PREMIER.

Were you aware of the national holiday this coming Monday, when 20- and 30-something women everywhere celebrate the new season of ABC’s most addictive TV show by sitting on the couch for 2-3 hours drinking oaky chardonnay, judging people, and cringing as dozens of women humiliate themselves on national TV?

Oh… you’re not a Bachelor fan? I’m sorry. Much of my Tuesdays during Bachelor season are devoted to debriefing last night’s episode with friends, reading recaps, and laughing so hard I squeak as I read my favorite Bachelor blog. I will spare you the lengthy recaps and Bachelor bashing sessions on here… but it’s probably going to come up once or twice. You should probably watch so you can keep up with the times!

I may or may not participate in a fantasy league.

I’ll just let that sink in for a sec.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Anyway, each episode of The Bachelor culminates in a rose ceremony, where the bachelor hands out a rose to each girl he’d like to keep around for the next week.

And so, I introduce to you Three Roses Cupcakes. Rosemary chocolate cupcakes. Rose scented buttercream frosting. Gumdrop roses on top. That was as many roses as I could squeeze into one cupcake.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Several years ago back in Boston, I stayed home sick on this Monday and ended up making cupcakes with gumdrop roses for our Bachelor premier party.

I guess I wasn’t that sick.

And I decided to do it again this year! (Make cupcakes that is, not stay home… although I do have a gross cold. But I digress.) The other roses (rosemary and rose water) entered my head during my holiday trip to Boston. My family did a beer tasting at Night Shift Brewing before Christmas and tried their Rose brew, a “saison brewed with rosemary, rosehips, and honey, aged on crushed pink peppercorns.” The rosemary and rose combo was interesting and these cupcakes seemed like the perfect fit for it.

I’ll be honest, these cupcakes are a bit of a project, mostly because there are 3 components. I’m posting them today so that you can set aside a leisurely weekend afternoon to make them :) I’m going to give the cupcake and frosting recipes here, and then a longer photo tutorial for the roses.

If rosemary and/or rose water isn’t your thing, feel free to skip one or both of them, and you’ll end up with a delicious chocolate cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting. You could obviously skip the gumdrop roses, too… but they’re so pretty! No one will believe you made them.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Three Roses Cupcakes

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Rosemary Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang

Yields 10-12 cupcakes (depending on how much batter you sample!)


2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 Tbsp chopped finely fresh rosemary


Do not preheat oven yet – the batter must sit for an hour beforehand. Sorry!

In a large bowl, combine the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder.

In a heatproof dish, microwave the sugar, butter and water, stopping to stir every 30 seconds to 1 minute, until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot butter-sugar mixture over the chocolate and whisk until chocolate is completely melted.

Next, whisk the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add salt and rosemary and stir until well mixed. Dump the flour mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. The batter will be quite soupy.

Now the batter must sit for an hour at room temperature. This allows the liquid to absorb into the batter and thickens it up. Don’t skip this step! I once exploded these cupcakes in my oven after doing just such a thing. You can also keep the batter in your fridge for several days before baking.

After the batter has sat for an hour, you can now preheat the oven to 350. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Line a muffin tin with paper cucpake liners.

Spoon in the batter, filling each cup no more than 2/3 full.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until the tops spring back when pressed with your fingertip, and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out with moist crumbs. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before frosting.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Rose Scented Buttercream


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature (but not warmer)

2 tsp rose water (if leaving out, substitute with 1 tsp vanilla)

4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar

2-4 Tbsp milk (I used almond milk)


With an electric stand or hand mixer, cream together butter and rose water on medium speed.

Sift in sugar 1 cup at a time, beating well and scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.

When all the sugar has been beaten in, the icing will appear dry. Add milk, 1 Tbsp at a time, and beat until light and fluffy.

Keep icing in the fridge, covered with a damp cloth or paper towel, until ready to assemble cupcakes.

Icing can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Re-whip before using.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Gumdrop Roses

Adapted from Real Simple


12 red gumdrops (or more – 3 gumdrops per rose)

3-4 green gumpdrops

granulated sugar for dusting work surface

rolling pin

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa


Dust a clean work surface with granulated sugar. Place one gumdrop on the sugar and press with rolling pin.

Press and roll the gumdrop into a long tongue to about 1/8 inch thick. I like to flip the gumdrop over to re-coat it with sugar each time I roll it out to avoid sticking.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Repeat with remaining gumdrops.

Have you ever “sugared” your work surface before instead of “flouring” it? Isn’t it funny that you can do that?! It makes me giggle. The sugar really does a great job of keeping these from sticking, though. Add more sugar if they do start to stick, and wipe the sticky bits off your rolling pin. That being said, don’t worry too much if the edges turn out rough. Imperfect roses are some of the best ones!

Now cut each tongue in half crosswise.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Now we’re ready to make the roses! Roll one piece up like so:

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Then wrap the other 5 halves around it, one by one:

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Pinch the bottom of the rose together between each petal to hold it in place.

Repeat until you have 4 roses.

You will end up with a kind of ugly tail on each rose as you pinch the petals into place. No worries! Cut it off when you’re done so that the rose will be able to stand upright. Then handle as LITTLE as possible until you place them on the cupcakes.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

For the leaves, roll out the green gumdrops in a similar way. You will first want to clean any red sticky bits off your rolling pin and work surface first. Then cut little leaf shapes out of the green tongues.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

I like to cut 1-3 leaves for each rose; varying the number of leaves looks nice.

You don’t need to do anything with the leaves until you’re ready to assemble the cupcakes.

And that’s it! A couple things to note about these roses:

– I don’t recommend eating them, unless you like gumdrops. I don’t think they taste very good.

– I’ve tried making them with Swedish fish, because those taste better! But I found that the Swedish fish took a lot more elbow grease to roll out, and didn’t stick together as well. I don’t really recommend Swedish fish. But if you know that you are serving these to people who will insist on eating them and then be grossed out by the gumdrop flavor, you could definitely give Swedish fish a try.

– With rolling out the gumdrops, thinner is not necessarily better (unless you’re trying to do Swedish fish, where I’d advise that you roll them out pretty thin to get them sticky enough). The picture below illustrates the difference between a rose where the gumdrop petals are rolled out very thinly (left, and as pictured in the “tongue” pictures above) or not so thinly (right). Whichever you prefer!

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Now the moment you’ve been waiting for… you’re all done with the many components of these cupcakes! To assemble:

Remove the completely cooled cupcakes (still in their paper liners) from the muffin tin.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Pipe icing (or spread with a knife) onto the cupcakes.

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

You will most likely have some icing leftover. You can freeze it! Just thaw and re-whip before using.

Place the roses on the cupcakes, sticking a few leaves into the icing next to each one. I think it looks nice to have roses on only a few of the cupcakes, but of course you could make more roses if you’re ambitious enough.

Voila! Impress your friends with these beautiful and fragrant cupcakes.


About 3 hours total

three roses cupcakes | Coffee & Quinoa

Enjoy and have a good weekend, friends! Let’s make sure to discuss The Bachelor on Tuesday.

White Bean and Kale Stuffed Peppers

I think it’s finally fall.

The boots and sweaters are out, and we got our first snowfall yesterday. That means I plan on turning on my oven as often as I possibly can – starting with Wednesday’s cookies and continuing with these quinoa-stuffed peppers.

Maybe stuffed peppers are a little bit 80s, and I’m OK with that. They bring me back to my parents’ kitchen, where stuffed peppers made a regular appearance in my mom’s dinner rotation. That qualifies these as comfort food for me. Also, like any mixed-together dish, they totally make the best leftovers.

white bean and kale stuffed peppers

Can we talk about leftovers for a sec? As a kid, I hated them. I vowed I would never eat leftovers in my adult life, kind of like some kids said they’d stay up all night when they were grown up. (Even as a kid I don’t think I ever made that claim – I’ve always loved to sleep!) In any case, I’ve done a total 180 on the leftovers thing. Get this: You only cook once… and you get to eat more than once. Best thing ever! Plus, there’s something about a stuffed pepper in a tupperware container that is just so cute. Taking my good-looking leftovers out of the fridge at work the next day, I really feel like an adult, kind of like when I make my own stock or cook dried beans from scratch instead of using canned.

Speaking of beans and stock, both make an appearance in this recipe. The beans I did make from scratch, but they didn’t turn out very pretty. Deb from the amazing Smitten Kitchen mentioned in a post from a few years ago that she makes beans in a slow-cooker, which means no pre-soaking required. That sounds delightful to me, and I think I’ll try it next time. As for the vegetable stock, I have to admit I bought it from Whole Foods. I recently tried making my own veggie stock, but found that it didn’t turn out very well. I think I’m just used to making chicken stock, because my veggie stock seemed to be missing a little something. Duh… chicken. Anyway, I’m due for another try sometime soon, but in the meantime I’m sticking to the soup aisle.

If you’re smart, you’ll wait to make these until bell peppers go on sale at your supermarket. If you’re impatient like me and enjoy parting with your whole paycheck every time you buy produce, you’ll make these as soon as you have a craving and end up spending approximately $12 on bell peppers. Oops.

This is my first pass at these stuffed peppers, so let me tell what I would do differently next time: I would add some lemon zest, maybe a bit more rosemary, and more tomato paste for flavor. I would also add more kale (maybe double it?) because it cooked down quite a bit. If you try out those changes, leave a comment to let me know how it goes!

white bean and kale stuffed peppers

White Bean and Kale Stuffed Peppers

makes 6 servings


1 cup quinoa
1 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

6 red bell peppers

Olive oil for pan
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 cups packed shredded kale
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 3/4 cup cannellini beans (or 1 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)
Juice of 1 lemon
Sprinkle of crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

white bean and kale stuffed peppers


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the membranes. Place the peppers in a baking dish and bake for 15 minutes to soften. Chop up the tops of the peppers to add in later.

Rinse quinoa and add to a small pot with the vegetable broth. (You should use the amount of liquid that usually works for you when cooking quinoa – I usually see recipes call for 1 1/2 cups, but less works better for me.) Cook for about 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and no liquid remains.

Add a small amount of olive oil to a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onions, garlic, and carrots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rosemary. Stir in the kale and chopped bell peppers. Saute until softened, 2-3 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add the quinoa, tomato paste, beans and lemon juice (and zest if using) and stir to combine. Season to taste with crushed red pepper, salt and pepper.

Spoon the quinoa mixture into the peppers and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Serve hot!

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