homemade cake + soup make this bleak weather bearable

Make your own soup from scratch!  Please.  :)

No canned or tubbed store-bought soup can match the taste and enjoyment of preparing your own.  And if you're in the mood to whip up your own soup this weekend, I recommend smitten kitchen's mushroom and farro soup!  I made it at the beginning of this week, with a few substitutions depending on the goods I had on hand, and it lasted us all week, up until just a few minutes ago when I polished off the last bowl. mmmmm... 

Here are her ingredients, with my changes in green:

Mushroom and Farro Orzo Soup
1/3 cup dried mushrooms like porcini 1 1/4 cups dried wild mushroom mix {Costco!}
2 tablespoons safflower oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 medium parsnip, grated and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound 5 fresh button mushrooms* (white, cremini, shiitake or a mixture thereof; I used 100% brown/creminis)
1/2 cup farro, pearled barley, or spelt, rinsed orzo
6 cups low sodium or salt-free beef broth or stock (vegetable, mushroom or chicken stock can be swapped)
1/4 cup dry sherry Marsala
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar ume plum vinegar

So, as you can see, I made almost an entirely different soup, but it came out amazing!  The first night, Gabe made little garlic potato bread toasts to go with it.  *Quick note about the lack of fresh mushrooms in my recipe:  that's all I had!  lol.  I would like to have used a whole pound of fresh and fewer dried, but it worked out fine.  

Aaaaaaand for dessert, I baked two cakes--one for the office {lucky guys!} and one for home--using another intriguing recipe from smitten kitchen.  She calls it Clementine Cake because--you guessed it--it calls for clementines!  Or cuties, or mini tangerines, or whatever you call them in your 'hood.  I don't know if they are popular everywhere, but around here folks buy these by the bushel all winter long, sometimes paying up to $10 for a small box. No joke!  In our home, we are always stocked up so I was thrilled to find this recipe and try my hand at it.  I love that it is a flourless, dairy-less cake that is super simple to make.  Oh, and it is especially delicious...for dessert, snack, or even breakfast as it turns out.

I opted to dust the tops of the cakes with powder sugar rather than make a glaze to drizzle, admittedly because I was feeling pretty lazy at this point and wanted to be done in the kitchen.  And don't worry about the cake being too tart or sweet, it isn't too anything.  It has a fun texture and a balanced flavor that will satisfy even this non-orange-flavor-liker {??}. 

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