Saturday, March 29, 2008

Multigrain Muffins with blueberries and lemon zest

Although I love the muffins from my previous muffin post, I wanted to try another muffin recipe from the same cookbook - Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home. I loved the multigrain pancakes I made previously, and I was hoping a similar muffin recipe would be just as tasty (as well as nutritious).
The cookbook promised a crisp crust and an unexpectedly delicate, light interior. I was skeptical, but they were right! They were not heavy, as you would expect a multigrain muffin to be. They were less sweet than other muffins, but the blueberries and lemon zest gave them a nice flavor, so they still tasted good. And you could always add extra sugar, or even some honey, if you wanted them sweeter.

Again - no pictures of these muffins - we ate them too fast!

Mulitgrain Muffins
1 large egg or 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick cooking oats

1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (up to 1/2 cup may be replaced by wheat bran)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. In a bowl, stir together egg or egg whites, oil, buttermilk, brown sugar, and oats. In another bowl, combine the flours, optional wheat bran, and salt. Sprinkle in the baking soda and baking powder and mix well. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir just until a smooth batter is formed.
3. Spoon the batter into oiled muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes, until puffed and golden. A knife inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and remove the muffins from pan.

--Add 1 tbsp of freshly grated lemon peel to the dry ingredients and flod 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries into the finished batter.
--Add 1/2 tsp of cinnamon to the dry ingredients, and fold 1 1/2 cups of chopped peeled apples to the finished batter

*I didn't have any buttermilk, so I used 1/2 a cup of yogurt and 1/2 cup of milk. (I thought the yogurt might give the same tangy flavor to the muffins, but didn't want it to be too thick, so that's why I used half yogurt/ half milk).
*I don't know what whole wheat pastry flour is. I just had plain whole wheat flour, so that's what I used!

Tex-Mex Tilapia and Quinoa Black Bean Salad

One of the meals I made for my parents during their visit was a favorite of my husband's. He loves the spicy, limey taste of this fish, and I love how easy it is to make!
I found it on All-Recipes when searching for tilapia recipes that used ingredients I had on hand that day. This one fit the bill, and it was a winner with Scott, so I kept it in the rotation!

Tex Mex Tilapia
4 (3 ounce) fresh tilapia fillets
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, sliced into rings
8 sprigs cilantro leaves
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Lay tilapia fillets in a glass baking dish. Drizzle olive oil and lime juice evenly over the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
2. Transfer tilapia to a non-stick skillet and pour the lime juice mixture over the fish. Scatter the tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro over the fillets. Cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes per side.

*When I made it last week, the jalepenos must have been extra spicy (based on the comments from the tasters). Too bad peppers don't come with a spicy-meter on them!

The quinoa salad is a favorite of mine, expecially in the warmer months. It is refreshing and limey, with chewy quinoa and crunchy bell peppers, and super easy to make! It is from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish
1/3 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
4 tsp fresh lime juice, more to taste
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp minced scallions
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (15-oz can, drained)
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup diced bell peppers
2 tsp minced fresh green chiles
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
lemon or lime wedges for garnish

1. Rinse the quinoa well in a sieve under cool running water. In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil, add the quinoa, cover, and simmer on low heat, until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, combine the oil, lime juice, cumin, coriander, cilantro, and scallions. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, and chiles. Add the cooled quinoa, and salt and pepper to taste, and combine thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with lime or lemon wedges.

*I didn't have any bell peppers last week, so I omitted them. Also, as I typed this recipe, I realized I forgot the tomatoes last week too. Oops! Sorry Mom and Dad! I served the salad on some leaves of baby lettuce - it looked fancy. Maybe I can be on Top Chef soon!! Hahaha

**Unfortunately, I have NO PICTURES of any of the food I made during my parents visit. We ate it all too fast! I'm sure I'll make them all again, and when I do, I'll snap a pic and post it!


My mom is an excellent quiche maker. She can whip them out in a moment's notice - expertly making the dough by hand (with a pastry blender I think). The pastry is always flaky and delicious, and the filling is always filled with yummy vegetables.

I decided to try my hand at quiches for my daughter's preschool class. We had snack duty all week, and the letter of the week was Q, so I thought we could give it a try. I make mini ones so the kids would find them more appetizing.

I used Martha Stewart's Cheese and Trees Mini Quiche recipe, and her Pate Brisee recipe for the dough. I won't tell you how late I stayed up making them (Lili knows - don't tell!), but they turned out pretty well. Some were prettier than others, but they all tasted good. I even got a request for the recipe from Emma's teacher!

Cheese-and-Trees Mini Quiches

Makes 12 - serves 6

1 small broccoli spear (about 4 ounces)
1 package ready-made pie crust with two crusts (9-inch)
5 large eggs
3 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
1/4 teaspoon each; salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut broccoli into very small florets, and cut stem into 1/4-inch pieces. You should have 1 cup of cut-up broccoli. Fill a medium saucepan halfway with water, and bring to a boil. Add broccoli, and cook until bright green and just tender, about 1 minute. Drain broccoli in a colander, and run cold water over it to stop the cooking. Set aside.
2. Unwrap pie crusts, and use a 3 1/2-inch round cookie cutter or a knife to cut out 12 rounds, 6 from each crust. Gently place each round in a cup of a standard muffin tin, crimping the top edges so the dough fits perfectly. Place a muffin paper on top of each dough cup so it fits down inside. Fill the muffin papers with pie weights or dried beans, and bake 10 minutes. Gently remove weights and papers from pastry shells.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper. Spoon mixture into pastry shells, filling halfway. Add a little of the broccoli to each cup; top with remaining egg mixture so each cup is full. Bake until filling is puffy and set, 12 to 15 minutes.
Serve hot, garnished with grated cheese.

Pate Brisee

Makes two 8- to 10-inch single-crust pies or one 8- to 10-inch double-crust pie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube, just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.
2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide in two. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten, and form two discs. Wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.

*I didn't have any broccoli, so mine were just plain Cheese. And I used a cup to cut the rounds - it didn't work too well, so next time I'll try to find a round biscuit/cookie cutter somewhere.

I made 2 batches of quiches (I made the whole pate brisee recipe) - one with mini muffin tins, and one with standard muffin tins.

Here are the mini-mini-quiches. The pretty ones on the left - the messy ones on the right. But all were tasty!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Happy Easter!

I know, I know - I've been shamefully remiss in my postings on this blog. I haven't posted anything since the 5th. No recipes, no pictures, no nothing! My only excuse is that my parents came to visit last week, so I was busy getting my house spic and span for them - then while they were here, we were too busy having fun to blog!
But, I have some pictures from easter, some new recipes, and some new products to share!
My parents were very kind and brought me the Reynolds Handi-Vac vacuum sealing system plus some bags, so I can store my food in the freezer with no freezer burn.

Then, while we were at Macy's, my dad bought me an Cuisinart Immersion Blender, and an awesome new cookbook - Great Gatherings:Star Chefs Entertain at Home. It has full menus from some star chefs like Rick Bayless, Cat Cora, Wolfgang Puck, Gale Gand, Tyler Florence, and Ming Tsai, just to name a few. They give you recipes and ideas for different gatherings, including a picnic, bbq, paella party, kids bday party, wine paring dinner party, Chinese New Year banquet. There are great looking pictures to go with the recipes too - which I love to see in a cookbook! I can't wait to use this book!

Here is the menu from my parent's visit:

Wednesday night (they arrived around 9pm) : Turkey meatballs with whole wheat pasta (no homemade sauce, just Newman's own), and salad

Thursday: out to eat at The Mash House for dinner

Friday: Cilantro Jalepeno Hummus with chips and crudites, Tex Mex Tilapia, Quinoa and Black Bean salad served over baby lettuce

Saturday: Whole Wheat Blueberry Lemon Muffins for breakfast; and Scott and I went on a date (taking full advantage of the free babysitters staying with us) to a great restaurant in Southern Pines called Ashten's. (I think my parents ate leftovers.)

Sunday: Spicy Scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast; and for Easter dinner - Roast Beef, roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips, and (my favorite) Yorkshire Pudding, with Carrot Cake for dessert.

Monday: Lunch before the airport at Cafe Carolina and Bakery in Cary

And of course, there was plenty of wine, gin and tonics, and tea poured all week too.

We had a great visit with my parents, and we can't wait for them to come again. Hopefully they'll try a different season next time - maybe fall!

Our new kitchen table! Yay!
Easter egg cupcakes (made from silicone pan) for Emma's class
Emma's class getting ready to hunt for Easter eggs!

Emma finding eggs at her school's egg hunt
She found an egg by her Nana and Papa (and Abby)
Emma and her friend Ella at the Easter Egg hunt
My dad with the girls
My mom with Emma
Date Night (please ignore my wild hair and winter white legs!)
Emma finding eggs on Easter morning
Abby finding eggs on Easter morning
Me and the girls on Easter morning
Nana and Papa with the girls after church on Easter
Me and Scott with the girls after church on Easter
Emma and Abby re-examining their Easter baskets
I'll work on posting some recipes in the next week. Look out for Mini-Quiches, Amish Friendship Bread, Citrus Garlic Roasted Chicken, Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic, Turkey Meatballs, Tex-Mex Tilapia, Quinoa and Black Bean Salad, Whole Wheat Blueberry Lemon muffins, and Yorkshire Pudding (my dad's recipe). I have a lot of typing to do!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Pictures! (non-food related)

I realized this week that I've been remiss about sending out pics on shutterfly. I've been taking tons of pictures of my culinary creations, but none of my kids! Actually, I've been taking plenty of pictures of them too, but I haven't been sending them out. So, since I have a blog now, I'll be putting up some pics here just in case I wait 3 months before sending out pictures again!

My BFFs - Lili and Andrea at Mi Cocina in TX

Me and Lili (also at MiCo)

(l-r)True, Pete (Andrea's new hubby), Andrea, Jack, Lili

Scott putting a floor in our attic. What a handy husband!

The girls at Raven Rock SP

Abby has a new love for gloves and mittens. We call her Michael Jackson.

Emma and her friend at preschool - her class had a tea party!

Abby wearing her daddy's hat.
And last but not least - MeowMeow snuggling on the couch with an ostrich

Mini-Muffin Madness

It's our week again to bring snacks to my daughter's preschool class, so we decided to make mini-muffins for tomorrow's snack. I used a recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home called Muffin Madness. It has a basic recipe, then gives you several choices to add to the mix for different kinds of muffins. Today we made Banana Muffins and Blueberry-Lemon Muffins. I've made the Apple Muffins before and loved them, but have never tried making a zucchini muffin (or zucchini bread for that matter. Come to think of it, I don't know that I've ever eaten it! I guess that will be added to my list of recipes to try soon.)

Muffin Madness

Basic Wet Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4-1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Basic Dry Ingredients:
2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Additional Ingredients-
Banana Muffins: Add 1 1/2 cups of mashed ripe bananas (for me it took 3.5 large bananas to yield that much mash!) to the wet ingredients. If you like, fold 1 cup chopped nuts and/or 1/2 cup of chocolate chips into the batter. (I didn't use either this time)

Blueberry-Lemon Muffins:
Add 1 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries and 1 tbs freshly grated lemon peel to the wet ingredients.

Apple Muffins:
Add 2 cups of grated tart apples and 1 tsp of freshly grated lemon peel to wet ingredients. Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the dry ingredients. If you like, fold 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans to the batter.

Zucchini Muffins:
Add 2 cups of grated zucchini to the wet ingredients, and 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1.2 tsp of ground cardamom to the dry ingredients. Fold 1/2 cup of raisins or currants, and 3/4 cup of chopped nuts if you like, into the batter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the fruit or begetable ingredeints of your choice and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt, and any spices your variation calls for. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined, being careful not to overmix the batter. Fold in the additional ingredients called for in your variation.
Spoon the batter into oiled standard muffin tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. If you are using mini-muffin tins, bake for 10 to 15 minutes. A knife inserted into the center of the muffin should come out clean.
These muffins will keep in a sealed container for 3 to 4 days, * if they escape being devoured hot from the oven.

*That's tough to avoid! They are pretty tasty!

They are more dense than "box made" muffins, and they obviously aren't LowFat (1/2 cup of veg oil???), but they are worth every tasty fat gram and calorie!

I had help from my sous chefs for this one:

Mashing bananas*; spooning batter
*I promise I didn't use the measuring cup that Abby is chewing on for any food prep!

Banana muffin batter; Blueberry-Lemon muffin batter

Mini-muffin madness!!