January 31, 2010

Recipe: Berry-and-Spice Whole-Wheat Muffins

My unofficial taste testers agree the streusel topping on these Southern Living muffins makes their just-sweet-enough, grainy taste decadent. The buttermilk makes the bread moist and light, and the spices make for a slightly more complex flavor than your ordinary blueberry muffin. I've so much fallen in love with this recipe that the box muffins with streusel topping I used to really like just don't taste that great anymore. It's now my go-to muffin recipe, unless I want a more indulgent, bakery-like muffin, in which case I opt for Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins.

Berry-and-Spice Whole-Wheat Muffins

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Combine brown sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, and pecans in a small bowl. Stir in melted butter; set aside.

Combine 1 cup all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture.

Stir together egg, buttermilk, and oil; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Fold in blueberries.

Spoon about 1/3 cup batter into each of 12 lightly greased muffin cups. Sprinkle batter evenly with reserved pecan mixture.

Bake at 375° for 19 to 21 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pans on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pans, and cool slightly on wire rack. Serve warm. 

January 25, 2010

Three Things: Butternut Squash

Butternut squash's sweet, nutty taste and versatility won itself a spot as my favorite veggie of the wintertime this year. They keep for months at a time and make lots of servings. Here's what I did with it:
1. Roasted it.
Sweet and nutty side dish

a. Peel, scoop out the insides and chop into bite-sized peices. Place on cookie sheet.
b. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle it with cinnamon.
c. Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes or until soft.

2. Soup-ified it.
Thick, creamy soup I based off this recipe
a. Put roasted squash (see number 1), two percent milk and chicken broth into a blender.
b. Blend until creamy.
c. Microwave it in a bowl (or heat in a pot on the stove) until warm.
d. Top with toasted walnuts.
3. Put it in a main dish.
Makes for a hearty, veggilicious dinner.
a. Peel, scoop out the insides and chop the squash.
b. Follow a recipe, such as this Cooking Light Chicken-Butternut Tagine, a Moroccan dish with sweet, smoky flavor.

January 14, 2010

Recipe: Chocolate Java Cakes

I find it impossible to pass up on dessert when a restaurant has some sort of chocolate lava cake-- a warm chocolate cake with a rich, gooey center. Oh, chocolate decadence. So last weekend I set out to make this restaurant goodness to fancify and chocolify a weekend dinner at home with this Southern Living rendition I found over a year ago. The batter impressively forms a cakey outside and a lava-like center. On second thought, the power of the chocolate batter to transform into something so wonderfully complex makes sense given the extremity of indulgence, whose nutritional stats I tried not think about while mixing it up.

The richness of the cake necessitates each bite be taken with a lighter, creamier substance, like some vanilla ice cream. The original recipe called for coffee to make it a mocha java cake, but I wanted it pure chocolate. I also halved the ingredients to make 3 servings, which is really lik six servings because it's too much to eat a whole one alone (unless you're my dad). Chocolate Lava Cakes

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup butter

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate morsels (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips.)

4 egg yolks

4 large eggs

2 cups powdered sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

Garnish: powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Grease 6 (6-oz.) ramekins or individual soufflĂ© dishes with 1 Tbsp. butter.

2. Microwave 1 cup butter and chocolate morsels in a microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 2 minutes or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, whisking at 1-minute intervals.

3. Beat egg yolks and eggs at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 minute. Gradually add chocolate mixture, beating at low speed until well blended.

4. Sift together sugar and next 3 ingredients. Gradually whisk sugar mixture into chocolate mixture until well blended. Divide batter among prepared ramekins. Place ramekins on a jelly-roll pan.

5. Bake at 425° for 16 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into cakes registers 165°. Remove from oven, and let stand 10 minutes. Run a knife around outer edge of each cake to loosen. Carefully invert cakes onto dessert plates. Garnish, if desired.

January 10, 2010

Recipe: Carrot Cake Pancakes

Being as my Saturday morning treat is unique, hearty pancakes, this recipe from an article on Denver in the January Cooking Light immediately moved the the top of my to-cook queue. They are very carrot-dense, but the white flour keeps the texture light. The warm spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger) that are featured prominently in every bite make the cakes taste sweet. 

The carrot grating is time consuming, but I thought the unique spice combination and veggie-packing made worth it enough to be made again for sure. 

Carrot Cake Pancakes

1 ¼ cups all-purpose

1/4  cup  chopped walnuts, toasted

2  teaspoons  baking powder

1  teaspoon  ground cinnamon

1/4  teaspoon  salt

1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground nutmeg

Dash of ground cloves

Dash of ground ginger

1/4  cup  brown sugar

3/4  cup  low-fat buttermilk

1  tablespoon  canola oil

1 1/2  teaspoons  vanilla extract

2  large eggs, lightly beaten

2  cups  finely grated carrot (about 1 pound)

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through ginger) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine 1/4 cup brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through eggs); add sugar mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in 2 cups carrot.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spoon 4 (1/4 cup) batter mounds onto pan, spreading with a spatula. Cook for 2 minutes or until tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Carefully turn pancakes over; cook 1 minute or until bottoms are lightly browned. Repeat procedure twice with remaining batter. 

January 3, 2010

Recipe: Puppy Chow

Don't be fooled by its name or non-descript look; peanut-butter-chocolate-coated Chex cereal is perhaps the most addictive concoction I have made. My freshman-year college roommate and I took advantage of the simple process (all you need is a microwave, bowl and plastic bag) to make it in our teeny, tiny dorm room, where it rarely lasted beyond one evening.

I like to keep it in the freezer to keep it cold; its consistency doesn't get that hard when frozen. Most recently it made served as a most-perfect late-night snack at a women's retreat. Beware of its power to force you to answer its beckoning to return for just a few pieces, over and over and over again.

Puppy Chow

3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
8 cups Crispix cereal
2 cups powdered sugar

Melt peanut butter, chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir Crispix with chocolate mixture. Spoon cereal-and-chocolate mixture in a large plastic bag; add powdered sugar and shake until cereals is coated with the sugar.