Wednesday, April 30, 2008

.apple streusel muffins.

When I was 17, I worked during the summer at my Dad's bank (not his bank..but the bank he worked for) doing odd jobs to earn money. There was a bakery around the corner that sold every kind of muffin you could ever think of. They had chocolate chip muffins, blueberry, zucchini, carrot cake, YOU NAME IT, they had it. My absolute favorite was their Apple Streusel muffin. When I opened my bakery, I wanted to have a ton of varieties for my patrons just like this place.

Muffins at the bakery were very popular. People would walk in and glance into the display case and gasp at the size of these massive treats. I don't use the traditional muffin pans. I use Texas sized muffin pans for honkin huge Texas sized muffins!

This recipe calls for zero transfat and with apple pieces baked into each muffin? Yummy wholesome-y goodness. The *only* fat is the 1/4 cup butter in the streusel topping. Can't beat that!

In a bowl, mix together:
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup powdered milk

This is my standard muffin mix. When making various flavor muffins, however, I jazz it up.

For these muffins, we're going to add 1 Tbsp cinnamon.

Peel, core, and dice two granny smith apples. You don't want the pieces too big or else they won't bake enough and you'll have hard pieces in your moist muffins.

In a measuring cup, put 1 cup applesauce. This replaces the oil!

Leave the apple sauce in the cup and then fill it to the 2 cup line with cold water.

Add 2 eggs to the measuring cup. Mix together to blend the wet ingredients together.

Pour it all into the dry ingredients.

Mix only until the dry ingredients are wet. You WANT your batter to be thick and lumpy. If it's *too* thick, add a little more apple sauce. You don't want it soupy though because then they won't rise and you won't have the nice muffin top we're going for.

Add the apple pieces and mix together. Remember. Don't overwork it!

Spoon into a sprayed muffin pan about 3/4 of the way up.

Now let's make the streusel topping.

In a bowl put 3/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup butter, cut up.

Cut the butter in with a pastry blender until it's nice and crumbly. I love adding walnuts to the topping. I'm out of them right now, but if you have some, add them at this stage (about 1/2 cup).

Put some of the streusel topping on top of each muffin.

Put in a preheated 425* oven.

Bake for 10-15 minutes at this temp. When they are nice and domed, reduce the heat immediately to 350* and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The key to nice lifted muffin tops is to not have too wet a batter, and start the baking off with a high temp. It forces the hot air through the muffin giving it that peak.

Pull from the oven when done and dump onto cooling racks. Let them cool on their tops before standing upright. The heavy muffin tops will sometimes make the bottoms collapse in on themselves. We don't want flat muffins!

Serve with fresh fruit or with butter. ;) Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

.broccoli cheese soup.

I am so angry right now! I had all of the photos taken from when I made the soup, yet when I went to upload and edit, they were GONE! So all I have is a picture of the soup made and presented. AGH! How frustrating.

Since this really is rather easy to make, I will walk you through it. :) :)

Ingredients you need:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 package baby broccoli flowerets, frozen (I use Birds Eye brand)
  • Jarlsberg, Gruyere, and Cheddar cheeses (almost a cup shredded of each)
  • 3 cans chicken broth (abt. 5-6 cups)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • salt and pepper
  • Nutmeg

In a soup pot, heat 2 Tbsp butter and a little olive oil. Toss in the onion, garlic, and celery when it's hot. Sautee until the celery is tender and onion is translucent.

Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and then cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add broccoli. Cover and cook another 10 minutes.

While the broccoli is cooking, put the 2 cups milk and 1/2 cup flour in a bowl. Whisk until there aren't any more lumps.

When the 10 minutes are up, stir the soup while pouring the milk in. This will keep lumps from forming. Stir over medium high heat and soup will begin to thicken. Add the cheese. Stir til melted.

Season with salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg.

Serve with salad, or rolls.

Printable version:

Monday, April 28, 2008

.roast chicken and goat cheese cups.

Sometimes it's "test kitchen" day at my house. Today was one of those days. The recipe was one someone mentioned at The Pod (Thanks Ashley!) and it sounded pretty good. I changed the recipe up a little but for the most part, I think it's spot on.

The ingredients you need:
Crescent rolls
Roasted chicken
Parmesan cheese
Green onion/chives
Herbed goat cheese

Let's prep. Chop up 1 bunch green onion. Set aside.

Slice up mushrooms (1 cup). Set aside.

Put some butter in a saute skillet and saute the mushrooms. Set aside.

Pull apart chicken. I used half of the chicken here. Set aside.

Grate some parmesan cheese (1 cup). Set aside.

Slice the goat cheese into equal parts. Set aside.

Open the crescent roll packages. Use two crescent rolls per muffin cup. Smoosh in there to form a shell.

Completed shells in one pan.

Put a pat of goat cheese in each cup.

Put some sauteed mushrooms in each cup.

Now put some of the chicken on top.

And then the green onion.

Put a few shakes of basil on top.

The last step. Put the grated parmesan cheese on top.

Put in a preheated 350* oven and bake for 20 minutes. If the tops start getting too brown, put a piece of foil on top.

Serve with veggies and/or salad.

[Chef's notes: This was the first time I had ever made this. It was tasty, but the goat cheese was a little too much. If I were to make this again, I would smoosh together all the ingredients (except the parmesan) and add some spinach to the mix. I'd also season with salt and pepper. ]

Printable version:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

.a great day.

Today has been a great day.
Hubby let me sleep in.
Woke up to two very happy girls who had been fed and loved on by their daddy.
Make some pink lemonade with Paige.
Surprised hubby with a refreshing glass of lemonade, and
Made cupcakes with Paige.

No matter what, she HAS to separate the eggs. She's pretty good at it too!

Mixing up the batter.

We forgot to put the sprinkles in the mix, so here she is putting them in each cup.

I frosted. She sprinkled.

Doesn't she look so proud of her baking skills?

Sometimes the best bakers in the world still make boxed mix cupcakes with their kids....
And love every minute of it! ;)

Friday, April 25, 2008

.holy moly.

I feel like I never closed the bakery. I have been SO BUSY with orders and making cakes for a cake auction that happened tonight to raise money for the girls at church to go to camp this summer.

I made two of these babies.

Death.... by chocolate. I will put the recipe up sometime next week. It's extremely labor intensive, but I know a couple people that want to know how to make it and I promised to put it on here.
Sorry for the crappy picture. I was in a hurry to get to the church! Have a great weekend everyone! :D

.look who's 5 months old!.

Perry hit 5 months old yesterday.

I put piggies in her hair for the first time to celebrate.

Makes me giggle.

.troll alert.

A troll has come to visit the blog. As you can see from the ratings on this front page, she (or he) has had some fun with the ratings. If it continues to be a problem (we know how fun shiny little toys are for trolls) I will have to take the ratings away.

It's nice some people get off on being so mean to others. (sarcastic smirk)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

.kalua pork.

I feel like we're having tropical food week! Three days ago I posted Shrimp Scampi, earlier today I posted Fruit Salsa w/ Cinnamon Tortilla chips, and now we've got Kalua pork.

Kalua pork is a pretty big deal in Hawaii. It's done at every luau, where traditionally they take the whole pig, gut it, fill the body cavity with salt, ginger, and garlic, and banana leaves. Then hot coals are stuck inside and it's buried in the ground, then covered with more hot coals, banana leaves and then palm fronds. It's layered well to retain the heat in the ground. After hours of roasting, they raise the pig up and carve and shred.

Seeing it costs a small fortune to get a pig of my own, and seeing I can't actually EAT that much pig, I take the easy road.

Typically you're supposed to use pork shoulder roast. I'm using pork loin. About 2 lbs. You can use either cut of meat. This is what I had here at the house.

Two days ago I put the pork in a brine to marinate. I roughly cut up some garlic and gingerroot. Put in a large ziploc with the pork roast.

If you're not familiar with this fancy little product, it's called liquid smoke. Really. It smells like smoke.

A little side warning. Do NOT inhale this stuff and do NOT use too much. I'm warning you. It is potent!

I put about 1/2 tsp of liquid smoke in the ziploc as well.

Pour in 1/4 cup salt.

Fill the ziploc with some water. Just enough to cover the pork. Seal well then put in a bowl or baking pan to keep the ziploc from lying flat. The juices might seep out all over your fridge.

Put this in the fridge for at least one day.

When you're ready to bake, pour out most of the liquid and put the roast with the garlic and ginger in a small roasting pan. Cover with foil and put in a 325* oven for 3-4 hours.

When it's done, the meat will pull apart very easily.

You can see how nice this looks. We're almost there! This part is the most tedious but shouldn't take long at all. My husband was a sweetie and pulled the pork for me! YAY!

Remove all of the ginger and garlic pieces before shredding. Keep whatever liquid is in the pan. This will keep the pork moist.

Voila. Shredded kalua pork! In Hawaii, they serve this with poi, or as I like to call Hawaiian gravy. They put poi on EVERYTHING. Not sure what poi is? It's mashed taro root. Taro is like a purple potato. I personally do not like it at all. Tonight I served the pork with rice and peas. On the islands, since this is typically luau fare, they have salad, macaroni salad, lomi lomi salmon, and rolls to go with this.

Now you can bring a bit of the islands home to you and your family! Aloha!

.fruit salsa w/ cinnamon tortilla chips.

I went to a party once when I lived in Virginia where this dish was served. My friend, Jenna, said she got it out of the Better Homes and Garden cookbook. Well, I looked in mine and it's not in there.... but she's a lot younger than I am so she probably had a newer addition. I loved it. Not only was it a really light, fresh appetizer, it was really pretty and tasty! Good food is usually very visually pretty. ;)

This is also a very low-fat/low-cal recipe so you can't go wrong with this dish! Here's how we make it.

Take 10 fajita sized tortillas. Cut in half, then in half again. Then in half again. We're quartering them to make our baked cinnamon tortilla chips.

Arrange the tortilla wedges on a baking sheet. You'll need to use about 3 sheets, or just keep cranking them out using one. You don't want them to overlap or else they won't get crispy in the oven.

Melt 1/4 c. butter in the microwave.

Brush the wedges lightly with some of the melted butter.

Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar. Put in a 350* oven for 10 minutes. After those 10 minutes are up, turn the oven to 400* and bake another minute. This will crisp up those chips!

Pull chips from the oven and let cool. These can be made the night before and put in a ziploc to keep fresh.

[TIP: Instead of throwing out your spice jars, clean one up and put some sugar and cinnamon in it. Shake well. Mark the lid with a STAR for easy finding. You'll always have cinnamon/sugar ready for toast or other things like this!]

While the tortilla wedges are in the oven we're going to make the salsa.

Peel and finely dice one mango.

Peel, slice, then finely dice 2 kiwi.

Make sure when you buy the kiwi that they aren't too squishy. They need to be firmer or else they will be nothing but mush when you go to dice.

Dice about 2 cups strawberries.

Put all the fruit in a bowl and mix together.

Using the small grate on your cheese grater, zest one lemon. Only grate once or twice in the same spot. You don't want any of the pith (the white stuff under the pretty yellow skin). Add to the bowl.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze into the bowl. Take any seeds out that might have fallen from the lemon into the bowl.

Sprinkle in about 1 Tbsp shredded coconut. Stir everything together.

This salsa is adaptable for anyone's taste. Pineapple would be a wonderful compliment to this, but my husband doesn't care for pineapple. I added a little diced banana to my bowl. If you use banana, make sure you add it at the very last minute because they brown quickly.

You can also add plum, peaches, and some chopped mint!

[TIP: When you only need half of a lemon, use the other half to bleach and sanitize your cutting boards. Sprinkle some salt on the flat side of the lemon and then rub in a circular motion. Let sit for 1/2 hour before washing.]