Saturday, May 22, 2010

Strawberry Muffins

This week's IHCC theme is potluck. I really had no clue what I was going to make until a trip to the Farmer's Market this morning. We picked up some fabulous strawberries, as well as some freshly ground wheat flour. Muffins sounded like a good way to put them both to use.

I followed Bittman's basic muffin recipe, and added the extra sugar and cinnamon he suggests for blueberry muffins. I also substituted half of the AP flour with wheat flour, and it worked well. We really enjoyed these muffins.

Strawberry Muffins
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

3 Tbsp melted butter or canola or other neutral cooking oil, plus some for greasing the tins.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk, plus more if needed
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a standard 12-compartment muffin tin.

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk, and butter or oil. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, combine the ingredients swiftly, stirring and folding rather than beating, and stopping as soon as the dry ingredients are moistened. The batter should be lumpy, not smooth, and thick but quite moist. Add a little more milk or other liquid if necessary. Fold in the strawberries gently.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them about two-thirds full and handling the batter as little as possible. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until the muffins are nicely browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle of one of them comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before removing from tin. Serve warm.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brownies

This week's I Heart Cooking Clubs theme was Movie Night. I really wanted to do pizza, but since we've been traveling to and fro for what seems like forever, I didn't have time. Conveniently, I had a chocolate craving, and decided that I would go with the dessert for movie night.

Bittman's brownie recipe is fairly straightforward, which I like. It's not fancy-schmancy. There are no weird ingredients. I had a craving and 10 minutes later, these bad boys were in the oven baking. (On second thought, that might not be a good thing...)

His recipe is here. The only change I made was to add a 3rd egg - I prefer cakey brownies to fudgy/chewy brownies, so I always add an extra one of I'm just making them for us. I really liked these - they had a nice chocolate flavor with just enough sugar. This batter is also a nice base to add all kinds of add-ins or flavors.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spicy Chicken Pita Wedges

This is an appetizer that I first found through a Junior League cookbook - A Sterling Collection - The Best of the Junior League of Memphis. I had to make it for my placement one year, and loved it. I fix it at least a few times a year, and it's always a hit.

Spicy Chicken Pita Wedges
Adapted from A Sterling Collection - The Best of the Junior League of Memphis

1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled & chopped
12 ounces of cream cheese, softened
6-7 oz cheddar or monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped red onion
3 green onions, sliced
1-3 Tbsp pickled jalapeno peppers, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
salt and pepper to taste
4 pita rounds

Combine chicken, cream cheese, shredded cheese, sour cream, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, chili powder, coriander, and salt and pepper in a large bowl & mix well (this works well in a stand mixer).

Split the pita rounds horizontally and place on work surface, with cut side facing up. Spread the chicken mixture on the pitas. Cut each round into 8 wedges with a sharp pizza cutter and place the pita rounds on a nonstick baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken mixture is bubbly. Serve immediately.

Can garnish with things such as olives, green onions, shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, etc...

(The cream cheese mixture freezes well and can be made ahead of time. Just thaw in refrigerator.)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Light & Fluffy Pancakes

So glad to be back in the swing of things and cooking something for this week's I Heart Cooking Clubs - a breakfast recipe by Bittman. As I looked through the breakfast recipes in How to Cook Everything, nothing really jumped out at me, so pancakes it was.

Of course I couldn't just make pancakes. No... I had to get all healthy and try buckwheat pancakes. (There is a substitution note included with the recipe.) Not sure what bee flew up my bonnet at that moment, but it wasn't a good one. Pancakes aren't meant to be health food. The flavor was much too earthy for breakfast pancakes with syrup on top.

The texture was good, and I think if I had used white flour (or maybe half white/half wheat) they would have been fabulous. The addition of the fluffy egg whites makes them delish. So, all in all, I think this is a good pancake recipe - provided you enjoy your pancakes and don't try to get all health-nut-crazy with them.

Light and Fluffy Pancakes
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1 cup milk (1 1/4 cup for buckwheat flour)
4 eggs, separated
1 cup all-purpose flour (or buckwheat)
dash salt
1 Tbsp sugar (2 Tbsp sugar if using buckwheat - although it doesn't help that much.)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
Butter for skillet

Preheat a griddle/skillet over medium-low heat while assembling the pancake batter.

Beat together the milk and the egg yolks. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. In a 3rd bowl, beat the egg whites with a whisk or electric mixer until stiff, but not dry.

Combine the dry ingredients with the milk/yolk mixture, stirring to blend. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites - they should remain somewhat distinct in the batter.

Add roughly 1 tsp of butter to the skillet, and when it is hot, add the batter by the heaping tablespoon, making sure to include some of the egg whites in each spoonful. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom (3-5 min), then turn and cook until the second side is borwn. These may be kept warm in a 200 degree oven for up to 15 minutes.

I took a picture, only to realize my memory card wasn't in my camera. They weren't really pretty pancakes anyway due to the buckwheat.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Quinoa Pilaf

It's been a rainy, rainy day here. And we're all really, really bored. Which led to cleaning out the pantry. Which led to finding the ginormous bag of quinoa I bought at Costco back in January (you know - when we all have every intention of eating better?). So, why not make something with it?

There are thousands of quinoa recipes, and it can be used in everything from side dishes to baked goods. It's a healthy grain, packed full of nutrients, and much healthier than the white rice and pasta we eat so often. I decided to try a pilaf. After looking around the web a bit, I got an idea of ratios, and then just went with what was on hand. It was just as good as a side dish as rice, and I think this might replace the typical rice side dishes we have so often.

Quinoa Pilaf

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
10 baby carrots, sliced thinly
1 stalk celery, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups broth (chicken, vegetable)

Rinse the quinoa at least once (I rinsed twice) in a strainer. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and saute for about 5 minutes. Add quinoa and garlic, and give it a few stirs before adding the broth. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmering for about 15 minutes.
Serve hot. (I think you could also serve cold, but something about that sounds icky to me.)