Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Peach Mixed Grain Muffins

The honest to God truth is I did my damnedest to break this recipe. And I failed.

I found the recipe this afternoon from a New York Times article full of summer fruit recipes.  The recipe was for Mixed Grain Blueberry muffins and I was excited about it.  It would use the buttermilk I still have floating around in my refrigerator, plus give me an excuse to break into the whole wheat flour I bought the other day.  And I love blueberries and it's summer and they are beautiful.  And that was the only ingredient I had to buy.  It was supposed to be soothe sailing.

Supposed to be.  After work, I made what I wanted to be a lightning quick stop at the grocery store for blueberries.  It lasted a little bit longer when I realized that the tiny, more gray than blue, spheres they were calling blueberries cost $5.  Is blueberry season over already??  I almost called it quits right there, but wander around the produce section awhile debating the $5 purchase.  I wandered past the peaches on sell for 99 cents a pound several times before thinking "what the heck, why not".  $1.36 later and I was back in my car heading home.  Once home, after realizing I forgot my phone charger at work, but that's another story, I also realized that the recipe called for milk.  I don't actually keep milk stocked in my fridge.  I bummed around my living room for awhile before deciding to use all buttermilk in the recipe.  I got the oats soaking in the buttermilk and started assembling the other wet ingredients.  At which point I realized, half of the buttermilk was supposed to be with those wet ingredients.  So I did my best to drain some from the oats into it, as well as splashed a bit extra in.  The last effort to ruin my muffins was when I sifted about half of the dry ingredients onto my cutting board rather than into the bowl in an attempt to save on dishes.  Yet...

Yet, they turned out.  Somehow, and I haven't quite figured out how yet.  And they're tasty.  In that whole wheat, mixed grain, bran muffin-healthy kind of way.  It still kind of amazes me.  But it also makes me really happy, I love recipes you can't break.  Cause, really, if it didn't break after that, what could break it?  Although there are many things I would do different the next time around, on the top of that list is a heaping teaspoon or two of cinnamon and cut the peaches a bit smaller.  To break up that good bran muffin motif it has going on.  I'm so excited for breakfast tomorrow.

Peach Mixed Grain Muffins
Adapted from NYT September 8, 2009 Recipe

Note:  Here is the messed up, yet still delicious recipe that mine ended up being.  I adjusted the baking soda/baking powder quantities to make up for the double buttermilk.  Definitely check out the actual recipe, but obviously don't feel too restricted by it!

2/3 c. rolled oats
1 c. buttermilk, divided
1/4 c. cornmeal
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large or extra-large eggs
1/4 c. mild honey, like clover
1/4 c. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 medium sized, ripe peaches (about 1 1/2 cups, heaping), cut into small bite sized pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the middle. Oil 12 muffin cups. Combine the oats and 1/2 cup buttermilk in a bowl, and let sit for 15 minutes, until the oats have softened.

2. Sift together the cornmeal, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, honey, 1/2 cup buttermilk, canola oil and vanilla. Quickly whisk in the flour, then fold in the oats and peaches. Combine well.

4. Spoon into muffin cups, filling each two-thirds full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on a rack.

Advance preparation: These will be good for a couple of days, and they freeze well. Thaw overnight or in the microwave.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Summer Veggie Pizza

The funny thing is, on Saturday over a very yummy Mediterranean Focaccia from CPK, Ben and I talked about how silly recipes for pizza can be.  Don't get me wrong here, there are a myriad of good and different pizza dough recipes, 3 alone on my own recipes to try list.  And there are pizza sauce recipes in all colors: red, white and a black bean pizza sauce I hope to find soon.  But once you get past the crust and the sauce, if even any at all, you can't make a recipe for a pizza.  A pizza is whatever you want it to be.  A pizza is whatever food you have lying around in your fridge.  A pizza is a blank canvas, to use an overused expression.  And this one ain't any different.

Of course, that being said, this pizza did come from a recipe.  A recipe I am going to cut out and paste into my big green cookbook, none the less.  But it's not like I'm going back on my whole pizza philosophy.  Because, and here is my bottom line here kiddos, a pizza recipe can inspire.  And 2 ears of sweet corn on a pizza is most definitely inspiration. 

The only measuring cup or spoon I used was for the olive oil, which called for 4 teaspoons to make a very yummy garlic infused oil base for the pizza.  After that, it was anyone's game.  I had bell pepper rings left over in my freezer from my bell pepper salad.  I cut slices from a yellow onion until the pile looked just about right.  I grated the mozzarella until that pile looked just right too.  I did a free sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.  I skipped the asparagus and looking back now, wish I had doubled the amount of corn.  The thing that drew me into this recipe in the first place was definitely the show stealer.  The corn kernels stayed crisp in the oven, so that when you bite into the pizza they are fresh and these great little pops of juicy, sweet corniness. 

So here is my take away.  This pizza is good.  And it doesn't need a recipe (and when I say recipe I guess I should clarify here and say measurements and stuff)  Take whatever summer veggies you have hanging around in your vegetable crisper and slice them up.  But if I were you, I wouldn't forget the corn.

Summer Veggie Pizza

8 oz. store-bought pizza dough
     (why not fresh though?)
4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Yellow Onion, sliced
Bell Peppers, sliced
Fresh Sweet Corn on the Cob
     (please, please don't used canned!)
Mozzarella Cheese
Crushed Red Pepper
Basil leaves to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 500.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil and garlic to pan.  Cook 2 minutes or until fragrant, be careful not to brown.  Remove oil from pan and discard garlic.  Add a swirl of oil to pan and add onions and bell peppers.  Saute till soft, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.  Cut corn from cob and add to vegetables.

Lightly flour surface.  Sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of cornmeal.  Roll out pizza dough into a 13 inch circle.  Transfer to a baking sheet.  Brush dough with garlic oil.  Top with vegetable mixture.  Cover with shredded cheese, salt, and red pepper. 

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Top with basil, if desired.  Slice and serve!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bacon-Cheddar Corn Muffins

I'm so sorry to already be moving the delicious raspberry buttermilk cake from the top of the page.  It's my favorite recipe on this site.  Well, at least right now it is.  I do remember being quite in love with a certain cornbread with cranberries.  But, as I have been told, all good things must come to an end.  Well, sorta.  There is a buttermilk cake in my oven and the smell is making me quite happy. 

In reality, I really shouldn't be that bummed out.  These muffins are very good in their own right.  They hit all of those things that they promise.  There was a cheesiness, and a little bit of heat from the jalapeno.  There was corn, although in my opinion, if I was craving some cornbread this wouldn't quite do the trick.  And the bacon, well when isn't bacon a delicious addition to anything?  Did you know they make bacon vodka now.  Bacon vodka!  Sigh...  I digress.

Anyways, these will do you proud.  They might not ignite any undying flames of love within your very being, but they are satisfying.  And I imagine even more so when paired with a chili or tomato soup.  And they freeze and reheat well, as I just discovered. 

Use the good cheese and bacon, cause you're going to taste it.  Also, hey look!  You can use the leftover buttermilk you have from making my favorite cake, which I am sure you all have by now.  See, I am looking out for you.

Bacon-Cheddar Corn Muffins
Adapted from May 2011's Cooking Light

1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. yellow cornmeal
1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
4 thick cut bacon slices, cooked, drained and crumbled
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 1/4 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375.  Line 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. 

Combine flour, cornmeal, cheese, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cumin and salt in large mixing bowl.  Whisk together.  Whisk in bacon and jalapeno.  Make well in center of dry mixture.

Combine buttermilk, oil and egg in a small bowl.  Mix well.  Dump mixture into well in dry mixture.  Stir until just moist, do not over mix.

Pour batter evenly into 12 muffin tins.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes, in pan on wire rack.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

My blog crush on the smitten kitchen continues.  And this recipe definitely isn't helping it.  It has gotten stronger, if not more obsessive.  Almost as obsessive as I have become over this cake.  Which is quite obsessive.  This is the dessert from Ben's special welcome to TH dinner. 

This cake was delicious.  And on top of that, this cake was ridiculously easy to make.  But more importantly, this cake was amazing.  Scrumptious.  Wunderbar.  Lecker.  So tasty that I had to go into another language to describe it.  Ben and I demolished seventy-five percent of it in roughly 4 minutes Friday night.  The remaining quarter barely lasted a minute the next morning.  And I had to fight Ben for my fair share of it for breakfast.  The moral of this story is that the cake is deliciously yummy.  For breakfast, dessert and I would certainly eat it for any other meal as well.

The crust is crunchy and crisp and the cake underneath is soft and fluffy and has that yummy tang from the buttermilk.  The raspberries sank to the bottom and become mushy, melted pockets of fresh taste.  I may or may not be drooling right now...  This cake would work with any fresh berry and it was fantastic with raspberries.  For my trip up to Chicago this weekend, I'm already planning on making another one with strawberries and mini chocolate chips.  The one and only thing that I plan to change (besides trying a variety of fillings, but that doesn't count) is to sprinkle Turbinado sugar to form the crust on top instead of regular sugar.  And that was actually the boy's suggestion!  Impressive, right?  He wanted a more crunchy crust and I think it would work great.  Look at him... already earning his keep.

UPDATE 12/29/11:  I have made this cake several times since I discovered it way back when and like I predicted, it is infinitely adaptable.  To date, it has been made with strawberries and with frozen mix berries, both worked beautifully.  On one try, mini chocolate chips were added, although I'm not sure they were necessary.  I've also made it with half white flour, half whole wheat (to make it healthy of course!).  It was a little runny, so a few tablespoons of buckwheat flour were thrown in.  There was no reasoning, but I would be lying if I said that wasn't my favorite version I've made yet.  In summary, if you have left over buttermilk this is what you should be making, regardless if you only have frozen mixed berries and not enough all purpose flour.  Because it will still be amazing.  

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

1 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting.
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional, I didn't)
1 large egg
1/2 c. well-shaken buttermilk
1 c. fresh raspberries, or other fresh fruit
1 1/2 Tbsp. Turbinado (Sugar in the Raw) sugar

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  In mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium high until light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla, zest and egg and beat until well incorporated. 

Switch mixer to low speed.  Alternatively, start adding dry ingredients and buttermilk alternatively, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Pour batter into prepared cake pan and smooth top.  Scatter berries evenly over the top.  Sprinkle Turbinado sugar evenly over top of everything. 

Put into preheated oven.  Bake cake 20-25 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool to warm, about 10 to 15 minutes more (if you can manage it!)  Invert onto plate.  Devour. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chimichurri Steak

It was Ben's first weekend in Terre Haute and I wanted to make the boy a special dinner to enjoy after the long drive.  One of the things I was excited about moving to the TH for was the idea that Ben and I wouldn't have to go out so much and we could eat in more.  Not only would I get to cook more often, but I would have another judge on the taste panel and it would cut down on the leftovers left over.  And there would be another set of hands to help with the dishes afterwards.  Win, win, win.  The first welcome to TH meal was chimichurri steak from a recipe I had torn out from the Wednesday's New York Times two Aprils ago.

One of things I like about reading food blogs is that many times they get to make all the mistakes for you first.  So you hopefully don't have to make the same ones yourself.  I thought a lot about this as I was making the steak.  Not that there were huge mistakes made, but there are just all those little things you might forget because they aren't written out in the recipe.

Things like, not spreading the chimichurri sauce all the way to the edge of the butterflied steak, because you have to close and secure it with toothpicks and it's much harder when it's slippery with oil and parsley.  And to dump out some toothpicks on your work surface while you still have clean, non-raw-meat-covered hands so you don't ruin the whole box.  And while you're at it, knowing the number of toothpicks you have stuck in is a useful bit of knowledge too.  Not that any of these are huge impending disasters, but aren't they nice to know before you tackle a recipe?  Would have kept toothpicks off of my next shopping list.

Another thing it would have been nice to remember is that I'm not the biggest parsley fan and neither is the boy.  Which is kinda key to remember before making a steak marinated and slathered in a parsley based sauce.  Ok, that's sort of a lie, I did remember, but I had convinced myself it wouldn't matter.  And to a degree, it didn't, because the steak was good.  Got two stamps of approval, but unfortunately it just might be another one shot recipe, a culinary one night stand.  

Don't fret though, because dessert was a keeper.  Dessert was fantastic.  Dessert is going in the Big Green Cookbook.  And dessert is going to have to wait for another post.  Cliffhanger?  Oh yeah...

Chimichurri Steak 
Adapted from the April 27, 2010 NY Times

As a note, I used curly parsley and 1 1/4 inch thick london broil.  Because, that's what my store had.  I'm guessing hanger (what the recipe called for) or skirt steak may have been even better, but the london broil worked well if you can't find them.  Also, mine was only about 1.3 lbs.

1 c.  packed flat leaf parsley
1/2 jalapeno, seeded
1 garlic clove
2 Tbsp. minced mint leaves
6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. crushed red chili flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cayenne, to taste
3 Tbsp. panko bread crumbs
1 hanger steak, about 2 lbs

Mince parsley, jalapeno and garlic.  Add to a small bowl and mix with mint, oil, vinegar and chili flakes.  Add salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.  Set aside 3 tablespoons.  To remaining mixture, add panko.

Using a sharp knife, butterfly steak so it lies open like a book.  Lightly pound steak to a uniform thickness.  Spread chimichurri mixture evenly on side of steak, leaving a small border around the edge.  Fold steak back over and secure close with toothpicks.  Keep track of how many toothpicks you use.

Place steak on broiler pan.  Coat outside (I took this to mean top and bottom) with reserved sauce.  Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in fridge for 3 hours.

Remove steak from fridge to bring up to room temperature.  Preheat broiler.  Broil on high heat about 6 to 8 minutes per side until medium rare.  Let rest 10 minutes, remove toothpicks and cut into thick slices. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry

I feel as though I haven't been in my new apartment as long as I have.  True, I have only been here a week and two days, but it seems like even less time.  Most likely cause my extra room is still full of half unpacked things and the majority of my clothes are still folded up in suitcases.  But this is my third new recipe that I've cooked in my new and improved kitchen and I'm already being a better blogger than I ever was back in South Carolina.  Well, at least in respect to the whole trying new recipes idea.  So all of that was to say that basically, I'm pretty impressed that even in the midst of starting a new job, moving to a new town and unpacking an apartment, I'm doing quite a good job at tackling new recipes too.  If I may toot my own horn here.


Anyways, here it is, new recipe number three.  This has been post-it-noted in my March edition of Cooking Light since I've had it (unfortunately, my magazines are very post-it-noted and not very cut apart yet.  I am doing what I can).  It rung up quite the grocery bill, although that was due to the dire state of my pantry, not any particularly expensive ingredients.  But it was easy to make and not very stressful.  In fact, cooking in a kitchen with so many usable counters is, dear I say it, relaxing.  Fun.  I'm not longer cutting on my dining room table!  But that is where most of the pictures take place, because it is in front of the only window in the kitchen. 

Dinner was good and leftovers heated up well for lunch today.  It could have used more Sriracha and it had a surprisingly tasty hint of sweet.  But it was just another one of those recipes that I likely wouldn't make again, especially with the growing pile of post-it-noted magazine pages.  A very yummy, albeit, one shot meal. 

Beef & Broccoli Stir-Fry
Adapted from March 2011's Cooking Light

2 Tbsp. Cooking Sherry, divided
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce, divided
1 tsp. sugar
1 lb. boneless sirloin steak
1/2 c. lower-sodium beef broth
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 tsp. Sriracha
1 Tbsp. canola oil
3 cloves minced garlic
4 c. broccoli florets
1/4 cwater .
1/3 c. green onions, sliced

Slice steak into thin slices, diagonally against the grain.  Combine with 1 tbsp. sherry, 1 tbsp. soy sauce and sugar.  Mix together well.  Let sit while preparing broth mixture.

For broth mixture, combine remaining 1 tbsp. sherry, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, beef broth, cornstarch, hoisin sauce and Sriracha.  Mix well with a fork until all cornstarch is mixed in and mixture is smooth, set aside. 

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add beef.  Sauté until browned, about 3 minutes and remove from pan.  Add garlic to hot pan and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds.  Add broccoil and water and sauté about 2 minutes.  Add onions and continue cooking until vegetables are about down, another minute or two.  Return beef to pan and add broth mixture.  Cook for 2 minutes, or until beef is heated through and sauce has thickened.  Sauce will continue to thicken slightly once pan has been removed from the heat.  Serve over rice with extra sauce drizzled over top.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jalapeno Black Bean Hummus

Today was day number four at my new job.  Today was also day number four without air conditioning at my new job.  When you are sitting on a shop floor of a giant metal roofed building with furnances, drills and grit blasters going nonstop and there is no AC, you get a little sweaty.  When the actual temperature outside is 94 with a heat index of 110,  you're lucky if you don't get pit stains.  And after a day of this, there was no way that the fried eggs I imagined having for dinner this morning were going to happen.  I needed something lighter, cooler.  So after work, my pit-stained self got the fixings for a spicy black bean hummus.

I came home and immediately ditched the jeans and work polo for cooler attire.  After having a nice, cold glass of water, I went after the hummus.  It came together so fast, the hardest part was unpacking my food processor.  And can I just tell you how amazingly this hit the spot?  The cool cucumber was crunchy and refreshing and the hummus was smooth and so barely spicy.  And then I had it on some baby carrots and I got even more excited.  This stuff is good.  This stuff is going in my pretty, big green cookbook, just as soon as I find a printer...

For those of you in similar sticky, hot situations, this is the way to cool off and  have a nice light (and healthy!) dinner.  And if any of you have boxes and boxes to unpack in this heat like some lazy bloggers do... it just might give you the strength to knock those out.  Well, at least knock out a few, it's not a miracle food after all.

Jalapeno Black Bean Hummus

This was actually the most recent addition to my Recipes to Try list, and therefore also wins the title of shortest time spent on my kitchen to make list.  And it came together, sans dipping vegetables, for just under $2.  It's that perfect summer dinner that can't be beat. 

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and liquid reserved
2 cloves garlic
1/2 jalapeno (could take some more heat, if you wanted)
1 Tbsp. lime juice

Rough chop garlic cloves and jalapeno and put in food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add black beans, 2 Tbsp. reserved liquid and lime juice.  Process until smooth.  If mixture is too thick, add reserved liquid a little at a time until desired texture is achieved. 
Chill 30 minutes before serving.  Or if you are like me, eat immediately with chopped veggies straight from the food processor. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spicy Bell Pepper Salad

My week of being a nomad is finally drawing to a close.  After driving through 5 states, as well as a quick visit home to Arizona, I finally arrived in Terre Haute, Indiana, a small college town in the midst of corn fields that I’m already kinda falling in love with.  I’m not sure what it is, but even now, it’s starting to feel like home.  Granted, having an apartment that already I am enamored with is probably making me bias.  It has new carpets!  And a room whose sole purpose will be to hold all my random junk!  And the kitchen has THREE usable counters!  One, two, Three!!  But we’ll get to that…

With one shopping trip under my belt and way too many boxes still hanging around to be unpacked, my cooking has been less than adventurous.  What it has been is centered around my new, most awesome kitchen toy.  The cheap mandolin that arrived from Amazon the day I left South Carolina.  My first day here, I made the cucumber salad I had been craving since the day I talked myself into ordering the mandolin.  Today, I ventured into the bell pepper salad world. 

Even if they weren’t from a farmer’s market, the three bell peppers I bought on the cheap this Tuesday were gorgeous; red, yellow and orange.  Seeing them sit in my near empty fridge, I thought I would see if I could find a bell pepper salad online.  You see, I hadn’t gotten enough briny goodness from my cucumber salad. 

As always, epicurious pulled through when it came to finding the right recipe, even if didn’t include that acid tang I was initially pining after.  It had stellar reviews and one of those strange but exciting combination of flavors: caraway, lemon and dill.  It seemed like a good, first adventurous try in my new kitchen.  And it was good, even if I didn’t use fresh dill.  It was summery.  And I ate it staring out my windows into the wide open field that is my view.  Terre Haute ain’t all that bad. 

Spicy Bell Pepper Salad
adapted from

1 1/2 tsp. caraway seeds
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch-thick rings
1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch-thick rings
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch-thick rings
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, separated into rings
6 3 x 1/2-inch strips lemon peel (yellow part only)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 c. chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Toast caraway seeds in large skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about one minute.  Add olive oil and crushed red pepper.  Increase heat to medium high and mix in sliced bell peppers, onion, lemon peel and garlic slices.  Saute for several minutes until vegetables are "crisp-tender".

Remove salad from heat and transfer to bowl.  Remove lemon peel pieces and toss salad with lemon and chopped dill.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Note:  Can be made up to two hours ahead.  Let stand at room temperature until served.  Refrigerate leftovers.