Sunday, February 7, 2016

Cinnamon Apple-Carrot Muffins

I've been craving something that tastes hearty as well as sweet--something that will feel a little decadent, but also hold lots of cozy flavors and be healthy enough for a post-breakfast snack. What better a choice than some good 'ole muffins?

These are definitely packed with flavor, but still have a lovely, moist crumb that is not dense (what is worse than dense muffins?) but holds together fabulously. There's lots of texture from the oats, carrots, and apple. Excellent with some butter or jam as well as on their own!


-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 cup rolled oats (old-fashioned, not instant)
-2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. baking soda
-2 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. ginger
-1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 cup grated apple (MacIntosh or Granny Smith are good)
-1 cup grated carrot
-2 large, cage free eggs
-1.5 cups of dark brown sugar, packed
-1 tsp. vanilla extract
-1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
-1/3 cup whole milk or buttermilk
-1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a cupcake pan or line with muffin cups.

Combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in the grated apple and carrot.

In a separate bowl, blend eggs, sugar, oil, milk, apple sauce, and vanilla with a whisk or electric mixture until evenly blended.  Pour wet mixture over dry, and stir together until just  blended--don't over mix!

Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way, or to the top if you want that "muffin top" look (there is definitely enough batter for that), and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until puffy and a knife poked through the center of a muffin comes out clean. Pop out onto a cooling rack for 15 minutes or so, until cooled enough to eat.

Makes about 16 regular-sized muffins or 10-12 large ones.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cornish Pasties

Looking for something cozy, crispy, and full of flavor to snuggle up with on a cold, winter day? A Cornish Pasty is just the thing...And it's conveniently hand-held and portable.

Created by the British, a pasty is a hand-pie that is sold on street corners all over London. Rich, flaky pastry, and a steaming meat and potato-filled center are everything you could want on a January outing! The key to make this magic is salt. That's where the flavor is at. Starchy foods like potatoes and turnips have a way of absorbing all of the salt you add, so be warned! When in doubt, add that extra bit.

Pastry Recipe:

3 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
7 ounces unsalted butter, just out of the fridge, quartered lengthwise and diced into small cubes
2 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, plucked
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup cold milk

Blend the flour, butter, cheese, salt, and thyme with a pastry cutter or two knives in a large bowl. When ground into a crumbly meal with bits of butter no larger than peas,  pour in your eggs and a small drizzle of milk. Stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add more milk if the dough is still too floury. Pinch the dough with your fingers, once it sticks together, it's ready to press into a ball. Divide the ball into four equally-sized pieces, press into flat disks with your hand, and package in plastic wrap.

Let rest in the fridge for at least an hour.

Filling ingredients:

3/4 cup peeled and finely diced rutabaga
3/4 cup peeled and finely diced potato
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 lb. finely diced beef brisket, fat still on
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry rosemary or 1 tsp. fresh
2 tbsp. flour

Mix ingredients in a bowl.

When ready to create pasties, preheat the oven to 425 F. Roll out the dough into approximately 7 inch disks (I used a small plate to make circles) that are about 3 mm thick. Spoon about a 1/2 cup of filling into each pasty, and press down the edges, sealing with water. Brush the tops with egg wash and pierce to let out steam.

Place on a baking sheet in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until a touch browned, and then turn the heat down to 325 F. Bake for another 30-40 minutes until golden brown and filling the kitchen with a glorious aroma.

Cool for a few minutes before serving.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Midwestern Style Fried Chicken with Honey Roasted Garlic Greens

I've been missing in action for a while--I apologize! I am now 14 weeks into pregnancy, and I was not feeling much like cooking up until a couple of weeks ago.

This mouthwateringly crispy, tangy, recipe is inspired by Amy Thielen's recipe from the Food Network show, Heartland Table. I just couldn't pass it up--this is truly yummy and actually pretty simple to make. I think the most appealing aspect for me was that it requires much less oil than a regular fried chicken. Try it out!

Honey Roasted Garlic Greens Ingredients:
-2 heads of garlic
-3 tsp. honey
-3 tsp. olive oil
-2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
-2 tbsp. slivered almonds or pine nuts
-2 lbs. greens of your choice (kale, spinach, swiss chard, or collard cut up with the thick stems removed)

Cut the tops off of the two whole heads of garlic, just exposing the tops of the cloves. Lay both top side exposed in a snug basket of aluminum foil. Drizzle over 2 tsp. honey and 2 tsp. olive oil. Seal the package and place in the oven at 350F for about 45 minutes. At this time you can get started on cooking your fried chicken.
 When finished baking, take out the packet and pour all of the juicy contents into a bowl. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic out of the cloves by pressing them out from the bottom, and discard the husks. Drizzle over the remaining honey.
When you are nearly ready to eat (when the chicken and gravy are finished), in a large pan, heat 1 tsp. oil over medium heat. Add your nuts and toast until golden. Then, stir in the greens a bunch at a time until they are all just wilted. Drizzle over the vinegar and saute for 1 minute. Lastly, combine the garlic cloves and all of the juices in the bowl. It seems like a lot of garlic, but the roasting took away all of the bite, and the honey made it creamy, smooth, and sweet. Sprinkle in salt to taste. Turn heat to low and cover until ready to serve.

Fried Chicken Ingredients:
-1 whole chicken, cut into pieces (or 2 packages of chicken legs, wings, breasts or thighs)
-1 cup buttermilk
- salt and pepper
-2 tsp. of fresh thyme or oregano (or 1 tsp. dry)
-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
-2 tsp. smoked paprika
-1.5 cups flour
-1 cup ground butter crackers (about a sleeve); you can whack these in a zip-lock bag with a rolling pin, or just toss them into the food processor
-canola or vegetable oil for frying

Combine buttermilk, 1.5 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, thyme, and garlic in a bowl with the chicken. Let marinate at room temperature for an hour, or overnight in the fridge.
When ready to fry, set a wide pan (a cast iron one is best) over medium-high heat and add 1 inch of oil. Keep your eye on it to make sure it doesn’t get too hot. Hint—if you toss a crumb into the oil and it immediately is covered in bubbles and is sizzling, it’s ready. If the oil starts to pop and crack or smoke, it is much too hot—take it off the heat for a few minutes to cool down. Also, preheat your oven to 350F and slide a cookie sheet inside.
While the oil is heating up, combine your flour, cracker crumbs, paprika, 2 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper in a 9x13 pan. Dredge the chicken well in the coating, really packing it on, and set aside on a plate. You can also double-dredge if you are in the mood…then you would dip the chicken back in the remaining buttermilk mixture before dredging again.
When the oil is hot enough, carefully place the first few chicken pieces into it until the pan is comfortably filled. Flip the chicken after about 5 minutes, when the bottom is well browned. Once both sides are scrumptiously crispy, carefully take out of the oil and drain on paper towel. When all of the pieces are cooked, put them all on the pan in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, you can create a quick gravy, and work on your vegetables!

Gravy ingredients:
-2 tbsp. flour
-2 cloves of garlic, smashed
-1 bundle of fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme, or sage
-2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
-salt and pepper

Pour off all but 2 tbsp. of the oil from the pan in which you fried the chicken. If there are any burned bits, be sure to remove those, too. Add the smashed garlic and the herbs to the pan. Heat over medium until the garlic turns golden brown, then add the flour and whisk until combined and bubbling. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking until each addition is combined. Heat until simmering and thickened. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a gravy boat.

Serve everything together!