Saturday, May 16, 2009

Strawberry Struesel Muffins

Today was one of those days. The weather can't decide if it wants to rain or shine, your favorite tank went through the wash with an ink pen, your break a glass when poring OJ and your husband isn't going to be back from work until tomorrow. I go to the grocery store before the weather gets moody again and rains and what do you know, I leave just as a hurricane hits. I was so soaked I had to change clothes and dry my hair!

On days like this its best to not get out of bed. But if you do get out of bed a fresh batch of delicious muffins is the only thing that can cure the moody blues.

Strawberry Struesel Muffins
Adapted from this recipe for Raspberry Jam Muffins by Joythebaker

6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 c. milk
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. AP flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1- 1 1/4 c. frozen fruit (any kind will do)
3 tbsp. Jam (any kind will do)

3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
1/2 c. AP flour
3 1/2 tbsp. sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and moved a shelf to the upper 1/3 of the oven. Line muffin tins.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Removed from the heat and let cool briefly. Then whisk in milk, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until combined.

In a seperate bowl whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk mixture and stir until just combined. Gently, but thoroughly combine the fruit and jam with the mixture.

Divide mixture evenly in the muffin tins. To make the topping combine all topping ingredients in a small bowl and combine and rub together with fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over muffins before baking.

Bake until golden brown on top and a tooth pick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. About 18-22 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes and then serve.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cook Out

I woke up today determined to do some much needed spring cleaning, obviously belated. We are preparing to move next month and in order to fit our newly accumulated furniture into the truck we need to get rid of all the unnecessary items in our apartment.

If you know me you know I enjoy stuff. I enjoy pictures, stuffed animals, paperwork and letters. I also enjoy keeping stuff well beyond its shelf life. So I decided to tackle our filing cabinet and EVERY stack of accumulated papers in our house. Do you know I had college essay's from my Freshman year? I also found receipts from 2001. Wow, just call me a pack rat.

I decided that in addition to the office my kitchen now needed attacking. I suppose the refrigerator and pantry need some attention. Can you believe I found objects I didn't even know I had: a container of raisins from 3 years ago, an unopened box of macaroni pasta and dried apricots. I really am a mess.

Once the pantry was bare and my office was a little less worse for ware I could breathe again. I found so many miscellaneous foods that I could pull together a delicious and summery cook-out for one.

So I'm treating myself to a traditional, yet somewhat healthy, singular cook-out. Just me with my own delicious cheeseburger, fruit salad and pasta salad.

Now my husband will be jealous......although pleased that I did all the work.

Low-Fat Summer Pasta Salad
Made from whatever was in the cabinet and fridge

8 oz. elbow macaroni
1/8 tsp. salt to flavor the pasta
1/2 c. Light Miracle Whip
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. chopped red and green bell pepper
1/3 c. chopped onion
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Bowl the pasta, drain and let cool. Once cool add all ingredients together and stir. Presto! Pasta salad.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Calzone vs. Pizza

It's wonderful having my husband home. I'm lucky to have found someone who enjoys cooking and experimenting as much as I do. We've been trying to recreate our favorite types of food at home. It saves money and we used healthy ingredients to help our waistlines.

As a kid we typically had "make your own pizza" nights. So in that same spirit we decided to make our own. Somewhere between chopping the onions and pressing the dough my husband decided a calzone would taste better than a pizza. A calzone: in Italian it means "stocking," "drooping sack," "trouser," or "hanging fold." Who wants to eat a hanging fold?

I prefer a pizza piled high with veggies and meats and cheeses.....I'm hungry again.

So as usual a competition ensued. There would be no winner as both judges, my husband and I, were pretty satisfied we had each created the tastiest creation. Nonetheless, we had a great dinner and some friendly competition.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Low-Fat Banana Mini-Muffins with Lime Glaze

I'm dieting again. I suppose I'm not trying to diet but make healthy eating choices. Problem with this life adjustment is there are very few choices in the baked goods department that are what we would call "good choices." I can't not have cookies, breads and cupcakes!

So this brings me to experimentation. I am playing around with healthy choices and lower-fat ingredients. My first test turned out better than expected. These little mini-muffins turned out great. I was able to keep my self to a couple last night, but just before bed my husband grabbed a handful of four and ate them quickly. I suppose that means I did a good job.

Banana-Mini Muffins With Lime Glaze
adapted from Weight Watchers Banana Mini-Muffins

3 tbsp. vegetable oil
2/3 c. brown sugar (unpacked)
3 Large or 4 small banana's smashed
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. table salt
1/3 c. buttermilk

1/3 c. powder sugar
1 tbsp. lime juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix brown sugar and oil together until completely combined. Add egg and egg white and stir until combined. Add smashed banana's, nutmeg and cinnamon. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate combining flour and buttermilk to the sugar mixture until completely combined. Spray a mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray and fill each cup to the top. Bake 10-12 minutes or until a tooth-pick inserted to the middle of the muffin comes out clean.

For the glaze: Whip together powder sugar and lime juice. Once the muffins come out of the oven, allow the to cool for 10 min. Then dip into sugar and place on a wrack. The glaze will drip so be sure to put some parchment paper or a plate under the dipped muffins.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Piano Lessons meet Cupcake

Remember when you were 11 and your parents made you take piano lessons? Maybe not piano, maybe flute, clarinet, guitar......but nonetheless they made you select a hobby. It was fun at first, learning each note, touching each key; so impressed with yourself that you could actually create something more than just a finger paint picture on the fridge. But soon after you learned that you couldn't just go to lessons each week you had to practice. You had to repeat the same steps over and over again. You hated it. I know I did. Our piano was in the basement and it felt like punishment to sit down there while the day was still young and tinkle away at the ivories.

There was a reason our parents pushed us to repeat our lessons. We couldn't become skilled musicians if we didn't commit the techniques to memory. Practice, Practice Practice. Because practice makes perfect, or at least that's what our parents told us.....

Well, it's true. And as a self proclaimed amateur baker I'd be lying to myself if I didn't need practice. It would be unfair to myself not repeat failed recipes or perfect old staples. In order to perfect my talents I must pick up where I left off and keep trying and learning. And that's why I created these cupcakes again.

And what do you know, practice makes perfect.

I tried these cranberry and white chocolate cupcakes a second time. I adjusted the recipe only slightly: I didn't include cranberries in the batter. The cupcakes turned out dense, moist and perfectly delicious.