If you don’t like these muffins, there must be something wrong with you…

Healthy Morning Muffins, Jan/Feb 2010, pg. 120-121

IMG_0165

This has been one of my ‘go-to’ recipes since 2010.  The healthy morning muffins are a great item to bring when you are spending the weekend with friends and/or family.  They travel well and they really are a healthy morning or afternoon snack.  My nieces (5 and 3 years old) love the muffins and I haven’t met an adult yet that hasn’t liked them.

Over the past four years I’ve experimented a bit with the muffin recipe (purposefully and by accident).  Once, I bought 1-minute oats. (I must have been in a rush at the grocery store.)  The muffins came out fine, a little drier than normal and less texture.  So, I would highly recommend rolled oats (what the recipe calls for), but if you make a mistake at the grocery store, it’s not a big deal.  I’ve also experimented with shredded zucchini.  Which is very good.  I substitute some of the carrots for the zucchini, but not all.  My carrot measurements are always different.  I always use 4 carrots; whether they are medium or large, it doesn’t matter to me.  The more carrot the better.  You just may need to cook the muffins longer if you put larger carrots in the batter.

The muffins are like carrot cake without the frosting.  They are very moist, and the flavors from the carrots, banana, and raisins complement the other perfectly.  The muffins are very sweet naturally and therefore a large amount of sugar isn’t required.

During the summer, my bananas go bad much faster than I can eat them.  I’ve made several double-batches of the muffins.  Leaving some for now and the rest I will wrap in aluminum foil, put that in a freezer Ziploc bag, and then into the freezer.  That works out perfect if I don’t have time to bake something when we go visiting, or if it’s too hot to bake.

Great recipe!  Highly recommend it!  The pages of my issue 69 are beginning to stick together, good thing my favorite recipes can all be found online too.

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Gluten-free pound cake with cranberries

December 2011, pg. 70

Gluten-free pound cake with cranberries recipe

Gluten Free pound cake

I rarely make gluten free sweets, but more and more people are staying away from gluten for different reasons.  There is no time like the present to try out a new recipe that is gluten-free.

I bought Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour.  I think it was my only choice, or maybe it was the only brand I recognized (I don’t remember).  Any how I didn’t realize that the December 2011 issue did a taste test with several gluten-free flours and published their thoughts on pg. 64, until I was in the process of making the pound cake.  I read the taste test for the gluten-free flour I purchased.  “…the flavor tasted slightly off in sweets; save it for pancakes or crackers.  The texture of the items we tested was spot-on when we added xanthan gum, as the package suggests.”  After reading that I was positive my pound cake was doomed because I chose and/or bought the wrong flour for sweets and I most definitely didn’t have any xanthan gum laying around my kitchen. DARN.

I continued mixing together the ingredients and my attitude began shifting to a more positive one.  The batter smelled amazing.  The orange zest really kicked it up a notch.  The batter looked delicious with the dried cranberries and chopped pecans.  How was it going to taste?

I ended up putting foil over the pan because it was beginning to brown too quickly.  I took the pound cake out of the oven after 1 hour and 5 minutes and it was browner than I would have liked it to be.  Now I’m back to thinking the pound cake was a flop…

It was a flop.  It did taste good but the texture was all off.  My husband tried it first and he said it was dry and the texture was strange.  I decided to toast mine and add some butter.  I didn’t help, the pound cake dissolved in my mouth.  Not something I was expecting or enjoyed.  The pound cake went into the trash.

Lesson learned: Pay attention to the taste tests when using new and unfamiliar ingredients.  Who knows how it would have turned out if I added xanthan gum or used a gluten-free flour that was recommended for sweets?  It really did smell and the inside looked delicious!

Gluten free pound cake Inside

Ending November on a High Note!

Well, sort of.  The recipe is delicious.  But once again, the recipe is not online.  Thanks November!

Mmm... Oniony...

Mmm… Oniony…

I made this one afternoon thinking we would have it for dinner and for a few days for lunch.  Then I ran into my lovely neighbor (remember from Thanksgiving?).  I offered her some soup.  Then a couple of friends stopped in.  I offered them some soup.  By the end of the afternoon, the soup was pretty much gone.  I was sad.  It was really delicious.  And heart warming.  And comforting.  And full of onions…

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

2 Tbs butter

2 Tbs olive oil

4 lbs onions halved and thinly sliced (seriously people, get out your food processor on this one)

4 garlic cloves thinly slices

salt and pepper

1/2 cup port or Marsala wine

2 cans each of both chicken and beef broth (14.5 oz cans)

Crusty baguette

Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Get out your biggest pot (I used my 7.5 qt dutch oven – 4 lbs of onions take up a lot of space!).  Heat the butter and the olive oil over medium, then add your onions and garlic and season them with salt and pepper.  Cover and cook until the onions have softened, be sure to stir occasionally so the onions on top get cooked down a bit too.  Then uncover and continue to cook until the onions have caramelized and turned a nice golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes more.  The recipes says to add 1/4 water if the pot gets too dry, I did this.  I scraped up the brown bits of goodness on the bottom in the process.

When your onions are caramelized, add the Marsala or port (I used Marsala) and cook until the liquid reduces.  Stir in the broths and two additional cups of water.  Check your seasoning again and add more salt if necessary.

Then serve with cheese toasts.  Do I need to explain those?  You cut slices of baguette… Then you toast or broil them with some shredded cheese on top.  Then you eat them…

*adapted from November 2007, issue 47, pg. 70

One word of warning.  Four pounds of onions will make you cry.  A lot.  You will also cry when your lovely soup is gone in a few hours.  This was technically a Freeze It recipe… Oh well.  Enjoy!

And get ready to welcome in December!!!

Clean it out and cook it up

Big-batch vegetable soup

D ran a marathon.  Go D!  :)

D ran a marathon. Go D! 🙂

This recipe is spectacular for a few reasons.  It’s a freeze it, so right away you know I’m excited.  It’s soup.  Soup’s a good thing (cite: David Sedaris…does WordPress do footnotes?  What’s the HTML tag for footnotes?  Please don’t tell me).  Here’s why this recipe is great, and it’s not something that jumped right out at me.  Take a look at the last ingredient:

8 cups mixed fresh or frozen vegetables, such as carrots, corn, green beans, lima beans, peas, potatoes, and zucchini

8 cups of whatevs.  How great is that?  Random half bags of frozen veggies in the freezer staring you in the face?  Toss em in!  Recipe last night only used one of two potatoes now you’re stuck with one potato?  Toss it in!  I had leftover calabcita from September’s squash substitutions.  I had a bunch of lima beans from making a succotash for J.  I had a ton of frozen corn because Everyday Food recipes use a surprising amount of corn.  It all went in there.  I think I actually used 6 or 7 different vegetables.  I think this makes this a great recipe for times when your freezer or fridge has an odd glut of vegetables.  Or for when lots of things look good at a farmers’ market and you can’t think of what else to do with it.  No matter the reason, this is a tasty soup.  I look forward to having it some night when I’m too lazy to cook and too guilty/cheap to order in.

The rare Everyday Food bust

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Issue number 45 September 2007 p. 78 (no link found online)

It even looks like a crime scene

It even looks like a crime scene

prep time: around 20 minutes, depending on how quickly you can chop broccoli; total time: 40 minutes

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 of a big, white onion or one medium onion, diced
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • about 30 ounces of homemade veggie stock (the recipe says to use reduced sodium chicken broth, more on that later)
  • 1 large head broccoli (about 3 pounds) with the leaves yanked off. cut into florets with the stalks coarsely chopped.
  • 1 medium baking potato, peeled and diced small
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons…LOTS more on that later)
  1. Saute the onions in the oil over medium until soft, roughly 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Add broth, broccoli, potato, and 2 cups water.  Season with salt again.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until broccoli and potato are tender, about 4 minutes.
  2. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender and return to pot.  Remember not to overfill the blender jar, and do the towel over the blender lid opening trick to keep the hot soup from exploding all over.  Stir in cream and lemon juice, season again.
  3. (I never got to the freezer part of these directions.  Suffice it to say you let the soup cool, put it in freezer-safe containers with room to expand and freeze for up to three months.)

-adapted from Everyday Food Issue number 45 (September 2007) p. 77-78

Have you ever been relieved to throw food out?  I hate to waste, so I rarely throw things away unless they’ve gone bad.  This soup was an exception.

Let me begin by saying everything that was right about this recipe.  It’s a “Freeze It” recipe.  I love those recipes.  Of all of my EF go-to recipes, most of them are Freeze It’s.  I like having some buffer in my meal planning, so I don’t have to pick from three choices: cook, order in, or heat up a frozen pizza.  The beauty of a Freeze It is that it’s as good and wholesome as cooking, but as fast as heating the frozen pizza.  So this recipe had that going for it.  Also, it’s cream of broccoli soup.  When has that ever not been good?  Not that I can remember.  I was somewhat suspicious because this is not cheese and broccoli soup.  Obviously, cheese improves all soups by a power of…let’s say five to be on the conservative side.  Well, as long as we’re playing the hindsight game, the recipe also had a note saying “Just a small amount of potato and a whir in the blender make soups smooth and rich-tasting, so you can get away with using less cream.”  Potato + air = cream.  Interesting….

So it should have been a creamy, yummy, freezer-friendly recipe.  What it turned out as was an oddly sour and thin soup that was thrown away soon after eating.  The pieces of bread you see on top of the soup were my own addition.  I figured if cheese would have made the soup better, then I could add cheese to the top.  Plus, cheese toasts would give us something to dunk.  And I like bread with soup.  The cheese toasts were the best part of the meal.  I toasted pieces of wheat bread, threw some grated Swiss cheese on top, and put them under the broiler for a couple minutes until they were melted.  The toaster and the broiler?  Yeah.  I don’t trust my broiler not to burn things, so I try to use it as little as possible.  If I had a toaster oven, I would have used that.

Back to the icky soup.  Where did it go wrong?

Some theories:  Theory 1: I used homemade veggie stock and it was too rich or intensely flavored for the soup.  The stock itself was very robust and flavorful.  If you’re at all curious, here’s a good post on how to do it.  I got the recipe from this amazing book, The Urban Homestead.  It’s also where we got the homemade yogurt recipe.  You know how usually veggie stock doesn’t taste like much of anything?  This tasted like earth and roasted veggies and strong coffee and going to see a man about a horse.  I think it’s possible that my brawny stock was too much for cream of broccoli.  The recipe might have just needed a base slightly more flavorful than water.  If I ever try and cross this bridge again, I think I would try store-bought veggie stock or, better yet, use the chicken broth the recipe actually calls for.  Chicken broth would give it saltiness and richness without overpowering the rest of the soup.  I have to disagree with the reduced-sodium idea, though.  This recipe needs salt badly.

Theory 2: There is too much lemon juice in this recipe.  The recipe calls for a 1/4 cup of lemon juice.  Before the lemon juice went it, this was a lackluster soup with an off-putting earthiness that probably needed a ton more salt (and some cheese).  After the lemon juice?  Shudder.  It tasted like sour broccoli blended with milk and heated up, which, come to think of it, was pretty much true.  A quick squeeze of lemon juice might have brightened this dish up a little, but 1/4 cup was far too much.

All that wasn’t enough to make me throw it out.  I threw it out because we forgot about it after dinner and left it on the stovetop over night.  I’m kind of a food safety nut (a food safety nut who eats cookie dough, so that’s the glass house from which I throw all of my rocks).  I didn’t think it was safe to eat a cream soup that sat out for 12 hours.  Boo hoo.  Off to the trash, sour soup!

It was the rare Everyday Food bust.