My Kitchen View

We enjoyed a wonderful weekend with my extended family. There is never a dull moment and there is an abundance of delicious food! Seriously. My family is full of talented cooks. So, we ate too much, spent lots of time outside, and watched our boys have the best time.

My cooking adventures of late included several new recipes for the weekend. I made my first apple recipe of the season. Yum. I will admit that as much as I enjoy the cooler, fall weather…I’m not a big fan of winter and since fall leads to winter, I’m feeling a little hesitant to bid summer farewell. But, the fall brings hearty soups, apple and pumpkin dishes, muffins, breads and more. Sigh. That part, I most definitely welcome.

Our little garden has struggled through and while we haven’t had as much produce as I would like, we are still enjoying delicious, gorgeous tomatoes, beautiful and plentiful basil, and some okra – which is continuing to grow on me.

 This weekend, I talked local restaurants with a couple of my cousins and my brother and sister-in-law. Evidently I must try Recess and it really looks wonderful! Naked Chopstix, Bazbeaux, and Brugge Brasserie where a few I mentioned – all of which I enjoy. All of these restaurants are in Broad Ripple – a happening, hip area.

Finally, I was debating what recipe to share today but I think it will be these very yummy muffins! They were not your normal banana muffins – they were packed with delicious-ness – granola, coconut, and walnuts. Ina Garten’s recipe is one I will definitely be making again. I think her idea of dicing some of the bananas and mashing the rest also added to the great texture. These are great as we head into fall. And I’m pretty sure you could use different fruits and change up this recipe.

BANANA MUFFINS
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3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra-large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1 cup small-diced walnuts
1 cup granola
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Granola, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour and butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don’t overmix.

Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, granola, and coconut into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each 1 to the top. Top each muffin with granola, if desired. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.

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Baker’s Delight: Blueberry Muffins

We really enjoy having muffins around! They are wonderful as a side dish, for breakfast or brunch, or even for an afternoon snack. My husband loves blueberries, so these are a favorite. I pick and freeze the blueberries in the summer and we eat them all year round. Delicious! I often make a double batch so we can have them for several days.

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
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1 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 beaten egg
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. canola oil
1 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen

In a med. bowl combine flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Make a well in center of dry mixture; set aside. In another mixing bowl combine egg, milk, vanilla and oil. Add mixture all at once to the dry mixture – stir just until moistened. Fold in blueberries – do not overmix. Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin pan filling 2/3 full (I use an icecream scoop). Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 min. or until golden. Makes 10-12 muffins.

Bread Basket: Chocolate Breads

Where chocolate is concerned, it is hard to use moderation. Thus, we have today three recipes for using chocolate in various forms of bread. It was too hard for me to narrow it down any further!

First we have chocolate muffins. I found it almost impossible to find a good chocolate muffin recipe. Oh, chocolate muffin recipes do abound, but they look and sound more like the identical twin of chocolate cupcakes, rather than the kind of muffin you might choose to enjoy for breakfast. So, I had to make my own. And they came out just how I wanted them: moist, full of chocolate flavor, and not so sweet as to negate the use of butter.

CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
(Heather)
Print this recipe

1 1/2 c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

1 egg
3/4 c. milk to which you add 2 tsp. vinegar
1/2 c. oil

Optional — one or more of the following:
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped nuts (think hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans)
1/3 cup dried cherries or cranberries

Preheat oven to 400F. Line muffin tin with muffin papers. Sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, “soured” milk, and oil. Stir together the dry and wet ingredients and mix only until combined. Add any optional ingredients. Spoon into muffin tin and bake for 20 minutes or until done.

Makes 12.

I thought it would be good to suggest a yeast bread that goes outside the box a bit — using chocolate to add depth of flavor and color, rather than taking main stage. Russian Black Bread is a hearty, full-flavor bread that incorporates chocolate. Being made partially with rye flour, you will find this bread denser than most, and you will notice it does not rise as high as regular yeasted bread. This is normal and is connected with the fact that rye flour does not allow for the formation of much gluten, as opposed to wheat flour.

RUSSIAN BLACK BREAD
(from Cooks.com)
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1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 c. boiling water
1/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, cut in 6 pieces
3 (1/4 oz.) pkgs. active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 c. warm water
3 c. medium or dark rye flour
1 c. whole bran cereal
1/2 c. wheat germ
1 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
1 Tbsp. salt
2 tsp. caraway seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1 tsp. onion powder
4 to 4 1/2 c. all purpose or bread flour
1 tsp. dark molasses blended with a pinch of salt and one tablespoon water for glaze (I just dusted the bread with flour)

In a large, heavy saucepan, stir granulated sugar over medium high heat until melted. Continue to stir until sugar smokes and is almost black. Slowly and carefully stir in 2 cups boiling water. This will cause mixture to smoke and sugar to lump and harden. Continue cooking and stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.

Stir in vinegar, butter and chocolate. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to dissolve chocolate.

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and brown sugar  in 1/2 cup water. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the cooled sugar mixture, 1 cup rye flour, bran cereal, wheat germ, coffee granules, salt, caraway seeds, fennel seeds, onion powder and 2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose or bread flour. Beat with electric mixture for 2 minutes or by hand for 200 vigorous strokes. Stir in remaining rye flour and enough remaining all purpose or bread flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Clean and grease bowl; set aside.

Knead dough 10-12 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover with a slightly damp towel. Let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Grease 2 medium baking sheets or 2 round cake pans; set aside.

Punch down risen dough; knead 2 minutes. Divide dough in half; cover and let rest 10 minutes. Shape into 2 round loaves. Place on prepared baking sheets. Cover with a dry towel. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375F. Slash tops of loaves as desired; brush with molasses glaze or flour. Bake 30-35 minutes, brush again with glaze if using. Bake 10 minutes longer or until bread sounds hollow when tapped on bottom. Remove from pans and cool on rack.

Makes 2 loaves.

I couldn’t help but think of those who cannot eat chocolate — either by choice or by dictate of dietary restrictions. So, I decided to include a Carob Date Loaf which is a lovely way to have something that hints of chocolate, while still remaining health-conscious.

CAROB DATE LOAF
(adapted from Natural Lifestyle Magazine, Jan. 2004)
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1 cup pitted dates, cut up
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. carob powder
6 Tbsp. butter
3/4 c. boiling water
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3/4 c. honey (I used 1/2 c. agave nectar)
1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 eggs

Place the dates, baking soda, salt, and carob powder in a mixing bowl. Toss lightly with a fork. Add the butter and boiling water, but do not stir. Let stand 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine the eggs and vanilla. Add the honey and flour, stirring until well blended. Add the date mixture, stirring just to blend. Pour into a well-greased 9×5-inch loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan.

Makes 1 loaf.

Gluten-Free Goodness: Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins are a comfort food you do not need to go without if you are gluten-free. With this recipe you can enjoy the warm, soft goodness of fresh-baked muffins, popping with sweet-tart blueberries. If you don’t have blueberries, substitute another berry such as raspberries, black raspberries, or mulberries. I chose to use raspberries for the muffins pictured below.

GLUTEN-FREE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
(Healthy Gluten-Free Cooking)

1 1/2 c. rice flour
1/2 c. tapioca flour (or 1/2 c. rice flour + 1 Tbsp. cornstarch)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthum gum (optional — I did not use this)
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. sugar (less if you want)
5 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
1 egg, beaten
3/4 c. buttermilk (add 1 Tbsp. vinegar to 3/4 c. regular milk)
2/3 c. fresh berries (if using frozen, baking time will need to be lengthened)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together flours, baking soda, baking powder, xanthum gum, salt and sugar with a wire whisk. In a separate bowl, combine butter, egg, and buttermilk. Carefully mix dry ingredients into wet, being sure not to overmix. Fold in berries. Line a muffin tin with muffin cups and fill 2/3 full. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes or until done.

Makes 12.

Holiday Feast: Christmas Breakfast

Who doesn’t love breakfast food?! Especially on Christmas! Here’s what our families do for breakfast on Christmas morning:

HeatherChristmas breakfast is eaten around the tree as the children open their presents. The first year we were married I discovered the recipe for Swedish Tea Rings and have made one for Christmas breakfast ever since. The rest of the menu may vary some, but it always includes fruit. In recent years we’ve enjoyed bacon-wrapped sausages sprinkled with brown sugar and then baked and I often buy some thick, Greek yogurt to serve alongside the fruit. Drinks consist of juice and plenty of hot tea.

CITRUS FRUIT SALAD WITH LIME
(Heather)

1 pineapple, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 small cans mandarin oranges or 3 large navel oranges peeled and sectioned
1 can apricots
zest and juice of 2 limes

Cut pineapple into pieces and place in a serving bowl. Add the mandarin or navel oranges and the can of apricots. Sprinkle over the zest of lime and stir in the lime juice. Best made the same day as eaten.

For variety I sometimes add dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds. For those who like ginger, one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger adds a wonderful zing or try a few tablespoons of finely sliced candied ginger.

Serves 8.

SWEDISH TEA RING
(originally from Fleishmann’s New Treasury of Yeast Baking)

3 ½ — 4 ½ c. flour
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 c. milk
¼ c. water
½ c. butter
1 egg (at room temp.)
½ c. flour
½ c. nuts
½ c. brown sugar
1-2 c. fruit (canned cherries, apricot, etc. well-drained)

Mix 1 ¼ c. flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a bowl.

Combine milk, water and butter in saucepan. Heat to warm liquids and melt butter. Cool until warm. Add to dry ingredients and beat 2 minutes. Add egg and ¾ c. flour, to make a thick batter. Beat 2 more minutes. Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff batter (but not as thick as bread dough). Cover and refrigerate dough at least 2 hours. (Can be kept in fridge 3 days.)

Combine nuts, ½ c. flour, and brown sugar. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and divide in half. Roll ½ of the dough into a 14×7-inch rectangle.

Spread with ½ of the fruit. Sprinkle with ½ the brown sugar mixture. Roll up from long side as for jelly roll. Seal edges. Place sealed edge down in a circle on a greased cookie sheet. Seal ends firmly.

Cut slits 2/3 through ring at 1-inch intervals; turn each section outward, on its side.

(Note: This picture shows only one-half of the ring slices turned out — be sure to turn out every ring)

Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled – about 1 hour. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until done. Cool on wire rack. Frost while warm with confectioners’ sugar glaze.

Often I don’t have the canned filling I want so I make an apple filling by chopping about 3 large, peeled apples and mixing them with 1/4 c. flour, 1/2 c. brown sugar, juice of one lemon and a few dried cranberries. Bring this mixture to a boil and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.

Glaze: mix 3 tablespoons soft butter into about 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar. Add enough milk to make a drizzling consistency. Add more sugar if needed to thicken.

Makes 2 rings.

Alaina – We traditionally enjoy an egg casserole, fruit, some kind of bread or coffee cake, and a few special drinks. The coffee pot is kept going for those of us who were awakened early by eager children. We have breakfast after stockings and gifts are opened or in between the stockings and gifts depending on the time. It’s a leisurely affair and one that I find makes me incredibly content and reflective.

I use the same base recipe for my egg casserole and just switch out the meats and cheese and sometimes add vegetables to make it different. We love it and I’ve been making it year-round for years. One of my favorite combinations is bacon, spinach, and swiss and we also love the traditional classic of sausage and sharp cheddar (onions & peppers add great color and flavor). You could easily make this vegetarian by omitting the meat. This egg casserole also re-heats very well if you have leftovers. I’m sharing one of my favorite versions.

SPINACH-MUSHROOM-BACON-SWISS EGG CASSEROLE

6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb. bacon, cooked and finely cut up (I often use less than a pound)
3 c. milk
8 oz. swiss cheese
1 1/3 c. crushed crackers (I use a butter cracker like ritz)

1 tsp. dry mustard
1 lb. mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 lb. frozen, chopped spinach, thawed w/liquid thoroughly squeezed out
pepper & salt*

Combine all ingredients. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes – 1 hour until golden brown.

*May not need much salt.
**May be made the night before and refrigerated.

These muffins are delicious! You could make them even more special by drizzling a little glaze over them.

LEMON-CRANBERRY ALMOND MUFFINS
(adapted from Taste of Home)

2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. milk
1/2 c. vegetable oil
zest of 1 lemon
1 c. fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat the eggs, milk, oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in zest and cranberries.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full; sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Makes 1 1/2 – 3 dozen muffins.

This icy drink always reminds me of my childhood. My mom used to surprise us with it and now I love to share it with my children.


ORANGE JULIUS

6 oz. frozen orange juice concentrate
6 oz. water
1 c. milk
1/8-1/4 c. sugar (opt.)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 ice cubes

Chill glasses in freezer.

Combine all ingredients in blender or smoothie machine and blend until ingredients are mixed and ice is pulverized. Makes 4 servings.

Bread Basket

November is the perfect time of year to get into the kitchen and bake some bread — either quick or yeast. With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, the warmth of the oven and the tempting aroma of freshly baked bread will lift everyone’s spirits.

Pumpkin muffins are an ideal treat for breakfast, afternoon snack, or as an accompaniment to soup and salad. This recipe is so versatile — you can make it sweet for dessert (and even bake it in cake pans and top with icing), or you can make it healthy by substituting whole wheat flour and honey. I’m also thinking of trying a gluten-free version by substituting rice flour and masa meal for the flour.

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PUMPKIN MUFFINS

3 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. pumpkin
1/2 c. brown sugar (use 1 c. if you want a sweet cake or 1/2 c. honey if you want it without sugar)
1/2 c. oil

1 c. flour (here’s where you can substitute whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

3/4 c. raisins (optional)
1 c. walnuts, chopped (optional)

Beat eggs. Add vanilla, pumpkin, sugar, and oil. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, and nutmeg. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, mixing just until incorporated. Add raisins and walnuts. Pour into lined muffin tins. I like to sprinkle the muffin tops with rolled oats at this point — just to make them look more inviting. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until done.  Makes 12. (You can also bake this as a loaf — it will take 50-55 minutes to bake.)

Dinner rolls are another type of bread in high demand during the months of cold weather. I have made this recipe countless times, relying on my bread machine to do the hard work for me.

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BREAD MACHINE DINNER ROLLS

1 1/3 c. water
8 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2  c. all-purpose flour (can use some whole wheat)
4 Tbsp. dry milk powder (if you have it)
2 tsp. dry yeast

Measure ingredients into bread machine in order given. Use the “dough” setting (mine takes about 2 hours). Once ready, divide dough into two halves. Roll each half into a circle about 14 inches or so in diameter.

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Cut the circle into twelve “pie” pieces. Roll each piece from the large end to the point to form crescent rolls.

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Place rolls on greased cookies sheets and brush with egg glaze (1 egg mixed with 2 Tbsp. water). Let stand 10-15 minutes and then bake at 375F for 25-35 minutes. Makes 2 dozen.

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A favorite yeast bread of mine is Pumpkin Raisin Bread. It combines my love of pumpkin with my love of yeast bread, along with hints of another kind of bread I love so much — Cinnamon Bread. If you enjoy making yeast breads, you need to give this one a try!

PUMPKIN RAISIN BREAD
(original recipe from Laura T.)

2 pkg. yeast (or 4 1/2 tsp.)
1/3 c. honey
2/3 c. warm water
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1/4 c. oil
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
6 1/4-7 1/4 c. flour (can be all white, all whole-wheat, or a combination of both)
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. raisins

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast and sugar over warm water; stir until dissolved. Add pumpkin, oil, salt, spices, and 1 1/2 c. flour. Beat with wire whisk at low speed until well blended. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes. Add eggs and 1 c. flour; beat 2 minutes more.

With a wooden spoon, stir in raisins and enough additional flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 5-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

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Punch dough down. Divide in half or thirds (for round loaves). Shape dough into loaves and place in greased loaf pans or on greased cookie sheets. Let rise for 45 minutes.

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Bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes. Makes 2 loaves (or 3 small loaves).