Oatmeal Berry Muffins


Muffins!

Muffins!

I’m thinking these muffins may become a repeat recipe in my kitchen for several reasons:

1) They are surprisingly healthy since they are made with whole wheat flour, oatmeal, and unsweetened applesauce (no butter and no white flour at all!).

2) It’s a great way to use up leftover berries in the fridge or freezer (strawberries and blueberries in our case).

3) It’s a tasty grab-n-go breakfast item.

4) My husband likes them (minus the sticking to the muffin paper, but that’s a minor issue).

5) They smell amazing when they’re in the oven.

This recipe (to my knowledge) originally appeared on Joy the Baker where Two Peas and Their Pod found it and then I found them. As such, there are now three versions of this recipe, each with subtle or not so subtle tweaks. My version came about mainly because I did not have almond extract on hand (never have as of yet) and I had fresh strawberries and blueberries that needed to be used up before we left to visit family – and what better way than in muffins?

I assume that one could sub in whatever berries are on hand since Joy used blueberries, Two Peas used a mix of frozen raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, and I used fresh strawberries and blueberries (incidentally, exactly the types of berries that go in my morning oatmeal). If you find a good mix, feel free to post about it in the comments section. I’m thinking next time I might try blackberries and raspberries and blueberries or something along that line. Anyway, enjoy!

Oatmeal Berry Muffins

oven temp: 375 degrees         bake time: 16 – 18 minutes            makes: I made 18 but Two Peas said 16

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 c. rolled oats
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar (packed of course)
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. mixed berries (I used a half or a little less of chopped up strawberries and the rest blueberries)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. In a medium bowl combine applesauce, buttermilk, sugar, oil, egg, and extract.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Make a well in dry ingredients and add applesauce mixture. Stir until just moist.
  5. Fold in berries.
  6. Either grease tins or put in paper muffin holders.
  7. Fill muffin holders or pan 2/3 full.
  8. Bake 16 – 18 minutes then cool on rack.
  9. Supposedly these freeze well, so once cool eat a few and save the rest for later for a good breakfast on the go.
About to fold in the berries.

About to fold in the berries.

Muffins waiting to go into the oven.

Muffins waiting to go in the oven.

Finished muffins lounging on my frog potholder.

Finished muffins lounging on my frog potholder.

I couldn't resist any longer. Bye bye muffin!

I couldn't resist any longer. Bye bye muffin!

Note: For your own safety, do not watch Betty White’s hosting of Saturday Night Live while eating these muffins – or at least not the radio skit. I’d hate for anyone to choke on or spit out their muffin.

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Summer Tomato Soup


Summer Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Summer Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Happy 4th of July!

I decided to make this recipe for several reasons:

1) I had a bunch of cherry tomatoes and one large beefsteak from my parent’s garden that was sitting on my counter.

2) I made a loaf of bread yesterday and thought grilled cheese and tomato soup sounded awesome.

3) I got to try cooking with shallots – a first for me.

4) It felt like a soup kind of day with all the rain we’ve been getting.

5) My hubby really liked the idea.

Besides, what’s not to like about a recipe with minimal ingredients and that takes such a long time to cook at low heat that the scent permeates the apartment without making our air conditioner work any harder than it already is? And that has such a great flavor? In fact, hubby liked it so much it’s offered yet another reason for us to consider getting a small freezer. Then I could make several batches from tomatoes from the garden or Farmer’s Market and have this simple soup all winter. Definitely something for us to consider.

And speaking of considering, please keep in mind shallots, like onions, will make you cry. After a few minutes of burning eyes I resorted to a candle and pink swimming goggles. Classy, I know, but it worked and made my hubby laugh so hard he grabbed the camera for future blackmail opportunities and his phone to text the picture to my mom. Yet another reason he keeps me around…

This recipe, like the sandwich recipe from yesterday, is from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. It’s more or less the same except for a few tweaks on my part, and as usual I’ve included notes and pictures below.

Summer Tomato Soup

stovetop: low heat     time: 3 – 4 hours     makes: 4 – 6 servings worth

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 1 c. diced shallots
  • 5 lbs. ripe, red, juicy tomatoes, rinsed and cut into big pieces [I used cherry tomatoes and a beefsteak (1 lb.) then 4 beefsteaks (2lbs. worth) and a bunch of roma (the other 2 lbs.)]
  • salt (at least 1 tsp.) and freshly milled pepper
  • 1/2 c. water

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a wide soup pot over low heat. Add the shallots while you prepare the tomatoes.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the pot along with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 c. water.
  3. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours. Give the pot a stir every now and then. If the tomatoes are juicy, this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
  4. Use a food mill or, if you are like me and do not know what this is let alone own one, pour the soup into a blender and push chop on and off a few times (do not fill the blender more than 2/3s full).
  5. Then hold the sieve over a bowl and pour the mixture onto it. Some of the liquid will go through right away. To get the rest use a smaller bowl or your hand to press down on the mixture. Toss aside the solids and repeat until all the soup is sorted into solids and liquid (this is easier if you have a helper to deal with the sieve while you work with the blender or vice versa). You can toss the solid mixture or use it for whatever you like (it still has some flavoring if you don’t mind the tomato seeds and skins).
  6. Taste for salt and season with freshly milled pepper.
  7. Pour into a bowl and enjoy!
Dicing the shallots (sorry, no picture of me in the goggles).

Dicing the shallots (sorry, not including a picture of me in the goggles).

The tomatoes before I started cutting them into large pieces.

The inspiration for the recipe before I cut them into large pieces.

Beginning the 3 to 4 hour countdown...

Beginning the 3 to 4 hour countdown...

...that ended in this!

...that ended in this!

Straining the liquid. The leftover mixture is on the plate off to the side.

Straining the liquid. The leftover mixture is on the plate off to the side.

All done!

And finally, the result!

Note: The recipe mentions (among other suggestions) that you can add a few tablespoons to a cup of cream for cream of tomato soup. While that is an option, it has a lot of flavor on its own and (as shown in the first picture) goes great with grilled cheese sandwiches. We tried it using muenster cheese and the bread I baked (and posted about) yesterday.

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Classic White Sandwich Bread


One of the loaves of bread fresh out of the oven. The recipe makes two.

One of the loaves of bread fresh out of the oven. The recipe makes two.

I’m breaking free of Mrs. Baird’s, and I’m not looking back (hopefully).

For a while now I’ve been casually looking for a sandwich bread recipe. I wanted one that could hold up as toast or for a sandwich without casting crumbs everywhere – no small feat. And I wanted it to have at least a little whole wheat. Well, the recipe below uses absolutely no whole wheat (although I intend to try subbing in some for 1/4 to 1/2 of the all purpose flour at some future date), but it does satisfy the crumb requirement. It also tastes good – and who minds that?

I got this recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison, a cookbook I have been borrowing from a friend but intend to buy a copy of soon. If you haven’t seen this cookbook before, I’ve added a link here and on my recommendations page, so go check it out. There’s a poppy seed cake and a bunch of other stuff I’m hoping to try someday. Which, speaking of poppy seeds, how much does your cost where you live and how much do you get? I had to pay around 7 dollars for 2.5 ounces after I had two salespeople help me find it…apparently either everyone else knows where to find it or there’s not that big of a demand.

Okay, and back to the bread. Because I am by no means an expert on yeast breads that require kneading (the one I make semi-regularly is no knead), I’ve included (in parenthesis) my notes on what I did and what I think happened.  Feel free to post any enlightening comments. After all, I’d like to develop a little more confidence, and knowing a little more about the process and any tricks certainly helps. The recipe is listed below along with another picture. Good luck!

August 11, 2010 Update: For those who would prefer to use a little whole wheat, I have successfully tweaked the recipe twice to include it. The first time I replaced 1/2 c.with the wheat flour and the second time I used 1 c. wheat.

Red Raspberry Jam. Yum.

I spread Red Raspberry Jam on the first slice. Yum.

Classic White Sandwich Bread

oven temp: 375 degrees       bake time: 40 – 45 min.       makes: 2 loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 c. warm water
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 c. warm milk
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3 to 4 c. bread flour
  • Egg Glaze (1 egg yolk or whole egg whisked together with 1 Tbs. water, milk, or cream – I used a whole egg and water)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, proof the yeast: stir together 1/2 c. water and yeast, add the sugar, and set aside until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl combine the milk, remaining water, honey, oil, and salt followed by the proofed yeast.
  3. Work in the flour a cup at a time until you have a shaggy, heavy dough that leaves the sides of the bowl (I used a wooden spoon and mixed in 2 c. all purpose and 3 c. bread flour, but the temperature in our apartment was in the high 70’s and the weather has been rainy all day so wondering if that affected the amount).
  4. Turn it onto a slightly floured counter and gradually knead in the remaining flour (1 c. bread flour in my case – I’m assuming that I did not have to use it since it says 3 to 4 c.) until the dough is smooth and resilient, about 5 minutes (I have no idea if I kneaded it properly – kept having to use the dough cutter to  scrape it off my fingers and the counter and then to toss it over onto itself – I felt like a 4 year old kid with khaki play dough).
  5. Put it in a deeply oiled bowl, turning it so that the top is oiled too (I tried to pour a little canola in my hand instead of turning it and ended up drowning the dough, making more of a mess tilting the bowl so I could clean it up a little).
  6. Cover with a damp towel and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in bulk, an hour or longer (mine was good after an hour, but I once again was in a high 70’s temperature apartment…).
  7. Deflate the dough by pressing down on it (a closed fist works nicely), then divide it into two equal pieces, shape into balls, cover, and let rest (leave it alone) for 10 minutes (if the dough is decently oiled, it shouldn’t stick, otherwise you can toss down some more oil or flour or use a dough cutter if you have one).
  8. Meanwhile, oil two bread pans.
  9. Flatten the dough (I don’t flatten it completely – not sure if that is right or not) into two rectangles the length of the pan. Roll it up tightly (I folded it up), pinch the seams together to seal the ends, and place in the pans, seam side down (not a good idea to try to roll it over to the edge and into the pan, dropping the metal pan in the process, resulting in your significant other questioning your sanity – perhaps you’ll have better luck).
  10. Cover again and let rise until the dough is just above the edge of the pan, about 35 minutes (I gave mine 45).
  11. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  12. Leave the dough as is (which is what I did) or score the top with three diagonal slashes.
  13. Brush with egg glaze (I used a whole egg and water) and bake until browned and pulling away from the sides, 40 to 45 minutes. If the top gets too dark, cover loosely with foil (a little dark but not too bad – do I really need to glaze it?).
  14. Turn the bread out, tap the bottom to make sure it has a hollow sound, not a thud, then set on a rack to cool I run a knife around the edges so I can flip it out of the pan easier).
  15. Cut it up and enjoy!

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Our Trip to San Francisco


Just a street corner in San Francisco.

Just a street corner in San Francisco.

Sorry for the long delay between posts. It’s been a rather adventurous few weeks what with: bumming rides from friends while our car was in the shop; getting our car back from the shop; renting a car for a trip to San Francisco (two days driving, two days there, two days driving back); going to Oklahoma City for a wedding; and all the other things that typically take hunks of time out of the day.

So now that I’m back, what do I have to tell you…well, the trip to San Francisco was both awesome and crazy. On the way there we almost hit a coyote in New Mexico, practically froze in Flagstaff, Arizona (we camped in a tent for the night and the temperature got to below 39 degrees, go figure), and got our fruit confiscated shortly after entering California.

Apparently if the fruit is from East of the Continental Divide or out of the country and is not sliced up, they take it. This was rather frustrating since we had packed apples, grapes, watermelon, plums, and peaches along with Cheerios, peanut butter crackers, and bread so we could spend less money on the trip and avoid fast food. On the bright side, I got to keep my watermelon (it was sliced up), and we had eaten most of the fruit by that point. The guy was really nice about it, explaining to us why and telling us where we could go to buy more fruit, but I couldn’t help but being frustrated anyway.

Later that evening we arrived in Fremont where we would be spending the next three nights with our friends Dana and Kerry. They cooked a yummy dinner of grilled salmon, grilled corn on the cob, heirloom tomatoes with mozzarella and basil, and wine with blackberries, strawberries, and kiwi covered in whipped cream and a few trefoils girl scout cookies for dessert. We stayed up chatting since they would be leaving the next day and not be back until after we had left for home.

The next two days were a whirlwind of attempting to drive and park in San Francisco (we had visited the year before without a car and had rode the trolleys or buses, or walked). We went to City Lights (several times), Vesuvio (the bar next door to City Lights), the bistro at the Cliff House, Muir Woods, some Italian food place whose name I can’t remember, Boudin Bakery, Cowgirl Creamery in the Ferry Building, and a produce stand on our way to Muir Woods.

The bistro was amazing – their menu listed that the eggs were cage free, they served popovers before the meal, and all breakfasts had two automatic sides – fruit and roasted potatoes. I got ham and scrambled eggs while hubby got Eggs San Francisco. I ate very little the rest of the day since the meal was so filling.

My brunch at the Cliff House bistro.

My brunch at the Cliff House bistro.

The Eggs San Francisco Andrew ordered.

The Eggs San Francisco Andrew ordered.

I also loved the produce stand. We bought an apple, two peaches, bing cherries, strawberries, and vanilla fig newtons, and it all tasted and looked so good. Most of the time the strawberries I purchase are already verging onto maroon and bruised, but these were strawberries as they should be.

The produce stand we stopped at on our way to Muir Woods.

The produce stand we stopped at on our way to Muir Woods.

What we bought at the produce stand minus the apple, a peach, and the fig newtons.

What we bought at the produce stand minus the apple, a peach, and the fig newtons.

I should probably mention that Friday was spent eating at the Cliff House and the Italian place and visiting Vesuvio whereas Saturday was the produce stand, hiking through Muir Woods and seeing the Coastal Redwoods, walking to the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf, and dining on the fresh produce, Benedictine cheese, and sourdough bread. Both days we visited City Lights because as our friends and family know, we are both serious bookworms. Besides, it’s hard not to love an independent bookstore located in San Francisco (for me anyway).

Before we left for home we stopped at the Trader Joe’s in Fremont for more produce. We camped in Flagstaff again (this time sleeping in the car), went to the Grand Canyon for a few hours, and made it home around midnight the second night.

I’ve attached a few more pictures of Muir Woods and the Grand Canyon because we really wanted to spend a few days at each but only had a few hours to spare. These pictures are a great example of why.

Coastal Redwoods in Muir Woods.

Coastal Redwoods in Muir Woods.

Looking out over the Grand Canyon.

Looking out over the Grand Canyon.

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Sunday Brunch: Biscuits, Eggs, and Pork Breakfast Sausage


Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch

This post should have been up a week and a half ago, but what with traveling, getting rear-ended by a Ford Explorer (our car may or may not be totaled – the insurance people are talking it out), trying to figure out transportation since we are temporarily a no car family, dealing with a broken and now fixed water heater, and the usual day to day issues, I’ve been a bit delinquent. At any rate, here’s the post…finally.

The pork breakfast sausage and eggs we bought from PiaDom were excellent, especially when we made the sausage into patties and seasoned the eggs with chives I got in my produce basket. Homemade biscuits (recipe to be listed below) and orange juice completed the meal. Unfortunately I missed the latest random parking lot meeting that occurred Saturday (Did I mention last time it felt like an illicit drug deal meeting? It totally did…), so I’ll have to wait a while before I can buy more of the sausage or the eggs. On the bright side, we still have a chicken, some sirloin, and a tiny bit of the sausage and eggs.

The biscuits are one variation of a recipe my mom makes from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. They’re not particularly healthy, but as the occasional addition to breakfast, they’re a nice touch. I prefer to eat them right out of the oven while my hubby would rather put them in the fridge and eat them cold. Either way, enjoy!

Biscuits Supreme

oven temp: 450 degrees     bake time: 10 – 12 min.    makes: more than 10 biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 3/4 c. butter
  • 1 c. milk

Directions:

1) In a large bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar.

2) Using a pastry blender (or two forks), cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs (I generally pull the butter out right before so it is as hard as possible).

3) Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add milk all at once. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.

4) Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing dough for 4 to 6 strokes or just until dough holds together (not too much or they won’t be nice and flaky).

5) Pat or lightly roll dough until 3/4 inch thick.

6) Cut the dough with a floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (or use the top of a floured glass like I did).

7) Place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet (If the bottoms have enough flour it’s not an issue).

8 ) Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 – 12 minutes or until golden. I generally use two cookie sheets and switch the top and bottom halfway through (Be careful if the bottom of the biscuits are well floured because if you move too fast they can slip off into the oven and then your fire alarm might start beeping – ask me how I know.)

9) Remove biscuits from baking sheet and serve immediately.

Biscuits Supreme

Biscuits Supreme - Done!

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Produce Basket and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes


Roasted Rosemary Potatoes and Greens

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes and Greens

In my last post I mentioned I would get my first basket of fresh locally grown organic produce on Friday from From the Garden run by Ellen Harp (I found her originally through Local Harvest). Well, it arrived, full of goodies – sorrel, red chicory, Red Russian kale, Buttercrunch lettuce, endive, cilantro, Chinese chives, spring onions, and Easter Egg radishes to be specific. In addition to the receipt listing what I got this week she included a welcome page (it listed what I got this week, why it is good for me, and some cooking suggestions) and typed up recipes for Mexican Coleslaw, Sorrel Potato Salad, Cilantro Chicken, Jo’s Balsamic Kale. I’m definitely looking forward to my next basket in two weeks.

Well, I tried to take a picture that did the basket and produce justice, but I think I fell a little short (namely because yours truly did not think to remove the newspaper wrapping before taking said pictures so some items are hidden). At any rate, it made a nice mix of greens (I just pulled leaves from whatever plant suited my fancy) to go with the roasted rosemary potatoes I baked (recipe included below).

My First Delivery from From the Garden

Produce from From the Garden

I decided to make roasted rosemary potatoes for four reasons: I had some fresh rosemary on hand; 2) I had some yummy yellow potatoes I purchased in the organic section at Market Street; 3) I figured they would go great with greens; and 4) I had a recipe I wanted to try from Life’s Ambrosia. Oh, and I guess there’s a fifth reason too…it sounded really really good.

Before I give you the recipe, I think I should mention I’ve pretty much given up on fried fries – the kind you get at most fast food chains and restaurants across the country. It’s gotten to the point where they’re too greasy, and I pour too much salt on them anyway to make them palatable. Instead we’ve developed a preference for baked fries, so this recipe falls in line with that mantra. Actually, I bet you could make this recipe into baked fries rather than the 1 inch square pieces that this recipe calls for – either way I bet it will taste fantastic.

Okay, and now for the recipe (drum roll please…)

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

oven preheat: 400 degrees      bake time: 30-40 min.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil (we used extra virgin since that is what we have on hand)
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, stems removed
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt (I knocked down the salt by a ¼ tsp. because it was a little too strong for me)
  • ½ tsp. fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 ½ lbs. (about 3 medium) yellow or Yukon Gold potatoes, diced into 1 inch cubes (or sliced into fries shapes if you want to make them fries instead)

Directions:

1)      Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside.

2)      In a bowl whisk together olive oil, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

3)      Add in potatoes and stir to coat completely.

4)      Transfer potatoes to prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer.

5)      Bake for 20 min. Remove from oven and turn. Bake for another 10-20 min. or until the edges of the potatoes are golden brown. If you like them extra crispy, turn on the boiler for two minutes.

Here are a few pictures of the process:

The mixture of salt, pepper, olive oil, and fresh rosemary.

The mixture of salt, pepper, olive oil, and fresh rosemary.

All seasoned and ready to go in the oven!

All seasoned and ready to go in the oven!

Done!

Done!

Note: If you are like me and just have to taste them right out of the oven, be careful – they’re hot!

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Ordering up Grassfed


A little before 6pm I drove to the Sutherlands parking lot in Lubbock. When I got there I saw a mostly empty lot except for the far right near the street where a man in jeans was passing out boxes, bags, and cartons to people standing nearby. I had to drive carefully to avoid vehicles that were coming and going, not to mention the people getting in and out of cars or simply standing about waiting and chatting. I parked and got out of my own car, check in hand, ready to purchase the pork breakfast sausage, whole chicken, ground beef, sirloin, and eggs I had ordered earlier in the month.

This was my first direct purchasing experience with PiaDom Meats, a local company out of Nazareth, Texas that delivers to a parking lot in Lubbock once a month for no more cost than the products you buy. We had bought some of their meat a month or so ago when we went to Well Body and liked it and their philosophy well enough to want to order more from them directly. This was a very simple procedure since they list what they have to offer online as well as some suggestions for cooking it, and you can either fill out a form on their website, call them, or email them to make your order. They send out emails to those who ask to be added to their list so they can let people  know when they are coming to Lubbock next (or Plainview, Amarillo, or several other cities they list on their site).

That I found out about them at all is because of another site, Eat Wild, which I stumbled upon while trying to find a local source for eggs. Eat Wild is a great resource for locating farmers around the country who sell grass fed meat, eggs, and dairy. During that same search I also discovered other useful sites such as Local Harvest and Eat Well Guide. In fact, Local Harvest is how I got in touch with a woman from whom I will be buying fresh produce from her garden every other week (first delivery on Friday!).

I’ll have to get back to you on how my PaiDom purchases all taste, but so far I’m happy. We plan to have some of the sirloin cooked in teriyaki sauce and then tossed in with some white rice and broccoli. As for the produce arriving on Friday, I’ll let you know how it goes too.

What do you eat that is local and/or organic? And what do those words mean to you?

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