Friday, November 18, 2011

Chorizo and Butternut Squash Crostata

A light and flaky crust dusted in cornmeal tastes so good wrapped around a butternut, potato and chorizo hash. Perfect for breakfast, brunch or dinner!
This easy Savory Pie Crust can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge, ready to roll out and fill with this awesome filling, for a satisfying meal.

You'll need:

  • 1 recipe of Savory Pie Crust, dusted with about 1-2 Tablespoons of cornmeal and chilled about an hour
  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes (about 1/2 small butternut squash)
  • 2 1/2 cups russet potatoes, peeled and diced into about 1/2 inch cubes
  • 9 oz log of Mexican chorizo, beef or pork, I used beef. Don't confuse it with the hard Spanish chorizo.
  • 1 cup small diced white onion, about half an onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1 1/2cups fresh shredded mozzarella, the preshredded in the bags just don't melt the same, nor have the same flavor. And with the real, a little goes a long way.
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 dried thyme, crushed in your palms
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten with a pinch of tap water, maybe 1 Tablespoon, for the crust
  • sour cream for serving

In a large pan, cook chorizo, potato and butternut over medium-high heat, only stirring to keep the chorizo from burning.

Leave the chorizo and veggies to cook and get a nice crust like with hash. When one side begins to brown, turn heat down to medium and add onion, a very small pinch of salt and pinch of pepper. The chorizo has salt in it and is spicy and the veggies soak some of that up, so there's very little need for too much salt and pepper.
Add thyme and cinnamon and cook chorizo and veggies for about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it so chorizo doesn't burn.
When veggies are a little tender, add pineapple, and I add the juice on the board from when I was chopping the pineapple. Just for a bit extra flavor :)

Remove chorizo mix from heat and let cool a bit while you make the crostata crust.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unwrap the cornmeal dusted dough disk, but don't remove it from the plastic wrap.
Quickly roll the dough out to about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Carefully slid it onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, covered with parchment paper and sprayed again. Slid the plastic wrap out from under the crostata crust.
 Pile the crust high with the chorizo and butternut mixture.
Then top with a cup of mozzarella cheese, leaving about 1 1/2 inch edge.
 Lift edge up and over the filling, stretching, but being careful not to tear dough.
 I take kitchen scissors and make a little slit so the edges lie down flatter when I'm folding the edges over.
Brush on the egg wash, so it'll get nice and golden.
Sprinkle on the rest of the mozzarella and bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
Let it rest for about 10-15 minutes.

Serve with sour cream and garnish with cilantro, if desired. But the sour cream is a must. oh yum!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Savory Pie Crust

I love this recipe. It's a basic pie crust recipe I've had forever and I don't remember where I adapted it from. I just know this is one of those recipes I'd just as soon use than to try a new one. LOL

This makes a great traditional savory pie, or like pictured above, a rustic galette (free form savory pie, not cooked in a pie pan).  Also, in the pic above, I dusted the crust in cornmeal before chilling. The cornmeal is not needed at all. I just like to use cornmeal with some recipes.

It's incredibly easy too! It only takes a couple minutes to whizz together and throw into the fridge. After chilling at least an hour, roll the dough out and top with whatever savory topping you'd like. The crust doesn't rise, so roll it out to the thickness you desire, as even as possible. I poke a knife into the center to see if it's about the same thickness as the edges.

Also, make sure your butter and water is super cold! I measure the water into a glass measuring cup and stick it into the fridge while I get things together. You can also stick a cube of ice into it, just don't use the ice cube in your dough.  And handle little as possible.  Try to resist your inner perfectionist and just gitRdone and into the fridge to chill.

You'll need:

2.5 cups of flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed, I cut it lengthwise and then crosswise into about 14 cubes.
1/2 super cold water, you might not use all of it.
2 Tablespoons of cornmeal for dusting, optional

Put flour and salt into food processor with cold cubed butter and pulse just a couple times, until you get pea-sized crumbles, don't worry if you have some bigger chunks.

Slowly pulse in the cold water until dough just begins to hold together when you pinch it. You probably won't use all the 1/2 cup of water.

Carefully dump dough out onto a large piece of plastic cling wrap, and using the wrap, form a rough disk.

Cut disk in half and put half of it onto another piece of plastic wrap dusted with about 1-2 T of cornmeal.

Fold wrap up around dough to make it easier to form a disk.

Chill in fridge for at least one hour.
Roll out and use in pie pans for savory pies or simply onto baking sheets for rustic "pies," calzones, etc.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Home Ground Chicken Patties

Wonderfully easy and delicious.
Why buy overpriced ground chicken that sometimes has as much fat thrown into it as hamburger?
Buy chicken breasts on sale and debone them yourself. There are tons of videos on YouTube demonstrating how to do this. All you need is a sharp knife (not serrated, smooth) and after practicing on one or two, you'll have it.
Cut your boneless, skinless chicken in large 2-inch or so cubes, toss into a food processor with the sharp blade (not too much at once, so not to overheat it, unless you have a large one).  I put in about 1 1/2-2 lbs of chicken chunks and pulsed it about 16-18 times.  Just until it was processed enough to form patties, but not pate`. There were still about 1/2 centimeter sized pieces mixed in.

Now you're ready to make some chicken patties!
for the patties you'll need:
about 2 lbs of  home ground chicken
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs, plus more for coating
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
salt and pepper

the coating:
2 cups plain bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese
pepper, enough so you can see the flecks in the bread crumbs
dash Italian seasoning, just a couple shakes, enough so you can see just a hint of the flecks in the bread crumbs

Mix the ingredients for the chicken patties and chill mixture for about 10 minutes.
Mix the coating ingredients.

Using a measuring cup, I used 1/2 cup measure but I didn't fill it all the way, scoop up some mixture and drop it into the coating mixture like this:
Then, using your hands, scoop crumb mixture on top of the chicken, patting it down gently and forming a rough pattie, like this:

Then carefully slide your hand under the patty, picking it up. The patties will be very fragile feeling. Turn it over once in your other palm and cupping your free hand, just go around the edges of the pattie to make it more uniform. It won't pack down and feel like a firm beef pattie, so just make sure it has a coating and is the thickness you like. Work quickly and if mixture gets too difficult to work with, chill a few more minutes.
I have found this way of making the chicken patties the easiest and less messiest.

Heat up a frying pan, over medium heat, with some vegetable oil.
Using a spatula, carefully set the pattie into the hot pan. Fry each side about 3-4 minutes, depending what size they are. If they are browning too quick, lower the heat a little. You may need to add a bit more oil as you cook.
Patties are done when deep golden brown and center feels firm, but not hard.
I like to sprinkle them with a little kosher salt at this point.

Serve on a bun like a chicken sandwich, or a chicken salad, or with mashed potatoes and gravy, or freeze for fast microwavable snacks and sandwiches. So crunchy on the outside, juicy in the middle and soo yummy!
And the best part is you KNOW what is in THESE chicken patties. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kale Pesto

 I was pleasantly surprised by this. I wasn't sure kale would work out considering it can be bitter and is so different from basil.  This pesto would be SO good spread on garlic bread!

Oh, I used one bunch of kale minus about 3 cups (fresh)or so. 
Makes 1 1/2 cup pesto

small bunch of kale, washed and drained, thick stems trimmed out (I left some smaller ones) and chopped into large chunks, just so they fit into the pan better.
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
1 cup parmesan, fresh grated, divided
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon
1 Tablespoon honey
1 garlic clove, grated
healthy pinch of kosher salt
wee pinch of red pepper flakes, crushed between your fingers as you sprinkle it into the kale
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cups rotini pasta
medium saucepan filled 3/4 way up with water and salted well.
1 Tablespoon butter

 Bring salted water to a nice boil.  Squish in all your kale. Wait until the water comes back up to a boil and cook about 2-3 minutes. I don't care to boil mine down until they're super wilted.  Just until they're softened up and bright green.  So pretty!
Turn off the heat and let the kale sit in the hot water while you get a large bowl of super cold tap water.
Using a slotted spoon or spider spatula, put all the kale into the cold water to cool off and stop the cooking.
Save the water in the saucepan from cooking the kale.
Drain the kale.
Bring the water up to a boil and add 2 cups rotini pasta.  The water should still be plenty salty, so you shouldn't need to add any more salt.
While pasta cooks, make the pesto.

Dump drained kale into food processor, add all the ingredients except the evoo and 1/2 the parmesan cheese. Pulse while slowly adding in the olive oil.  Should only take a few pulses to get the consistency you like. I like mine pretty well whizzed up. :)

Drain pasta, add pasta back to pan and stir in 1/2 cup of the pesto, butter and the rest of the parmesan.
You can freeze the leftover pesto or keep it in your fridge for garlic bread, quick lunches or dinners, as a veggie dip for snacking..and it should last quite awhile.

Very healthy and surprisingly very filling!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Creamy Chicken and Spinach Meatball Soup with Fluffy Dumplings

After basking  in the after-dinner glow of noshing on these wonderful little morsels of chicken meatballs in a delectable creamy spinach and leek soup with mounds of light, fluffy dumplings to sop up the soup, I am saddened.  Saddened because there won't be any leftovers tomorrow! haha!

Like me, you may rethink ever eating beef meatballs again! okay, maybe not. But they're SO good.

Before you start anything, thaw a 10oz package of frozen spinach, put it into a mesh strainer and strain that spinach the best you can. Squeeze, squeeze, and then squeeze it some more. It's very important to get the spinach dry as possible so your meatballs don't fall apart and your soup isn't watery. So do this first, then let the spinach hang out in a strainer over a bowl. By the time you're ready for it, it'll be pretty dry and good to go.

Be sure to clean your leeks. Little bits of dirt and sand get caught up in the layers and layers of the leek. I've found the quickest way is to slice them in about 1/2 inch slices, or less, and put them in a large bowl (or salad spinner) of water. Swish them a round, separating the layers, then let them sit a minute. The dirt and sand will sink to the bottom and the leeks will float. Salad spinners are awesome and time savers for this step!

for the meatballs (makes 25-28 small):
  • extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 Tablespoons, for browning meatballs
  • 1 lb of ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped spinach, drained and squeezed VERY well
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon grated onion (with the juice, I just grate it over the chicken in the bowl)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, grated (again, just grate it over the chicken in the bowl)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried Thyme, crushed a bit
  • kosher salt and pepper, few pinches each

for the soup:
  • 32 oz box chicken broth
  • 2 leeks, sliced, cleaned and drained. (I use the light green part too, just like on green onions/scallions)
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced carrot, fairly thin so it cooks with everything else
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed VERY dry
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced fine or grated
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon dried, crushed thyme. I used 1/2, but that may be a wee too thyme-y for some people. Scale it back if you aren't sure.
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch

dumpling instructions to follow.

       Combine ground chicken with 2 Tablespoons breadcrumbs, spinach, egg, grated onion, parmesan, grated garlic, dried thyme, and a few good pinches of salt and pepper. Use your hands and gently combine all. Mixture will be wet.

Chill for a few minutes, about 5-10 minutes.

Mix the 1/2 cup of plain breadcrumbs with a healthy pinch of salt, some pepper, and the Italian seasoning.

Using a small ice cream scoop (for about one inch balls), scoop small meatballs and drop into breadcrumbs to coat.  I find it easier and less messy to drop the meatballs from the scoop, right into the breadcrumbs, coat them and then gently roll them between my palms just a bit to give them a little shape. You don't want to take too much time rolling them in your hands. They won't be firm like ground beef meatballs.
Put them in one layer on a plate.

When all meatballs are made, put them into the fridge to chill while you heat up a heavy bottomed pan with a lid like a dutch oven.  If you don't have a lid, use a round pizza pan. Works great! You need something that won't allow steam to escape for the dumplings.

When pan is hot over medium-low heat, add about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil carefully. Evoo can spit when too hot.
Brown meatballs, trying not to fuss with them too much or they'll break up. Browning just two sides is fine. Don't cook the meatballs all the way through.

Be sure not to crowd the pan. It may be necessary to cook the meatballs in two batches.
Add more olive oil, if needed to keep balls browning and the bottom of the pan from burning.

Remove browned, but not all the way cooked, meatballs and set them aside.

Add 2 Tablespoons of margarine or butter to the pan after you've removed the meatballs.

Add carrots, celery, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook and stir around a bit for about 3 minutes or so. Enough to give the carrots a head start.

Add leeks, spinach, garlic, and pinch more of salt and pepper; cook and stir a couple minutes.

Turn heat up to medium and add chicken broth and all but about two tablespoons of the milk and bring up just to a boil, then reduce heat to low. So that it simmers, but not so hard as to make it stick to the bottom of the pan.

Mix cornstarch with the leftover milk until cornstarch is dissolved and stir into soup.  Keep stirring until soup starts to thicken a bit.

Carefully add the meatballs to the soup.

While soup returns to a nice simmer, make the dumplings.

 for the dumplings:
I use a shortcut! I adore Bisquick dumplings. They're light and fluffy and just perfect every time!
(no, I don't work for them, nor do I know anyone who does, and I don't get paid to say that! LOL)

2 cups bisquick (yellow box, just the good ol' fashioned kind)
2/3 cup milk

Put bisquick in small bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the milk all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon just until all the liquid is absorbed and you have a soft dough. Dip a tablespoon measuring spoon into the hot, simmering soup to scoop out little spoonfuls of dough onto the soup. Works perfect this way and no mess! Except for having to use your finger sometimes. :)
Just like that.
Don't worry about overcrowding your pan. As long as the soup is simmering gently and your pan is covered, with no peeking!, you'll get soft, fluffy dumplings.

Keep the lid on for 10 minutes, or until the dumplings are dry on top. I topped mine with more parmesan cheese.
Dinner's ready! YUMMY!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Apple Pomegranate Crisp

For this recipe, I used Michigan apples. They were great. Not too sweet, not too tart. I often steer away from apples because they're just too sweet to me.  These were so yummy.  So use whatever apples you like, just take a nibble to adjust the sugar level. You may not need as much sugar as I used, or you may need more.

Toasted and chopped walnuts would be awesome in and/or in the topping, but I forgot to add them. lol

But don't forget the FRESH lemon. It adds such a great tang to things, as well as keeping your apples from browning as you get everything ready.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter a 8x8 glass baking dish.

5 -6 cups peeled and sliced apples (this doesn't take as many apples as it sounds like it does)
juice of 1/2 lemon, about 2-3 Tablespoons
1 whole pomegranate, seeded (put whole pom in deep bowl of water, cut, pull apart, and pop out pom seeds under water to avoid the messy staining. Also, the membranes and bad seeds float to the top and you can skim them off, then drain all the good seeds.)
small handful of golden raisins (1/2 cup, more or less if you like)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
pinch of kosher salt


1 cup of flour
1 cup oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of butter (8 Tablespoons or one stick), room temperature, but not soggy, and cubed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch fresh grated nutmeg
pinch kosher (coarse) salt

Peel, core and slice the apples thin.
Keep sliced apples in the lemon juice in a big bowl while you peel and slice them, to keep them from browning.
Add the rest of the filling ingredients to the sliced apples, mix well, and spread evenly into the greased baking dish.

Prepare topping: Whisk together in a small bowl, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar until all are thoroughly combined.
With a fork, add cubed butter to the flour mixture until the dry ingredients are crumbly. 
Like this. :)

Spoon topping evenly over apple mixture and pop into the oven, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Turn off oven and let sit in the oven for about 10 more minutes with the oven door ajar.
Take out of oven and let sit for about 10 more minutes.

When the torture is over, serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.  Fantastic!
(the pomegranate seeds will stay crunchy)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore Stew

Perhaps not a classic Cacciatore, but I simply adore this recipe. Store chicken in the leftover stewed veggies and sauce, and the next day you have the makings of an awesome hot sandwich on garlic bread!

I suppose you could use boneless chicken thighs, but I think the bone-in thighs and skin gives a lot of flavor to the wonderfully rich sauce and vegetables as everything simmers in the same pot.

You can add cooked pasta at the end, but I didn't feel this need it. It was a delicious and very filling meal without pasta. Chicken thighs do tend to get a little more greasy, but as the sauce reduces and as it cools, that really isn't noticeable much. And the next day, just spoon off the thickened fat on top of the sauce before you heat it up.

Speaking of the next day...this is so incredibly yummy the next day. Because the thighs are stored in the veggies and sauce, they stay moist.
A bit messy to dig out and debone for a sandwich, but SO worth it! I deboned a thigh, added some veggie and sauce, warmed up while a cut a fat piece of sourdough bread (or you could use sub bun, hamburger bun, hotdog bun, anything that is a bit more sturdy than regular white store bought bread), lightly spread with evoo or butter, sprinkle on some garlic powder, add some cheese like parmesan and/or mozzarella slices, add the warm sauce and bake, fry in a pan with a heavier pan on top of it until crisp and golden, or stick into your old George Foreman grill like I did and have a "panini." 

I love making recipes that can be made into something else the next day, or are even better the next day! Give me a day off, so to speak, with an awesome dinner!

Crockpotters, I bet this would be a great crock recipe!
Enough chat, here's the recipe!

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 chicken thighs
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder
  •  1/2 cup chopped white onion        
  • 1/2 cup chopped medium carrot
  • 1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped
  • small - medium zucchini, sliced in quarter moons
  • 4 oz  Mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 small can tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole tomatoes with juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated Asiago cheese

Add a small amount of evoo to a medium-hot dutch oven, or large deep-sided pan.  Season chicken thighs with salt, pepper and garlic powder on both sides.  Brown well on both sides, don't worry the chicken isn't all the way done, it'll cook up in the stew.

When chicken is a nice golden color on both sides, remove from pan, reduce heat to medium, and add the onions, carrots, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add a pinch (about 1/4 tsp) of red pepper flakes, crushing them between your fingertips as you sprinkle them.
Cook and stir for about 2-3 minutes.

Add zucchini and mushrooms, another small pinch of salt and pepper and the other 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, crushed between your fingertips, and half of the basil. 
Cook and stir over medium heat until mushrooms begin to soften.

With a small grater, grate the garlic cloves down into the vegetables. If you don't have a grater with a small side, mince the garlic up super tiny.

Add tomato paste and balsamic vinegar and stir around the veggies real well. Add chicken stock, stirring until tomato paste is incorporated into the chicken stock.

Drain some of the tomato juice from the can into the pot of vegetables and, using your hands, reach into the hand and crush the tomatoes up. Empty can of crushed tomatoes into the pot.

Add the rest of the basil, a pinch of salt and pepper, if needed, and add chicken back into pot.
Cook with a lid tilted to let a bit of steam escape during cooking, reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 30 -45 minutes, taking the lid off the last 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, add cheeses and stir carefully to incorporate cheese into the stew. Let stand about 10 minutes.
Serve with garlic bread and parmesan cheese to pass!

Note: Resist the urge to add things to thicken it up, because the next day it'll be VERY thick. Thick enough to use the stew as a sauce on your panini bread! oooooooooooooooooo so good!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gluten-free Carrot Ginger Muffins with Tangy Cream Cheese Frosting

I had a great time with these lovely little muffins. Dolloped with a tangy cream
cheese frosting and they were instantly a delicious dessert!
And to think I was skittish about trying to bake gluten-free! Wasting resources isn't a thing one wants to do nowadays. Waste not, want not.  Everything I read said; "You'll get used to the taste," or "put your past baking expectations aside, this is different, and will taste different-but good!"  Etc.So I was afraid to try baking with the gf flour and end up having to throw all that away.
Well. I really didn't find it different.  Or that it tasted all that different from regular morning muffins. I've tasted regular flour bakery bran muffins that tasted drier :(
These had a great texture, moistness and taste. They are a little drier the next day, but still really good.

I've gone to the King Arthur Flour's website for past baking questions and tips, even though I don't use their pricey regular flour (sorry! lol), and have received great advice and tips. So I went to them when it came to a flour replacer to buy. In my local Meijer (large grocery store chain) I found King Arthur's Gluten-Free All-Purpose flour. Yes, it was pricey, but worth it for a treat or for a gift :)

You will also need Xanthan Gum. Usually you can find it in the spice isle along with other spice jars. It's a fine, white powdery substance that will help replace the gluten EFFECT in your batter. At least that's the conclusion I've come to in my research.  Meijer was apparently out, couldn't find it..boohoo, so I borrowed some.  My friend put it into a little baggie and I headed out the door. Then I stopped.  Considering I live in the city, perhaps I should put it into my purse before heading out. It'd really suck to get slammed to the ground and cuffed over Xanthan Gum. I ache enough as it is.  But could you imagine? LOL

Another thing. I usually don't care for any kind of nuts in my yummies, but I toasted the walnuts before I chopped them and it really made a difference. I urge you to try it if you don't care for walnuts in your baked yummies.  SO good!

When it comes to the carrots, walnuts, and golden raisins, this is not written in stone. I think this batter can handle more, or less, or different nuts and fruits. Just adjust your baking time accordingly.  I'm just typing out what I had on hand to use.

So preheat the oven to 325, stick some paper cupcake holders into two muffin pans and let's get on with the recipe!

Makes 20-24 muffins, depending on size. They don't rise much at all.
The wet ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup Canola oil
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
The dry ingredients:
  • 2 3/4 cup All-purpose gluten-free flour, such as King Arthur brand
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
The fun add-ins:
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup toasted and chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger (buy a fresh little knob of it and keep it in the freezer. Grate whenever you need it. No need to defrost first. Lasts forever. Or seems like it.)

In a large, glass bowl (plastics contain oils from other foods that have been in them, this will affect the baking), whisk your dry ingredients well and make a little well in the center.

In a smaller glass bowl, add the oil and sugars and beat well with a hand mixer for about 3 minutes. Until well combined. It won't "fluff" up like if you used butter, but I still give it a good beating to incorporate it all.
Add vanilla.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each egg to really get it mixed in well. About 2-3 minutes total time.

Add the wet mixture to the dry, and using a spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet, rotating the bowl as you fold and gently mix.
Using your hand mixer, mix on 2 or 3, about a medium speed for about 3 more minutes. Mixture will begin to thicken a lot.

Grate the ginger into the shredded carrots (freshly grated carrots are best, they're moist and not dehydrated like the pre-grated packages in the store. I really don't know if they'd work in this recipe.) and give a little mix to combine the ginger with the carrots.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, carefully fold in the carrots, walnuts and raisins until just combined.

Like I mentioned before, the batter doesn't rise much, so you can fill muffin papers almost full. The batter is pretty sticky and gummy, so I used a small ice cream scoop, and it worked well.

Bake one pan at a time, rotating it half way through cooking, for 12-16 minutes. Use your nose (the nose knows! haha) and when a toothpick stuck in the fattest one near the center comes out clean. Try not to overbake. They won't have that real golden 'done' look that regular flour muffins have.

Let cool just a moment or two, until you can handle them to take them out to cool and put the other batch into the oven.

Awesome breakfast muffins, or frost them with my Tangy Cream Cheese Frosting for a real treat!

Tangy Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz brick of 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 to 1 cup powdered sugar, adjust to your tastes. I used close to one cup.
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Again, adjust to your tastes, but you don't want to actually TASTE lemon, just the nice tang of it.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • teeny tiny pinch of table salt (yeah, that's a pre-fessional cookery term right there! haha)
Beat in high with hand mixer until completely combined and fluffy and yummy! If it feels a little too thick for frosting, you can add a teeny tiny bit of milk to smooth it out.  But you shouldn't need that.

Spoon into a small storage baggy, snip off a small corner of the bag, and gently squeeze onto the muffins!

These freeze very well without the frosting too!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Crockpot Pork Chops and Gravy dinner

Rachel Lynne  shares with us another family favorite.
Nothing says comfort food like fall-off-the-bone delicious pork with gravy, mashed potatoes and corn! How wonderful to come home to the fantastic smell of pork bubbling away in your crockpot, welcoming you home on a cold fall day.

  • 4 bone-in pork chops
  • one medium onion, sliced
  • 1 cup flour
  • Salt, Pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • 1 cup milk

1.  Mix salt, pepper, garlic powder with about 3/4 cups of flour, coat pork chops and then brown in oil and place in crock pot.

2.  Turn heat to low and caramelize onions then add two to three tablespoons of flour, adding oil/butter if needed to make a loose flour mixture. Brown this roux until lightly golden.

3.  Whisk milk into flour mixture and stir until a thin gravy forms.  Sprinkle in a pinch of nutmeg (about 1/8 teaspoon) and cook a few minutes to get rid of the flour taste. Pour gravy over pork chops.

4.  Cook pork chops on low in crock pot for about 5 hours.
Serve with mashed potatoes and corn, YUM!