Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Mix-In Muffins


This is a really fun recipe because you get a bunch of flavors of muffin out of one recipe.  The muffins are also made for freezing, so you can stash a big bag in your freezer and thaw just a few at a time when you're ready for them.  Alternately, they'd be fun to make for a potluck or brunch party since everyone can have their favorite flavor.  I made chocolate chunk, cranberry + lemon zest, blueberry, and jam + coconut flakes, but really the sky is the limit!


Mix-In Muffins (adapted from Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook)
Makes 1-1/2 to 2 dozen muffins (depending on size)

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Your choice of mix-ins such as blueberries, cranberries, chocolate chips, jam, dried fruit, coconut flakes, cinnamon chips, raspberries, etc.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Whisk together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla.  Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined -- be careful not to overmix.
4. If you'd like to make just one kind of muffin, add about 1-1/2 cups total of your chosen mix-ins.  Otherwise, divide the batter in half.  Fill the muffin tins about halfway full, and then add in a few berries, chocolate chips, or other mix-ins, or a small spoonful of jam.  Then top with the remaining batter, and add a few more of your mix-ins on top, either keeping the muffins consistent or topping them with something different...your choice! I made blueberry muffins, chocolate chip muffins, cranberry muffins, and jam-filled muffins topped with coconut flakes.
5. Enjoy warm! Or, when the muffins are fully cooled, stash them in the freezer for quick and easy breakfasts.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet, and freeze until just hard.  Then pack in gallon-sized freezer bags, removing as much air as possible before sealing the bag.  Thaw at room temperature overnight when ready to eat.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Pisco Sour

This cocktail takes me right back to San Francisco, where pisco is much easier to find.  The frothy egg white foam on top really makes it unique, along with pisco, a type of Peruvian brandy.  The drink is tasty with either lemon or lime juice to add tartness.


Pisco Sour (adapted from Serious Eats)
Makes 1 cocktail

1/4 cup pisco (add up to 2 T more if you like a stronger cocktail)
2 T lemon or lime juice
1-1/2 T simple syrup
1 fresh egg white
Dash of Amaro bitters

Combine the pisco, lemon or lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker -- do not add ice.  Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds, until the egg white is foamy.  Add ice, and shake again until well chilled.  Strain into a cocktail glass and top with a dash of the bitters.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Kale-Brussels Sprout Salad

Raw Brussels sprouts make for a surprisingly delicious, hearty salad along with massaged kale.  The most common way I've made Brussels sprouts is roasted, usually with bacon (yum!), and while of course that's fantastic, this lighter, fresher version of sprouts is very tasty too.  Don't skip the grated Parmesan -- and lot of it -- because all these veggies need some richness to really make them sing.


Kale-Brussels Sprout Salad (adapted from Bon Appetit, via the Balanced Life)
Serves two hungry people or 4-6 smaller side servings 

1 small bunch kale, trimmed and very thinly sliced
Olive oil
Salt
1/3 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and very thinly sliced
Grated Parmesan cheese

For the dressing:
2 T olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper

Add the kale to your salad bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of sauce. Massage with your hands for a few minutes, until the kale starts to break down.  Add the Brussels sprouts and lots of grated Parmesan cheese.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a jam jar, screw on the lid, and shake well. Add about half the dressing to the salad, toss, and add more as needed.  Let sit for about 15 minutes before serving to let the flavor a combine.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Best-Ever Patty Melt

Patty melts are one of my favorite diner foods, and as it turns out, they're pretty darn good made at home too (although they take quite a bit longer on account of the caramelized onions!).  I'd suggest caramelizing the onions in a big batch and freezing the extra, because they're a pain to make but so delicious.  You can definitely make them ahead and then the rest of the recipe comes together easily.  In order to imitate the heat of a diner flat-top, the burgers are broiled, first on their own to cook the meat, and then with the onions and Swiss cheese to get the cheese all bubbly.  Then the burgers are sandwiched between slices of rye bread, buttered, and cooked similar to a grilled cheese sandwich. The result is an ultra-decadent sandwich - so good!


Best-Ever Patty Melt
Serves 4

Butter
2 medium or 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
1 to 1-1/2 pounds ground beef (depending on how large you'd like your burgers)
Thinly sliced Swiss cheese
8 slices rye bread
Ketchup, mayo, and/or other burger fixings

1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Melt a tablespoon or two of butter, and then add the onions.  Slowly caramelize the onions until they are deeply browned.  Add more butter as needed, and turn the heat down and stir more often as the process progresses -- it should take at least 40-45 minutes, so this is a good task to do while you're working on something else in the kitchen.  Season lightly with salt, and then use immediately or store for when you're ready to make the burgers.
2. Preheat the broiler to high.  Line a baking sheet (or your broiler pan) with foil.  
3. Season the beef with salt and pepper, and divide into four portions.  Gently press each portion into a thin, oval-shaped patty (basically, as thin as you can get it while still holding together).  Arrange on the baking sheet.
4. Broil the burgers for 3 minutes, then flip.  Divide the onions among the burgers, and top with Swiss cheese.  Broil for another minute or so, until the cheese is bubble.
5. Butter each slice of bread on one side, and sandwich the burgers between the bread so the buttered sides are on the outside.
6. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the burgers (working in batches if necessary), and cook as you would a grilled cheese sandwich (i.e. on both sides until browned and crispy).  Top with whatever burger fixings you prefer, and serve hot.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Instant Pot Chicken Chili

As I've written about on this blog before, the Instant Pot is one of my absolute favorite kitchen tools.  I often use it for preparing individual ingredients (like rice, potatoes, and large cuts of meat), but it's also great for more complicated recipes like this one.  You can brown chicken, saute veggies, and cook the chili all in the same pot, meaning you also won't end up with a lot of dishes.  You can switch up the type of bean or spices as you like, but overall this is just a tasty, easy chili.  If your beans are a little on the older side, you might add a bit more time to the cooking.


Instant Pot Chicken Chili (adapted from Hip Pressure Cooking, original recipe here)
Makes lots!

2 cups dry kidney beans
Olive oil
1-1/2 to 2 pounds boneless chicken pieces, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 bell pepper, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp dried thyme
2 T tomato paste
15-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To serve: sour cream, shredded cheese, minced herbs, or whatever else you like!

1. Soak the beans for several hours or overnight.  Drain and rinse before using.
2. Heat the Instant Pot on "Saute".  When hot, add a generous drizzle of olive oil and brown the chicken pieces on a couple of sides, working in batches if needed.  Transfer to a dish and set aside.
3. Add more oil if needed, and add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Saute a few minutes until softened.
4. Add the cumin and saute for another 30 seconds.
5. Stir in the browned chicken and soaked beans, along with the thyme, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and chicken broth.
6. Seal the lid and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.  Let the pressure release naturally, or quick release the pressure.  Stir in the cumin, then taste and add salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer for 5 minutes or so to thicken.
7. Ladle into bowls and serve with whatever toppings you like.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Slow-Cooked Fennel Salmon

I would never have thought to cook salmon at a low temperature for 40 minutes, but it actually works really well and leads to meltingly tender salmon.  Although the time is longer than a typical fish recipe, it's completely hands off so it's not a lot of work.  I am semi-obsessed with the sweet, licorice-like flavor of fennel, and here it gets used three ways-- fennel seeds and fronds on top of the salmon, and the bulb thinly sliced and cooked under the salmon.  You could also use the fennel bulb raw and tossed with a simple vinaigrette on the side, as a salad, if you prefer.


Slow-Cooked Fennel Salmon (adapted from the Bon Appetit Food Lover's Cleanse)
Servings vary based on how much salmon you cook

1 to 1-1/2 pounds salmon in one piece, with skin on
Salt and pepper
1 tsp fennel seeds (or another preferred herb or spice)
Minced fennel fronds (or another fresh herb)
Olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with oil.
2. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place skin-down on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle the fennel seeds on top, along with the fennel fronds.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
3. Cook 30-40 minutes, until the salmon flakes when gently pressed.  Or, if cooking individually-sized fillets, they should take about 25 minutes.  
4. Peel the skin off the salmon and break into large chunks to serve.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Boston Beer-Steamed Mussels

This simple mussel recipe was the first one I made, and it's the one I make most often, but sometimes it's fun to change it up a bit.  This version uses beer in place of wine as the main liquid, which completely changes the flavors.  Even though I'm not a beer lover, I really like it in this dish -- it adds a nice bitterness.  Instead of the usual crusty bread, we served roasted potatoes for dipping, which turned out to be a fantastic idea.  Of course, if you want something quicker to prepare, you can always go for the usual baguette!



Boston Beer-Steamed Mussels (adapted from Sam Adams)
Serves 2-3 as a main dish with roasted potatoes

2 pounds mussels
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
Salt
1 cup Sam Adams Boston Ale
A handful of fresh parsley, minced
Roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, to serve

1. Clean and debeard the mussels.
2. Melt the butter and oil together in a large pot with a lid over medium heat. Add the leek, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt.  Cook for a few minutes, until the leeks are softened.
3. Add the ale and bring to a boil.  Add the mussels, give everything a quick stir, and cover.
4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 6 minutes.  Remove from the heat, sprinkle with parsley, and give the mussels a quick stir.  Serve with roasted potatoes for dipping in the sauce.