Archive for April, 2013

April 26, 2013

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

I love muffins. The day I found out just how unhealthy muffins typically are, I was pretty crushed. I always viewed them as the “healthy alternative to a donut at Dunkins.” Uh. Yeah right. Let’s not even go there.

Anyways, I know that there are some healthy muffin recipes out there. This is not one of them. However, this is a delicious muffin recipe, which, in my humble opinion, is way more important. If I am going to eat some bran applesauce muffin… well, I’d rather just eat some applesauce and a bowl of bran cereal. No need to spoil a decent muffin.

These lemon poppyseed muffins are perfect for a lazy Saturday morning. The original recipe included a glaze, but I didn’t even feel these needed it. They are best paired with a cup of English Breakfast tea and a warm kitten on your lap.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
adapted from Food Wishes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick (1/2-cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
finely grated zest from 2 lemons
2 large eggs
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a muffin tin.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Place the lemon zest and sugar in a small bowl and rub together with fingertips to release the lemon flavor. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the lemon zest/sugar mixture. Beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Stir in 1/3 of the dry ingredients until just incorporated, and then mix in the lemon juice and 1/2 of the buttermilk. Add half of the remaining dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add the rest of the buttermilk, stir in, and then the remaining dry ingredient. Do not over mix. Gently fold in the poppy seeds.

Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups and bake for about 30 minutes, or until slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from tin and let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

April 21, 2013

Zucchini Boats and Grilled Salmon

Two really awesome things happened in my kitchen today. First of all, I used the broiler in my oven, with great success. I am very very afraid of the broiler. I have used a broiler only one other time. Ask Chris what happened. It involved smoke and a fire alarm. It was less than good.

The other awesome thing was that Chris grilled salmon! Now this man of mine is more often seen doing dishes than cooking (a trade-off I’ll take ANY day), and one might assume that might point toward a lack of culinary skill or confidence. But every so often he waltzes in to the kitchen and casually whips up some amazing meal, proving that premise entirely false. I better watch out or I’ll be the one doing the dishes….

But let’s get back to the food. Imagine pizza, without the crust. WHAT?? What is the point of that, you say? My thoughts exactly. So don’t think of this like pizza. I prefer the name Zucchini Boats. How much more fun is that? Roasted zucchini, filled with tomatos and cheese and seasoned just right. A wonderful summer (is it summer yettttt?) side dish or light meal.

These guys are easy as pie. Not pizza pie. This is not pizza. There are no carbs. Preheat your oven to 350. First, take some zucchinis, chop off the stem end, and slice them lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Arrange them in a lightly greased baking dish. Rub some oil, crushed or minced garlic, pepper, and salt into each boat.  Slice some tomatoes (grape or plum) and arrange them on each zucchini half. Dust with a healthy amount of bread crumbs (YES! THERE ARE CARBS!!) Bake at 350 for around 30 minutes, or until zucchinis are soft all the way through.

Remove the dish from the oven and sprinkle cheese around the tomatoes in each of the grooves you made in the zucchini. Sprinkle with fresh basil, or even dried basil/oregano. Be creative. Turn on your broiler.

Don’t panic (I panicked a little…), just stay vigilant. Slide in the pan and broil for several minutes, checking regularly, just until the cheese is melted and getting beautiful little golden spots. Remove triumphantly!

Now for the salmon. This was all Chris, so I can only say so much. Heat up your grill. Put each piece of salmon in a large square of foil. Mix together some oil, lemon juice, and a wee bit of garlic and drizzle it all over the salmon. Sprinkle on some sea salt and pepper. Fold the foil up to make a smart little packet so the goodness won’t leak out. Grill for about 15 minutes or until just done. That’s it!

Oh and this little family effort wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from Arthur, who wanted to help cook AND eat.

So, I have to stop writing because I hear Chris making breakfast. Looks like there are some dishes in my future!



April 13, 2013

Perfect Brownies

I’m pretty sure I’ve made this declaration before: I like Betty Crocker Brownie mix and I don’t care who knows it. I am consistently disappointed by homemade brownie recipes. Sure, they are good and chocolatey and often have many redeeming qualities. But every one I had tried had always fallen short somehow.

Until I made this recipe. Which came pretty darn close to box-mix goodness. These brownies have that crackly top and a dense inside that is fudgy without being oily or greasy. This is a go-to utility brownie. Good for bake sales, small children, pizza nights, grandparents, husbands, wives, friends, dogs. Wait. Not dogs. They can’t have these brownies.

But you can. And the best part? If brownies any even make it alive in your house past a few days and start to get a little stale, crumble ’em up on ice cream. I can verify this is a truly excellent and resourceful and delicious idea.

Perfect Brownies
adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker

1¼ c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11-12 oz  semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped
1 c (two sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 c granulated sugar
1 c packed light brown sugar
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and line bottom with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, salt, and cocoa powder in a medium bowl.Over a double boiler (or heat-proof bowl resting on a pot of boiling water), melt together chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth. Turn the heat off but leave the double boiler over the hot water. Whisk the sugars into the chocolate until combined. If using a small double boiler, transfer the mixture into a large bowl. If using a heat-proof bowl, remove from the pot of water.

Add 3 eggs and whisk until combined. Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Do not over mix to ensure fudgy brownies. Sprinkle in the dry ingredients, and then fold in until just barely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, with just a few crumbs. Let brownies cool completely before cutting and serving. (Who are we kidding… grab a fork and dig in!)

April 6, 2013

Lemon Bars (new and improved)

Spring is teasing me. The sun is shining, the daffodils outside my front door have bloomed, my cat is shedding his winter coat onto every single thing I own. But then I try things like going for a run early on a Saturday morning and only make it around the block because it is actually still below freezing. Or I store my space heater away for the winter only to wake up to goosebumps when my feet hit the cold floor.

Spring, I am luring your in with these totally, perfectly tart Lemon Bars. In fact, I am skipping right by you and calling on summer. Because these lemon bars should really be eaten in full sunshine, on the back steps, in bare feet.

Or snuggled under a heated blanket during an early April cold snap. I’m not that picky.

I am picky about my lemon bars though. I’ve even blogged this recipe before, based on a recipe from alpineberry. But this batch was such an improvement that I have to share it again. I like my lemon bars tart. Like pucker up tart. With a sweet crust that doesn’t get in the way, but serves as a nice firm base for all that lemon goodness. Just a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top does the trick.

Lemon Bars
adapted from alpineberry

1 cup flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
dash of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cubed

2 eggs
1 cup superfine sugar (I just pulse regular granulated sugar for a minute in a food processor to get it super fine)
1/4 cup flour
dash of salt
1 Tbs lemon zest (or as much as you get from the lemons needed for the juice)
1/2 cup lemon juice (for the zest and the juice, I used about 6-7 lemons)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, pulse flour, confectioners’ sugar, salt, and butter together until mixture resembles coarse sand. It will seem really dry, but dump it into a greased 9×9 square pan and press it down evenly. Bake until the crust turns golden at the edges, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs and superfine sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour and salt and mix until incorporated. Add the lemon zest and juice and whisk until smooth and pretty. Pour over warm crust and return to oven. Bake for 15-18 additional minutes, until filling is just set. Let cool completely before cutting and serving. If desired, sift a little confectioners’ sugar over the top of the sliced bars.