Cranberry Grapefruit Muffins

Here are just a few ways you can tell I’m no baker.

  1. I measure things in “handfuls,” “bunches,” “splashes,” and other oh-so-specific terms.
  2. I (always, always, always) eat the batter.  Even pancake batter.  Raw eggs, bring it on.
  3. After the first round of pancakes/muffins/coookies/insert-the-baked-good, I will often end up with just enough dough or batter to make just one GIANT insert-the-baked good.  I always go for it.

Despite being no baker, I don’t let a little thing like recipes get me down.  I had a grapefruit going bad and I didn’t want to do the healthy thing and just eat it for breakfast on its own, so I added sugar and butter and sour cream and flour and all sorts of things that are absolutely no good for you, and THESE turned out.  They were absolutely delicious.  I even measured along the way, so I could try to replicate them some time in the future.

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Cranberry Grapefruit Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar
  • 2 medium-sized eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • juice from one grapefruit (about 1/2 cup)
  • zest from 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • about a cup dried cranberries

**I bet these would be awesome with added almonds, coconut flakes, etc.  Since I don’t want to be the only ones eating them (as in, the Husband isn’t a fan, and baby is on a milk-only diet), these versions did not include those.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly butter or add baking liners to a muffin pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, add sugar and the 2 eggs.  Whisk together, then add the vanilla extract, milk, grapefruit juice and grapefruit zest.  Slowly stir in the sour cream.  Finally, whisk in the room temperature butter – you don’t want overmix or you’ll make it a little heavy, but you want the butter throughout.
  4. Slowly (slowly) add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, careful not to overmix.  Add the cranberries (and any other extra ingredients) at the end and give everything a stir.
  5. Evenly divide the mix to the muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes.

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The Verdict:

So when I made this batter, I made exactly enough for 13 muffins.  That’s right.  One full tray…and then one more go-round in the oven for just one more muffin.  It’s lucky 13 for me, though: I could eat one and no one ever has to know.  Which is a good thing, because your family is going to want the other 12.

 

Homemade Granola.

Turns out when you’re pregnant, you wake up at night.  Repeatedly.  As far as I can tell, this is due to three main reasons:

  1. Baby throws all night “how hard can you thrash around” ragers.
  2. My bladder is now the size of a shelled pistachio.
  3. At some point around 4AM, my stomach realizes it hasn’t eaten in SIX WHOLE HOURS and the situation needs to be rectified, ASAP.

I have therefore spent far too many 4AM time slots contemplating what I will eat for breakfast.  After I made this for the first time, I’m happy to report my contemplation has changed from “what” I will eat, to “when” an appropriate time to go eat might be.

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Homemade Granola

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • slightly less than 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • big pinch of salt
  • about 1/3 cup honey
  • slightly less than 1/4 cup vegetable, canola or coconut oil
  • dash vanilla extract
  • you can customize anyhow you like, but for my part, I like slightly more than a 1/2 cup each of the following ingredients:
    • unsweetened shredded coconut
    • slivered almonds
    • dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside for a moment.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, and a dash of vanilla.  Slowly mix together with the dry ingredients, until all oats are coated.
  4. On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread the oat mixture in a thin, even layer.  Bake at 300 for 15 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together your add-ins: coconut, cranberries, and almonds, in my case.
  6. Remove the oats from the oven and gently mix in your add-ins, so they’re evenly distributed in the pan.
  7. Pop the whole thing back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the oats are golden brown.
  8. Remove – and as hard as it is – let cool for about 10-15 minutes before stirring and breaking up the crumbles.  It’s worth it, trust me.

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The Verdict:

I can’t believe how late in life I came to this epiphany: granola is amazing.  Serve on top of a big bowl of plain Greek yogurt (I find the granola sweet enough) and berries, and watch your hunger dissipate for at LEAST 2-3 hours.

Apple Pie (with homemade, flaky crust)

This is what happens when it’s fall: you break out your tall, brown boots.  You buy that army green vest you’ve been eyeing at the Gap for a while, hoping maybe the Husband might just spring it on you but then you get the coupon in the mail, and oh, whoops, I’ve just conveniently bought it for myself.  You get overly excited about the fact that you can now turn off the air conditioning, open the windows, and stick it to Pepco.

Also: you decide it’s time to go apple picking and bring home 32.8 pounds of apples.  That’s right.  32.8 pounds.  The nice lady only charged us for 32 pounds.  Probably because she felt badly for my husband, who had to carry them, and who definitely was the smart one asking “do we really need another apple?” while my sister, sister-in-law, and I announced that we had found the perfect addition.

We spent all of Sunday baking.  We made only a very small dent.  Expect more apples on the blog.

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Apple Pie

for the crust (this will make a top and bottom crust):

  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water

for the pie:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar, plus a pinch for dusting the top of the pie
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 5-6 tart apples (we’ve got more Pink Ladies than we will ever eat.  Let me know if you live in DC.  We will give them to you.)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (to thicken the filling)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter, cut into small bits
  • splash milk, in a bowl
  1. Make your pie crust.  In the container of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and butter and pulse until mixed through (about 10 seconds).  Place the mixture in a bowl and add the ice water, forming it into a ball (use more ice water if needed).  Divide the ball in half (one for the top, one for the bottom) and place in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.
  2. While the dough chills, peel, core, and slice your apples.  In a large bowl, combine the sugar and spices, and add the apples.  Add lemon juice and cornstarch and give the whole thing a good toss.
  3. Roll out both sets of dough.  Kitchen God Mark Bittman recommends rolling the dough out between two sheets of saran wrap, and I couldn’t agree more.  Makes the whole things less sticky, and less apt to stick to your rolling pin.  Roll it out until it fits to your pie plate, and then carefully place it in (helps to put the plate over the dough and then flip it over.)  Trim excess dough.
  4. Add the apples to the bottom of the plate and try to arrange them semi-neatly, so they cook relatively evenly.  Dot with the little bits of butter (confession: we forgot this step & it was fine.  There’s enough butter in the crust to go around.)  Add the top crust and crimp the sides together.
  5. Now’s the time to preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  6. Turning back to your pie, brush the top with milk and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar for some extra fun.  Make a few small slits in the top of the pie, to allow steam to escape.  Refrigerate until the oven is ready.
  7. Bake the pie on a cookie sheet (easier maneuverability) and cook at 450 for ten minutes.  Turn down the heat and bake for 40 minutes at 350.
  8. Make whipped cream/buy ice cream/rejoice.

IMG_4087The Verdict:

Is that an apple crisp you note in the picture?  Why yes, yes it is.  Expect more apples, as noted above.  (And, this pie recipe is the pie recipe to beat.  Thank you Mark Bittman.)

Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

There’s nothing I don’t love about Mexican food.

Onions? Check. Cilantro? Check. Heat? Check. Crispy, fried corn chips? Check. Melted, delicious dairy? Yes, please.  Something you can make with veggies or with meat, so Husband doesn’t complain about wasting away? YUP.

Because we tend to have Mexican food fairly often, I keep a lookout for interesting twists.  This quick-pickling innovation, from Cooking Light, really is as good (and as quick) as it sounds.  Reduce the amount of jalapeño if heat isn’t your thing.  But seriously, make these.

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Ground Turkey Tostadas with Pickled Onions and Jalapeño

  • 1 thinly sliced red onion, divided
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • large handful chili powder
  • about half handful ground cumin
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic
  • small handful smoked paprika
  • small handful garlic salt
  • handful pepper
  • handful crushed red peppers
  • corn tostadas
  • to serve:
    • sour cream, cilantro, cheese, avocado
  1. Combine 1/2 of your sliced onion, vinegar, water, a little bit of sugar, about 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the jalapeño in a small saucepan over high heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook for a minute.  Remove from heat and place to the side while you make the rest of your meal.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil and add the other half of the onion, along with bell pepper.  Cook down about 5 minutes, and then add ground turkey and garlic.  Break the turkey up and add all of the spices.  Cook 5-7 minutes, or until browned.
  3. Drain pickled veggie mixture.  Top tostadas evenly with the ground turkey, pickled onions and jalapeños, a bit of sour cream, avocado, cilantro – whatever makes your heart sing.

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The Verdict:

While lamenting the effectiveness of the tostada as a food delivery system, Husband agrees: we should pickle more vegetables, more often.

(The best ever) Flourless Chocolate Cake

I’m no baker.  All that measuring and sifting and waiting for the butter to get to just the right temperature…give me a recipe I can muck around in, any day.

However.

This cake…!

It is insanely, insanely good.  AND since I made it, hard to mess up.

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Smitten Kitchen’s Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 6 tablespoons butter (doesn’t matter the temperature!)
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate
  • 3 eggs, yolks separated from whites
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • topping:  a pinch powdered sugar, berries, and homemade whipping cream – about 1/3 cup whipping cream whipped with a tablespoon or so powdered sugar,
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a small round pan (6 or 8 inches) with a circle of parchment paper and grease with butter or canola oil, generously.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate, melting it as well.  Set aside and let cool until lukewarm.
  3. Beat egg yolks, brown sugar and vanilla together with an electric mixer until the mixture thickens (it’ll be a gross yellow color).  Slowly add in the cooled chocolate/butter combo and mix thoroughly, until very thick.
  4. Wash and clean the beaters, and in a separate bowl, beat egg whites and salt until peaks form – add a pinch cinnamon if you like.  Stir about 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then slowly and gently fold the rest in.  The batter should be nice and light.  Pour into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes if using an 8 inch pan and about 25 if using a 6 inch pan. The center will be nice and puffy…and will quickly deflate when you remove it from the oven.
  5. Let the cake cool sufficiently and then flip it out on to another plate.  Sprinkle a tiny amount of powdered sugar over the top and serve with whipped cream and berries – and maybe a pinch of cracked salt.  Consider yourself a culinary genius.

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The Verdict:

Well, now everyone knows what they’re getting on their birthday from me.