12
Jan
14

Watch me turn this muffin into a donut

Donut Muffins 003-001

Sometimes I just want a donut.  And sometimes I give into that craving.  And most of those times, I feel icky after eating one.  Perhaps it’s the type of donut I’ve chosen.  Or maybe it’s the guilt I often associate with eating foods that are not “good for me”.  I once drove for miles on highway 99E in search of a donut shop.  Didn’t there used to be lots of donut shops in the world? They seem to be disappearing, perhaps replaced by Starbucks, McDonald’s and Taco Bell’s.  At any rate, I’ve been having a love-hate relationship with donuts, of late.

After driving south on 99E from Portland, through Milwaukie, Gladstone and practically to Oregon City, I finally found Heavenly Donuts.  My expectations were high.  Anything named “heavenly” should be, in my mind, out of this world.  These donuts should taste like God made them, right?  Or angels, at the very least.

With my sugar junkie adrenalin pumping, I entered the shop.  Nerves and guilt were starting to overtake me.  What was I doing?  Why did I drive all this way for a donut?  These things better be worth it.  I scanned the display case.  Disappointment creeping in now, as there was not much of a selection.  Just the usual suspects; cake, glazed, chocolate covered, maple bars and some really greasy looking apple fritters.  Well, I can’t leave now.  I should have, but I drove all this way.  I’m obligated to buy not one, but two of these things.  And I did.  I purchased an apple fritter and a cinnamon swirl raised sort of affair.  Then I made a mad dash for my car, where I sat and consumed these sins.

God did not make these donuts.  Nor did angels.  Hell, I’m sure if the Devil himself made these donuts, they would have tasted much better.  No, I’m pretty sure these donuts were made by the Hispanic gentleman behind the counter.  No offense to him at all, but these were not donuts worth making a special trip for.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the donuts at Safeway might be a little better.  Either I’m waxing nostalgic for the donuts of my youth, or there are no special donuts in the Portland vicinity.

All this being said, I have found a substitute sweet morsel that comes close to a donut without as much guilt attached to it.  I recently purchased a Williams-Sonoma cookbook simply entitled “Muffins”.  And in that book there is a recipe for Cinnamon-Buttermilk Muffins.  And surprise!  They taste like Buttermilk Bars.  No kidding.  You know the kind of donut I’m talking about?  Kind of shorter and fatter than a Maple Bar, with that buttermilk tang and glaze.

It is my pleasure to share with you what I now call my Donut Muffin recipe.  It could save you a trip searching the streets for a donut shop.  Or maybe that’s just me.

Donut Muffins 002-001

 CINNAMON-BUTTERMILK MUFFINS

From the Williams-Sonoma book

MUFFINS

7 tablespoons (3 ½ oz / 105 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (5 oz / 155 g) sugar

1 large egg

1 ½ cups (7 ½ oz / 235 g) all-purpose (plain) flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)

½ teaspoon salt

½  teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg IF YOU ONLY HAVE GROUND NUTMEG IT WORKS JUST AS WELL.

½ cup (4 fl oz / 125 ml) buttermilk

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract (essence)

FOR THE TOPPING

2/3 cup (5 oz / 155 g) sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons (3 oz / 90 g) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).  Grease 9 standard muffin cups with butter or butter flavored non-stick spray;  fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.

To make the muffins, in a bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg, beating well until pale and smooth.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  Add to the butter mixture in 2 increments, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla.  Stir just until evenly moistened.  The batter will be slightly lumpy.

Spoon the batter into each muffin cup, filling it three-fourths full.  Bake until golden, dry and springy to the touch, 20 -25 minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Unmold the muffins and let stand until cool enough to handle.

To make the topping, stir together the sugar and cinnamon in a small, shallow bowl.  Have ready the melted butter in another small bowl.  Holding the bottom of a muffin, dip the top into the melted butter, turning to coat it evenly.  Immediately dip the top in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, coating it evenly, then tapping it to remove excess sugar.  Transfer to the rack, right side up.  Repeat with the remaining muffins (DUH).  Let cool completely before serving.

Donut Muffins 008

It just occurred to me as I was writing this post, you could totally substitute a simple powdered sugar and milk glaze for the cinnamon sugar, for a true Buttermilk Bar effect.

Next time!

05
Jan
14

Let’s get crafty!

Part of my daily Tuesday routine is to deliver meals to seniors in the Sellwood area.  Meals on Wheels is a fantastic organization providing 5,000 meals a day to Portland seniors, as well as people with disabilities.  It is my pleasure to serve these folks meals, as well as to form a friendly bond with them.

I thought it would be fun to make each of my clients a special treat for the holidays this past Christmas.  Since Christmas Eve was on a Tuesday, it was perfect for gift giving.  I baked some extra soft Snickerdoodles and Ginger Molasses cookies for my friends.  I wanted to present them in a special way. There were some pictures of cool little tree shaped boxes in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine and I decided to try a little crafty action.  The boxes were perfect for the tiny cookies.  Here is how they turned out:

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I used poster board and glue sticks from the Dollar Tree.  I did have to purchase a bone folder from JoAnn’s Fabrics, but with a coupon it only cost $2.99.  And, hey, you can always use the bone folder for other craft projects.  I used the glue stick to attach wrapping paper on the fancier trees.  Just glue the paper on and trace your pattern on the opposite side.  Easy peasy, right?

If you would like to make tree boxes yourself, go to BHG.com/PaperTrees to download the template.  They are simple to make and a lot of fun.

04
Jan
14

Hella Hot Jalapeno Pizza

I don’t consider myself a total wimp when it comes to spicy food.  In fact I prefer food to be a bit on the zippy side.  But I made a pizza for last night’s dinner that burned my fingers!  I’m not talkin’ burnt from heat.  The peppers made my fingers burn!  And they still smarted this morning.  Here’s how it all started:

 blog shots 2014 002-001blog shots 2014 004-001I didn’t have a lot of topping stuff on hand last night, so I decided to load the piazza up with fresh jalapeños and the nacho style jarred variety. There is also fresh pineapple, onions, soyrizo, chopped tomatoes and cheese in there.  so, I load it all up and slide into  the hot oven.

blog shots 2014 012-001And there it is, starting to cook.  You can see all of those peppers in there, looking all innocent.

blog shots 2014 014-001It’s almost ready.

blog shots 2014 021-001It’s go time.  Normally, I can eat three slices of my homemade pizza, no problem.  Seriously, I could only make it through 2 slices, and that second one took me a while.  I was savoring it, right?  Actually, I had to let my mouth cool down in between bites.  Can you believe Katie not only put crushed red pepper on her slices but also a TON of cayenne pepper!?!  Ok, I put crushed red pepper on mine, too, out of habit.  I really didn’t need to do that.

I noticed my hands were burning a bit all evening after dinner.  At least I had the foresight to remove my contacts before concocting this blistering affair, but I still managed to rub my eyes during the course of the evening, causing a bit of pain there.

Leftovers for lunch today.  Where are my food safety gloves?

04
Jan
14

I’m Baaaaacccckkkk!

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I posted anything on this blog.  I wasn’t even sure how to get into it anymore.  Good thing I’m a little bit smart and figured it out quickly.  So, I’m not making any big promises here, such as I promise to write  more in 2014 or share only healthy recipes and that  sort of nonsense.  I just had this feeling I should check in on this thing I created several years ago and was having so much fun with;  fun being the operative word.

We should all have more fun.  Cooking and baking is, obviously, fun for me.  And so is writing about it and sharing pictures of whatever I’m making.  But what is really fun is hearing from all of you.  I miss you and hope you feel the same.

What have you been doing lately just for fun?  I’ve been trying to teach myself how to play the accordion.  Katie has been teaching herself to play the guitar.  We’ve been hanging upside down like a couple of nutters on a Teeter machine!  We adopted a young dog in October and he’s a lot of fun.  Six pounds of pure cuteness.  His name is Diablo.

Not too sure what is going on with a lot of my pictures from previous posts.  A lot of them, it seems, have fallen off the pages.  I’ll have to have my IT girl (AKA Katie) look into why this keeps happening.  They are linked to Fotki, so if anyone has ideas or suggestions, let me know.

So, Happy New Year and I hope to be posting something with pictures and recipes soon.   Feels like a good plan to me.

31
Dec
12

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 19,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 4 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

24
Nov
12

Oooey, gooey and a little chewy

Figs or grilled sandwiches?  Which is it to be today?  How about I just combine the two?  After all, the apple cheese grilled combo was delicious.  I didn’t write about the pear smoked Gouda sandwich, because it fell flat for me.  But I did learn that smoked Gouda is not a melty cheese!   Should I be writing about the failures as well as the successes?  You guys tell me.

The other day, in an effort to use the fresh figs in some way that didn’t involve something too sweet or a baked good, I created a more savory fig concoction.  My taste buds approved this delightful combination.  May I present, the Grilled Cheeses and Fig sandwich…………………………….

 Spread coconut oil** on sourdough bread slices first, then place oiled side down in a cold non-stick pan.  Cover the bread with Havarti cheese slices and top with sliced fresh figs.

Next I topped the figs with some soft goat cheese, nice and tangy!

The figs were not super flavorful nor sweet so I decided to drizzle honey over the goat cheese.  A very wise choice.

I added more Havarti cheese to help hold the sandwich all together, once all of the cheeses start to melt.  Cheese makes a very good sandwich “glue”.

And we pop the other coconut oiled bread slice on top and turn the heat to a very low setting and cover the pan with a lid.  I keep the heat low so the cheese melts as the bread slowly toasts without burning. The lid helps to heat the pan , sort of like a mini oven.

Using a wide spatula, gently turn your beautifully toasted sandwich over and continue to grill until the other side is equally toasted and golden.

 Some of the honey will spill out and that is a good thing.  The edges of the sandwich will get caramelized – OMG, right?

And here is the beautiful end result.  The sourdough bread was a perfect choice for this tasty treat.  It’s chewy texture and slight tang married perfectly with the zing of the goat cheese and the sweetness of the honey drizzled fig.  The heating of the fig brought out more flavor.  Havarti cheese is very mild and agreeable, creating no sharp contrast with the goat cheese, just lovely meltiness and ooziness.

One last parting shot because I really liked the shininess of caramelized bread edges and the melted cheese with that pretty fig poking out.

Get creative with your grilled sandwiches.  Try different bread, cheese and fruit/veggie combinations.   Have fun with your food.  Your taste buds will thank you.

**NOTE:  Coconut oil is usually rock hard.  For this sandwich I gently heated the oil (DO NOT MICROWAVE) in a metal measuring cup over the lowest setting on my cook top and then used a pastry brush to apply the oil to the bread.

07
Nov
12

Caramel and figs? Go “fig”ure!

In 2009, I posted Fresh Fig Tart and an ode to Marie.  Wow, have I really been blogging for over 3 years?  Well, I’ve been pretty lazy this past year about posting on a regular basis, but I’ve been bitten by the Blog Bug recently and I’m back for more fun.  Anyway, in the fig tart story I gushed about my crush on cookbook author and food genius, Marie Simmons. I also shared a recipe from her wonderful book, Fig Heaven.  Since I am on a fig roll this week, I tried another recipe from the cookbook.  Heavenly is a perfect descriptive word for this sauce.

FRESH FIG AND CARAMEL SAUCE FOR ICE CREAM

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

6 to 8 ripe figs, any variety, stems trimmed, halved lengthwise

¼ cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a 9 or 10 inch skillet until foamy.

Add the figs, cut side down, and

sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes and the figs are browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes.

 Carefully turn the figs over and cook 2 minutes more.

Remove the figs to a serving bowl.

Add the cream to the skillet and boil,

stirring, until it has reduced slightly and the sugar has melted into the cream to make a caramel-colored sauce.  Let stand off heat for a few minutes.

Then stir in the vanilla and add to the figs.  Serve warm over ice cream.

My original intention was to serve this sauce over some ice cream, as the recipe indicates.  Since I had fresh baked coffee cake in the house, I went with a more decadent choice.  Coffee cake ala mode, the mode being Häagen-Dazs Caramel Cone ice cream, and this luscious fig caramel sauce.  It was surprisingly light.

I may have another fig recipe in the works, so check back with me, or better yet, just subscribe to this blog and you will receive an email the next time I share.  Have a figtastic day!




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