Saturday, November 7, 2009

Muffins, Cakes and Bread...Oh My!

Here are a collection of muffin recipes that I love to make. I do a lot of baking for my mother-in-law. My MIL has a whole host of very serious medical problems that keep her bed ridden. So, she loves to watch baking shows and often calls me begging for something she saw on TV that made her mouth water. How can I resist the challenge of a new recipe or the delight when I show up with her grandson and some delicious homemade goodie. One of the things she loves are fruit breads/muffins/ here are some of Baka's (Gramma in croatian) favorites.

Lemony Lemon Muffins
For the muffins:

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the streusel:

1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cold butter

For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, butter, lemon peel and lemon juice. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix, just until moistened. Grease or paper line muffin cups and fill the batter 3/4 full.

2. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar and butter. Using your hands or a pastry blender, mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter.
3. Bake muffins at 350 degrees for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and remove onto a wire rack.
4. Mix together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice and drizzle over muffins.

(I have a huge lemon tree in my yard that produces HUGE juicy lemons. So, I am always looking for new recipes to try to use up as many as I the way lemons are in season right now! Let m eknow if you would like any!)

Strawberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup strawberries, cut into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces

1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling

Pecan crumble
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peal
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12- cup muffin tin with muffin papers (or butter and flour the cups, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, and eggs until smooth - no lumps. Whisk in the heavy cream and milk until combined.
3. Add the zest to the flour mixture and with you hands, gently rub the mixture together, releasing the oils and breaking up the bits. Add the fresh fruit and gently toss with you fingers to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl. Pour the butter mixture into the center of the well and, using a rubber spatula, gently pull the flour mixture into the center of the well until just combined.
4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup until full. Sprinkle pecan crumble (if using) evenly among muffin tops and gently press. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and sprinkle with sugar (if not using pecan crumble.) Let cool to warm.

(Strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit...Ante's also! I never understood why you would want to cook a perfectly good strawberry, but what Baka wants...Baka gets! :) BTW, I would use frozen stawberries. Save your money!)

Pineapple Carrot Bread
3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 eggs
2 cups shredded carrots
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, drained
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1. Preheat the oven for 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs; add carrots, oil, pineapple, and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. The batter will be very thick. Fold in nuts, if desired.

2. Spoon into two greased 8-in. by 4-in. loaf pans. Bake for 50-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove loaves from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

(Note: This bread was great the day-of, but it wasn’t until after I wrapped it up and let it sit over night, that I fell in love with it.)

Orange Spice Cake
For the cake:

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk

For the glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a fluted tube (bundt) pan. Stir cake flour, baking powder and salt in medium bowl to blend. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, orange peel, and spices until light and creamy. Mix in vanilla extract. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with milk in 3 additions.

2. Spoon batter into pan. Smooth top. Bake until tester inserted near center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack. Turn out onto platter (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature).

3. For glaze: Mix powdered sugar and orange juice in a small bowl. Drizzle or brush glaze over cake. Let stand until glaze sets, about 30 minutes.

(I also have a nice orange tree in my backyard that produces awesome Honeybells. They are so sweet, juicy and delicious. Needless to say, you can only make so much marmalade and, here is a nice alternative)

Zucchini Pineapple Loaf
3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup crushed pineapple
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional...or chocolate chips)

1. Whisk eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in zucchini and pineapple.
2. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts and raisins.
3. Mix dry ingredients together with wet ingredients...and stir until moistened.
4. Pour into two large, greased loaf pans. Bake at 350° F for 1 hour.


Peaches and Cream Muffins

2 eggs
3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt 1 cup sour cream
1 cup chopped peaches, canned or fresh

Streusel Topping..(optional)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp soft butter

1. Beat eggs, add sugar gradually. Continue beating while adding oil. Stir in vanilla.In separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda and salt.
2. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with the sour cream only until dry ingredients are moistened.Fold in chopped peaches.Spoon into greased muffin tins.
3. Topping: Mix till crumbly and sprinkle on muffins before baking.Bake at 400ยบ for 20 min.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
1 1/2 cup shredded raw zucchini
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a loaf pan (9×5x3) with nonstick cooking oil.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt, then setaside.
3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer beat the oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract and coffee granules for about 2 minutes.
4. Add the shredded zucchini to the dry ingredients and then in batches add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; use a spatula to incorporate everything until just mixed. Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake in the oven for 55 – 65 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the bread and then be removed clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

(This is a bread, but is so delicious it should be a dessert cake. Hey, atleast you can say it is has zucchini...right! Work with me here!)

Book Review: Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss

I order this book last week from the library and was really excited to get started. I honestly hate buying cookbooks unless I have had a chance to preview it because my family has very traditional eatting habits and I often find that the recipes in the books are great but not practical. So, I thought this would be great! I mean slow cookers are a great time saver and mine does not get enough use. I will go a month of using it weekly and then I get bored with it.

My criteria for a good cookbook is simple...I am looking for simple straightforward ingredients and easy to fix meals. I do not mind buying a few specialty items, but I shouldn't have to for every recipe! The point is to be economical! Plus, in my household green things in food (ie herbs) are a big faux pas! So, I either cook them whole and remove them or I strip the recipe down! So, enough blabbing...

Overall, the cookbook was ok...maybe a B. The book itself is beautifully made with nice pictures, heavy pages and great directions...but remember criteria number one...simple ingredients and simple directions...Not here! The recipes could be simplified, but this is not your gramma's frugal cookbook! The other thing I did not like is the recipes require a lot of prep prior to being placed in the slow cooker. So, these are not speedy recipes although they are tasty!

I set out to make 4 recipes this week: Chicken Teriyaki, Beef Carbonnade, Pork and Beans and Chicken dinner.

Chicken Teriyaki
1 T veggie oil
4lbs. skinless chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1T finely grated ginger
1/4c water
1/3 c soy sauce (I used low sodium)
1/4c sherry or Apple juice (I used the apple)
1 T rice wine vinegar (if you don't have use apple cider vinegar)
2T molasses
3T honey
2 t cornstarch
2 scallion, trimmed and sliced thin

1. Brown the chicken thighs in veggie oil over high heat. Cook about 3 minutes per side then place in the slow cooker.
2. Add the garlic and Ginger to the pan and cook over mediu heat about 30 seconds. Add water to deglaze (meaning let the water loosen all those brown stuck on bits). Add soy sauce, apple juice, vinegar, molasses and honey. Stir to blend. Pour over chicken and cook on high for 2-3 hours.
3. Preheat your oven to broil. Remove chicken from the slow cooker and place in the broiler for 2 minutes per side. While the chicken broils, remove the sauce and place in a sauce pan with a mix of 2t cornstarch and 1.5 T water. Allow to thicken about 1 minute.  Then, drizzle over chicken.

***This was super yummy! Not the easiest recipe with the final steps of broiling and thickening the sauce. Too many dirt dishes if you ask me! Instead, I put the cornstarch mix and sauce in a glass measuring cup and microwaved  in 30 second intervals until you achieve the desired thickness. I did broil the chicken, but you can skip this is not essential. I served over brown rice, but would also be really yummy with rice noodles. We used the left over sauce on chicken wings the next day...they were delish!

Beef Carbonnade
1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1/2 t pepper
3 lb beef cubes, cut into 1/4" cubes
3 T olive oil
5 large onions, halved and sliced thin
2 sliced salt pork or bacon, finely diced (I used bacon)
1 T herbs or 1/2 t each thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, and basil (I used whole rosemary, basil and's what I had and I removed the evidence from the pot before serving)
2 t brown sugar
1 bottle ale or lager beer (I used Newcastle)
2 bay leaves
Boiled noodles or potatoes (optional)

1. Combine flour, salt and pepper. Dredge beef. Heat oil in a large skillet (I used a cast iron) over meduim-high heat and brown in batches, 3-4 minutes per side.
2. Reduce heat to meduim-low, add onions and cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Transfer to slow cooker and place beef on top of onions.
3. Add bacon to skillet and cook through, but not crisp. Add herbs and reserved seasoned flour. Cook until flour browns (Watch your flour closely so it does not burn, you can skip this step if you want) Pour the sauce over the beef. Bury the bay leaf. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 8-10 hours (but who has that time).

**I served over egg noodles with a spinach salad. It was a nice, easy recipe...we did it onion free because my hubbies hates them. It was only half as good, but that one I can't get past him! It was basically an onion I would use vidalia onions.

 Barbeque Pork and Beans
1 c dried beans- white beans, pinto, kidney, or a mixture (I used white beans)
2 lbs boneless pork shoulder, cut into cubes
3 T Southwest Spice rub- 1 T salt, 2T paprika, 1/4 c brown sugar, 2 t chili powder, 1/2t cumin, 1/2t pepper
2 slices bacon, chopped finely
1 medium onion (I grated half an onion)
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks
1 t cuin
1 T flour
3c chicken broth
1/2 c BBQ sauce- 1/3c ketchup, 3T brown mustard, 3T cider vinegar, 3T brown sugar, 1T tabasco, 1/2t pepper
1 (15oz) can diced tomotoes (I used petite diced)

1. Put the beans in a bowl, cover with water and leave overnight. OR, put in a saucepan cover with about 3" water and boil for 3 minutes, then soak for 1 hour (this method is what I did one because I had beans leftover from making bean bags and because it helps limit the noise later int he evening). If I didn't already have the beans I would have skipped whis altogether and just used canned beans.
2. While the beans are cooking rub the pork cubes with 2t of the Southwest rub, wrap well and refridge.
3. In a large skillet, brown the bacon; remove. Turn the heat up to medium-high and brwon the pork cubes. Transfer to the slow cooker, add the beans and bacon. Toss to combine.
4. Add the onion and carrots to the skillet and saute until tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cumin, any remaining rub, and the flour. Stir. Add the chicken broth and simmer until slightly thickened. Stir in the BBQ and tomotoes and pour into the slow cooker. Cook 8-10 hours on low (or 3-4 hours if using can beans).
***This was a very easy recipe and great with corn on the cob. We will defiitely make this again...we are big pork and bean eaters here...not alway together, esp. not like this! :)

Chicken Dinner
1/3c flour
1/4c All Purpose Spice Rub- 1T brown sugar, 1T salt, 1t paprika, 1t dry mustard, 1t dried sage, 1t dried thyme, 1/2t dried rosemary, 1/2t garlic powder, 1/2t pepper (I used a bit of Italian seasoning, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder and pepper)
1 roasting chicken- about 7 lbs (I bought the already cut up one..a bit more expensive, but much easier to work with unless you are skilled with cutting up a chicken)
1 1/2lbs. red potatoes (or any potatoes)
2T veggie oil
1 onion, chunked
24 baby carrots
1/2c white wine
2c chicken broth
2T mashed potatoes

1. Mix the flour and spice rub in a mixing bowl. Cut up the chicken and remove the skin. Dredge in flour mix.
2. Boil the potatoes until cooked and then  place in the bottom of the clow cooker.
3. Heat half the oil over medium high heat. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 4 minutes. Set aside. Add the remaining oil  to the skillet along with carrots and onion. Saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the left over flour along with wine and bring to a boil. Add the chicken broth and simmer until thick; pour into the cooker. Put the veggies on the bottom, then arrange the chicken in the pot with dark meat on the bottom. Cover and cook 3-4 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low.
4. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and surround with veggies. Turn the cooker on high and stir in the mashed potatoe flakes. Allow to thicken about 3 minutes. Spoon over the chicken.

***This was easy and yummy spin on roasted chicken. I still prefer a traditional baked/roasted whole chicken, but I did have plenty of leftovers which were awesome in soup (or chicken tacos, empanadas, chicken salad...) Since I am not much for processed foods, I skipped the potato flakes and used cornstarch instead. I served with a nice garden salad.