Friday, October 30, 2015

sour cream maple muffins

All in the family, all this cooking and taking pictures thing is.  I was running an errand last Saturday morning, and within about five minutes I received a ton of texts from Luke.  Apparently, he got a wild hair to cook himself breakfast in my absence, and this was the final result. Chocolate Chip Pancakes with a bit of whipped cream.  He begged me to put it on the blog.

Not bad for an 11 year old!  But keep in mind, the pancakes had been pre-cooked and frozen.  At any rate, I was proud, and I thought his photo captured the perfect Fall Saturday morning breakfast feel! 

Speaking of pancakes, these little treasures are a must-make, if you like pancakes.  In one tender bite, you taste the butter, maple syrup, toasted pecans... It's such a great blend of flavors with a just-right sweetness.  It's been a long time since I've made muffins, but these have most certainly put me back in the mood!

Sour Cream Maple Muffins

makes about 40 mini-muffins
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup sour cream
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Butter muffin tins.

2. In a small bowl stir and toss together the four, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In a medium bowl beat the butter until smooth, then slowly add the maple syrup, beating constantly.  Beat in the sour cream and egg.  Stir in the pecans.  Add the combined dry ingredients and stir just until blended.

3. Spoon into the prepared muffin tins, filling each cup about two-thirds full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 8-10 minutes.  Cool in the tins about 5 minutes, then remove.

Recipe very slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

cooking light, cooking right ~ fast chicken chili with butternut squash

Neighbors.  I guess there are such things as bad ones, but we have just not been the recipient of those.  In the 18 years we've been married, with a total of three houses, God has placed us right smack-dab in the middle of fantastic neighbors every time.  Actually, truth be told, we don't even call them neighbors, but, rather, friends.  A blessing, indeed!

My parents have been just as fortunate.  They have some of the most giving, talented, hard-working neighbors I know.  They're originally from Taiwan and have over an acre of property that grows the most beautiful vegetables and fruit I've ever laid eyes on.  AND, they share the bounty without thinking twice.  This is why I have four butternut squash atop my refrigerator and why, this last weekend, we had some of the best soup ever.

I really do enjoy butternut squash.  I especially like it because it lasts forever sitting on the counter, in case I bought it with a grand plan and then didn't get around to using it as soon as I'd hoped.

Please tell me I'm not the only one…

I also love the squash because of its mildly sweet flavor and beautiful color.  For this soup, it's cubed and sautéed, rather than roasted.  So. Good.

I usually tweak a recipe, as most do.  I add a little more if this, or take away some of that to suit our liking. I did nothing to this recipe, except what the recipe called for.  I LOVE it when that happens!  Just follow the steps, and you're golden.

You might be tempted to cut the final flavor burst of grated lime zest, garlic, and cilantro to save time or effort, or whatever.  I beg you, DON'T DO IT!  It takes a split-second and is completely and totally worth it.  Trust me.

There was a lot going on at the Lazy Daisy this last weekend, and I can't wait to share more.  Fall is in full swing, and as I texted my dear friend who lives too far away last night, "Here's to Butter Rum candles and steaming mugs of coffee."  Autumn at its best!

Fast Chicken Chili with Butternut Squash

makes six servings

3 tbsp canola oil, divided
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed and peeled butternut squash
2 tablespoons minced garlic, divided
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tbsp minced jalapeno pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 (14.5 oz) cans unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
3 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
3 tbsp finely chopped cilantro leaves
1 tsp grated lime zest

1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add squash; saute 8 minutes or until lightly browned on all sides.  Remove squash from pan; set aside.

2.  Add remaining 1 tablespoon foil to pan.  Add 5 teaspoons garlic, onion, and next 7 ingredients (through crushed red pepper) to pan; saute 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add stock; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.

3.  Place 1 cup beans in a small bowl, mash with a potato masher or a fork.  Add mashed beans, remaining 1 cup beans, and reserved squash to pan.  Cook 3 minutes.  Stir in chicken, cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

4.  Combine remaining 1 teaspoon garlic, cilantro, and lime rind in a small bowl.  Top each serving with about 1 teaspoon cilantro mixture.

Recipe from Cooking Light

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

flourless chocolate cake

Earlier this year, Nashville experienced a glorious week.  Well, in my mind it was glorious.  For one, full week we had enough snow and ice to warrant being out of school five days in a row.  Especially being in a private school in the south, you just don't come by such an experience too many times. And what I loved about it, is everyone was, for the most part, forced to stop and breathe.  The city, in a way, came to a standstill, and our family soaked up every second together we could.

Setting up a card table in the living room in front of the fireplace, we pulled out a 1000 piece puzzle, looped "Andy Griffith" on Netflix, and fired up the oven and stove.  I'm telling you, I pulled stuff out of the deep freezer, the lazy Susan, the pantry, and the back of the fridge.  We had the time of our lives. And the sledding wasn't too shabby, either! 

It was during this stint that I came upon a fantastic flourless cake recipe from King Arthur.  Man, how I love their site!  I could spend hours there, and there's no doubt I would LOVE to go visit them someday.  Their site beckons, "Come visit our Vermont campus…"

Sends chills right through me, I tell ya!

This is a rich, decadent dessert, and it calls for vanilla ice cream like nobody's business.  With my previously-posted homemade five-ingredient version (Plain 'Ol Vanilla Ice Cream), you probably have the ingredients on hand and can almost always make a quart, with no trouble.

I hope you'll find a reason to make this soon.  In fact, if you find the good Lord grants you another day tomorrow, I think you just found your reason!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

makes one 8-inch round cake

For the cake:

1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1-2 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

For the glaze:

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees; lightly grease an 8-inch round cake pan.  Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan and lightly spray with non-stick spray.  

2. To make the cake, put the chocolate and butter inside a bowl and heat in a microwave until butter is melted and chips are softened.  Stir until the chips are melted, reheating as needed.  You can also do this in a saucepan over boiling water.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.

3. Stir in sugar, salt, espresso powder and vanilla.  One teaspoon powder will enhance the flavor, while two will give it a mocha flair.  

4. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth.  Add the cocoa powder and mix just until combined.  Spoon powder into prepared pan.

5. Bake the cake for 25 minutes.  The top will have formed a thin crust and it should register 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

6. Remove from oven and cool in a pan for 5 minutes.  

7. Loosen edge of pan with a table knife or nylon spreader and place on plate.  The top will now be the bottom.  The edges will crumble just a bit; that is fine.  Let completely cool.  

8. To make glaze, combine chocolate and cream and heat in microwave until cream is very hot but not simmering.  Remove from heat and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is completely smooth.  

9. Spoon the glaze over the cake, allowing it to drip just a bit over the sides.  Allow the glaze to sit for several hours before serving.  

*Tips and Tricks - For cleanest slicing, cut with sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean.  Repeat this process for each piece sliced.  

Recipe from King Arthur