Cherry-Wheat Germ Muffins



Muffins are such a good food.  They're small and pre-portioned, simple to make, and ready to eat when you need them.  These cherry-wheat germ muffins have been around my house all week and we have enjoyed them for breakfast, second breakfast, and snacks.  Yes, I eat second breakfast.  Don't judge me. 

I saw this recipe in this month's issue of Cooking Light and thought we'd like them for the dried cherries.  The muffin itself is moist and the wheat germ lends a nice quality.  I think it's one of those flavors or qualities you'd miss if it weren't there.  I also was surprised by the allspice and the fact I liked its flavors in there.  It hides in the background, accentuating everything.  So, we like these muffins period and not just for the dried cherries. 

I made a few changes out of necessity (i.e. I had certain similar ingredients and didn't want to buy the listed ones), so I have decided that I'll post this recipe as I made it.  To see the original, follow the link below. 

Cherry-Wheat Germ Muffins
from May 2011 Cooking Light

6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup raw wheat germ
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 7 ingredients (through allspice) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, oil, and egg in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups or coat muffin tin with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

Strawberry Cobbler



I'm sure you've had peach cobbler or blackberry cobbler, but allow me to expand your palate knowledge to strawberry cobbler.  I ran across this recipe on the blog Southern Plate and thought it sounded good, and it was.  It's a great way to use up some of those strawberries that are in season right now.  This cobbler was taken to a gathering just last night and eaten with gusto.  It's definitely safe to say it's a hit. 

One thing I like about this cobbler is that its ingredient list is simple, which allows the strawberry flavor to really shine.  I added just a dash of cinnamon- in measurements that may equate to 1/8 teaspoon, and it was a nice complement to the batter and strawberries.  It's also easy- you could assemble it in about 5 minutes, provided that you have pre-sugared your strawberries.  I am not sure that slicing and sugaring them is absolutely necessary, but it sure helps bring out the flavor of ripe berries. 

Make this now!  I'm not trying to be bossy, but you will not regret it!

Strawberry Cobbler
from southernplate.com

1 cup self rising flour*
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
2 cups sweetened strawberries
1 stick (4 oz/8 Tb) butter or margarine

Preheat your oven to 400.  In a 2 or 2.5 quart baking dish, place the stick of butter and put it in the oven to allow the butter to melt while the oven preheats. 

In the meantime, mix all your dry ingredients together.  Stir in the milk until smooth.  Pour over the melted margarine.  Don't mix in or stir!  Pour the strawberries into the center of the batter, again not stirring. 

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until you can insert a knife into the center of the cobbler and it looks cakey rather than soupy. 

  • To make your own self rising flour, simply add 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt for EACH cup of all purpose flour.
  • I posted the recipe mostly as I made it, except for the cinnamon.  I used about half or less of the optional amount.  For any variations or additions, visit the links in the post to be taken to Christy Jordan's post on this recipe. 
  • It wasn't entirely clear on the post, but if you read Christy's mom's post before the recipe, you'll notice that she does cut and sweeten her berries.  Glad that worked out!
  • My center stayed a bit soupy while the outside got too brown.  Once it cooled, however, everything was fine.  I also covered my cobbler the last 10 minutes of baking so that the top wouldn't brown further or burn. 

Onion Tart



So this is like a free-form, rustic, onion pie that comes together really easily, is tasty, economical, and looks nice and fancy.  It's a meal we'd make again but not very often.  I made it back in April from my April issue of Cooking Light.  Since just Drew and I ate it, we had leftovers and discovered that this tart is just as good cold as it is warm.  I love foods like that. 

The most work you'll do in this recipe is cutting and then carmelizing the onions.  Carmelizing takes time; don't rush this step!  If you take the time to do it right, you'll be rewarded with some of the best onions you've ever tasted. 

I think the one change we made was to use gouda cheese in place of swiss; other than that we made the recipe as is.  As you can tell by the photos, we served it with a nice salad.  If you like foods that are a slight departure from the ordinary, try this tart!

Onion Tart
from April 2011 Cooking Light

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 1/2 pounds onion, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425°.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, salt, and pepper; cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Roll dough out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle feta cheese in center, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border; top with onion. Sprinkle with Swiss cheese. Fold piecrust border up and over onion mixture, pleating as you go, leaving a 6-inch-wide opening. Combine egg and 2 tablespoons water; brush over dough. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until golden. Cool for 10 minutes.

Homemade Almond Butter



I saw articles at bonappetit.com and somewhere else about making your own nut butters, and decided that I had to try it.  I am currently eating almond butter that I made Sunday evening, and it's pretty good.

Here's the thing- making your own nut butter is easy, but it takes forever so I don't recommend it unless you don't have a store that allows you to grind your own or unless you want to make a butter that's not sold in stores, such as walnut or hazelnut butter.  Homemade nut butters are leaps and bounds above pre-packaged, store bought butters, so for quality purposes it may be worth it.  I am fortunate to live near a health food store that has grinders stocked with almonds and peanuts, so for me, making my own almond or peanut butter isn't entirely worth it, but you have to decide that. 

One cup of whole nuts will yield about 1/2 to 2/3 cup butter.

Homemade Almond Butter

In a food processor, chop nuts with power "on" until a paste or at least fine crumbs form.  At that point, turn off the processor and begin pulsing until you have a creamy, finely ground substance that suits your tastes.  If you pulse long enough, the oils will release to a point that you have a moist, dense nut butter.  This takes several minutes of pulsing.  If you don't want to wait that long, you can add some flavorless oil, such as canola or vegetable.  I didn't. 

Penne With Ricotta and Pine Nuts


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I often find myself eating alone for dinner, which would be kind of sad except that it allows me to experiment with foods that Drew's not such a big fan of eating.  Pasta would be one of those.  He loves lasagna and likes spaghetti with a red sauce and meat, but the various other he sort of shrugs and says "eh."  Don't get me wrong; he will eat whatever I put in front of him, but I don't want to make something for both of us that only one of us is really enjoying, so I put those off for the nights that he's not around. 

I have seen a number of recipes lately that incorporate some sort of green and either just pasta water and parmesan or ricotta cheese, and tried one from Cooking Light a while back.  Last week I tried this recipe from marthastewart.com and loved it.  The one challenge I have yet to conquer is to keep the pasta from getting cold before I finish it. 

This recipe is so easy that it's almost wrong to call it a recipe, and it's so quick that dinner is finished in the time it takes to boil your pasta water and cook your pasta.  It's good for a crowd in that it would take no more time to prepare this for 10 people as it does for one.  It's also adaptable; if you  don't want to use pine nuts, substitute walnuts or almonds. 

So, if you enjoy playing with pastas and eating outside the red sauce zone, try this one.  It's healthy, light, and spring-y. 

Penne With Ricotta and Pine Nuts
from marthastewart.com

1/3 cup pine nuts

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound penne pasta
1 1/2 pounds baby spinach, well washed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes; set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook according to manufacturer's directions. Add spinach during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain; return pasta and spinach to pot. Add oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Toss well.

Serve immediately, topped with ricotta, pine nuts, and Parmesan.

Salt 'n' Vinegar Roasted Potatoes



I have this thing where I don't like to look at a magazine until the month starts, so last week when I opened my May Everyday Food (EDF), it was the first time I saw the spread on updating some classics or basics, which included today's recipe.  Coincidentally enough, the very next day, Mary from One Perfect Bite posted this recipe featuring a similar technique.  I was intrigued and I wanted to try these immediately.  I made them with the brisket, and since I knew at least one person was coming who didn't like vinegar, some were the full recipe and others were just smooshed and roasted, and both have their virtues. 

The salt and vinegar roasted potatoes are perfect for those who love salt and vinegar chips or fish and chips with malt vinegar.  They're a wake up for your taste buds.  The plain ones are for people who love roasted potatoes AND crispy skins.  It's a great balance. 

These potatoes take a while, but can be done over two days or in stages, which is what we did.  They're also simple and feature few ingredients, which I love about the EDF recipes.  They are, however, well worth it, and as with a lot of the recipes I post, the time is not labor intensive, but inactive cooking time.  This is definitely a recipe going into my file as a keeper. 

Salt 'n' Vinegar Roasted Potatoes
from Everyday Food, May 2011 (Issue 82)

1 1/2 lb small round or fingerling potatoes
coarse salt
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup malt vinegar

In a medium pot, bring the potatoes to a boil over high in salted water.  Reduce the heat and cook at a rapid simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes; drain.  Place a folded dish towel on a work surface and place a potato inside.  Gently smash the potato so that it is flattened but still in one piece.  Repeat with remaining potatoes.

Preheat the oven to 450.  Brush a rimmed baking sheet with 1 Tb oil.  Place the potatoes on the sheet and brush the tops with 1 Tb oil.  Bake until crisp and golden, 35 minutes, flipping them about halfway through.  Remove from the oven and toss with vinegar and salt. 

Just one- take care when smashing the potatoes.  Drew took care of this step while I was coming home from teaching a Zumba class and they WILL fall apart if you aren't careful. 

Slow Cooker Barbecued Beef Brisket


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Slow cooker champion recipe is what this meal is.  It comes from a wonderful cookbook, The Best Slow and Easy Recipes from America's Test Kitchen.  If you like beef brisket or Texas-style barbecue, then this recipe is somewhat blasphemous but also right on the money.  We tried it out Thursday night and invited some friends over to help us eat this huge piece of meat.  This is a party or large family recipe (or you will eat leftovers for a week).  The beef comes out so tender and moist that you don't even need sauce, but the "au jus" and barbecue sauces are great additions, as well.  We served this up with some potatoes (recipe to come later this week) and baked beans. 

This recipe takes a long time- almost a full day when you include preparation, but almost all that time is inactive prep or cooking time, so it's also great for when you don't have a ton of time to be attentively attending to something.  The recipe itself is easy, and brisket is a good price, at least at our markets, so it's a fairly economical meal.  The one thing that you want to make sure you note is that because of brisket's fat content, 1 pound of meat will only feed about 1-2 people generously, so don't think that you can feed the entire neighborhood.  We cut the 6 lb brisket I got in half and just fed 6 people with no leftovers. 

Slow Cooker Barbecued Beef Brisket
from The Best Slow and Easy Recipes from America's Test Kitchen

¼ c packed light brown sugar

¼ c paprika
1 Tb. Onion powder
1 Tb. Garlic powder
1 Tb. Ground Cumin
1 tsp. cayenne
1 (4-5 lb) beef brisket, preferably flat cut
1 cup barbecue sauce
Cider Vinegar
Ground black pepper

1. Mix the first 6 ingredients plus ½ tsp. salt together and then rub the mixture evenly over the meat. Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.

2. Unwrap the brisket and lay it fat side up in the slow cooker. Spread the barbecue sauce evenly over the brisket. Cover and cook until the meat is very tender and meets very little resistance when pierced with a fork, 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.

3. Transfer the brisket to a 9x13 baking dish and cover loosely with foil. Let the cooking liquid settle for 5 minutes, then gently tilt the slow cooker and remove as much fat as possible from the surface using a large spoon. Season the sauce with additional sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste.

4. Poke the brisket all over with a fork, pour 1 cup of the sauce over the top, and let it rest, covered, for at least 30 minutes. Thinly slice the brisket across the grain. Arrange the meat on a serving platter and serve, passing the remaining sauce separately.

  • We bought a 6 lb brisket and cooked half of it. We cooked it around 11 hours.
  • Drew seasoned the sauce- some vinegar and sugar.
  • We used the Dean Bros. BBQ sauce from the cookbook we have of theirs.

Grilled Chicken With Pepper and Onion


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Happy Cinco de Mayo!  I actually am not a big celebrant, but in honor of those who want to gorge themselves on Mexican food, I am posting this south of the border inspired meal.  I am hesitant to even post this for you, as it's not a recipe at all- it's just something Drew and I made one night that sounded like a good idea, and we were so right.  Sometimes the best meals are the simplest. 

This meal came about because I wasn't feeling well and didn't really want to cook, but we had to eat.  Drew loves grilling, so we thawed some chicken breasts out, cut some vegetables, and sliced some avocado, topped it all with salsa, and we came out with a satisfying, eye rolling meal experience.  We ate it with a fork and knife, but you could easily pre-slice the chicken, mix it with rice and beans, and have fajitas, tacos, etc.  If you don't like avocado or salsa, this would still make a great grilled meal without the Mexican flavors. 

Grilled Chicken With Pepper and Onion
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2-3 bell peppers of any color, cored and cut in quarters lengthwise
1 large or 2 medium onions, cut in half lengthwise and layers separated (you can keep 2-3 layers together)
1 avocado, sliced
Oil, such as olive or canola
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Prepare your grill for direct grilling.  Take your chicken out around 10 minutes before you plan to start grilling, and season both sides with salt and pepper.  Lightly coat your vegetables in oil, salt and pepper.

Place the chicken on the grill first, and grill about 4-5 minutes on each side, flipping once.  If you want to test for doneness, for the love of deliciousness, please only test one piece! 

Place the chicken on a plate and loosely cover with foil to let rest about 10 minutes.  In the meantime, grill your vegetables until they are soft and charred to your liking.  Remove from the grill and either slice into strips or leave whole.  Serve with chicken, avocado slices, and salsa.  We actually arranged ours differently, so how you serve is up to you!  I placed the chicken on the bottom and topped it with vegetables, avocado, and salsa.  Drew placed his chicken and vegetables separately and placed the avocado and salsa on top of the chicken only. 

Strawberry Orange Buttermilk Muffins



I am not even sure how I stumbled on this site- I think it had something to do with Pioneer Woman, but I am so glad I did!  I wanted to post this recipe for you ASAP because these muffins are GOOD, and they're so perfect for the season right now!  As strawberries creep into seasonal perfection, you need to make these muffins.  The orange flavor is light and a nice complement to the strawberry flavor, and the more I bake, the more of a fan I become of anything with buttermilk in it. 

The one thing I'd change is to use turbinado or a coarser grained sugar in place of granulated to top the muffins.  I wasn't crazy about the crust that formed with the granulated sugar on top of the muffin.  Other than that, I would make these as is and gladly devour them.  Also, I think the recipe said it yielded 12 regular sized muffins.  I actually got 12 regular sized and 3 large muffins, so that may translate to somewhere around a dozen and a half regular muffins. 

I'm posting the recipe as is and also providing a link to the page where I found it so that you can check out this fun blog.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Orange Buttermilk Muffins
from Italian Food Forever

1/2 Cup Melted, Cooled Butter (1 Stick)

2 Large Eggs
1 Cup Buttermilk
1/2 Teaspoon Orange Extract
Zest From 1 Medium Orange
4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
Pinch Of Salt
1 Cup Sugar
3 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 Pint Fresh, Ripe Strawberries, Trimmed & Diced


1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Teaspoon Orange Zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Either spray a 12 cup muffin tin with vegetable spray, or line with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, orange extract, baking powder, salt, and sugar until well blended. Add the butter and whisk until smooth and light. Add the flour and use a wooden spoon and stir just until the flour is incorporated into the other ingredients. Add the diced berries, and stir to mix into the batter.

Use a large spoon and fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Mix together the sugar and orange zest for topping, rubbing the zest into the sugar with your fingers. Sprinkle the sugar topping evenly over each muffin cup, and then bake for about 25 minutes or until lightly browned. a cake tester should come out clean when inserted into a center muffin. Cool to room temperature before serving.