Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Experiment #69: Apple Spice Muffins

It's been a while since my last post.  With two babies, I've been busy.  I have been fantasizing about making something delicious when I have more time.  This recipe is one of the recipes I bookmarked to try.

I was looking at the Yahoo homepage the other day and I saw a recipe for Apple Spice Muffins from a website called Once Upon A Chef.  Jennifer from the website found the original recipe from the King Arthur flour website.

I liked where the recipe started, which was half whole wheat and reduced sugar, but of course I wanted to reduce the sugar even more to see if I could get away with less sugar and still have a delicious muffin. I also decided the brown sugar was more important than the white sugar so I eliminated the white sugar and I left the brown sugar in the batter, but I decided to eliminate the brown sugar topping as well although that sounded good.

The recipe had butter for the fat and although I love butter, I wanted to see if I could use oil to reduce the saturated fat.  When I realized that the oil would be 1/2 of a cup, I thought I should at least substitute half of the original fat with applesauce.  This substitution made the muffins a lot easier to make as I didn't have to cream the butter with the sugar.  

I had to substitute buttermilk for the yogurt in the original recipe, because I didn't realize that someone had eaten all of the yogurt in the house. I also doubled the salt because I use kosher salt and it is less concentrated than iodized salt. 

I decided to grate the the apple with the peel instead of chopping the apples.  I thought it was pretty... Thus the photo below...

Apple Spice Muffins
From Once Upon A Chef Adapted by Samantha
1/4 cup sunflower oil (I use organic)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
 2 cups grated apple (I used gala apples.  2 apples if they are large.  I used 3 small apples)

Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare muffin cup pan with liners.  It made 15 muffins when I had it.

In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients:  oil, applesauce, buttermilk, egg, and brown sugar.

In another bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: the flours, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, then gently fold the grated apple into the batter.

I used an ice cream scoop to make muffins the same size and it's a great way to make muffins one handed if you have a child in your other arm.

The muffins took 25 minutes for me, but as every oven is different.  Take a look at them around 20 minutes and see if they are done, a toothpick coming out clean and not wet.


The house smelled amazing, and even my husband who said he doesn't normally like spiced muffins said they were really good.  I thought they could use a bit more sugar, but they were delicious.  They were a hit with the family.  My little one kept asking for more!

Link to the original recipe:

Friday, May 9, 2014

I swear I've been cooking up a storm

I have been busy with life and have not been able to post in quite some time.  I thought maybe I would at least give you an idea of what I have been up to and post the photos of what I've been cooking.  Hopefully I'll be able to write up the text to them soon.

Dinner note: Sauteed onions with red bell peppers and chicken with a sprinkling of taco seasoning.  I enjoyed this over cooked brown rice and black beans with avocado. 

A recipe from a magazine I purchased: Lemon chicken.  Not quite a hit with the family, but something different.  It needs a bit of tweaking.  

A BBQ with friends:
Martha Stewart's All American Potato salad.  I stayed fairly true to the recipe, but I didn't understand why she wanted to cook the potatoes whole and peel them while they were blazing hot.  So I cut the potatoes in cubes before cooking.  An awesome recipe!  

My sister in law, Kim's dip.  A favorite with black beans, corn, red bell pepper, green onions, avocado, red onion.  I think I might add more avocado next time, because I love avocado.  

My pasta salad:
Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, fresh thyme, parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice, olive oil and salt.  

What I brought over to my friends' house after they had their baby:
A fresh salad with a salad dressing made of orange muscat champagne vinegar, dijon mustard, and olive oil

 Roasted Rainbow carrots with herbs de provence and olive oil

 Roasted chicken: spatchcocked, cut down the back and cooked in a flatted form.  Seasoned with lots of kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil.  Cooked on a bed of onions. 

After being bored with breakfast options:
Baked oatmeal muffins from a blog Faux Martha.  
I added chopped pecans, used dried cranberries.  My son loves these muffins a lot!

Trying to add more iron in my diet I made a beef chili:
America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook: I substituted a can of black beans for a can of kidney beans, and I eliminated the cayenne pepper.  Delicious!  I think I might need more beans, and it needed more salt.  

Experiments: 59-68

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Experiment #58: Banana Almond Oatmeal Cookies

I was thumbing through the stack of recipes that I'd like to try and found a recipe for Best Oatmeal Cookies.  The recipe intrigued me when I first saw it, because it is made with very few ingredients.  It is dairy free, egg free, and if I had gluten free oatmeal it would be gluten free as well.

The recipe comes from the Trader Joe's web site in their dessert section.

So... My fiddling with the recipe.  I decided to just eliminate the agave sweetener since it was only 1 teaspoon and I was trying to make these cookies for my family which includes my toddler, so I substituted dried cranberries for the chocolate.  I also only had chunky almond butter, so I used that instead of the creamy almond butter.

Banana Almond Oatmeal cookies with Cranberries adapted from a Trader Joe's Recipe
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsalted crunchy almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oatmeal
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine mashed banana, almond butter and vanilla.
Slowly add oats to the mixture.  Add dried cranberries to the mixture.

For each cookie, drop a tablespoon of the mixture onto the cookie sheet.  Bake for approximately 14 minutes.

The results:
The recipe is simple, fast and satisfying and it was a hit.  The crunchy almond butter added a pleasant texture to these cookies.  It might have been a little light on the cranberries, but the cookies were moist and delicious.  I can see myself making these for a quick and fairly healthy snack.

Update:  These cookies do Not keep well. They taste good the first day then they get a weird texture after a day.

Link to original Recipe:


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Experiment #56: Coffee Cake

I was going to a baby shower this morning and I had to decide on the fly what to make in an hour and a half.  I was going to try something new, but decided it wouldn't be prudent and so I made my Mom's coffeecake recipe that I haven't made in at least a few years, because I know it delicious and fairly quick.

My Mom used to make this coffeecake when I was growing up and it is pretty simple and scrumptious.  What more can you ask for?  The recipe comes from an old copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.

I wanted to modify the recipe the way I usually do.  First of all I doubled the recipe, because I wasn't sure how many people were going to be at this baby shower.  It was a potluck, so to be safe I thought more was better.  I reduced the sugar by a half in the batter, but not in the topping.  I replaced 1/2 of the all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour because everyone can use more fiber.  In my haste to make the recipe this morning, I totally forgot the flour in spicy topping, but it was only 1 tablespoon so I was hoping it didn't make too much a difference.

Coffee Cake with Spicy topping
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use sunflower oil)
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 cup White Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Spicy Topping
1/2 cup light Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup broken nuts (I used coarsely chopped pecans.  My Mom uses walnuts)

Combine the vegetable oil, eggs, and milk.  In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder and kosher salt.  Whisk together until combined.  (The original recipe tells you to sift, but I often just whisk instead of sifting.)  Add milk mixture and mix well.  Pour into a greased 13 X 9 inch pan.

Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, melted butter and chopped nuts.  Sprinkle over the coffeecake batter and back at 375F for about 25 to 30 minutes.

The results! 

The Results:
It was delicious!  It was moist and delicious and sweet but not too sweet.  It was the perfect amount of sweetness for me, but I like things lightly sweetened.  If you like sweet coffeecake, I would add more sugar.  I will definitely make this recipe again as it was easy and fairly quick to make.  I am tempted to add more whole wheat as it was a fairly light cake and I love to try to add more fiber into my diet.  

A delicious version of this is to add fresh blueberries (at least a cup to the recipe.)  It makes for an awesome variation for a little something extra.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Experiment #54: Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin

The following is often the scenario when I go to the store.  I want to cook some sort of fish or meat and then I come home with whatever looked good that day.  Today it was pork tenderloin.  I love pork tenderloin.  It's lower in fat than a lot of meat, and tender if you don't overcook it and it takes so little cooking time that it's a quick meal. 

When I arrived home, I looked for an Asian-style recipe for pork tenderloin and I found one on the Food Network website from Ellie Kreiger, one of the resident healthy chefs on the Food Network. 

I pretty much stayed true to the recipe, because after looking at the ingredients I didn't find the amount of sugar to be too excessive like some other recipes.   I did tweak the recipe a little bit.   I used sake instead of dry sherry because I didn't have any in the house, and instead of soy sauce, I use tamari.   I also added green onions on top, because I had some in my refrigerator for some added color and flavor.  Just a note, I marinated the pork for only 1/2 hour, the minimum time, so just keep that in mind when you read my results.  I mixed the marinade in the resealable bag instead of mixing it in a bowl, because why dirty a bowl when you are going to just mix it all together anyways.  :)

Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin adapted from Ellie Kreiger's recipe on the Food Network
2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 garlic clove, crushed with a garlic press
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Thinly sliced green onions
1 pound pork tenderloin

Combine the tamari, oil, sugar, sake, vinegar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in a resealable plastic bag and mix until the sugar is dissolved.   Add the pork tenderloin.  Seal the bag and marinate the pork in the refrigerator, turning once for 1/2 hour, or up to 8 hours. 

Preheat the broiler.  Place the pork on a roasting pan and broil for 15 minutes, turning once.  

I served this pork tenderloin sliced over hot chow mein noodles with a drizzle of the sauce and sliced green onions that was in the pan after cooking. 

Delicious!  A definite hit with the family.  I will make this recipe again.  It was very fast, easy and yummy!   Not bad for only a 1/2 hour of marinating.

Link to original recipe:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Experiment #53: Steamed cod with Ginger and Scallions

My husband requested some fish for dinner and so I went to the store to see what I could make.  I saw some local black cod and thought about my childhood where whole steamed cod was served in Chinese restaurants with soy and green onions.

I looked for a recipe that had the same feel and I found one on the Martha Stewart website, which was a less than 30 minute recipe.  I was up for the challenge.

Just because I can't leave well enough alone, I decided to add garlic to the recipe, because I love garlic.  It couldn't hurt.  I also decided to add the scallion whites to the ginger and soy, rice vinegar mixture in which the cod was steamed.  It seem wasteful to through this out since the recipe only asked for the scallion greens, when the white parts of the scallion would add a delightfully mild oniony flavor.

Steamed Cod with Ginger and Scallions Adapted from Martha Stewart's website
4 skinless cod fillets (6 to 8 ounces each)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons finely grated, peeled fresh ginger
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
Coarse salt and ground pepper
6 scallions, white parts thinly sliced into rounds and green parts cut into 3-inch lengths (separated)

In a large skillet, combine 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger, and finely chopped garlic.

Season both sides of 4 skinless cod fillets (6 to 8 ounces each) with coarse salt and ground pepper; place in skillet with vinegar mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover; cook until fish is almost opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut green parts of 6 scallions into 3-inch lengths; thinly slice lengthwise. Flip over fillets gently to keep them together.  (The fillets are delicate!) Scatter over fish; cook (covered) until fish is opaque throughout and scallions are just wilted, about 2 minutes more.

I served this fish with hot cooked jasmine rice and steamed broccoli.

This recipe is an easy, fairly quick meal.  My husband was very impressed with the recipe.  He loved the combination of the ginger and scallions with the tangy salty sauce made from the rice vinegar and tamari.  He said it was fancy.  So this could be a good dinner to make for guests.

I would definitely make this dish again and might try to make it with a different type of fish.

Link to the original recipe: