May 30, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

My dear friend, Juliana, and I used to meet once a week and cook several meals for the whole week. I believe it was Tuesdays. We would each pick 2-3 recipes and buy the supplies for our chosen food adventure, enough for both of us to end up with one of all the meals. We both tended to share at least one tried and true recipe and then pick something new that sounded delicious. Juliana is an awesome cook, and usually made bread in her bread machine to go with one of her meals. The great thing about this is that Juliana had a totally different flavor pallet and I tried some new things that I may not have on my own. For example, gingered squash soup is delicious! My all time favorite recipe, though, is one she found on the internet. I can't find the original, I've searched and searched! If this is your recipe or you know the creator, please send me the link and I will gladly give credit! And here, ladies and gents, is the recipe for...

 PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS *glitter descends softly from the rafters as a small choir of heavenly angels gently sings to the muffins as they bake in their warm nest that is my oven*

(30 muffins)
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1 (16 oz / 2 cups) can Pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 1/4 cups Vegetable Oil (yes, 1 1/4 cups)
  • 3 cups Flour (King Arthur for regular, Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour for GF)
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 4 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 12 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (Ghirardelli is my absolute fave for baking)

1) In a large mixing bowl beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and oil until smooth.
2) In another bowl sift together dry ingredients and mix into pumpkin mixture. Fold in chocolate chips.
3) Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.
4) Bake at 400 F for 16-20 Minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. {24 min/silicone (GF)} {26 min/silicone (wheat flour)}


Guess which are GF...that's right, well, left...the ones that are totally falling apart! They are still delicious though :)

The muffin pans that I use are actually silicone, which I love. They do take longer to cook, so keep that in mind. Don't forget to generously grease them! I would also recommend running a butter knife around the edges before trying to extract them, especially gluten free. I've made this recipe GF several times now, which typically doesn't take as long as regular wheat flour. I did note the modified baking times in the parentheses.

A well loved recipe.

This time I did try something new, coconut oil in lieu of vegetable oil. I will say that it does change it and I'm not quite used to it. It was lovely, don't get me wrong, but when you've made the same recipe scores of times you do tend to notice when something is changed. I am also fairly convinced that the high oil content is why these freeze so well! Seriously. These are the best "frozen/reheat-in-the-microwave-for-30-second/high-calorie-before-early-morning-workout-muffins" ever. I adore them and I know you will too :)


Three Great Ingredients:
King Arthur Flours
Ghirardelli Semi-sweet Chocolate
Trader Joe's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

May 29, 2012

Memorial Day

Yesterday was Memorial Day here in America. I had a sudden urge to create a tribute to all the men and women who sacrificed their lives to insure my own freedom. I have another blog for my business, The Painted Oven, and would love for everyone to check out my project and leave some feedback. Here is a teaser to entice you to venture further...

May 26, 2012

Avocado and Feta Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I made this a couple of weeks ago, but since I had taken a few pictures to share my delicious creation on Facebook I thought I should also share it here! Diana Meiczan's Green Goddess Grilled Cheese Sandwich was something I pinned on Pinterest and boy was it inspirational! 

UDI's Gluten Free bread

I didn't have any spinach, unfortunately, but I DID have avocados! And here in sunny southern California, we have beautiful avos. I used UDI's basic whole grain bread. As with most things GF, I recommend toasting the bread till it's just starting to brown. It falls apart otherwise.

I tried something I've never tried before, mayonaise on the outside. I always do my grilled cheeses in butter. Next time I make this I will either go with just the mayo or the butter, with both it was a tad oily.

I was also out of sliced cheese. However, I did have some good quality shredded cheese and feta. Limited ingredient breeds creativity. I added the shredded cheese and feta together in the pan, let it meld together, and then spread it via spatula onto the nearby toasting bread

To dress it up, I added some crushed red pepper. On top of all that was nestled the fresh avocado, some pink Himalayan salt, fresh cracked pepper, and the lazy cooks best friend, Season All.

Overall, it was delicious. I was in a salty mood, so I paired it with some black olives.

Short on space and not wanting to do more dishes than necessary, I used the avo peel :)

Even the toddler liked it! I made his on real bread and without the crushed red pepper.



May 25, 2012

Counting Snails

The weather was absolutely beautiful this morning. It was all misty and drizzly. Not only is it the perfect weather for cuddling up with a cup of coffee and your sweetheart, it's the perfect weather for stomping snails.

A beautiful drizzly day in the neighborhood.

 While snails typically disappear with the coming of daylight, they linger when the weather is cool and damp. As I was leaving mid morning to go do laundry I saw a couple of snails out for a stroll in the drizzle, so I stomped them. I saw a few more, so I stomped them too. Curious as to how many I could get rid of I started counting. 40 minutes later, I had circled my house and garden shed twice. How many terrestrial molluscs did I send up to the great garden in the sky? 293!!!

Good bye helix aspersa, better know as the common garden snail.

May 21, 2012

Savory Potato Salad, with a Kick

This week I have 2 different social days where I need to bring something delicious to eat. I stroller with another mom friend of mine on a weekly basis and she usually feeds me. This week I would like to contribute to lunch! I also have an all beach day with another mom friend the following day. We are planning on a picnic. Solution? Make one giant, delicious batch of savory potato salad, with a kick! 

I am not what I would consider a picky eater, but there are a few things in the food world that I prefer either savory or sweet. One of those things is potato salad. I am not real keen on potato salad made with sweet relish. I love it on burgers, not with potatoes. There are also just a few things in life that I feel confident in bragging about. Along with roasting chickens, chocolate chip cookies, and beef tacos is potato salad. This recipe is an hybrid of my own, originating from my mom and grandma's recipes.

As with most on my non-baking recipes, the ingredient measurements are a guesstimation and can be adjusted to suit your own taste.

I always use red potatoes for potato salad. They stay firm, and I love their smooth texture. I cooked about 12 medium red potatoes in for a big batch. Plop them in whole in boiling water with a healthy shot of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce. It gives a light hidden heat to the salad that takes it to the next level. If that thought doesn't thrill you, just add some salt.

SRIRACHA HOT CHILI SAUCE. Best of all? Made in the USA!


I peel half of the potatoes. I like the skins, but feel like it's overwhelming if you leave it on all the potatoes.

 I am so blessed to have a mom that has her own chickens, ergo, fresh eggs! I added 8 of them to boiling water for 10 minutes. I then immediately dumped the hot water and ran cold water over them for a minute or so to stop the cooking. I left them in chilled water till they are cool enough to peel. Cut them up and add to the warm potatoes.

 I love celery in potato salad. In my opinion, it NEEDS celery. If you are out of celery you can just use celery seed, although I do both. I finely cut about half a full sized celery stalk. I also added about 2/3 of a sweet onion.

 At this point I was running out of room in my biggest bowl, so back into the potato pot it all went. Into that went mayonnaise (Best Foods is my fave), plain ol' yellow mustard, a healthy dose of celery seed, a whole small jar of dill relish (I used Heinz this time) and a teaspoon of vinegar. Of course, if you're bent on using sweet relish you can substitute it for the dill.

Notice the red ring from cooking the potatoes in hot chili sauce?
 I spooned all the potato salad into several tupperwares to chill overnight. I like mine really cold, although I have some family members who like it while it's still warm. My own new addition to this recipe is the discovery of Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning. My cousin brought it from a visit to New Orleans.

 If you want a lot of KICK to your salad be generous with it! I added just a little since the hubby doesn't like things too spicy and just add more to my own portions.

Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning. Yummo!


May 20, 2012

French Bread with Boysenberry Syrup and Agave Whipped Cream

It's been a productive day. This morning before church I was actually inspired to cook! Usually on Sundays my poor men are subjected to cold cereal and bananas. Today I made french toast. I made it with regular bread for the guys and Gluten Free for me! Today I used UDI's Whole Grain Bread.

GF french toast with boysenberry syrup, agave whipped cream, and sprinkled with cinnamon.

Keep in mind that these recipes are a guesstimation. This is one of those dishes that I just pour ingredients into without measuring.

This "batter" is the perfect amount for 5-6 slices of regular sized bread. In my case, it yielded 3 regular french toasts with 2 GF (remember, they are irritatingly smaller than normal bread). If you are seriously allergic, DO NOT SHARE THE BATTER BETWEEN REGULAR AND GF BREAD! Unless, of course, you do your GF first.
  • 4 fresh eggs
  • 4 Tbs organic cream
  • 1 tsp raw sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
I use the regular bread right out of the packaging, but I toast the GF till it just barely starts to brown. It tends to get soggy and fall apart too easily otherwise. Don't let the bread soak, just dip it around in the batter until it's covered.

I cook my french bread pretty slowly, over medium-lowish heat. Flip as often as your heart desires, just pay attention and don't overcook it!

I am not always fond of maple syrup, and tend to like the Boysenberry Syrup better. I personally buy Smucker's. I adore it with agave whipped cream:
  • 2 C organic cream
  • 2 Tbs agave syrup
  • 1 Tbs vanilla extract
 Serve the french bread hot, with syrup and fresh agave whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.


May 16, 2012

Counting Frogs

Ok, I have got to start somewhere with this blog, so frogs seems as good a place as any. I have had an unnaturally high frog-in-my-living room count this month. I rescued one from inside the glass door and shooed another one away on the outside as I was coming inside tonight. I have a security light that stays on all night outside our front door. We live out in the sticks, so there is no ambient light to make me feel more secure if I hear weird noises from outside. Said light attracts bugs. LOTS of bugs, and since I don't use much in the way of bug poison/bait in my garden I have developed a rather healthy, oh, how shall I say...ecosystem. I love frogs. I ADORE frogs. I don't want them in my house, being subjected to very slow deaths via Chester. In the past 4 weeks I have rescued at least 5 frogs from my cat, Chester. He is not an efficient hunter. Sufficient, arguably, but not efficient. How do these little buggers (get it? ha!) keep getting inside! I wonder if there is a way to put up a "frog count" on this??? hm...

Just one of my visitors. They move so quick I only captured a pic of one.