Coffee Cake Muffins by Martha Stewart

Muffins are great for a fast breakfast right? Just grab and go. I enlisted Patrick the Baker to help me make these Martha Stewart coffee cake muffins one evening. I wasn't quite ready to get up at 7am and have freshly baked muffins plus this offered us a great alternative to watching another Law & Order: SVU that night. These muffins are very very tasty. Unfortunately I think Martha called up Paula Deen to help with this one--it has two sticks of butter in it! We'll be making healthy muffins next time. However eat them with a banana and you'll feel better.

Coffee Cake Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

Streusel Topping
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar (we had light in the pantry)
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

1. Prepare streusel topping: In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles large coarse crumbs; refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare muffins: Butter and flour a 12-cup muffin tin. In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well combined. With mixer on low, beat flour mixture into butter mixture.
4. Divide half the batter among prepared muffin cups. Top with half the streusel mixture, then remaining batter, and top with streusel. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Preparing muffins--half way through placing the first streusel mixture on half the batter.
Muffins just out of the oven. They rise a lot!

Stocking up the freezer

A couple of weeks ago I had lots of vegetables--corn, zucchini, and squash--but no time to cook all of it! So I decided to try my first freezing experiment. Usually when people "put up" their vegetables they do a lot at one time. I didn't have bushels of anything but enough that I didn't want to waste. I ended up with two quarts of each vegetable. Seems like enough of each one to see if this simple freezing works and they taste well at the other end; I'm sure there will be an update at some point! There were several methods I found on the internet but what I did is what I found most across different sites.

To start, bring water to a rapid bowl. Add vegetables and return to a boil. Boil for approximately 3 minutes. After 3 minutes plunge immediately into ice cold water.

Let the vegetables cool and then drain very well. Divide the vegetables into quart-size bags. Remove air and seal. Then freeze.

We used an old school method for removing air from the bag. It's called "Patrick and the straw."

Fresh Thyme

 Patrick and I were browsing the blog posts the other night for ideas on supper this week. Farfalle with Sauteed Mushrooms and Thyme caught our eye. We quickly put mushrooms on the grocery list so we could make our first recipe with our very own homegrown thyme! The thyme has taken a long time to mature but it's finally ready and we couldn't be more thrilled. Here it is:

And the pasta dish turned out great. This was the third time we've made it and each time it gets a little better, like most of the recipes we try.

Buying Couscous in Bulk

Whenever I'm grocery shopping and picking out something basic (cereal, spaghetti sauce, dressings, anything really) I'll often compare the label. I usually focus on the sodium aspect. But of course I take into account everything else--calories, fat, sugars, and fiber. On this particular trip couscous was on my list. Patrick particularly loves the Chicken flavored couscous; I usually opt for the Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil couscous. Prior to this trip I had let couscous fool me! Well no more! Couscous may be healthy but any of the flavored boxes are not. Each one of those flavor packets is basically sodium. Discouraged from my findings I started grabbing 3 boxes of the plain Whole Wheat Couscous. But then it hit me--buy it in bulk! Now I can flavor my own couscous without all the sodium.

Be on the lookout for posts featuring delicious couscous! Do you have any couscous recipes you like? If so pass them along!


Forget omelets. Try this wonderful frittata next time you're cooking up a breakfast. And of course serve it with some fresh fruit! The photos you see here are actually a take-two of the recipe. We tried it earlier with prosciutto and arugula and weren't very satisfied with it. We'd still make one more addition (cream!) the next time but overall this was yummy. We swapped in sweet Italian sausage and caramelized onions so that's probably what did it. As with omelets the additions to the frittata can be whatever your heart desires!

We originally saw the recipe for Egg White Frittata with Lox and Arugula from Giada. We decided to explore a little bit and merged her recipe with this Frittata recipe from Alton Brown. And this is what we came up with!

Our Very Own Frittata
Complete with Sweet Italian Sausage and Caramelized Onions

6 eggs (3 egg whites, 3 whole eggs)
3-4 links sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, thinly sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
other desired seasonings for the eggs

The first step is cooking whatever you're putting in the frittata. Here's what we did: in a medium frying pan begin caramelizing onions. (If you're unfamiliar with the method, just google some tips but basically it's a slow sauteing method.) Once the onions have caramelized add the sausage and brown.

Meanwhile beat the eggs. Add in the salt and pepper and whatever seasonings you want. We used a little dried oregano. Add in a little cream if you have it.

Add the egg mixture to the same frying pan with the sausage and onions. Stir to combine the ingredients. Cook for 4 minutes without stirring. Once the eggs look like they are set in the middle take a spatula and push back the outer edges of the egg so the uncooked egg will fill the space and cook.

Both Giada and Alton Brown call for further cooking the oven. But we just recommend flipping the frittata and letting it cook for a few minutes that way. In our first frittata try we cooked it as directed and thought this dried it out a little. We were much happier with the flipped results. To flip the frittata, place an inverted plate directly over the pan. Hold the bottom of the plate and the handle of the pan then flip together and then slide the flipped frittata back into the pan. (Trust me, it's easier than it sounds.)

Serve with a little freshly grated parmesan.

First Dinner in the New Kitchen

Out with the old and in with the new! Here's the first dish from my new kitchen.

Nothing fancy as I was tired from a weekend of moving. The chicken breast was marinated in a Honey Mesquite sauce and grilled. The green beans were sauteed with a little chicken bouillon flavoring. The squash and onions were also sauteed and the secret ingredient here is soy sauce. And Mom sent some of her homemade sourdough rolls!!

Fried Green Tomatoes

When green tomatoes popped up on our CSA list, Whitney was very excited to make some fried green tomatoes. This delicious recipe for comes from our Fresh Every Day cookbook.

Fried Green Tomato and Ripe Red Tomato Salad with Goat Cheese and Sweet Basil Vinaigrette

2 large ripe tomatoes (about 1 lb), cored and sliced 1/2 in thick
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 c flour
1/2 c cornmeal
2 tbsp sugar
1 egg
1/2 c buttermilk
Oil for frying
4 large green tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/2 in thick
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Sweet basil vinaigrette (1/2 c each balsamic and olive oil with lime juice, basil, salt, and pepper)
8 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line baking sheet with paper towels. Arrange ripe tomato slices in one layer on a large platter or on plates. Season with salt and pepper. Stir flour, cornmeal, sugar, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in small bowl. Whisk egg and buttermilk together in separate bowl. Dip green tomatoes in egg-buttermilk, dredge in flour mixture, and fry in 1/4 inch of hot oil (about 2 min for first side, until golden brown). Transfer slices to baking sheet and put in oven while frying remaining slices. Arrange fried tomato slices on top of fresh slices. Scatter small tomatoes and sprinkle goat cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette and top with basil strips.

Farm-fresh tomatoes!
Working the frying pan.
A close-up, halfway through flipping.
Yum! Forgot to slice the grape tomatoes.

Lunch up in the air!

Last month Patrick and I visited Chicago to celebrate his nephew Will's first birthday!

If you follow the blog any you'll notice every now and then that a Giada DeLaurentiis recipe will be used because I love Giada! One day when I was browsing her website I found a list of some of her favorite restaurants and things to do in cities she visits a lot. And Chicago was on the list! (Come to the Triangle, Giada!) Here's the link to all the cities on her website. So I picked out a place and put in a request to Patrick for the Signature Room on the 95th Floor of the John Hancock Center and being the wonderful boyfriend that he is, he made reservations for us!

Here we are!
Patrick enjoyed a Grilled Portobello with a ricotta salad, garlic spinach, and pretzel roll.
And I enjoyed Blackened Salmon Tacos with coleslaw and 7-grain pilaf. I felt just like a celebrity!

And this is the view we took in during lunch.


Our experimental item from the CSA this week was pickling cucumbers. We picked out this recipe from my Fresh Every Day Sara Foster cookbook. In the past, I haven't particularly enjoyed pickles, but I found these ones to be particularly delicious and addictive, especially with some sharp cheddar and wheat crackers.

1 c white vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp dill seed
4 to 5 small pickling cucumbers, peeled in stripes and sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1 small white onion, thinly sliced into rounds

Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, cloves, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, and dill seed in a quart jar. Place the lid on the jar and shake until the sugar has dissolved.

Layer the cucumbers and onion in the jar using a wooden spoon to press them tightly into the jar. Place the lid on the jar, shake it well, and refrigerate at least 4 hours, shaking the jar occasionally to keep the ingredients mixed. These pickles will keep in the refrigerator for at least 1 month.

Everything ready!
I used two pint jars instead of a quart. What am I going to do with the other ten jars?!

Zucchini Bread

Here's a great recipe for surplus zucchini... but the bread is worth making on its own too! My mom originally tried this recipe from a Southern Living magazine. It's really easy too. 

Zucchini Bread
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups peeled, coarsely grated zucchini

Here's my grated zucchini!

Combine eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla; mix well. Combine dry ingredients; add to oil mixture, mixing well. Stir in grated zucchini. Pour batter into a large greased loaf pan (or two small ones). Bake at 350F for 55 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes before removing from pan.
*Be aware that it will not rise a whole lot in the pan.