Corn Muffins

For the last month, possibly more, we have been on the go. We have been going at an active, non-stop pace. We had my parents visiting, we celebrated a big anniversary, we took a trip from Amsterdam to Copenhagen, and once we were back in the states it was time for me to change the menu at work. So needless to say things have been just a tad bit busy. I woke up yesterday morning with a desire to do nothing! It was my day off - do you blame me? I was in a mood to do nothing more than watch back to back episodes of anything airing on the Investigate & Discovery Chanel. That is, nothing other than make a quick breakfast to munch on while I binge watch TV. I had a craving for corn muffins, and as I was whisking the ingredients together I realized I never shared a recipe for them on here. So that Is how I ended up here today.

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In my opinion a great corn muffin uses real corn meal. No box mix or corn flour in this recipe; and yes, most corn meals are a bit gritty. That is why it is important for these muffins you use a finely ground corn meal. It imparts a great flavor without feeling mealy or harsh. The third of a cup of sugar in this recipe enhances the corn’s natural sweetness too. Plus, the balance of milk and butter in these muffins keep the texture of these muffins moist and light, without being heavy or dense. A perfect corn muffin.

So, while we lounged watching rerun episodes of Dateline, we enjoyed warm corn muffins. It was so indulgent and enjoyable. I sipped tea while spreading butter and jam across my corn muffin as we tried to guess who was guilty or had motive in each of the episodes, and munch some more. It was glorious! Corn Muffin perfection and real life crime stories. Maybe the TV shows are not for everyone, but I am sure these muffins are.

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Corn Muffins (Makes 12)

1 cup corn meal (finely ground)

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp baking powder

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup milk

3 oz butter, melted (plus more for the pan)

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. With a bit of extra butter, brush the inside of your muffing tin. You will need to butter at least a dozen of them.

Next, in a bowl place your flour, corn meal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk it together and set it aside. In another bowl, whisk together your egg, melted butter, vanilla, and milk until smooth. Add your dry ingredients. Lightly whisk it together until blended well. (You do not want to over mix this batter.)

Then, fill the buttered muffin pan evenly and place in the center of the oven. You are looking to bake your muffins about 20 - 25 minutes. You are looking for the muffins to be slightly golden, and lets a toothpick test cleanly when pierced.

Finally, remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before removing from pan. Serve and enjoy. (These are best when served warm.)

Sweet Potato Pancakes

It is not uncommon for me to keep a few russet or sweet potatoes around for an easy dinner. Toss them in the oven to bake, serve them with a large salad and dinner is done! Not a lot of fuss, besides the fact that we find it really comforting to eat. We truly enjoy it and look forward to it’s simplicity. I personally prefer a sweet potato over that of a russet. I love the taste and texture of one when it has been roasted whole. But did you know that a sweet potato has loads of heath benefits in them? Sweet potatoes are extremely high in vitamins and minerals! They contribute to healthier immune systems and contain high levels of magnesium - this supports anti stress while aiding in relaxation…Yes! I will take that any given day. Who wouldn’t want added vitamins and reduced stress by eating something delicious?

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The other night I baked the sweet potatoes we had for dinner, and as luck should have it we had one left over. I wrapped and placed it in the refrigerator with the thoughts of enjoying the left over for lunch one day that week. But then I remembered a place we use to go to for brunch many years ago. On their menu: Sweet Potato Pancakes! I loved them, and when I really felt like indulging I would order them. They were light and fluffy pancakes, not too sweet; and were ultimately satisfying. I had to make something like them for breakfast. I missed those pancakes and it was the perfect use for my left over sweet potato.

Early on my morning off I headed into my kitchen. I mashed the sweet potato, made a batter that incorporated it, and gently sizzled the batter in a bit of butter and oil. I find that the combo of butter and oil lets the pancakes get a nice sear without the any scorching or burning the pancakes themselves. I also found that these pancakes need a moment or two longer cooking because the batter is so moist. In doing this it lets them firm up more as they simmer allowing the pancake set up...the first two I cooked off had a bit "custard quality" that I don't really look for when desiring something like a pancake. But once they were finally done cooking we piled them on our plates topping them with butter and real maple syrup. I kid you not when I tell you we nibbled away and enjoyed every bit. The Sweet Potato Pancakes were indulgent and lightly sweet. They were light, with a bit of crunch along their edges. They made the perfect breakfast as far as I am concerned. Being that they were so easy to whip up and how healthy a sweet potato is these pancakes might be dangerous, I can all to easily see us indulging in them all too often! Yum!

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Sweet Potato Pancakes (serves 4)

1 1/2 cups mashed skinless sweet potato (previously baked or boiled)

1 oz butter, melted (plus extra for cooking and serving)

3/4 cup greek yogurt

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

1 cup flour

1 tbsp sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

real maple syrup (for serving)

vegetable oil

First; in a bowl whisk together your milk, yogurt, vanilla extract, egg, and melted butter. In a separate bowl mix together your flour, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, and sugar.

Next; whisk in your mashed sweet potato into your yogurt mix. Mix until it is smooth and evenly incorporated. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the sweet potato mix and easily mix it together until the mixture is cohesive.

Then; place a large frying pan or non stick pan (your preference) over medium heat. Place a bit of butter and no more than 2 tbsp of oil into the pan and heat through until butter is melted into the oil. Spoon or ladle your sweet potato mixture into the prepared pan. Gently edge the batter to spread evenly into a round shape to form your pancake. You can place a few pancakes at a time into your pan, be carful not to crowd the pan leaving about a 1-2 inch border around them. Once the edges of the pancakes seem firm and the batter seems to bubble around the edges easily flip the pancake with a spatula and let the pancakes sear and simmer on the other side.

Finally; when the pancakes are seared and firm on both sides you can remove them and place them on a plate to rest until serving. Repeat with the remaining batter. Be sure that there is always a bit of butter and oil in the pan while adding your pancake batter. Serve when pancakes are done cooking with plenty of butter and maple syrup.

Addicting Granola w/ Coconut and Pistachios

I woke with the strange craving for granola the other day. I cannot tell you why, I just wanted some. And just like a craving usually goes, I had none! I had all the ingredients, but none prepped and I was not about to make some. Yes it is easy to make, but at 4 A.M. I do not think Brian would have appreciated me whipping up a batch while he was fast asleep.  Besides, I was ready to walk out the door to get to work. Today, a plain bowl of oatmeal would have to do. Tossing all the granola ingredients together.

Now I have listed a previous recipe for granola on here. That recipe had hazelnuts, and I loved eating it with raspberries and yogurt. But this batch I made with coconut! Nice big flakes of coconut along with pistachios. I used brown rice syrup as my sweetener because it is more mild than honey or maple syrup…You see I wanted the natural sweetness of the coconut, and other nuts and seeds I used to stand out a bit more. That is the beauty of granola. You can easily tweak it to match you craving - nuts, seeds, grains, fruits, sweeteners; the possibilities are endless.

Granola, baked and cooling.

So the other afternoon while I was home, I gathered my ingredients, tossed them all together, and baked it all off - stirring it frequently so that it baked evenly and gathered nice little clumps of nuttiness. Once it was cooled I stored it in a large jar on our kitchen counter. If it was in plain sight I knew we would make use of it. Each morning this week I was more than pleased scooping my granola and pairing it with some sliced strawberries along with almond milk. I will admit that there were a couple of times Brian and I helped our selves to a handful just as a snack. This recipe is delicious, addicting, and now all gone! I think when I am done writing this I am off to make another batch. I know I will be looking for it when 4 A.M. rolls around again!

Coconut and Pistachio Granola with fresh Strawberries and Almond Milk.

Addicting Granola w/ Coconut and Pistachios (Makes about 6 cups)

**Notes: almost any of these ingredients can be found at Whole Foods, or trader Joe’s. The coconut chips, pistachios, and other nuts and seeds are best raw when starting so that they roast and bake all together.

3 cups rolled oats

1 1/2 cups coconut chips

1 cup pistachios

1/4 cup of sesame seeds

1/4 cup of chia seeds

1/4 cup of flax seeds

1 tsp of fine sea salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup of brown rice syrup (you can sub honey or real maple syrup)

1 tbsp Vanilla extract

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a lager bowl place your oats, coconut chips, pistachios, sesame seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds. ver the top sprinkle it with you sea salt.

Next, in a small bowl mix your vegetable oil, your brown rice syrup, and vanilla extract. Pour the mixture over the oat mix and toss it well.

Meanwhile, have two sheet pans lined with parchment paper. When mixture is all tossed and coated divide the mixture evenly between the two pans.  Place the pans in the center of your oven and let it bake for about 15 minutes before removing to stir the mixtures. Repeat this every 10 - 15 minutes until the mixture is quite dark and evenly roasted. (Takes about 40 minutes to an hour.) Remove the pans from the oven and let cool about 20 minutes before handling.

Finally, once the mixture is cool you can store it in an air tight container for about 2 weeks. Serve it up as you wish - milk, yogurt, nut milks, and any assorted fruit you wish.

Banana Buckwheat Muffins with Pecans

Our dog Latte woke me up early last Sunday. Her ear was itchy and it needed to be cleaned. She decided to let me know by pacing, panting, continually scratch, and shake her hear right next to my pillow. So I dragged my but out of bed, cleaned her ear while still half a sleep, and instead of going back to bed I camped out on the couch with her and turned on the TV. To my surprise a Mad Men marathon was on AMC. It no longer bothered me that I was up so early on a day off. Now I was a very happy girl; I sat in my PJ’s with Latte and indulged in one of the greatest time period television series ever. I have written on here before about my love for the show and making a “1960’s themed” dinner to celebrate the show with. Why do I love the show you might ask? There are so many reasons. It could be that it is simply beautifully written. It takes you back in time without really feeling “fictional” and it make you love such a flawed character like Don, the leading man. That is when you know there is good writing involved. I have not loved a character or writing like this since the Sopranos or Breaking Bad.

Mad Men, Muffins, and tea...a great Sunday morning.

While indulging myself in some Mad Men marathon time, my stomach started to growl. By now, I had walked the dogs during a commercial break and Brian was awake and zoned in on the marathon as well. I asked him what he would like to eat: waffles, pancakes, muffins? Brian’s response: Muffins!?! This was the perfect opportunity for some banana muffins made with buckwheat flour. I whipped up the muffins as fast as I could…I did not want to miss a moment of the marathon.

Muffins cooling, fresh out of the oven.

While the muffins were baking I heated our tea kettle, muffins and tea are perfect for a lazy Sunday morning. The apartment smelled wonderful as they baked and even more enticing as they cooled. As the series marathon was on its last episode of the morning we watched and nibbled on our warm moist muffins. We sipped our tea and basked in how good a lazy Sunday can be. Im so happy my Latte woke me up. If she didn’t I might have missed out on my Mad Men fix and not have had muffins!

Banana Buckwheat Muffin with Pecans - ready to be devoured.

Banana Buckwheat Muffins with Pecans (makes 16 muffins)

1 cup Buckwheat flour

1 cup AP flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

4 oz butter, melted

1 egg

1 cup of milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large bananas, very ripe & mashed

1 cup chopped toasted pecans

1 tbsp sugar (optional)

cupcake wrappers

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line your cupcake pan with your cupcake wrappers. In a bowl whisk together both your sugars, melted butter, egg, and vanilla until smooth.

Next, in a separate bowl add your flours, baking powder, and sea salt. Stir it all together. Gently mix the four into your sugar mixture. mix it all until well combined.

Then, fold in your banana and pecans. Once it is all well combined you can fill your cupcake wrappers up to 3/4 full. If you like you can sprinkle the top the the muffins with the reserved tablespoon of sugar.

Finally, place the muffins in the oven and bake about 18 - 25 minutes. You are looking for the muffin tops to be firm yet springy when tapped. Let them cool about 10 minuted before serving and enjoying. Will keep for up to four days at room temperature wrapped in plastic.

Potato Pancakes, a.k.a. Latkes with Apple Butter

It is getting cooler here. The leaves are changing and Halloween is any day now. It is only a matter of time for the other holidays to be creeping up around the corner. When it gets to this time of year I crave so many different things in a very random and somewhat schizophrenic manner too. But it is okay because I know it and admit it. Years ago Brian and I spent the holidays in San Francisco. We ate at a Thai restaurant for Christmas Eve and an Indian buffet for Christmas Dinner. We now always think about spicy peanut sauce, and curry on and around Christmas dinner. Living in Phoenix a friend’s family always had Tamales with their holiday dinners; even for Thanksgiving. We think of them often and crave some of them with salsas along with rice and beans.  Let us not forget Pizza. A few years ago we were in London for Thanksgiving. We ended up eating pizza on that particular Thursday. There is something so appetizing about pizza or tamales, more so than the tradition of turkey.

Potato Pancakes, a.k.a. Latkes with Apple Butter and Sour Cream

So this morning I got up and after walking the girls, and bringing back coffee for Brian, I wandered into the kitchen to make some potato pancakes. Why potato pancakes you might ask? Well for a couple years I worked for a Kosher catering company. It was now that we would start to prep for their Hanukkah celebrations. Potato Pancakes (aka: Latkes) were always on the menu. Latkes or Potato Pancakes are delicious, scrumptious, and desirably indulgent if you ask me. When made right they are light, crispy, slightly salty, and tender. When they were making them in the catering kitchen it was not uncommon for the other pastry chef and me to sneak a few and indulge in them while sitting on top of 50# sacks of flour for a break. While I was walking the girls and breathing in the cool morning air I thought of those mornings and had to whip a batch up.

Frying up the Potato Pancakes

Now there is arguably many ways to eat potato pancakes. There are some I know who are die hard “Jewish Deli” traditionalists and get theirs with a side of thick sour crème to dip the pancakes into. Others I know will indulge with a smear of apple sauce across them. And if you were to ask my friend Rumi (and also the other pastry chef I worked with at this company) the best way to eat the potato pancakes was with a sprinkle of salt across them, nothing more.

As always, I tend to go a little differently as most with my palate. I prefer some apple butter and sour cream. Yes, in my opinion the rich sweetness of the apple butter mingle well with the slightly sour and rich crème on top of these crispy pancakes. But what can I say? This Italian American girl who grew up in New Jersey really did not know much about Potato Pancakes until I worked for this company. I really didn’t know about many of these foods before I left New Jersey. Now, I crave tamales, Thai spicy peanut sauce, Indian curry, and pizza; while most are eating very traditional foods. In my mind I would still love to be sitting with Brian indulging in something foreign in a faraway city, rather than eating out of tradition. I would much rather be picking up tamale from my friends mom and enjoying this Mexican tradition than cooking the same meal again and again. I would love to sit on those sacks of flour and enjoy some Latkes with Rumi as the holiday approach rather than eating something “pumpkin spiced” like most I know are during this time of year. It is always better to try new things. Just think of the new memories you create by doing so. Like the potato pancakes I shared with Brian this morning. And he agreed, the apple butter is a real nice touch!

Apple Butter I made the night before to go along with the Potato Pancakes.

Potato Pancakes, a.k.a. Latkes (serves 4)

3 cups of peeled and grated, Russet Potatoes (from about 2 large potatoes)

2 shallots, minced

½ cup of A.P. flour

½ tsp of baking soda

1 tsp of sea salt

2 eggs

Vegetable Oil for frying (*see note)

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Sour Cream, for serving

Apple Butter, for serving (recipe below)

First, take your grated potatoes and place in a kitchen towel or a piece of cheese cloth and squeeze them over your sink. You are doing this to wring out all the excess moisture. Keep squeezing until the potatoes are quite dry. This is important because it is what makes the pancakes light, skipping this step will result in a soggy pancake.

Next, place your grated potatoes in a bow. Over the potatoes sprinkle the flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Toss it well to coat the potatoes. To this add your eggs and stir until mixture is combined.

Then, place a large frying pan over medium heat.  Once pan is warmed through, poor about ¼ inch of oil in the pan.

Finally, gently place about a ¼ cup full of your potato mixture into your hot oil. Slightly flatten the mixture, and once the edges are golden and browned you can flip to pancake to cook on the other side. Once both sides are golden and firm place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with some sea salt and black pepper and serve while still warm.

*Note: when frying I like to use rice or peanut oil. Both have a high smoke point and a clean flavor. But if you prefer another kind that is fine too, just keep in mind an oil like olive oil can burn and smoke easily if it gets too hot.

Apple Butter (makes about 1 ½ cup)

4 medium apples, Pink Lady or Honey Crisp work well

¾ cup of sugar

2 tbsp of honey

1 cup of dry white wine

½ tsp of cinnamon

½ tsp of vanilla extract

First, peel and core your apples. Chop the apples into 1 inch pieces and place in a medium sized pot. Over the apples pout the sugar, honey, wine, cinnamon, and vanilla. Stir it well. If needed, you can add a bit of water to the mixture as you want the apples to be almost covered by liquid.

Next, place the pot over a medium heat and stir it frequently until it starts to simmer. Once it is simmering, you should lower the heat a bit. Continue to simmer the apples stirring them frequently. You are looking for the apples to become tender, somewhat caramelized, and most of the liquid cooked out of it.

Then, remove the apples from the heat and let it cool for a bit. Once cooled puree the mixture until smooth. If there is a lot of liquid in your puree or the puree is “runny” you can place it back in a pot and over low heat. You will want to stir the mixture constantly until the majority of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has thickened. Once it is there re-move from the heat.

Finally, when your puree is ready you can place in in a clean jar or container and refrigerate it until ready to use. Apple Butter will keep up to a month.

Double Chocolate Muffins with Fresh Cherries

Cherries are back in season.  Excuse me as I bow down to the cherry gods to give thanks for these perfect, little orbs of deliciousness. I wait all year for the cherries to show up at the local markets, and come down in price. As tempting as they may seem at first sight, the prices can be a bit crazy. So as soon as they come down to a somewhat moderate level I jump at the chance to bring them home and enjoy them. I picked up a few handfuls of cherries two weeks ago at the farmer’s market. Unfortunately, I ran short on time for what I had planned with them. When I came home from work ready to bake with them – Brian said he had tossed them in the compost that morning. They were as he explained: mushy and moldy. I am the only one to blame, but I was disappointed. I was planning on making muffins with them. Not just any muffin, but a double chocolate one with the cherries chopped and folded in.

Double Chocolate Muffins with Fresh Cherries

So the next day I went off to the market, and I picked up more cherries. I was determined. I was going to make those muffins! And I did! I melted down some chocolate with butter and buttermilk. The buttermilk was used to keep these muffins extra moist, and with just the right amount of chocolate these muffins were chocolaty without being overly sweet.  The contrast the fresh cherries bring an element of brightness along with a sweet sourness to the moist chocolate muffins.

After baking these up I must say, there were delicious, and impressive. Brian went back for seconds! I packed up the remainder and sent them to work with Brian, and when he came home he said they were a big hit. I can see why, I had to hold myself back after just one. I could have easily eaten three. These are a lightly sweet, and I can see them enjoyed with tea or coffee any time of day, but I really think they would be perfect gracing the table of a brunch. It would be the perfect little gratification to a menu of more breakfast like / savory items. I am so glad we will have at least a month or two of these perfect little fruits to enjoy. I’m sure you can find me making these again.

These muffins were delicious, and the fresh cherries were warm and extra tasty in them.

Double Chocolate Muffins with Fresh Cherries (makes 12)

*Note: this recipe will make 12 regular sized muffins. They make look a bit short in the picture, but that is only because I only had large muffin wrappers.

3 oz butter

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp of vanilla extract

7 oz bittersweet chocolate (70 %), chopped small

2 eggs

1 1/3 cup of AP flour

½ cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 ½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¾ tsp sea salt

1 ½ cup of cherries, pitted and chopped into quarters

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Using cupcake liners or wrappers, place them inside the cups of a muffin / cupcake pan and set aside.

Next, in a small sauce pan place your butter, buttermilk, vanilla, and 3 oz of your chocolate in the pan over medium heat. Stirring it constantly until the chocolate and butter have melted and are smooth. Remove from the heat, and let it cool slightly. Once cool whisk in eggs and set aside.

Then, in a bowl place your flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Whisk it all together and then slowly add in your chocolate mixture until it is just combined. (Do not over mix, it will make the muffins tough and / or dry.) Once combined fold in the remainder of the chocolate (4 oz) and the chopped cherries until they are just barely mixed in.

Finally, divide the batter evenly among the lined pan and bake about 20 minutes, rotating it half way through. Test to be sure the muffins are done by inserting a sharp knife into the center of one or two. The knife should remove cleanly but a bit moist. Let the muffins cool about 10 minutes before removing from the pan and serving. Can be made a day ahead but best enjoyed within the day they are baked.

The good and the bad; well not so bad!

This year is just moments away from its end. In my family it was not uncommon that at the stroke of midnight of the New Year we would snack on piece of Italian pork sausage. It was believed that what you eat reflects on what type of year you will have. The sausage represents a fatty and prosperous new year to come. What you eat after that is all up to you. Trying to be mindful that in the New Year a healthy and fit lifestyle is for the best I truly question what should I be eating. Eating something rich and fatty at the stroke of midnight is one thing, but what you eat the next morning sets the tone for the day; let alone the week and year to come. What to eat?

Onion Rings with Curry Dipping Sauce

Getting back to the sausage; what do you eat when you are a vegetarian? It has to be indulgent. Fatty and indulgent! I thought long and hard about this. I came up with a really simple solution. Onion Rings. Ask any vegetarian you know, a deep fried onion is decadent and somewhat gluttonous. Pair it with a nice rich dipping sauce to smear each ring through is a luxurious taste bud euphoria. The crunch on the battered onion, all nice a deeply golden is like vegetarian gold! But what else? What do I eat to set a tone for a fit and healthy year to come?

Bruleed Graprfruit

Over the past couple of years I have gotten into the habit of always having fresh fruit on my counter and dining table. When you walk by and see the apples, tangerines, pears, and sometimes bananas staring at you it is much easier to keep up with a wholesome snack rather than chips. Eating something fruity and refreshing would be perfectly fitting for this fit and healthy year. With the grapefruits on our table; slicing one and carefully running a knife along its pith is one step closer to a tasty, refreshing, and good for you attitude for the New Year. Placing some brown sugar over the top and brulee-ing your grapefruit brings your ordinary grapefruit to an elegant height. It is delicious, and believe me; once you try it you will be questioning why you have not tried this sooner. i will be making this for breakfast New Years Day. Out with the old, and in with the new. Good eating habits for the New Year. The bad habits are gone…well; onion rings are not so bad. At least the onion is a vegetable.

Almost gone- Onion Rings with a curry dipping sauce

Onion Rings (feed 4 – 6)

1 large onion

2 cups of flour

½ tsp of baking powder

½ tsp of sea salt, plus more for sprinkling

½ tsp of ground black pepper

1 bottle of beer (12 oz)

Vegetable oil for deep frying

First; in a bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder, sea salt, black pepper, and beer. Be sure your mixture is smooth and not lumpy. If you feel your batter is too thin you may add a bit more of the flour, but if you do this - only add a little bit at a time to be sure of your batter is where you would like it.

Next; take your onion and trim the bottom end off of it. Peel off the outer skin and discard of it. Holding the onion steady against a cutting board, slice your onion in ¼ inch thick pieces so that you have nice and evenly sized rings.

Meanwhile; take a four quart pot and fill it with oil until it is about two inches deep. Place the pot over medium heat and wait until you see wavy lines appear in the oil. You can then drop a bit of the batter you made in the oil. If it sizzles right away your oil is ready. If it does not just give your oil a bit more time on the heat before testing again.

Finally, place a few of your sliced onion rings into the batter and coat. Remove them from the batter (one at a time) and let the excess batter drip off. Place the coated rings gently into the hot oil and fry until they are golden flipping them half way through. When they are golden remove them and let them drain on a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with more sea salt if you wish. Serve warm.

Curry Dipping Sauce (makes about ¾ a cup)

¼ cup of mayo

¼ cup of Greek yogurt

1 tbsp of Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp of curry powder

¼ tsp of powdered ginger

¼ tsp of garlic powder

1 tsp of honey

1 tsp of vinegar

Sea Salt to taste

First, in a bowl whisk together all the above ingredients. Be sure all is mixed well and smooth. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour to let the flavors bloom and develop

Finally, remove from the refrigerator and stir again and taste. You can adjust the seasoning as you wish. Serve with your warm onion rings and enjoy.

Tasty and refreshing Bruleed Grapefruit

Bruleed Grapefruit (serves 2, but can be multiplied)

1 large grapefruit

2-3 tbsp of brown sugar

First, slice your grapefruit in half across the center to expose the starburst wedges inside. I also slice a small amount off the top and bottom of the grapefruit so it will sit flat to expose the center.

Next; with a sharp knife, run along the pith and each little section of grapefruit. (This will make scooping the fruit when eating easier.) Drain off any excess juice that may rise to the top of each half of fruit.

Finally, evenly spread about 1 – 1 ½ tbsp od your brown sugar across the top. If you have a torch in your kitchen, gently torch the sugar until it melts and begins to caramelize. If you do not have a torch you can achieve the same result by using your broiler. Preheat the broiler to low and carefully watch the grapefruit until your sugar is caramelized and remove. Serve immediately.

Bran and Flaxseed Muffins

I will be the first to admit that for a long time I did not see the appeal of a Bran Muffin. Sure it has numerous health benefits with great nutritional value, but I was always left lack luster about them. I always found them dense, dry, and sometimes; they have too many flavors going on. When I was living in Phoenix I was often asked if I had a healthier alternative for a breakfast item. Often I would offer low fat Greek yogurt and granola, but there needed to be another option. That is when I consumed myself with coming up with the best bran muffin I could think of. After trials with my mixer and oven I found my answer. I mixed up the muffins with all natural sugar, honey, flaxseed, and a berry (usually blueberry). Once they are fresh and warm out of the oven I dowse them in a mixture of freshly squeezed orange juice & honey. It adds another layer of flavor to the muffin without overpowering it. Not to mention it also keeps the muffins moist…You will never look at a bran muffin the same after trying these, even I am a convert.

Bran and Flaxseed Muffins

Bran and Flaxseed Muffins (make 12)

Muffin

1 cup of AP Flour

2 tsp of Baking Powder

¾ tsp of Salt

1 cup of Wheat Bran

¾ cup of Flaxseed

½ cup of Sugar

2 oz of Butter

2 tbsp of Honey

2 tbsp of Molasses

2 eggs

½ cup of Milk

1 – 1 ½ cups of Blueberries (or other fruit)

Glaze

3/4 cup of Orange Juice (freshly squeezed)

½ cup of Honey

¼ cup of Sugar

First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Take your muffin pan and grease and flour the cups and set aside. In a bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder, salt, wheat bran, and flaxseed; then set aside.

Next, mix your butter and sugar until it is light and airy. Add the honey and molasses to the butter mixture and incorporate it well. Once all combined add in your eggs; one at a time and mix well.

With your wheat bran mixture, fold it into your butter mixture until it is mixed well and then stir in your milk. Mix until your milk had been absorbed into the batter well. Gently, mix in your blueberries (or other fruit) into your batter without breaking them.

Then, divide your mixture among the muffin pan evenly. Place your muffin pan in the center of the oven and bake for about 30 – 40 minutes until your muffins are set in the center. (I find that timing of the baking of the muffins varies depending on the blueberries and how much moisture they give off while baking.)

Meanwhile; whisk together your orange juice, honey, and sugar into a smooth mixture. Set aside when done.

Finally; when your bran and flaxseed muffins come out of the oven (about 10 minutes), and are still really hot, spoon your orange juice mixture evenly over your muffins. Let the mixture seep into the muffins, about 20 minutes, before removing from the pan and serving.

Is Banana Bread an Aphrodisiac?

One of my male coworkers is crazy about banana bread. He loves it and whenever we have bananas that are really ripe he brings it to our attention. Hint, hint, hint! So of course we have a joke that to men banana bread is an aphrodisiac. One of my other co-workers said that she did hear once that the smell of banana bread baking actually is considered enticing by most men. I never heard this so of course off I went to get to the bottom of it. Crazy as it may seem, I did find an article from a doctor who has studied such a topic. Apparently, there is a Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Center in Chicago. It was there in the late 90’s that a study was completed on aromas that are considered aphrodisiacs. According to the research done there, the aroma of banana nut bread is the second most arousing sent. What might be the first arousing aroma you ask? Believe it or not; but it is a combination of cucumber and licorice. Strange I know, but I think I will stick with banana bread. I think the bigger question is do I believe in this study?

Banana Bread with Coconut and Maccadamia Nuts

I went to the market last week and purchased some bananas, and I let them ripen on my counter. By doing this the banana becomes much sweeter and their sent intensifies. Being that the study did not specify a nut type, I thought long and hard about what nut or nuts to add. I personally have an admiration for macadamia nuts when combined with coconut; and I think they pair with bananas as though it is a tropical dream. Whipping up my banana bread with coconut and macadamia nuts I kept asking my husband if he liked the smell. He was grinning, explaining that although the aroma from the kitchen smelled wonderful he in no way felt any “desire”!

I will have to say that I am really glad I researched the banana nut bread aphrodisiac mystery. It ended with really delicious and moist banana bread with coconut and macadamia nuts. That and my apartment smelled terrific. With Valentine’s Day not too far off you will have to try it out for yourself. You never know. If it does work, you will have breakfast to impress the special someone you get lucky with!

Sliced Banana Bread wiih Coconut and Macadamia Nuts

Banana Bread with Coconut and Macadamia Nuts (makes 1 9”x5” loaf)

2 ½ cups AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

7 oz butter (room temperature), plus extra for greasing pan

1 ½ cups brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon

¼ tsp of nutmeg (freshly grated)

1 ½ cups mashed banana (about 4)

¼ cup milk

1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup of macadamia nuts, chopped

First; in a bowl whisk together your flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt and set it aside. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees; and measure a piece of parchment paper so that it fits the length of the pan, plus up and over the sides of the pan a bit.

Next, in the bowl of an electric mixer beat your butter and brown sugar together. When it is light and fluffy add in your eggs and vanilla and mix well. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl in between. Sprinkle in your lemon zest and nutmeg and mix well. Pour in your flour mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in your milk (it might be pasty, but that is normal). Using a rubber spatula stir in your mashed banana until evenly combined. Fold in the coconut and macadamia nuts until they are coated in the batter.

Buttered loaf pan with overhanging parchment paper and Banana Bread batter.

Then, gently pour your batter into your prepared loaf pan. Place it all on a baking sheet and in the center of your oven. Bake about 45 minutes to an hour; until it is firm to the touch, golden, and the top of your banana bread is crackly.

Finally, remove from the oven and let it cool completely before removing from the pan. When cool, loosen the edge of your banana bread with a knife. Using the edges of the parchment paper that are overhanging to lift you banana bread out of the pan and place on a cutting board. The parchment paper will peel off easily. Slice as desired and serve. (Will