Monday, March 23, 2009

Muffins Rock my socks

Wow - life has been busy. I went skiing in Utah for a week and it took up three of my weeks with planning and recovering : ) Since I have been so swamped I haven't been in the kitchen all that much. This weekend I did make some blueberry muffins and they made me smile. This sour cream batter is very versatile and can be made into cinnamon streusal muffins (or a coffee cake), blueberry muffins, chocolate chip muffins, banana muffins, or just add any kind of fruit you like. This recipe is adapted from the Barefoot Contessa version. I don't like using cake flour because it is bleached, so instead I used all purpose unbleached flour. I haven't tried yet, but I imagine it would also work well with white wheat flour or a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour. I plan on experimenting soon.

Sour cream makes these guys nice and moist - I use full fat organic sour cream, but any kind will work. Also, if you are out of sour cream I have also made these with plain or vanilla yogurt - they come out a little bit different - but still delicious! The sour cream and yogurt's acidity helps tenderize your muffin, so basically it is enhancing the natural beauty your muffin has to offer : )

Random fact: "Smetana" -is a heavy sour cream used in Slavic, Finnish and Hungarian cuisines.

Sour Cream Muffins:

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar with blender until light and fluffy -4-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time until well blended. Then blend in the vanilla and sour cream. Add dry to wet one cup at a time until fully incorporated. Be sure not to over mix...this will toughen up your batter, yielding a more dense product.

At this point you can get creative and add what you like. I always toss my mix ins with a tiny bit of flour to keep them from falling to the bottom. You can use fresh or frozen fruit. When I made the blueberry muffins this weekend I added 1 1/2 cups of frozen blueberries, then I topped it with the streusal topping. (recipe below). Fill muffin liners to the top - do not overfill - they will spill over when baked. Bake 15-20 minutes for regular muffin cups, and 20-25 for jumbo ones. Allow muffins to cool before removing them from the pan. Best eaten fresh and hot, but if not, cover completely before storing.

If you want to make a Coffee cake - pour 1/2 the batter into a greased 9x13 pan or a bunt pan. Sprinkle 1/2 streusal recipe over batter, cover with rest of batter and then the rest of the streusal. Bake 45-50 minutes.

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional...I usually don't add the nuts because people here don't like them : )

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Hummus...I don't remember my life before hummus. So yummy. So good. I used to buy my hummus from Trader Joe's in Virginia, but alas, darn old Texas does not have a Trader Joe's. So I started making my own. It is so simple, and easy! My preferred method of eating hummus is just dipping sliced red peppers or carrot sticks in it for a healthy protein filled snack. The even better way to eat it is by toasting some pitas in the oven, and then dipping them in warm hummus. My old roommate used to make a delicious sandwich - a thick layer of hummus on one side of the bread, a layer of goat cheese on the other side, and grilled or roasted red peppers, eggplant in the middle. I don't like eggplant all that much, its texture feels like a slimy glob- yuck! So I modified her sandwich and put grilled asparagus, red peppers, onions, and zucchini in the middle - with olive oil, salt and pepper drizzled on top. Awesome! Hummus is also an great thing to bring to parties, or to have at your own parties - it is always popular with the peeps!

My garlic hummus:

2 cups canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
5 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini paste
1 tsp. kosher salt
4 tbsp. olive oil

Pulse garlic in food processor or blender until small mince is achieved. Add chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini paste, and salt. Pulse for a few seconds. Slowly add the olive oil and pulse until smooth. If it is too thick add more olive oil. Store leftovers in the fridge...if there are any : )

All chick peas are garbanzo beans. All garbanzo beans are chick peas. Therefore, chick peas are garbanzo beans. Chick peas are wicked high in protein and fiber, which means they make you a better person.

Tahini paste is ground up sesame seeds. It is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern dishes. It's name comes from the Arabic word "tˁ-ħ-n" which is a verb that means 'to grind'

I prefer roasted garlic in this recipe, but if you are short on time raw garlic works too. To roast the garlic, cut off the top exposing the tips of the cloves. Sprinkle with olive oil and place in 400 degree oven in a covered pan for 30-40 minutes. Squeeze cloves out of their skins to use. So delicious in everything! Especially Mashed Potatoes!