Sunday, February 27, 2011

M is for Muffin...

I have a sister who has recently began to change her family's diet. More whole grains, more fruits and vegetables. Less meats, dairy products, and processed foods. She's been really excited about their "new, improved health." But, she missing cookies. She and her husband are the world's best cookie makers. So, she asked me.

"What do you do to make cookies healthy?"

A few years ago, I would have said you increase whole grains and healthy fat (olive oil, nuts, etc.) and decrease sugar and other fats (butter and shortening.) And you get a mediocre cookie. Now that I have a kid with food allergies, substituting the eggs has become a whole new game. So my answer to her.... "Make muffins!" So if, on a rare occasion, we make cookies around here we stick with LOTS of good ole' basic cookie ingredients, butter, sugar, flour!

Muffins are easy to make, bake all at once, freeze well, and easy to clean up (if you use muffin cups.) You can eat them for a meal or a snack. And, they are very forgiving. It's easy change the type of flour, decrease sugar and fat, and substitute the eggs. Our muffin are usually pretty dense, but make a great breakfast food. Here's a favorite.
I borrowed this photo from here. Our muffins look just like this without the crumb topping.

Banana Muffins
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup Flaxseed Meal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ salt
  • 3 large bananas, mashed
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg (or a large dallop of plain or greek yogurt or sour cream or buttermilk)
  • 3 tbls butter, melted or olive oil
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, flax, cinnamon, and salt.
Combine bananas, applesauce, sugar, egg and butter in blender. Combine mixtures, and stir until moistened.

Scoop into muffin pans. Top with half pecan/brown sugar mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

Flaxseed Meal can be eliminated or substituted with wheat bran or wheat germ.

*Add pecans or walnuts if you like (we have nut allergies around here too although some of us love nuts.)
**Other types of muffins that we love are pumpkin chocolate chip, zucchini, and bran. Also, scones are becoming a favorite around here because they don't really need eggs.
***Egg substitutes that I like for baking muffins, scones, cupcakes, and pancakes are flaxseed meal, applesauce, buttermilk/sour milk, plain or greek yogurt, and/or sour cream. I usually use a combo of whatever I have on hand. Buttermilk is one of my favorites.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Creamy Tomato Soup

When I was a kid, we ate Campbell's Tomato Soup (I actually gagged it down.) I always hated it! Then about 8 years ago, I had a cup of homemade tomato soup while on vacation in San Diego. I fell in love with tomato soup and found a great recipe. I usually triple this recipe by using a can of whole tomatoes from Costco (6 lbs, 10 oz.) I freeze it in 32 oz containers.

I no longer transfer to a blender. I use my handy immersion blender. And, good news, as I was adding the link from, I noticed that it is {ON SALE} for $40! That's is a great deal. You should definitely splurge!

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2-28 oz cans whole tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • ½ cup heavy cream

1. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook stirring until onions are translucent about 3 minutes.

2. Add wine, tomatoes, salt, and pepper.

3. Cook until tomatoes are falling apart, about 5 minutes.

4. Stir in basil, remove from heat.

5. Let cool slightly. Transfer tomato mixture to a blender, filling the jar no more than halfway; puree in batches.

6. Return soup to pan. Add cream, and adjust consistency with water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper

Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches, sourdough bread, croutons, or shredded cheese.

Serves 4-6

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Prediction or promise?

Here's my fortune. I hope it comes

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cookies and Cupcakes

I have a terribly talented cousin who has impeccable entertaining skills, has an awesome job at candy factory, AND speaks Italian (I once spent a month in Italy with her!)

Every year she hosts a Christmas cookie exchange complete with hors doevres, door prizes, food bank donations, judges, the works! This was the first year I was able to attend and I am so glad I did. I took a few photos of the yummy treats. Enjoy the show...

I have been busy with lots of photo sessions as of late. Check out a few of the shots here...

Finally, I've been making a lot of cupcakes lately and came across this frosting. I fell in LoVe! I've made two batches this week! If I ever perfect the strawberry cupcake, I'll let you know. My baby had an allergy blood test today so when the results are in we might be able to bake with eggs again. Cross your fingers!

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 T butter, softened
3 c. powdered sugar, more or less
3 tbsp. frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
1 tsp. grated lemon zest

Place cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffy.
Add sugar, lemonade concentrate and zest.
Beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated, about 1 minute, then beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
Frost the cupcakes or eat right out of the bowl!