Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall and a Few of My Favorite Things

I am a big fan of when the seasons change. There's just something wonderful about witnessing nature in motion, the shift from one mode to the next. Shifting gears into fall is especially wonderful. I love the way it smells when the leaves start to change and then fall. I love the crisp cool air and snuggling up in a broken in hoodie. I love all of the harvest fruits and veggies: crisp sweet apples, round pumpkins and warm butternut squash. I certainly love the holidays that come with the season, particularly Halloween, and then Thanksgiving.

One of my other favorite things is making soup. Its the perfect cool weather food. It always seems so warm and inviting, often invigorating, and just darn tasty.

I have been craving some Cheddar Broccoli Soup, from Panera Bread, but since there isn't one close by I made this version from scratch. Its less cheesy and has more of a focus on the broccoli, but I'm OK with that.

Cheddar Broccoli Soup

4 Tbsp Butter
1 1/2 cup Celery, diced
1 cup Onion, diced (about one large onion)
3 cup Yukon Gold Potatoes, diced
1 1/2 lb Broccoli, chopped
2 Tbsp Flour
4 Cups vegetable stock
2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Half and Half or Cream

Start by melting the butter in the bottom of a large pot over medium low heat. Add the celery and onion and saute until tender and translucent. Stir in the potatoes and broccoli pieces and cover and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the vegetable stock and turn up the temp to medium high and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 25 - 30 minutes or until the broccoli and potato pieces are tender. Turn the heat back down to low.

At this point is where you would want to puree the soup if you like yours creamy. A food processor or blender should do the trick, just be extra careful because it is hot! Ladle the broccoli and potatoes into your device of choice, making sure there is plenty of liquids as well. Pulse the mixture a few times to get it going, then puree until smooth. if it seems to thick, add more liquid. Watch out for steam when you open the lid. I usually puree about half of the soup so that there are still some small chunks of broccoli and potato still in the soup, enough so that you can tell what is in it.

Pour the puree back into the pot and re-warm to an almost simmer. If the soup is too hot when you add the cheese, the cheese could separate and become very unpleasant. That said, add the shredded cheese, one small handful at a time, stirring after each addition. Don't add the next handful until the cheese is completely melted in. Once the cheese has been incorporated stir in the half and half until smooth and lovely.

And that's it! Garnish with some more shredded cheese and serve with garlic toast.

N.B. I usually use fresh broccoli florets or crowns, which you can find in the produce section of your local grocery store, but a bag of frozen broccoli florets would be a good alternative if your fresh broccoli isn't so fresh. Just thaw first and add to the pot after the potatoes have been simmering for a good 10 to 20 minutes, as the frozen broccoli will cook quicker.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ratatouille - Summer Veggies with an Old World Attitude

If you have an overabundance of summer vegetables coming from your home garden, or like myself, are a bit overzealous in the produce department of your local grocery store, Ratatouille is a good way to put those vegetables to good use. Traditionally it is a combination of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and onions and garlic for flavor. It can be seasoned with bay and or thyme, or herbs De Provence. There are about as many ways to make it as there are people who make it, ranging from a simple saute of all the vegetables together to a more complex layering approach, in which the eggplant and zucchini are sauteed separately and the other components are made into a sauce. The sauteed vegetables are then layered in a casserole dish with the sauce in between and baked.

I chose a simple approach this time around by using my trusty slow cooker to do all the hot, hard work. Instead of sauteing the vegetables I layered them in and set it to high. Using the slow cooker is convenient because there is no constant baby sitting at the stove and it doesn't unnecessarily heat up the kitchen. A win/win scenario for a simple summer dinner.

Ratatouille a la Slow Cooker

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 medium onion, diced

3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small eggplant, thinly sliced (about 1 - 2 cups)

2 small zucchini, thinly sliced (about 1 - 2 cups)

1 bell pepper, diced

6 - 8 plum tomatoes, sliced (about 1 cup)*

Parsley, chopped

Salt and Pepper to taste

Pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your crock pot. Dice or slice your vegetables and add them in layers to the pot. The sliced vegetables should be uniform in size and shape so that they cook evenly. Add a handful of parsley, chopped and season with salt and pepper to taste. Give a quick stir and cover. Cook on the high setting for at least an hour, or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. There should be enough moisture in the vegetables to roast them with out burning, but if they look try, add a little bit of water, vegetable stock, or maybe even some white wine.

* In the non-summer season when quality fresh tomatoes cannot be found, substitute one small can of low salt diced tomatoes for the fresh ones.

My presentation of the Ratatouille is accompanied by a pan seared Talapia fillet, sauteed in butter, with a red wine reduction poured over top. Yum!

Cool as a Cucumber Soup

During the three month heat wave we Marylanders call a typical summer, I do my best not to produce extra heat in the kitchen. Sweating over the stove is just not necessary to produce a delicious, healthy meal.

The proverbially cool cucumber lends itself to many a tempting dish, mostly of the salad variety. They are easy to prep and can be eaten raw, turning hard labor in the kitchen to a cool breeze, followed by a refreshing payoff at dinner.

Some of my favorite cucumber preparations for salad are simple. They can be served sliced with some diced onion and a apple cider vinaigrette for and amazingly simple side salad. Careful cutting and scooping can yield cucumber cups, in which to serve other salads such as chicken, tuna, or pasta salads. Even when they are julienned and served with a hummus or ranch style dipping sauce, cucumbers shine.

Cold soups are an avenue taken by the adventurous gourmands. Whenever I ask my friends and family if they would try certain things, a cold soup idea is usually met with hearty dose of skepticism. But do not fear the cold soup! Just as hot soups and stews are heartwarming home cooked meals in the winter, a cold soup can serve as a cooling entree to combat the heat of a summer day.

My Cool as a Cucumber Soup has lots of flavor and is quite easy to prepare, especially with a food processor. I made the original with a low tech box grater, but the outcome was still delightfully green and delish.

Cool as a Cucumber Soup with Parmesan Toast

2 to 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 to 3 cloves of Garlic, grated
4 medium Cucumbers, seeded and grated with the skin on
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large container plain low fat or no fat yogurt
Cilantro, finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 Lime
Salt and Pepper to taste.

1 loaf Italian bread, sliced on a diagonal
2 to 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 to a 1/2 cup crumbled Parmesan Cheese

This soup is a chop and drop type of one bowl meal. Start with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the bottom of your serving bowl.

Grate in the garlic. Slice the cuckes in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. Grate the cucumber halves over a cutting board before sliding them into the bowl. I left the skins on to add color. Save the ends for a garnish: trim of the bumpy edge left by the grater and using your (sharp) chef's knife, thinly slice the ends into half moons. Put the half moons in a small bowl and set aside.

Rinse and slice the scallions and a handful of cilantro and add to the bowl along with the zest and juice of one lime. Stir in the container of plain yogurt. Season to taste with Salt and Pepper.

The resulting soup is a bit thick and can be thinned with vegetable stock if necessary.

If you are using a food processor to prepare, you won't need the grater. Start with the olive oil in the processor bowl. Peel the garlic cloves and puree those until they are finely chopped. Slice the cucumbers in half and scoop out the seeds, as above. Chop the cucumber halves into 1 or 2 inch pieces and give them a whir, along with the scallions, and add the remaining ingredients, as above. You may have to pour out the vegetable mixture into your serving bowl before adding the yogurt, depending on the size of you processor. The resulting soup should be quite smoother than the grated version.

Fan out a few of the saved half moon slices on top of each bowl and serve with some Parmesan toast. Parmesan toast is a variation on the garlic toast I made with the gazpacho however, there is a lot of garlic flavor already in the cucumber soup. Parmesan cheese counters this with a salty mellow flavor.

Toast the sliced bread with a little drizzle of Olive oil and instead of rubbing the slices with a garlic clove, sprinkle on a little bit a Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mexican Gazpacho

With this relative heat wave we have been experiencing so early this summer, I wanted to whip up something cool and delicious for dinner. This Gazpacho has a slight Latin twist with the roasted corn and chili powder flavors. If you like tomatoes you are sure to love this cold soup. It only gets better the longer the ingredients meld in the fridge, if you are lucky enough to have leftovers that is!

Mexican Gazpacho

4 large ears of Corn On The Cob, Sweet
1 large Yellow Bell Pepper
1 large Green Bell Pepper
1 large Red Bell Pepper
1 loaf Artisan French Bread
20 oz Canned Tomatoes, Petite Diced
20 oz Canned Tomato Sauce
1 cup Button Mushrooms
1 medium Onion, Sweet
3 cloves Fresh Garlic
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tbsp Chili Powder
1 cup Vegetable Stock (natural, Cooking)
3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
7 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Start with the Corn on the Cob:

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Husk each ear, being sure to remove all of the silk as well. Place the ears in a baking dish and coat with 2 Tbsp of the Olive Oil. season the ears with a little of the Cumin and Chili Powder and Salt and Pepper to taste.
Roast in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes until the ears are fork tender. Pull the ears out and let cool.

Meanwhile char the Bell Peppers. This can be done directly over a low flame of a gas stove. Keep rotating the peppers with tongs until most of their skins have blackened and the flesh is partly cooked through. When the skins are almost completely charred, remove the peppers to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the peppers to rest in the covered bowl for 10 - 15 minutes. The steam released by the charred peppers will help soften the skins.

Slice the French Break into thick slices (8 - 10) Place on a baking sheet, and drizzle with some of the Olive Oil. Toast in the hot oven after the corn has come out, up to 5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the bread!

Open the cans of Tomatoes and pour into a large bowl. Dice the Mushrooms, and Onions and drop into the bowl. Grate in 2 cloves of the garlic, saving on clove for the toast.

When the Corn is cool enough to touch slice off the kernels. A good trick is to place a small bowl upside down inside of a larger bowl. Use the small bowl as a platform for the cob and carefully slice off the kernels into the large bowl. Dump them into the tomato mixture in the large bowl.

When the peppers have rested remove from the bowl. The charred skin will be soft enough to remove with a kitchen towel. Just rub the skins off. Cut the flesh away from the cores, remove any seed and dice. Add the diced peppers to the tomato mixture.

Stir everything together - season with the remaining Cumin, Chili Powder, Balsamic Vinegar, and 2 Tbsp of the Olive Oil. If the mixture is to thick, thin with 1/2 - 1 cup of the vegetable stock.

To finish the toast, rub the last garlic clove over each slice of the toasted bread.

Allow the soup to chill. Serve with a slice of garlic toast and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Domestic House of Waffles

One thing I miss about not living at home, is the big Sunday breakfasts we used to have after church.

There was usually eggs, bacon or sausage, toast, potatoes, steamed onion, maybe some pancakes or french toast, fruit, and if we were lucky, cinnamon buns. Yummm. This was the kind of meal that lead to early afternoon naps before the sports began on T.V.

In that frame of mind I decided to make some waffles, from scratch of course!

Whole Wheat Waffles

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 cup All Purpose Flour
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
3 Eggs
1/4 c to 1 cup Butter, melted
1 1/2 cups Milk

Preheat your waffle iron.
Whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.

Blend the eggs, melted butter and milk thoroughly in another bowl. For a lighter waffle use only 4 tbsp of butter (1/2 stick). To make an extra crispy waffle go for all of the 1 cup of butter (2 sticks). For a good in between waffle stick to the 1/2 cup amount (1 stick).

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Combine with a few quick strokes of the whisk. Don't over mix the batter or your waffles will come out tough.

If you want to add any additions (like fruit, chocolate chips, etc) now would be the time.

To cook, pour about a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of batter onto the center of the bottom plate of the iron, so that its about 2/3 covered. There's no need to grease the iron because of all of the butter in the batter.

Close up the iron and watch and wait. Let the waffle cook for about 4 minutes. The waffle will be ready when the steam stops escaping from the side of the iron. If the iron seams difficult to open, the waffle probably isn't quite ready, let it cook for a minute more and try again.

Serve warm with some maple syrup for a traditional breakfast treat.

Left overs can be frozen individually in a freezer bag and thawed later for a quick treat. I like to put the frozen waffles directly into the toaster, then slather them with peanut-butter and jelly for a breakfast sandwich on the go.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Salads and Balsamic Vinegar

I've noticed that all winter, I've been making a lot of soup, but now that the weather is warming up, I've been craving some greens to with them.

Here are a few salad recipes I've come up with lately to keep things fresh and vibrant.

As to the apparent balsamic theme, I happen to like the thick sweetness of it, as opposed to the tartness of other vinegars, like cider vinegar.

Balsamic Bean and Tomato Salad

A simple, yet tasty salad, from standard pantry items

1 cup Low Sodium Pink Beans
1 cup white beans, canned
1 cup Canned Diced Tomatoes No Salt Added *
1/2 cup Onions, Diced
1/2 cup Sliced Mushrooms
4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 serving Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, To taste

Drain the canned beans and rinse well; pour into your Salad bowl.

Drain diced tomatoes and add to the beans.

Dice up onion, slice the (rinsed) mushrooms, and add to the bean mixture.

Drizzle in Balsamic Vinegar, a few turns around the bowl, about 4 Tbsp. Drizzle in a little less of the EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), about 2 Tbsp.

Sprinkle in some salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

Mix well and allow to chill in the fridge before eating.

*NB When summer does finally come around, I will likely be making this with fresh tomatoes instead of canned. In this case 1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes will be substituted. Just seed and dice them and add to the beans.

Balsamic Cobb Salad with Herbs

Spring greens with herbs dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette.

• 2 clove Garlic Clove
• Salt and Pepper to taste
• 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
• 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
• 1 tbsp Honey
• 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1/2 cup Carrots
• 1/2 cup Cucumber
• 1/4 cup Onion, Sweet
• 3 large egg Hard-boiled Egg
• 1 cup Smoked Ham
• 6 cup Organic Spring Mix, with herbs
• 4 tbsp Parmesan Cheese

Start by making the vinaigrette in the bottom of your salad bowl.

Mince the garlic and add to the bowl. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the balsamic vinegar, mustard and honey. The mustard will help stabilize the vinegar and oil when you whisk them together and the honey balances out the tartness in the vinegar.
Whisk the ingredients together. When well combined, slowly drizzle in the oil, while whisking to create an emulsification.

Check the taste and adjust the vinaigrette as needed. It should be tart and slightly sweet.

Next assemble your salad.

Wash all vegetables first. Peel and slice the carrot and cucumber, dice the onion, peel and slice the eggs, slice the ham into strips. Toss everything into the vinaigrette. Double check the spring greens are clean and add those as well. The variety I found at the store had herbs as well as greens, which added fresh doses of flavor to each bite. You can add your own to the mix; try dill, arugula, and parsley.

Toss everything together and serve. This would make a good side, or lunch salad, or could even stand alone as an entrée salad with rolls or bread on the side.

You may want to garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cauliflower Soup

Every once in a while, while grocery shopping, I'll see something that catches my eye. A few weeks ago it was cauliflower. Ok, the sign caught my eye not so much the produce, but who can resist a good sale.

After I brought my unintended prize home for the store I researched a few recipes in my Joy of Cooking and debated. Mashed Cauliflower? Scalloped or Souffle? I settled on the Cream of Cauliflower soup recipe; simple and delicious.

Cream of Cauliflower Soup

4 T butter (1/2 stick)
1 1/2 c minced celery
1 c chopped onions
1 1/2 pounds cauliflower (about 1 head), trimmed and coarsely chopped
1/4 c AP flour
4 c chicken stock or broth (boxed is fine)
1/2 - 1 c heavy cream, half and half, or milk (whatever you have on hand)
pinch of grated or ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
grated cheese for garnish.

Melt the butter in the bottom of your soup pot. Add and cook the celery and onion until tender and translucent, but not browned. Stir in the chopped cauliflower. An easy way to break down the cauliflower head is to cut the whole thing into quarters. Remove any extra leaves remaining on the outside. Remove the core by slicing into the bottom of each quarter at an angle. Then just cut the florets away from each other and cut those into bite size pieces.
Cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the flour (making a roux around all those veggies) Turn the heat to high. Slowly stir in the chicken stock.
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, partially covered, until the cauliflower is very tender, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Using a food processor or blender, process half the soup until smooth. Return to pot and stir in cream or milk. Heat through but do not boil.
Add nutmeg, salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve garnished with grated cheese such as Cheddar or Swiss.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Steak House Dinner, Homemade

Starting the new year on the right foot for me, often means cleaning up. Putting away Christmas gifts and decorations, getting rid of clutter, and cleaning out the fridge. It just feels good to have a fresh clean start.So what to do with those mushrooms I bought for the chili, and forgot to add? Saute them of course. What goes well with mushrooms? Beef, or more specifically filet mignon. What side would turn those two into the most awesome dinner? Double stuffed potatoes.Thus was the thought process for my Steak House style dinner; more or less. I happened to have everything I needed on hand, from the pantry or the freezer. I chose to make pepper crusted steaks so I could try out my new pepper mill.

This dinner was an exercise in time management. Start roasting the potato(es) in the oven, then work on prepping your dishes.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Preheat the oven to 400* F. Scrub your potato(es) and pierce with a fork all over. You are going to want about one per person, or one large potato can be split into two servings. Place it/them in the oven, straight on the rack and allow to bake 40 - 50 minutes or until tender. Potatoes can be roasted in their own skin; wrapping them in foil retains to much moisture.If you want a roasted garlic flavor in the mash you will be making later, place a few cloves unpeeled garlic(per potato) in a foil packet, drizzle with EVOO, wrap tightly, and bake in the oven along side the potatoes. When the potatoes are done, you can take out the garlic packet. Inside you will find that the cloves have turned into little aromatic gobs that can be squeezed out of their peel like paste.When the potatoes are fork tender, remove from the oven and allow them to cool enough for handling. Slice each one in half length wise, and using a fork or spoon, scoop out the interior into a bowl, leaving a 1/2-inch shell. Mix in butter, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper, or whatever you would normally put in mashed potatoes, to taste. Fill the shells with the mixture and top with broccoli and cheese. Pop them back in the oven, until the cheese has melted.

Pepper Crusted Steak

These are nothing more than properly seared steaks that are first coated with lots of freshly cracked black pepper and salt to taste.Start with room temperature steaks; Filet Mignon are my favorite, but this is good with other cuts as well.

Sprinkle a bit of salt on both sides, then cover with freshly cracked black pepper, lots of black pepper. Press the pepper into the meat to make a nice crust. Allow the steaks to rest for a moment to allow for what is essentially a rub, to marinate. Meanwhile heat up a heavy bottom skillet on the oven with a small amount of vegetable oil. It needs to be screaming hot with the oil just smoking. (Make sure the vent fan is on.) Place the steaks into the skillet and allow the first side to sear for at least four minutes before you even think about moving them. They have to be still to allow the pepper crust to adhere and the meat to caramelize. Once the sear has been achieved, flip the steaks and repeat on side two. This will usually result in rare steak; to cook further, place the skillet into the hot oven 3-5 minutes. If you are unsure if the handle of your skillet is oven proof, wrap it in a layer of aluminum foil. Pull the steaks out of the pan and allow to rest before cutting into them. Remember that residual heat will continue to cook the steaks, so pull them just before you think they look or feel done.

Sauteed Mushrooms in Cream Sauce

1 pint container of mushrooms (brown or white button mushrooms are good)
2 T flour
2 T butter
stock (beef or chicken)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Start by rinsing off the mushrooms and patting them dry with in a towel. Heat up a small amount of EVOO in your saute pan, the slice those mushrooms. When the pan is hot, add the mushroom slices and allow to cook for 7 - 10 minutes or until browned. DO NOT salt them yet! The salt will draw out the water in them and they will stew in their juices rather than brown. Also it is best not to over crowd the pan. When the mushroom slices are brown, make a well in the middle, and melt in the butter. Sprinkle in the flour and stir and cook to form a roux. Pour in about a cup of stock and a cup of milk and allow the roux to work it's magic and thicken the sauce, over low heat, until the sauce can cover the back of a spoon. Now you can add salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Baby its cold outside.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I've been working diligently to take more pictures of the food I've been making. Since I am a little bit absent minded, its been some time since I've actually did anything with them.

First off there is the chili I made for New Years Eve. I made it for a friend's party last year and decided to make the NYE Chili a tradition. My chili is never the same anytime I make it, as I put in whatever is looking good in the produce section when I shop. I do try to stick to a loose guideline:

Onion, garlic, (carrot, celery), green onions, green, red, orange and yellow bell peppers, canned beans, no salt added diced tomatoes, (jalapeno pepper), steak, and sometimes mushrooms.

Nothing fancy, I just like it colorful; the prettier, the better. As for seasonings, simple salt and pepper, a little bit of chili powder, and cumin to make it smokey. I add each to taste.

The method is usually a chop and drop operation, starting with some EVOO in the bottom of a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat. Slow cooking veggies go in first and everything is diced. Once the veggies are in and have softened a bit, in goes the canned beans and the diced tomatoes. I use a variety of beans for even more colors; red kidney, pink beans, white beans, black beans. Drain the beans before you add them. Tomatoes go in with their juices, usually two to three cans. Then add enough stock (chicken or vegetable) to cover. From here you can season and simmer until you are ready to serve. I will often transfer the veggies to the crock pot before adding the beans, tomatoes, and stock, and let it simmer there for several hours.

If I do add meat, it will always be steak. Leftovers are fine, or broil a cut or two before you cut it into bite size pieces and add to the chili. I find that ground beef gets lost in all chaos. Chunks of meat do not.

I serve my chili over pasta, and top with shredded cheese and sour cream.

New Year, New Decade

I've been up to many things since my last post. Thanksgiving, working retail during the holidays, and lots of cooking. I have quite a bit of catching up to do.

Thankfully my schedule has somewhat leveled out and I can start doing some regular updates, which is good, since I've been inspired to make so many things!

Of course with the turn of a new year comes resolutions and vows to lose weight and become fit. With this in mind I've picked up some books from the library and started to re-read some of my own books; "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld.

Jessica's book totes the ease of hiding vegetables in food for picky eaters via vegetable purees. It's an interesting idea, and not necessarily time consuming, I recently found out when I used up some odd carrots and put them to good use in a Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffin recipe.

For most of the purees you can steam or roast your chosen vegetable, or fruit, until tender, then puree them in a processor, blender, or whatever you happen to have in the cupboard. The purees can then be stored in small plastic containers or bags and either refrigerated or frozen for later use. The book gives advice for specific fruits and veggies, as well as nutritional break downs for each type used.

The recipes themselves are organized by type, breakfast, mealtime, and desert, and list the possible purees at the top of the page. The photos are simple and colorful, and the directions are easy to follow.

I did a slight bit of editing when I made the muffins; using butter instead of margarine, and a whole egg, instead of just the white. They still came out well and were amazing warm out of the oven with milk. It took me back to grade school.

The only complaint was from a few days latter: I took some of my muffins home for a taste test and the verdict was that they were good, but a little dry. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

makes 12 regular muffins, or 24 mini-muffins

You will need:

non-stick cooking spray
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
1/2 c carrot puree (You could prob substitute applesauce here)
1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
2 T butter or margarine
1/2 c nonfat plain yogurt
1 large egg
1 c all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c jelly or preserves (grape, strawberry, etc)

1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Coat a 12 cup muffin tin w/ cooking spray, or line w/ paper cups

2. In a large bowl, beat the peanut butter, carrot puree, sugar, and margarine/butter with a sturdy spoon until well combined. Stir in the yogurt and egg.

3. Add the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt. Stir until just combined, but do not over mix - there should be some lumps in the batter.

4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups and drop a spoonful of preserves or jelly on top of each.

5. Bake until the tops of the muffins are lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center, 20 - 25 minutes. Turn the muffins out onto a rack to cool.

6. Store in an airtight container at room temp. for up to 2 days, or wrap individually and freeze for up to 1 month.

From "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld.

* I put my muffin mold on a tinfoil lined baking sheet to catch any drips.