bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Friday, April 24, 2015

Strawberry Muffins

I saw this recipe on Facebook, and I just had to try it. I don't think I've ever had strawberries in muffins before, but they just looked so good.  And I happened to have some strawberries in the fridge...

Fresh Strawberry Muffins
from Home of My Heart

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well.  Add vanilla and milk.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Stir into butter/sugar mixture, just until mixed. Gently stir in strawberries and coconut.
  3. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan.
  4. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over muffins.
  5. Bake at 400ยบ for 30-35 minutes, or until browned.  Cool 5 minutes in pan, then remove to wire rack to cool.
Makes one dozen muffins.

I cut the sugar down just a bit, because I don't like my muffins too sweet, and strawberries are plenty sweet by themselves.  I also added the coconut, which is sweetened. 

I also increased the bake time. I baked the muffins for 25 minutes, like the original recipe said, but even though they were technically done, they just weren't browned as well as I would have liked.  Baking them the extra 5 to 10 minutes gives them a nice crunch around the edges and enhances the flavor nicely.

I'm thinking of adding rhubarb next time - or adding strawberries to my Rhubarb Muffins.  Some kind of combination of the two.  I bet that would be really good.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Southwestern Hummus

I only recently discovered hummus. Well, in the last few years anyway.  I'm not sure why I never tried it before that, but I'm crazy about it now.  Of course, the best hummus is the kind you make at home, and this recipe for Really Smooth Hummus is my favorite.  I love it with with pita chips and celery especially.

But sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) I just have to try something new.  I had pinned this recipe on Pinterest, and when my friend Jennifer asked me to bring an appetizer when we went over to their house for dinner, I had the perfect opportunity to try it.  (Note: when trying new recipes, it's always good to try them when you're taking food to share with lots of people.  That way, if it's not good, you don't have to eat it all yourself.  And if it is good, everyone thinks you're a great cook.  It's a win-win situation, really.)

This was definitely a win!  This recipe is one of my new favorites.  It's a variation on the traditional hummus, made with Great Northern beans and southwestern spices, and it is yummy and so smooth.  The Great Northern beans blend up so nicely, and this comes together quickly and easily.

Southwestern Hummus
from an Aldi recipe

  • 2 15.5-ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp each - garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt, black pepper
  • 1 T chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Garnish:
    1/2 Roma tomato, diced
    1 tsp chopped cilantro
    1 tsp. olive oil
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except garnish and process until smooth, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Transfer hummus to a serving bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine garnish ingredients and place on top of hummus. Serve with vegetables.

This would probably also be good with tortilla chips or maybe pita, but the veggies were perfect.  I especially loved it with the red pepper, celery, and broccoli.  It looked pretty, too!  Of course, I won't always put together an entire veggie tray when I make this, but it was a special occasion.

The original recipe called for an entire Roma tomato in the garnish, but 1/2 was enough.  I guess it depends on the size of your tomato.  This hummus would be good on its own, but that garnish adds a touch of freshness and makes it really special.  A bit of finely diced jalapeno might be nice, too - if you're feeding people who like a little spice.

The consensus is that this recipe is a keeper.  I'll definitely be making it again. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken

I've made the Sun-Dried Tomato, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts several times since I first tried them. The flavor is just so good.  Unfortunately I'm out of sun-dried tomatoes, but I did want to try some different flavors in my stuffed chicken breasts.  So I went looking for a recipe to change it up a bit but still use the spinach and feta.  The addition of the lemon zest in this recipe caught my attention right away.  I also added just a touch of lemon juice, and I think the flavor turned out great.

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken
inspired by this recipe

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • a squeeze or two of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp black pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat; add onions and garlic, and cook until onions become translucent.  Add spinach and continue cooking until spinach is wilted. Turn off heat and stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, salt & pepper, and feta.  Set aside.
  2. Place a chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan until breast is about 1/4" thick.
  3. Spread half of spinach/feta mixture on chicken breast.  Roll chicken breast up, starting with the narrowest end.  Secure with toothpicks and transfer to a baking dish.  Repeat process with second breast.
  4. Drizzle the breasts with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes; Remove toothpicks, slice and serve.  Spoon a little of the cooking juices over the top, if desired.
4 Servings

The recipe said to cook the chicken breasts in the skillet after rolling them up, turning them occasionally to get the chicken browned and cooked through.  I don't roll my chicken breasts up well enough to feel that I wouldn't just lose all the filling if I tried that.  There is a lot of filling!  So I just placed my chicken in a baking dish and baked it.  Super simple, which I love.

The skillet-cooked breasts might get a little browner, but you'll notice that my toothpicks came loose on at least one of the chicken breasts, so I probably would have had filling everywhere.  It probably would have tasted just as good, though.

I'll definitely be using this filling again.  (I'm kind of obsessed with spinach right now)  I'm also a dark meat chicken kinda gal, but these stuffed chicken breasts turn out really moist and flavorful.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Cranberry Gingerbread Loaf

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month was Hun... What's for Dinner? a blog full of recipes inspired by the best recipes from magazines, cookbooks and the web.  Cindy is a stay-at-home mom of two adorable kids.  She married a professional chef thinking he'd be the one doing the cooking in their relationship.  When that didn't pan out, Cindy became an excellent cook in her own right and has even won some cooking and baking contests and been published in several cookbooks.  No wonder I had such a hard time choosing a recipe from her blog!

Here are a few of the recipes that caught my eye:
There were more, but I just had to stop myself from looking.  I'm sure you know how that is.  I finally decided on this Cranberry Gingerbread Loaf because I just can't resist anything with cranberries.

Cindy made this for something called the Crazy Ingredient Challenge, which sounds like a lot of fun.  She's also got something called Simple Supper Tuesday going on every week which is a round-up of, you guessed it, simple recipes. I will definitely have to be checking that out again!

Cranberry Gingerbread Loaf
from Hun... What's for Dinner

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 1 egg
  • 2-1/2 cups flour, divided (part white wheat)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Generously grease a loaf pan, or line with parchment paper (making sure there is plenty hanging over the edges).
  2. In a bowl, mix together the oil, molasses, brown sugar and boiling water. Let mixture cool to room temperature and then mix in the egg.
  3. Combine 2-1/4 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix into wet ingredients until just combined.  Toss the cranberries with the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and gently fold them into the batter.
  4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes; until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar while still warm.

Cindy's recipe called for 2 T of powdered sugar dusted on the top, but I used a little less than 1 T.  After that it was just going everywhere and making a mess.  It really does look pretty, but I think next time I'm going to sprinkle a little turbinado sugar on top of the loaf before baking and see how that turns out.

I really loved this loaf.  Is it breakfast?  Bread?  Dessert?  A snack?  I'd say all of the above!  Seriously, really good - great flavor, nice texture, and the tart bites of cranberry really make it special.  Nothing crazy about cranberries and gingerbread together.  The flavors are perfect!  I will definitely be making this again.  My husband wasn't a huge fan of the gingerbread spices, but that just means more for me.  Every time.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Brownie Macaroon Torte w/ Irish Cream Glaze

I found this recipe in my Pillsbury Bake-Off booklet (37th contest) - a booklet that I've had for ages. In fact, one of our favorite meals comes from that booklet, Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos, but I had never noticed this recipe.  I'm not sure why because it's pictured on the front page of the booklet.  But this time, when I went to put the book away, I happened to notice the picture, and I just had to look up the recipe, and then I just had to make it.

I'm taking it for a potluck tomorrow, so I hope it tastes as good as it looks and smells.

Brownie Macaroon Torte w/ Irish Cream Glaze
12 Servings

  • 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and finely chopped or ground
  • 1-1/2 cups coconut
  • 2 T unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated)
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 box Brownie Mix (Large Size for 13x9 pan) 
  • 3 T amaretto (or 1-1/2 tsp. almond extract + 1-1/2 tsp. water)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 T Baileys Irish Cream
  • 2 to 3 T toasted coconut (or toasted, slivered almonds)
  1.  In medium bowl, combine filling ingredients; mix well.  Set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 350° F.  Grease bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.  In large bowl, combine all brownie ingredients.  Beat with electric mixer at low speed until moistened.  Beat at medium to high speed 1 minute.
  3. Pour brownie batter into greased pan and spread evenly.  Using spatula, make a 1-inch wide circular groove in the batter, about 1 inch from the edge of the pan.  Make a second groove about 1 inch from the first one.  Spoon filling into grooves and press down gently so that it is level with the brownie batter.
  4. Bake at 350° F for 55-60 minutes or until set in center.  Note: the center will raise up, but it settles down after the torte is removed from the oven.  Cool 15 minutes and remove sides of pan.  Cool completely - 1 to 1-1/2 hours in the refrigerator.
  5. In a small bowl, combine Glaze ingredients.  Drizzle over top of cooled torte and garnish with toasted coconut.
To toast almonds: Spread almonds on baking sheet.  Bake at 350° F for 5 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown and fragrant, stirring occasionally.  Cool slightly before chopping.
To toast coconut: Spread on baking sheet.  Bake at 350° F for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Keep a close eye on it so it doesn't burn.

I don't usually buy cake mixes or brownie mixes, but I just happened to have one this time.  I bet my regular brownie recipe can be used in this recipe, so I'll have to try that next time.  See, I'm already saying next time - because this smells so good.  Chocolate, coconut, almond, all kinds of yummy flavors together.  And then the Irish Cream glaze on top.  The original recipe called for a vanilla glaze flavored with amaretto and a chocolate glaze - and then a garnish of slivered almonds.  I bet that's really good, too - but, I decided to just go with the one Irish Cream glaze and toasted coconut, because the slivered almonds I found in my pantry were old and didn't taste good anymore.  Also, that vanilla glaze called for store-bought vanilla frosting, which I have never bought, so I was going to have to make something up anyway.  Baileys and Amaretto - it wasn't a huge stretch.

It's a miracle I didn't just cut into this already.  There's nothing wrong with taking a dessert to a potluck with a wedge or two missing, right?  Or not.  Hopefully I'll get a chance to grab a picture (and a taste) once it's cut.  I have noticed that anything chocolate seems to go quite quickly at potlucks, so we'll see.  I may just have to make another one really soon - especially since this recipe only uses about 1/2 the can of sweetened condensed milk.  I have to find something to do with that other 1/2, don't I?

It was yummy!  I managed to grab a small sliver, and the rest disappeared completely.  I talked to a few people who had some, and they all agreed that it was very good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Southwest Barley and Black Beans (Slow Cooker)

I've made this a couple times so far, and it is really good.  I love all the flavors, and I especially love how easy it is.  Slow cookers are the best!  I usually mix all the ingredients in the slow cooker and refrigerate overnight - or longer - and then start it cooking the next day or whenever needed.  It's great for potlucks or taking food to share.  It would also make a great weeknight meal.

Southwest Barley and Black Beans(Slow Cooker)
adapted from 365 Days of Slow Cooking

  • 2 cups cooked chicken (or turkey), chopped
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup pearl barley (NOT quick)
  • 1 cup frozen corn, rinsed
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (red is prettiest)
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 T chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 2 cups chicken (or turkey) broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • salt & pepper
  • juice of a lime
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Mix all ingredients in slow cooker.
  2. Cook 4 hours on High, OR 6-8 hours on Low, until barley is cooked and tender.  Add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.
  3. Serve with desired toppings: cheese, sour cream, additional salsa, cilantro, avocado, and/or tortilla chips.

The original recipe called for less liquid and none of the veggies.  I just had to add some corn because it goes so well with chicken and black beans.  And then I had a pepper I needed to use and some onions and cilantro, and I just had to add those too.  And cilantro goes with all of it!  It looks really pretty too.  This is before I added the broth and salsa:

If you want to keep it really simple (not that this isn't simple) you can skip any or all of the added veggies and just use the chicken, barley, black beans, broth, salsa and seasonings.  Either way it will be good.  The seasonings are great.  I will definitely be making this again - in one way or another. (It depends on what I have in the house, but don't all recipes?)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rum-Glazed Cranberry Scones

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month was Cupcake Muffin.  Sara was a graduate student at Berkley in California, but now she lives in Boston.  I hope she's surviving the winter they've been experiencing there.  That has to be a huge change from California!

Sara has all kinds of yummy looking recipes on her blog, so of course it was hard to choose.  She has not one, but two recent recipes for fish tacos that look really good.  Some others that caught my eye were:

 I settled on these scones because I just can't resist anything with cranberries.  And, I've never made scones before, so I thought now would be the perfect time.  The rum glaze didn't hurt either.

Rum-Glazed Cranberry Scones
adapted from Cupcake Muffin

  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into small pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh (or frozen) cranberries
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1/3 cup milk
For the glaze:
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 T dark rum
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Pulse a few times, and then add the butter. Pulse until the mixture looks like crumbs with a few larger pieces of butter.  Scrape into a large bowl.
  2. In the food processor (no need to rinse), pulse the cranberries, brown sugar, and orange zest until lightly chopped.
  3. Add the cranberries to the flour-butter mixture in the large bowl, and mix with a rubber spatula. Add the milk,  a little at a time, and stir until the dough just comes together (you may need to use your hands, but be careful not to over-mix the dough).
  4. Cover your workspace with a piece of parchment (or flour it really well), and dump the dough onto it. Pat into a thick circle (about 1/2" thick), and cut into wedges, 12 or fewer depending on the size you want.
  5. Transfer to baking sheet and bake 25-30 minutes at 400° F, until browned.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly. 
    Alternate method: transfer to freezer; place scones in sealed container when frozen.  When ready to bake, remove scones from freezer, heat oven to 400° F, brush with glaze, and bake.
  6. Make the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar, rum, and vanilla together until smooth. Drizzle scones with the glaze and let sit until the surface of the glaze dries before serving.
    Alternate glaze:  Mix 1 T rum with 1 T powdered sugar. Before baking, brush tops of scones with glaze and sprinkle with some Turbinado sugar.

I followed Sara's recipe the first time I made these, except that I used twice as much powdered sugar in my glaze because it seemed really thin.  It could really go either way - double the powdered sugar or cut the rum and vanilla in half - and it would still be good.  We ended up with a lot of really tasty glaze all over our scones!

The scones were really good, soft on the inside and crunchy on the edges.  The cranberry and orange flavor is so good.  I liked the crunchiness so much that the next time I made them, I separated the wedges, and I raised the oven temperature to 400°.  Perfect!  They're still soft inside, but you get more crunchy edges.

I also read somewhere that freezing your scones for 30 minutes before baking will relax the gluten in the flour and make them flakier and more tender.  So, if 30 minutes is good, longer is OK, too right?  I made up a batch and transferred my parchment to the freezer instead of a baking dish and the oven.  I froze the scones and then put them into a sealed container in the freezer.  Then, whenever I wanted scones, all I had to do was take out however many I wanted to bake, let them sit on the counter while the oven was heating, brush them with a glaze of rum and powdered sugar, sprinkle with some turbinado sugar, and bake.  It's so handy to have scones in the freezer ready to bake at any time.  I will definitely be making these again and keeping some in the freezer so I can have them whenever I want!

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