Friday, October 10, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Fall in a muffin cup...

Ahhhh, there are certain rituals of the seasons.

The winter is all about hot chocolate, red wine, slow cooking, chili on a snowy day.

Spring is asparagus, strawberry pie, and lemon poppy seed quick bread.

Summer is lemonade (with a little Absolut Citron), watermelon, anything grilled.

And fall is mulling spices, cider, butternut squash and pumpkin anything. But at my house, it is pumpkin muffins. Dense, fragrant with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, yummy pumpkin and studded with chocolate. They are especially good cold. Straight from the fridge or a few minutes out of the freezer. A cup of coffee or a glass of milk. I prefer them over pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pretty much pumpkin anything. You'll agree. It is a great combination and tastes just like fall....

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 2/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup pumpkin (half a can, although I have dumped the whole thing in before)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Break eggs in another bowl and whisk in pumpkin and butter. Fold into dry ingredients, don't over mix. Add chocolate chips.
Scoop batter into muffin tin lined with papers. 12 regular sized or 24 mini muffins. Bake until puffed and springy but no longer gooey. About 20 minutes. Cool completely before storing.

So, what are you waiting for?  Get in there and bake!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The World's Most Amazing Chocolate Biscotti with Walnuts and Chocolate Chunks

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Perfect to dunk...

Grandma and Sookie.  

My mom is a brown noser. Yep, I said it. In her late 60's, (not the 1960's) she went back to college to get her BA in Creative Writing. And you know how parents always tell their kids to engage their professors, make sure they know your name, go visit them during office hours? Well she took it a step further. She would bake cookies for her teachers. So these poor unassuming college professors are there to critique her plays and essays and they are derailed by the wafts of Pernigotti Cocoa and Madagascar Vanilla, toasted almonds and walnuts.

Are you surprised she was an A student? Teachers everywhere wish they were lucky enough to have a student like her! Of course, I may be exaggerating a little as she is a published author and a playwright lucky enough to have seen about 7 plays produced on stage. She walked across the stage at the Tropicana Dome to receive that diploma right at her 70th birthday!

She has an on going eye problem that frankly hasn't slowed her down a bit, but is the elephant in the room, so to speak. Her specialist for her eye problem is an amazing physician. I have accompanied her on more than one occasion and love, love, love this man! He has the bedside manner a patient could only dream of their physician having, he is engaging and spends a great amount of time covering her concerns. Although she is regular in his office, he never treats her appointments as routine. And he looks like he jumped off the pages of GQ. The man can flat out dress, all the way down to the ink pen. (I covet things like ink pens).

no nuts in these

So one day, she decides to bring the nice doctor some chocolate biscotti. It seems that the perfect doctor maybe isn't so keen on sharing. This happens when grown men are given possession of chocolate cookies, homemade, in the presence of a multitude of women. He just didn't want to start a cat fight with my mom's biscotti. I think it was pretty smart of him personally. But oh, now that he's had a taste of them, don't you know he wants more! So she went back this week, biscotti in tow. And the relief of the doctor, she told him she baked another batch for his staff! Whew! No more sneaking the cookies around.

And here is the recipe. Seriously worth hiding from others. But the caveat. Don't even bother making these with grocery cocoa or grocery vanilla. They would never pass the test. My Williams Sonoma may have shuttered its door,  but the vanilla can be found many places.  The Pernigotti Cocoa may be a bit tougher to find.  And when it comes to toasting your nuts, trust me.  Toasting stovetop in a pan is the trick.  If you're like me, you are doing a dozen things at one time, and the nuts toasting in the oven are forgotten...until you smell them.  Then, it's too late!  So, get the ovens preheated. We're baking biscotti!

Chocolate Biscotti

Combine and set aside, sifting is always a good idea...
4 1/2 C flour
2 tea. baking powder
1 tea. salt
1/2 c Pernigotti Cocoa (Williams Sonoma)

3/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
3/4 cup chocolate chunks

3 C sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter (room temp),
4 large eggs, (room temp)
3 tea. Madagascar vanilla (Williams Sonoma)

Cream the wet ingredients until fully mixed.  Add the dry ingredients slowly and mix until no dry spots are found.  Add in chocolate and walnuts. You can add espresso powder for a mocha taste, almond extract if you like that flavor. It is a great cookie to try new ideas with!

On parchment paper on baking sheet, shape into 2 logs, 2 1/2 inches wide x 9 1/2 long x 1 inch high and bake at 350 degrees about 35 minutes. Cool about 30 minutes. Slice into 1/2 inch slices and put on large wire rack (so they toast on both sides) for 10 minutes. Cool before storing.

Make some coffee, and invite me over!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Grilled Chcken Asian Slaw #WhatAGrillWants

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Grilling really is a year 'round thing here in the South, but in the summer, you truly feel obligated.  A few weeks back I asked Mr. Preppy to grab some chlorine for the pool when he was out, and he came home with a Green Egg.  The ultimate man grill.  So I have been researching the cooking methods and recipes, and I have to say, I love this thing!  When OXO reached out about a summer promo, and one was What a Grill Wants, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to whip up something yummy on my Big Green Egg.

OXO sent me a nice package with 5 items, and I was beyond excited.  I have been selling and using their products for years, but I didn't own any of these.  Tongs, yes.  But not these extra long tongs that are perfect for a hot grill.  Here's how I incorporated these tools and this delicious recipe.

Grilled Chicken Asian Slaw

Asian Croutons

Wonton Wrappers (I made 12 but there are a lot in a package.  Cook them up, they are delicious!)
Coconut Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 ̊F.  Brush the wontons using your OXO silicone basting brush with a little coconut oil and salt and pepper to taste.  (use z'tar and make chips for hummus....that's another blog).  Bake for about 6 minutes, but keep an eye on them, they crisp up in a hurry.  Cool and set aside.

TOOL TIP: The silicone brush is a must have in any kitchen.  I used boar bristle brushes for years, which eventually shed little hairs.  Silicone is heat resistant to 600˚, it doesn't trap odors, and you can toss it in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.  I used it to brush a glaze on the chicken while grilling as well.

Slaw Dressing

1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 T mayonnaise
1 T coarse dijon mustard
1 T sriracha
1/2 T soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 T sesame seeds, toasted

Mix all ingredients in a jar and emulsify well.  I was given a salad dressing jar by OXO, but it is a little small.  I usually double my dressing recipes, and I usually use a Mason Jar.  I can see that this little jar will come in handy, especially since it is leakproof, but not this time.  Set the dressing aside.

a small cast iron pan is ideal for toasting sesame seeds

Slaw with Grilled Chicken

6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 T Asian marinade (I used a sauce that's been hanging in my fridge)
2 ears of fresh corn, shucked and rubbed with coconut oil
1/2 head of red cabbage, Shredded or thinly sliced
1/2 head of Napa cabbage. sliced thin, toss away the hard hearts
Fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro, about 1/2 cup chopped
1 red bell pepper sliced thin
1 orange or yellow bell pepper sliced thin
3 scallions, cleaned and sliced

I prefer the lighter texture of Napa Cabbage over regular green cabbage

On a flat surface, I tenderized the chicken thighs with the OXO tenderizer.  Thighs aren't in need of actual tenderizing, but it acted almost like making them into paillards.  They flattened out, and I knew they would cook fast and even on the grill. Plus the little holes had to drink up the glaze.

TOOL TIP: I didn't own a meat tenderizer, but I will love using this one.  It has a lock feature, so no one will inadvertently stab themselves.  It comes apart for cleaning, and it did a great job on these thighs.

I lit my charcoal and let it turn white, and using my silicone brush, I brushed a little Asian glaze I had leftover in the fridge.  A sugar based glaze will make a nice char on the meat.  I used the tongs on the grill and they kept me a nice distance from the heat.  The chicken took about 5 minutes total, and the corn I just rolled every few minutes.  You can see the kernels turn a deep golden color as the heat does their thing.  The char marks are a bonus, and the smoky flavor of the corn is awesome!  I promise it cannot be achieved on a gas grill.  What have I been missing!?  Let the meat and the corn cool.

TOOL TIP: Tongs. You have to try them and you'll be sold.  I already own a few pairs of the OXO tongs in short version, about 9".  The tongs they sent me are 16'' and lock for easy storage.  They are so long, and great for grilling!

Place the other ingredients into a large bowl with room to toss.  You can add more cabbage as you need.  Slice the thighs thin and add to the bowl.  Using the corn stripper on a cutting board, slice the kernels off with the stripper.  Add to the salad.

TOOL TIP: The corn stripper is not new to me, but my version doesn't have a catcher for the kernels, and what a difference that makes.  The mess in minimized, and the tool strips all the way to the cob.  This one is a keeper.  I love a fresh corn salad, and this will make the process a breeze.

About an half hour prior to serving, toss the slaw with the dressing.  I serve the croutons in a basket along side the salad.  I like to use them as a scoop and eat the slaw right off that crispy wonton.

So, what are you waiting for?  Get out there and grill!