Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Best Ever Lemon Blueberry Muffins

The title doesn't lie. I tried another recipe from Prudence Pennywise, (it's her photo too), and it's another winner.
Lemon Blueberry Muffins (adapted from a few recipes)

2/3 cup sugar
grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspooon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 and 1/2 cups blueberries, (frozen is fine)
For icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, rub sugar and lemon zest together with finger tips. Whisk in flour, powder, soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and melted butter until well blended. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and very gently toss to combine. Add berries. Bake in paperlined muffin tins for 18-20 minutes.Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice to make a glaze. Drizzle over muffins.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Post Maternity Pasta Salad! (maternity part optional)

When my sister Jackie had a baby a couple of months ago a friend brought her a big bowl of this pasta salad. Jackie said it was the perfect post-maternity meal and she ate it for days until it was gone. I love it because it has everything, the chicken, the spinach leaves, and the pasta, it's a meal unto itself. It is so refreshing and not too heavy, and has a great consistency too, all the right textures. And perfect for summer. Here are the ingredients, but you can definitely add or subtract according to your tastes.

Pasta Salad
16 ounces bowtie pasta, cooked al dente
1 1/2 (10 ounce) bag fresh spinach (tear to bite size pieces)
1 (6 ounce) bag craisins
3 (11 ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained
2 (8 ounce) cans sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
6 ounces honey roasted peanuts
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small pieces (I like a little more chicken, I used about 3 cups)
Dressing: (makes more than you will probably need)
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup bottled teriyaki sauce
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Blend dressing ingredients together in blender or food processor, or I just did a really fast whisk. Mix dressing and cooked pasta in medium bowl and marinate for two hours (that really makes a difference, stir once or twice during that marinating time). Combine rest of salad ingredients in large salad bowl, add pasta and dressing and toss. (I wouldn't recommend adding the spinach until you're ready to eat).

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Grilled Pizza

I thought I'd try this recipe from Prudence Pennywise, and it turned out really good! The pizza crust was especially good. I just used bottled sauce, not the recipe's sauce, but I'll include it since it's probably good, too.

Honey Whole Wheat Grilled Pizza with Assorted Toppings and Super Fast Pizza Sauce

Making the Pizzas:

#1 Give your grill grates a quick scrub. Spray the clean grates with no stick cooking spray. Preheat the grill to medium.

#2 Have a spatula and all your topping ingredients ready on a tray near the grill. Have your pizza dough rolled out (small pizzas are easier than large) and brushed lightly on both sides with olive oil.

#3 Place one pizza on the grill. Close lid for 90 seconds. Open lid and look at your dough; if it has bubbles and smells like it's cooking, take a peek of the underside. If it has grill marks and is dry to the touch, flip it over. If not, give it a little more time.
#4 Once flipped over, work quickly to spread a bit of sauce and sprinkle lightly with cheese and sparsely with other toppings. Close the lid again for 60 seconds. If your pizza toppings are melted and all looks well, take it off the grill and you're done. If your dough seems done, but the toppings aren't quite melted, move your pizza to a cooler spot on the grill. (I move mine to the higher level.) If your dough isn't done, close the grill again for 60 second intervals.

Honey Whole Wheat Crust:
Notes: You'll be done in minutes if you have a free standing mixer.
1/2 cup very warm water, plus more later
1 tablespoon active dry yeast (I like SAF yeast)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for coating
1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I like Prairie Gold and King Arthur)

In a small bowl, combine water, yeast, and just a drop of the honey. Stir to dissolve. Let stand for
five minutes. If the mixture is puffed, you know your yeast is active. In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, an additional 1/2 cup water, honey, olive oil, salt and white flour. Stir until combined. Add wheat flour, a little at a time, kneading as you go along. Knead for about four minutes, or until smooth. Shape bread into ball and coat on all sides with olive oil. Place in clean bowl (I wipe out the mixing bowl with a paper towel) and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for one hour. The best place to let your bread rise in the summer is in a warm car with the windows rolled up.
Punch down dough and divide into four equal portions. Roll each portion into a circle. If it shrinks back too much, let the dough rest for five minutes. It's much easier to handle four smaller (about 6-8 inch) pizzas on the grill. Brush both sides of the dough lightly with olive oil.

Super Fast Pizza Sauce:
Notes: This makes enough sauce for the grilled pizza, but if you ever wanted to bake your pizza, I'd double this recipe.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 fat clove garlic, minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
generous pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 (14 ounce) can Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes with their juices and all other ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until juices are thick. At this point you will have a chunky sauce. You can take a hand held potato masher or fork and mash it down a little bit for a semi chunky sauce, or use an immersion blender (or transfer to a regular blender) to make it smooth, if you prefer.

Prudence's grilled pizza toppings:
Pepperoni for the kids
She used about 1 and 1/4 cups mozzarella plus 1/2 cup Parmesan for all the pizzas
Sliced Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Roasted Red Peppers
crushed red pepper flakes