Saturday, October 5, 2013

Gingerbread Banana Granola Muffins

I should definitely be posting a recipe that's a bit more autumn-like.  I have, after all, made pumpkin donuts and cranberry-orange donuts, which are both fall to winter inspired flavors (I just got a donut pan!  So I'm going a bit crazy with that.)  Autumn is also my favorite time of the year.  I nearly cried of happiness the other day, simply walking down the street seeing pumpkins and crisp leaves and feeling the bite of cool air on my cheeks.  As I said on Instagram, autumn is the real most wonderful time of the year.


But gingerbread is kind of wintery, so let's just pretend I'm ahead of the curve here.  This recipe was a creation born out of the fact that I was actually craving the delicious looking sweet potato granola muffins over on Baker by Nature.  However, the wilting bananas on our little produce shelf were demanding use!  I was going to just do a straight change out of banana mush to sweet potato mush in her recipe, but... I can never leave well enough alone.  So I found Framed Cooks gingerbread muffin recipe, and based the rest off that.


These babies are fluffy and not overly sweet.  The granola gives the muffins a nice textural element, which I cannot live without.   I had the leftovers of a batch of banana granola which was a nice boost of banana flavor as well.   However, feel free to use whatever kind of granola you have lying around or find in the store.  Or throw in a handful of nuts or oats!  Or go completely without.  This recipe likes to be mixed up to your preferences.


Oh, and I skipped the browned butter step.  Not really because I'm lazy, but moreso because I find that putting browned butter into baked goods kind of masks it's incredible flavor.  Unless you're using it as a finisher or in a glaze, I can't really see the point of muting the flavor within your baked good.  That stuff needs to shine!  But.  Maybe you feel differently.  Brown your butter if you'd like!



Gingerbread Banana Granola Muffins
Yields 12+ Muffins
Inspired via here and here

2 1/3 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. mashed banana
1/3 c. molasses, full flavored
2 eggs
1/2 c. buttermilk*
3/4 c.+ granola

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray.  I also have a 12-cup mini muffin tin, and had enough batter to fill up both.

Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt into a medium measuring bowl.  Mix with a fork or whisk to combine.

In another measuring bowl, cream together the butter and sugars.  Add in the mashed banana, and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the molasses, then the eggs, one at a time.  Lastly, add the buttermilk, mixing all until fully combined.  Pour a third of this banana mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing with a fork until soaked into the flour.  Add another third and mix, and the last third, mixing until the batter is smooth and no flour streaks remain.  Try not to overmix.  Pour the granola into the batter, and use a rubber spatula to mix the granola in fully.

Spoon the batter into your prepared muffin tins.  Sprinkle a little extra granola on the tops if you'd like!  Put them in the oven, and cook until the tops bounce back when poked and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes (or around 15 for the mini muffins.) 


*A few tricks if you don't have buttermilk.  Put 1 Tbs. plain yogurt in a measuring cup, and fill it the rest of the way with regular milk.  Mix with a fork, and there's your buttermilk!  You can also mix a bit of milk and lemon juice (maybe a couple teaspoons) and let that sit for 10 minutes or so to sour.  Or just use regular milk. It won't kill your muffins.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday the 13th, and welcome back to Friday Favorites!  We took quite the hiatus, but both of us are bored at work, counting down the minutes to our vinyl record party tonight.  (We're cool like that.)  Ready to be regaled with the things we love? I'll kick it off!

I don't always love the blog I Believe In Unicorns, but the girl knows how to rock hippie-chic.  More importantly, I'm dying over her current hair.  I might be requesting bleached-blonde ends soon enough...

My current no sugar fast has not been as hard as expected.  Perhaps because I kicked it off the evening before with a version of this hot chocolate affogato situation?  So. Good.

This farm-style picnic table is so pretty.  I don't know if I'll ever have a kitchen/dining room that will deem something like this appropriate, but I sure hope so.  Beautiful, practical, and vintage-esque.

Lacy's not on board with this brie, bacon, and fig jam grilled cheese, but I sure would eat it every single day.
And speaking of bacon... Ruth Reichl's idea for bacon cheese toasts makes me want to facepalm that I didn't think of it before.  So simple.  So indulgent.  Maybe I'll make it for a brunch-like meal tomorrow morning.  Along with some leftover peach hand pies.

And lastly, confession:  I actually kind of love Miley Cyrus' new song Wrecking Ball.  I'm ashamed to admit this since I have such loathing for the non-sensical and rather absurd music video she put out.  But the song is so dang catchy.

........

happiest of fridays! this week has gone by quickly, but this day is going by slooooowly. man alive.
anyway, lacy here, with my favorite things this week! (pretend i said that in an Oprah voice. thanks)

 it's been raining a bit this week and it makes me so happy. even though my moccasins got soaked on my lunch run today. (they're currently trying to dry out under my desk. it's not going great). i've been editing my pinterest boards and realized the overwhelming majority of my wear board is fall clothes. it's no wonder i have such a hard time getting dressed in the summer.. the point of all this text was...i like this outfit. and i'm excited for fall dressing.

 i never thought i'd be someone who is obsessed with kitchens. but the thing i'm most excited about when we buy a house someday is getting to pick out a kitchen. the backsplash and lighting in here is just perfect.

 i'm really intrigued with the idea of veggie chips lately. these baked rosemary and basil zucchini chips are at the top of my list to try.

 i realized i like to decorate by room. the bathroom is basically done, so now i'm setting my sights on the bedroom. i love the idea of these super simple prints as a headboard fill in. because maybe our current bed used to be part of a bunk bed and doesn't have one....

brian and i started a rewatch of the office a while ago. the third season is so amazing! seriously, it makes me a bit sad how disinterested i was in the last seasons. (i know this isn't from season three. but i still love it)

and this. because i find it super hilarious.

have a great weekend! go and do something spooky.
...or don't! i would much rather watch the office and eat some cookies myself.

Peach Hand Pies

My friend and I somehow decided it was a good idea to do No Sugar September.  So here I am, putting fruit in my dessert.


But listen, we're not a pair of crazies who are cutting out ev.er.y.thing. with sugar.  No, no.  I'm still eating cereals and the occasional honey soaked item.  The point is to not overdo it on cookies and candy and cakes and chocolate.  It's been four days, and I'm making it!


My same no-sugar friend also gifted me with a large bag of fresh picked peaches.  Thus the peach filling!  But you can use whatever you have on hand.  We're coming up on apple season, and these pies would be kiiiiller stuffed full with cinnamon apples. Do that too!  I think I will.


So these hand pies are not completely devoid of sugar.  But there's so little of it in there that it counts in our books!  It should count in your book, too.  And by me saying there's very little sugar, do not mistake me in thinking I mean these are healthy.  Pie crust drowns in shortening. I mean, that's what makes it so beautifully flaky.  Who says indulgences ought to be sweet?


These are rustic looking!  Which is just another way to say that I am no pastry perfectionist.  Sometimes the filling leaks out.  Sometimes the sides don't get as sealed as they should.  That makes the pictures a little less than pretty, but who cares about photos when the taste is this good?  Rustic also gives you permission to make mistakes.  My kind of pastry.


Also, I put a touch of jam into the peach and sugar mix.  Partly because it's the best jam I've ever had and I want to put it into everything.  And partly because it adds a touch of sweetness without being pure sugar.  We're bending the sugar rules.  And if you're wondering, it's LuAnn's raspberry rhubarb jam that the Husband and I picked up in a tiny gorgeous town called Midway on our first anniversary.  LuAnn's jams will blow your mind.


Peach Hand Pies
Yields about 12 pies

You'll need two pie crusts.  You can purchase pie dough (if it comes frozen in tins, let the dough thaw, then flip it out of the tin to flatten and score/fill accordingly), or make it.  This is my favorite recipe, taught to me by my mom. Follow that recipe up to the point that you wrap the dough and refrigerate it.
Pie Filling:
3-4 peaches
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)
1 1/2 tsp. jam, optional
1/4 tsp. salt

Rinse peaches and remove any loose skin.  Dice into small chunks, about 1/4 to 1/2 inch.  Add sugar, honey, cinnamon, jam, and salt to peaches, and mix lightly to coat the peaches.  Taste and adjust any flavors accordingly.  (This is where you add extra sugar if you're not needing low sugar.)  If mixture is runny, lightly sprinkle (and I mean lightly!) with corn starch to thicken.  You can place in the fridge for a few hours, if needed

(Photo Break)


To Assemble:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Take dough out of fridge, and roll out on well-floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness or so, lifting dough occasionally to be sure it isn't sticking (add extra flour underneath, if necessary).  Score the dough into approximately 3"x 6" pieces--this doesn't need to be exact. (If you're looking at my photos above, I cut the longer pieces in half to be about equal to the piece that has fruit spooned on it already.)

Spoon the filling onto one end of the dough.  You can do about a tablespoon of filling, depending on the size of the dough you cut.  Fold the opposite end of the dough over the filling, and press to seal the dough, taking care to not let filling leak out. (If the top cracks, that's okay; just try to press it together again. But you'll need holes in the top for steam to leak out anyway, so it's not a big deal!)
Use a fork to score the sides closed and pierce the top once or twice for steam vents.  Place finished pie on a parchment-lined or greased baking sheet.  Continue process for five more pies, six total.  

Brush pies with an egg wash (1 egg beaten well with 1 Tbs. water).  Place the sheet in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until crust is golden.

While those six pies are baking, assemble your other six.  At this point in the process (post fork-scoring, pre-egg wash), you can freeze the pies for future baking if you'd like!


These are perfect for breakfast because they're not too sweet!  In fact, it's what I ate this morning.

Monday, September 9, 2013

wishlist - september

PicMonkey Collage6

i'm alive! after an unplanned summer break (i got real caught up in packing and moving and unpacking and...being married? i don't know) i'm back.

and with a september wishlist to get back in the game!

1. i had a (muuuch cheaper) target version of these shoes. and i loved them. i could wear them without falling down and they actually looked cute with tights. and then they broke. like jerks! i can't imagine i'll pay for this particular pair, but if i find a more affordable version, they're going right into my cart.

2. the entire blogosphere is ready to start dressing for fall and i'm going to jump off that bridge with them. wearing a button up shirt under a puffy vest is something that has never before occured to me....and i'm super on board. the only caveat is that i'm under a self-imposed clothes shopping ban until 2014. gross. why did i do that?

3. it's still 90 degrees outside, but i want to eat soup and paninis for every meal. thusly, i should definitely own a panini press

4. i bought some Russian nesting doll (matroyshka) measuring cups and i am infatuated with them. so much so that i now want to start collecting real ones.  

5. this jacket. it's all i want in a fall jacket. it's all i want in life. someone please buy it and let me admire you in it.

6. ignore the lame shirt and focus solely on those awesome sweat pants. i'm hoping i can get similar results with a sharpie marker and some existing lounge pants...  i'll keep you posted.

7. this print speaks the truth. and needs to be in my kitchen.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chorizo and Potato Chili

Husband makes what he calls 'sexy fries'.  Really, they're just french fries.  But he's pretty passionate about getting the right levels of oil, and julienne-ing the potatoes perfectly, and spicing them up just right.  He really is good at it, too!  We had a family trip to Mesquite, and he was assigned fry duty for eight adults and two kids.  Sooooo much frying.


That being said, we ended up with leftover potatoes.  My idea was to fry them up, too, but oh yeah, we were on vacation and couldn't be bothered to stand over the stove top for more than one evening.  I'll hang out by the pool, thank you very much.


Anyway, back from vacation, I needed to do something with the potatoes.  And the black beans, farmers market tomato, and cilantro languishing in the fridge.  And so!  Chili was on my mind.  The drive home from work gave me ample time to realize that a chili with cilantro and black beans should be Mexican, and a Mexican chili must have chorizo.  Spicy, bright orange chorizo.  It was the first thing I grabbed in the grocery store.


And here's an interesting little trick.  When you're making a Mexican soup or chili, it's a good idea to chop up a corn tortilla or two to mix into the liquid.  The tortillas thicken things up just a little, and give off the faintest corn taste.  It's lovely!


This chili is filling and spicy and a perfect meal for the cooler evenings that are soon to start.  Make sure you top it like crazy.  Toppings are my favorite part of soups and chilis.  And apparently, all the best Mexican toppings are green... avocadoes, and limes, and green onions, and cilantro.  Ohhhhh myyyy.


Chorizo and Potato Chili
Serves 4-6

1 lb chorizo
3 small potatoes, or 1 to 2 large ones
1/2 large onion
1 green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 can Rotel diced tomato & green chilies
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 c. water
  -or sub 1 can diced tomatoes for tomato & water
1 1/2 c. cooked black beans (or 1 can)
1 Tbs. ketchup
1 corn tortilla
salt and pepper
olive oil

Heat a very deep skillet, or soup pot, over medium heat.  Add chorizo, and allow to cook, occasionally stirring and breaking into pieces with a spatula, for about 7-8 minutes.  In the meantime, chop the potatoes, onion, and pepper into a 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice (I like a chunky chili and go with 1/2 inch).

Once cooked, remove chorizo with a slotted spoon and set aside.  You should have some chorizo grease in the pan.  Add some oil, if necessary, to have a tablespoon or two of fat in the pan.  Add in the chopped potatoes, onion, and pepper, and season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 5 minutes or so until the onions begin to be translucent.  Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, and oregano, and stir well to coat the veggies in all the spices.  Cook for about a minute.

To the pot of veggies, add in the chorizo, diced tomatoes plus the extra tomato and water (or another can of tomatoes), and black beans.  Stir well, and turn heat down to a simmer.  Add the ketchup, and season with a little extra salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid, and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes have softened to your preference.  While the chili simmers, chop the corn tortilla into a small dice, then add that to the pot, and stir well.  It will eventually melt into everything and disappear on you.  Chop your toppings while the chili continues to simmer.

Once potatoes are softened, spoon into bowls, and let each person top theirs according to their preference.  Enjoy!

Suggested toppings:
green onion, avocado, lime, cilantro, grated cheddar, sour cream or plain yogurt, corn chips (find Juanitos at Smiths or Reams if you're in Utah!  perfect tortilla chip)


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer Stuffed Squash

So, can anyone actually tell the difference between zucchini and yellow squash?  I mean, I know there's a difference.  But if I boiled a pot of mixed zucchini and squash, buttered it, then ate it with my eyes closed...?  No way could I tell you which is which.  No way.


But that doesn't mean that they're not both delicious!  Honestly though, I'd probably choose zucchini if someone forced me to pick one.  Because zucchini bread?  Amazing.  Zucchini cake?!  Even more amazing.  My good friend Kristin has a kiiiiiiller zucchini cake recipe, and I'd make it right this second if I didn't have to make a batch of cupcakes and a red velvet cake for a couple of birthdays coming up this weekend.


But guess what?  The other day, I discovered that people actually can make dessert breads out of yellow summer squash.  I'm thinking I might try that out, since I have a couple paddy pan squashes in my fridge.  I also STILL have two zucchinis and a crookneck squash.  And three tomatoes, a peach, an anaheim pepper, and a cob of corn.  Farmer's market time!  Also, the time of year when people give away produce like crazy.  I love it!


Oh, and right, this recipe.  I've seen a couple recipes for stuffed squash, and I definitely was excited to try it out myself.  A few tips now that I've given it a trial run:
>If your squashes are BIG, give them a pre-cook for 10-15 minutes to get them soft.
>Use basically any fresh veggies you have in the house.  That's what makes it summery!
>The pickled peppers?  Those are awesome.  The recipe is here, and peppers are cheeeeap this time of year.  It's wonderfully sweet and a great kick of spice.  Try it!
>Breadcrumbs are great crumbled on top for some toasty crunch.  But when you don't have that on hand, do as I do and grab whatever snack chip you have.  I had some Doritos.  But I think salt & vinegar potato chips would be fantastic.


Summer Stuffed Squash
Makes 4 servings

2-3 slices bread
2 zucchini or yellow squashes
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
1/2 c. corn kernels sliced off a fresh cob
1/4 c. pickled peppers, finely chopped
1/4 c. breadcrumbs (or crushed chips)
1/4 c. finely shredded cheese
chopped herbs
balsamic vinegar

Chop bread into a small dice.  Toss with a touch of olive oil and place under a broil for 3-5 minutes, or until toasty.  Watch carefully so they don't burn.  Set aside in a bowl.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse the squashes.  If the outside is tough or bumpy, use a peeler to peel off the skin.  Slice down the center, lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds.  Line up on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. If the squashes are large (over 9-10 inches, 3 inches across),  pre-cook by putting them into the oven as you cook the filling.

Heat a deep skillet over medium heat.  Add a glug of olive oil.  Add onion, bell pepper, and ground beef, and season well with salt and pepper.  Stir around pan for a couple minutes.  Add in garlic, oregano, and paprika, and stir to coat.  Cook for another couple of minutes.  Add the tomatoes and corn, and saute until the beef is cooked through and tomatoes begin to break down.

Pull the squashes out of the oven (if pre-cooking).  Pour the beef mixture over the toasted bread cubes.  Add the pickled peppers, and use tongs to toss all ingredients together.  Immediately fill the squashes with the beef filling, before the bread gets too soft.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs or chips over the filling, about a tablespoon per squash.  Put into oven for about 15 minutes.  Top with shredded cheese, and allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the squash is cooked through and the cheese is bubbly and brown.

Top with chopped herbs (I used a mix of cilantro and arugula), and a touch of balsamic.


Mmmm.... summer.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cookie Butter Rice Krispie Treats

Guys.  Cookie Butter!  This post is going to be all about that, and I'm sorry if you're one of those people that just doesn't get the hype.  I get the hype.  I'm in on the hype.  If there's a hype train, I'm in it; both conductor and caboose!


Sometimes, things just come to you in your dreams.  These treats?  These are one of those.  In my half-way between dreams and awake stage this morning, I was obsessing over cookie butter rice krispie treats.  It was brilliant and perfect in my half-awake stage.  And the moment I was fully awake, I began to Google.


Now, of course, I'm not the only person that has ever thought of this (though you couldn't have convinced half-asleep-Ashley of that.)  But I'd like to say that I've brought a bit of my own brilliance to the table.  And that brilliance consists of slipping cookie chunks into your krispies.


See those cookie chunks?  It adds an awesome bit of crunch.  Of course, using speculoos cookies (or Biscoff) is ideal, seeing as that's where cookie butter comes from.  But I was already at a local grocery store that doesn't sell either of those, and I couldn't be bothered to make a second trip.  Speculoos cookies are very much like ginger cookies, so I settled for Pepperidge Farm Gingerman cookies.  Super delicious.  And the extra bit of course sugar all over the cookies adds to a crunchy texture in these treats.


Now, this is where I'd post a picture of melting marshmallows in the browned butter (yes, browned!  you don't actually have to brown it because you can't reeeeeally taste the difference since the cookie butter is so strong.  But the smell of browned butter kills me dead, so it's worth it just for that.), or a picture of a vat of rice krispies mixed with chopped ginger cookie, or cookie butter beautifully swirling into the white marshmallow mass.  Buuuut I was so excited about making these that I didn't take a second to pause.  Not even a photo-snap second.


Cookie Butter Rice Krispie Treats
Makes a 9x13 pan
(20-30 squares, depending on the size you like)

5 1/2 c. Rice Krispies cereal
1/2 c. chopped ginger or speculoos cookies
1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick)
1 10 oz. bag mini marshmallows
3/4 c. cookie butter (or Biscoff spread), separated
2-3 Tbs. chocolate chips
1 tsp. oil, vegetable or coconut

Spray a 9x13 pan with non stick spray, or line with parchment paper with the paper sticking a couple inches above the edge of the pan.

Measure out the cereal and chopped cookies.  (I chopped the cookies into 1/4-1/2 inch sized bits.)  Toss together with your hands so the cookies are incorporated throughout the cereal.

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat, let it melt til bubbling well, then stir constantly until brown bits scrape up from the bottom.  Quickly pour in the marshmallows, and continue stirring (I like to use a rubber spatula) until marshmallows are fully melted.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 c. cookie butter until fully melted and mixed in. Pour cereal mix into marshmallow mix and fold in well until the cereal and marshmallow is fully incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, and, using a rubber spatula, gently press mixture flat into pan.  (Use a light hand, you don't want the cereal packed too tightly.)

Melt the chocolate chips and oil together, in the microwave and stirring at 20 second intervals, or over the stovetop on a low heat, stirring constantly.  Use a spoon or rubber spatula to drizzle chocolate over top of packed rice krispies.  Melt remaining 1/4 c. cookie butter, and drizzle that over the krispies also.

Cut into squares and stuff your face!


Yes, I do have a ready-made container of melted chocolate on hand...  And yes, you should make these.  My dreams were brilliant.  Make them your dreams.