02 March 2012

blueberry muffins filled with lemon curd


Seriously, why hasn't anybody thought of this before? 

So I made some lemon curd, as per Sydney's instructions over at Crepes of Wrath. I wasn't really sure why, I just knew I had some lemons to use before they went bad and I had all the other ingredients around as well. Or maybe it's just that I always see it at the store and think it'd be fun to try, except it's super expensive. So stick it to the man! Make your own curd! You can even make your own crud as well, since that seems to be all that I can type...

Then I had to figure out what to do with it. Many responses from the Google told me that eating it directly out of the jar with a spoon was a very reasonable thing to do. Not gonna lie: it is that tasty. But what else? Seemed like it'd be good as a layer on a cake or inside some cupcakes. It'd be a killer filler (!) for donuts for sure. 

But I didn't feel quite that motived for my kitchen adventure. 

I liked the idea of having it on warm scones, but instead I put it on pancakes. I very seriously recommend that you give this a try as well. :)

So yeah. Scones! But you know what would be more fun? Curd inside a scone. But scones aren't generally filled, so... muffins! Why give cupcakes all the glory? I dug around the archives of some of my favorite blogs, and found this recipe for perfect blueberrry muffins at smitten kitchen. The title is no joke. I mean, if you have a great auntie's family standard muffin recipe, by all means go for it. But this one won't ever fail you. I also think it is key that the batter is super-duper thick for a quick bread. I definitely wanted to eat that batter with a spoon. If I piped it onto a plate and called it mousse au blueberry muffin, you'd totally buy it, I swear to you! 

Here's the assembly I'd recommend:
1. Spray muffin tin.
2. Fill with a tablespoon or so of batter. Use a small spoon (or your finger... you can lick either implement when you're done!) to squish the batter into the bottom of each muffin form, as the dough doesn't really flow like a liquid at all.
3. Make a well in the middle of the dough for each muffin.
4. Place a generous teaspoon of curd into each well. 
5. Add more batter to each muffin so that each liner is about 3/4 full. 
6. Smooth batter over, making sure the curd is fully concealed!
7. Bake as usual. Sneaky!

I really wanted to add lavender to the curd... maybe next time! I just say this awesome post over on 101 Cookbooks for ginger grapefruit curd... so many possibilities! Any requests? Cinnamon orange curd perhaps?

28 February 2012

warm vegetable curry

     Uuuugh. I just walked home from work and I am so ready to curl up with a hot cocoa and go to bed, because it is raining outside. That's right, raining. In February. In Minnesota. I'd assumed we'd have a lovely snowstorm, but no... so instead I walked home, umbrella-less, until my down jacket had soaked through. Gross. At least it was kind of funny when I let the dog out and she ran around the yard, pausing to shake the rain off, as though she'd forgotten how the whole water-from-the-sky thing works. :)
     Pardon the lack of solid posts here. I feel pretty devoid of fun stories to tell. I feel like I am just in a holding pattern until I can sing "We're moving to _______!!!!" from the rooftops, and by singing, I mean sobbing. I love Minnesota. I always have. In 2006 I did a summer internship here, and I did that thing I always do too much of: research. I looked up every stat on the Cities, browsed it on Google Maps, memorized the entire Wikipedia article on the Twin Cities. I even knew the Foshay Tower had a march written for it by John Phillip Sousa. Just for a 10-week internship. I did such a good job that as my plane descended over the city (the landing pattern at that time circled over downtown Minneapolis, near the U) I could pick out the buildings on campus I'd be visiting. The river was so cool with all the bridges spanning the gorge, and all the little green spaces amongst the city scene. I felt like I was about to go home, and I hadn't even landed yet. 
    Now it's 2012, I've lived here since August 2007 (yep, we moved in the day after the bridge fell). I am invested in this place. I've joked all along that all it's missing is mountains. I'm holding out for the possibility that we'll move somewhere more mountainous, as though that will somehow make it better when all my memories and many of my closest friends will be here. We even made a point of getting married in Saint Paul to show off what a great place it is. I don't want to leave it behind.

     But hey, enough gloom and doom (and free tourist advertisement for the Twin Cities Metro Area, jeez!), let's talk about dinner. I made this vegetable curry a week or so ago and it was amazing. The best part: it has cauliflower in it! I have always, always loved cauliflower. I realize it is probably a carry-over from the first, oh, sixteen years of my life when I only liked beige food. The huzz also really liked the curry (we are a curry-loving family), but he said something that totally stole my heart: "Thank you for getting me to like cauliflower." That's right, he thanked me for getting him to eat his veggies and be more adventurous with his foods. Just last week I fully converted him to the Standard North American Hippie Food diet, which includes copious amounts of homemade granola (don't you feel like granola is the epitome of hippie food?). Swoon! We've both come a long way (Velveeta for dinner, anyone?), but his willingness to try any crazy thing I make with an open mind really makes me a proud wifey.
     And from here I promise more normal, silly posts... I think there's some potential hilarity in the future soon. Two words: Jury Duty. Either that or Dog Antics. There will always be Dog Antics. :)

07 February 2012

toasted multigrain cereal

I have finally figured it out.

Okay, that was dramatic.


So was that pause.

Here's the thing: I always want to like eating oatmeal for breakfast. The trouble is, my first-ever experience was probably getting some of those just-add-hot-water packets (sugar high, WHEE!!!!) of it at girl scout camp or something. I was pretty okay with those. I probably ate them for dinner every once in a while in college. I probably added peanut butter to them too. :) Once again, I've decided I should eat oatmeal. (Our household's yogurt consumption rate is unsustainable. Sustain! Sustain! Sustain!) I tried cooking it over the stove and adding yogurt instead of milk -- not too bad. I think my problem is that I've always wanted oatmeal to taste like a cookie, and that is not going to happen. I want to eat grown-up oatmeal. But you know what makes it taste like a cookie? Nope, not the brown sugar and butter... it's the vanilla! Just a tiny drop makes it perfect. Ah, success! Now I feel extra motivated to make my own vanilla extract.

And then, this bomb dropped into my RSS reader a week or so ago: Heidi knew of my strife.

I've been making this for breakfast ever since. Okay, except for that one day we made pancakes. But I put all the grains in our pancakes, so it was like I turned my hot cereal into pancakes. I kid you not.

The recipe posted on 101 Cookbooks serves 2-3, so here's my iteration for a single serving, plus a list of what's already become my favorite set of adornments:

  • Combine rolled oats, rolled rye, and rolled barley in a 1:1:1 ratio in a bowl. Stir to combine, and store in a jar/empty yogurt container/put a lid on your bowl. I put a 1/2 cup of each into a 2 c. mason jar and shake it around until it looks homogenous to me. Yeah, you know I just used the word homogenous! You liked it! 

  • The night before, melt a sliver of butter (~1/4 T) in a small saucepan. Toss 1/3 c. of the cereal in the butter, stirring continuously, until it smells all toasty, over low heat. I don't think this even takes five minutes. Add one cup plus one tablespoon of water and a dash of salt, and put the lid on. This will hang out at room temperature while you go get your beauty sleep.

  • In the morning, bring this mix up to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, until most of the moisture is gone. Stir occasionally if it makes you feel better about things. Don't go too far or it'll be all dry and stuck to the bottom of the pan. When it's ready, scoop it into a bowl and **immediately** refill the pot with soapy water. The residue needs a good soak so that you can clean up the pan more easily. 

Now for decorations! Yay!

  • 1 T. plain yogurt
  • 2 t. toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1-2 t. good honey
  • 1-2 t. bourbon blueberries, drained (soak dried blueberries in a small jar with bourbon and a splash of vanilla in the fridge) (on the weekends I wouldn't worry so much with the draining... whatever floats your boat, mmkay?) 

24 January 2012

barley and millet risotto

I owe you people a decent post. Look, here I am! With words! Lots and lots of words, and a smattering of hyperlinks, just for you! :)

Not gonna lie: I think my frequency of posts was affected by two things:
1. Getting an iPhone (it's okay, I was shocked too)
2. Getting on Twitter (again... it's okay, I was shocked too)

In the long run, I think both of these things will be useful. Turns out I take way more pictures if I use my phone (and hey, the 4S has a lovely camera on it, believe it or not), and editing photos is way, waaay too much fun for me. My phone has also given me an appreciation of the square-format photo... it's beautiful! Regardless of Instagram's influence, it makes so much sense for me to love a square photo, given how much I love symmetry. I find it much easier to take a picture that looks balanced (at least for me eye) with a square photo. And really, if you don't believe me, go take a standard format photo and then crop it as a square -- I think you'll like it better. As for Twitter... well, the Twitterverse is still vast and mysterious. I barely have an idea of how hashtags and handles work, but somehow it intrigues me. For now, I like it mostly as a source of information. It's absurd how much you can learn from a well-selected Twitter feed. It's by far the fastest and farthest reaching networking I've ever done. I just hope nobody minds my occasional, inane posts of "Look at my dog! XD #cutestthingintheworld #puppykisses #snugglebug".

So I've got lots to talk about, but I think I'll just have to divvy it up amongst more blog posts soon. For now, I direct your attention to the archives of 101 Cookbooks for this lovely spin on risotto. Our kitchen is a risotto loving one, but it's nice to try a different approach from time to time. Heidi calls for farro, but I am too poor to stock farro in my pantry. If you can snag some you should try it, it's delicious. If you are also a cheep-cheep person, stick to pearled barley. As usual, I chopped some kale and threw it in -- I think the chewy texture went well with the grains. This was also my first time trying out millet; what a cute little grain. I've seen some breakfast millet ideas flying around the internet, and I think that's got some potential. If you know of any good uses of millet, let me know -- I've got a cup or two to use up someday. :)

02 January 2012

pear, banana, and kale smoothie

Whew! Holidays, check. Quality family time, check. 2011, check. Cue the snow for Minnesota now, yes?

So here's the part where I, as a member of the blogosphere, am required to at least be a teensy bit introspective. I do believe this is an obligation of one's first post in a new year. 2011 can be best summed up for me as "more of the same". I love Minnesota. I love cooking new fun things. I've enjoyed my time getting to know my sewing machine better. I'm pretty happy that I finally brought my knitting needles out and got knitty all over again. My dog walks on a lead like a pro. Jobby job keeps on jobbing. I keep running. I love my bikes. I've begun to take my blogging kind of seriously. I've been bitten by the photography bug -- I can't stop thinking about framing shots, and I can't wait to upgrade my camera... $omeday. So yeah, not really much to report, but that isn't a terrible thing. Also I will give myself a passing grade on last year's resolution to bake bread once a week. This turned into anything with yeast once a week, and then just making a regular effort to bake bread more often. I am now happy to say we do so often and you should too!

2012 will be mega important, this much is crystal clear. The graduation and job hunt have gotten pretty danged real for dear husband, and thus for me as well. I think this is all I can bear to say at the moment. My plan is to just keep loving my time in MN and I'll deal with changes as they come. And of course, I'll keep you updated as I digest said changes. For now, my 2012 to-do includes:
1. Build a bike. Single speed of course; let's start simple, but with BRAKES.
2. Sew new slipcovers for two chairs and the ottoman and all associated throw pillows.
3. Get dog to appreciate her boots.
4. Bring back the ye olde good tradition of writing Thank You cards.
5. Knit a sweater.
6. Improve my photography skillz. I think my holiday gift from my husband will totally help me out here in reaching my goals. :)

So now I'll talk to you about food! Sweet!

Particularly, let's talk about green smoothies. I have always loved the Green Machine juices; the taste is delicious and my inner child totally gets the giggles when others wince because it looks like I'm drinking pond scum. Healthy, delicious pond scum. This winter we've been stocked with kale at all times (I love leafy greens!!), and green smoothies are a great way to keep the kale turnover going. This smoothie has been resurfacing on the internet over and over again with various tweaks. Here's my iteration:

1 big handful of kale leaves (rip off the tough stems)
1 small anjou pear
1 frozen banana (I freeze them in slices)
1/4 c. cashews
~1 c. milk (your choice)
1 T. good honey
1 T. hemp protein powder (this is optional, but I really like it. It tastes like... granola?)

(I use the flat blade of the Magic Bullet for this)
1. Grind the cashews into a fine powder.
2. Blend in the milk.
3. Add the kale and blend until super smooth. Any flakes of kale will totally ruin the texture.
4. Add the banana, pear, honey, and optional protein powder. Blend until smooth.
5. Pour yourself a serving in a fancy glass and enjoy!

Are there any yummy veggie smoothies that you like to make? Let me know, I'm always on the lookout for good ones with a high success rate...