Tag Archives: muffins

Cranberry Orange Walnut Muffins

9 Dec

late.oct.nov2012 063

Early morning cranberry muffins? Don’t mind if I do.

When we were hosting Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago (already? Pfft. It isn’t 2-ish weeks until Christmas or anything … nope … ), I jumped on the cranberry train pretty quickly and without much hesitation. Cranberry sauce, cranberry bread, cranberry, well, everything, if my fall-flavored taste buds had anything to say about it.Inspired by Mom’s Cranberry Bread recipe, I concocted these Cranberry Orange Walnut Muffins, pirating the BHG muffin recipe (as I often do) by adding that oh-so-seasonal trio of flavors.

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Budget Eats: Doctoring Store-Bought Ingredients

25 Sep

In the spirit of Sandra “Semi-Homemade” Lee, this “Budget Eats” entry focuses on taking things you can easily find in a grocery store (dry mixes, spice packs, sauces, and even pre-cooked meat products like chicken sausage) and turning them into something totally dynamite. Can you do it? Can it be done on a budget? Heck yes.

I’ve constructed this post with 3 categories: Mixes & doughs, meat products, and sauces. Each has its own tips and ideas for how to use those products in a pinch for dinners, desserts, snacks & more. Please (seriously!) feel free to leave comments with other ideas — this is a place to share what we’ve all learned, especially the shortcuts that keep us sane on a hungry weeknight!

MIXES & DOUGHS:

  • Take a standard mix — Bisquick, Jiffy mixes, etc — and play around with their use. Bisquick, in a pinch, is a killer ingredient in a single-breaded or double-breaded chicken dinner. And Jiffy mix? Jiffy is a whole nother ballgame of multipurpose cooking. My favorite use for Jiffy mix is Savory Corn Muffins — Prepare Jiffy mix as noted on box; add garlic powder, frozen corn kernels (up to 3/4 cup), chopped fresh chives & freshly grated black pepper; bake as usual and serve with chili, tacos or other Tex-Mex cuisine. See the above picture, or this one:

  • Biscuit dough — like Pillsbury Grands — is incredibly versatile. For example, you can make Easy-Peasy Cinnamon Donuts with a tube of Grands biscuits: Separate and lay biscuits out on a baking sheet; Using a shot glass or medicine cup, cut circles out of the center of each biscuit; either bake as directed or deep-fry in vegetable oil until browned; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. NOM NOM! Here’s a great recipe (with actual measurements) from Make and Takes.

Image sourced from Makeandtakes.com. Amazing, right? And so easy!

  • Pizza dough — either Pillsbury or a store brand — can be used for its obvious purpose (pizza, kiddies), or for calzones, strombolis, or even mini-pizzas. Or, try these Holiday Hors d’OeuvresCut the pizza dough into 1″ X 1″ squares; top with pesto, chopped roasted red peppers, and feta cheese crumbles; bake as directed for pizza dough. (These also make a great light supper.)
  • Got Spice Cake Mix and a jar of pumpkin? (Of course you do, lovely GKG readers — you wouldn’t go anywhere without your trusty can of pumpkin!) Combine the two, bake according to the cake mix package’s directions, and poof. Instant Pumpkin Cupcakes. Top with store-bought cream cheese frosting with a splash of maple syrup mixed in, and WOWZA.

MEAT PRODUCTS:

Image sourced from baltimorecrab.com. This may or may not currently be in my freezer …

  • Those bags of frozen Tilapia filets? Seriously your best friend. Use them to create Single Serving Foil Packs — stuff a packet of tinfoil with Tilapia, a splash of cooking liquid (broth, oil, butter or white wine), sliced veggies & spices to your liking; bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes, or until fish and veggies are cooked through. Win! This method also works for chicken and beef equally well.
  • Got frozen chicken nuggets? How about turning them into Chicken Parm Bites? Top individual nuggets with tomato sauce and dried basil, baking according to package directions; then, add shredded mozzarella cheese on each nugget and return to the oven for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted, bubbly and brown. Mmm!

Image sourced from seriouseats.com. So much tasty!

  • Pre-cooked chicken sausage is incredibly versatile. Use brands like Al Fresco to whip up a Healthy Pita Pizza: Top individual Greek-style pitas with pesto or tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, sliced chicken sausage, and shredded kale (thawed and formerly frozen is great!); Broil for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and sausage is heated through. Mmm!

SAUCES

The players in Operation: Sauce Doctoring — fresh or dried herbs work well here.

  • Got jarred tomato sauce? Doctor up that boring blend with a few extras that you may have hiding in your pantry or spice cabinet: dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley and a bay leaf. Add sauteed chopped mushrooms and peppers to create an instant Cacciatore sauce for chicken and spaghetti. Or, stir a little store-bought pesto into a jarred tomato sauce. Serious good eats. (I even used this method on my chicken parm! Shhh. Don’t tell the aunts and grandparents! 🙂
  • I’m counting mayonnaise as a “sauce” here, because it’s one of the most versatile condiments on the planet. Add some Sriracha for Spicy Mayo; stir in some pesto for a dee-licious Pesto Mayo on your panini; or crushed cloves of garlic (use a sprinkle of salt and a fork to turn garlic into a mushy, incredible paste) and a drizzle of olive oil to DIY your own aioli. Mmmskies.
  • If we count cake frosting as a “sauce,” too, then your possibilities are pretty much endless. As I mentioned above, add a drizzle of maple syrup (and a dash or two of cinnamon) to frost fall desserts. Or, try stirring mashed strawberries or raspberries into a whipped vanilla frosting for a light, fruity flavor to top your cakes and cupcakes. I’m also experimenting with adding — you guessed it, lovelies — some jarred pumpkin. I’ll keep you posted on how that turns out.

Here’s to getting creative! Using some pre-made, store-bought ingredients can save you time, energy and money. Wallet-friendly and fun? Sign me up! What are your favorite ways to add to what you’ve already found at the grocery store?

Healthyish Morning Muffins

23 Aug

I shall call thee … STUDMUFFIN. Clearly, breakfast should be sexy. Duh.

Quick: What’d you have for breakfast this morning? If you can’t remember, that probably means one of three things:

  1. After noshing on your tasty breakfast, you were abducted by aliens, and Will Smith has already wiped out your brain with that white-laser-thingy.
  2. You didn’t eat breakfast – like the History Teacher tends not to do, tsk tsk! – and were too busy being in the opposite state of a diabetic coma all day to remember, well, anything
  3. Your breakfast was probably really, really lame. Or, at least, kind of forgettable, which is just as tragic.

We’ve played around with breakfast ideas before here at GKG, and while I love me some quinoa oatmeal and basic banana muffins as much as the next not-vegan-or-vegetarian-but-still-into-health-food person, it’s time to branch out into the wide world of Health Food. Based on Better Homes & Gardens’ master banana bread recipe (which I’ve virtually memorized by now … signs I could never go low-carb? Um, yes.), these muffins are packed with extra nutritional surprises – nuts, raisins, wheat flour, and even flax seed*. Depending on how fully you pack your muffin tins, this recipe will make 14-18 muffins. Enjoy!

*Flaxseed – ground into meal for this recipe by the lovely folks at Bob’s Red Mill – has loads of health benefits. They contain excellent doses of fiber, lignans (fancy term for a type of antioxidant) and omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re not sure how you feel about flaxseed, try this recipe; you’ll barely taste that nutty flavor. If you’re feeling daring, sprinkle a tablespoon onto your morning bowl of cereal (like I do), and see how you like it.

Here’s what the package looks like, if you get lost in a health food store and find yourself in a forest of alfalfa sprouts and tempeh.

Healthyish Morning Muffins, adapted from Better Homes & Gardens – makes 14-18 muffins

*Note: Extra tips for healthy ingredients are in parentheses.

Image sourced from simplyrecipes.com. Not an exact replica, but yours will look pretty close to these beauties. NOM NOM NOM.

You’ll need:

  • 1 ½ cups white all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup wheat flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed meal (you can skip this if it’s too hard to find)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ½ cups mashed ripe banana (2-3 bananas)
  • 1 cup sugar (or ½ cup sugar and ½ cup Stevia In The Raw)
  • ½ cup cooking oil / melted butter (or applesauce)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts or almonds
  • ¼ cup raisins or other dried fruit (cranberries or blueberries are particularly good)

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tins by spraying with Pam or greasing with oil / butter. In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices, and flaxeed meal in a bowl. Leave a small well in the center.
  • In a medium bowl, combine beaten eggs, mashed banana, sugar, and oil / applesauce. Add all at once to flour mixture, stirring until just combined (should still be lumpy). Fold in walnuts and raisins. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins using a ¼ cup measuring cup or a large serving spoon.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the muffins are nicely browned. Cool in muffin tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then, remove muffins and allow them to cool completely on wire rack. Enjoy!

These are delicious when topped with butter or margarine and strawberry or blueberry jam. They’re also delicious if you split and broil them briefly (no more than five minutes), then top with peanut butter for a PB-and-banana kick.

What are your favorite breakfast baked goods? Are you guys muffin people, or are you happy with a classic bagel & shmear? Or is the best breakfast of all a simple, steaming hot bowl of … nothing?