Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What's Baking: Blood Orange Poppy Seed Muffins

Another day, another blood orange recipe. There's just something about that pink orange juice and bright red orange zest that I just can't get enough of. 

This time around I replaced the lemon with blood orange in my favorite lemon poppy seed muffin recipe. I love the sweetness and crunch in these bright citrus muffins. And paired with a steaming mugful of strong coffee? Now that's a match made in heaven. 

I made these muffins a little bit healthier by subbing in Greek yogurt for some of the butter and decreasing the amount of sugar. However, these muffins are still just as tasty as ever.

My favorite way to eat them? For second breakfast, of course. Or as an afternoon snack with a hot mug of green tea -- a delicious pick-me-up for that mid-afternoon slump.

Blood Orange Poppy Seed Muffins (printer-friendly version)
makes about 12 muffins

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon blood orange zest
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup fresh blood orange juice
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, browned, and cooled
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line a 12-count muffin tin with paper liners. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, use the back of a spoon to rub the sugar with the blood orange zest until fragrant.
4. Use a whisk to mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt into the sugar mixture.
5. In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, blood orange juice, eggs, vanilla, and cooled browned butter.
6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to incorporate. Stir in the poppy seeds.
7. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
8. Top each muffin cup with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar.
9. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
10. Let the muffins cool for five minutes in the tin before removing them and placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.


Friday, February 27, 2015

On the Radio: Two Ways to Roast the Perfect Chicken

My latest WXPR segment is now available online. This month I discuss my favorite ways to make a roast chicken. You can listen to (or read) the story by clicking here

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What's Baking: Blood Orange Bundt Cake

I think I'm in love with a cake. That's totally normal, right? Yeah, maybe don't answer that question.

But this blood orange bundt cake has it all -- a moist, tender crumb and a bright citrus and rich buttery flavor. The addition of an orange glaze over top, dotted with fresh orange zest, seals the deal on this cake's deliciousness. Oh man, now I really want another slice. Cake for breakfast is totally legit, right? Maybe don't answer that question, too.

This cake is best served the day it is made; wrap any leftovers tightly and store at room temperature for up to three days.

Blood Orange Bundt Cake (printer-friendly version)
makes 10-12 servings

For the cake:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
3 eggs
1 tablespoon fresh blood orange zest
1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed blood orange juice
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice

For the orange glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with cooking spray or butter. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the oil. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla extract.
4. On low speed, stir in 1/3 of the flour, then 1/3 of the orange juice. Repeat until all the flour and orange juice has been added and no flour streaks remain. Do not overmix.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepped pan, using a rubber spatula to even out the batter.
6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.
7. After the cake has cooled, make the glaze: in a small bowl, stir together the sifted powdered sugar, orange juice, and orange zest until smooth. Spoon or drizzle the glaze over the cake. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What's On the Side: Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

I really love quinoa -- it's such a nutritional powerhouse -- but for whatever reason I haven't made it in quite some time. I rectified that error over the weekend when I made a batch of quinoa and black bean salad to share with friends over dinner.

Given its quick cooking time (about 15 minutes), quinoa is a snap to make. And its slightly nutty flavor lends itself well to a variety of flavor combinations. For this quinoa and black bean salad (which I think would work just as well as an entree as it does as a side), I added black beans, red pepper, green onions, and a dressing made from lime juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and several different Tex-Mex style seasonings. Cilantro adds freshness to the salad and provides a nice counterbalance to all the other flavors. This simple and easy quinoa salad is the perfect addition to your next taco night. I know I can't wait to make (and eat!) it again.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad (printer-friendly version)
makes 6-8 servings

1 cup quinoa, rinsed if necessary
2 cups water

1 can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
6-7 green onions, white and green parts sliced (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed, diced fine (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cloves minced garlic, pressed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Add the quinoa and water to a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then place the lid on the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until water has been absorbed. Spread the cooked quinoa out on a plate and allow to cool.
2. After the quinoa has cooled slightly, spoon it into a large bowl. Stir in the black beans, sliced green onions, diced red pepper, and chopped cilantro.  
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and stir to combine.
4. Cover and chill for at least one hour before serving to allow the flavors time to meld together. This salad can be served chilled or at room temperature.

Friday, February 20, 2015

What's Baking: Citrus Sugar Cookies with a White Chocolate Drizzle

While we haven't been bombarded with snow like the East Coast has, the temperatures have definitely swooped way below zero of late. My one ray of sunshine in this wintry tundra landscape has been an endless intake of citrus fruits.

And, while, of course you could just drink freshly-squeezed orange juice or peel and eat an orange whole, I have chosen to instead incorporate fresh orange zest and orange juice into a sugar cookie. How's that sugar detox going, you might ask? Let's not talk about it -- and eat these delicious orange-flavored sugar cookies instead. :)

Citrus Sugar Cookies with a White Chocolate Drizzle (printer-friendly version)
makes 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on cookie cutter size

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange juice
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/3 cup white chocolate chips or wafers, for melting

1. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then beat in the vanilla extract, almond extract, orange zest, and orange juice. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in several small batches while stirring at low speed. Continue stirring until all of the flour is nearly incorporated. Then stir by hand to completely incorporate the flour.
3. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Pat one of the portions into a circle, then roll flat (1/4" or 1/8" thick) between two sheets of parchment paper. Repeat with the second portion of dough.
4. Refrigerate the rolled-out dough for at least one hour. The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to five days.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into different shapes. Place the cut-out dough onto a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or a silpat.
6. Bake for 8-15 minutes (depending on cookie thickness). Remove the cookies from the oven once the edges are set and just beginning to turn gold in color. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.
7. After the cookies have cooled, melt the white chocolate (I used the microwave), and then drizzle over top the cookies. (I like to use a squeeze bottle, a fork would work, too.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

What's Baking: Chocolate Espresso Brownies

Valentine's Day may be over, but that doesn't mean we can't still enjoy some delicious chocolatey treats. Particularly if you can now make them with some chocolate bought at 75% off!

These brownies get an added oomph of flavor from the addition of instant espresso powder. Coffee deepens and complements the chocolate flavor -- a good thing in my book!

If you've never made brownies from scratch, I'd highly recommend giving this recipe a try. Your tastebuds will be greatly rewarded!

Chocolate Espresso Brownies (printer-friendly version)
makes 8 heart-shaped or 12 square brownies

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons instant espresso
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
powdered sugar, for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 11x17 baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease with cooking spray or butter.
2. Melt the chocolates and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, 2-3 minutes. Stir until smooth.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sifted cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder. Set aside.
4. Using an electric mixer, beat together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well-combined and light yellow in color, about 2 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture. Slowly stir in the flour mixture until completely combined.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepped baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted 2 inches from a side comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool completely before removing them from the pan. Use a cookie cutter to cut the brownies into a heart shape, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

(adapted from this Whole Foods recipe)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What's For Breakfast: Valentine's Eggy-in-a-(Heart-Shaped)-Basket

While there are plenty of fancier things you could make for a Valentine's Day breakfast, sometimes going the simple route can be just as tasty. (And will leave you with a much cleaner kitchen!) Case in point, this eggy-in-a-(heart-shaped)-basket. All you need is a heart-shaped cookie cutter, some bread, butter, and an egg to whip up this simple-but-delicous breakfast.

If you want to set a more romantic scene, grab a bottle of champagne and some orange juice and serve mimosas on the side. Or, if you're in a down-home kind of mood, cook up some homefries or hashbrowns to serve alongside this savory egg-n-toast combination.

makes one serving

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 slice of bread
1 egg
fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.
2. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut a heart shape out of the center of the slice of bread. Place the slice of bread into the skillet and slide it around a little bit to coat it in the butter.
3. Crack an egg into the hole in the bread slice. After the egg has set, flip the slice of bread over and cook it on the other side, about 1-2 minutes more. (Cook it shorter or longer depending on how runny you like your egg.)
4. While the egg is cooking, add the heart-cutout into the skillet and toast on both sides.
5. Remove from the heat and set on a plate to serve. Season the egg to taste with salt and pepper.

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