Monday, January 12, 2015

Marvelous Zuchinni Muffins. Tops like a sugar cookie, bottoms like a crumb cake.

It's amazing to me that just now, with Sawyer edging towards 17 months, I JUST now feel like I have control of my life again. And that said, now that he's in his second round of teething - that's even debatable most days.

Yet I feel kind of giddy that last Friday evening after a crazy workday, I managed to dream up this recipe and have it turn out as well as it did. It's so classic - I have no less than a couple hundred cookbooks and yet I couldn't find the trusty zuchinni bread recipe I made last. So I wrote down what I thought would work, set out the butter and eggs and went to bed, thinking I'd likely be tossing my experiment the next day. Quite the contrary - I don't think I'll make zuchinni bread or muffins from another recipe for a long time to come.

You can dress these up for winter with a hit of orange zest (or a grating of fresh ginger) or for summer with some lemon zest or just make them exactly as is. I do have to tell you, they are more of an adult muffin recipe as they have a nice mildly salty bite to them. Kris and I love a little salt in our sweets and in my opinion, the flavor balance here is perfect. But it gives them a more complex taste than most super sweet muffins - not that this bothered Sawyer Lee in the least. He LOVES them and to say he is picky is an understatement.

I hope you make them. The crust gets this amazing sugar cookie/oatmeal cookie texture while the center is dreamy and fluffy and soft. Eat them warm (micro the leftovers) with a pat of butter.

Marvelous Zuchinni Muffins
If you set out the butter and eggs the night before so you can literally whip this up in the morning in a half an hour. I was too lazy to get out my electric hand held mixer so I just whipped the butter an oil together by hand with a whisk. Totally worked but no doubt the hand held would be faster.

1 stick salted butter, room temp (leave out the night before morning of baking)
1/2 cup oil (I use Spectrum Canola/Coconut blend) though vegetable or canola would work
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt (if using table salt, 1/2 teaspoon)
2 eggs, room temp and beaten
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup grated zuchinni, pressed with a towel to remove excess moisture
1/2 cup chopped pecans
20-24 muffin liners, optional, or baking/nonstick spray

In a large bowl, cream the softened butter and oil with a handheld mixer until smooth. Add in the sugar and cream again until well blended.

In a separate (smaller) bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Fold into the sugar/oil/butter mixture in three additions until combined. Stir in the eggs then vinegar, zuchinni and pecans.

Fill prepared muffin tins (either lined with muffin cups or sprayed with nonstick spray, number depending on size of your muffins tins but usually between 20-24) 3/4 the way full and bake at 375 for 15-17 minutes, just until tops are very light gold and cake tester comes out clean/with crumbs rather than wet batter when poked down the center.

Serve right away with butter or let cool completely and store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Pork and Cauliflower Stir Fry for the Workin' Folk

Happy New Year Y'all. Mine has already started off with a bang. Work's crazy. Toddlers are crazy. Oh and all that holiday eating and drinking has left me feeling less than virtuous. Enter the stir fry. Chock full of veggies and about a million miles away from cheese-laden holiday casseroles. Not that there's anything wrong with cheese-laden casseroles, we just need to take a break from one another for a little while.

The beauty of this recipe is you can prep all the veggies and even the sauce in the morning and store them in the fridge until you're ready to make it. I bet you could even do this the night before.

Hope your new year is starting off wonderfully.

Pork and Cauliflower Stir Fry

Veg to prepare and store ahead (or use right away):
1 large shallot, sliced into thin rings
2 green onions, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped or cut into strips (I like one red and yellow)
1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets (to cook faster)

Sauce (mix the following together and chill in a small airtight container or use right away):
1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup soy sauce (use low sodium if you are sensitive to salty food)
1/3 cup sake
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (I like brown rice)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Also needed:
Canola/peanut or oil of choice (I like Spectrum non GMO canola/coconut blend)
1 pound lean ground pork
1 cup rice combined with 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock in a medium stockpot with lid - bring to boil then reduce heat to low and let cook for 10-12 minutes, fluff with a fork and set aside
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Red pepper flakes, optional

To make stir fry:
Add just enough oil of to lightly coat bottom and sides of a wok or large cast iron skillet, turning to help coat. Heat over medium/high heat and allow to warm through for one minute.

Add the ground pork and cook, stirring frequently for 5-7 minutes until cooked through. Kill the heat as you transfer the pork to a holding plate or bowl and set aside. Add a little more oil to the pan and turn the heat back onto medium/high.

Add the veggies (do not season with salt if using regular soy sauce) and sauté, using your spoon to disperse them over as much of the surface area as you can to help sear them. Cook and stir for about 7-10 minutes until you have a good sear on the veg and the cauliflower seems mostly cooked.

Return the cooked pork into the pan and pour over the prepared sauce. Crank the heat up all the way and stir everything to coat in the sauce and let it reduce and bubble away for a couple of minutes.

Serve over the prepped rice.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and/or red pepper flakes if desired.