Sunday, January 5, 2014

Tired of scrambled eggs

Greek Diner Breakfast Pie


Every three weeks, I work until the wee hours of the morning and then go back in the next day for an all-day meeting. Dinner that night is a trip to the local Greek diner, where I always order the same thing: a spinach and feta omelet with home fries (extra crispy). This dish is an homage to that meal.
Ingredients:
·         3 cups frozen hash browns (thawed)
·         1/2 bag of frozen spinach
·         1 tbsp olive oil
·         1 tsp chopped garlic
·         pinch of dried oregano
·         salt and pepper to taste
·         1/2 cup of feta cheese crumbles
·         3 eggs
·         1/2 cup half and half (or milk)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450. Spray a pie pan with cooking spray and spread the hash browns on the bottom and up the sides. Bake for 15-20 minutes until it gets brown and crispy.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a big frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and cook until the garlic is starting to toast a little. Add the frozen spinach and coat with the olive oil. Cook it down until the spinach is warmed through and enough moisture has evaporated so it doesn’t look as wet anymore.
Beat the eggs and half and half together, adding a pinch of salt and pepper.
Take the crust out of the oven and reduce the heat to 350. Spread the spinach over the bottom of the crust and sprinkle the feta cheese crumbles over it. Pour the eggs over everything. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the eggs are set.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Muffin of the Week

Tollhouse Cookie Muffins

These muffins taste best hot out of the oven. I like them best with mini chocolate chips because they stay suspended in the batter more evenly but if all you have are the regular sized ones, those will work fine too.  


Ingredients
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar
  3. Add the vanilla, milk, and melted butter to the wet mixture and whisk well to make sure the sugar is dissolved
  4. Put the remaining dry ingredients together in a larger bowl and whisk them together
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet stuff
  6. Mix the batter gently just until the dry ingredients are moistened
  7. Grease a muffin tin and divide the batter between the muffin cups
  8. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More Muffin Mania!


Banana Muffins

I expected these to taste like banana bread in muffin shape but they are much less dense. The same rule applies for bread though about ripeness. The riper the better, preferably a little overripe.

Ingredients
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp  cinnamon
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°
  2. In a small bowl, mash the bananas until they are very smooth
  3. Whisk in the egg and sugar
  4. Add the vanilla, milk, and oil to the wet mixture and whisk well to make sure the sugar is dissolved
  5. Put the remaining dry ingredients together in a larger bowl and whisk them together
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet stuff
  7. Mix the batter gently just until the dry ingredients are moistened
  8. Grease a muffin tin and divide the batter between the muffin cups
  9. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes

Monday, November 12, 2012

Muffin Mania

What's the point of blogging if you don't overshare every once in a while. When I split up with my husband, I found myself with no outlet for my unhealthy and overwhelming urge to nurture. The obvious solution was something that came to be known as Mini Muffin Mania! For a few weeks, my coworkers were inundated with nearly daily muffin deliveries. When I became unexpectedly unemployed, muffins seemed like the perfect outlet for my neurotic energy. Starting with a basic blueberry muffin recipe from my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook and the internet, Muffin Mania is back with a vengeance.

Muffin Basics

I played around with a bunch of muffin recipes and finally hit on a basic recipe that I can use as a base for whatever flavor combinations I come up with.  But no matter what recipe you use, the basic process is the same. Mix the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry ones in another. The additional ingredients get added to one of the mixtures, depending on whether they are wet or dry.
Wet Ingredients
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup sugar
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and sugar together
  2. Add the vanilla, milk, and oil to the egg and sugar mixture and whisk well to make sure the sugar is dissolved
Dry Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  1. Put everything together in a larger bowl and whisk it together

Add-ins
  • ½ cup tasty stuff
  1. If the add-ins are wet (like shredded apple or zucchini) mix them to the wet ingredients
  2. If they are really wet (like shredded apples) reduce the milk to ½ cup
  3. If the add-ins are dry or self-contained (like frozen blueberries or chocolate chips), mix them into the dry ingredients
  4. Coating them in the flour mixture will help keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins as they bake
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°
  2. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet stuff
  3. Mix the batter gently just until the dry ingredients are moistened
  4. Don't overmix the batter! That will make your muffins dense and tough
  5. Grease a muffin tin (I use non-stick spray) and divide the batter between the muffin cups
  6. Bake the muffins:
  7. For regular-sized muffins, bake 20-25 minutes
  8. For mini muffins, bake for 15-20 minutes
  9. For Texas-sized muffins, bake for 25-30 minutes

Apple Carrot Muffins

Notes: You can sprinkle the tops of these muffins with cinnamon sugar before baking for even more cinnamony goodness.


Ingredients
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°
  2. In a small bowl, beat the egg and mix in the milk, oil, sugar, vanilla until the sugar dissolves. Add the shredded carrot and apple to the liquid mixture.
  3. In a larger bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid ingredients. Stir together just until everything is wet. Don't overmix it, the batter should be lumpy.
  5. Divide the batter evenly into a greased muffin pan.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Caramel Apple Donut Muffins

These muffins are insanely delicious. Be careful not to burn your fingers dredging the hot muffins in the butter and cinnamon sugar. I found that dipping them in the butter then dropping them into a large bowl with the cinnamon sugar and swirling them around go the most even coating.  

Muffin Batter
  • 1 ¾ cup flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup milk

Apple Filling
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 large apple
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

Cinnamon Sugar Topping
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°

First, get the filling going:
  1. Melt the butter on medium heat
  2. Cube the apple and add to the butter once it gets foamy
  3. Sprinkle the sugar and the cinnamon over the apples and stir until everything is well mixed
  4. Cut back the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes

While the apples are cooking, put the batter together:
  1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon
  2. In a separate, large bowl, combine oil, sugar, egg and milk
  3. Add dry ingredients and stir only to combine

Now put it all together:
  1. Coat your muffin pan well with nonstick cooking spray
  2. Fill each muffin cup about a third of the way
  3. Add apples to the middle of the batter, making sure there's room around the edges
  4. Spoon batter into each muffin cup so it completely covers the apples
  5. Don't worry about making it cover completely, the batter will spread out as it bakes but try and cover as much of the apple as you can
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes
  7. Run a knife around the sides of the muffin and shake them out of the pan while still hot

Now the part that really makes them irresistible:
  1. Melt the butter in a bowl
  2. Mix the sugar with the cinnamon in another bowl
  3. Dip muffins in butter, then into the cinnamon sugar
  4. Let cool as long as you can resist them. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Chorizo for One


I was at the butcher the other day and got myself some chorizo. Then a week later I had a small stroke and decided to buy the jumbo package of chorizo at BJ's. Now I have a freezer full of chorizo. Luckily, it's tasty and relatively quick to prepare. Here are some of the things I've been doing with it.
Both these recipes make one serving. If you're cooking for more people, assume one sausage for each person.

NOTE: I'm talking about uncooked Mexican-style chorizo, not the cooked Spanish kind.

Chorizo Hash

This isn't so much a recipe, just a way to use some of your chorizo surplus and leftovers. When I made it this morning, I cut up some leftover French fries from 5 Guys.

Dice up some potatoes and add them to a preheated frying pan with some olive oil. Pour in a tablespoon or two of water and a little salt and pepper (how much salt you need depends on how salty your chorizo is). Put a lid on the pan. Meanwhile, remove the outer casing from chorizo. Once the water has evaporated form the pan, crumble the chorizo into the pan. Fry until the chorizo is cooked and the potatoes are a little crispy.

Herbed Chorizo and Garlic Grits

This recipe is loosely based on a really nice appetizer I helped a friend make at his Tapas-themed Christmas party last year.

Ingredients

  • 1 chorizo, frozen
  • 2 tbsp fresh herbs, chopped (I don't think it really matters what kind but I use thyme, rosemary, and oregano)
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Instant grits
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder


While the chorizo is still frozen, remove the outer casing and slice into ¼" to ½" slices. Add the olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the chorizo until crispy. Add the fresh herbs and some black pepper. Take pan off the heat and splash in the vinegar.

Meanwhile, prepare the grits according to the instructions on the package and add garlic powder to taste. I always use chicken stock instead of water and add some garlic powder and black pepper to the stock while I'm bringing it up to a boil. Add salt based on how salty your stock is. Put the grits in a bowl and pour the chorizo on top. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thanksgiving Mania Begins

My family loves cranberries of all kinds at Thanksgiving. We always had to have both the whole berry kind and the kind that comes out shaped like a can. Actually, we have to have 2 cans of the jellied kind every year because once, in the 40 year history of my Thanksgivings, my mother forgot to get the jellied kind and ever since then, someone always brings an emergency, back-up can.

One year I decided to get all fancy and make the whole berry sauce from scratch, which is when I discovered that making cranberry sauce from scratch is idiot simple. So after the first year when I just used the recipe on the bag, I started playing with the recipe and this is what I make now.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tangerines    
  • ¾ cup sugar    
  • 1-12 oz. package of fresh cranberries    
  • 1 tbsp crystallized ginger

Directions:

Slice the crystallized ginger into thin strips. Zest the oranges and juice them. Add enough water to the orange juice to make 1 cup total. Add sugar, zest, ginger, and orange juice to a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook it until it is the consistency you like. If you prefer your berries almost fresh, take it off the heat as soon as they pop (about 5 minutes.) if you like a much more jelly-like sauce, cook it down for 15. Pour the sauce into a bowl, let it cool down to room temperature and then refrigerate until Thanksgiving.

Notes:

The first year I made this, I got out my fancy zester and made the long, pretty orange zest curls. The flavor was great but a few members of my family mentioned that they didn't taste so great. So now I use my vegetable peeler and cut off big sheets at a time that are much easier to avoid biting into. If you are putting this sauce on a Thanksgiving table that strives to look like it came from the pages of Gourmet Magazine, go for the fancy curls. If your family is more into power eating than appearance, go for the big sheets of zest.

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Lovely Bunch of… Cucumbers

It's summer in Baltimore which means an abundance of cucumbers. And when I have cucumbers, I think Greek food.

Chicken Souvlaki

Note: this recipe works just as well for pork or beef.

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp course black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

Directions:

Mix the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup of the yogurt mixture in a separate bowl. Cut the chicken into 1" cubes and add to yogurt mixture. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Skewer chicken and brush with olive oil. Cook on a hot grill for 3 or 4 minutes per side. Brush the reserved marinade on the chicken after you flip them. Serve on grilled pita or naan with tzatziki sauce and feta cheese.

One thing I am not especially fond of is runny tzatziki so while I am draining the excess moisture from the cucumbers, I put my yogurt in a coffee filter in another strainer to drain out the excess whey.

Tzatziki Sauce

Note: Spring for the Greek yogurt. You can really taste the difference in this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (or 1 container) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp course black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 cloves garlic, pressed or minced very finely
  • 1 medium to large cucumber

Directions:

On the largest side of a box grater, grate the cucumber. Sprinkle with salt and place in a colander or strainer for at least half an hour to drain the excess water. Mix the yogurt, olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Add shredded cucumber and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

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