Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Feta Cornbread Muffins

The gas stove in our home hasn't been working. It won't start, and I'll have to wait for my dad to come home this weekend to fix it. My mom can make the stove start by lighting the stove with a match (only 5 left!) while simultaneously turning the stove on, but it's too much an effort for me to try. So for the past few days for lunch, I have been eating either cold foods or foods cooked in the oven or toaster oven. It's a wonder how many foods don't require the stove.

Yesterday I ate spaghetti squash roasted in the oven, then forked into a casserole bowl and then baked again until the top was browned and crisp. Today I had leftover cold lentil salad with toast, not to mention a lot of leftover Halloween candy. (Off topic, but did you know Milky Way and 3 Musketeers taste delicious frozen, like cold milkshakes.)

This afternoon, I decided to make feta cornbread muffins. They're moist corn muffins studded with crumbled bits of feta. The feta gives a bite to the muffin while the garlic powder provides the muffin with another dimension of flavor. They're delicious cold, savory with firm bits of feta, and even better warm, with melted strings of feta.

Feta Cornbread Muffins

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 Tbs canola oil
1 egg
1 cup milk (I used skim)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour through cheese).
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients (oil through milk).
4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Be careful not to overmix.
5. Fill muccin cups with about 3/4 full with batter.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes clean.
7. Makes about 12-14 muffins.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chili in Pumpkin Bowls

At the beginning of fall, way back in early-September, I had garnered quite a collection of pumpkin recipes to try this fall. I'd been fairly excited about this collection and had to use some willpower to wait until fall actually started to try the recipes.

Well, I've been crossing pumpkin recipes left and right on my list, and unfortunately they've been one disappointment after another. First was the pumpkin pie brownie cupcakes that had me drooling as I read the ingredients and came out tasting a bit like rubber sprinkled with cinnamon. Then came the pumpkin whoopie pies whose texture reminded me of a sponge, only mushier and softer. There was that promising pumpkin blondie that seemed like the epitome of a pumpkin desert, with added pecans and a copious amount of pumpkin pie spice, and turned out strangely pliable and bendable, and not in a good way.

Then on another blog, I caught sight of chili put inside a pumpkin bowl. The pumpkin was scooped out, cleaned, then baked before adding the chili, making the pumpkin edible, something you scoop along with a spoonful of hot chili. There was something about the idea of putting something hot and savory inside a pumpkin to be eaten together that made me bookmark the page and write the recipe on my "Pumpkin Recipes to Try" list.

And in the spirit of Halloween, I decided to make this recipe tonight for my mom and me. Strangely, my confidence was not dampened by my long string of failed pumpkin recipes. How can anyone go wrong with putting chili inside of a pumpkin?

For this recipe, I tried a vegetarian black bean chili recipe that I've been eying for quite a time and used the pumpkin picked by my sister at a farm. The chili was delicious scooped with soft pieces of pumpkin and sprinkled with crunchy tortilla chips. It was hot and filling, with just a kick of heat from the peppers and chili powder. The savory of the chili blended in perfectly with the slightly sweet meat of the pumpkin. My mom and I shared a pumpkin bowl and scraped out the pumpkin, eating every last drop of the chili.

Black Bean Chili in Pumpkin Bowls

3 mini pumpkins
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
3 cans 15.5 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, liquid included
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp oregano

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Take mini pumpkins and slice the top off about 3/4 of the way up. Scoop out insides of the pumpkin using a grapefruit spoon.
3. Brush insides with olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper.
4. Put pumpkins, without their tops, on a large baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. While they're roasting in the oven, make the chili.
5. Heat oil in a large heavy pan over medium heat.
6. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent.
7. Add the peppers and saute until tender.
8. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Add some water or broth if you like your chili slightly soupy.
9. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until thick.
10. Remove pumpkins from oven and fill the bowls 3/4 way full with chili.
11. Place pumpkins back into the oven, without their tops, and bake for another 30 minutes.
12. Once cooked, turn off oven and leave pumpkins in the oven with lid on to stay warm. They will stay hot in the oven for another hour if necessary.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Cupcakes

How is it already late-October? It seems just yesterday I went for a swim in the neighborhood pool under the piping hot sun. Now, I'm sitting snugly by the computer, clutching a mug of hot tea while outside, the wind blows the trees into a bow. Cloudy gray skies have replaced the brilliantly blue ones; the once verdant leaves are now a mosaic of yellow, brown, and red. I threw together a rough list of things I want to do and eat this fall.

Things to Do and Eat This Fall
1. pumpkins! (boy do I have a lot of pumpkin recipes to try)
2. dark nail polish
3. soups and stews
4. butternut squash
5. long walks around my neighborhood
6. sweatpants
7. kale

I wanted to make a dent in my pumpkin recipe collection and was going to share a pumpkin pie brownie cupcake that was vegan, to boot. However, the cupcake didn't work. It just tasted so...blah. The brownie batter was rubbery and tasted only faintly of chocolate. The pumpkin layer on top was okay, but actually tasted better raw.

I decided to put aside my pumpkin recipes for now, anyways, and try cinnamon apple cupcakes. The original recipe is actually a coffee cake, but I decided to make cupcakes instead. That way, I can cut the recipe in half and make smaller portions. These cinnamon apple cupcakes are pretty good. They're moist with the cream cheese and speckled with chunks of apples. Cinnamon sugar is sprinkled on top, creating a slightly crunchy top layer. It's not something I'd make again, but today, when I made a failed mushroom risotto and the dirty dishes piled in the kitchen sink, one of those cupcakes kind of hit the spot.

Cinnamon Apple Cupcakes
adapted from Cookinglight

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces block-style cream cheese, softened (about 3/4 cup)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups chopped, unpeeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 large)
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Beat 1 1/2 cups sugar, butter, vanilla, and cream cheese at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 4 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating at low speed until blended.

3. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Combine 2 tablespoons cinnamon mixture and apple in a bowl, and stir apple mixture into batter. Pour batter into an 8-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon mixture.

4. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack, and cut using a serrated knife.

Note: You can also make this cake in a 9-inch square cake pan or a 9-inch springform pan; just reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday I'm in Love

For seven days, I'm keeping a food journal of what I eat daily. This is day five.

Friday nights are a festive time in my family. My father and sister come home, and we usually eat better than we do on weekdays when it's only my mom and me. Today my mom made xian bing, or Chinese meat pies for dinner.

For the filling we used fresh chives from our herb garden. The chives were really the star in this dish, with their sweet, mild onion taste. Dipping them in Chinese rice vinegar, the xian bing was delicious, as expected.

BREAKFAST: bowl of plain yogurt with cereal and granola
MORNING SNACK: a glass of green smoothie and a piece of dark chocolate
LUNCH: ravioli with tomato sauce and a kit kat bar
SNACK I: strawberries
SNACK II: tortilla chips and salsa
DINNER: one and a half xian bing, or Chinese meat pies and polenta

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Halfway Through

For seven days, I'm keeping a food journal of what I eat daily. This is day four.

I am somewhat beginning to regret having started this experiment of sorts. I eat the same breakfast and morning snack everyday, a light lunch, and stir-fry for dinner. I'm sure some of my readers now read my blog with glazed-over eyes. But now that it's day four, we're halfway through, and it's too late to quit. After all, I started this experiment, and damn it, I'm going to finish it. So hang on with me. I can see the finish line. Here's what I ate today.

BREAKFAST: a bowl of plain yogurt with cereal and granola
EARLY MORNING SNACK: a glass of green smoothie
LATE MORNING SNACK: a French yogurt cupcake, a piece of dark chocolate, and three slices of baked tofu
LUNCH: baked sweet potato
SNACK I: grapes and strawberries
SNACK II: peanut butter and jelly toast; small plate of ravioli
SNACK III: a piece of dark chocolate; tortilla chips and salsa
DINNER: pollock stir fry with broccoli
DESSERT: a piece of dark chocolate

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cheese Muffins

For seven days, I'm keeping a food journal of what I eat daily. This is day three.

I woke up late today and came downstairs to my usual breakfast of plain yogurt with cereal and granola. Then, a while later (okay, ten minutes), I had my usual morning snack of a green smoothie. Since I didn't have a lunch planned, I decided to bake some cheese muffins and see what leftovers I have in the refrigerator to throw together a quick lunch. After the muffins were ready, I dug in. They were delicious, the cheese salty and savory, almost melting into the muffins. So I ate six of them and called it lunch. Here's what else I ate today.

BREAKFAST: a bowl of plain yogurt with cereal and granola
MORNING SNACK: a glass of green smoothie
LUNCH: 6 cheese muffins (recipe below)
AFTERNOON SNACK: a plate of strawberries and grapes; a piece of dark chocolate
DINNER: none (wasn't hungry.)


Cheese Muffins
from Pioneer Woman

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoonsalt
3 cups shredded colby-jack chese
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup melted butter (salted)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease muffin tins.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. Stir in cheese.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk egg, milk, and butter together.
5. Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir with a spoon to combine.
6. Bake in greased muffin tins at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Yield: 12

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

For seven days, I'm keeping a food journal of what I eat daily. This is day two.

I have no idea how this happened, but I ate the exact same breakfast, lunch, and dinner as yesterday. And I had four afternoons snacks. That's right. Four. Here is what I ate today.

BREAKFAST: a bowl of plain yogurt with cereal and granola and a baked (in the microwave; I know, I know) sweet potato
MORNING SNACK: green smoothie (recipe below)
LUNCH: veggie grilled cheese sandwich, two almond cookies
SNACK I: a bowl of grapes
SNACK II: a plate of strawberries
SNACK III: a slice of smoked gouda cheese, one sweet potato, and one CLIF kids twisted fruit rope
SNACK IV: a piece of dark chocolate
DINNER: a plate of pork stir fry with broccoli, tomatoes, and onions
DESSERT: a bowl of ice cream and two pieces of dark chocolate



1 banana
1 orange or apple
1/4 cup frozen strawberries
a handful of spinach (give or take)

1. Combine all ingredients in blender or magic bullet and blend until smooth.
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