Monday, January 19, 2015

Simple Vanilla Muffins (also with chocolate chips)

Would you believe I took these pictures with my phone camera this morning? I've been putting off buying a new camera ever since my previous one took a dip in the Gulf of Mexico a few years ago because I could squeak by using my daughter's camera. But then she went and took her camera to college with her. So rude, right? But Yay! for camera phones! (Honestly, I'm so surprised the pictures turned out as well as they did...).

These vanilla muffins are so good. You can make them plain or add almost any kind of mix-in, like these Chocolate Chip ones I made this morning. I really want to try adding pineapple tidbits--when I was a senior in High School I'd get pineapple muffins at the cafeteria for breakfast and I remember them being so delicious. There are so many possibilities: Pineapple, Blueberries, Chopped Apple and Cinnamon, Chopped Dates and Orange, a dollop of jam before baking, Sausage, Bacon and Fresh many possibilities...

These muffins freeze beautifully. Simply pop a frozen muffin in the microwave for 30 seconds on half power (repeat if necessary) and enjoy!

Simple Vanilla Muffins

10 oz all-purpose flour (about 2 cups-shake flour, scoop, level)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup milk (I use whole milk)
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
for chocolate chip muffins add:
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Heat your oven to 350 and line 15 muffin-pan cavities with muffin papers.

2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips (if using) and whisk well to combine. In a separate medium bowl combine the milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well blended.

3. Use a muffin scoop (or a 1/4-cup measuring cup) to scoop the batter into the prepared muffin. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched lightly. Remove muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely (if you can wait that long).

Makes about 15 muffins.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tuna Burgers with Greens & Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette

This is one of my favorite recipes right now. The flavors in the burgers combined with the lemon vinaigrette are so delicious. Just yum!

I experimented with both regular canned tuna (in water) and white Albacore tuna, and my family and I decided that the white Albacore tuna was much more suited to making burgers. The regular tuna made a kind of mushy burger, which wasn't nearly as nice. 

When you're prepping your ingredients, make sure to finely mince the veggies, since they don't have a lot of time in the pan. If you cut them too big they won't cook enough. Also, when draining your tuna, just give it a squeeze with the lid. If you SQUEEZE it with the lid too much liquid comes out and the tuna gets pretty dry.

Flipping the burgers takes a bit of finesse. I use two spatulas to flip the burgers over because when I used just one the burgers kept breaking. I use one spatula to scoop the burger out of the pan and then gently place it on the business-end of the other spatula, which is turned upside-down, and then I use the first spatula to slide the burger back into the pan. (Maybe I needed to take pictures...)

Also, the creamy lemon vinaigrette for this recipe is really, really good, and you should use it for other things besides these tuna burgers. I've been successful keeping left-over vinaigrette in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Note: This recipe makes 4 tuna burgers. I always double it so we have left-overs.

printable recipe
Creamy Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Tuna Burgers 

1/4 cup green or red bell pepper, minced
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup celery, minced
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
zest from 1 lemon
2 whole eggs
1 egg white
6 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed
1 12-oz can white Albacore tuna, drained
Olive or avocado oil for cooking
8 handfulls baby lettuce blend (2 handfulls for each burger)

1. For the vinaigrette, combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside. Re-whisk before using.

2. In a large bowl, combine the bell pepper, onion, celery, bread crumbs, dill, oregano, basil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon zest, eggs, egg white, and spinach; mix well until evenly combined. Add the tuna and mix carefully until evenly combined with the vegetable mixture (I like to leave some larger pieces of tuna intact).

3. Use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to measure out level 1/2-cup scoops of the tuna mixture to form 4 4-inch patties; let them rest for a few minutes on a cutting board or tray.

4. Heat 2-3 teaspoons oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and carefully transfer 2 to 3 patties to the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes, carefully turn them over, and then cook for 3-5 more minutes. Remove them to a plate and keep them warm. Add a little more oil to the pan if needed and repeat with the remaining patties.

5. Put the lettuce in a large bowl, add some of the creamy vinaigrette (this is to taste, meaning add as much or as little of the vinaigrette as you like), and gently toss with tongs to coat the lettuce evenly. Divide the lettuce between 4 plates, top the lettuce with a tuna burger, drizzle the burger with additional vinaigrette, and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings, 1 tuna burger and 2 handfulls lettuce each. **My husband usually eats to burgers, so adjust the serving suggestion to your liking.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Double-Chocolate Cupcake Muffins (aka Science Fair Muffins)

I call these "cupcake muffins" because the only thing that makes them not cupcakes is that they don't have any frosting. And calling them muffins makes them appropriate for breakfast. Yep. You're welcome.

At my house we also call these "Science Fair Muffins" because my daughter used them as part of her science fair project last year. She wanted to find out what combination of baking soda and cream of tartar would give the same results as baking powder (which is baking soda already combined with an acid). I already have a chocolate muffin recipe we like, but it uses baking soda and buttermilk (the acid), so it wouldn't work for her project. I fiddled around with the recipe until I had one that used baking powder and regular milk, and that's this one.

I won't go into all the details about her experiment because there are m-a-n-y, except to say that she and I (we took turns) ended up making nearly 20 batches of muffins--because the experiment had to be done three times (can you imagine my tears when I read that part of the instructions part-way through the experiment process?)--and that we didn't make chocolate muffins for a long time after that.

Here is one of the pictures she used on her display board. The differences are pretty interesting, huh?

She didn't place in the contest, which was disappointing, because we both thought it was an awesome experiment, complete with blind taste-testing performed by fortunate--or unfortunate, in the case of the muffins made with only baking soda-- friends and neighbors. Guess there just aren't enough food nerds in the Science Fair

These muffins are definitely best the day they are baked, and the best way I've found to store extras is in a zip bag in the freezer. To thaw them without killing them I put one in the microwave upside-down on a napkin and zap it for 30 seconds on 30% power. Then I turn it over and zap it again for 30 seconds on 30% power. I know it's a bit specific, but it works.

Also, don't skip the sifting part of the instructions. Sifting the flour and cocoa powder through a fine-mesh sieve gives you a much more tender, moist, and lovely muffin. And, as always, I suggest weighing the flour and cocoa powder to get consistent results.

Double-Chocolate Cupcake Muffins
printable recipe

10 oz all-purpose flour, sifted (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 oz cocoa powder, sifted (about 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled a bit
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Heat your oven to 400 deg and line 20 cavities of 2 24-cavity muffin pans with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and mix well. In another medium bowl whisk together the milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well with a silicone spatula.

3. Use a muffin scoop or 1/4-cup measuring cup to scoop the batter into the paper-lined muffin pans. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out almost clean. Cool completely before eating so the paper comes off easily.

Makes 20 muffins.
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