Monday, July 27, 2009

easy blueberry muffins

Made with frozen blueberries, you can enjoy these all year round.

Makes 8 large or 12 medium muffins.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease or line muffin tins with paper wrappers.

Mix together 2 C all purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 C sugar, dash cinnamon, 1 tsp lemon zest (optional). Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and crack an egg into it. Pour 1 1/4 C yogurt into the well with the egg and mix ingredients until everything looks moist (batter can be lumpy). Add 1 C blueberries and distribute into muffin tins. Sprinkle tops of muffins with a little sugar - turbinado is especially good for this. Bake for 25-30 mins at 350 and let rest 5 mins before removing from cupcake tins.

Palak with tofu (palak paneer)

I'm a big fan of Indian food, but don't always like to go the whole 9 yards. Paneer, a traditional inian cottage cheese, is easy to make, but time consuming (you basically boil a gallon whole milk with a quart yogurt until curds form, then strain and press those curds to form a cheese block). Tofu is a healthy tasty paneer stand in when you don't have the time to make paneer.

Cube a pound of tofu and set out on paper towels to drain. Once drained, saute with curry powder until browned ad remove from heat. Thinly slice 3 small or 2 medium white onions and saute, sprinkling liberally with curry powder until translucent. Add about 3/4 package (12oz) chopped frozen spinach (no need to thaw) and stir until thawed. Run the whole mixture through a blender or food processor, pulsing until smooth but not quite pureed with 1/2 C whole fat yogurt or sour cream. Return to the pan with tofu and simmer on low.

Start some rice - either 1 C brown or 1 C white in a saucepan with 3 C water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered until grain are fluffy and soft (white rice: 20 min, brown rice 30-40 min).

Monday, July 20, 2009

homemade whipped cream

So simple, but lots of people my age don't know how to make it. Fresh whipped cream is one of life's simple joys. Buy heavy whipping cream, as fresh as you can get it, and ideally the ingredients should say "Cream" and nothing else.

Use 8oz cream if you've having a few people over for waffles or sunday brunch, more (1 pint) if you're going to be serving lots of ice cream or dessert.

Pour 8 or 16 oz cream into chilled metal or glass bowl. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract per 8oz cream and 1-2 tbsp per 8oz cream. Grab a hand held mixer and start beating at the lowest speed to start, slowly increasing speed as the bubbles get smaller and the mixture get frothier. Beat until you hit stiff peaks, but not any further, or you'll get a lumpy mixture with tiny butter granules in it. Stiff peaks are when you can lift the beaters out of the cream and the cream sticks straight up, and flops over very little.


Smoothies are one of my favorite ways to eat a healthy breakfast. You'll definitely need a solid blender for this one - I have an Oster Pro and it only takes a few seconds to blend everything together. TO cut costs and also keep everything cold, I use a lot of frozen fruit. Here is the smoothie I made this morning:

(add in this order for best results)

1/2 C frozen raspberries
3/4 C frozen strawberries
1 C full fat yogurt (plain, no sugar)
1 medium banana, broken into several pieces (best if they're just beginning to get a few spots)
1 tbsp sugar/honey
1-2 tbsp orange juice concentrate

blend until the frozen fruit is completely pulverized. Add 4 ice cubes and blend until ice is crushed. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

soaking beans

Dried beans are my favorite as it's easier to cook them to your favorite consistency and flavor them accordingly. Great Northern beans are one of my favorites - give them a nice long soak, boil them up with a little broth, and they taste buttery and creamy.

Pour a pound of beans into a large bowl and give them the once over, discarding any non-bean particles and sketchy looking beans. Rinse once with cold water, then cover by 2-3 inches and let soak, about 8 hours. I try to get them soaking before work so they're ready when I get home.

After the soak, pour off the soaking water and re-cover with an inch or so of fresh water. Put into a large stock pot, turn heat to high and cover. Add stock or stock concentrate now. I like Minor's vegetable base, it goes really well with these beans. Set your timer for an hour, then take a bean out, cool it and eat it. If it's tough, keep going for another 30 minutes and try again, if you like your beans really soft, go for another hour (the skins might burst). You can also use a pressure cooker, just make sure not to overfill it and go for about 20-30 minutes at a time with presoaked beans.

I like to make quick vegetable soups out of the beans using frozen spinach and cauliflower and maybe a few tomatoes (sun dried are lovely). Since the beans are cooked, just get some water going, put the frozen vegetables in the pot and once they're thawed, throw some cooked beans in the pot and let it all mix together for 5-10 minutes at near boiling. You can also freeze the just cooked beans for future use. One pound of beans makes about 2 quarts cooked (I store them in clean yogurt containers).