Sourdough Blueberry Muffins


After a few months of a baking hiatus, I pulled my sourdough starter (Frank) out of the fridge before thanksgiving.  I baked a couple of loaves but they just aren’t everything they could be. Too dense, too sad-looking. 

So, in an effort to rev up my starter and strengthen it enough to get a great loaf of bread, Frank has been living on the counter being fed twice a day. This creates a lot of leftover starter and we can only eat so much bread. 


This morning, I tried a new recipe from King Arthur Flour–blueberry sourdough muffins. Sounded interesting enough!
Frank didn’t have quite enough volume to get a full cup from him, so I made a half batch which yielded 10 smallish muffins. 

These were tasty but unlike most of my usual muffins. The maple syrup sweetener is very mild so these are much more like enriched bread than muffins. The sourdough flavor is pretty much swamped by the blueberries but it is there if you look for it. Perhaps if my starter was stronger, it would come through more.  Surprisingly, my kids loved these despite the lack of super sweetness. 
Small batch Sourdough Blueberry Muffins

120 grams AP flour

70 grams yellow cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 cup sourdough starter, fed or unfed

1/8 cup milk

1/2 large egg or 1 yolk

2 tblsp melted butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup blueberries, frozen (wild blueberries are best but I only had regular today)

Demerara or coarse sugar, for sprinkling tops
Preheat oven to 425 and prepare muffin pan.

Combine dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, leaving blueberries out until the last step. Thoroughly stir the wet, then add the wet to the dry. Stir until nearly combined. Add blueberries and stir a few more times. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and top with coarse sugar. 

Bake 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. 

Chicken Pot Pie Stew

I’ve made chicken pot pie before and, good grief, it takes forever. Worth it when you have the time but I don’t always have (or want to spend) three hours to make dinner.

Thanks to the magic of the instant pot, you can now have all the amazingness of chicken pot pie in 35 minutes or so. And–for bonus points–only one dish to clean.  Sounds like a perfect weeknight dinner to me!  You can even cook this using frozen chicken breasts for an even easier meal.

While I was cooking this, my entire house smelled like Thanksgiving thanks to the poultry seasoning and aromatics.

I served mine with some puff pastry but this would be equally great with garlic toast, cornbread, or even a hunk of baguette.

Everyone loved loved it and my kid even ate a bunch of the vegetables. That’s a win for sure.  This delivers all the flavor of a “for real” chicken pot pie with almost no fuss.  The chicken is tender and flavorful from being cooked in the broth and the vegetables are still flavorful and non-mushy since they are added at the end.  I doubt I will make any changes next time–except maybe skipping the hours of prep involved in making puff pastry from scratch but that is a whole other post!

Chicken Pot Pie Stew

  • 3 large chicken breasts
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 bag frozen cut green beans
  • 2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. flour

Set your Instant Pot to saute and add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery along with the oil. Add salt and pepper as well as the poultry seasoning during cooking.  Cook until the vegetables have just begun to soften.    Then add the stock (carefully!) and the chicken.  I used thawed chicken.  If you want to cook  from frozen, add a few minutes to the cook time.  Use the poultry setting for 15 minutes.  Quick release.

Remove the cooked chicken and set aside to cool.  Set your IP to the saute setting and add the frozen vegetables.  If you are in a hurry, you can microwave them for a few minutes to reduce the cooking time in the IP.  Bring the liquid back up to a boil.  Mix the cream with the flour, then add to the IP.  Dice the chicken and return it to the pot.  Allow it to cook for roughly 5 minutes to thicken very slightly.

 

Cheese UnBalls

My Mom has been making these cheese balls for as long as I can remember. I snubbed them as a child because “they looked icky” but I’ve since come around. These things are straight out of the 1970’s when tacos were considered “international cuisine.”
My mom would spend forever chopping the dried beef and then making tiny cheese balls to roll in the beef.  I still remember the face she would make when my dad would come by and put an entire mini cheeseball on a cracker. All that labor and fussiness gone in a second.

Ain’t nobody got time for that and, thanks to my food processor, I can spend 1/25938293th of the time for basically the same result in spread form.


The hardest part of making this recipe will be finding the ingredients in the grocery store.  You are going to need prepared horseradish and dried beef. My husband thought it was some cruel joke the first time he was sent to the store with these on the list. The horseradish will be in the refrigerated section near the pickles/chip dips. The dried beef will be by the spam and canned tuna.

I know both of these ingredients sound terrible. You just have to trust that these will come together into a spicy cream cheese. And then don’t tell anyone what is in them until after they’ve tried them because you’ll get some funny looks and nobody will be willing to try them.

Bringing this recipe together couldn’t be simpler:  put the dried beef in the food processor and pulse a few times until it is about 1/4 inch pieces.  Remove the beef from the processor and add the cream cheese and horseradish. You’ll need to judge how much to use. Do you like horseradish/spicy food?  I do so I use about 1/4 cup. Start with less and add to taste.

Once you have a cheese flavor you like, add the beef back in and pulse to combine.  You still want decent sized flakes of the beef, so don’t blend until it is smooth. Serve on crackers, celery, bagels, anything you like!  It’s spicy but cool from the cream cheese–like jalepeno cream cheese but…horseradishier. The dried beef brings a little flavor but mostly it adds a texture element.

 

Spicy horseradish cheese spread

–two blocks of cream cheese

–1/4 cup prepared horseradish

–1 jar of dried beef

Pulse the dried beef in the processor to chop it up. Remove to a bowl.

Add the cream cheese and horseradish to the processor and pulse smooth. Add beef and pulse to combine

Radish Chips, take 1

My son and I went a little overboard planting radishes this spring. Since they are quick to grow, I knew seeing all the little green sprouts within a few days would keep him excited about our little backyard garden beds.  

 

Now I’m stuck with a glut of radishes. I like radishes…but how many can one person eat? I turned to google and came across a few recipes for radish chips. They were all pretty vague, so I sacrificed just two radishes for the first try.    

I sliced them on the thinnest setting on my mandolin. I don’t use my mandolin often but it’s the only tool for some jobs. 

 

Then, spread them on a single layer and spray with olive oil. Since I’m lazy, I used the olive oil Pam spray. One of these days I’ll get a real olive oil sprayer… Then, sprinkle with salt. 

  
Then I baked at 400 degrees. They baked quickly and some of them got a little brown before I realized it. I mixed them up and put them on a lower rack in the oven to finish crisping up. 

  

 
These were delicious but need some work. The line between soggy and burnt is very thin but I have some ideas to help. 

Next time:

  • Slice them a little thicker to give them a little bit more cooking time.
  • Dry the slices before applying the olive oil. 
  • Less salt. I didn’t anticipate how much these would shrink up so the salt really concentrates 
  • A lower oven temp (350?) and the rack in the low/middle of the oven.

As for taste, these were surprisingly delicious. Crispy like a potato chip with just a little bit of the radish flavor remaining. If you like kale chips but wish they were a little more substantial like a potato chips, these will be right up your alley. 
I’ll be trying these again soon. Maybe even today since some of the radishes are really starting to crowd my pepper plant!

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

I may be terrible at blogging consistently but I can apparently grow cilantro like nobody’s business!  It is crowding out my chives and basil, so I’ve been trying to use it up as quickly as it can grow. 

  
This recipe doesn’t use much cilantro but the flavor really comes through. Along with cilantro, it uses just a few basics, so it sure is quick and easy!  

  
I love lime, so I use about 1/2 a lime’s worth of zest but if you don’t love lime, you can just use the juice. 

  
I cut my chicken breasts into strips. You could use any cut of chicken here that you like. I always have skinless boneless breasts in the freezer so they are a frequent ingredient for me. 

Stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours while you ponder cooking methods. You can bake, pan fry, or grill this chicken. 

  
I opted to grill because grilled food is the best food! 

Overall, this was A+ superdelicious! The chicken was super flavorful from the lime, garlic, and herbs. The avocado salsa was the perfect compliment. Next time, I might add a little bit of jalepeno to make the salsa a little more salsa-y but if you aren’t a spicy food fan, this is fresh and delicious as is. It was also quick and easy to put together as long as you have a little time to wait for the marinade. 

Cilantro Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons cilantro

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 heaping tsp red pepper flakes

Zest of half a lime

Juice of a lime

1 tsp salt

A few grinds of fresh black pepper

Salsa:

1 avocado, diced

1-2 tomatoes, diced

1/4 cup red onion, diced

Juice from 1/2 lime

Salt and pepper to taste
Mix the marinade and add 2 large chicken breasts, each cut into 2-3 pieces. Marinate at least 20 minutes or up to a few hours. 

Remove the chicken from the marinade. Cook the chicken as you wish–grill, roast, or pan fry. 

While the chicken is cooking, assemble the salsa.  When the chicken is done, serve with the salsa. 

  

Instant Pot Chicken Tacos

Like a meal in an instant pot, an instant pot post should be quick and easy, right?

   
Frozen chicken. 


Chicken tacos. 30 minutes. It doesn’t get much easier than this. 
Chicken Tacos

2 Frozen chicken breasts. 

3/4 cup of your favorite salsa

1 tablespoon of taco seasoning or dried chili powder/cumin mix

Salt and pepper. 

Set your instant pot on the poultry setting and increase the time to 30 minutes to account for your chicken being frozen. Set the pressure to high. 

Once it’s done, do a quick release. Remove the chicken to a bowl and shred it. Add some more salsa and adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with taco fixins. 

Boom. Dinner from the freezer in 30 minutes. 

 

Pork Burnt Ends

You know when you make smoked ribs and those outer portions are super charred and smokey?  With all the rub and bark on them?  Those are the best parts.  Crispy and porky and decidedly a long-smoked delicacy.

  Sadly, there just aren’t that many of those bites on ribs.
  But what if ALL the bites were like that?  Can it be done?  Yes.  Yes it can.  Smoked pork burnt ends to save the day.  They are dead easy (even easier than my usual rib recipe) and make the perfect party food to feed a crowd.  If I was having a Super Bowl party this year, these would definitely be on the menu.
  There are two good methods to make these and I’ve tried both.  You’ll need to either get a pork shoulder if you are in the mood to spend a decent amount of time cutting it into slices or, if you are in a hurry, track down “boneless country style ribs” at your grocery store.  Then the butcher will do all the work for you.  You will, however, pay for their time in the price difference.  The method couldn’t be easier.  Rub the slices all over with rub and smoke them for a few hours.  You can use any rub you like but my favorite is from Myron Mixon’s book.  It makes a great bark and it is nice and spicy with two entire tablespoons of cayenne in it.  I have routinely done half this amount when we have guests (hi Mom!) that don’t like as much spice and it is still delicious.

 

Then remove them, let them cool enough to handle, dice them, and finish them in the oven.  They’ve gotten all the smoke they can, so it is an easy shortcut to take.
  After a few hours, voila.  burnt ends.  Use them to make a sandwich or just gobble them up with a fork.  Or burn your fingers and mouth eating them right as they come out of the oven.  Not that I would ever do something like that.

Pork Burnt Ends

  • 1 Pork shoulder, cut into chunky slices OR a few packages of boneless country style ribs.
  • 1 recipe rub
  • barbecue sauce of your choice (we like sweet baby ray’s)

The Rub:

  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne powder
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

stir it all up until it is well blended.  I use almost an entire recipe of the mix for pork burnt ends but I sometimes have a little leftover.  It is fabulous on chicken as well!

Prepare your smoker while you prep your pork.  All you need to do is liberally spread the rub on your pork slices.  Smoke them for a few hours, after which they will be cooked but not tender.  Allow them to cool enough to handle and then dice them into bite size pieces.  Toss them with some barbecue sauce and put them in your oven at 250.  How long will depend on your pork and how charred you like them.  I usually leave mine in for at least 2 hours until they are super dark and barky.

 

Donut Holes with Maple Sauce

Well, December is finally about over.  2015 was a decent year but, after the craziness of a move, I’m ready for an easy 2016.  I have some food goals for the new year but thats a boring post.  You’d rather see donuts, right?

I love donuts but I’m firmly in the Cake Only Donut Camp.  Do not bring a krispy kreme anywhere near me.  I just don’t get the appeal–its like eating a sugary sponge?  Anyway–if you like Krispy Kreme, thats fine.  I just prefer my donuts with some texture.

The downside to donuts?  They are kind of a pain to make.  What with the rolling out and cutting…I love to cook but, come on, I want my donuts first thing in the morning!  I’m not going to wait around for hours!  Its lunchtime by then and I’ve moved on to other food groups.


This recipe to the rescue!  It is the drop biscuit of donuts.  Quick, easy, minimal ingredients…  and yet it delivers everything I want in a donut: the crunchy exterior, pillowy cake interior, and vehicle for other delicious flavors.  In this case, it is a simple maple syrup dipping sauce with just two ingredients.


The recipe makes a pile of donuts and, start to finish, took me about 20 minutes.  winner winner, donut dinner.

 


Donut Holes with Maple Syrup Sauce

Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Vermont Donut Holes

1 cup (8 ounces) milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) melted butter
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Dredging:
1/3 cup of sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Maple Sauce:
2-3 tablespoons of Maple Syrup (the real stuff!)
1/2 cup of powdered sugar

For the Donuts: Heat your deep fryer to 350, or add enough oil (I used peanut but vegetable oil would work) to a heavy bottomed pan to reach a depth of 1-1.5 inches. Make sure there is plenty of space in the pan above this level as it will bubble up when you add the donut mix.

Combine the egg and milk. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the butter and incorporate.

Drop into the hot oil with a small scooper or set of spoons. I used a number 50 scoop for golf ball sized donuts. If you are using a fryer like I am, put the basket DOWN before you drop the batter in or it will just go right through the basket and you’ll have a mess on your hands.  Fry until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side), flipping with tongs as necessary to get even cooking. Remove to a paper towel to drain, then dredge with the cinnamon sugar mix.

For the Maple Sauce: Combine maple syrup and powdered sugar. Adjust with more syrup if too thick (or more sugar if too thin) to achieve the right consistency for dipping.

Moorish Roast Chicken

I roast a chicken or two almost every week. It’s super easy, super delicious, and gives us leftovers for another meal. That’s a lot of delivery for a pretty cheap ingredient.  

  

Often, I roast two chickens since it doesn’t take any more time to do so and then we get a couple of meals out of them. Plus soup!  Because, man, homemade stock is just the best. More on that later though!

This is one of my favorite “recipes” for roasting. It’s just a butter and spice mix but it’s really flavorful and I’ll bet you have these spices in your kitchen right now. 

    

After mushing the spices under the skin, roast for about an hour to an hour and a half in a hot oven. 
  

Bam. Roast chicken. Perfect every time. 

 

Moorish Roast Chicken

Adapted from A Bird in the Oven by Mindy Fox

4 ish pound chicken

3 tablespoons of butter

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

More salt for the skin 

Preheat oven to 425. Place a 12 inch cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat.
Combine the butter (zap it in the microwave for 10 seconds to get it workable) with the spices (except the salt for the skin). Make a paste and set aside somewhere you can get with gross chicken hands. 

Prep your chicken by patting the skin dry with paper towels then sliding your fingers between the skin and meat in as many places as you can on the breast and legs. Smoosh the butter mixture between the skin and meat.  Truss the chicken (or just tie the legs together. Sprinkle the surface with about a tablespoon of salt. 

Place the chicken breast side up in the preheated pan in the oven.  Cook for 15 minutes, then turn and reduce the heat to 350. Cook until the chicken reaches 165. Allow the chicken to rest 15 minutes before carving. 

Sourdough Bagels: a love story

Bagels are pretty much amazing, right?  Chewy, dense, and able to provide a lot of cream cheese delivery ability.  I’ll admit that I’m a little picky about my bagels though; don’t try to feed me bagel shaped bread and expect me to eat it, ok?  Bagels aren’t bread. Bagels are bagels.  Don’t mess with this.

We had an ok bagel place in Texas but Tennessee is sadly lacking in bagels.  Its been a few months now and my need for a bagel was pretty overwhelming, so I’ve been plowing through recipes looking for a good option.  First, I tried the recipe from Classic Sourdoughs, a book I really like.  I am chalking that failure up to my halving the recipe though as the dough was soft and ultimately bready.  They couldn’t hold their shape during boiling so I ended up just baking them.  bleh.

I finally came upon the recipe for 100% sourdough bagels over at The Wild Yeast Blog.  The pictures looked amazing and I loved the no additional yeast thing.  Then, when I was admiring some bagels on instagram (who doesn’t do that?), azture mentioned they were from the same recipe I had been eyeing.  It was meant to be.

I made a few slight changes to the recipe.  I didn’t have high gluten flour or vital wheat gluten on hand (though I have since gotten some from amazon to try with), so I used bread flour.  I also kneaded it all by hand since thats my thing.  The dough was super tough to knead but came together nicely.  I kneaded it for maybe 15-18 minutes.

Where I differ with the wild yeast blog was in the shaping.  I tried the rolling method but…its a total pain in the ass.  The dough is super tough and elastic even after a resting period and sticking the ends together with water is too fussy for me.  Poke my finger though the ball and shape the bagel all the way.  It takes 1/zillionth of the time.

Proof, refrigerate overnight and they are ready for the final steps in the morning.  I was a little intimidated of the boiling part since my previous attempt at bagels went south here but I trusted in the dough.

They held together and, while they looked a little gross, I knew this step would give me that amazing exterior shell that really differentiates bagel from bread.

Baked!  My bagels could have been a little more evenly sized but whatever.

Sourdough Bagels

Ingredients:

  • 349 g bread flour
  • 121 g cold water
  • 28 g baker’s dry milk powder (King Arthur Flour’s is the best here)
  • 16.4 g non-diastatic malt powder
  • 10.1 g (1 2/3 teaspoons) salt
  • 301 g active 100%-hydration sourdough starter
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda for boiling

Combine all the ingredients (except the baking soda for boiling).  Mix with a spoon in a bowl until it becomes to difficult to work.  Turn out and knead for 15+ minutes or until your dough is smooth and satiny.  Cover the dough and rest for 10 minutes to help it relax before shaping.

Divide dough into 8 pieces and shape into a ball.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes or so.  Prepare a sheet pan with parchment and a heavy sprinkling of semolina flour.

Shape each bagel by sticking your finger through the center of the ball and gently pulling it into a bagel shape.  Make the hole a little bigger than you think to account for puffing during the long rise.

Cover with cling wrap and proof at room temperature for 4 hours.  Then put in the fridge overnight (or about 8 hours).

In the morning, turn the oven to 425 and start a large pot of water to boil and get a cooling rack with a towel or sheet pan under it ready.  Once the water reaches boiling, add the baking soda and stand back!  It will bubble up a bit and then calm back down.

Add the bagels a few at a time for 20 seconds each.  If your bagels don’t sink/stay under water in the beginning, just flip them halfway through the boil.

Remove and allow to drain for a few minutes.  If your bagel’s holes have closed up, you might want to dab the top with a towel.  Transfer back to the semolina dusted sheet pan and put them in the oven.  Turn the oven down to 400.  Bake for 20-27 minutes or until golden brown. Open the oven halfway through to vent any steam out.

Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

Eat with cream cheese!