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. 

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. 

 

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.

Banana Muffins

  
There is something super sad to me about a bunch of browning bananas. No one wants to eat them and they are even too ugly to use in a smoothie. I could freeze them and keep them for banana ice cream but, honestly, they just get lost in the freezer. 

  

The answer is clearly muffins. Turn that frown upside down, bananas! You are going to go from the saddest part of the fruit basket to the most desirable baked good in the house!

  
I’ve made banana muffins on the blog before but that recipe called for more bananas than I had (and I was far too lazy to adjust the recipe), so I google around until I found this one and it turns out it’s much more delicious and banana-y than my other recipe. See kids? Laziness pays off sometimes. 

Banana chocolate chip muffins
1-1/2 cups (180 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 medium ripe bananas

1 large egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and gently stir until just combined.  Add the chocolate chips stirring just a few times to distribute. 
Fill muffin cups nearly full and bake until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean (about 18-22 minutes). Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan then turn out onto a cooling rack. 

  

Hot Fudge Buttercream

I’m not going to lie–its been a crazy few weeks here at chez piehole.  I’ve been in the kitchen-and even taking pictures–but never actually getting them together for posts.  I’ve got a backlog though, so we will be back to our regular schedule asap.

Today, I want to talk about hot fudge.  Not just any hot fudge–the best hot fudge in the world: Sander’s Hot Fudge.  Try it once and you’ll never go back.

 

 

This stuff is really only available in Michigan or areas around the Detroit area.  Thankfully, we life in the future and can order things from the interwebs.  This stuff is actually pretty cheap for hot fudge and, sadly, the shipping is pricey, so I buy the big cans and stock up.  Obviously, its amazing on ice cream (or straight from the can with a spoon) but I was left wondering what else I could do with this marvel of science.  After thumbing through a cookie book, I came up with the idea of Hot Fudge Buttercream.

As it was my first time making it, there were a lot of small additions to get the frosting to come together so the totals below are my best guesses.  Use your cooking smarts and add powdered sugar or cream to even out your frosting to the consistency you want.

I ended up adding a few drops of orange coloring to mine and then frosting some basic pumpkin shaped cookies.  All in all, I love this buttercream (which really isn’t a buttercream since there isn’t any butter..) and I can see using it for frosting or a cake.

Hot Fudge Frosting

1/4-1/3 cup of Hot Fudge

4 cups of powdered sugar

1/4 cup of heavy cream

 

Combine the hot fudge and powdered sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer.  Start the mixer and let the two ingredients combine–it will be dry and powdery.  Add heavy cream a few tablespoons at a time until the frosting reaches the consistency you like.

 

Vanilla Butter Cookies

I’ll admit, these are not my usual cookie.  Crisp and sandy are not the adjectives that pull me into a cookie recipe.  That being said–I’m glad I stepped out of my cookie-box.  These cookies are not only easy to make but also delicious.  Rich, buttery, and the slather of chocolate over the side makes these a cookie I can see me adding to my regular rotation.

 

I mixed these up after dinner the other night when the boy wasn’t quite ready to give up on the kitchen for the evening.  There are just a few ingredients (and no eggs!!) that were almost all already in my baking drawer within easy reach.

After an easy “cream the butter and sugars, then add the dry” type construction, these cookies are balled up and rolled in sugar–which is one of my favorite steps to have kids help out on.

 

After placing the sugar-rolled cookies on the sheet pan, you need to smoosh them a little.  The KAF website suggested the plunger of a food processor since it had a nice concentric design.  Mine was within reach, so why not?  You could easily use a drinking glass or, if you are a fancy, you could use a cookie stamp.  (hint hint to my husband…wouldn’t these make a great Christmas present for me??)

These didn’t spread much during cooking but don’t crowd the pan since they do need a little room.  While they are still warm, you’ll need to melt the chocolate chips with a splash of vegetable oil.  I do mine in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring well in between.  The residual heat will melt the last of the chunky chips, so just keep stirring!

Dip the top of one side into the chocolate and put it back on the parchment to harden.  The chocolate on mine stayed a little gooey, so I stashed mine in the fridge between layers of parchment.  I’d like to say putting them in the fridge also kept them out of sight, out of mind but not so much because they are DELICIOUS cold.  If you need them to cool more quickly, you can try singing to them as my son did.  I don’t think it helped as much as the fridge though.

 

Vanilla Dreams

3 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups AP flour

coarse or granulated sugar for rolling

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients in two parts, scraping the bowl down between additions.  Use a small disher to portion the dough, then roll in the sugar and place on the prepared baking dishes.  Press slightly to flatten with a cookie stamp, drinking glass, or the plunger of your food processor.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

Mix the chocolate chips with 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Heat in the microwave in 15-20 second increments, stirring thoroughly to fully melt.  Dip the cookies into the melted chocolate so half of the top of the cookie is covered.  It is less messy if you manage to keep the bottom of the cookies clean.  Leave to cool on parchment or put directly into the fridge.

Makes 36-40 cookies.

 

 

Apple Butter Muffnuts

oh, muffnuts. Let me sing your sugary praises. So donutty. So muffiny.  I’ve been thinking about these since the first time I made them about a month ago.  They were amazing but, as I pondered what to do with a big batch of apple butter I’d made, I thought maybe the two were meant for each other.

 

 

As before, the dough came together in a snap and was thick and amazing.  With the extra heavy application of cooking spray, they baked up with a great looking crust and slightly darker than the original version–probably because of the added apple butter.
Then it was time to brush with butter and roll in the cinnamon and sugar.  I didn’t change anything about this step from the original recipe.  My son could barely contain his little muffnut-stealing hands.

 

When I first tried them when they were warm, I was sadly underwhelmed.  The cinnamon and sugar overwhelmed the little bit of apple flavor from the apple butter.  However, they improved as they cooled and the apple started to shine even up against the heavy coating.  If you ever had the great north-midwestern experience of having cinnamon cake donuts with fresh apple cider, these will taste very familiar.

I’m not going to say I’ll never make the plain version again but, if I have my apple butter laying around, I’ll probably opt for this version.

I made just a couple of substitutions to accommodate the apple butter in the recipe:

 

Makes 12

2 3/4 cups (13 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 cup of Apple Butter

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 large eggs

COATING

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil spray. Whisk flour, sugar, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg together in bowl. Whisk buttermilk, melted butter, apple butter and eggs together in separate bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just combined.

Scoop batter into prepared tin. Bake until doughnuts are lightly browned and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 19 to 22 minutes. Let doughnuts cool in tin for 5 minutes.

Whisk sugar and cinnamon together in bowl. Remove doughnuts from tin. Working with 1 doughnut at a time, brush all over with melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar, pressing lightly to adhere. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Serve.