Cranberry almond muffins

You guys! My mind has been blown with this muffins. Oh sure, they taste amazing, but the real thing is that you can freeze the batter. With just Himself and I in the house, muffins never really get eaten before they start to get a little less than awesome. This technique totally changes that. Not to mention just made getting out the door in the morning, never an easy task, just that much smoother!

Do I seem a little too excited just over muffins? Ok, you caught me! As I sit typing this, drinking the strongest coffee (maybe contributing a little to the excitement) Himself is (finally) getting up, and we’re going on a field trip today! This weekend has been all things spring, and today is no different. Friday, we picked up our baby chicks – three black australorps and two ameraucanas. That night, I made a very important “scientific” discovery. It is impossible to be in a bad mood with baby chicks on your lap. The evidence is below, as long as you ignore the wonky lighting that I attempted to disguise with Instagram. We have a heat lamp on them, and the red light throws everything off.

Chick collage_medium

 

I also got my email notice from the Smart Gardener website that it is high time to start some of my seeds indoors. Wheeeee! We’ve got the mini greenhouse set up inside and the outside one all ready to go. In fact, this little flower got a little sunburnt yesterday lounging inside the greenhouse.

And for today’s spring extravaganza, we’re going on that field trip I mentioned. There’s a great farm just east of Hibbing called Mr. Ed’s Farm. Today they’re having an open house so you can visit the baby lambs (squeeeee!!), but also we’re going to pick their brain about year round greenhouses. Himself has plans all laid out for ours, but it never hurts to gain some expertise. Mr. Ed’s farm has a great subterranean greenhouse, that I am terribly covetous of.

So, as we get ready to run out the door, you should get ready to pop the aforementioned muffins in the oven. You’ve got enough for tempting Sunday brekkie and grab-and-go for the rest of the week. Plus the cranberries bursting in the batter will transform that delish sweetness into something you believe could just possibly be slightly good for you.

Enjoy!

Cranberry almond muffins

Cranberry almond muffins

Adapted from the Joy of Cooking

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream
5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 -1 ¼ cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together eggs and sour cream. Add butter, sugar, and almond extract. Mix in dry ingredients, followed by cranberries. Batter will be thick, but be careful not to overmix.

Spoon into paper lined muffin tins, filling tins about ¾ full. Bake at 400° for 13-15 minutes or until tops are just golden.

Let cool slightly and serve immediately. Muffins are best the day of cooking.

To freeze muffins, fill paper lined muffin tins as directed. Cover muffin pan with plastic wrap and freeze tin. Once muffin batter is thoroughly frozen, remove paper cups from tins and place in a freezer bag. When ready to bake, return frozen batter filled paper cup to tin and increase the bake time by about 5 minutes.

Sweet potato, olive, and spinach pizza

Soooooo, lovely invisible interweb friends, here it is another Thursday. With the best of intentions I set goals, oh way back when, that had me posting on Wednesdays and Saturdays. But these days, by the time I get settled in for the week at both jobs, I look around and here it is Wednesday, and all the creative energy? Well, it’s left the building. So Thursdays, you want to get a little creative together? Yeah, me too. You and me Thursday, let’s make a pact to come visit all our invisible interweb friends together. K?

Whew, now that’s out of the way, I can feel a little less like I’m playing catch-up. Which is good, cause I feel like we’ve been catching up from being in this cities this weekend too. We had a wonderful, amazing, super fun whirlwind trip getting to see family and friends. And came away laden with the raddest of gifts. All in some way related to food. There were fantastic wine coasters from my BFF; homemade beer and Penzey’s spices from my brother; cookbooks from my mother-in-law; muffaletta from my father-in-law, and sourdough starter (!!!), green tomato relish, salsa, and pear sauce from Himself’s woodworking buddy just to name a few. Unrelated to food, but also AMAZING, is a poster that my brother got me – all of the words in all of Emily Dickinson’s poems used to create a gorgeous image and a beautiful necklace from my sister-in-law. All that, plus foodie dinners and sushi, and a trip to the co-op to visit friends and stock up on vanilla pods and smoked salt, and all in just two days.

I’m feeling awfully rich in friends and family after all that. But once we got back, someone asked Himself, “So when did it feel like you were headed home? Saturday afternoon on the way to Minneapolis, or Monday afternoon headed back up north?” The answer for both of us was unmistakably when headed north. In fact, right now I am relishing the quiet (and that homemade beer!), taking a moment to breathe before another fun-filled weekend.

Fun-filled weekends are the inspiration for this pizza. Ok, actually a recovery from a fun-filled weekend. Looking in my fridge, I realized that those items I had bought with the best of intentions last week were getting a little close to the use it or lose it stag. And from necessity, amazing deliciousness is born! Ok, I can just imagine my father-in-law’s face as he reads the recipe, but I promise you Peter, and you too, invisible internet friends, something magical happens between the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, the salty goodness of the olives, the tang of the blue cheese, and the warmth of the spinach. In fact, I love the combination so much, it’s going in tonight’s dinner of falafel and sweet potatoes on a bed of spinach, drizzled with olive dressing. Are you drooling, cause I am! Just five more minutes until that falafel is done a-baking.

K, enough with the chitter-chatter, let’s eat already. You go make this pizza, whilst I make a salad out of my leftover sweet potatoes.

Enjoy!

Sweet potato, olive, and spinach pizza

Sweet potato and olive pizza

Per individual pizza:
Pizza dough
Scant 1/2 cup roasted sweet potatoes (see directions)
1/2 cup pizza cheese
2 tablespoons chopped olives
Small handful torn spinach
Sprinkle of blue cheese

To roast the potatoes:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Peel potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Slice into 1/4 inch slices. Place into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss potatoes to coat. Roast 30 minutes.

For the pizza:
Stretch favorite dough recipe (of course, by that I mean mine) into oblong shape on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with pizza cheese. Top with sweet potatoes, olives, spinach, and blue cheese. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes.

Olive & rosemary focaccia

I’m sitting here this morning, enjoying some of this delicious focaccia bread with my coffee. Looking out over the back, it’s hard to believe all the activity that’s stirring out there. The raucous crows have found something in the woods to be pretty excited about. There’s a pair of bald eagles that have been circling over the house for the past couple days. And man, have those chickadees gotten loud this week!

Today is one of those days where I look around with this sense of well-being, again sure that I live in the best place on earth, and that Himself and I made the absolute right decision to pack in city life.

It’ll be an interesting contrast today, since the moment Himself gets off work, we’re headed for a whirlwind trip to the cities. I plan on stuffing my face with sushi and Greek food. Plus a quick trip to my favorite co-op to stock up on my smoked salt obsession. Besides family and friends, ethnic food is the one thing I desperately miss. So, looks like I’ll just have to get better at making it.

In the meantime, you should totally be making this focaccia bread. It’s dense and olive-y, and downright delicious. If you happen to have some of that aforementioned smoked salt, it’s going to blast this already delish bread to the next level. Use whatever olives you adore. Kalamata? Heck yeah. Plain old black olives? Oh, they’ll shine. What if I added a handful of capers? Oh, amazing! As for the rosemary, I crushed mine with my mortar and pestle, but you could roughly chop it and still die happy.

Enjoy!

Olive & rosemary focaccia

Olive & rosemary focaccia

Lightly adapted from the Perfect Baking cookbook

4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 ½ cups water (100º-110º)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for oiling bowl and pans
1 cup olives, roughly chopped
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
2 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed or roughly chopped

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, sift together flour, salt, and yeast. Add the water and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix on low until combined. Adjust mixer to a medium low setting, and knead until smooth (5-10 minutes). Place dough in a large oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size.

Oil two cookie sheets with olive oil. Punch down dough and knead on a lightly floured surface for one minute. Add olives and knead until combined. Dough will be slightly sticky. Divide dough in half and stretch on cookie sheets until you have an oval approximately 9×11 inches. Cover dough with oiled plastic wrap and let rise one hour.

Preheat oven to 400º. Remove plastic wrap, and using the end of a wooden spoon, dimple the dough. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and rosemary. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with drizzled with olive oil.

Apple & lime cake

Oooof. Yup, that about sums up my week thus far. But today marks a rad turning point. This week has been filled with so much awesome (and one less than awesome), but I have a deep, dark secret. Someone might have a wee little (hah!) issue with anxiety.

Who knows what the turning point was, but after feeling like I needed to hide in a hole all week, suddenly today, there was just this sudden moment where I felt GREAT! It surely doesn’t hurt that all week people have been telling me how awesome I am, and admiring my skillz.

All the skillz except walking, that is. Someone may have ended up first on her behind and then secondly in the ER. I’m fine, but I took a tumble and landed on my wrist. Having broken the same wrist almost two years ago to the day (!!!), when it started to swell and bruise in that old familiar way, I hightailed it to the ER. A couple of x-rays and a few tears later, I just have a nasty sprain.

And not to get all gushy on you guys here, but Himself is pretty much the best ever. Despite being one-handed, my to-do list has been long enough for two people. He’s stepped up to the plate and helped with nearly each and every one. So here’s his reward. A delicious apple & lime cake. Made in adorable bundt pans.

Who doesn’t heart things in a miniature shape? I swear it totally makes it taste better. There’s no other excuse for why Himself and I both inhaled our respective pieces. Oh, it could also be the amazing flavor combination of apple and lime. So, if you’re not in possession of adorable, miniature bundt pans, you can still savor the deliciousness.

Enjoy!

Apple lime cake

Apple & lime cake

Adapted from the Perfect Baking cookbook

Cake:
2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
5 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
⅔ cup applesauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 egg, lightly beaten

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 – 2 tablespoons lime juice
½ – ¾ teaspoon lime rind

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a deep 7-inch round cake pan or two 6-cup bundt pans.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add applesauce, lime juice, and egg, and mix thoroughly. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Spoon batter into prepared pans and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cake cool slightly before turning out onto baking rack to cool completely.

When cake has cooled completely, prepare glaze. Adjust lime juice and rind to your preferred intensity of lime flavor. Mix all ingredients together and drizzle over top of cake.

Senegalese peanut-y chicken

Oooof, it snowed. A. Lot. On the second day of spring even. It’s gorgeous and white and clean and perfect for snowball fights, but it’s snow. It’s not so much that I mind the snow, but the day before this storm, I was wandering around outside with chickens sans coat. Basking in the sun, listening to the birds, watching the chickens fight over bread crusts, a lovely spring afternoon. And now we’re surrounded by snow. Well, ok, just excuse me a moment while I dream of warmer climes and the spring to come.

Since I’ve got spring on the brain, I decided it was time for a little blog spring cleaning. I’m cleaning and trying some new things out here. And it’s looking pretty snazzy if I do say so myself (aren’t I the modest one today?).

But let’s get back to that dream of warmer climes. This Senegalese peanut-y chicken transports me right back to my study abroad days. Similar to mafe poulet, it leaves out the sweet potatoes and cabbage. Mafe poulet was my absolute favorite dish while in Senegal, I could not get enough. But now, I (and you!) can make it right in my own kitchen. Peanuts, chicken, a little heat, and a pop of cilantro. It’s a winning combination in my book.

Enjoy!

Senegalese peanuty chicken

Senegalese peanut-y chicken

Adapted from The Best Casserole Cookbook Ever by Beatrice Ojakangas

2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
pepper
¼ -½ tsp of cayenne pepper, depending on spice preference
1 ½ – 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 chicken breasts)
1 tomato, chopped
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium low heat. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in chicken broth, peanut butter, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Set aside.

Trim and rinse the chicken pieces. Pat dry with paper towel. Place chicken in baking dish.

Spread the sauce evenly over chicken. Bake chicken for 45 minutes covered. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped tomato. Return, uncovered, to oven for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with rice or couscous.

Ginger orange quick bread

You guys, I am convinced that I have the coolest job in all the lands. Yesterday, I was traveling around taking pictures and story notes of kids having a live televised interview with an astronaut. You know, no big (hah!). I mean how cool that these kids were learning about space from people who’ve actually been there, all without leaving the awesomeness of the north woods! Really, I adore my job. And now, I’ll be supplementing it doing the same thing for the city. Life is pretty good these days.

Almost as good as this bread I made you. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I was going on and on (and on and on) about how much I adored citrus? Well that turned pretty quickly. I’m still loving citrus flavors, but that most recent bag of oranges I was so excited about? Oh yeah, they’ve just been languishing away in my fridge.

Now normally my quick breads are made with a good amount of milk, but it’s been grey, grey, grey up here, and apparently that’s affected my mood. Feeling good and lazy, I was sure that my energy was better spent pouring over quick bread recipes on the interwebs than getting off my butt and going to the store. Enter this awesome recipe from Simply Recipes. A few tweaks to the flavors I wanted to highlight and yum, a quick bread is born. And just who am I trying to fool here? This isn’t so much a bread as it is a cake you don’t feel guilty about eating for breakkie.

Ginger orange quick bread

Enjoy!

Ginger orange quick bread

Lightly adapted from Simply Recipe’s Cranberry Nut Bread

2 cups flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cardamom
½ cup raisins, coarsely chopped (optional)
¾ cup orange juice
¼ cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
½ tablespoon grated orange peel
1 tablespoon ginger, finely chopped or grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients, including sugar. Add raisins and stir to coat.

In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Batter will be slightly stiff, but do not over mix.

Spoon batter into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out cleanly.

Fresh corn and zucchini quiche

Well, he did it. Himself is jumped into a frozen lake! We have the greatest friends and supporters. With matching funds, he raised over $1,100! Color me super impressed.

As for me, this girl is going to take a much needed breath. I’m still not quite recovered from that terrible sick, but I’ve managed to be quite the go-getter regardless. Himself and I had a rad dinner with some of his friends on Wednesday, followed by a little exploring where we found that a neighborhood bar has a BEAR PIT, you can enjoy an adult beverage and watch BEARS eat (not that I’m excited or anything). Thursday was all Hibbing and hanging with the grandparents, and last night was date night happy hour with fancy pants gin drinks and pie, it being Pi Day! Whew.

Speaking of pie, I still haven’t managed to master a pie crust. Ok, if I tell the truth, I haven’t even made space to try. So, for now, this delicious quiche I have for you was made with a store-bought, frozen pie crust. I know, shame, shame. But after taste testing a few, I found one that is pretty dang good, so let’s just focus on the quiche filling, mmmmkay?

I’ve spent a little time lately pouring through all of my pins on Pinterest (how in the world did I think I was ever going to make all of that?). Anyway, one of the pins I had marked ever so long ago was a quiche with corn in it. Now I pinned that so long ago that the original link has disappeared, so here’s my version. Corn, turkey sausage, zucchini, YUM! Here’s the thing, though, you need to shred that zucchini AND give it time to drain. Trust me on this, you don’t want a big sloppy mess of a quiche. I just use my big ‘ol box grater and then transfer the shredded zuch to a cheesecloth lined colander. If you don’t have a cheesecloth, a coffee filter’ll do in a pinch. I set a bowl on top of the zuch to help squeeze even more water out. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup shredded zucchini, but an average zucchini will give you about 2x that. Simply put the rest of the drained zucchini into a freezer baggie, and pop it into your freezer. Add it to your next omelette, quiche, or soup.

Now, you guys are going to think I’m a terrible cheater, but I used a pre-cooked sausage (Jimmy Dean’s pre-cooked turkey sausage), and it was surprisingly delish. Not to mention sped up the on-hand time enormously, allowing me to bask in a feeling of well-being and early evening sunshine. Not a bad trade off, I say. If you do cook your sausage fresh, just make sure to let it cool slightly and drain on a paper towel before adding to your pie crust.

Enjoy!

Corn and zucchini quiche

Corn and zucchini quiche

Deep dish pie crust, unbaked
¾ cup shredded zucchini
¾ cup fresh corn
¾ cup cooked sausage
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1 cup milk
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread zucchini, corn, sausage, and cheese evenly in layers on the bottom of the pie crust.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Add milk and a pinch of salt and pepper, mixing well. Pour evenly into pie crust.

Bake at 400 degrees 40 – 50 minutes or until the middle is set. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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