Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

Saturday mornings on the boat are usually lazy, unless we have a major boat project we're working on which, at the moment, we blessedly do not.  We cover the V-berth hatch with some of that insulated foil sandwich stuff so the sun doesn't wake us up and we sleep in late. We make some iced coffee in the summer, or hot coffee in the winter, and then I poke around lazily making some muffins or coffee cake. It's wonderful to have the boat filled with baking goodness - cinnamon, nutmeg, and warm blueberries...can't you just smell it wafting past your nose? Fortunately they don't take long to make. This recipe is a heavily modified one from The Pioneer Woman which, if you've never visited is worth the time. By the way, if you think you're seeing a lot more organic ingredients in my pictures, you're right. The more research I do on the food allergy issue I mentioned in my post In Search of Real Food a while back, and the more meals I prepare with organic foods and experience the taste difference, the more convinced I am that it's the right way to go. Once we're on the boat it may even be easier to get organic fruits and vegetables because of local fruit markets. We'll see.

1 cup white flour
1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
Heavy pinch of salt
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 egg
1 heaping cup of plain yogurt
2 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sliced or chopped almonds
2 tablespoons cold butter
Dash cinnamon

Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease with butter. Mix topping ingredients together in small bowl using fork or small whisk to cut butter into mixture until it looks like small crumbs. Set aside.

Mix together flours, soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar in bowl.

In another bowl mix together oil, egg, yogurt and vanilla.

You need to have everything ready in their separate bowls because once you begin to mix the wet and dry ingredients together  you have to move fairly quickly. good, tender, moist muffins are the result of evenly distributed ingredients mixed quickly.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just till the dry ingredients are incorporated into the wet ingredients. Fold in blueberries. Sorry, no pictures here because I was distracted by my Captain who is learning Spanish and had some questions. Do not overmix - if you overmix the batter your muffins will be dense and tough. Spoon into muffin tins - 24 for small muffins, 18 for medium muffins or 12 for super-huge-better-not-be-on-a-diet muffins. Top with a spoonful of topping mixture. Bake 400° for 20-35 minutes. The time depends on the size muffins and your oven, so set it for 15 minutes and begin to check them until you get a feel for the time you need. Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

I used to make some stuffed mushrooms once upon a time that had crab in them. That was before my captain developed a late-in-life rather severe allergy to shellfish (I know, I know...shellfish allergy when you're planning on being a full-time cruiser...). A good friend of ours at the marina was kind enough to pass on his recipe for cheese stuffed mushrooms and they've been a tremendous substitution for the old crab ones. These can be done in the oven or on the grill. They make a great summer weather side dish for chef salad, our meal for this evening on the boat.

1 14oz package of mushrooms
8 oz package of Neufchatel cheese
1/3 to 1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/2 to 1-1/2 tsp garlic salt

Wipe mushrooms with paper towel dipped in ice water. NOTE: if you wipe them this way they don't get slimy the way they do if you wash them.  Remove stem and put the mushrooms in a cast iron skillet or 8" square pan.

Mix cheese, parmesan and garlic salt in bowl. Divide cheese mixture in mushrooms evenly, putting a heaping teaspoon in each mushroom indentation.

Top with an additional sprinkle of parmesan. Grill till tender and cheese is lightly browned or bake at 400° till tender and cheese is lightly browned, about 20-25 minutes.

When I do these in my boat oven I need to put them under the broiler the last 5 minutes.


Recipe courtesy of Kort Juenger, Boulder Marina

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Silicone bakeware review

I've had a love/hate relationship with the idea of owning silicone bakeware. I've wanted to add it to the boat's galley inventory because it fits in unusually shaped spaces since it's flexible, and because it doesn't corrode in salty air, and because it's easier to fit in smaller galley sinks since it's flexible. The only problem is that every piece of silicone bakeware that I've ever used had one rather annoying disadvantage - they all stuck food to them even though the main advertised feature was the non-stick aspect. So I've bought them and discarded them over the years and ended up with my regular rusting pans on the boat.

Enter HIC Brands that Cook Essentials Silicone 12-Cup Muffin Pan stage left...

This is a truly amazing pan that I bought because of an Amazon review. It appears that the reason most silicone bakeware sticks is that it's not 100% silicone. The HIC Brands that Cook pans are all 100% silicone with no fillers. This was news to me and since I've always had very successful results when basing a purchase on an Amazon review, I went ahead and ordered one. My cupcakes baked beautifully, didn't stick, and the pan washed up like new. I did have to put a regular cookie sheet under it to support it as it's a little more flexible than I was comfortable with in trying to get it in and out of the oven, but you could use a pizza peel to do the same.

I do a lot of baking for some allergy-laden kids on the GAPS diet, and the muffins and cupcakes are moister and have less structure than ones baked with grain so I was concerned that the edges might not crust enough to hold them together. Not to worry. Today I made a batch of White Bean Chocolate Cupcakes for my granddaughter's birthday party and they turned out beautifully. So if you're in the market for a good silicone muffin pan, travel on over to Amazon and then enjoy this delicious bit of chocolaty goodness.

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed (navy,   great northern, etc.
5 Tbl coconut oil
1/2 Cup honey
5 small or 4 large eggs
1 Tbl vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 Cup cocoa powder
2 oz melted unsweetened chocolate

Blend all in a blender or use a stick blender until smooth.  Divide evenly into a 12-cup silicone muffin pan. Bake 350° for 25 minutes. If you bake these in a regular metal muffin pan and use regular paper liners a lot of the cupcake will stick to the paper. You can use parchment paper liners but the silicone is the best. Makes 12 moist delicious cupcakes that don't even need icing.