Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cranberry Orange Muffins

These muffins are my husband's favorite muffin. The funny thing is, he doesn't even like cranberries. I usually make cranberry relish at Thanksgiving and he does not touch it. I had half a bag of leftover cranberries after Thanksgiving so I decided to use up the cranberries by adding them to a muffin. When I started putting the ingredients together, I decided to also add orange, partly because the orange would tone down the tartness of the cranberries. I didn't think my husband would like them, so imagine my surprise when he devoured several. I like to make these on Sunday mornings. They are not a dense muffin, instead they are tender and light, almost cakelike.
The muffins freeze well. I usually freeze half of the batch, then all they need is a zap in the microwave to defrost and they are almost as tender and fresh as the day they were baked.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup vanilla flavored yogurt (or regular yogurt)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 whole orange
cinnamon/sugar mixture (about 3 T)

Preheat oven to 400. Prepare a muffin pan with paper lined muffin cups. Lightly spray the top of the muffin pan with non-stick spray. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt.
Grate the rind of the orange over the flour mixture and stir well to combine. Juice one-half of the orange and set aside.

In the bottom of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Add in the sour cream, yogurt and the fresh orange juice. Gradually mix in the flour mixture. Stir in the cranberries.

Dollop the dough into the prepared muffin pan. I use an ice cream scoop to equally portion out the dough, filling the muffin liners about 3/4 full. Sprinkle each muffin with the cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Bake at 400 for approximately 25 minutes (test for doneness with a toothpick). Cool about 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Super Fudgy Brownies

I had tried many different brownie recipes over the years when I stumbled upon a Martha Stewart recipe in 2003 which I modified into an incredibly rich, fudgy brownie. These brownies are like crack and a surefire cure for PMS. I can't tell you how many times I've made them. I don't even bother with other recipes. Be sure to use a good quality chocolate and have lots of milk on hand cause you're gonna need it.

Super Fudgy Brownies

4 oz unsweetened chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
1 stick unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1.5 cups sugar
2 t. vanilla
1 t. instant espresso powder (optional)
1/2 t. salt
1 C. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375. Place aluminum foil inside of an 8" square pan and mist liberally with non-stick cooking spray.

Cut butter into several chunks and put in a small saucepan. Break the chocolate into chunks and add to the butter. Melt the chocolate over low head, set aside when melted.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt and espresso powder (if using) until well combined. Stir in the chocolate mixture until fully incorporated. Gently stir in the flour.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes. The middle of the brownies will still look soft and a bit jiggly when you remove it from the oven. Wait at least 30 - 6o minutes to cut the brownies. It is best to wait as long as possible to cut the brownies since the brownies are very fudgy and the warm brownies will be quite soft.

Makes 12 nice sized servings. Not sure how long they will keep, a few days max. They last about 24 hours in my house.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) is a classic Spanish dish popular in Latin American countries. I started making arroz con pollo about 10 years ago while living in the Cincinnati area. It is great when it is cold out. I made arroz con pollo again last week and I forgot how good and easy it is to make. The perfect dish for a winter's night. Plus my hubby loves this recipe, no leftovers go to waste.

This recipe makes a generous 6 servings.

Arroz con Pollo

1 T vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green, yellow or red pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. ground cumin
1 t salt
1 cup long grain rice (I used brown rice)
2 C. chicken stock
1 C. salsa
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces
1 C. frozen peas
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 C. shredded cheddar
2 T cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Mist an oval casserole dish with cooking spray or oil.

Place the vegetable oil in a large sauce pan and saute the the onion and green pepper for about 5 minutes over medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and rice. Stir for about 1 minute.

Add the salt, cumin, oregano, salsa and chicken stock. Blend the ingredients well and bring to a boil. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Cover and bake for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, stir in the chicken, black beans and peas. Top the casserole with cheddar, sprinkle with cilantro. Cover the casserole and place it back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Remove and serve immediately.

This is good with a spoonful of sour cream and an additional sprinkle of cilantro per serving.