Orange Cream Cheese Muffins

27 07 2011

I always end up spreading my muffin batter amongst too many tins and ending up with lil’ dinky muffs. When instead, I should probably just make like 6 mondo muffs. In this case though, I’m glad they’re a little bit smaller, because these guys are less muffins and more like cake. Moist, dense, melt in your mouth cake muffins. They’d be perfect with a white icing or cream cheese frosting on top.

And lets get it out of the way and talk some food science here for a sec. Room temperature eggs. Gotta have ’em, though it’s something I forget to do all the time. When making a batter, you’re creating an emulsion by creaming the fats with the sugars and then adding the eggs. Fats and liquids are essential unmixable so you need to create a water-in-fat emulsion. If cold eggs are used in a room temp batter, you can curdle the batter or cause it to be too liquid-y; the emulsion breaks. And as a result, flat, dry, flavorless baked goodies. Room temp, people. Plan ahead or your treats are facing certain DOOM.

Orange Cream Cheese Muffins
Adapted from eat me, delicious

1 large navel orange; zest, peel, keeping the pith, break into 6-8 pieces
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature, broken into 4 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 375. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin tins/paper. (My muffins came out a little bit small when I divided the batter into 12. Next time I would make between 6-8 big ass muffs)

In a food processor, grate the orange then add the cream cheese and process in 3 10-second intervals, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each buzz.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Cut the butter into 1-in. pieces and place in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, about 1 minute. Stop the machine and add the orange/cream cheese mixture, then mix for another 1 minute. Add the sugar in a steady stream. Then blend in the eggs, yolk and vanilla.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions, mixing until just blended after each addition.

Pour into lined muffin tins and sprinkle the top of each muffin with some sugar. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and springy to the touch. To ensure even baking, towards the end of the time, rotate the pan from top to bottom and front to back. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.

Bloody Mary Tomato Salad

25 07 2011

Ignore the steak slapped on top of this crappy photo. I misplaced my cameras memory card in the move from Falmouth to my parents house (It’s temporary, I swears.) and the only decent image that came out from my phone was the boyfriends meaty portion.

I’ve been putting off writing this blog for the past hour because the second I typed “Bloody Mary” into the subject line, my brain sidetracked and went all out looking up Bloody Mary recipes. Bookmarking tons of them. Making note of restaurants nearby who claim to have the best. Give me all of them. Spiced with srichacha, stuffed with olives, glasses rimmed with Old Bay, garnished with delicatly carved jalapenos, lemons, limes, pickles, cheese, I don’t care. Give me! So this is the first, but definitely not the last, post based on my favorite drink of all time.

I pretty much doubled the amount of seasonings in this recipe to give it that familiar kick. You can always use less horseradish and hot sauce if it ain’t yo thang. Or you can just make me proud and make it your thang. I ate this with some homemade grilled seitan on top. The savory seitan juices blending into the tomato goodness were probably one of the best things I’ve tasted this summer.

Bloody Mary Tomato Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 cup chopped red onion
3 tbs. red wine vinegar
2 lbs. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup chopped celery hearts (inner stalks and leaves)
1/2 cup green olives, chopped, plus 2 tbs. reserved brine
3 tbs. prepared horseradish
1 tb. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Pour one tablespoon of the red wine vinegar over the onions in the bottom of a large bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes to help temper the onions bite. Add the tomatoes, celery and olives. Whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, olive brine, horseradish, Worcestershire, hot sauce and celery seed in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly until combined. Pour over tomatoes, add salt and pepper to taste, toss to coat. Refridgerate until ready to eat.

Tropical Pasta Salad with Fresh Fruit, Coconut and Jerk-Tempeh

15 07 2011

Monday was one of those days where I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but Cape Cod. Refreshing. A day off from work with the boyfriend lead to lunch at La Petite France Cafe on Main St. Gazpacho Soup & Garden Veggie sandwich (lettuce, tomato, avocado, cucumber, onion, sprouts, roasted red peppers, baby Swiss and balsamic vinegarette)

Followed by splurging on a cheap pair of Keens, iced lemon matés at Common Ground (my lifeblood), library books (currently reading An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin), an hour at the beach then a stop at Lamberts to pick up fresh fruits & veggies for tonights din.

The creamy coconut dressing mixed with the sharp cheese and juicy fruit is a crazy awesome flavor combo. And the coolness of the salad helps balance out the jerk spice, which can be a little overwhelming, if your boyfriend accidentally dumps half a bottle of cayenne pepper into it. If you use a fresh pineapple, be sure to use it as bowl because it leaves some awesome flavor bits at the bottom.

Tropical Pasta Salad with Fresh Fruit & Coconut
Adapted from Vegan Planet

12 oz. small pasta of your choice
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (about 1 pineapple)
1 ripe mango; peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1 navel orange; peeled, white pith removed and cut into 1-in. chunks
1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/3 cup celery, minced
2 tbs. scallions, minced
2 tbs. chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup orange juice
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. cayenne
Salad greens
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut; toasted
Gorgonzola cheese (optional)

Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold running water and place in a large bowl. Add the pineapple, mango, orange, bell pepper, celery, scallions and mint. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the coconut milk, orange juice, lime juice/zest, brown sugar, allspice, cayenne and salt to taste. Mix well. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss to coat evenly.

Arrange the salad greens on plates (or if you’re in a fancy decorative mood OR have just 2 people eating and used a whole pineapple OR if you have more than 2 people eating but only like 2 of them, plate the greens in the hulled out pineapple halves and give them to your two besties/sexies). Place some pasta salad on top and sprinkle with the toasted coconut, gorgonzola and jerk-spiced tempeh (Recipe below). Gorge.

Jerk-Spiced Tempeh

2 tsps. brown sugar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Olive oil

In a shallow bowl, combine all the ingredients. Cut the tempeh in half then into 4 trianges. Coat with olive oil then dredge all sides in the spice mixture. Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh and cook until brown and crispy on both sides, about 5 minutes.