Posts Tagged muffins

Playing With Produce

A couple weeks ago I was gifted some produce – some monster produce.  I’m not sure there’s anything better than free produce from someone’s garden.  It’s home grown, local, and most importantly, free.  This bag o’ veggies included what might be the world’s largest zucchini, seen here with a “normal” zucchini for comparison.

I had been abstaining from baking since the kitchen here isn’t really set up for it, but what’s a girl to do with a huge zucchini, especially with a fantasy football draft and a PPK meetup that weekend?  Make chocolate zucchini muffins, that’s what.  I found some great looking recipes online, but I wanted to keep the ingredient list to a minimum since I’d have to buy everything new, right down to flour.  So I settled on this recipe, which is actually a brownie recipe.  I figured if they tasted good in a pan surely they would also taste good in muffin form.  Problem was, the batter didn’t come together at all.  There wasn’t nearly enough liquid, it was kind of like a big lump of chocolate sugar and flour, which really isn’t that bad…but it wasn’t bakeable.  So I added just over a cup of soy milk (I had doubled the recipe), and lo and behold they baked up pretty well.  They weren’t exactly brownie-ish and they weren’t exactly muffin-ish, but they were mighty tasty.

I had more batter than the pans would hold, and I was just going to keep it in the fridge to eat raw later (ah, they joys of eggless batter), but I decided to see if it would bake up after sitting around for a half hour.  Sure did!  The second batch even had nicely rounded tops.

At the aforementioned PPK meetup I got to try golden watermelon!  I have a slight aversion to regular watermelon for reasons we won’t discuss here, but this golden watermelon was great.  I’m glad I got to try it.  (Look at that beautiful grass!  There were geese all over the park too.)

Back to the veggie present.  Here’s the rest of what I got, along with the remainder of the zucchini.

With these goodies I made ratatouille, which I had never tried before.  It was good but a little bland, so I added a splash of balsamic at the end and that did the trick.  Served with chickpeas over whole wheat couscous.

BF had an interview in San Francisco on Tuesday, and I remembered that there was a farmers market at the Ferry Building on Tuesdays.  Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.  I spent about an hour walking around and looking at everything, and ended up with all this for $23!  Whole wheat pain au levaine, bell peppers, long beans, baby bok choy, fresh tofu, hot banana pepper, white nectarine, dapper dandy pluot, salad mix, purslane and radishes in the bag, and fingerling potatoes.

I didn’t set out with anything in mind because I wanted to try some new things, but a few meals came together as I went along.  Dinner that night was a salad that I wasn’t entirely certain would work.  Fortunately it came together fantastically.

Salad mix, purslane, lentils, roasted radishes, red and purple peppers and grapes with goddess dressing.  The sweet and savory with the contrast of textures was right on.  Plus, anything tastes good with goddess dressing.  A word on roasting radishes:  They’re really good, try it!  Just don’t cut the pieces too small as they shrink a lot while cooking.

Here’s what purslane looks like, if you’ve never seen it.  It’s supposedly really good for you, high in vitamins and omega-3’s.  I liked it raw but have also heard of people sauteing it.  It’s hard to describe the flavor.  There’s definitely a strong flavor, but it’s not bitter like arugula.

The next meal from my farmers market greatness was tofu scramble with the hot banana pepper, red bell pepper and zucchini, steamed long beans (cut into shorter beans), and roasted fingerling potatoes.  I knew I’d love the fingerlings.  BF said they were kind of like homemade french fries.  The outsides toughens up while the insides stay nice and soft.

And lastly, a “what do I have left in the fridge?” meal, braised sesame eggplant and baby bok choy.  This was just okay.  My Chinese-style food always seems to be lacking just a bit in the flavor department.  I like to think it’s because I don’t use msg.

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Trying to Eat Well

I’ve been here for a week now, and despite my eagerness to get back to clean, creative eating, there isn’t too much that’s blog-worthy.  The kitchen here is limited, as are my funds, and there is still much that draws me away – there are a taqueria and a pizza place that are both quite good, and bf’s old friends to catch up with.  For now, I do what I can.

My first full day here, I made the lunch I had been craving, a tofu salad sandwich with lots of veggies.  It wasn’t the best I’ve ever made, but for throwing it together with no recipe and a limited pantry, it was right decent.

Only bad part was that I was so used to being a piggy that this didn’t fill me up, at all.  I’m slowly coming back around.  I also had it open faced on toast with avocado.

I had been craving spaghetti, so one night we cooked it up.  Whole grain noodles, plain jane store-bought marinara jazzed up with spices, and sauteed chopped baby bella mushrooms.  One the side, zingy lemon pepper zucchini made with earth balance, red pepper flakes, black pepper and lemon juice.  This made for many leftovers.

I’ve also been munching on cherries, which I found at a good price.  They’re big and juicy, but unfortunately not too flavorful.

Yesterday bf and I jaunted off to San Francisco and the East Bay to explore a bit.  Around lunchtime we were in Berkeley and wanting Asian food, and we came across Boat Noodle House on Shattuck Ave.  All the noodles sounded good, but I went for a green curry, which was moderately spicy and very tasty, just like a green curry should be.  Plenty of fresh veggies and basil.  (Don’t know why I didn’t scoot the bowl closer to the rice for a better picture, I always feel awkward taking pictures in restaurants and try to do it as quickly as possible.)

When we came in view of a Whole Foods, I squealed and we had to stop.  I know a lot of people don’t care for Whole Foods, but my stance right now is that I think it’s amazing.  I’ve never been in a place with so many options.  Everything I would normally have to order online or go to a specialty shop for, they have.  Right there.  And premade things like bagels and salads and hot food.  Maybe once I’m used to it it’ll lose it’s charm, but for now:  I ❤ Whole Foods.

We were going to watch bf’s beloved Oakland Athletics play that night, so I bought some food to carry me through the game.  There were so many choices that I had a hard time (not to mention the prepared foods are pretty pricey), so I settled on this meatless chicken salad sandwich.

The sandwich was good, but not great.  The veggies were fresh and everything tasted nice, but I’m not sure I’d buy it again.  Unless I was going to another baseball game and needed a quick dinner.

I also got a vegan banana blueberry muffin out of the bakery case.  (The everything bagels are vegan too, I will definitely be eating my fair share of those.)  The sandwich filled me up before the game, so I brought the muffin in to eat during.  It was huge, moist, and sweet-but-not-too-sweet.  A good deal for the price, though I think I’ll go back to making my own muffins when I can.

I wasn’t planning on buying any other food at Whole Foods, but when I saw the mangoes I knew I had to have one.  They were the hugest mangoes I have ever seen, and on sale two for $3.  Here’s my mango posing with his fruit friends, to show off his size.

I’ve just seen that the kitchen has a blender, so perhaps tomorrow morning I’ll see if it’s powerful enough to make them into a smoothie.

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Potluck Brunch & Laptop Lunches

Janeen invited many lady friends over for a potluck brunch yesterday.  Yeah, I just had brunch with her last weekend but I guess she needed more lady company.  You can never have too much lady company, or too many mimosas in said company’s presence.  Well, I take that back.  You could certainly have too many mimosas.  We generally run out of champagne before we enter the danger zone.

Janeen suggested ideas of things to bring for those less potluck-obsessed than I, and of course quiche was on the list.  I’ve made good vegan quiche before from some random recipe I have filed away, but I set my sights on this quiche from the PPK blog, with the little bits of broccoli.  I had visions of my tofu quiche being way better than any eggy quiche that might dare to show up.  Of course, nobody else did quiche, but those who tried mine were complimentary.

quiche

I was momentarily worried it wouldn’t set up properly, and tempted to throw in a tablespoon of cornstarch just for guarantee, but then I remembered that pretty much all of Isa’s recipes are great and that I could trust her.  After baking it was still soft inside, but it definitely did set the way it should.

I also wanted to make something sweet, and settled on Double Chocolate Muffins from La Dolce Vegan.  I made them minis so we could go back for seconds and not feel bad.  These turned out well, although in this case I’m not sure where the line is between muffin and cupcake.

muffins

After not packing any lunches last week, I realized I never posted them from the week before!  So here they be.

6-16- lunch

6-16 orange “beef”, rice pilaf w/ tomatoes, grilled eggplant, zucchini & squash,
chipotle bbq kettle chips, fig bar

6-17 lunch

6-17 cottage cheez w/ half a pear, shredded carrot, squash & zucchini w/ balsamic vinaigrette, broccoli & green pepper w/ goddess dressing, gluten-free crackers, mambas candy

6-19 lunch

6-19 green-wa, roasted okra & tomatoes, mashed avocado, gluten-free crackers, fig bar

6-20 lunch

6-20 green-wa w/ green pepper, roasted okra & tomatoes, cottage cheez w/
diced pear, canteloupe balls

We did get to play wiffleball, but not till yesterday, and I hit a walk-off home run against bf’s pitching, so let’s not talk about it anymore.  I have restaurant foods to post, and will try to do so later tonight when I am at home where the pictures are.

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Blueberry Muffins & a Seafood Feast

I had been thinking of making the Very Berry Muffins from Yellow Rose Recipes ever since I got the book, and with a huge bowl of blueberries still in the fridge, last night seemed like a good time for baking.

blueberry muffins

Unfortunately, I didn’t like them all that much.  I was hoping for light, bakery-style muffins, but I couldn’t help subbing half whole wheat pastry flour, and I also used an unrefined sugar I’m not too fond of and was trying to use up, which I think turned them brown and a little gummy in the middle.

blueberry muffins

They’re certainly edible and taste fine, it just wasn’t the muffin I was looking for.  I’ve had good results with other recipes from YRR, so don’t let my muffin results deter you from checking it out…maybe just find a different muffin recipe…

Ever since I saw this post on Vegangelical a couple months back, I’ve been wanting a seafood meal.  Mock seafood, of course.  I started with the groceries.  Celery and corn on the left, broccoli, scallions and dill on the right.  And again, way more fruit than I should eat in the next three days.  There’s so much good fruit this time of year!

groceries

Wheat germ in the little baggie.

groceries

I started with the baked hush puppies from above post.  I didn’t want to buy soy cheese, so I added 2 Tbs nutritional yeast instead.

hush puppies

When I first visualized this meal I wanted to make a crab cake, but last week I came across My Vegan Cookbook and his Faux Fish recipe, and I knew I had to try it.  The store didn’t have Old Bay seasoning, so I found this Old Bay Seasoning Mix recipe which is cool because for some reason I thought you weren’t supposed to eat bay leaves.  Guess that’ll learn me.  Guess that’s why it’s called Old Bay.  Dur.

faux fish

I was really trying to keep the fat and calorie counts down for this meal, so instead of brushing margarine on the fillets I sprayed them with olive oil and patted down the bread crumbs, which worked fine.  I left out the egg substitute because I felt like the tofu and breadcrumbs and everything else would stick it together just fine.  I also added 1/2 tsp of the dulse seasoning I bought for a fishy sea flavor.

I served my feast with boiled mixed veggies, dill and lemon wedges.  I can’t decide which picture I like better, so you get both the horizontal and vertical framing.

faux fish

faux fish

The hush puppies tasted just like I remember, and didn’t lose anything with being baked instead of fried.  I really liked the onion, corn and jalapeno bits in them.  And the fish was good!  I had high hopes for this recipe, and it came through.  You’re not going to pass it as real fish any time soon, but the mix of ingredients and flavors is really interesting and the outside is crispy while the inside stays moist.  The fillets held together well.  I have a hard time getting breading to stick to things, and the method of patting it down on each side just before it bakes worked really well.

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Wednesday Farmers Market

I left work a half hour early today to make up for eating lunch at my desk yesterday, so I got to visit the farmers market before catching the bus and still get home at my normal time.  I didn’t have much in mind for dinner ideas, but as the night wore on what probably should have been a simple meal became more complicated.

farmers market

An eggplant, an ear of corn, a red pepper, patty pan squash, the cutest zucchinis, jalapenos and strawberries, all for $7.  Score.

While at work pondering dinner and perusing blogs (this is what they pay me to do), I saw Liz’s corn bread at Food Snobbery is My Hobbery.  Then I saw a corn muffin (can’t remember where)*** with strawberries in it.  Crazy!  I wasn’t planninng on buying any more fruit after my binge yesterday, but when I saw those juicy strawberries I couldn’t help it.  This is my standard corn bread recipe that I haven’t deviated far from in the past, apart from milk and egg subs, but tonight I went all out and healthified it, lowering both the sugar and the fat.  I give you Buttermilk Strawberry Jalapeno Corn Muffins.  I was worried all the extras would make the muffins too chunky, but I kept the pieces small and made sure not to put too much in.  They actually could’ve used more strawberries.  They look darker than normal corn muffins due to the whole wheat flour and molasses, but the taste isn’t heavy or dense at all.

corn muffins

Buttermilk Corn Bread or Muffins

1 1/4 cups cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs lemon juice
scant cup rice or soy milk
1 Tbs flax meal
3 Tbs warm water
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 Tbs molasses
optional additions: 1/2 cup corn kernels, or kernels from one ear of corn
                               2 small or 1 large jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
                               a few strawberries, finely diced, or a handful of blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan or 12 muffin tins.
2. Place lemon juice in a 1 cup measure, then fill with milk. Pour in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
3. Whisk together the flax and water; set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
5. Add the flax mixture, applesauce, canola oil and molasses to the milk mixture and whisk.
6. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir just until combined. Fold in any optional additions. Pour into the cake pan, or by 1/4 cupfuls into the muffin tins. Bake the bread 20-25 minutes or the muffins 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
7. Let cool in the pan a few minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool.

Yields: 8-10 bread servings or 12 muffins.

I grilled the eggplant simply with olive oil, salt and pepper.  The zucchini and patty pan squash were sauteed with the last of my leeks.  I was originally going to toss the red pepper in there too, but decided to get crazy and make a sauce.  In the blender went the raw red pepper, the last jalapeno, toasted pine nuts and a bit of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, water, salt and white pepper.  It was pretty good for involving nearly no effort.  And I had parsley in the fridge so I went for the garnish.  I’m starting to think about meals in restaurant mode more automatically.  Whether that’s good or bad, I dunno…

farmers market meal

I definitely had another corn muffin as well.  I think I’m going to try something new for breakfast in the morning, and if it goes well you’ll see my first blog for a weekday breakfast.  I think I’ll set my alarm 15 minutes earlier.

***Edit:  The Strawberry Jalapeno Corn Muffin idea came from this blog, originally from Extraveganza which I don’t have yet.

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