Monday, November 12, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love this time of year, when everything is pumpkin flavored.  You name it, they make it: granola, yogurt, coffee, smoothies, soup, butter, cake, cookies, bread.  Here in the city of micro breweries, we even have fresh pumpkin beer.  The local breweries usually tap it near Halloween and it is available until it's gone, which is around Thanksgiving.  If you've never tried it, you need to, it's amazing.  But today I'm talking about pumpkin muffins.  These little mini muffins are quick to make and a treat to eat
Here they are cooling upside down.  Loaded with chocolate chips and a healthy dose of pumpkin, these three bite delights are quite satisfying.  The recipe comes from

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 C packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
15-ounce can pumpkin (not pie filling)
1/2 C lowfat vanilla yogurt
1/4 C melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Coat three 12-cup mini muffin tins with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a mixing bowl, beat together the brown sugar and eggs until blended.  Beat in the pumpkin, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Add the flour mixture and beat until just blended.  Fold in the chocolate morsels.
Spoon the batter into 36 mini muffin cups.
Bake 10 minutes, until a wooden pick comes out clean.- took at least 5 minutes more.
Cool muffins in pans. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Turkey Mushroom Risotto

I know Thanksgiving day is still two weeks away, but who says you can't cook a turkey until then?  We cut out the backbone, butterflied the bird and put it on the smoker.  Oh, in case you haven't heard, the new word for butterflying poultry is 'spatchcock', crazy right?
Just by removing the backbone, and splaying the bird, a 16 lb turkey cooked in 2 hours, nearly half the time it normally would take.  I think that's great.  Typically, I like to brine the turkey at least 24 hours with some salt, sugar, lemon and orange, but this cooking opportunity  happened quickly.  There was only time for a 6 hour brine in 8 quarts of water with 3/4 cups each of kosher salt and sugar.  Given the short brine time, I was impressed with how moist the finished turkey was.
Here's something else I was impressed with, Turkey Mushroom Risotto, from the November issue of Bon Appetit.

8 cups of turkey stock, chicken broth or water
4 Tb unsalted butter, divided
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups assorted fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced-(used all baby portabellas)
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup shredded leftover turkey meat-(used 2 cups)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan- (used 1 cup)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Bring stock to a simmer in a medium pot over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover and keep warm.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat until it begins to foam.  Add onion.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent and just beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes.
Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, and any liquid released has evaporated, 5-7 minutes.
Add rice; stir to coat.  Add 1/2 cup warm stock and stir constantly until liquid is absorbed.  Continue adding stock by 1/2-cupfuls, stirring constantly, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. (It took 30 minutesAdd leftover turkey meat, stir to combine and to warm through, adding a little stock or water if necessary to keep mixture creamy, about 3 minutes.
Stir Parmesan and remaining 1 tablespoon butter into risotto.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Divide among warm bowls.  Garnish with chopped parsley.  What a great way to enjoy leftover turkey.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Baked Chicken Fingers & Smashed Potatoes

A lot of the fun of watching football is being able to graze on food for three hours, or more.  Football food used to be your basic junk food, but not anymore.  Calorie ladden and loaded with large amounts of fat, it always tasted good, but now there are so many more optionsBuddy Valastro, formerly known as the Cake Boss, currently TLC's Kitchen Boss, offers a healthy recipe for baked chicken fingers.  
Baked Chicken Fingers

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Nonstick vegetable cooking spray
2 Tb olive oil
1 C dried breadcrumbs- I used Panko
2 Tb grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp crumbled dried oregano
½ tsp coarse salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400, spray baking sheet with cooking spray; set aside.
Cut each of the chicken breasts lengthwise into 4 -5 strips.  Place in a medium bowl.  Add olive oil and stir to coat evenly; set aside.
In a shallow dish, mix together breadcrumbs, cheese, oregano, salt and pepper.  Dredge the chicken in breadcrumb mixture to coat.  Arrange on prepared baking sheets.
Transfer to oven and bake, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, 12 -15 minutes.  Serve chicken fingers hot or at room temperature. 

Rather than deep-fried french fries (I'm not saying I don't like them), try one of my new favorites from Bon Appetit's August issue, Roasted Smashed Potatoes.  I love their crispy edges.
 Smashed Roasted Potatoes

 6–8 servings

 2 pounds small to medium red-skinned potatoes
 2 tsp kosher salt
 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
 1/3 cup EVOO

Preheat oven to 350°.  Wrap each potato individually in foil.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until tender, 45–60 minutes.  Let cool slightly.
Unwrap potatoes and arrange on same baking sheet.  Set another rimmed baking sheet over potatoes, rimmed side up, and press gently to smash potatoes without breaking them apart.  I like to smash each one a bit flatter with my hand after the initial baking sheet press.  Season with salt and pepper; drizzle with half of the oil.  Carefully turn potatoes to coat.
Preheat oven to 500°.  Roast potatoes for 15 minutes.  Drizzle with a little more of the oil, turn to coat, and continue roasting until crispy and golden brown, 25–30 minutes. 
Notes: add minced garlic and scallion with final flip of potatoes.
If you must have something to dip your potatoes into, here's a healthy gravy from a vegetarian restaurant in Toronto, called Fresh.  They serve this gravy with their baked sweet potato fries.  Aside from the fact this gravy is really tasty, you get bonus health points from the nutritional yeast.  According to the Nutritional Diva, Eating a heaping tablespoon of nutritional yeast is like taking a high-potency B-vitamin complex.  A serving will generally stock you up with a couple of days’ worth of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, and B12, and a substantial amount of folic acid.  Nutritional yeast also packs a decent amount of fiber and protein into a pretty small low-calorie package.

Fresh’s Miso Gravy

4-1/2 Tb spelt flour
1/4 tsp garlic granules (or powder)
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1-1/2 cups vegetable stock or filtered water
1/3 cup olive oil
1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 Tb miso paste, light or dark
3/4 tsp fine sea salt

Combine olive oil, mustard, miso and salt in a bowl and set aside.  
In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the spelt flour, garlic powder and nutritional yeast.  Whisk in stock or water to make a paste.  Raise heat to medium high and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer 1 minute.
Whisk in oil mixture until smooth.  Serve hot, or refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes about  2 1/2 Cups.