Sunday, August 5, 2012

From Blueberries to Zucchini

There are good parts and bad parts about coming home from vacation.  I miss the care-free days, spending the afternoon on the deck, and walking the Marginal Way.  But on the bright side: it makes me come home "feening for baking," as Mark put it.  Hence the craziness that was today.
My zucchini work station!

Mom and Kenzie went to visit my grandfather at his new nursing home in Holyoke, so they were gone all day.  I had Rachael choose what she wanted to eat from things I have pinned on Pinterest, and I was quite happy when she chose something that I was sure was another one of those things that I want to make that no one else in this house is interested in; something to add to the ranks of strawberry balsaamic pizza, goat cheese quesadillas, chick pea pot pie, mac and cheese pancakes, and mushroom pizza.  But, miracle of miracles: today Rachael wanted to eat stuffed zucchini!
About to go into the oven

This meal was very quick to put together.  You slice a zucchini in half, scoop out the insides and mix them up with feta (it called for tomato basil feta but we have an embarrassing amount of regular feta in the fridge, so I used it!), garlic powder, oregano, and tomato paste.  Then you stuff the mixture in the zucchini boats, sprinkle on some parmesan and parsely, and bake.  That's all it takes.  You're ready to go in no time.  I bought a pretty large zucchini, and Rach and I ended up just splitting one half, so there is another in the fridge for tomorrow.  We both loved our healthy little lunch though; Rach said she liked it and called it "healthfully delicious" although said she might be interested in adding pepperoni.  No thanks!  But I guess that's the beauty of the meal; you can kind of make it whatever kind of "pizza" you want.  Perhaps an addition of goat cheese would be a good idea next time? :)

Next up, I have been wanting to make a cookie that is quite different for me: chocolate crinkle cookies.  I am not really a chocolate person; I never order anything chocolatey when I am at a restaurant or bakery, and I could do without chocolate candies too, but when I found this recipe, I decided that I had to try them.  They are so pretty with their powdered sugar coats and big chocolatey wrinkles all over them.  I like when food comes out pretty without me having to do much decorating!  And these definitely come out pretty, and tasty too.  They taste a lot like brownies, but with the added powdery sugar coating.  They are delicious - and again, I'm not a chocolate lover, but I still ate three!  Rachael and Kenzie each ate 5 cookies, so I am going to assume that they love them :)  Apparently from what I have been reading, these are common Christmas cookies.  Well, it's August, and I think they are just fabulous for any time of year!

I finished up my day-o'-kitchen by making more of the blueberry muffins I made yesterday.  Shockingly by this morning, all 12 of them were gone!  As you know, we never finish the things I bake in this house.  Partly this is because we aren't big sweet eaters, partly because my mom is picky, and partly because we are pretty notorious for "forgetting" about leftover food.  No matter the reason, it's a rather sore subject for me that all my food ends up tossed.  So when I made something that all goes - and in one day - I get excited.  Hence the double batch of delicious muffins that are cooling on the counter at this second. Mom is eating one now and announcing that "these are my kind of muffins!"  Whew! Since they are a repeat recipe, I will be posting it below.  I like making these muffins; it's really fun to mix the egg, sugar, butter and sour cream together.  I'm not sure why that is fun, and I am quite sure it makes me a dork, but it's true.  So if you happen to have a cup and a half of berries, try out this recipe.

stuffed zucchini pizza style
chocolate crinkle cookies

blueberry muffins
from Brown-Eyed Baker, originally adapted from Baking Illustrated

yield: 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1¼ cups sour cream
1½ cups frozen or fresh blueberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin (or line with paper liners) and set aside.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl untill combined. Whisk the egg in a separate medium bowl until well-combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until thick, about 30 seconds. Add the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add the sour cream in 2 additions, whisking just to combine.

3. Add the berries to the dry ingredients and gently toss just to combine. Add the sour cream mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the batter comes together and the berries are evenly distributed, 25 to 30 seconds. Small spots of flour may remain and the batter will be very thick. Do not overmix.

4. Using a large spoon or a cookie scoop sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, divide the batter amount the muffin cups. Bake until the muffins are light golden brown and a toothpick or thin knife inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back halfway through the baking time. Immediately remove muffins to a wire rack and cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

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