Archive for November, 2010

Civil Procedure Muffins

November 28, 2010

I hope you all enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving.  I made my first turkey feast this year, complete with sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes, Swiss string beans with homemade dressing, homemade sour-cream rolls, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin cheesecake.  Then, there were these muffins.  They were inspired by my Civil Procedure professor.  The man is known on campus for his very chic haircut and dapper disposition in class.  He also wears amazing ties.  Yes, Professor, your students have noticed the little seasonal images and colorful stripes you sport every Tuesday and Thursday.  Should you read this blog some day, please feel encouraged—definitely do not stop wearing your lovely ties.  Attending class is stirred just as much by my need to know what the tie report is as my zest for legal learning.  In any case, somewhere between an explanation of summary judgment and directed verdicts, our professor mentioned that he ate sweet potato date muffins for breakfast.  The class went hay-wire.  Thus, as we exited the room, I had two thoughts: 1) People are not guaranteed an error-free trial, according to Federal Civil Rule 61 and, more importantly, 2) I wanted to make sweet potato date muffins. It was not until I began roasting the sweet potatoes that I remembered that I’ve  disliked the flavor in the past, immensely.  Nevertheless, these muffins have made me a fan.  In honor of Federal Civil Rules 1-61 (and in hope that we’ll cover 62-83 eventually), and for my law school compatriots who suffer under the strain of upcoming exams—these muffins are for you. –Little Ms. Muffin


Sweet Potato Date Muffins


1/2 pound sweet potatoes
1/4 cup butter, melted
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp sugar
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup dried pitted dates, sliced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces (reserve some dates sliced in half for a topping, if desired)

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Stick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and wrap them in foil. Roast them in a pan for an hour. Remove the pan from the oven, allow the potatoes to cool, remove the foil and the skins, and mush them in a small bowl.

2. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Grease and flour the muffin tin.

3. Cream the butter, brown sugar, and regular sugar in a large bowl.  Add the egg and mix thoroughly, followed by the buttermilk, yogurt, and vanilla.

4. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice.

5. Alternately add the dry and wet ingredients, until just smooth. Gently fold in the sweet potatoes and the dates.  Add a date sliced in half to the top of each muffin, if desired.

6.  Fill the muffin cups about ¾ of the way full and bake for 35 minutes.

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Happy Thanksgiving :)

November 25, 2010

Hey everyone!  Little Ms Muffin and I just wanted to let you all know how thankful we are for all of you who read our blog!

Now step away from the computer, go eat real food instead of drooling over ours, and spend time with those you love :)

<3 Betty

Magic Bars

November 22, 2010

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes.  Probably one of the first recipes I became fond of back in high school – It’s one of those ones I go back to over and over again.  This is partly because it’s delicious (how could you go wrong with coconut, chocolate, and nuts?) and partially because of how easy it is.  I’m sure you’ve had these before – you can find it on the side of any Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk can, but they’re so good, I figured it was worth the share :)

<3 Betty

Magic Bars

1 stick butter

1 package graham cracker crumbs

1 (14 ounce) can Sweetened Condensed Milk

2 cups chocolate chips

1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

Optional Ingedients:

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup peantubutter chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

heck you could even put some crasins in….. :D

 

1) Preheat oven to 350F , place stick of butter in 13X9 baking pan, and allow to melt in oven, while it’s pre-heating.

2)  Meanwhile, crush the package of grahm crackers into crumbs.  When butter is melted, dump gram crack crumbs into baking pan, and mix well with fork, patting it down to create the base of the crust.

3)  Pour can of sweetened condensed milk over the pan, covering it evenly.

4)  Sprinkle with coconut and other delicious things and pat down with fork.

5)  Bake for 20-25 until golden brown, cool completely, cut into bars and enjoy :)

Oh No You Don’t! Cake

November 21, 2010

Have you ever noticed that when a child is about to do something naughty, an adult often exclaims, “Oh no you don’t!”?  I caught myself yelling this phrase when James jumped on the counter as I was baking a birthday cake.  My sweatshirt sleeves were rolled up, my fingers were coated in flour, and I was holding a wooden spoon and glass bowl dripping with batter.  I was also exhausted from torts class and a batch of muffins that stuck to the muffin tin.  In spite of my wild gesticulations and most serious voice, James gave me a look that said, “Oh, yes. We do.”  My parenting skills had just been trumped—by a cat.  In the moment, it occurred to me that the phrase, “Oh no you don’t” doesn’t have any meaning on its own.  It’s grammatically deficient, and it’s insipid.  It’s so insipid that if I could come up with a catchy-enough tune and Katy Perry agreed to sing it, there would be teens across the U.S. belting it out in their V-Bugs.  As I whipped up the cake frosting, I imagined some clever predicates that could be inserted between “don’t” and the exclamation mark.  Feel free to post your favorite (complete) “Oh no you don’t…” phrase in the comments.  It’s good food for thought, no?  Most importantly, happy birthday, Anna.  I hope this year is every bit as sweet as frosting.

–Little Ms. Muffin

Orange-Coconut Layer Cake

¾ cup softened butter
¾ tsp salt
grated zest of one orange
juice of one orange
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup shaved coconut

1)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans

2)  In large bowl, combine the butter, salt, and the orange rind.  Add the sugar and cream the mixture.

3)  Add the eggs, one at a time and beat well after each addition.

4)  In another large bowl, whisk together the cake flour and baking powder.

5)  Combine the juice of one orange and the lemon juice in a measuring cup.  Add enough water to make a cup.

6)  Alternate adding the flour mixture and the juice to the creamed sugar mixture.  Repeat this step three times.  Mix until the batter is smooth.  Pour the batter into the cake pans.

7)  Bake for 25 minutes, or when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

8)  When the cake has cooled, frost with icing, sprinkle with coconut, layer, and repeat.

Golden Orange Frosting

4 cups confectioner’s sugar, separated
6 tbsp butter
4 tbsp fresh squeezed orange
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp grated rind of an orange
1 tbsp flour

1)  Heat the butter on low heat, add the orange rind, and 1 cup of the confectioner’s sugar, a little at a time.  Stir continuously.

2)  Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature; beat in the flour.

3)  In a bowl, add the remaining three cups of confectioner’s sugar, alternating with the juice from the orange and lemon to the previous mixture.

4)  Beat the frosting until it is light and creamy.  Add some water to loosen if the frosting is too thick.  Refrigerate the frosting until it’s ready to be spread on the cake.

Eggs in a bread bowl

November 18, 2010

I’m not a big fan of sweet breakfasts.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are lots of delicious things that, let’s face it, should be categorized as dessert, that getaway as breakfast food.  I’m not against them per se, but to get me going in the morning, I much prefer something hearty.

That being said, most mornings, I barely have time for a shower, let alone to cook up eggs and toast.  That is why I absolutely love these things, easy for every day breakfast (just whip them together and bake the night before, or throw them in the oven before you hop in the shower) or as a simple, yet impressive treat for brunch.  You can find the original, or “the classic” as I like to call it, created here, on the fabulous Noble Pig.

A quick grab and go breakfast, these babies are irresistible.  Making variations on a theme?  I’m so there.

 

The Classic: What’s not to love… a spalsh of half and half, salt, pepper, and shredded parm :)

The Hothead: This one was a bit of a flop – jack daniel’s hot sauce and tillamok cheddar don’t quite make the cut – as delicious as all of these are individually, they were a bit of a flop when put together.

The Ranch: I was a little apprehensive about this one going in – I’m not the world’s biggest ranch dressing fan, but in the end, it came through with flying colors :) Tangy ranch, with the creamy richness of egg… mmmm…. definitely a do-again.

The Italiano: Maybe it’s just the Italian in my blood, but this one was my absolute favorite.  A dollop of left over vodka sauce from dinner the other night, and topped with a generous sprinkling of parm… it was the perfect marriage of eggs in bread bowls and hilary’s heavenly eggs.  I loveloveloveloveloveeeee these!  Make them.  Make them now.

Shanghaied Muffins

November 16, 2010

This weekend I had the opportunity to tour a small bit of the Portland underground—a labyrinth of tunnels running under the city.  These tunnels were used as secret hideouts for opium dens, torture chambers for sex slaves, and avenues of human trafficking.  Drunkards were frequently stolen from saloons and shuttled underground, often drugged, and brought to sea where they’d be forced to work for years as ship crew.  Sometimes men were dropped right through the floor of saloons above, by the pull of a bar-attendant’s lever.  These sorry shanghaied individuals were unlikely to escape; there were a number of ways for traffickers to hold them captive, including stealing their shoes and sprinkling a thick layer of broken glass along the exit route. There are numerous ghost tales that go along with these tunnels, but I did not encounter any creepies.  Most importantly, this activity made my contracts practice test far more palatable. Offer, acceptance, and the statute of frauds are a lot easier to handle after such an outing.  I “raise” these muffins in honor of Portland’s shanghaied.

–Little Ms. Muffin

Chocolate Chocolate Chip

1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup softened butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1)    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and thoroughly grease a muffin tin (and I mean, really grease it, or the muffins will get stuck).

2)    In a large bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and whisk together.

3)    In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, butter, yogurt, and vanilla.  Pour these ingredients into the large bowl and mix until just combined.

4)    Fold in the chocolate chips being careful not to over-mix the batter.

5)    Distribute the batter into the muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes.  Let them cool before removing.

Happy Accidents…

November 15, 2010

I love seasonal foods.  A lot. (As evidenced by my repeated use of butternut squash in recent posts.)  We’re finally past Halloween, and unlike in the retail world – in the foodie world, Thanksgiving gets it’s due respect.  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce…mmmm…

This past week, I decided to do a twist on a favorite.  Rather than the classic lemon bars, I wanted to try my hand at cranberry bars. Off I went to find this three layer lemon bar recipe.  As I whipped them up, I anticipated a classic lemon bar, with a thin bonus layer of cheese cake-like filling between the shortbread and the cranberry curd.

When I pulled it out of the oven however, the cream cheese layer had magically risen to the top, puffed up, and turned this lemon bar look-a-like into a tangy, delicious cheesecake bar.

Here’s to happy accidents and seasonal foods – may there be many more to come.

Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

For the short bread:

  • 1 stick salted butter
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour

For the cheese cake

  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg

For the cranberry layer

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup 100% cranberry juice
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 325.
  2. To make shortbread: cream butter and sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer set on high speed.
  3. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. Add flour and mix at low speed until fully incorporated then press dough evenly into bottom of square baking pan.
  5. Refrigerate until firm.
  6. Prick shortbread crust with fork and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Cool on rack to room temperature.
  8. Prepare cream cheese filling while crust is baking.
  9. Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth in medium bowl with electric mixer set on high speed.
  10. Add egg and beat on medium speed until light and smooth.
  11. Cover bowl tightly and refrigerate.
  12. Blend egg yolks with the cornstarch and sugar in medium non-aluminum saucepan.
  13. Place over low heat and slowly whisk in cranberry juice.
  14. Increase heat to medium low and cook stirring constantly until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  15. Remove from heat.
  16. Add butter and cool for 10 minutes.
  17. Spread chilled cream cheese filling evenly over cooled shortbread crust with spatula.
  18. Spread cranberry curd evenly over cream cheese filling.
  19. Place pan in center of oven and bake 40 minutes.
  20. Cool to room temperature on rack.
  21. Chill in refrigerator 1 hour before cutting into bars.

 

Pesto Mac and Cheese

November 14, 2010

I’m not usually a baked mac and cheese person.  I have tons of friends who would disagree with me, but to me, the crispy bread crumb topping just sort of messes with the gooey deliciousness that is mac and cheese.

Wednesdays are my cooking night – I’m lucky enough to have the day off, and so I usually spend the afternoon dreaming up a delicious dinner to oooh and aaahh the family with.  This week – I referred to one of my favorite food blogs:  noblepig.com.  Seriously – if you haven’t started reading her blog yet, do it.  Right now.  A while ago she made this recipe, for gnocchi mac and cheese.  I was inspired.  Off I tottered to the store to buy the necessary ingredients, only to find a distinct lack of gnocchi.  There was nothing to do, but throw my hands up in the air, and do what my father’s been teaching me to do since I first started cooking – improvise.  A little wandering of the frozen pasta aisle, and a little digging through the fridge, and tada!

PS  This was amazing served with sweet Italian sausage :)

Pesto Mac and Cheese

1 pound tri-color tortellini
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/3 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano

Prepare tortellini according to package directions, drain and place in a well greased, medium sized  casserole dish.

Meanwhile, melt your butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour until it thickens and bubbles, then whisk in milk and pesto.  Continue to whisk mixture and cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.

Add gruyere and fontina slowly to milk mixture, allowing each handful to melt before adding the next one.

Pour sauce over tortellini and sprinkle liberally with shredded Parm.  Bake at 350F 20-25 minutes, until top starts to bubble brown slightly.  Enjoy :)

Duck Face Cake

November 7, 2010

I wasn’t sure what I should write about this week.  When I asked Josie if she had any ideas, she replied, “Your face.”  I am not sure I have anything profound to say about my face.  I have, however, spent a good part of the week perfecting my “duck face.”  If you aren’t familiar with the pop-culture “duck face,” I recommend starting with antiduckface.com.  It seems that most folks, primarily women, are making a duckface because they think it’s hot.  Here’s why I am making a duck face: my living room looks like something exploded, my desk is covered with unopened mail, my binders are beginning to get out of control, and my cats got spayed and neutered on Friday.   As a result, the kittens are doped up and acting like serious crack-addicts jonesing for their next good fix; I started adding a splash of Kaluha to my coffee and putting some correspondence on hold.   I also added highlights from a box to my hair, in favor of a fresh change.  I do all of this while making one big fat duck face in the general direction of my law school.  It’s all I can do to keep from quacking.

–Little Ms. Muffin

Carrot Cake

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp allspice
¼ tsp nutmeg
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups vegetable oil
3 cups carrots (approximately 1 pound, plus a few)
¼ cup shredded coconut

Frosting

12 oz cream cheese
8 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 ½ tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate

1.  Grate the carrots and set them aside.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two round 9-inch pans.  Line the pans with parchment paper and grease and flour the paper.

3.  Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.

4.  In a separate bowl, use a handmixer to combine the eggs and the sugar for a minute or two on medium, or by hand until fluffy.  Then mix in the vanilla and the vegetable oil.

5.  Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture.  Fold in the carrots and the coconut.

6.  Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7.  While the cakes are cooling, beat the cream cheese, sugar, butter, and two tablespoons of the orange juice concentrate just until fluffy and smooth.   Add the remaining orange juice concentrate, and continue beating until the frosting is spreadable.

8.  Frost the cake when it is cooled.

**Recipe adapted from Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family