Archive for December, 2010

Pumpkin Fritters

December 31, 2010

It’s the holidays, and as you guys may have realized, I’ve been a little MIA… sorry :(  With all the wrapping and shipping and traveling involved, Just Call Me Betty has fallen down my priority list (in fact LMM has definitely being pulling all the weight around here…) But never fear!  I have returned!  And with such a delicious recipe for all of you too :)

I got the pleasant surprise of LMM coming to spend New Years with me, and am totally on a pumpkin kick :)  Today, I present to you these fabulous pumpkin fritters, I made them to go with a red curry chicken dish I made, but if you like pumpkin… they’d be good with just about anything.

Soon to come:  pumpkin bread, pumpkin french toast, orange slices and more.

Pumpkin Fritters

one 15 oz. can of pumpkin

1/2 c. flour

1 egg

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

a few Tbsp of olive oil to cook in

1) In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, mixing thoroughly.

2) Heat oil or butter in skillet and drop spoonfuls of batter in the pan.  Proceed to cook like pancakes,

3) Drain on a paper towel covered plate.

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For the Women Who Came Before Me Cake

December 30, 2010

Exams are officially over.  It was a long haul.  Let’s take stock: two breakdowns, 60ish hours of studying, four outlines, a backache, and several hard-to-sleep nights.  I woke up before the crack of dawn to make it to three 8:30 AM exams.  This was even less fun than standing in line for 45 minutes at the Post Office to mail holiday packages.  But, you know what?  I am grateful for this.  Why?  Because there were many impressive women who fought bloody hard for my right to be here.  The first women to take the bar were denied admission on the basis of their gender.  The Supreme Court even upheld the denial of their applications.  Now women account for nearly half of law school applicants, and we have a record three women Supreme Court justices.  Things are not completely rosy in law-land; women still suffer from a terrible wage gap, and an even more horrendous gap in leadership parity (known as the 50-15 problem—fifty percent of law students are women, but only fifteen percent of law firm equity partners and chief legal staff are women).   Nevertheless, my “right” to sit among my peers is a privilege that was hard earned.  The women who came before me had to prove that we are good enough, smart enough, and tough enough to make it.  As for me, I get to bake because I choose to, and I get to attend law school because I choose to.  It’s a beautiful gift.  For all the women who came before me—thank you for teaching me how to make my cake and eat it in style.

For some specific history on women in the legal profession, see: http://www.abcny.org/Library/FeaturedExhibitions2.htm

Lemon Cranberry Cake

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbsp fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped

1)      Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease two muffin tins, or one muffin tin and a loaf pan.

2)      In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition.  Beat in the vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon rind.

3)      In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk the ingredients together thoroughly.

4)      Add half the dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix thoroughly, then add half the milk and mix again.  Repeat this step until the batter is thick and even.

5)      Gently stir in the chopped cranberries.  Distribute batter into loaf or muffin pans.

6)      Bake a loaf for 50 minutes; bake muffins for 25 minutes.

Mentor Cake

December 20, 2010

Law students are encouraged to sign up for the mentoring program at the beginning of the year.  Our school connects students with local alumni.  This is how I met Alison, the nicest mentor one could hope for.  She has shared fantastic study tips, her stellar outlines, and a very positive perspective.  What could a first year student offer in exchange?  A baking lesson. Alison informed me that she has made some disaster cakes in the past.  She said that her past cakes came out “tough.”  I am not quite sure what this means, but cakes that share adjectives with tires simply won’t do.  And so Alison and I destroyed the kitchen together and made this cake, plus some snickerdoodle muffins (see “Special Visitor Muffins” for the recipe).   All in all, we used over seven cups of sugar, more than half a bag of flour, and an entire package of butter.    She attempted to sabotage this cake by only bringing one-fourth of the chocolate necessary for the recipe.  However, I happened to have plenty of chocolate on hand, and our baking efforts were saved.   I had a generous slice of cake for lunch; it’s worthwhile brain food, and my exams are halfway complete.

–Little Ms. Muffin

Chocolate Cream Cheese Cake

2 cups plus a scant ¼ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
6 oz of cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ sticks butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 ¼ cups milk
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
3 large eggs

1)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour parchment paper to fit the inside of two round 9-inch cake pans.

2)  Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together with a whisk in a large bowl.

3)  In a separate bowl, cream the cream cheese, one stick of butter, and vanilla with a hand mixer, until light and fluffy.  Add the confections’ sugar and 1/3 cup milk, alternating, until it is gone (beginning and ending with the sugar).  Then beat in the melted chocolate.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix once more.

4)  Separate 2 ½ cups of the above mixture and put it in a sealable container.  Store it in the refrigerator—voila your frosting!

5)  Beat in half a stick of butter to the mixture.  Add the eggs, beating between each addition. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture, alternating with 1 ¼ cups milk, beginning and ending with the flour.

6)  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake 35 minutes.  Allow the cakes to thoroughly cool before removing from the pans and frosting.

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

Law School Exam Muffins, or Humbly Grateful Muffins

December 15, 2010

Law exams are officially underway and I have learned two important life lessons.  I kicked off my crunch time exam period in Roseburg with Josie.  She vowed to take the best care of me while my housemate took care of the pets in Portland.  For those of you who have kept up with the blog, you know that Josie’s care includes really good homemade food and as much TLC as one could want.  Josie stayed up late with me beginning Friday night.  We started with a review of torts.  By the end of the night, she knew enough torts to correctly identify issues in a practice test.  She could recite all the elements of negligence and could distinguish the intentional torts from one another.  She then sat patiently all day Saturday with me so that I could teach contracts.  Throughout the day I got the most plush services— fresh bagels from the local shop, homemade hot chocolate with peppermint fudge, a pedicure, and lunch delivered up to me on toasted Kaiser rolls.  By the end of the night, Josie was able to correctly answer multiple choice questions from a past contracts exam (and she had finished making a Christmas present for her dad).  She effectively learned a semester’s worth of material for two subjects (enough to pass a real exam) in 36 hours.  She’s quite the exceptional student, I assure you.  On Sunday, I was able to leave with the confidence I needed to face these exams.  If I could teach the concepts to a non-law student, certainly I could tackle a silly exam.  It also helped that I had a batch of homemade cookies on the passenger seat.  Thus, I felt like the luckiest and most well-prepared student to ever live as I began the three-hour drive back to Portland.  Life Lesson #1: Remain humble.  Upon reaching my house in Portland, I realized I had missed a call from Josie about an hour and half into the journey home.  As it turns out, I left my binder with all of my carefully written outlines and flow charts in Roseburg. Note: my open-note contracts exam was only 14 hours away.  F*&#.  Who does that?  So, after allowing myself ample time for a small breakdown, I had some dinner (not nearly as good as the food Josie makes).  My partner interrupted his own study time so he could drive me to dinner and to campus while I cried and bemoaned the circumstances. Then Josie successfully scanned each and every page of my contracts materials for me and emailed them to me.  This would have been a perfect solution had the school computer lab not closed at 7:00 and had my printer at home not been out of ink.  Never fear, one of my best study buddies, promised to print my outline for me and bring it to the exam.  Life Lesson #2: Be grateful for modern technology and even more so for the relationships you’ve cultivated.  By 9:00 PM, I was able to redraw my diagrams and charts from the scanned copies provided to me, and the world was right again.  For the multitude of well-wishes in the form of emails, text messages, phone calls, Facebook notes, and silent thoughts, I am humbly grateful.  These muffins are for the world’s best cheerleaders.

–Little Ms. Muffin

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

 

For the crust

1 small bag of ginger snaps (about 1 ½ cups)
¼ cup sugar
4 tbsp butter, melted

For the muffins

15 oz of pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda

For the filling

8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg yolk
5 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp vanilla

1)      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2)      Prepare the crust by crushing the ginger snaps and mixing in the sugar and butter

3)      Mash the crust in the bottom of cupcake liners, or line a muffin tin with greased parchment paper disks (cut to muffin cup size).

4)      Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.

5)      Prepare the pumpkin mixture by mixing all the ingredients in a large bowl (pumpkin puree, sugar, cinnamon, spices, baking soda, baking powder, salt, eggs, and butter).

6)      In a separate bowl, use a hand-mixer on medium to mix the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy.  Then, beat in the egg yolk.

7)      Pour the pumpkin mixture on top of the ginger-snap crust, approximately ¾ of the way to the top of the cooled muffin cups (if they are still hot, wait until the muffin tin is to room temperature).  If you did not use liners, be sure to thoroughly grease the sides of the muffin tin, or line them with greased parchment paper.

8)      Using a tablespoon, add a dollop of the cream cheese mixture to each muffin cup.  Use a toothpick or skewer to swirl the cream cheese mixture.

9)      Bake for 25 minutes.

 

Microwave Risotto!

December 11, 2010

I have no picture for this recipe.  Partially because the lighting in my kitchen is questionable, and partially because I think this recipe just stands for itself.  Any of you who have ever made risotto on the stove top will kick yourself for somehow never having known about this before (unless of course, you just wanted to build up your arm muscles…)  This is truly amazing… you can make risotto IN THE MICROWAVE!!!

I’m not kidding.  Same amount of time, but drastically decreased stirring and it came out sooooo sooooooooo tasty!  Make it tonight for dinner and people will ooooooo and aaaahhh :)

<3 Betty

Microwave Risotto

1 cup arborio rice

2.5 Tbsp olive oil

2.5 Tbps butter

1 medium onion diced

mushrooms, and any other veggies you wish to add (optional)

1 box chicken stock

1) Mix butter, oil, and rice in a medium-sized microwave safe bowl and microwave for 3 minutes.

2) Add onion, mushrooms, and any other veggies, stir and microwave 3 more minutes

3) Add chicken stock, stir, and microwave for 7-9 minutes.

4)  Stir, microwave for 7-9 minutes.

5)  At this point, depending on the strength of your microwave, you made need more time (I needed about 5 more minutes).

6)  Show off and enjoy!

Emergency Chocolate Cookies

December 10, 2010

Yesterday morning I got an e-mail in my inbox, and there was no turning back.  “Chocolate Emergency Cookies”  Come on, who could say no to that?  With Little Ms. Muffin coming down this weekend to study for her finals, I thought it might be a good idea to have on hand.  Just in case of study emergencies… you know…

<3 Betty

Chocolate Emergency Cookies

6 oz semi sweet chocolate chips

6 oz bittersweet chocolate (can use dark chocolate), broke into large pieces
1 stick unsalted butter, softened and divided
1 1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Melt chocolates and 1/2 stick butter (in microwave). Cool briefly.
2. Sift flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Beat 1/2 stick butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until the consistancy of wet sand.
4. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix.
5. Mix in chocolate mixture, beating only until combined.
6. Stir in flour mixture, only until combined.
7. Chill for 1 hour.
8. Dip out with an ice cream scoop (I use a 4 teaspoon cookie dipper) onto a greased cookie sheet.
9. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Do not over bake.
10. Cool 2 minutes on pan before moving to cooling racks.

Law School Final Exam Preparation Muffins

December 7, 2010

Let me describe what law school looks like by the first week in December: Some folks are beginning to feel sickly, and their pockets are stuffed with crumpled tissues.  More than a few students are walking a little like defeated zombies, complete with tired raccoon-ringed eyes. Male students who started out with five-o’clock shadows have ended up looking like Paul Bunyan.  (Surely, many women students have forgone shaving, as well, but it is harder to tell in the winter.)  We’re grateful to have sufficient pairs of panties to go without worrying about laundry for a little longer.  The library looks like a disaster relief center.  Coffee has become liquid gold.  Facebook has a flurry of status updates reflecting the sheer misery of practice tests and outlining.  So how did we arrive at such a place?  We’re told that we’re the crème de la crème; we’re future leaders of a “very noble profession;” we follow in the footsteps of many greats.  Let’s re-cap: first year students have four testable subjects, plus a legal writing and research course.  Constitutional law has kicked my tuchus all semester.  I am determined to prove that I can master the holdings of these cases if I have to read every supplementary guide in the library.  Torts cases involve a lot of very entertaining situations with overflowing latrines and fireworks in unmarked packages.  At some point we definitely discussed a case in which a consumer discovered that a rat had negligently been baked into a loaf of bread.  The final outlining process for the exam in this class, however, sucks mothballs.  My outline is about twenty pages of exceptions; by the time I take the exam, I will have them all memorized. Contracts was surprisingly fascinating, and I was grateful for a professor who would say things such as, “Maybe you wanted to buy one of those hippy cars with a rainbow painted on it.” Nevertheless, the multiple choice questions are tricky pixies, and I am a little bit afraid.  Civil Procedure rules us.  (Insert ba-dum-ching, here.)  For those non-law students joining me, the reading period before exams is about as pleasant as scraping dried oatmeal off yesterday’s breakfast dishes.  We’re told by the wiser upper-classmen to avoid campus as much as possible.  My summary judgment: the end is near, and I’m fighting the temptation to shout, “Bring out your [law school] dead.”  It gives me hope, however, to know that my law school claims a very high retention rate, and I know a good handful of upper-level students who have survived.  Amanda, Lora, and Alex—these are for you.

Butter Rum Muffins (Vegan)

½ cup sugar
1 ¾ cups flour
1 ¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
¾ cup soy milk
¼ cup softened vegan “butter”
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
dash of allspice
2 tbsp spiced rum

1)      Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, grease the muffin tin.

2)      Beat together the softened butter and the brown sugar and regular sugar.

3)      Add the milk, egg, rum, baking powder, salt, and the spices, stirring until thoroughly combined.

4)      Fill the muffin cups ¾ of the way to the rim and bake for 20 minutes.

**For a non-vegan option, try adding an egg and ¼ of a cup sugar, real butter rather than vegan butter, and regular milk instead of soy.

 

Sometimes Cinnamon Rolls

December 5, 2010

More and more lately, our society seems to have developed a duality in thinking when it comes to moderation in food.  Cookie Monster is now the “veggie monster”, and cookies are a “sometimes food,” but watch out if you try to tell someone not to supersize their meal.  Good luck finding someone neither over eating, nor on a diet.  Our pants sizes are getting bigger, and our life expectancy shorter.  Food is both a stressor and something we use to feed stress.

In a world so crazy about food, I’m often torn as a food blogger.  Do I post the boring, but healthy meals, or the decedant desserts that will make my readers drool?  As someone who struggles with making good food choices myself, how can I in good concsience post temptation for all to share?  Sure I try to strike a balance… finding things like butternut squash soup, and veggie ragout to try to pull people towards the healthier end of the spectrum, but still, this is something I struggle with.

A while ago, an answer to my quandry came from the most unexpected of sources.  None other, than the Queen of Butter – Ms. Paula Deen.  I was flipping through the channels one day, when I came across an interview with her.  The interviewer, eager to make news, asked her exactly the questions I ask myself so often.  Don’t you think, that in promoting recipes so fattening and indulgent in nature that you have contributed to America’s obesity problem?  Hooked, I immediately stopped flipping channels and perked up.  What did the butter goddess have to say for herself?  I was astonished by her insight.  She basically told the reporter – look, if I ate my food every day, I’d be as big as a kitchen table.  There’s nothing wrong with  rich, buttery food, but it’s important to eat is sparingly, amongst a healthy diet.

Well color me surprised – I never thought I’d say it, but perhaps Paula Dean and the “veggie monster” are right, with two sticks of butter, and a cup of sugar – Paula Dean’s cinnamon rolls are most certainly a sometimes food.  Delicious, but a sometimes food.

<3 Betty

Sometimes Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:

  • 1/4-ounce package yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter or shortening
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup sugar, plus more for pan
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raisins, walnuts, or pecans, optional

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in well-greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. Spread melted butter all over dough. Mix sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough. Sprinkle with walnuts, pecans, or raisins if desired. Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 to 15 slices.

Coat the bottom of a muffin tin with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place each cinnamon roll slice in it’s own muffin spot and let rise until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 F or until nicely browned.