Friday, October 30, 2015

Easy and Quick Chocolate Chip Muffins

I've always enjoyed making muffins. They can be sweet or savory and are easy to share. Muffins are also portion controlled (unless you eat multiples at once). I recently came across a very easy recipe from Lily Ernst (Little Sweet Baker) that is very forgiving and are made from ingredients that I usually have on hand. These have been very popular with family and co-workers and only take 30 minutes to make (that includes baking).

Here is the recipe for Chocolate Chip Muffins:

Dry Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

'Wet' Ingredients:
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), melted
1 cup sugar
buttermilk (or regular milk)
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
  1. Mix together all the dry ingredients; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl (I cheat and use a Kitchen Aid mixer), mix together the 'wet' ingredients.
  3. Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the 'wet' ingredients until just mixed (Note: I have made these in a hurry and over-mixed them in my mixer - they turned out fine).
  4. Grease muffin tins (12) and fill the tins with your mixture. For larger muffins, fill all 12 so they are very full. If you like smaller muffins, you can fill the tins about 3/4 full and get around 16 muffins. If you do this, watch your bake time!
  5. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F; cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Decrease heat to 375 degrees F and cook for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from muffin pans and allow to cool. If you aren't going to eat them right away, make sure that they are fully cooled before storing them.
These are delicious as-is, but I'd also love to add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts to the mix! Enjoy for breakfast, as a dessert, or just a snack!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Connecticut Beef: A New Version Of A Family Classic

Growing up, casseroles were always a staple. One of my favorites is Connecticut Beef Supper. When I eat it, I'm immediately transported back to large family dinner parties. This is one of those meals that sticks with you and can be relied on for savory satisfaction.

Here is an updated version of this classic casserole.

2 T olive oil
2 lbs stew meat, cut into bite sized pieces
1 large yellow onion, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
10-12 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Marsala wine
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
8 oz container sour cream
10.5 oz cream of mushroom soup
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. In a large stew pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add stew meat, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Allow meat to brown; stir often.
  2. Add mushrooms, water and wine and bring to a slight boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for at least 2 hours (the meat should be very tender).
  3. Pour meat mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Add the sliced potatoes in a thin layer.
  4. Mix together the sour cream and cream of mushrooms soup; spread over the potato layer.
  5. Sprinkle with cheese; cover with foil.
  6. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.
  7. Remove foil and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered for another 30 minutes (potatoes should be very tender when pierced with a knife).
  8. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes before serving.
  9. Enjoy! Serves 8-10.
FYI: Always cut your potatoes thin and test that they are done with a fork. This will ensure that they cook all the way through and are not crunchy.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

We're Back! Inspiration Is Calling Us Into The Kitchen!

Wow, time just flies by and looking back on our last few posts, I can’t believe it’s been since 2012. Yikes! Much has happened in that time for both Lydia and me. One big life event for me was moving into my own condo and having my very own kitchen again!! Spacious counters, new cookware and to top it off – a new Kitchen Aid mixer! With all the new, it’s time to get cooking again!

So what to make? I recently got hooked on the Great British Baking Show, a show that as my sister says is like a great big British hug. As the title suggests, baking is the premise and every week, participants make all sorts of baked treats. Some are favorites (like English muffins), while others I’ve never heard of (but would love to sample). Watching all of this has made me want to brave the baking world… a world that I have never really done well in before.

Cooking has always come fairly easy cause I don’t need to be exact. You can wing it with good ingredients and using various recipes to create a unique dish. A little bit of this, a dash of that, toss a bunch of ingredients together and voila: dinner! Baking though is not like that at all. Measure, measure and measure some more and maybe you’ll get something that will be edible. I have baked my fair share of yeasty hockey pucks (or what the recipe called dinner rolls). Baking has never been my forte but this winter, I’m going to test my cooking chops and take on baking!

Along with baked goods, I’m also going to stick to what I know I do well and create all sorts of savory meals. I’ll share my successes and failures and hopefully can test out all kinds of goodies.