Category Archives: Culinaria

Six Exciting Words

Crockpot apple butter and homemade granola.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

blueberry muffin recipe

Image courtesy of Pinterest. Click image for source info.

Muffins and I have a complicated relationship. The muffins you find in bakeries? In donut franchises and coffee shops? Those are not muffins by my–admittedly narrow–definition. Those are cake baked in muffin tins. Too sweet, to… cakey.

My Mom always made blueberry muffins from a battered and butter-stained page in the Blueberry Hill Cookbook, and they have set the standard for me.

These muffins are dense, chewy, not too sweet, subtly pumpkin-ey and moderately chippy. They are also reasonably low in fat and have some fiber and protein… so you can justify having them for breakfast!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
based on the Blueberry Hill Cookbook’s Blueberry Muffin recipe
Yields 2 dozen muffins 

3 1/2 c. flour (I use a blend of all-purpose and white whole wheat)
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. sugar
3 T. flax seed meal (optional)
4 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. pumpkin pie spice (or a blend of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, clove, & nutmeg)
4 eggs
1/2 c. canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
1 1/2 c. milk (I use 1% with no ill-effects)
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease 2 1-dozen muffin tins.

In a large mixing bowl, stir flour through pumpkin pie spice to blend. In a medium bowl blend eggs, pumpkin, and milk until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring only until fully incorporated. Don’t over mix! Gently stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop batter into greased muffin tins, filling the cups two-thirds full. These are best when not gigantor muffins, so please trust me on this.

Bake for 15 minutes. A tester should come out clean and dry.

Cool in pans for a few minutes. Then turn out onto a rack to cool. These are awesome warm, so dig in!

studio thirty plusIf muffin recipes aren’t your thing, or even if they are, I have a post featured at Studio Thirty Plus today which has nothing to do with baked goods, but which does reference Hoarders and Pteranodons.

I’ll Be Along to Collect my Mother-of-the-Year Medal Shortly

Rocking the Monogrammed Apron

Lightning McQueen pancake in the pan

Mater Pancake post-flip

Potato Salad

This one is for Sarah. And I have Nathan to thank for it. Now he makes beer. Mmmm…. beer.

Mustard-Roasted Potato Salad

Preheat your oven as high as it will go. If you use sheet pans to roast, line them with oiled foil or parchment. I like my nonstick roasting pan. I am also the world’s laziest dishwasher.

Scrub and rough chop 5 pounds of potatoes. I prefer a waxier potato like a yukon gold or white potato. Though, in the spirit of the friends above, a Maine potato will do nicely. Now slice the white parts of a bunch of scallions. Reserve the greens for later.

Add the cut potatoes and scallions to some olive oil–a few good glugs–and about a cup of mustard. I use a blend of spicy brown and dijon, but grainy works, yellow works. This recipe is all about easy. Toss in some salt, cracked black pepper, and a handful of fresh thyme sprigs. Mix it all up, coating the potatoes well. Arrange it on sheet pans or a raosting pan in a single layer–this is for even caramelization, which is key.

Roast this mess for about 45 minutes, turning the potatoes once during cooking. When they’re browned and roasted, and have begun to dry out just a touch, pull them out and cool to room temperature.

Ready? You’re basically done.

When they’re cool, pick out the thyme sprigs, which will probably have shed their leaves into the potatoes during cooking. Mix the potatoes with about 2 cups of plain, fat-free Greek style yogurt. Slice the scallion greens and toss them with the potato mixture.

Let the mixture hang out in the fridge for a while to marry the deliciousness.

Enjoy. It’s so good!

Bragging Rights

You’re invited to a Purim party/Hamantaschen bake-off.

While you have eaten your weight in Hamantaschen over the years, you’ve never actually made¬† the delicious little tri-cornered darlings yourself.

You go to Smitten Kitchen. You are, as always, rewarded.

You eschew traditional poppy seed filling in favor of lemon curd and Boysenberry jam.

You realize four hours before judging that you have neither the called-for lemon nor the ambition to go get one.

You swap in a clementine.

You bake up delicious Hamantaschen.

You win the bake-off!!!

You feel slightly like a fraud, since your ‘taschen are, like yourself, all Gentile.

But you still won.

You feel compelled to share the recipe you tweaked.

Brag Worthy Hamantaschen

Bragworthy Tiny ‘taschen
adapted from the Smitten Kitchen recipe

1 c. confectioners sugar
2 c. flour
1/4 c. white whole wheat flour
1/2 t. kosher salt
zest of 1 clementine
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp., diced
2 eggs, separated
a splash of milk
lemon curd (I used Dickinson’s that I bought at Stop & Shop)
boysenberry jam (I used Trappist*, cause the monastary is near where I grew up.)

Bust out your food processor, plunk sugar through zest in and pulse it to blend. Your Small Sous Chef can help with the pulse button. Buttons, as we all know, are awesome. Now, get your button pusher to switch to On.

With the machine running, pour in your yolks and cubed butter and let it go until the dough comes together in a mass. Have your child stop the machine, then disappoint him by not allowing him to play with the wicked sharp blade remove the dough.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for an hour at least.

Roll the dough out less that 1/4″ thin. Have your Small Sous Chef help you cut 2 1/2″ rounds with the rim of a wineglass a cutter. Transfer your rounds to two parchment lined trays.

We yielded 4 dozen plus a small ball of raw dough for Mark to sample.

Now, fill half of them with approximately a teaspoon of lemon curd and half with approximately a teaspoon of jam. Mix your reserved eggwhite with a spash of milk. Brush the edges of the ‘taschen with this egg wash. Pinch the sides into three corners. Brush the tops and sides lightly with more egg wash.

Chill for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

I baked mine for 15 minutes per tray, one tray at a time.

When they’ve cooled a little, transfer to a cooling rack.

Bring them to a bake-off and bring home your bragging rights!

*the irony is not lost on me

Domestic Goddess

If there is, in fact, some divine energy directing our days?

She made days like today for cooking!

I made a big batch of pancakes for breakfast, and froze the few left-overs for convenient reheating when Felix demands to eat in the morning.

I made Marian’s granola. A batch and a half!

I made a beef stew. My beef stew? It’s ahhhh-may-zing. That is all.

I baked Felix’s chocolate chip cake (Smitten Kitchen’s Best Birthday Cake, with Mini Chocolate Chips in the batter), to freeze for next weekend’s big party.

I made biscuits to go with the above-mentioned stew. I served said stew and biscuits to my in-laws, with wine!

I cleaned a bathroom and caught up on so much laundry. I vacuumed. And I wrote. Not just this, either.

Dining Memorably: 2nd Look Saturday

In November 2008, in an effort to make myself write more, I participated in NaBloPoMo. When I ran out of material, I asked friends for suggestions. Here’s one of the responses. A recent conversation with a new friend reminded me of the number two meal, so I thought, why not share?

2nd Look Saturday Button

Ten Memorable Meals
originally posted 11/14/08

Veronique suggested some best of/top ten type posts. I immediately thought of meals, because I’m a foodie and a chef and food is my heroin. Just ask my hips. Plus, food is much more fun than blogging about learning and parenting and important stuff.

Some of these are restaurant meals, some are casual meals with friends and family, all make my heart all squishy with good memories. I present them to you sort of in an order, but nothing hard and fast.

  • L’Espalier, Boston, MA, April 2003: before Chef McClelland departed the original location, this was my dream restaurant. White glove service, exquisite cuisine, intimate setting, and Mark took me for my birthday. Perfect!
  • Harris’ Steakhouse, San Francisco, CA, June 2005: on our honeymoon, we found this place by opening a guidebook and putting a finger down. Best steak and atmosphere of the trip!
  • Dinner party with N & Friends, Medford, MA, October 2001: a carpet picnic extraordinaire with many of my best friends all together in my house, and good food made by a great cook (thanks, N!), enjoyed by all.
  • Thanksgiving at Uncle Andy and Aunt Steph’s house, November 1997 (I think it was ’97…): my mother’s younger sister came east with her family for the first time in almost 20 years. I got to meet her, and my five cousins for the first time. It was the first time the whole family was together for a holiday meal, and the first time I realized the size and fullness of my family. They are infinitely precious to me.
  • The campfire on Pine Hill when I may or may not have tried to light the entire campsite on fire, Harvard, MA, Summer 1995 or 96: This one was great. I was a counselor, working with a small group of older girls, and somehow the pre-lit coals for the dutch ovens ended up rolling down a hillside covered in dry pine needles. Still, all and all, I remember we ate pretty well. Plus, there’s the magic of summer camp…
  • That post musical meal at Denny’s, Worcester, MA, 1993 or ’94: The one where Alta first ordered Moons Over My Hammy. Good times.
  • Valentine’s Day, Medford, MA, February 2003: I made Mark a four course dinner starting with home made fettucine and salmon roe, and ending with a chocolate raspberry torte. Tres romantic.
  • That great little restaurant, Rome, Italy, March, 1994: We ate at this little local place, and there was wine and so. much. food. We spoiled ourselves, and it was great!
  • Dinner in Manhattan with L&T, NYC, February, 2005: Osso buco. Oh. My. Heart. My heart was safe, though, because my husband made us walk a hundred blocks south through he Upper East Side before dinner.
  • The I.N.I., Lakeville, MA, Summer, 1998: Spaghetti and terrible sangria with Al, Ali, and Guy. I’m sure the food was awful, but the company was positively intoxicating. Looking back, I was so carefree and lighthearted. We all were. While I wouldn’t trade what I have now, I miss that freedom.

I’m sure there are more in the corners of my mind, but for now, there you have it.

Oreos & Trains: 2nd Look Saturday

Yep, my kid loves Highlife bottles. And the homemade oreos were so good I had to post them again.

Oreos & Trains
Originally posted July 5, 2008

Fourth of July is often a forgotten holiday around our house. Mark’s work doesn’t always allow him to fully take the day off, and while we’re buying diapers remodeling (never mind with the cost of traveling anywhere this year), splashy vacations are right out. So, we usually keep it pretty low key, and this year we thought about extending our low key to others we knew. Alas, everyone we know is more exciting that we are, so when we were invited to head down to Rhode Island for swimming, we said yes. And then it was cloudy. And not really pool swimming warm.

So, in the end, we had a little kebab barbeque with Mark’s mother, brother and sister-in-law, and his friend Pete. It was nice, and low key.

For me, the highlight of the day was the successful batch of Oreos I made.
For Felix, the highlights were getting a hold on Daddy’s empty Highlife:
And the new train toy that Memere brought for him:

Suburban Eden

I planted my first vegetable garden this summer. It is very likely that it’s an overly ambitious first garden. I’m not good at reining myself in when it comes to new hobbies. I have four different types of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, pole beans, English peas, yellow squash, carrots, pumpkins, and lettuce and a full complement of herbs in containers (except the cilantro, which arrived later than the rest).

Perhaps I should be selling farm shares? Probably not. I will, however, be canning, pickling, and freezing my vegetable bounty for most of July and August.

Of course this is all assuming that there’s no tomato blight, drought, pestilence, my own debilitating laziness, bunnies… The litany of potentially destructive forces to be driven down upon my defenseless chicken-wired garden by vengeful gods is long and frightening. (Inflated sense of self, much?)

My neighbors must think I’ve finally gone ’round the bend. Sometimes I just stand there, looking down on my tiny plants with a maternal expression. Oh, look, Squash has a new set of leaves. Mama’s so proud!

The best part right now is the early harvest. My herbs are going crazy and the lettuce is beautiful!

So green!

Mustard-Pistachio Crusted Mahi-Mahi

Dinner on Sunday was so good, I just had to share.

To begin with, I borrowed this grilled brussells sprouts recipe from Lex at It’s another blag on the intertruck. Yum, and fat free. Ironically, I’m trying to add a little olive oil into my days, since healthy fats are, you know, actually good for you. So, I added 2 teaspoons of olive oil in with the spices, after the microwave “blanching.”

The protein on the menu tonight was mahi-mahi filets, which I usually just slap on a hot grill pan with some salt, pepper, and a finish drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice, but I was bored. I turned to you, internets, and, as per usual, you gave me what I needed. I took a perfectly good recipe, tore it apart, and put it back together the way I wanted it. I give you:

Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Mustard-Pistachio Crust

Preheat the grill to medium low. You don’t want to scorch this.
I use an oiled veggie/fish pan on the grill for this, but you should proceed as you normally would.
First, prep the sprouts up through skewering them.
Now, gather:

@ 1 pound Mahi-Mahi filets
salt & black pepper to taste
1/4 c. yellow mustard
1/4 c. bread crumbs (panko are the bestest, but whatever you like/have in the pantry)
3 t. Salted, dry roasted pistachio meats, chopped
assortment of fresh or dry herbs, to taste.*

  • Season the fish with the salt and pepper.
  • Spread the mustard out on a plate.
  • Chuck the crumbs, nuts, and herbs in a mini chopper, or a molcajete, or a mezzaluna, or whatever you like to use to make tiny bits, then spread them on a second plate.
  • Smear the fish in the mustard, then roll in the crumb mixture to create a crust. Set the fish down on the grill pan, add the skewers of sprouts.
  • Grill on medium low for 5 minutes per side. The fish should be opaque throughout, but not dry.
  • We enjoyed ours with some jasmine rice. Delish!

*I used fresh sage, parsley, and chives from my kitchen garden–yum!