Monday, March 28, 2011

Strawberry Cinnamon Muffins

The challenge: to create a simple, fruit muffin that could be served nude(!). As much as I love butter on a warm muffin, I understand the need for a muffin's flavor to stand on its own. These do just that.

This breakfast / snack / dessert has a delicious flavor, with a hint of sweetness from the strawberries. Just to be sure, Dan and I tested several, both warm and cool, and they were all consistently good. If you feel inspired, give it a try with other berries, like fresh red raspberries.

Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients - makes 15-18 cupcake-sized muffins
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp salted butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 - 1 cup milk
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped into small pieces
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line cupcake tins with papers.
  3. In a bowl, mix together sugar and melted butter. Add in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon. 
  5. While stirring, add flour mixture to butter / sugar mixture.
  6. While stirring, slowly pour in milk until batter is wet but not thin.
  7. Gently mix in chopped strawberries until just incorporated.
  8. Spoon batter into cupcake papers, each about half full.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
  10. Let cool on cooling rack for at least 5 minutes.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern dish made from bulgur wheat. Bulgur is a hearty grain high in fiber and protein, with a chewy texture. Tabbouleh was first introduced to me by my former boss Karen, who served it on top of salad greens. The combination of different textures and flavors stuck in my mind. I've written the American version of the dish (which highlights the bulgur itself) versus the Lebanese version, which is heavy on the parsley and mint. I encourage you to try this! It's definitely out of the ordinary for some people, so serve it with something familiar, such as cold shrimp on the side.

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat
  • water
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 European / English cucumber
  • small bunch fresh mint leaves AND/OR fresh parsley leaves
  • 4-6 oz. feta cheese, block or crumbled
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salad greens, if desired
  1. Cook bulgur wheat according to package directions. (Mine was 1 cup dry bulgur to 2 cups cold water.)
  2. Once bulgur is cooked, place saucepan in fridge and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
  3. While bulgur is cooling, chop tomato, cucumber, mint/parsley, and feta into small pieces.
  4. Scoop bulgur, tomato, cucumber, and mint/parsley into a large bowl, stir well, and refrigerate for another 10-15 minutes.
  5. Remove from fridge. Add feta and stir well.
  6. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add lemon juice to taste. Stir well and serve immediately as main dish, or atop salad greens.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pasta with Lemon, Artichokes, and Spinach

Pasta with tomato sauce is one of my longtime go-to's for an easy dinner. But sometimes it's fun to mix it up! This is a simple vegetarian pasta dish with a LOT of flavor. I used the marinade packed with the artichokes to flavor the dish, and topped it with Parmesan cheese as a finish. The result: a delicious dish that's pretty healthy. If you're a fan of feta cheese, you may want to try replacing the Parm with feta for a stronger cheese flavor.

**(for a gluten-free meal, be sure to use gluten-free pasta, such as rice pasta)
  • 1 lb long pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • one 15 oz jar artichokes, with marinade / juices reserved
  • 1 lb baby spinach leaves
  • 1 lemon (juice and zest)
  • 4 oz Parmesan cheese (half a container)

  1. Boil water in large stockpot. Steam spinach above the boiling water OR steam spinach in the microwave.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse well.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  4. Cook onion and garlic until onion is translucent.
  5. Add artichokes and their marinade. Cook until artichokes are heated throughout.
  6. Turn off heat and add spinach to artichoke mixture.
  7. Return pasta to stockpot and pour juice from artichoke / onions over pasta. Stir well.
  8. Add rest of artichoke / onion / spinach mixture to pasta. Stir well.
  9. Add grated zest and juice of lemon to pasta. Stir well.
  10. Finally, add Parmesan cheese to pasta and stir to coat. Serve immediately.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Onion and Pineapple Quesadillas

The other day I had a few friends over for a quesadilla party. Few of them had ever experienced pineapple in this Mexican dish. To be honest, I hadn't considered it an option either until I stumbled upon the Pioneer Woman's quesadilla recipe.

These are great as snacks, appetizers, or a meal. Enjoy them as written or mix and match your favorite ingredients: grilled chicken, mushrooms, and green peppers are all great options to consider.

Ingredients (makes 3-4 quesadillas)
  • butter (divided use)
  • flour tortillas
  • shredded cheese (Mexican blend and Colby-Jack blend are both good options)
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and chopped
  • pineapple, cut into small pieces (I used canned pineapple rings)
  • salsa or sour cream for serving
  1. In a small frying pan over medium heat, melt a pat of butter. 
  2. Cook onions and jalapeƱos until done.
  3. Heat a large frying pan or flat griddle to medium.
  4. While pan is heating up, assemble quesadillas as follows: fold one tortilla in half. Open it and sprinkle the half generously with cheese, onion/pepper mixture, pineapple, then a little more cheese. Fold it closed.
  5. Coat the hot griddle with butter. Place assembled quesadilla on pan and cook until browned. Flip and cook other side until browned.
  6. Remove from heat, cut into wedges, and serve with salsa or sour cream.