Monday, March 31, 2014

Pesto Feta Muffins for #MuffinMonday


These tasty savory muffins are a great use of leftover pesto if you have such a thing. I always seem to have a half jar kicking around the refrigerator. Use any cheese you have to keep the pesto company but I can highly recommend feta.

As you read this, I’ll be back on an Emirates 777, winging my way from chilly New England to already-summer-in-March Dubai with high temperatures reaching 90°F or 32°C. How blessed we are to live in the age of flight, even with the occasional tragic airplane crash. Before I left home on this trip to spend time with my daughters, I expressed this to a friend who completely agreed. In the old days of expatriate assignments, folks had minimum two-year contracts and the most efficient method of travel was a ship that might take weeks to get home again so home leaves were undertaken only when the work contract was up. The new non-stop Emirates Boston-Dubai flight takes about 13 hours. You eat, you sleep, you watch movies, you try desperately to sleep some more (There may possibly be some serious drinking of red wine in order to help the sleeping. Or maybe that's just me.) and you are there. See you all on the other side!

Ingredients
2 cups or 250g flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 eggs
1/4 cup or 60ml pesto (homemade or store-bought – I used Whole Foods brand 365)
1/4 cup or 60g butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup or 180ml milk
1/2 cup or 3 oz  or 85g crumbled feta

Method
Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C and either grease your 12-cup muffin tin or line it with paper liners.

In one big mixing bowl, add your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.


In small mixing bowl, whisk the melted butter, milk and pesto with your eggs.



Fold the liquids to the dry mixture, stopping when they are just mixed.


Fold in the feta.


Divide the batter between your prepared muffins cups.


Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.



Remove from the muffin tin and finish cooling on a rack.



Enjoy!



Sunday, March 30, 2014

Pasta with Creamed Yogurt Peas and Feta

A simple one dish meal, big on flavor and so satisfying, this creamy pasta with peas and yogurt is topped with toasted chili pine nuts which add a pop of color and welcome hit of heat.

I read this post on Orangette some time last year and wasted little time before taking Molly’s advice and making this dish. I had every intention of making it again while in Providence visiting my daughter for spring break because this is just the sort of dish she’d love. Sadly, we never did get around to it but, as I head back to Dubai, I figured it was time to share. So she can make it when I’m gone.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups or 400g whole-milk yogurt
1/4 cup or 60ml olive oil
2 medium cloves garlic
1 pound or 500g fresh or thawed frozen peas
1 teaspoon flakey sea salt (I use Maldon. If you use fine grain sea salt, use a 1/2 teaspoon.)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Scant 1/2 cup or 60g pine nuts
2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns or crushed red pepper
1 lb or 500g dried pasta
8 ounces or 240g feta cheese

Method
Process the 2/3 cup or 100g of the peas and the garlic with the yogurt and half of the olive oil in a food processor or with a hand blender until smooth and creamy.

 Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl, add in the salt and smoked paprika and stir.



In a small saucepan, over a medium fire, sauté the pine nuts and Sichuan peppercorns in the remaining olive oil.

Turn the fire off as the pine nuts start to turn slightly golden and remove the pan from the heat. They will color a little bit more as they cool.



Meanwhile, cook your pasta is lightly salted water according to the package instructions, adding the balance of the peas to the pot when the pasta has just a minute or two left in cooking time.


While your pasta is boiling along merrily, crumble your feta with a fork.


Drain the pasta and peas in a colander. Add the hot pasta/peas a little at a time to the bowl with the yogurt pea sauce and stir well between each addition. Molly says that adding it all at once could cause the sauce to separate so definitely don’t dump it all in.



Add in the crumbled feta and stir.

Serve each bowl topped with a spoon or two of the toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of the chili oil.



Enjoy!


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares #ChocPBDay


These rich chocolate peanut butter squares are like homemade peanut butter cups made easy, just a peanut butter and sugar base topped with dark chocolate. The chopped peanut butter-filled cookies are optional, but they add a nice crunch.  

     Today marks the initial celebration of the best day ever - it's Chocolate Peanut Butter Day! Hosted by Carla of Chocolate Moosey and Miriam of Overtime Cook, 31 bloggers are sharing favorite chocolate peanut butter recipes, ranging from cookies and bars to scones and muffins. Follow the hashtag #chocPBday on social media and join us with your favorite chocolate and peanut butter recipes. Looking for recipes all in one place? Follow our Pinterest board. We are also teaming up with OXO, King Arthur Flour, and Peanut Butter & Co. to bring you three fabulous prize packs. If you love to bake, you will want to scroll down to enter.

My very first real job, after I graduated from university, was my dream job, promoting a “product” I had benefited from since childhood and truly believed in, the Girl Scouts. In fact, I was a registered adult Girl Scout, working in the marketing and development department, which is a fancy way of saying promotion and fundraising. Among other responsibilities, my boss and I were in charge of the calendar and cookie sales for our Girl Scout council, based in Houston, but serving 26 Texas counties. As part of our promotion of the cookie sale my first year, we delivered boxes and boxes of cookies to Houston area chefs who had agreed to use them to create sweet recipes for an evening fundraising event.

Those days came back to me as I was making these chocolate peanut butter squares for Chocolate Peanut Butter Day and so I added some chopped peanut butter-filled cookies to the tops. What’s better than peanut butter with chocolate on top? Peanut butter and chocolate with extra peanut butter cookies on top. They add a lovely crunch.

Ingredients
For the base:
1/4 cup or 50g brown sugar
1 2/3 cups or 200g icing sugar
1/3 cup or 75g unsalted butter
1 cup or 255g smooth peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the topping:
10 1/2 oz or 300g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
 3 oz or 100g peanut butter-filled cookies - optional

Method
Mix all the ingredients for the base together. When I’ve made this before, I used my stand mixer and got a more homogeneous dough but I am in a rented house this week so I had to do it by hand. It worked but was much more crumbley. It still presses down nicely into a base and tastes the same, so don’t let that bother you. Use a mixer if you have one or a spoon and then your hands, if you don’t. It's kind of like a peanut butter shortbread. I know, right?!



Chop your peanut butter-filled cookies roughly, if using, and set aside.



Line your square pan (about 9 in x 9 in or 23cm x 23cm) with parchment paper or foil. Press the base out evenly into the bottom of the lined pan.



In a microwaveable bowl, melt your chocolate and butter with a few short zaps of 20-30 seconds each, stirring well in between. Pour the melted chocolate on to your base and spread it around evenly, all the way to the edges.


Sprinkle the chocolate with the chopped cookies and press them down gently into the chocolate.


Refrigerate the pan until the chocolate is almost set. Cut into small squares. Enjoy!





If you love chocolate and peanut butter like we love chocolate and peanut butter, you are going to want to check out every single one of these recipe links:



A huge thank you to our sponsors! Be sure to follow them on social media:


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Three lucky winners will win one of the following:

Prize Pack #1: OXO Baking Tool Set: One 3-in-1 Egg Separator, One Bent Icing Knife, One Brownie Spatula, One Cake Tester, One Cookie Spatula, One Cupcake Icing Knife, One Cupcake Corer, One Egg Beater, One Stainless Steel Measuring Cups, One Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons, One Medium Cookie Scoop

Prize Pack #2: King Arthur Flour ingredients: One bag of all-purpose flour, one package of Guittard bittersweet chocolate disks, and one bottle of pure vanilla extract

Prize Pack #3: Peanut Butter and Co. package including: one Dark Chocolate Dreams 6-pack, One Variety 6-pack, and One 31 Days of Dark Chocolate Dreams cookbook

This giveaway is open to US residents only and winners will be picked from random draw.

Giveaway ends Monday March 31 at 11:59 PM. The winners will be notified via email and have 24 hours to respond. If not, the prize is forfeited and another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Disclaimer: This giveaway is being provided by OXO, King Arthur Flour and Peanut Butter & Co. #ChocPBDay bloggers have not received product or been compensated as a part of this giveaway.***


Monday, March 24, 2014

Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins for #MuffinMonday

Who can resist the sweet and sour combination of lemon and mandarin orange that created the hybrid Meyer lemon? Meyer lemons and lemon yogurt make a beautiful rich batter for poppy seed muffins.

Last year when I was here in Providence visiting my daughters for spring break, I baked a beautiful (if I do say so myself – but you can go and judge for yourself) sweet bread loaf with lemons and poppy seeds. The weather was warmer at this time a year ago but the fresh, bright flavor of lemons is always cheerful and warming. Especially Meyer lemons. Weather reports are promising a chance of snow for the next two days– that’s right, snow again at the end of March, after the supposed start of spring! – so I baked muffins with the same flavors as last year’s bread. And added a lemony glaze, which makes them extra cheerful. If we can’t be warm and sunshiny outside, at least we can be inside. Snow, pfft. I laugh in your face.

Ingredients
2 cups or 250g flour
2/3 cup or 130g sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons poppy seeds (plus a couple of pinches more for decorating if desired)
Grated zest and juice of 1 Meyer lemon (Mine were small so one yielded only 1 1/2 tablespoons juice.)
3/4 cup or 185g lemon yogurt
1/4 cup or 60ml milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup or 115g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Optional glaze – juice of one small Meyer lemon
About 4-5 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar

To decorate, if desired:
The glaze
Extra poppy seeds
Zest of one Meyer Lemon

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Butter your muffin tin or line it with paper liners.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, poppy seeds and salt to a large mixing bowl.



Grate in the Meyer lemon zest and mix. Juice your lemon.


In another smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, yogurt, juice and melted butter.


Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until just mixed through.



Divide the mixture between the muffin cups in the pan.



Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Allow the muffins to cool for a few minutes then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.  I don’t have a wire rack in the house where I’m staying so I just used the top of the gas range. Worked perfectly.



If you want to add glaze, zest your second Meyer lemon and squeeze out the juice.  Add powdered sugar a couple of tablespoons at a time and stir well, until the glaze is a good drizzling consistency.


When your muffins are cool, drizzle on the glaze and sprinkle the muffins with a little lemon zest and a few poppy seeds each.


Enjoy










Thursday, March 20, 2014

Peach and Spiced Tea Bundt Cake for #BundtBakers

Using spiced tea to flavor baked goods means a huge variety of choices and an almost infinite number of spice combinations. This spiced tea Bundt has Assam black tea, vanilla, cinnamon, a hint of cardamom and tiny pieces of dried orange peel, in addition to the peaches. 

From the matcha muffins on Monday and the jasmine lychee green tea shortbread on Tuesday and now this Bundt, somehow, this is turning out to be Baking with Tea Week! I’ve spent the last couple of days in the teashop with my friend, photographing of her products and working on her website.  Whenever I’ve thought of baking, all the tea flavors have been both a distraction and an inspiration. I hardly know which one to choose; there are so many wonderful ones.

This month’s Bundt Baker theme is spices, as chosen by our talented host Deepti, of Baking Yummies, so, of course, I had to use a spiced tea, but it was so hard to decide which one! They all smell so GOOD. I finally settled on one called Black Spiced Michigan Chai, because, after all, I am in Michigan.

I dedicate this cake to my friend, Gillian, who turns 50 today.  She turns up in these “pages” more than any other friend because she is just that special. I know she reads my blog regularly so I couldn’t pass up the chance to say, Happy birthday, Gillian! Love you dearly!

Ingredients
4 teaspoons loose-leaf tea, divided
3/4 cup or 180ml milk
1/2 cup or 115g butter at room temperature
3/4 cups packed or 150g brown sugar
2 1/2 cups or 315g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can (15 oz or 425g net weight) peaches in juice

Optional: powdered sugar for decorating

Method
Boil 1/4 cup or 60ml water in a small pot and pour in two teaspoons of the tea, turn the fire off and let the tea steep for a few minutes.

Add in the milk, turn the fire back on and bring the pot to a boil then turn it down to a low fire. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn the fire off and let the milk cool.



Put one cup of the flour in a food processor with the last two teaspoons of tea and process until the tea is mere flecks distributed throughout the flour.


Add in the rest of the flour, the baking powder and salt. Process one quick pulse to mix.



Strain the tea leaves out of the milk and set the milk aside.


Pour the peaches into a colander and drain the juice out. Chop the peaches into small pieces and put them back into the colander to drain further.



Preheat your oven to to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your Bundt pan by buttering and flouring it.

Use a stand mixer or electric beaters and cream the butter and sugar together.



Add in the two eggs and beat again until the eggs are incorporated.



Spoon in half of the flour mixture and beat again.


Now pour in half of the milk and beat again.



Spoon in the rest of the flour and beat until the flour is completely incorporated.

Pour in the rest of the milk and beat again for two minutes, scraping the bowl down halfway through.

Mix in the chopped peaches.



Spoon the batter into your prepared Bundt pan. Smooth out the top with a spatula.



Bake for 40-45 or until the cake is golden on the top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes before inverting on a baking rack.



Cool completely before transferring the Bundt cake to a serving plate.


Sprinkle on powdered sugar, if desired.


Enjoy!



If you love baking with spices, this is your month at Bundt Bakers!  Check out all the lovely Bundts we’ve baked!

Apple Cinnamon Bundt Cake by Kathya at Basic N Delicious
Cinnamon Roll Bundt Cake by Tara at Noshing With The Nolands
Fresh Apple Cake by Lauren at Sew You Think You Can Cook
Honey and Beer Spiced Bundt Cake by Felice at All That's Left Are The Crumbs
Orange Cardamom Mini Bundt Cakes by Alice at Hip Foodie Mom
Peach and Spiced Tea Bundt Cake by Stacy at Food Lust People Love
Rum & Ginger Grapefruit Cake by Kelly at Passion Kneaded
Saffron and Tahitian Vanilla Infused Bundt Cake by Laura at The Spiced Life
Saffron Vanilla Bean and Orange Mini Bundt Cake by Deepti at Bakingyummies
Spiced Applesauce Bundt Cake with Brown Sugar Rum Glaze by Lauren at From Gate to Plate
Sweet Potato Pound Cake by Renee at Magnolia Days

BundtBakers
#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board to see all the past and current posts each month. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. 

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send me an email at foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com or ask to join our private Facebook group