Tuesday, December 31, 2013

pumpkin spice muffins

For Christmas this year, my adorable nieces in Fairbanks gave me the holiday death plague.  Complete with hacking cough, sore throat, congestion...you get the idea.  I feel like death warmed over.  A pair of socks or some homemade drawing with macaroni glued to it would have sufficed.  Instead, I have the voice of a 6-pack-a-day smoker and the feeling of a hangover without the joy of the previous night's festivities.  Merry Christmas, Auntie Heidi!

So here I lay on my couch, with the Food Network buzzing in the background.  My girl Ina Garten is making some delicious Italian Feast of roast fish with polenta and celery salad.  The plague has done nothing to curb my appetite (DAMN IT) and all I want to do is reach through the television and have a little taste for myself.

A staycation for one seems to be what the doctor's ordered.  Even Milo agrees.  He's barely moved from his perch atop the couch all day. 

In my delirious, sick-y state I decided I needed to bake something.  I KNOW, I KNOW.  I'm a terrible baker.  Recipe exactness is for the weak and timid.  Which is my excuse for why nearly every cake I've ever made looks more like a pancake than an actual cake.  But I've really wanted to make this holiday muffin recipe I received in the mail, and my house is still full of Christmas decorations so it still feels very festive here on the West side of Anchorage.  And therefore, I made muffins.  Which turned out super delicious, and may even be deceptively healthy.  So therefore, Happy New Year's resolution to you, too!  (Just ignore the enormous amount of sugar in them.) 
Here's to a happy, healthy, delicious 2014!!!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins
(Adapted from eatliverun.com)
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. ground ginger
2 eggs
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 can (or 7.5 oz.) pumpkin puree
1/2 c. warm water
For streusel topping:
1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
scant 1/4 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
3 T. cold unsalted butter, cubed
(1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 12-muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray, or use cute polka-dot liners like I did. 

(2) Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl or mixer with the whisk attachment.

(3) In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, pumpkin, and water.

(4) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until JUST blended (don't overmix!)

(5) Fill the muffin tins 3/4 of the way with batter.

(6) Mix all of the streusel ingredients except for the butter.  Add the butter after the other ingredients are fully incorporated, and use your fingers to crumble up the butter into the mix until only small pieces of butter remain.  Top each muffin with a small handful of streusel.

(7) Bake for 30-35 minutes, checking after 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

xo H

Monday, December 2, 2013

perfect hashed browns

It's no secret that my favorite meal is breakfast.  It incorporates all of my very favorite things: eggs (I eat them any way I can get them), some sort of delectable pork product (sausage? ham? bacon? do I have to choose?), a carbo-rific component, and OJ. 
The problem with breakfast, however, is that it implies an "early morning" requirement. 
You see, I'm good at so many things.  Cooking, online shopping, making shapes with Play-Doh.  Waking up in the morning?  Ugh.  I'm what you call "morning-impaired." 
But BRUNCH?!  Oh, yeah.  Brunch I can do.  To me, brunch is basically breakfast after you can sleep in for a bit.  Now that's my kind of meal.
If it's breakfast for one, I'm usually a poached-egg-on-buttery-toast kind of girl, just like my Mom.  But when friends or family come over, I kick it up a notch.  Lately, I've been attempting to use my bounty of Alaskan potatoes, and recently whipped up this batch of perfect hashed browns.  I've tried a few different methods- pre-heating the potatoes in the microwave, roasting everything in the oven.  But I find that nothing produces a perfectly crisp, browned pile of potatoes like butter, a little patience, and a cast iron skillet.

If you're using a thin-skinned waxy potato like I did, don't even bother peeling them.  I rarely peel my potatoes.  I usually tell friends it's because there are so many good vitamins in the skin, and I think that's true.  But the real truth is I'm just too lazy to bother.  A good scrubbing is all they really need.

Perfect Hashed Browns

(Serves about 4.  Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds small potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, purple, or German Butterball
1 large onion, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)

(1) Melt the butter over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet.

(2) Add the onions, potatoes, salt, and pepper and cook for 20-25 minutes, flipping occasionally with a spatula.  Add the thyme towards the end of the cooking and serve hot.

xo H