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Monday, October 1, 2012

Whole Wheat Apple Spice Muffins

Happy Fall, friends!!! 

I don't know about you, but I absolutely LOVE Fall! I'll be honest though, when I think of Fall, I think of what Fall is like back at home. Here in Utah, there seems to be only 2 seasons, Winter and Summer, with brief transition periods in between. 

Back home, in Northern California, Fall is beautiful. Golds, deep reds, bright oranges, luscious greens.  The air is so fresh and cool. And don't forget about all the great fruits and veggies that come to life. Some of my favorites Pomegranate, Parsnips, a huge variety of squash and of course APPLES! And let me tell you, we have an abundance of apples from the tree in our yard right now.  
Kind of wishing I took some good pictures of the tree in its glory. Now, sadly, it has been picked just about clean. So what to do with all of these apples? Well, I have made apple pie, apple sauce and these glorious muffins. 

I think some of you will be pleased to know that these amazing muffins have NO oil or butter in them and I would dare say they are very low in fat. But don't be discouraged, I promise you won't end up with rock hard, dry, sorry excuses for muffins...well, that is as long as you follow the recipe. If you're like me, baking can be a bit intimidating and end in disaster more than you would like to admit. Honestly though, I can say that things have been improving for me. I almost have this baking thing down. Boy, if you knew some of my goofy mistakes...
This recipe NOT being one of them :) 

Well, let's get on with it, shall we?

Whole Wheat Apple Spice Muffins
Makes 12 regular muffins


1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon, make it a heaping one 
1/8 tsp pumpkin spice (or 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg + 1/8 tsp ground ginger + 1/8 tsp allspice)
1/3 cup Organic cane sugar, you may also use honey or brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, I used fat-free
1/3 cup applesauce, unsweetened if you want to be extra healthy
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grated apples, number of apples you will use will vary on size 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

To prep your apples:
Wash, peel and grate your apples. 

  You may want to grate them over a mesh strainer so that you can squeeze out the excess apple juice. We bottled ours after heating it almost to a boil. Yay for fresh apple juice! 

Measure out 1 1/2 cups. 

Now don't fret about the apples turning brown...they still taste fine and you're going to bake them anyway. No one will know :)

Set aside the shredded apples and grab yourself a couple of medium sized mixing bowls. 

In one you will combine all of the dry ingredients, and you guessed it, the other will contain the wet ingredients. 

Now here's a little tip, which some of you may know, when making muffins, pancakes, cupcakes and anything of the is a really good idea to whisk your dry ingredients. This aerates it and will make for a lighter finished product. This creates the same result as sifting your dry ingredients, but doesn't this seem way faster? 

You can go ahead and whisk together your wet ingredients also. This will make sure everything is combined real well. 

Next, stir your apples into your wet ingredients until they are well incorporated. 

Pay close attention to these next steps to ensure fluffy moist muffins!

Add half of your dry ingredients into your wet and give it just a few good stirs. Then dump in the rest of your dry ingredients. Gently fold these in just until everything is moistened. I cannot stress enough how important it is to not over-mix when making a batter! It really effects the outcome of your final product. 

Once combined, evenly divide into your lined muffin tin.  I spray mine with a little cooking spray just to ensure the muffins don't stick. I have never made these without doing it, so I honestly don't know if they will actually stick without the spray. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

And here they are again 

I even made some minis for my baby girl to enjoy. She loves these and I don't feel one bit bad about giving these to her because they're pretty healthy. 

*Note: Should you decide to make a double batch, do not double the recipe. You will have to just make the recipe twice, separately. I have just come to learn that baking is so finicky and not all recipes can be doubled...something about the science of it all. Don't worry, even if I knew the scientific explanation, I wouldn't dare bore you with that. 

Oh and just to do this right, here is the link to recipe I based mine off of: Carrot-Apple Spice Muffins

Also, if you can't already tell how fabulous I think these muffins are I just want to give them an extra ego boost by telling you this... a couple weeks ago I made these muffins and brought a couple in for some coworkers. THEY LOVED THEM, so I gave them each a copy of the recipe. One of them came back to me the next week and said she made some and shared them with her neighbor and one of her daughters and they both LOVED them equally as much. 

Have I fully convinced you to make these yet? 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Greek Chicken Pitas

 First off I would like to say this is not an AUTHENTIC Greek is Greek inspired.
Greek Chicken Pitas
serves 4-6

1 lb ground chicken breast or ground turkey
1/4 cup grated zucchini
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp dried Oregano
4-5 fresh Basil leaves, torn into small pieces (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 lemon- half for cooking, half for dressing greens
1-2 tbsp Olive Oil + enough to coat saute pan
s & p to taste

6-12 cherry tomatoes, halfed- figure 2 per pita
4 oz Feta
1 bag of Spring greens
4-6 Pitas

Pour enough olive oil in your saute pan to coat it well, or any other oil you prefer.  Turn heat to medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the grated zucchini. The zucchini will help to add some moisture to your ground chicken. Once that has just softened, you may add the ground chicken. Immediately season with a little salt, pepper, dried oregano, and minced garlic. If you are using dried basil and parsley, now would be the time to add it in.

Brown your chicken until it is thoroughly cooked. In the last few minutes of cooking you will add in your fresh herbs, basil and parsley, and squeeze the juice of half a lemon over it. 

Once the chicken is cooked through, dress your greens with the juice of the other half of the lemon and 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. You may season with salt and pepper if you like.

Top your pitas with ground chicken, feta, tomatoes and greens. Fold and devour!

***If your the type of person who really likes to have some sauce on your sandwiches and wraps, I would follow this suggestion. Instead of putting feta on on its own you can make a little sauce/dressing like so:

Mix 4 oz of feta with 1/4 cup mayo, 2 tbsp lemon juice, a pinch of Dill and a pinch of Oregano. Spread this onto your pita first, then top with ground chicken, tomatoes and greens.

Like I always say, if you try this recipe of mine, please leave a comment below and tell me what you think! Especially with this recipe, let me know what version you decided to try.

Tissue Pom Madness

Holy smokes, somebody help me! I might be getting out of control with these things. They are just to fun to make! So many colors and patterns in my collection (Only a few people know my unhealthy obsession with buying tissue paper just because it's pretty)...oh the possibilities.

You may be wondering how this madness even started. Well, Elise's birthday is coming up in just a little over a month and part of my ideas for decor is pink tissue pom flowers. I figured that since I never made one before, I ought to practice. Here's my very first one: It's a mini version and kind of wimpy if you ask me.
I've decided to just hang this little guy on one of Elise's drawers. 

So after I made this poor excuse of a poofy tissue pom, I decided I ought to make some improvements if I am going to make some for the party. 

This was my second one. Huge improvement if you ask me! 
This one is just sitting on top of a mini cake stand that I have on Elise's dresser. 
I think it fits her room decor well.

So after deciding how fun these were to make I made a couple more. I think the Zebra striped one will go in my office and the other I plan to bring to a co-worker for her desk. 

If you have possibly been inspired by these, check out the link where I found the greatest tissue pom tutorial.  She gives you measurements for all sizes and ideas for use! My favorite is the tiered hanging poms. These would be great hanging in a nursery or as I plan to use them, party decor!

Hopefully you don't get tissue pom fever like me ;)

Mmmm Fresh!

Delicious finds from the Farmer's Market.  Zucchini. Corn. Peaches. A pear (for Elise). 3 kinds of squash: butternut, spaghetti and acorn. Basil...oooh the sweet aroma! Beets with giant beet greens.
We love sautéed beet greens because they're a little sweeter than collard greens or chard. 

We also picked up this amazing sweet chili sauce that is made locally. It's similar to a tomato chutney with just a hint of spice. We imagine it will be great on burgers, or roasted turkey as a condiment. Or maybe even slow cooking some pork in it. Oh the possibilities. We may just need to stock up on a couple more bottles next time we go. 

Also not shown, fresh tomatoes of different sizes from a couple of neighbors. 

I get so inspired when we go to the farmer's market. It's so nice to cook with fresh veggies. 
Some of the dishes these great veggies will soon render themselves to: 

  • Homemade tomato sauce- fresh tomatoes and basil
  • Pizza Margherita- fresh tomatoes and basil again and that homemade sauce! 
  • Thai curry- zucchini and acorn squash 
  • Butternut squash gnocchi- butternut squash and basil 
  • Roasted spaghetti squash- I will tell you my trick for cooking this faster! 

I hope to provide you with several recipes for those listed above.  I have already started making my homemade sauce. I like to cook it low and slow, so I started it first thing this morning. I made sure to take several pictures! 

If you have a local farmer's market I urge you to support your local farmer's and treat yourself to some fresh fruit and veggies. Maybe I'm the only one, but I get so excited when I go. I'm like a kid in a candy store. 

Stay tuned for more recipes!