Monday, April 26, 2010

Orange Muffins

I purchased the Bob's Red Mill Baking Book a couple of years ago, during one of my "healthier" cooking kicks, but unfortunately convinced myself that the recipes were probably too healthful and not tasty. It sat in a box in my basement until Sunday night, when I was sorting through stuff to donate to garage sale fundraiser. I decided I should try at least one recipe before getting rid of the book . . . and I am so glad I did! These muffins are super easy to mix up and they bake very quickly as well. Don't be alarmed by the spelt flour - it is easy for me to find (in Quincy). However, if you can't find it easily, I think regular flour would work equally well - you might want to reduce the amount by one or two tablespoons. P.S.The muffins are delicious!

Orange Muffins
2 cups spelt flour (can substitute regular flour - might want to reduce it by 1-2 tbsp.)
1 3/4 tsp. baking powder
zest of 1 orange
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
optional: 1/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with liners (I like the If You Care brand baking cups).
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, orange zest, allspice, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, beat together orange juice, applesauce, oil, sugar, vanilla, and eggs until well combined. Stir into the flour mixture until just combined (batter will be lumpy). Stir in dried cranberries, if using.
4. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan and bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins rest 5 minutes, then transfer out of muffin pan onto a wire rack to cool.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Spring ham, asparagus, and potato soup

Do you have leftover ham from Easter? If so, and if you're already tired of ham sandwiches, consider this soup. Not only is is a great way to incorporate vegetables and fresh herbs into your diet, it is pretty tasty (even my husband, who "hates creamy soup" and eats vegetables sparingly, liked it). For me, the best part of this soup was using my immersion blender. It is one of the kitchen tools I love to use (maybe because it is destructive . . . but in a good way). Anyway, if you like asparagus and ham, you should give this a try!

Spring ham, asparagus and potato soup
1 tbsp. butter
1/3 cup onions, chopped
1 tbsp. flour
16 oz. vegetable broth (plus more, depending on desired consistency)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. minced chives
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 lb. fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
3 to 4 small red potatoes, peeled and cubed (1/2 inch)
3/4 cup cubed fully cooked lean ham
3/4 cup half-and-half (or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/4 cup cream)
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
optional: 3 tbsp. shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
optional: fresh rosemary to garnish

1. In a medium saucepan, saute onions in butter until tender. Add flour, stir until blended. Gradually add broth, water, parsley, Italian seasoning, chives, celery seed, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil; cook 2-3 minutes or until slightly thickened.

2. Cut tips off asparagus and set aside. Cut stalks into 1/2 inch pieces; add to pan. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until asparagus is tender. Cool slightly.

3. With an immersion blender (or transfer to regular blender when slightly cooled), process soup until smooth (return to pan if regular blender was used). Stir in potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat; simmer 10-15 minutes. Stir in asparagus tips and ham and simmer an additional 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in half-and-half; heat through. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately. Yield: 3-4 servings.
- Adapted from Taste of Home