Monthly Archives: February 2013

Yes, you read that right – quinoa muffins. Don’t knock it ’till you try it, okay?

Cooked Quinoa

Quinoa – it’s not just for foodies and vegans anymore

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I think I’ve been won over by gluten-free baking. Me, lover of gluten, self-confessed gluten groupie! I never thought I’d see the day. Of course, it’s all thanks to chocolate.

And there’s nothing better for a chocoholic than brownies. Much like with chocolate chip cookies, everyone has their own idea of how the texture of brownies should be, either cakey and crumbly, dense and fudgy, or moist and chewy. I am personally a fan of the latter two, though I’ll never say no to a cakey brownie.

Let’s be real – as long as there’s chocolate in it, I’m not turning it down.

Brownie batter

You just know this is gonna be good

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Lemons are an interesting fruit – on their own, they’re so sour they’re almost punishing to your tastebuds, but when you add sugar and put them in baked goods, they basically taste like sunshine. Rock on, lemons, you make everything better.

This is my favorite no-frills recipe for lemon curd. Just lemons, sugar, and eggs. And there’s no butter here, so it’s practically a health food!

Lemon curd

Lemon curd on a slice of challah

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I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty awesome at eating bread. That part of the brain that tells you when you’re full and to stop eating – it basically shuts down when there is baked dough in front of me and as a result, I have, on more than one occasion, eaten an entire loaf in one day, if not one sitting. It’s just, so good, whether plain or toasted, with Nutella or jam, or loaded with fixin’s for a sandwich.

You are my favorite thing, bread. My very favorite thing. Side note: if you haven’t seen Fringe, you are seriously missing out. Once you get past season 1, which was, admittedly, pretty rough, it’s one of the most incredible shows, with brilliant acting and superb storytelling and oh god, why do I do this to myself, I am crying again just watching that scene and I think I need to do some emotional eating, so thank god I have this loaf of bread here.

Ignoring the fact that I get way too emotionally invested in TV shows, there’s really nothing like a fresh loaf of challah bread. Soft and sturdy and eggy and delicious, it’s perfectly complemented by a nice layer of jam and even better when made into french toast.  Just try not to eat it all in one sitting.

Challah Bread

Beauteous

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A confession: I’ve never decorated sugar cookies. Like, really, legitimately, beautifully decorated them. As a child, I took canned frosting, slathered it on a cookie baked from store-bought cookie dough, and then threw some sprinkles on them and called it a day. But since I started reading food blogs and once I really got into baking, I knew cookie decorating was definitely on my baking bucket list.

So with Valentine’s Day coming up, I figured this would be the perfect occasion to kill two birds with one stone – finally tackle decorating sugar cookies and also try out that brush embroidery technique everyone’s been going nuts over on Pinterest.

I’m happy to report that 2 days later, logging a total of 12 hours, I have succeeded!

(Note to self: you are not Iron Man, you cannot run before you walk, and in fact should probably crawl first, or even just sit on your ass and think about the idea of movement before even attempting it, so the next time you try some newfangled baking thing, try to plan our your time a little better so you’re not up until 2 a.m. decorating cookies. Thank you for your cooperation. Sincerely, yourself.)

Sugar cookies

There’s nothing quite like standing over a cutting board for 6 hours straight, meticulously piping and decorating around 150 cookies.

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What’s Valentine’s Day without some chocolate, right?

Melted chocolate

Is there anything more beautiful than melted chocolate?

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For this week’s Muffin Monday, I decided to go with something festive since it’s Mardi Gras on Tuesday, so naturally, King Cake! Now, the last time I had a King Cake was in middle school French class, so my memory of them has more or less disintegrated. According to the internet, they’re basically a giant cinnamon roll sometimes also filled with fruit and cream cheese and then covered in a simple glaze and colored sugar. I remember them being good, but pretty dense and heavy, and I knew that’s not how I wanted this muffin version to be.

I decided to go with a basic muffin batter lightly spiced with cinnamon and then filled with both cream cheese and sauteed apples. Then I topped them off with a simple glaze and yellow, purple, and green sanding sugar.

The end result has all the festiveness and deliciousness of a King Cake but is lighter and won’t weigh you down the way a typical King Cake does. Give up anything else for Lent, just not these muffins.

King Cake muffins

These are really, really pushing the boundaries of what we call “muffins”, but who really cares about semantics anyways?

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I’ll be completely honest: I’ve never had Thai coffee. I’m not particularly sure what make these muffins Thai coffee muffins – I guess the coriander and cardamom? But just two spices wasn’t enough for me, so I ended up adding a bunch more, so the ones I made are even less Thai coffee muffins than the version in the book.

Sorry, Thai coffee lovers out there, for bastardizing your drink. These muffins probably have nothing in common with their namesake, but they’re so delicious it doesn’t even matter.

Thai coffee muffin

Thai coffee muffin (or not)

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I found a can of evaporated milk in the back of my pantry this weekend, which, naturally, got me to thinking of zombies. The reason it made me think of the undead is because I saw the expiration date said February 2012, a full YEAR ago. I almost threw it out, but then I decided that would be wasteful, and then I thought about how I couldn’t afford to be so picky when/if the zombie apocalypse happens because food will be so scarce that I’ll have no choice but to ignore expiration dates.

So I used the can of milk that expired a year ago and made this loaf of lemon cake. Because it’s never too early to prepare your palate for the apocalypse. And it actually tasted fine, so I wonder if expiration dates are really just another clever marketing scheme.

Another thing I learned while making this loaf is that, when the apocalypse happens, the first thing I’m doing is getting rid of my zesters. I love them dearly and they’re great tools, but no matter how careful I try to be, my flesh always, always finds its way underneath their razor-sharp blades. (Why is it always the tiniest cuts that bleed the most? And how do zesters stay so sharp even after years of use?! There are so many things I don’t understand about zesters.) And the last thing I want in a zombie apocalypse is to have a situation like in season 2 of the Walking Dead when T-Dog (RIP, you heroic angel) sliced his arm while the group was hiding on the highway and attracted the entire horde of walkers. Can you tell I’m excited for this show to come back from hiatus?

So, long story short, in case of the apocalypse:

  1. Expiration dates don’t matter.
  2. Get rid of your zesters.
  3. If you can scrounge up all the ingredients, make this loaf and bond with your fellow survivors.
Lemon loaf cake

It’s got that beautiful split top, the way a zombie’s head looks after you bury a machete in its brain

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