September 29, 2012

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

I love pumpkin.

There's no secret about this little fact, I've shared it here before, but there is just something about pumpkin that calls to me year round.

I'm always happy when I start seeing the first pumpkins around locally. I start buying one every week or so, roasting them, baking the seeds and storing the roasted pumpkin in the freezer for use later. Sometimes I even buy a can of pumpkin when I run out, and these muffins are actually made from canned pumpkin, but you could easily use freshly roasted pumpkin as well. I'll tell you how to make that below.

Pumpkin just screams Autumn to me. I love to just pumpkin myself out, though in reality I've never actually gotten tired of pumpkin, but I love to try! These pumpkin muffins are just fabulous for a chilly Fall morning with a nice warm cup of tea or apple cider. They're moist and pumpkiny and you can't go wrong with that!

What You'll Need To Roast a Pumpkin:
1 pumpkin, any size
Walnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
A large roasting pan

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds and pumpkin innards. Reserve the seeds for roasting if you like.

Cut the pumpkin in to chunks about the size of an apple and place in a large roasting dish, pan or baking sheet. No need to remove the skin, once it's roasted you can scrape the pumpkin right off. Drizzle walnut or extra virgin olive oil over the pumpkin and toss to coat.

Bake pumpkin in preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour and half, until pumpkin sticks done.

Let cool to room temperature and then scrape the pumpkin flesh out in to a large bowl. Freeze pumpkin in 1 to 2 cup increments for use later or use immediately.

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins: The Inside

What You'll Need for the Perfect Pumpkin Muffins:
2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour OR white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon of sea salt
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1/2 cup of organic cane sugar
1/2 cup of natural brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1/3 cup of safflower oil
1 - 15 ounce can of mashed pumpkin

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a large bowl stir together flour, sea salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cane sugar and brown sugar until well mixed.

Next add eggs, maple syrup, buttermilk, safflower oil and pumpkin and stir until a thick batter forms.

Using a ladle scoop the batter into muffin pans that have been lined with cupcake liners. Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 18 minutes or until muffins stick done with a toothpick.

Makes about 24 muffins.

And how about a little chocolate on the side?

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins: Women and Chocolate

Oh that gives me an idea about Nutella and pumpkin....

Notes: These muffins get better with time. They're really good when baked, better the next day and fabulous on day three. They're a lot like soup in that way. You could also add in a cup of chopped nuts and/or raisins for a different twist. Or how about a cup of pumpkin seeds? Go with it...mix and match foods are fun!

Posted by Dianne at 11:48 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 18, 2012

Poor Man's Microwave Popcorn

Poor Man's Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn is convenient, but commercial varieties have a bunch of crap in them that can cause cancer. Imagine something processed being bad for you? What are the odds?

Anyway...

Of course you can air pop corn, or do the "old fashioned" stove top method, to which I'm partial, but you can also make your own microwave popcorn when you're short on time. You might think this would be difficult, but it takes about 5 minutes and that includes popping. Not bad for a fast, healthy snack. You control what goes in to the bag, so there's no gross chemicals or anything.

Not only is this a neat snack, it also is a cheap snack! You can't go wrong with that! Once you try it you'll do it over and over again. It's that easy and that good!

What You'll Need:
Plain brown paper bag
Popcorn
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil

Take a paper bag and place a thin layer of popcorn on the bottom of the bag:

Poor Man's Microwave Popcorn

Yes it's not the best picture, but it gives you an idea of how much popcorn you need.

Add in some sea salt. You can add anywhere from 1/2 a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon depending on your tastes. Plus you can always add salt after it's popped too, but if you pop it with the salt it gives it an overall better flavor.

Put a drizzle of olive oil in the bag, one teaspoon tops.

Fold the top of the bag over a couple of times and lay the bag on its side in the microwave. Pop for anywhere from 2-5 minutes depend on your microwave. It takes about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes in mine. When the pops start to slow down you know it's time to stop.

Carefully remove from the microwave. It's hot and the oil spreads in the bag. Carefully open the bag, just as you would a commerical bag, and don't let the steam burn you.

Place in a bowl and eat!

Note this makes about 2-3 cups of popcorn. If you're serving more than one you'll want to make multiple bags.

Poor Man's Microwave Popcorn

Notes: You can make variations of this. To make kettle corn follow the instructions above, but also add a tablespoon of sugar when you add the salt. You could also add in a tablespoon or two of Parmesan during the salt step if you wanted a cheesy snack.

Posted by Dianne at 2:43 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 14, 2009

Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn

Some time late last year I mentioned on Twitter that I had made some kettle corn and I got a lot of DMs asking me how I made it. Well ask and you shall receive...Even if it is a few months late! ;oP

Kettle Corn is really simple to make. You get a nice sweet corn, with even a few bits of caramel type corn from the bottom here and there. If you've had Kettle Corn at the fair and wondered how to make then you've come to the right place! So sit back, grab a cuppa something warm (it's cold out there!) and in no time you'll see how easy it is to make your own!

What You'll Need:
A large stock pot with a lid
2 heavy pot holders
1/4 cup of a light oil (Note: Sometimes I use light olive oil and sometimes I use safflower. Vegetable oil would probably work, though I'll readily admit I'm not a fan.)
1 cup of popcorn kernels
1/3 cup of organic cane sugar
Sea salt

In a large pot add your oil and 3 popcorn kernels, place the lid on top and turn the heat to medium/high. Place on the lid and listen for the kernels to pop.

While you're waiting for the kernels to pop in a small bowl mix popcorn and sugar. Set aside.

When the kernels pop you will know that it is time to add the popcorn/sugar mixture. The 3 test kernels usually pop within a minute of each other. If two of them have popped and roughly a minute later the 3rd one hasn't then it's probably dud. Proceed to the next step.

Once the test kernels have popped, quickly poor the sugar/popcorn mixture into the pot and recover the pot. Give it a quick shake using both pot holders to mix everything up and then wait for it to begin popping.

Shake the pot from time to time to ensure that it is heating through properly, especially after it starts popping. When the popping slows to no more than two or three pops every 5 seconds or more remove from heat and let sit for a minute to ensure that the popping has actually stopped.

Once you're sure the popping has stopped remove lid and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Pour into a glass bowl and enjoy!

Notes: I've often thought it would be fun to add in some honey roasted peanuts to the process, but I never think about it until after the fact.

Posted by Dianne at 8:01 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack