Strawberry Ice Cream Muffins

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Yes, ice cream muffins – but hear me out. It all began like this:

My husband, being a frequent traveler on the path of least resistance, subscribes to a blog that teaches readers how to easily cut corners in life. I know, right?! Anyway, every so often he’ll come to me with a recipe from the site that he’s just dying to try out –  and they’re usually pretty terrible; I’m particularly thinking of a microwavable “coffee-cup-brownie” that was worthy of a Pinterest Fail. After a somewhat forced hiatus from the kitchen, he approached me last week with an ice cream muffin recipe that he was confident would change our weekend breakfasts forever. Nope, I said, and shut the idea down before it had time to grow legs. There was no way I was going to serve ice cream for breakfast! That’s just wrong. Or is it? he countered, and went on to plead his case. Now think about it for a second – what goes into ice cream? Eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla. And what goes into muffins? Eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla, and flour. So, potentially, ice cream + flour = muffins. Hmmm, interesting point. So we made the muffins exactly as the recipe called for, and they were, meh – ok. But they had potential. And potential is all I need to tweak a meh-recipe into a mwah!-recipe. So we altered the amount of flour, changed the flavor of ice cream, fiddled with the cooking time, and lowered the oven temperature until we had a pretty awesome ice cream muffin (that surprisingly wasn’t too sweet). And get this, not only are they super simple to make, they’re actually way (WAY!) lower in calories and fat than a Starbucks muffin. Check it out:

Strawberry Ice Cream Muffin (1 muffin):   120 Calories, 2.5g Fat

Starbucks Bountiful Blueberry Muffin (1 muffin):   350 Calories,  12g Fat

Sweet, right? And delicious, but you won’t know that for yourself until you try it out. So get going already!

Strawberry Ice Cream Muffins

Makes 12-14

  • 2 pints ice cream, softened* (I like strawberry, but you can use any flavor)
  • 3 cups self rising flour (not to be confused with all-purpose flour which won’t work in this recipe at all!)

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Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly mist muffin tins with cooking spray, then wipe away residue with a clean paper towel, or, alternatively, line tins with paper muffin cups.

In a medium bowl, beat ice cream and flour until combined. Using a spoon, drop muffin batter into cups, dividing evenly. Top each muffin with with a sprinkle of Sugar In The Raw or sliced strawberries, or both!

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Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

*A good way to soften ice cream is by thawing it in the refrigerator overnight.

{ I always make a couple mini-muffins for my little Mini-Muffin }

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Stuff My Kid Eats: Roasted Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Frittata

Stuff My Kid (Mostly) Eats

Now before you go saying: “Whaaaaatever! There’s no way her toddler eats that! My kid would never eat roasted cauliflower!” Well, she didn’t, not technically. She ate the entire slice of frittata that I gave her, yet somehow managed to ferret out every little piece of cauliflower in it. At the end of the meal, there was a very sad looking pile of mutilated white stuff at the edge of her plate which she pointed to and firmly said “NO!” So there it is. That is my disclaimer. My kid doesn’t eat everything! At any rate, the meal was great, my husband and I loved it, and you could easily substitute the cauliflower for another vegetable that won’t cause a juvenile uprising at the dinner table. (Recipe slightly adapted from Fine Cooking.)

Roasted Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Frittata

The beauty of this dish is that the ingredients can be adapted to fit your taste, AND it works well for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! 

Roasted Cauliflower and Goat Cheese Frittata

  • 1 small red or yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets (about ½ small head), cut into 1-inch pieces, or 2 cups of another favorite vegetable
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, parsley, dill, etc.)
  • ½ tsp. whole-grain mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 6 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled, about 1 ½ cups, or 6 oz. of another cheese of your choosing (Oh, I just love alliteration!)

Position a rack about 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler on high.

Combine the onion, vinegar, and ½ tsp. salt in a small bowl; let sit for 10 minutes and then drain and pat the onion dry. Set aside.

Meanwhile, on a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower (or another vegetable) with 2 tsp. of the oil, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Broil, tossing once or twice, until the edges are golden, 3 to 6 minutes.

Reposition rack in the center of the oven and set the oven to 400°F.

Whisk the eggs, herbs, mustard, ½ tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper in a medium bowl.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and the butter in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the pieces are dark golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the roasted cauliflower, and then slowly pour in the egg mixture, redistributing the vegetables evenly. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake until the eggs are set in the center, about 10-15 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes and then use a silicone spatula to slide the frittata onto a serving plate or cutting board. Slice into wedges and serve.

Sidekick: Serve with a crisp dry white wine like a Chablis, or an Italian dry white like a Soave or Gavi di Gavi.

Carrot-Ginger Bran Muffins

Carrot-Ginger Bran Muffins

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These Spring-inspired muffins are perfect for a light breakfast or a healthy between-meal snack. They’re loaded with fiber, contain very little fat (they’re moistened with applesauce rather than butter or oil), and provide little pieces of crystalized ginger in every bite! (Crystalized ginger can be found in most grocery stores, usually with the dried fruit.) 

Carrot-Ginger Bran Muffins

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. Kosher sal
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup shredded carrots, from about 2 carrots
  • 3 Tbsp. crystalized ginger, minced, divided

Makes 12 Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly mist a 12-count muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, wheat germ, baking soda and powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, eggs, and applesauce and blend until creamy. Mix in carrots, 2 Tbsp. crystalized ginger, and flour mixture, stir until combined.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups and sprinkle remaining ginger over top. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set.

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Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole for Daylight-Saving Time

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Ready to spring forward, everybody? Its daylight-saving time again (Surprised? Me, too!), which means that on Sunday we’ll loose and hour of sleep but gain an hour of daylight. Having a toddler in the house means sleep has become a very precious commodity (one we don’t seem to get enough of), so losing an hour makes a big difference. This season I’ve decided to give my husband the day-off from his Sunday Morning Waffles and prepare a savory breakfast casserole on Saturday night instead. This way, when daylight arrives earlier than we’d hoped for, I’ll simply transfer my casserole from the fridge to the oven then, go reclaim an extra hour of sleep while it cooks.

Quick, run out and get these 5 ingredients for your Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole!

Quick, run out and get these 5 ingredients for your Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole!

Serves 6

  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 30-oz. package of frozen shredded hash browns
  • 12 oz. ground breakfast sausage
  • 12 eggs
  • 4 oz. diced ham
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Add-Ins (Pick of few of the following to make your casserole more tasty – for this casserole I used leeks, mushrooms, and fresh oregano.)

  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup broccoli, diced
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, tender parts only, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped herbs (added to eggs)

Lightly mist a 13×9-inch baking dish (2 quart dish) with cooking spray.

Set a large skillet over medium-high heat and heat oil until shimmering. Carefully add hash browns and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan (it helps if you break up any chunks before cooking). Cover and cook, undisturbed, for 4-7 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking, flipping occasionally, until browned, about 10-12 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Transfer hash browns to baking dish and spread in an even layer, set aside. In the same skillet over medium-high heat, add ground sausage and any vegetables you’re using, and cook until sausage is brown and vegetables are soft, about 4-6 minutes. Transfer sausage mixture to baking dish and spread in an even layer over hash browns. Allow to cool slightly before proceeding.

Layer the sausage on top of the hash browns.

Layer the sausage on top of the hash browns.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs (and herbs if you’re using) with a dash of salt and pepper until combined. Mix in ham and 1 cup of cheese. Pour egg mixture into the baking dish, covering sausage and hash browns completely. Sprinkle the top with remaining cup of cheese.

See how the eggs drip all the way down to the bottom of the dish? That means you get eggy goodness in every bite!

See how the eggs drip all the way down to the bottom of the dish? That means you get eggy goodness in every bite!

At this point you can either cover and refrigerate overnight, or bake right away.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place baking dish on a rack set in the center of the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until eggs have set (no longer jiggly in the middle) and the cheese has melted and started to bubble. While it’s baking you can cut the fruit, make some coffee, and pour (or squeeze) a couple glasses of orange juice; or go back to bed for an hour — it’s your choice.

Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Don’t forget to set your clocks FORWARD and hour before hitting the pillow Saturday night!

Cheddar Ale Soup with Dark Irish Soda Bread and Mixed Green Salad

The Luck O’ the Irish to You! 

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March is here and that brings us one day closer to Spring (March 20th for those of you keeping track)! I’m sure everyone’s heard the old adage, “March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb,” which means we still have a few more weeks of crumy weather and comfort food to get through before the big (read sunny) payoff. So before you put away your crockpot and comfy pants and start pulling out your capris and old issues of Cooking Light magazine, we must first pay homage to St. Patty’s Day and all of the savory starches that hail from the great green country of Ireland.

Cheddar Ale Soup

This entire meal was incredibly quick and easy to whip up. I’m not exaggerating here; from the moment I started sautéing the veggies to when I had dinner on the table took less time than it did for my toddler to watch Toy Story 3 — her new favorite movie. (Time-Saving Tip: Make the bread first, then start the soup while the loaf is in the oven baking.) This soup can be easily adapted for vegetarians by following the “Vegetarian Modifications” at the end of the recipe.

Serves 6-8

  • 4 slices thick cut bacon
  • ¼ cup butter (½ stick)
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalks celery, diced, tops and leaves included
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1½ Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 12 oz. bottle lager-style beer
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (see recipes in Homemade Stocks)
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1½ Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. hot sauce (such as Louisiana or Tabasco)
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper to taste
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ tsp. baking soda

In a large Dutch oven or wide-bottom soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, let cool. Dice and set aside for garnish.

Add butter to pot with bacon grease and melt over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until soft and beginning to brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add flour and cornstarch to pot and stir until both have dissolved. Continue to cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flour/butter mixture begins to brown and bubble (this is called a roux). Add beer and stir to combine. Continue cooking until half of the liquid has reduced, about 3-4 minutes.

Add stock, milk, Worcestershire, hot sauce, chili powder, and salt & pepper. Stir to combine and reduce heat to medium-low. Bring soup to a simmer and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes or until starting to thicken. (Time-Saving Tip: While the soup is simmering, prepare the salad and make the dressing.)

With an immersion hand blender, purée soup directly in pot until smooth. Or alternatively, working in 2-3 batches, purée soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pot.

Add cheese and baking soda to soup and whisk until cheese has melted. The baking soda may cause the soup to foam for a few minutes, but it will return to normal once the cheese has melted. (Time-Saving Tip: If you have a smarty-pants husband like I do, don’t make the mistake of asking what causes baking soda to foam, otherwise you’re in for a 20-minute super boring explanation behind the science of sodium hydrogen carbonate, otherwise known as NaHCO3.) Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

Ladle soup into preheated bowls and top with a salty mound of diced bacon. (This last part is optional, but really, why would you omit the bacon?! Unless, of course, you’re a vegetarian, in which case you can skip ahead to the Vegetarian Modifications just below the delicious photo of bacon… right here )

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VEGETARIAN MODIFICATIONS 

Omit the bacon and replace with:

  1. 1 Tbsp. olive oil when sautéing the vegetables
  2. ½ tsp. smoked paprika with the stock, milk, Worcestershire, etc.

Sidekicks:

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  • This is kind of a no-brainer, but pair with a thick and creamy Guinness — or if you can find it, an equally creamy but not-so-dark Caffrey’s Irish Ale.
  • Nothing compliments cheese better than bread and apples. Serve this rich soup with dark Irish soda bread and a mixed green salad topped with crispy apple slices and creamy herb dressing.

Dark Irish Soda Bread 

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Irish soda bread is a dense bread that’s slightly sweet — making it perfect to sop up the remaining drops of Cheddar Ale Soup clinging to the sides of your bowl. (Recipe form cookbook author Elinor Klivans.) 

Dark Irish Soda Bread

Makes 1 loaf

  • 2 Tbsp. melted butter, plus 1 Tbsp. softened butter for greasing the baking sheet
  • 1½ whole-wheat flour, plus more for the baking sheet
  • ¾ cup all-purpose white flour
  • 1 Tbsp. dark or light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. molasses
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 375°F. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with softened butter, then sprinkle lightly with whole-wheat flour; tap to discard any excess flour.

Combine both flours, brown sugar, caraway seeds, baking soda, and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Mix to combine on low speed; add the melted butter.

Combine the molasses and the buttermilk; then add to the mixer bowl, on low speed; beat for a minute or two, until a soft dough forms. Gather the dough into a ball and roll it around in the palms of your hands to smooth it; the dough will not be perfectly smooth. Form into a 6-inch circle OR an 8-inch long oval and place on the prepared baking sheet. Use a smooth-edge knife to cut an X in top of dough, 1 inch deep (for round loaf), OR a 5-inch long, 1-inch deep slash along the length of the oval loaf.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the bread feels firm and crisp and you can see that the bottom has browned when you lift it carefully. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Serve with a big hunk of softened butter and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. Yum!

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Mixed Green Salad with Apples and Creamy Herb Dressing 

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This simple, flavorful salad of mixed greens and crisp apples is a perfect palate cleanser between spoonfuls of rich, cheesy soup.

Mixed Green Salad with Apples and Creamy Herb Dressing

Serves 4

For Salad:

  • 4-6 cups mixed salad greens
  • ½ apple (preferably Pink Lady, Fuji, or Honeycrisp), cored and sliced paper-thin with a mandolin

For dressing:

  • ½ cup Half & Half
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar (preferably sherry or red wine vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 green onion, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh Tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Agave syrup or honey
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Divide salad greens evenly among 4 plates and top with apple slices.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together until combined. Pour over salads.

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Sunday Morning Waffles

Sunday Morning Waffles

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Sunday morning waffles are a family tradition in our home, dating back to when my husband was kid. His father used to get up early and make them for his family, and now my husband makes them for ours. You have to understand, though, that by no stretch of the imagination is my husband a good cook. He has a couple crockpot recipes that he’s comfortable with, and he’s mastered the grill, but other than that, he stays out of the kitchen. Except on Sundays. Waffle Sundays — which he takes very seriously, mind you. When our daughter was born, he decided that this was going to be his “thing,” so he researched waffle recipes, tried them out, critiqued them, took notes, made changes, altered the cooking time, decreased the temperature of the waffle iron, and finally (FINALLY!) settled on a recipe that he could be proud of. My toddler and I love his waffles, but we love him even more for making them every single weekend. Thanks, honey!

Sunday Morning Waffles

Makes approximately 8 waffles

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups milk, warmed in the microwave for 30-45 seconds
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 200°F. Heat waffle iron. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, melted butter, and vanilla, set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Slowly combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until smooth.

Pour approximately ½ cup* of batter onto the bottom of a heated waffle iron, close top and cook per manufacturer’s instructions. Place finished waffles directly on the rack of a preheated oven to keep warm. Serve with butter, fresh fruit, and maple syrup.

*Note: Waffle iron sizes vary, so be sure to check your instruction manual to determine how much batter is recommended for your waffle iron.

Game Day Winning Waffles. Go Hawks!

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To achieve this look, divide batter into two separate bowls. Add 4-5 drops of preferred food coloring to each bowl and mix thoroughly until you’ve reached the desired hue. We like to serve these colorful waffles on special occasions. For Valentine’s Day we’ll be making pink and purple ones! (For pink you only need 1-2 drops of red, and for purple you need equal parts red & blue food coloring).

*Note: The exterior color of the waffles will fade under the heat of cooking, but the inside of the waffles will stay vibrant!