Category Archives: french press

love muffins

This week the seniors took the General Ordination Exams.  Seven 3-hour exams over 4 days time.  It’s pretty brutal–both because of the schedule and because (like any comprehensive exam) the amount of material covered is daunting.  I mean, the church as been around for a while… so there’s that.

Each year, the Juniors and Middlers (and some lovely spartners & staff!) chip in to make sure the Seniors are fed and cared for during this grueling time.  It’s pretty special.  This year I decided to make a different kind of muffin for each morning. The first round (peanut-butter) were not so special.  But rounds 2-4 were yummy enough to share with the broader public.  Enjoy!


rounds 2, 3 & 4 (because round 1 sucked)

Banana Nut Muffins: This recipe is a special one.  It comes from a cafe in Lubbock, Texas that has since closed.  My mom asked the owner for the recipe before we moved to Virginia, but she refused.  A few weeks later, Mom was sitting in the cafe for the last time when the owner slipped a piece of paper under Mom’s plate.  Mom walked out, unfolded the slip, and found this:

  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup wheat bran
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup chopped nuts
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup bananas (2-3) mashed
  • 1 lightly beaten egg

Mix wet ingredients together, then add to dry ingredients mixing only
until incorporated.  Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes

The only changes I make to this recipe are: instead of bran I use a mix of oats and almond meal… and instead of oil I often use yogurt, apple sauce, or coconut oil, depending on what I have. 

Cranberry Walnut Muffins (Modified from this recipe…)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups oats and almond meal (for nutty texture)
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix wet ingredients together, then add to dry ingredients mixing only
until incorporated.  Bake at 375F for 20 minutes.

And my favorite new find: Chocolate Banana Muffins (Modified from this recipe…)


this will be a new “standard” in the holder house

  • 2 large bananas
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar (I used mostly honey and some sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping

Mix wet ingredients together, then add to dry ingredients mixing only
until incorporated.  If batter doesn’t seem wet enough (like because I used 2 bananas when it called for 3) add some greek yogurt.  Bake at 375F for 20 minutes.

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crustless csa quiche

Jay and I are psyched that our CSA farmer is back in business for the summer.  Nothing like a weekly supply of locally grown farm-fresh produce to get you excited about cooking in a kitchenette.  This week included some beets, swish chard and spring onions (among other things) that I thought would be tasty in a quiche.  I found a creative recipe on one of my favorite cooking blogs and changed it up to suit our needs.

Here’s what we used:

5 beets (thinly sliced)

2 tsp of olive oil

green stalks of spring onions (chopped)

1 bunch of Swiss chard, thinly sliced (about 6 cups)

4 eggs

1 cup Greek yogurt

little bit of almond milk

1 ounce of goat cheese

pinch of nutmeg

fresh ground pepper

We greased a pie dish with some vegan butter (it’s what we had) and layered thinly sliced beets to cover the bottom (and sides if you have enough).  We sauteed the chopped onion in olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes before adding 3 handfuls of chopped chard (no stems). While the chard was cooking we mixed the egg, yogurt and a splash of milk.  After the chard wilted a bit (2-3 minutes), we removed it from the heat and added nutmeg and some pepper.  We poured the egg mixture and chard over the beets and then sprinkled goat cheese on top.  Couple of turns of ground pepper, and the quiche was ready to bake at 375F for 30 minutes.

It was delicious.

Note that if your beets are pretty juicy, you can throw them in the oven (already sliced in the pie dish) for 10 minutes while preparing every thing else to dry them out a bit.

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comfort food

friday night jay and i were home alone after a rare day spent together (we were both off on the same day, hooray!)  we felt pretty good after seeing one of our charlotte friends at lunch, purchasing some things off our registry for the house (seems no one wanted to give us the bathroom trashcan!), and ordering a pair of warm fuzzy boots to accompany lauren on many nyc walks this winter.  but as pleased as we were, we couldn’t deny the slight twinge of homesickness–knowing half our charlotte friends were gathering at thomason’s house to send off the kinlo’s, and the other half would be gathering at hudzik’s house the next night.  a random commercial flashed a picture of the charlotte city skyline.  we looked at each other with frowny faces and tears in our eyes. 

and then we started cooking.  because really, we had just enjoyed an awesome day in nyc. 

for dinner we made shepherd’s pie with a twist.
in a skillet, brown:
1 lb lean ground turkey
then season it with:
ground pepper
add some beef stock to it and let it simmer.

add two potatoes and two turnips (chopped) to a pot of water, bring to a boil, and cook for 15 minutes.

spread meat mixture into a two quart pyrex dish.  spread 2 cups frozen peas on top.

drain “neeps and tatties” and mash ’em with a little butter.  we added 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar to the mash.

spread the mash mixture on top of meat and peas, sprinkle another 1/2 cup cheese on top.
bake uncovered at 375F for 35 minutes.  let it sit (and cool) for a bit before serving.

while the shepherd’s pie was in the oven, we made up some apple muffins.  my girlfriend bethany turned me onto an awesome food blog called smitten kitchen, where i found my inspiration for these muffins.  our edited recipe follows:

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup local honey
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large apples, peeled and chopped

we mixed all the dry ingredients together (next time i think we’ll do equal parts flour and oats) in a large bowl and all the wet ingredients together in a small bowl.  we added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixed it up, and then folded in the apples.  i cut my apples way too chunky–i was shocked the muffins came out at all!  the batter really fills in the space around the apples once it bakes, but i still think i’ll chop up smaller apple chunks next time.

spoon batter into muffin tins and bake at 450F for 10 minutes, and then 400F for 5 minutes (note that baking at two different temperatures is difficult on a micro-oven, but it can be done!)

by the time we finished eating our shepherd’s pie, the first batch of warm apple muffins were out of the oven.  we made 16 muffins, but immediately took 4 of them to keith as an excuse to meet his new puppy chloe, and to say sorry for accidentally missing yoga the night before!  baked goods are made to share.

i should add that our playlist for the evening included the soundtrack from lion king (the musical) as well as eddie money.  my apologies to the neighbors if they heard us singing!


cooking, cuts and crazies

ok.  things we’ve made: cabbage and apples, soup and roasted winter veggies.

for the cabbage i just cut one apple, one head of cabbage, and half an onion and sauteed it in some olive oil, salt and pepper over medium heat.  oh, and i added a dash (and i mean dash) of cumin for some kick and a double dash of cinnamon.  it was yummy, but i cut the crap out of my thumb.  it’s healing.

then i made some soup because i needed to finish off our CSA veggies (it’s hard to use them up when jay is working nights).  i’m not sold on any recipe yet, but i’ll just tell you that i sauteed some peppers (including half a habanero), garlic and onions with some spicy turkey sausage.  i added 4 small potatoes and a turnip, diced, then some chicken stock, and then every other veggie i could find (cabbage, tomato, carrots, green beans) and let it simmer half an hour.  by the time my girlfriend farrell came over with a bottle of wine and jay came home with a loaf of crunchy bread, we were set.  the habanero definitely kicked the spice up a notch. 

today jay and i went to “the lobster place” at chelsea market and we were totally overwhelmed by the types of fish they offer.  we opted for something mostly prepared–the salmon burgers.  yummy.

at home i chopped up some butternut squash, some other kind of short squatty yellow squash, some cauliflower and a little garlic.  i tossed it with some olive oil, sage, little bit of curry and paprika.  i roasted it all on a cookie sheet at 450F for 40 minutes (i probably could have taken the veggies out at 30 minutes, but jay was on a run, so i let them roast a little longer).  the salmon patties were cooked in a skillet over medium heat for five minutes on either side.  easy peasy. 

i’m pretty excited we have local tomatoes that still taste like tomatoes in october, so i sliced that up too.  this meal was special enough to break out the place-mats and napkins boriana and julie gave us for our wedding.  and a bottle of wine from william, aerated with our snazzy wine thingy from anna and laurel.  other than accidentally missing yoga (sorry keith), it was a great night. 

we’re still cookin’.

almost forgot the part about crazies–i was ecstatic when farhan called to say he was visiting a school up here and wanted to crash our living room floor.  oh, how our friends get us through our homesickness!  but towards the end of a great visit, farhan and i were exiting the c-train at 23rd street when some dude in aviators walked up and swung at farhan’s face.  i don’t think farhan dodged the punch, i think the guy just missed… i think maybe he just wanted to scare us?  he definitely scared me.  and the one word that came out of my mouth in that moment was… “GOSH!”  (gosh?  really?)  at which point the guy started yelling at me and threatening to spit in my face.  farhan and i were (and are) totally ok, but like i said, crazy.  it was a total fluke, and i know people that have lived here for years that have never seen such things.  and i know the same could have happened just as easily in charlotte or even little lexington.  nonetheless, jay ordered some pepper spray for me to carry around.  and i will carry it with full knowledge that i’ll likely never have to use it.

so that’s the scoop.  i cooked some veggies, i cut my thumb, i met a crazed dude. 

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butternut stuffed deliciousness

jay went to union square to pick up our CSA goodies today and came back with a colorful array of local produce–hooray!

when he saw we had a bunch of peppers and an onion he decided to pick up some turkey sausage to go with.  i came home from class (after taking my first midterm, yay!) and cracked open my “simply in season” mennonite cookbook that mary carroll introduced me to a couple of years ago.  i turned to the fall recipes and came across a stuffed acorn squash recipe, which was enough to inspire our own creation.  here’s what we did…

cut butternut squash lengthwise and spoon out the guts.

place squash rind up on cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes at 350F.

while squash is cooking, squeeze spicy turkey sausage out of casings and cook over medium-high heat.  before it gets too brown, add onion and red pepper.

take squash out of oven, stuff it, and put it back in oven for 10 minutes at 375F.  note that butternut squash doesn’t leave a lot of room for stuffing–don’t let that slow you down.

while the stuffed squash was baking we blanched some green beans.

and voila!  jay and i couldn’t believe the flavor.  was it the turkey sausage that was so good?  or the squash?  we decided it was the two together–a perfect marriage of deliciousness.

next adventure–i’m thinking some kind of smorgasbord soup.

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neeps and tatties

i wasn’t really sure what to do with turnips until my upstairs neighbor william told me about a scottish dish called “neeps and tatties”… huh?

i looked it up and the simplest recipe i found was actually on an english blog–sure the scots would just love that.  they even reversed the name to tatties and neeps!  so here’s what we did:

take a turnip and some potatoes (we just used what was in our CSA bag o’ produce), chop them into small chunks, add them to water, bring water to a boil and let boil for 15 minutes.  the recipe said to peal the potatoes, but we like our tatties with the skins on. drain the potatoes and turnip well, mash ’em up with a bit ‘o butter.  the recipe called for fresh chives, but jay couldn’t find any, so we used dried chives and marjoram.  fresh stuff next time!

our neeps and tatties were delicious along side some bbq chicken and yellow beans.  the chicken was prepared with bbq sauce from mac’s in charlotte (YUM!) and it turns out jay doesn’t like dark meat… so more for me!!  the yellow beans were also in our CSA bag ‘o produce.  we just blanched them and added some lemon juice.  all that and a glass of wine made for a pretty balanced meal.

and we get to say we made neeps and tatties.

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fall break = fall baking

i’m on fall break–meaning i’ve had no classes friday through tuesday.  can you tell?  i have time to cook/bake/blog??

i get a little nervous every time i walk past the library and see it full of peeps studying while i spend a little qt with my still “new” hubby.  but if i were intended to work the whole time, they’d call this long weekend “reading days” instead of “fall BREAK” right?

and so jay and i made pumpkin oatmeal chocolate chip muffins for breakfast.
i borrowed the recipe from fitsugar and then made it my own, as everyone should when baking!

ingredients we used

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup organic brown sugar + 1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 15oz can pumpkin
3 tablespoons apple sauce
one egg + one egg white
1/4 cup almond milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

how to make ’em

  1. preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line muffin tin with muffin cups.
  2. mix dry ingredients in large bowl
  3. mix wet ingredients in medium bowl
  4. add wet stuff to dry stuff and fold in chocolate chips and walnuts
  5. fill up muffin cups and bake 18 minutes

made 15 delicious (and pretty darn healthy) muffins

here is our “oven” which doubles as a micro-wave.  (or it’s a micro-wave that doubles as an oven).  it is very space efficient!  it does not toast or broil though.  and you can’t fit multiple things in it, so you have to plan ahead.  we are learning to make it work!

things i learned: we’re out of agave, oops!  i meant to use agave instead of sugar/honey.  also, i like to use apple sauce as a substitute for oil.  because we have the world’s smallest fridge and can’t be storing apple sauce at all times, i bought those mini apple sauce servings you would throw in your lunch bag.  they don’t have to be refrigerated, and they’re usually about the same amount as what you’ll need for baking anyway (1 cup).  also, if you eat these muffins right out of the oven, you are bound to get some melted chocolate on your face.  mm hmm. 

thoughts for next time: the muffins stuck to the paper cups a little–alicia recommended a recipe that suggested spraying cups with coconut oil first?  i need to learn more about coconut oil!


keepin’ it local in the kitchenette

there’s no question about it: cooking in a kitchenette sucks.  and yet we have all these nifty wedding gift kitchen gadgets, accompanied by notes from friends encouraging us to cook together, and we do enjoy cooking.  i did a search of “how to cook in a small kitchen” or “cooking in nyc” but everything i came across included a full-size fridge and a kitchen you could actually walk into–oh to be so lucky!

so we’re creating our own resource for kitchenette cookers.  we’ll see if it ends up being any help to anyone–at least it will get us out to our local markets and into the “kitchen!”

we ventured over to the green market at union square today.  jay was psyched to discover red jacket orchards from his home in upstate new york, so we bought their apples.  we walked past every stall before stopping for lunch to discuss our plan of action.  we fully intended to get some eggplant, squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic… but then jay got distracted by some goat’s milk ice cream (yum) and i got distracted talking to a farmer.  turns out the central valley farm out of asbury, nj has a CSA option that is very city-friendly.

CSA stands for community supported agriculture–and if you don’t already know about it, i encourage you to learn more.  most CSAs i’ve encountered have included so much local farm fresh produce, i would never get around to eating it all.  most CSAs also ask that you pay for the entire season upfront–this is what ensures the farmer that his/her crops will be viable in the coming season.  buyers are like share-holders that keep local farming alive.  but central valley farm has a CSA program that allows us to buy one bag of produce–whatever is fresh off the farm that week–for $20.  and you only pay on the weeks you need it–no up-front commitment.  because jay and i had already bought apples and ice cream, we only had $18 remaining, which the farmer was happy to accept knowing he’d just secured a new weekly (or bi-weekly) patron. 

one thing i like about CSA is that it takes the decision making out of produce-shopping.  i hate making decisions!  instead we just take what’s fresh (this week it’s spaghetti squash, tomato, bell pepper, yellow string beans, potatoes, a turnip and a head of lettuce) and get creative cooking with it.

so tonight’s dinner:

we took the spaghetti squash, cut it in half length-wise, scraped out the pulp and seeds, placed it on a cookie sheet rind-up, and baked it at 375 for 40 minutes. 

jay cut organic chicken thighs into pieces and threw them in a large skillet.  at that point we realized we had no olive oil in the house (gasp!!!) nor did we have onion or garlic–next time we’ll include those ingredients, but you work with what you’ve got.

once the chicken pieces were browned but tender, we turned down the heat and added diced tomatoes and bell pepper, seasoning it with salt, pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes.

we took the squash out of the “oven” (i’ll have to take a picture of our combination microwave/oven sometime) and used a fork to pull the strands of squash from the rind.  we added it to the skillet, mixed it all together and served it up.

it was delicious.  shredded parm kicks it up a notch.

things we learned: we need olive oil, onion and garlic (how have we survived without these essentials for 2 months??)  we also learned that using the drippings from the chicken instead of olive oil added a lot of flavor to the veggies–like cooking rice in chicken broth.  we wished we’d had one more tomato.

it was a yummy, easy, healthy dinner.  it was also jay’s first time to eat spaghetti squash.  he liked it.

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