There is still snow and ice on the ground here in Virginia, yet here I am sharing an ice cream recipe with you all while I bask in the warmth of my fireplace. I can’t believe that just a few days ago I returned from a week’s vacation exploring Hilton Head Island and Savannah. Though not exactly bikini, sun bathing weather, the days ranged from the high 60′s and even soared into the low 80s. The nights rarely strayed below 50. With the lovely early spring-like weather in abundance, I spent a lot of time riding my bike and playing in the sand. I even dared a little wading into the still very cold Atlantic waters. Between the sunshine filled days and all my activity, I definitely worked up a sweat. Though in Savannah my favorite cool down treat was Georgia peach sangria to go, which I’d sip delightedly under the beautiful oaks of the city’s famous squares, in Hilton Head I’d ride my bike up the beach to Coligny Plaza to place myself in the giddy conundrum of choosing one ice cream from nearly 100 different flavors. It is no surprise that I returned home with ice cream, pretty beverages, and summer time on my brain. Let’s get back to that ice cream now, shall we?
Most of you know I purchased myself an ice cream machine last summer when I shared my Lighten Up the Churn Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream. I absolutely loved how the lightened up custard base (aka French style ice cream) turned out and so I kept experimenting with it. You know me, I love to play with flavor. However, I’m not much of a garlic ice-cream type girl myself, but I wanted to try something savory. The idea made me think of my strawberry bruschetta, where I took sweet strawberries and gave them a savory twist with tarragon, black pepper, and goat cheese. Why wouldn’t the same idea work with ice cream? So I decided to give it a go and created a goat cheese base in which I added the remaining elements of my bruschetta dish. It worked beautifully!
The smooth base had a slight tang from the goat cheese, off-set by both the sweet strawberry flavor as well as the fruit’s added chunky texture. Although I couldn’t discern the black pepper as I could in the bruschetta, the tarragon gave all this creamy goodness a cleansing burst of freshness. And what a pretty ice cream it made, too!
Now what are some of your own favorite recipes that you think would make an awesome ice cream flavor?
Strawberry Tarragon & Chèvre Ice Cream
- 1 cup small diced strawberries
- ¼ cup Chèvre (goat cheese), crumbled for easier melting
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided in half, plus 1 tablespoon separated
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 12 ounce can evaporated low fat milk
- 1 vanilla bean, halved and seeded
- pinch of sea salt
- 3-4 egg yolks
- In a medium bowl, combine diced strawberries, 1 tablespoon sugar, chopped tarragon, and ground pepper. Toss to mix, then set aside while preparing the Chèvre ice cream base.
- In a saucepan, combine whole milk, evaporated milk, 1/4 cup sugar, corn syrup, and sea salt. Whisk to combine
- Next add the vanilla seeds and pod to the milk mixture.
- Heat the milk mixture gently over medium heat to 180° Fahrenheit. You’re looking for tiny bubbles around the edge, NOT a boil. Remove from heat.
- Set aside for at least 10 minutes to allow milk mixture to cool.
- While milk mixture is cooling, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl.
- After milk mixture has cooled at least 10 minutes, begin to gradually add milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs.
- Return entire mixture to the saucepan. Turn stove to medium heat.
- Stir Chèvre into warm milk, allowing cheese to melt into mixture. It will be lumpy at first, but will smooth out once the cheese melts.
- Stirring constantly, continue cook the ice cream base until it reaches 160° Fahrenheit.
- Place a mesh sieve over a large mixing bowl and strain ice cream base. Discard the vanilla bean pod and any other solids.
- Fill another large bowl with ice cubes. Place the bowl containing the ice cream base over the ice.
- Allow ice cream base to cool, about 20 minutes.
Replace the following steps with the instructions that came with your particular ice cream maker.
- Turn on the ice cream maker and carefully pour the ice cream base mixture into the frozen freezer bowl.
- Pour strawberry mixture into the freezer bowl with the base. NOTE: Typically, ice cream mix-ins are added in the last five minutes of the process, but I wanted the strawberry and tarragon flavors to infuse into the base. You can wait to do this until later if you wish.
- Allow the the mixture to churn and thicken into a soft serve like, creamy texture, approximately 35-40 minutes.
- Divide ice cream into freezer safe, air tight containers. Cover and freeze until ice cream is firm, about 3 hours.
Be sure to check out my Lighten Up the Churn recipe for other notes.
Late last summer, Emilie came up with a fabulous idea for a Cork and Spoon post series: Back to Basics. Even in late August, our friends were already sending us text messages and e-mails about holiday recipes and plans and asking pretty basic questions: what’s the best way to cook a turkey, what wine goes with this dish, how do I…and so on and so forth. So, Emilie concluded, why not write a series of posts about the cooking topics our friends ask us about the most? Couldn’t argue there!
I often get questions about Asian dishes from my friends, not exactly surprising since I am Asian and grew up in Asia, and the most popular request is how to make a Thai-style curry. I’ve already shared a few recipes with you, but today, it’s Back to Basics!
So what are the basic ingredients of a Thai-style curry? My basics are:
- red or green curry paste (homemade or store-bought)
- a can or two of coconut milk
- fish sauce (a must!)
- basil (Thai or Sweet)
- steamed white rice (jasmine)
I also like a protein, but that is, of course, optional.
Like many Asian dishes, Thai-curry comes in a plethora of forms because it is very much regionally and family based. I have been to quite a few Thai restaurants and Thai homes in my life and not one has served the exact same dish. So what does that mean? That means that once you have the basics down you really can’t go wrong.
Now for some more curry basics to keep in mind while cooking.
- As I’ve stated in other posts, do not allow the coconut milk to boil. Bubbles=bad. Your curry will curdle. Now, I often step away a tad too long from the stove and end up with curdled curry. It will taste just fine, but it won’t look very pretty.
- Asian food is about balance. Thai food may have a spicy reputation, but notice that despite the heat (for your daring, Teflon tongued souls), it is still balanced by the other flavors in the dish. Spicy, sour, sweet, and salty flavors should complement each other. My usual conundrum is not enough sweet and an overpowering sour (I love my lime!). The cure? Sugar. Palm sugar is best for Thai cuisine, but it’s also pricey. Regular granulated sugar will work just fine. Don’t be afraid to add sugar.
- Use as much fresh herbs and spices (vice dried herbs and spices) as possible. This is a key difference between Thai curry and other Asian curries. Fresh basil, fresh ginger, fresh chilies, fresh lemongrass, etc.
- Cut your vegetables and proteins small and thin. This will help ensure quick cooking since everything is poached in the curried coconut milk.
- When poaching the ingredients of your curry, add in phases to prevent overcooking. For my own typical curry, chicken goes in first. After about five (5) minutes, I follow with any frozen vegetables. Once the coconut milk has re-heated, I add fleshy vegetables like eggplant and zucchini followed by “steamers” such as green beans and broccoli. The last to go in are the more delicate vegetables that breakdown if cooked too long, such as bell peppers and tomatoes.
Thai Red Curry Basic Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste (add more for more heat if you like)
- 1 can [lite] coconut milk
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 small scallions, whites and greens sliced
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce (add more for saltiness if you like)
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil (Thai basil if you can find it)
- 1-2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
Building on the Basics
-1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 medium Ichiban eggplant, sliced into half moons
- Appx. 1 cup bell peppers sliced thinly (go for color!)
- Pour oil into a large pan, add garlic and scallions and turn heat to medium high.
- When garlic and scallions become fragrant add curry paste. Cook curry paste until it begins to break down. Be careful not to let the garlic burn. Lower heat to medium.
- Slowly add coconut milk to the pan and fish sauce, stirring to blend the curry paste. Taste and add more curry paste and/or salt if desired.
- Allow coconut milk to break a low simmer, but do not allow it to boil or the coconut milk will separate.
- Add sliced chicken to hot liquid and poach for approximately 10 minutes. If using shrimp as your protein, add later at step 10.
- Add frozen peas and egg plant to curry. Allow to return to a simmer and cook 3-5 minutes. At this step, add vegetables that take longer to cook, such as squashes and root vegetables, as well as frozen vegetables.
- Add sliced bell peppers. At this step, add vegetables that cook in a few minutes, such as the bell peppers, green beans, and broccoli.
- Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about another 5-8 minutes.
- Taste and season as desired. For more heat, had a dash of cayenne or chili powder. For saltiness, more fish sauce. Good old salt and pepper is completely allowable, too!
- During the last 3-5 minutes, add half of the basil and stir in. If using shrimp as your protein add now.
- Serve over rice.
It’s inevitable. It snows and I almost lose a finger. Last year I had the little incident with a mandolin. The year before my espresso machine attacked me. This year destiny upped the ante with my garage door opener throwing a tantrum. At first I thought the polar vortex had frozen everything. Nope, it was mechanical. I will probably have a fear of ladders and springs for the near future, but thankfully all extremities are accounted for and no broken bones.
Bandaged and bruised, something comforting was in order after that ordeal. Of course, I still had to keep in mind my year’s plan to get my ripped abs back. Whatever I was going to make was sure to pack in the calories, but to assuage a potential guilt trap, I needed to make sure I added some more nutritious calories to the mix. After rummaging through my crisper and throwing out the rotten cauliflower and broccoli, I came up with one, sad zucchini on it’s last leg. Then I remembered the zucchini twist I had made on my Poogan’s Porch mac and cheese over the summer following a fun Farmer’s Market morning. Mac and cheese – it was fate!
My favorite thing about this particular mac and cheese is the color. How pretty are all those green specks from the zucchini and chopped herbs? You can’t even taste the squash if you’re worried about losing the essence of the gooey, creamy dish. See how easy it is to add a healthy twist to your favorite comfort food? When I get my next craving, I’m hoping to substitute some of the pasta for cauliflower to help lower the calorie count. I’m not giving up on my abs yet!
Zucchini Mac and Cheese
- 1 to 1 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere, Emmental, or Cheddar cheese (or a combination of)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4-5 tablespoons butter
- 3-4 tablespoons flour
- 1/2 a sweet onion small dice, appx 1/2 cup
- 1 large zucchini, shredded (if you want it packed with veggies, use 2 zucchini!)
- 1 bay leaf
- ground nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- 6 ounces small pasta, such as shells or elbow, aapx half a box
- 3-4 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Pre-heat oven to 400 Fahrenheit and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions
- Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. When melted, add onions and cook until soften.
- Sprinkle flour over onions and stir to coat. Cook 2-3 minutes to cook out the raw flour flavor.
- Stir in milk, breaking up any the four clumps. Bring to a simmer.
- Add bayleaf the reduce heat to medium. Let mixture simmer until thickened, about 7-10 minutes.
- Stir in shredded cheese about 2 tablespoons at a time to create a thick cheese sauce.
- Fold shredded zucchini into the cheese sauce. Taste sauce and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
- Allow sauce to come to a bubble again, then remove from heat.
- Add pasta to the cheese sauce mixture and stir to coat. Pour into a casserole dish. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir breadcrumbs and olive oil together. If using plain breadcrumbs, season as desired.
- Sprinkle mac and cheese with breadcrumbs and bake 15-20 minutes until bubbly.
Oh, what a beautiful morning, my friends! Ever wake up feeling the blue bird of happiness is chirping just for you? Yeah, not very often for me either, but by some miracle God decided to put a little sunshine in my heart…and it feels absolutely fabulous! So I thought I’d share an equally fabulous recipe with you.
You see, I’ve been stuck for a very long time. I thought it was the whole trying to get into business school these past twelve months, but when it came to being completely honest with myself I couldn’t keep hiding that I’ve been stuck for years. So what a lovely and refreshing gift to wake up to! How better to celebrate than to channel all that positive energy into creating an equally beautiful and delicious breakfast?
On days when we’re not so lucky with Mr. Bluebird, these pancakes will sure do the trick. On the inside they’re pillowy-fluffy, yet rich from all the coconut flavor. The exterior has this delicate crisp that reminds me of that very thin layer of the caramelized sugar atop a creme brulee. To top it all off, they’re gluten-free and full of fiber and anti-oxidants. Nutritious and delicious, hard to beat, don’t cha think?
- 1 cup gluten free flour mix
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted plus 1-2 tablespoons for pan
- optional: fresh fruit, maple syrup, and shredded coconut to top
- In a large bowl, mix together gluten free flour mix, sugar, coconut flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk with the 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil.
- Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until batter is moistened.
- Heat a frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Add about a teaspoon of coconut oil and melt to grease pan. Through out cooking process, add additional coconut oil as needed to keep pan greased.
- Pour 1/4 cup of batter onto hot pan and cook until bubbles appear on the surface and sides begin to try, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cool the opposite side until golden, about another 2 minutes.
- Serve warm with desired toppings.
Note: Freeze leftovers. The best re-heating method is to use the “frozen” setting on your toaster (like an Eggo!). This will preserve the yummy, crispy exterior.
When my sister mentioned a week before Thanksgiving she was going completely gluten free I wanted to reach through the phone and slap her silly. Power to her for the life-style change, but I’m the one in charge of all the holiday family meals. I’m the one that had to figure it all out! How about more than a week’s notice, please? Luckily for both of us my curious and experimental nature had already lead me to some dabbling in gluten free recipes.
Now I’m not much of a fad person myself, but I do respect the will-power of those who chose restrictive life-styles (for whatever reasons). I also empathize with those living with food allergies. However, what is often left out of the conversation are those, like me, that do not have these restrictions, but find themselves thrust suddenly into that world. Emilie and I were discussing this not too long ago just after the New Year.
Who doesn’t love to accommodate their friends and family, but can you imagine how bad your host(ess) might feel if they didn’t know of your recent vegan conversion and watched you pick at your bacon wrapped steak and butter topped asparagus all evening? Forewarned is forearmed! Don’t feel bad about giving someone a heads up about your allergies or special diet. When Emilie and I were visiting a friend in San Francisco one Spring Break, I made sure to mentioned that it was Lent, which, after receiving a family dinner invite on a Friday night, allowed enough notice for a Lent friendly meal that everyone could enjoy. When my friend Sue is in town, I know to keep a container of soy milk on hand for her coffee since she is allergic to dairy. Now that my sister is gluten-free, I have engineered gluten-free versions of our favorite family holiday recipes. However, there are still folks that might feel uncomfortable at the potential inconvenience. Emilie has a great tactic for that. She offers to bring a dish! This tactic not only ensures there will be at least one thing you can eat, but provides an easy opening to mention what you are not able to eat as well as eases any feeling of inconvenience, because you’re bringing the dish. Not a bad idea huh?
With that said, many of you are like Emilie and me: food lovers. We like to eat and cook new things, unfamiliar things. Our friends are lucky, because we’re the most likely to have that paleo vegan, gluten-soy-nut free recipe in our back pocket. We’re always experimenting. My favorite food “fad” to experiment is, as I’ve mentioned, gluten-free substitutions. So, without further adieu, for your back-pocket I present this gluten free, thin crust pizza dough!
Gluten Free Pizza Dough
makes 2 9″x 9″ personal pizza crusts
- 2 ½ cups Gluten-Free Flour (see recipe)
- 2 tablespoons dried milk powder or dairy-free creamer
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar
- 1 5/16 ounce package of instant yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (for dough)
- olive oil for pan
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal for dusting
- In a large bowl, blend together the gluten free flour mix, dried milk, baking powder, and corn starch. Set aside.
- In another bowl, add yeast, olive oil, and warm water along with ½ cup of the dry ingredients.
- Stir to combine and set aside for about 30 minutes. Mixture should be bubbly and smell yeasty.
- When yeast is ready, add to the remaining dry ingredients.
- Using a stand or hand mixer, mix at medium-high speed until dough forms. It will not be like the pizza dough you’ve probably made in the past. Instead it will be sticky, like spackling.
- Cover the bowl, and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit .
- Divide dough in half. If not using right away, grease two sheets of plastic wrap and wrap the two halves separately.
- For a single personal pizza, grease a 9” x 13” baking sheet with olive oil and dust with cornmeal.
- Place one of the pizza halves on the baking sheet. Wet your fingers and begin working the dough outwards beginning from the center. You should be able to get a 9″ x 9″ crust.
- Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes before baking the crust in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
- Your crust is now ready to become a pizza. After adding desired toppings, bake pizza for about another 10 minutes.
You know, when I first thought of adding this little series of book reviews “Books for Cooks,” I thought it would be much easier than Ruth and I’s normal cooking and recipe posts. Boy was I mistaken – I forgot how hard “book reports” from elementary school actually are!
I recently finished Consider the For: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson. The book, published just over a year ago, is a light enjoyable read that takes a look at the innovations and inventions that have inspired and supported home cooks since the first fire was used to roast mammoth meat. As easy a read as it is, you walk away with a wealth of knowledge that you find yourself inexplicably sharing at dinner parties and brunch with girlfriends (or maybe that’s just me).
I was fascinated by the book’s focus on the humble everyday kitchen and its tools from sporks and chopsticks to refrigerators and toaster. Did you know, for example, that chopsticks as eating utensils are simply part of the evolution of Chinese food that resulted from the death of wood for fueling cooking fires. Chinese stir-fry, which is made of bite-side pieces of meat and vegetable, cooks quickly in the wok, whose concave bottom allows the food to be seared using a rather small fire. It is likely that chopsticks originated as a tool for stirring the food in the wok and eventually evolved into a utensil for eating.
I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is curious about the tools in their kitchen and how they came into being. It is an easy read that remains light and engrossing until you finally close the cover.
Is it Christmas already? I don’t remember 2o12 going by this fast and I honestly can’t believe 2013 is almost over. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy this year preparing to apply for grad school. For that reason, I thought I’d take a break from my essays and wish all of you a very, merry Christmas with this tasty and super easy seafood dish before the holidays passes me by!
For those that have been following Emilie and I for awhile, you may recall last Christmas where I gave my family’s traditional Christmas dinner an Asian twist to honor my mother’s heritage. I also shared my seafood risotto for an Italian Christmas Eve tradition known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. This mussel dish combines both of those concepts into one pot! Multi-tasking…love it!
So I have always wanted to make mussels, but for some reason found them intimidating. It must have been the debearding. Debearding, what’s that? How much work is this? Am I going to get sick or die if I debeard these things wrong? Eeep! I was relaying this fear to Tom one evening after having a delicious pot of mussels at Dupont Circle’s Bistrot Du Coin. In typical Tom fashion, he told me to just do it already.
So I did!
Preparing the mussels took a little time and the debearding was waaaay wierd, but easy peasy over all. I’m sure it will go faster the next time around now that I’ve gotten over my fear. Just yank that hairy, stringy sucker from the shell. If you need a better grip on the beard, I recommend using a paper towel.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Have a delicious holiday!
Asian Fusion Mussels
serves appx 4
- 2 pounds fresh mussels
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 2 Chinese eggplant (approximately 2 cups prepped*)
- 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 Thai chili, sliced lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, seperated
- ¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves, chopped (appx 2 tablespoons, chopped)
- Salt and pepper
- Cooked spaghetti or linguine
- Rinse and debeard your mussels if they are not so already.
- Be sure to discard any mussels with broken shells or any that do not close when tapped. Set aside.
- Pre-heat oven to 425° Fahrenheit
- Cut eggplant* into 1 inch cubes or rounds depending on thickness. Lay eggplant out on a baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the eggplant and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss eggplant together so that all the pieces are lightly coated with the olive oil and seasonings.
- Bake eggplant for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. With a heat resistant spoon or spatula, give the eggplant cubes a toss to help the eggplant cook evenly. Return to oven and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender and caramelized. Remove from oven and set aside.
- While eggplant is baking, begin preparing the mussels.
- In a large, lidded pot (I used my dutch oven), heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the butter over medium, to medium high heat.
- When butter has melted, sauté shallots until soft and translucent, then add the minced garlic.
- Pour wine into the pot and add the Thai chili pepper and bring to a boil.
- Add diced tomatoes along with the juices.
- Return to boil. Lower heat to medium. Cover and simmer 2-3 minutes.
- Add mussels to the pot in a single layer along with half of the Thai basil. Cover and steam the mussels for 3 minutes.
- After 3 minutes, check to see if mussels have begun to open. Most open within 3-4 minutes.
- Once most of the mussels have opened, use a slotted spoon to remove mussels from the juices they were steamed in and place in a large bowl. Discard mussels that remain closed.
- To serve spoon tomatoes and juices over the cooked pasta along with the baked eggplant cubes. Toss together. Add desired mussels. Spoon additional juices as desired over the mussels, and sprinkle with remaining chopped Thai basil.
I have been craving these little beauties since Thanksgiving morning! I woke up that morning and a vision of these piping hot from the oven and smothered in butter popped into my sleepy head. Too bad I had finished all my delicious apples from Rinker Orchards by then! Airy and not too sweet, these muffins are a lovely addition to any brunch pastry basket and the perfect breakfast strategy to stay the grumbling tummies of holiday guests as they awaken from their slumber.
How do I know this? When I first made this recipe back in October, they disappeared faster than my very popular Banana Chocolate Chip muffins! Now my co-workers are very, very picky when it comes to baked goods. Or maybe I should say careful. Pure sugar is a big no, no. So when I brought three dozen of these to the office, I was expecting they would last until about 10 o’clock. Nope, they were gone by 7:30! I had to dash my muffin/cupcake carrier back to my car to hide the evidence from the folks that came in at 8 so they wouldn’t feel left out.
Needless to say, these muffins are a delicious grown-up treat. Substituting sour cream and buttermilk for the traditional butter give these Apple Stressel Muffins an almost sponge-cake like airiness. They are not heavy and dense at all. Then of course there are the yummy apple bits scattered throughout which give you that tart sweet burst against the sweet bread. And how can we forget that yummy streusel on top? Just that bit of fun where we can pretend we’re still kids for a couple of bites. You’ll definitely need a napkin for these!
Apple Streusel Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
- 1 cup whole wheat white flour (sometimes called whole wheat pastry flour)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup sour cream
- ¼ – ½ cup buttermilk (start with ¼ then and add as needed)
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 medium-sized baking apples, peeled, cored, and diced small (I actually kept the peel on some of my apples)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Grease a regular-sized muffin tin with cooking spray or butter.
- For the streusel, add the flour, brown sugar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. (A cereal bowl worked fine for me.)
- Pour in the melted butter. Use your fingers or a fork to combine until small clumps of streusel form. Set aside while making the muffins.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine eggs, brown sugar, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla. Whisk wet ingredients together.
- Gently fold wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Don’t worry about a few lumps. Over mixing will give you dense, gummy muffins.
- Fold in the chopped apples again being careful not to over-mix the batter.
- Fill each well of the muffin tin to the top with batter.
- Generously sprinkle streusel on top of the batter, pressing the topping lightly into the batter. This is a messy step, but fun! I had leftover streusel for another dozen muffins, but feel free to use all of it.
- Bake muffins for 18 to 22 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool for 10 minutes before removing muffins from the muffin tin. Store the muffins in an airtight container no longer than three days.
Growing up, one of my top 5 toys was the play kitchen my sisters and I shared. It was a homemade 2-piece set – simple plywood boxes built with doors and painted to look like a refrigerator and stove-topped oven. It wasn’t fancy like the Little Tykes plastic kitchens my friends had, with their attached phones and ironing boards, but it was spacious and more realistic, so I was happy. We filled it with tons of plastic foods from apples to unidentifiable uniformly brown “meat” products and those awesome Fisher Price milk and juice bottles. It provided endless hours of fun, and while I don’t remember exactly when we got rid of it, that play kitchen is one of my clearest childhood memories.
It was with these childhood memories fresh in my head that I started Christmas shopping for nieces and nephews. After picking out some cool toys for the older ones, I started looking for a soft fruit and veggie sets designed for my niece who is under 2 and I quickly became overwhelmed by the totally awesome and amazing play food toys that are now available. While I may not be in the market for a brand new play kitchen and all of its associated accessories, I had so much fun exploring, I thought I’d turn it into a post for those of you who may have a few burgeoning chefs and foodies in need of their own kitchen set up.
1)Little Tykes Super Chef Kitchen ($80) // 2)Kid Kraft Uptown Kitchen($144) 3)2 Step Life Kitchen($93) // 4)Hape Playfully Delicious Gourmet Kitchen ($87)
1) Giggleberry Creations DIY Entertainment Center Play Kitchen // 2) DIY Pottery Barn Knock-Off Play Kitchen // 3) DIY Play Kitchen from Nightstand 4) Play Kitchen From Ikea Parts
Once you have picked out the perfect play kitchen, its time to stock it. The basics for the perfect play kitchen fall under 2 categories. First you need a few basics for cooking up and serving fun and imagination. The 3 sets below are each a great price and will ensure every little chef has everything they need.
1)Children’s Stainless Steel Cookware Set($23) // 2)Toysmith Cooking Utensils ($11) // 3)Kidoozie Dish Drainer Set ($18)
Once you have dishes and silverware, your lil’ chef will need something to cook up and serve. I think its important to start with a amazing basics with multiple uses to stock the toy fridge and pantry. The Melissa and Doug 4 Food Groups play set, number 1 below, is a good all around starter set. If you want a more substantial starting place for you fledgling foodie, I encourage getting separate produce, meat, and bread sets. Really well curated bread sets were the hardest to find. While the sandwich set is a bit more specialized that I was going for, the collection of bakery items was the best out there.
1)Melissa and Doug Food Groups Play Set – Wooden ($20) // 2)Ikea Duktig 14-Piece Vegetable Set ($8) & Ikea Duktig 9-Piece Fruit Set ($8) // 3) PlanToys Plan Activity Large Scale Meat Set ($16) // 4) Melissa and Doug Felt Food – Sandwich Set ($17)
If your favorite youngster has a well established play kitchen with dishes, produce, and more, you may be at a loss for what to buy. Don’t worry, there are tons of specialty toys for the little foodie who already has it all.
1) Fisher-Price Servin’ Surprises Ice Cream Party Set ($19) // 2) Homemade Felt Sushi Platter // 3) Melissa & Doug Felt Cookie Decorating Set ($19) 4) Homemade Felt Cheez-It Crackers // 5) Hape Playfully Delicious Pasta Set ($19) // 6) Homemade Felt Poptart Tutorial