Saturday, July 23, 2011

Main focus: Vegetables and Travel

I do apologize for not posting much lately, and a warning, it probably won't get better for a bit.  I'm traveling quite a bit, and when not traveling, I've really been cutting down on large meals and cooking.  I've been focusing on raw vegetables for at least two meals of the day.  This has really been giving me a lot of energy, but it's not so fun to blog about.  So just to explain why I've been absent, I wanted to post.

Here are some examples of my meals lately.  These were my two meals today.

First, I have been giving the blender a workout, with what I call Green Smoothies.  The smoothie base is a half blender full of spinach, beet leaves, swiss chard, or kale - often a mixture.  Then I usually add celery and sometimes parsley.  Then I add some chopped up veggies, either carrots or beets and a piece of fruit, either an apple, banana, or frozen organic mango.  But as you can see by the picture below I'm trying to add more local, seasonal fruit.  In this one I put a plum.  A little fruit adds just the right amount of sweetness for the greens.  Sometimes I also add some lemon juice or ginger.  I put in unsweetened soy milk, which seems to be adding a good amount of protein.

Now granted the color is always interesting and not always pretty.  If I put beets in they tend to be a fun bright red.  Either way, Joe just gives me the "That looks disgusting" look.  But, I enjoy the fresh vegetable flavor and the boost of energy I've gained.

 Joe's not around today, so for my second meal, I just sauteed up some beet greens and swiss chard in some olive oil and garlic and added some quinoa I had cooked up in the fridge.

Just an end note, most of my travel is work related, but we spent a week working in Missoula last week, just because we've been wanting to visit Missoula.  It was a wonderful week.  We had a small condo on the 8th and top floor of the historic Wilma in Downtown Missoula. 

Below you can see the view of the river from our condo.

Below is the view of Wednesday's "out to lunch" event from our condo.  We got something to eat there and brought it up to the condo where we worked and listened to the band play.

Below is a view of the Wilma with Thursday nights band playing in front of it.

I adored Missoula.  The university was beautiful, the people were friendly, and there was always some event going on with live music.  In addition, they have a store called "The Good Food Store" that I was sad to leave.  It's like a Whole Foods, but better!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Muffins, Scones and Special Visitors

For the past week, we have been very excited to have a niece and nephew in Wyoming visiting us.  It was such a pleasure and we did a bunch of activities, but for the purpose of this blog, there was baking.  My niece is really getting into baking muffins.  Throughout the week, we made muffins, biscuits, and scones.  I've posted multiple times about the biscuits we made, you can find information here regarding these multi-grain biscuits.

The first thing we made were Morning Glory Muffins.  These are chock full of good things and were very moist.

Morning Glory Muffins (Adapted from the April/May 2000 Taste of Home recipe)
1 1/2 cup whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar (The were a little sweet for me, next time I'd lower this to 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup oat bran
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 eggs
3/4 cup applesauce (cinnamon applesauce, works well here)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1 medium tart apple, peeled and finely chopped or grated

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  In another bowl, combine eggs, applesauce, oil, molasses and extracts; mix well.  Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.  Fold in carrots, raisins, nuts, coconut, and apple.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.  Makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

Next we made Pumpkin Scones and Spiced Pumpkin Butter.  These were super tall and moist.  A true scone would have been slightly dryer, but they were good!

Pumpkin Scones (I do apologize, I got these off of the web and they seem to be posted by many different people so I'm not sure who originally posted them!)

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup pumpkin ( if canned, make sure it is plain with no sugar or spices)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix together flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Cut butter into small pieces and cut into flour.  Mixture should look like coarse crumbs.  In a separate bowl mix together the pumpkin, buttermilk and vanilla.  Add to flour mixture and mix until the dough comes together (don't over mix).

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead gently 3/4 times, and then shape/pat dough into a circle about 1 1/2 " thick.  Slice in half then cut each half into 3 equal pie-shaped wedges.  Brush with egg glaze (1 egg beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk), and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar.

Bake on a cookie sheet or preheated pizza stone at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Pumpkin Spice Butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
Combine all and mix until creamy.

A pumpkin scone with pumpkin spice butter on it.  It was such fun to bake with my niece!

I'll end with a note about ingredients and substitutions.  In the Pumpkin Spice Scones we used dry buttermilk, which I keep in the cupboard.  Considering how rarely one uses buttermilk, I view dry buttermilk to be one of the great inventions.  It is up there with Starbuck's via for backpackers.

Also, if you feel like a recipe is too bland, add spices, and always know that whole wheat flour can be added for at least half of the white flour in a recipe, and most of the time all, if your family is used to the heartier texture.