Really Eating

Sugar Substitutes

Posted in Ingredients by Bethany on December 7, 2009

Because regular cane sugar is a step up from all that junk in processed goods (corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, etcetc), I don’t really feel guilty baking with it. However, friends and the blog world have mentioned a few natural substitutes like agave syrup/nectar and Turbinado sugar.

Any thoughts? I’m positive that these alternatives are more expensive but I’m curious about the end result. Would it taste the same? Better?

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Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on December 7, 2009

I get urges to bake and cook randomly, usually prompted by recipes I come across in Google Reader. Oftentimes I’ll see an awesome recipe with gorgeous pictures, but rarely do I have all the ingredients on hand. Somehow I stumbled upon to an older Smitten Kitchen recipe where I happened to have all of the ingredients, and I put it #1 on my weekend To Do list.

It seemed like a pretty easy recipe but I made the mistake of not checking on them near the end (as I was prepping for the next recipe… that sadly didn’t get finished) and the muffins ended up being a little overdone. I know, I know I should measure the temperature of the oven and be a better baker in that way, but I still haven’t gotten around to it. Oh well. The muffins were still delicious, just not picture perfect. But seriously- who needs my pictures when we have Deb’s?

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I let 1 cup milk & 1 tablespoon vinegar sit for a while, it’s all about the substitutions!)
  • 3 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450°F. The recipe says to grease and flour the muffin cups but I didn’t… should I have? I just really don’t like Pam.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. Remember my issue with the bowls? Well, use a medium sized bowl for this stuff because it’s mainly the 2 cups of flour.

In a separate (bigger) bowl, cream the butter (it’ll cream much easier when it’s room temperature… I’ve learned that the hard way too) and add the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in the buttermilk gently. (If you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle.) Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. I did this kind of messily and regretted it because the brown sugar that landed on my muffin tin ended up all burnt and ugly. Sad. Maybe next time I would have sprinkled brown sugar on the muffin cups before putting them into the tins.

Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400°F, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. This means, CHECK ON THEM or else risk slightly burnt muffins like mine, and that’s just not cool. Cool (hehe) the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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Bacon, Onion and Rye Bread Stuffing

Posted in Recipes by Bethany on December 4, 2009

Like most girls, I love carbs. As long as there’s bread, pasta, potatoes or rice in a meal, I’m one happy camper. However, I’ve always been a pretty picky eater, much to my detriment. When I was younger, for some reason stuffing just didn’t appeal to me. It looked like such a weird, mushy combination of vegetables and carbs… so I just opted out and enjoyed mashed potatoes, rolls, and rice instead.

But one night more than ten years ago, that all changed. My Aunt Joy, the cultured fashionista/personal trainer/English professor (seriously), brought stuffing to our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Given her absolutely to-die-for cookies and brownies, I took a few hesitant bites of her stuffing and much to my surprise, I. Fell. In. Love. I couldn’t believe how delicious it was! Honestly, I don’t remember any of the ingredients or seasoning, but I do remember how I couldn’t stop eating it.

Every Thanksgiving after, I’ve longed for her Thanksgiving stuffing. Nothing else really comes close. Tragically, Joy was killed in a car accident only a few months after Thanksgiving and I think of her every year.

Armed with dozens of food blog subscriptions and my (free) subscription to Food & Wine, I realized that maybe I can try making my own stuffing… and maybe one day I’ll get lucky and stumble upon (pun intended) Joy’s stuffing and make her proud.

I did a little bit of research and realized that most stuffings are bread-based… but there are SO many choices! Being a “real” advocate, I knew I had to use real bread and not resort to one of those mixes, as nice as they  may be. (Who wants MSG in their stuffing? *looks around* Yeah, no one.) The only question was… which kind? Cornbread? Italian? Herb? Agh!

Well, you gotta start somewhere. There was a pretty delicious sounding “Bacon, Onion and Rye Bread Stuffing” recipe in the November 2009 issue of Food & Wine so I adapted a little and hoped for the best.

Ingredients

  • Loaf of Semifreddi’s Rye bread, cut into ~1-inch cubes (PS: a better bread knife is totally on my Wish List)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 stalk celery, diced (1/4 inch)
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme (accidentally threw away the thyme from my CSA, boo!)
  • 1/2 pack of thick-sliced bacon, cooked & diced (1/2 inch)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (the butter wrapper’s really handy for this). On a large rimmed baking sheet, toast the rye bread cubes for about 15 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until lightly golden and dry. Transfer to a large (they really mean large) bowl.

In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery; cook over moderate heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme (I didn’t have sage) and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape into the bowl with the bread.

Wipe the skillet. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon (genius!), transfer the bacon to the bowl with the bread. (Was your bowl big enough?)

In a medium bowl, whisk the chicken broth with the egg. Pour over the bread mixture and add the kosher salt and pepper. Toss until the bread soaks up the liquid. Scrape into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Refrigerate overnight.

Bake the stuffing for about 30 minutes, until hot throughout. Remove the foil and bake for about 30 minutes longer, until the top is lightly golden. Serve hot or warm.

Yummy! I’m not sure if I’m a huge fan of rye bread, but a good experience, nevertheless. Unfortunately, I made the recipe without seeing the “Serves 12” note and have SO MUCH leftover stuffing… next time, will definitely cut everything in half, or maybe into fourths.

Feel free to pass on your favorite stuffing recipes… I’m still on the look out!

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