Antioxidant Berry Muffins

This morning I wanted to bake. I’ve had a craving for muffins this morning, so I jumped out of bed and scavenged the kitchen. Luckily, this recipe is so quick and easy, I was finishing my ab work-out for the day while it cooked in the oven. Multi-tasking at it’s finest.

We had a bag of Antioxidant Blend fruit in the freezer that needed a home. Taking a blueberry muffin recipe, and tweaking it a little bit resulted in this amazing muffin recipe. So moist and fluffy on the inside, with a crunch on the outer rims.

DSC_0115
DSC_0122

Antioxidant Berry Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 25 Minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 cup reduced fat (2 %) milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 Cups Frozen Antioxidant Blend (Blueberries, Strawberries, Pomegranate seeds, Cherries, Raspberries) OR of your favorite fruit.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400′ F

Place flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into bowl. Whisk to combine.

In separate bowl mix wet ingredients. (Oil, egg, milk, vanilla.)

Add to dry ingredients and stir until combined. Do Not Overmix.

Gently fold in fruit. Some purple streaking may occur.

Cook in oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy hot with a cup of tea.

This recipe was inspired by Inspired Taste

I believe the world to be a muffin pan, and there certainly are a lot of muffins here. – Aaron Funk

Good Eats – The Early Years

I have decided to start a Cookbook Challenge! In terms of the challenge I want to practice my food blogging. I want to become a better photographer, and convey the recipes in a friendly tone.

To start off, I thought “The Early Years” would be a perfect stepping off point for my new endeavor. I saw Alton Brown’s stage tour a month ago, and I have been itching to get into the kitchen more.

good eats

Macaroni and Cheese

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 T butter, melted
  • 1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350′ F

Boil water with a pinch of salt. Add noodles and cook until al dente. Drain pasta.

In saucepan, melt butter and sauté onion until translucent over med-low heat. Add flour and whisk roux for 3 minutes. Add mustard, paprika, and nutmeg. Slowly whisk in milk. Simmer until thick, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat

In bowl, whisk egg. Add a stream of heated milk into the egg. Whisk and incorporate egg back into saucepan. This is called tempering. Add cheese and stir. Add pasta and coat with sauce.

Pour the macaroni and sauce into a 13X9 in. pan.

Mix together melted butter and breadcrumbs. Top Macaroni with mixture.

Cook in oven for 30 minutes, or until browned.(Alton Browned?)

This recipe was derived from Good Eats : The Early Years by Alton Brown

DSC_0083

Do not allow watching food to replace making food. – Alton Brown

Or in my case. Do not allow reading about food replace the making of food.

I am Malala

This past week I have been reading, “I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai, and Christina Lamb. I was intrigued by her message of education and self-sacrifice for women’s rights.

As a girl, Malala followed her father’s footsteps in fighting for equal rights in education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Malala was shot by the Taliban. Before reading this book, I had very little education about the Taliban and the limitations women have in Pakistan. This book opened my eyes to the problems we have in our world. The cruelty that these people face on a daily basis is mind boggling.

Malala is a hero. As one of the youngest nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize, I believe more young girls should learn about her and look up to her as a role-model. As Americans we take education for granted, and cut vital funding each year. We must all learn from Malala and stand for the purpose of education.

Continue reading

Día de los Muertos

This week in my spanish class we were assigned to present a fiesta and answer questions about the celebration. Our group chose, Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead.

IMG_3044

Día de los Muertos, is a spanish holiday celebrated all over the world. Originating in Mexico, the origin of the festival can be  traced back over 2500 years ago.  During the Aztec times, this festival which was dedicated to goddess Michtecacihuatl, would last up to a month long. Today, the mexican culture shortened the span of the festival to only three days.  Each day has a different significance for who it dedicates. On October 31st, Día de los Angelitos, deceased children are honored for their time on earth. The following day, Día de los Muertos, is used to honor the adults that have passed. Family members may sweep around the deceased’s grave site. The last day, All souls day, is celebrated by visiting the cemetery and decorating the relatives tombs with favorite foods and flowers.

Continue reading

Spring Break 2014

Wow! I can’t believe this semester is more than half-way over! My spring break was filled with adventure and new experiences. I enjoy exploring the areas around Orlando I haven’t seen yet, and this break I was able to visit a couple of Unique places in the Central Florida region.

Bok Tower Gardens

IMG_2948Located in Lake Wales Florida, this national historic landmark is a must see. Boasting 250 acres of gardens, this landmark was beautiful and calming to walk around. During our visit we walked around the gardens, ate lunch, toured the mansion, and listened to the carillon. This 60 bell carillon hosts international composers during its festival, which was coinciding with our visit. This carillon is one of three in the state of florida, and one of 600 of the world.

Continue reading

Citrus Cook-Off

1555509_229598893898983_1614168828_nThis weekend has been filled with an abundance of Vitamin-C. Determined to place this year, I entered my recipe Blood Orange Loaf Cake into a local Citrus and Celery Cook-off. Our town is famous for growing both citrus and celery. Among the 30 other contestants, the smell of orange was overwhelming as you walked into the booth. Last year, I entered a citrus BBQ Chicken and rice dish and was discouraged to see one contestant walk away with for different prizes. I studied the other entries and decided that this year was going to be different.

IMG_2921My first round of recipe testing started out a month ago. I was at the local farmers market and saw red navels. These oranges were somewhat red, but were very sweet, unlike its blood counter parts. The cake was flavorful and held a good crumb, but lacked that citrus twang it needed.

Round two ensued after I found large blood oranges at the store.  This time the cake was more flavorful, but it was still not as red as I thought it should be.

I went to the store a week later and found miniature blood oranges with deep crimson red segments. I took this round three orange and made the cakes for the competition. Unfortunately the reaction between the butter and the deep red caused a chemical reaction; green cakes. I was too far into the game to find a solution. If anyone asked, I would say it represented…something.

Orange Loaf CakeI was beyond excited when my neighbor said he wanted to enter. He started taking cooking classes in school, and would talk about his day when I tutored him. He made a citrus apple linzer torte to represent his german heritage. As the youngest cook in the “above 12” category, I think he did a fantastic job.

Today after dropping my dish off to be judged, I walked around the fair and indulged in spinning raffle wheels. Who doesn’t love a free water bottle, or a shirt?

In the afternoon the winners were announced. I won third place in the Citrus division and was elated. I plan on entering again next year. That first prize will be mine eventually! Till then, I’ll be looking for interesting citrus recipes.

 

Blood Orange Loaf Cake

  • Servings: 1 Loaf
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

For the cake:
¾ cup cake flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbsp. grated blood orange zest
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the syrup:
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed blood orange juice

For the glaze: 
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2-3 tbsp. freshly squeezed blood orange juice

For the candied orange slices:
1 blood orange, preferably organic
½ cup sugar
½ cup water

Steps:

To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.  In a medium bowl, combine and sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Whisk to blend and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, orange zest and orange juice.  With the mixer on low speed, blend in the melted butter.  On low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Beat in the sour cream and vanilla until combined.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, again just until incorporated.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan.  Bake 20 minutes, then rotate the pan and reduce the oven temperature to 325˚ F.  Continue baking 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan at least 15-20 minutes.

Turn the cake out of the pan and transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet.  To make the orange syrup, combine the sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat, cooking just until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Poke the top of the warm cake all over with a toothpick or skewer and pour the orange syrup over the top.

To make the candied orange slices, wash and dry the orange thoroughly.  Cut the orange in half lengthwise, then use a sharp serrated knife to make very thin slices of orange.  Poke out any seeds in the slices with a toothpick.  Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves.  Add the orange slices to the mixture so that they are in a single layer (none overlapping), reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer about 20 minutes, turning the slices at least once so both sides are candied.  Remove from the heat.  Store in a container with the syrup until ready to use.

When the cake is completely cool, combine the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice in a small bowl and whisk to blend until smooth. Adjust the consistency as needed with additional juice or confectioners’ sugar.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake and garnish with the candied orange slices.  Let stand briefly until the glaze sets.  Slice and serve.

Recipe inspired from Annie’s Eats

Eat Your Science

IMG_2891I had the best time with my family this weekend. A few months ago, I was scrolling on my endless facebook feed where out of nowhere a wild Alton appeared; Alton brown that is. He was performing a show in Tampa and I jumped at the chance for tickets. Originally my mother and I were going to go up on Saturday, spend the night, and come home sunday. My family was free, so we decided to make a weekend trip out of it.

On Friday morning we started our trek towards Tampa. Nearing Disney, we hit an unbelievable amount of traffic. The highway was a parking lot filled with families on their spring break. After a few hours, we arrived in Tampa and decided we had a few hours to kill so we headed over to the beach. More traffic ensued, and the weather took a turn. I was fighting a sinus cold, and covered myself with blankets while other beach-goers frolicked in the gulf. After taking a nap on the beach and collecting beautiful shells, we drove back to tampa and my mother and I got dropped off at the theater.

IMG_2832The Straz Center of the Performing Arts is a beautiful building filled with restaurants, bars, and multiple stages. Walking into the elaborate building, I spot the merchandise table and hone in on my prey. I see “Good Eats 3 – The Later Years” the last cookbook of the collection. I decide to buy the book and low and behold, it’s autographed. I was as giddy as a young school girl who had a crush on the upperclassmen.

I’m like a really goofy home ec teacher.

– Alton Brown

IMG_2840After seating ourselves, both my mother and I were in awe of the demographics of the theater. Young or old, everyone here loved the entertaining foodie. His acts consisted of musical numbers, culinary demonstrations, and a lecture on both his personal experiences and professional knowledge of the culinary arts. I was in love. The charisma and the knowledge Alton Brown possesses makes my knees weak. Did you know he could play the guitar, the saxophone, and sing?! Plus he is extremely smart?!

At points in the show, he asked for volunteers. Although I was not picked, I do believe this is how it would have ensued:

Alton: Why hello there! Would you like to help me show the audience how to make pizza?

I would nod modestly, and ask him if he’d heard the joke about the pizza.

A: No? I haven’t.

Me: Oh sorry, it’s too cheesy. Grins uncontrollably.

A: HAHA. Boy you are funny. Can you toss this pizza dough for me?

Me: Throws dough into the air almost twenty feet high. While the dough floats gracefully I do backflips in place.

A: Wow is there anything you can’t do?

Me: Model men’s underwear.

Alton giggles sheepishly as he puts the perfect pizza into the handcrafted easy-bake oven. 

A: Wow you really know your culinary knowledge. How about you come to Atlanta and work for my show as a writer?

Me: Dies

The medics surround the stage and electroshock my heart with the heat from the pizza. The pizza has saved my life. 

But alas, that did not happen. Instead a drunken lady stuck her dirty fingers in the dough and almost burnt the stage to a crisp.

Very good cooks who are employed as ‘chefs’ rarely refer to themselves as ‘chefs.’ They refer to themselves as ‘cooks.’ – Alton Brown

IMG_2833I should have, I could have, and would have. I’ll never stop trying to achieve my dreams, even if they are only a figment of my imagination. Alton’s quote above really hits home for me. Although I have training, I would never categorize myself as a chef. So who is a chef? What is that “Aha” moment when you graduate from cook to a chef? Time will only tell. For now, I guess I’ll have to make my recipes from my new cookbook as a cook, and aspire to become a full-fledged chef.