Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

by Kitchenworks14. October 2014 12:52

 October is a popular month in our store. Halloween goodies come out of hibernation. The linens section transforms into a beautiful cornucopia of deep reds, burnt oranges, and sage greens. And, our bakeware finally gets the attention it deserves!

 One of our favorite fall traditions is enjoying the first batch of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. Spicy, pumpkiny, chocolatey, and best right out of the oven, they pair wonderfully with a steaming cup of tea. Here's our tried and true recipe that we are thrilled to share:

 Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 T. Pumpkin Pie Spice*
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t. salt
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin (or try mashed sweet potato!)
1/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup
milk
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

 

 

 

Thoroughly mix flour, sugar, pie spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, pumpkin, butter, and milk until well blended. Stir chocolate chips and nuts (optional) into egg mixture. Pour egg mixture over dry ingredients and fold until just moistened. Scoop batter into greased or paper-lined muffin pans.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until center is puffy and springy to the touch.

*1 T. Pumpkin Pie Spice = 2 t. cinnamon + 1/2 t. nutmeg + 1/2 t ground cloves 

 

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Fridge Pickles

by Gia18. July 2013 15:17

 

I have never been known for my patience. Most of my NC friends think its because I'm a yankee but, really, I just hate to wait. Until I moved south, I had no idea you even could pickle something without the whole canning process (which is still pretty intimidating to me - baby steps folks...). I love this recipe because its so darn simple and changeable, goes well with pretty much anything, and is a majorly impressive thing to bring to a cookout.

Fridge Pickles

3-4 Fresh Medium Cucumbers
1 Medium Onion
1 cup White Vinegar
1/2 - 1 cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Salt
Optional additions: celery salt, mustard seeds, whole peppercorns, garlic cloves, sliced green, hot or banana peppers, really whatever you please...

  1. Slice cucumbers and onion (and peppers if you are using them) into thin slices (see below for my review of the Oxo Hand-Held Mandoline). Drop into a large-ish container with a lid.
  2. Warm vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and salt until they both dissolve.
  3. Remove vinegar mixture from heat. Add spices of your choice (I used celery salt, mustard seeds, whole peppercorns and dehydrated garlic slices).
  4. Pour mixture over sliced vegetables. Toss to cover.
  5. Chill in refrigerator at least 12 hours.

Notes:

Oxo Slicer with Onions

  • It may seem like this is not enough liquid to cover the cucumbers, but they will reduce and sweat while they sit in the fridge.
  • The first time I made this recipe, I used 1 cup of sugar, and it was a bit too sweet for me (I'm not so into sweet pickles), but my partner loved it so go figure. You can totally omit the sugar, or you can use some other kind of sweetener if you're not into sugar (stevia works nicely). Since the cucumbers sweat as they sit, you may also find that the added liquid makes the pickles less sweet over time.
  • If you add garlic, it may turn blue after a day or two in the solution. This is a perfectly normal enzymatic reaction and the garlic and pickles are still safe to eat.

 

I've been eyeing the Oxo Hand-Held Mandoline Slicer for a few months now and finally decided to bring it home and give it a spin. It is the cheapest hand-held mandoline that we carry (with a finger guard) and so I figured it would be a good introduction to the tool.

I am officially enamored! It was super easy to use, super sharp (do not be too proud for the finger guard people!) and stayed put in my hand or on the edge of the bowl, even though both were slippery with cuke juice. I sliced 4 large cucumbers and an onion into thin, even, strips in about 1 minute. I foresee this coming in really handy come casserole season (is there anything worse than one undercooked potato slice in a creamy bite of au gratin?). Move over Santuko, there's a new slicer in town...

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Recipes

Easy Elegance: Sorbet

by Gia5. July 2013 12:45
via flickr: joyosity

 

I'm a big fan of dishes that look really difficult and fancy but are actually absurdly easy. Sorbet is one of those dishes. Even the word sorbet sounds elegant and somehow exotic. Tell someone you're eating frozen sugar water and they'll scoff. Tell them it's sorbet, and they're impressed. Secret tip: they're the same thing!

All you need to make sorbet is water, sugar, and juice (ie: sugar water with vitamins). If you don't have an ice cream maker, you can freeze the mixture in a shallow pan and then break up the ice crystals with a fork every so often until the mixture has reached desired consistency (technically this is a granita, and you should use straight sugar instead of simple syrup or it may get kind of gloopy).

 

Do you really need an Ice Cream Maker? 
I have been devoted to ice cream since I was a small child, but I always though an ice cream maker would go the way of the bread machine - I'd use it once, then never again. Then, I received a Donvier Ice Cream Maker as a gift a few years back and whoa was I wrong. Here's the real magic of an ice cream maker: once you know the capacity of the cylinder (mine is 1 qt/4 cups), you can literally put anything into it. No recipe needed. Pick up your favorite juice/sugar water from the store, measure out the needed volume, and in 30 min (ish) you've got a really impressive homemade dessert (for CHEAP). Some tips I've picked up along the way:

  • Keep your cylinder in the freezer (and freeze for at least 24 hours between uses) so that its always ready to use.
  • Chill your liquid mixture for as long as you can, preferably for at least 12 hours, so that it is as cold as it can be when you put it in the cylinder.
  • If you're not using a recipe, add more sugar than you think you'd need. Cold foods desensitize your taste buds so you won't taste half the sugar you put into it once its frozen.
  • The frozen cylinder kind of ice cream maker is instant dinner party/antsy kid entertainment. The mixture sits in the cylinder for 2-5min, then you turn the paddle and scrape off the frozen bits so that more liquid can reach the cold cylinder walls to be frozen, then you scrape that off 2-5min later, and the cycle continues. Put it in the middle of a circle and have folks take turns - make up a game to go with it! The clear top lets you watch the magic unfold and it makes a great conversation piece/learning experience.

Now, getting to the actual inspiration for this post: Lemon Herb Sorbet. I made it for a July 4th potluck last week and hot dog it was delicious. Everyone was impressed, even though they watched me make it! I used rosemary for mine, which was absolutely divine, but you can use whatever fresh herbs you have access to (caveat: choose an herb that will steep well - basil would pair great with lemon but won't steep well so wouldn't be the best choice here). 

 

Lemon Herb Sorbet Recipe

(adapted from Joy of Cooking)

*Adjust water/sugar/lemon according to the capacity of your ice cream maker, if you are using one.

Ingredients:

1.5c Water
1.5c Sugar
4 lemons
Large sprig of Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, or Lavendar

  1. Zest one of the lemons into long strips. Chop the strips into smaller pieces (you will be removing these later, so don't make them too small). 
  2. Combine the water, lemon zest and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves (ie: make simple syrup). If you prefer a thicker syrup, let the mixture simmer for longer.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the herb sprig. Cover and let sit for 20-30min (depending on how strong you want the herb flavor to be).
  4. Juice all 4 lemons. Add juice to simple syrup mixture, cover, and let cool in refrigerator (for at least 1 hour - the colder the mixture is, the quicker it will set in the ice cream maker).
  5. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

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