Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

I'll try not to say it too often over the next months (although I can't really make any promises), but I absolutely love Fall. Living in New England, it's almost impossible not to get excited about the crisp bite in the air, the beautiful landscapes and the seasonal fall festivals, craft shows and leaf peeping.

Right now, that means apples. We've consistently had at least a dozen apples in the house at any given moment over the past couple of weeks, and we're barely into apple season. My kids and I, though, take this as an open invitation to get creative in the kitchen. My 4-year old son and I did just that with moist, sweet apple muffins, capped off with a crunchy brown sugar topping. We split the batter between 12 regular size tins and 12 mini muffin tins so that he could take some to preschool for snack. Probably the best part of the process for my son was using the apple "machine," my peeler/corer. It's a great time-saver, but also a great way to get kids excited about eating apples.

I found the recipe on, yet another blogging site I recently discovered through a friend. The recipe is originally from King Arthur Flour, a Vermont company (and the oldest flour company in the U.S.) that really does it right. Their flours are free of additives and they are involved in a lot of community projects. And they come up with great recipes, as their Whole Wheat Apple Muffin recipe proves.

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
From King Arthur Flour, via

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed (I used light brown sugar)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk (I used 1 T vinegar + enough milk to make 1 cup = good substitute)
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 450. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter 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.) One note - I could not get the buttermilk to combine, so I started adding the flour, which worked well. 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. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the heat down to 400, and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cook completely.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bolognese Sauce

When I dove into Twitter last spring, I realized immediately that the social network is a goldmine for foodies. One of the sites that I became enamored with was Bakerella (Queen of the cake pops!), a treasure trove of creative recipes and incredible photography (some people call this food porn). The first night I discovered her site, I spent hours scrolling through the photographs wishing I had the foodie genius to come up with recipes like she does. A few blog posts detailed Bakerella's visit to the Pioneer Woman, and I was all at once introduced to another culinary maven, a woman named Ree who lives in the country and clearly has a zest for life. While Bakerella (real name unknown) focuses primarly on sweet treats, the Pioneer Woman posts a lot of recipes for hearty cooking. Which made her site the perfect match for me tonight, because I was specifically looking for a top-notch bolegnese sauce recipe. Not a meat sauce, not a marinara with ground beef. Bolognese.

One side note: I served my pasta bolognese alongside a vegetable from my CSA I had never laid eyes on before. Turns out it was romanesca cauliflower. It looked unlike any cauliflower I've eaten before (actually quite beautiful in its own way), but tastied very similar to the grocery-variety. Unfortunately, that meant my kids still didn't want to eat it. Maybe next time!

Bolognese Sauce
From The Pioneer Woman

1-1/2 cups grated carrots
1 large red onion, divided
1/2 cup olive oil
2 pounds ground beef
2 T oregano flakes
2 T dried basil flakes
1 6-oz can tomato paste
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 to 2 cups red wine
2 T Worcestershire
2 28-oz cans whole tomatoes
1 cup milk
Fresh Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat. Add grated carrots and onions and cooke for a few minutes. Make a well in the center of the mixture, then add in the ground beef. Cook for a few minutes until brown, gradually stirring it into the carrot mixture. Throw in oregano and basil. Use fresh if you have it; fine if you don't.

When the meat is browned and combined with other ingredients, make another well. Add tomato paste and let it heat. Add garlic and stir to combine.

Make a well in the center of the mixture and add red wine. Stir together. Add Worcestershire and stir. Add canned tomatoes.

Finally, pour in milk, stir, and let simmer for 30 minutes-2 hours. However long you need. Serve with pasta and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

I don't have a photo of my final sauce, because all I wanted to do was eat it! But trust me, the step-by-step photos on Pioneer Woman are drool-inducing.
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