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Cranberry Pumpkin Microwave Muffins

20 Nov

Oh, you thought I was done posting muffins after ‘Muffin Month’ back in April?

cranberrypumpkinmicrowavemuffins002Nope.

And with Thanksgiving right around the corner for us US folks, and Halloween just past, what better fits the season than some pumpkin and cranberry? These taste like a lighter, airier version of pumpkin pie, and lend themselves well to various nutty additions, if you like a little crunch in your muffin.  Walnuts or pecans might suit them well.

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Feeling Saucy: Tzatziki

6 Nov

tzatziki001For the last, somewhat belated addition to my month of sauce-themed posts, I picked tzatziki, a thick and creamy Greek appetizer which not only makes a great dip, but a delicious sauce over chicken or lamb gyros (or doner kebab, or shawarma–Avengers fans, I’m looking at you).  This is probably the easiest of this month’s sauces to make, but finding one of the key ingredients proved a little tricky.  Fresh dill can be kind of difficult to lay hands on in Seoul, when you’re actually looking for it!

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Feeling Saucy: Peanut Satay

23 Oct

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Peanut sauce is most commonly considered a feature of Southeast Asian cuisines, though it is also found in China and even the Middle East, in varying forms.  It can be cooked with chicken or shrimp, incorporated in noodle dishes, or used as a dipping sauce for vegetables or crackers.  Peanuts and peanut butter can serve as an excellent snack, due to their protein-rich, appetite-suppressing qualities, even in small amounts.  My favorite variation is a rich, creamy sauce with hints of lime and cilantro.  Though I’ve used standard peanut butter, there is no additional sugar or sweetener needed, and the coconut milk gives an excellent base to blend the flavors together.  If you choose to go with an all-natural peanut butter or grind your own peanuts instead, you will likely need to add a dab of brown sugar or syrup in some form, to finish the job.


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Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
2 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
4 tbsp lime juice
1/2 cup water

Heat the coconut milk to a low simmer in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan (a Korean-style stone pot worked excellently, for me) over medium heat.  Add cilantro, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes.  Mix well. Once the spice mixture has come back to a gentle simmer, turn the heat down to low and add peanut butter, soy sauce, sriracha, and lime.  Stir until the peanut butter has ‘melted’ into the liquid, but be careful not to burn.  You may need to turn the heat off for short periods, if your pan is too thin.  When you add the water, the mixture in the pan will turn whitish and creamy, but thicken once again fairly quickly.  Stir well to blend all ingredients together.

Refrigerate before serving as a dip, salad dressing, or sandwich spread.  Note that the chili oils will separate easily and float to the top, so stir (or shake) before using.  Satay sauce can also be used to stir fry with chicken or seafood, but ensure the meat is nearly cooked before adding it, because the peanut sauce may burn and stick if the heat is too high.

Makes about 2 and 1/2 cups of sauce.

Feeling Saucy: Spicy Remoulade

16 Oct

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For a busy October, I decided to feature a series of sauces, highlighting one each week.  While French in name, remoulade comes to us in the US by way of Cajun cuisine, frequently in the company of seafood, fried food, or po’boys, and with an accompanying dose of spicy heat.  This works great as a substitute for tartar sauce, a dressing for salad, or a dip for anything dippable.  Personally, I thought it made a great pairing with falafel, for lunch.

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Ingredients

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup garlic chives, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp hot sauce (such as Tabasco, Ligo, or Frank’s Red Hot)
2 tsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
2 tsp horseradish
2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp red pepper flakes

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Mix all ingredients together.  Let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving, to allow flavors to settle.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Pomegranate Microwave Muffins

30 Apr

And here’s the final entry for my April baking craze…

I’ve had a pomegranate sitting in my fridge for an embarrassingly long time, and no idea what to do with it.  So, I decided to make another batch of muffins, last week, to use up the seeds.

By the way, if you’ve ever wondered how to get the seeds out of a pomegranate with no mess and no fuss?

Fill a big bowl with cool water. Submerge your pomegranate, and cut it in half with a sharp knife.  Once it’s halved, use your fingers to scoop out the seeds and crack the fruit further open, all underwater.  The seeds sink to the bottom, while the pith and peel float to the top.  Simply skim off the chunks of pith and peel, at the end, and drain your seeds.  You’re all set, with no juice staining your fingers, your table, or your clothes.

The following recipe is adapted from one found here.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Microwave Muffins

30 Apr

Since I’ve apparently decided April was microwave baking month, for me, I’ll round it out with the other two microwave muffin recipes I tried, this month.  These both were hits, though I’d advise having a big glass of milk ready to go, when you eat this one!  This recipe was adapted from one I found here.

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Strawberry Banana Cream Cheese Microwave Muffins

21 Apr

strawberrybananamuffins001My best purchase, recently, has been a set of silicone muffin-cups.  They’re safe for microwave use as well as oven use, and the Rum Double Chocolate Microwave Brownies come out like a dream, with them. Using them is much, much more convenient than using a mug, too.  Anyway, I’ve been doing more experimentation with microwave ‘baking’, using them.  In one round, I made the brownie recipe but added about half a cup of chopped kumquat I had left over from the salsa, and let me tell you, dark chocolate, coconut rum, and kumquats? Great pairing.  In the next, I could no longer find kumquats in my neighborhood, so bought a carton of strawberries instead, and made a rum-less version to use up some milk chocolate chips I wanted to get rid of.  That variation was a bit too sweet for my tastes, but they seemed to go over well at work.

Anyway, all of this left me with most of a carton of strawberries to use up before they went bad, and then someone gave me a couple of bananas, which I don’t usually eat on their own.  I decided to kill two birds with one stone and whip up something using both fruits.  Google, as usual, led me to a helpful recipe, and I figured I might as well discover whether an oven-baking recipe would work in the microwave as well.

(Spoiler alert: It did.)

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