Showing posts with label Oatmeal Cookie Muffins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Oatmeal Cookie Muffins. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My 5 Kitchen Disasters -- and Recoveries (with recipes) by Cleo Coyle



"Only God gets things right 
the first time." 

~ Stephen King*


* Tweeted by "Advice to Writers," 
a fun twitter follow at this address: 




This quote leads my post today for
good reason. I'm talking about
Kitchen Disasters
(More on that below.)

But first...


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A shout-out to my fellow bloggers Lucy Burdette and Meg London (aka Peg Cochran), both of whom have new releases today: Death in Four Courses, the 2nd entry in Lucy's Key West Food Critic Mysteries; and Murder Unmentionable, the first in a new series, from Meg. To learn more, visit Lucy's home page here or Meg's page here, and be sure to come back for their blog days this week to learn more from the authors themselves. 

Congrats Lucy and Meg/Peg, 
have a great release week!


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Cleo Coyle, who hasn't burned
down her kitchen (yet), is
author of
The Coffeehouse
Mysteries
.
My 5 Kitchen Disasters...
and Recoveries


Anyone who's spent serious time in the kitchen has had their share of gloppy rice, sunken cakes, and, (with apologies to Chef Paul Prudhomme) unintentionally blackened fish. On the other hand, if you click this link, you'll see that Chef Paul actually warns you: 

"If you don't have a commercial hood vent over your stove, this dish will set off every smoke alarm in your neighborhood!"

Which brings to mind my post from last Thanksgiving. That's where my Captain Kirk on fire photo came from, a public service message for those attempting to fry a whole turkey without, oh, say defrosting the bird...or putting the fryer a sufficient distance from flammable objects. 


You can view my post here along with "Eat, Fry, Love," the entertaining little video from Mr. Shatner and State Farm Insurance.

What's my point? Good cooking (like good writing) takes a bit of time: Writers write and re-write. Cooks cook and re-cook. 

A common piece of advice given to culinary students is to go home and practice, calling to mind an adorable scene from the equally adorable movie Julie & Julia. Do you remember it? Julia is determined to get her knife skills up to par in her French cooking class, so she goes home and chops a huge pile of onions in one afternoon. The resulting stench in the house (and sting to the eyes!) sends her husband out of the building for lunch. 


Julia's afternoon of "practice" was far from appealing, but in her cooking class the next day, she triumphed. (A classic set-up/pay-off of dramatic structure, too, thanks to the late, great writer/director Nora Ephron.)

Below are a few of my own stories of Fails that led to...well, better results. To children, we say, "try, try again," and that's the take-away today, I guess, in cooking, in writing, and in life.


~ Cleo


MY FAIL #1 
"Leftover Salsa" Pasta Primavera 


Spying a plastic container of leftover salsa one morning, I thought, "Why not give this a go?" Bad idea. Chef Gordon Ramsay would have spat this experiment of mine into his napkin. My lesson: never use leftover chopped tomatoes for anything but sauce!




RECOVERY 
A Healthier Shrimp Scampi Pasta


This is my my version of Shrimp Scampi, which swaps out the typical 1/2 cup of butter for olive oil with a touch of butter and places it over pasta. I'd like to think Gordon would ask for seconds...

To download my recipe PDF, click here.





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MY FAIL #2 
Zero Fat Muffins 



Behold my "zero fat" muffin. No butter, no oil--even the milk was skim. Pretty to look at, but this thing was low fat to the point of inedible. Hey, willpower's one thing, but ten minutes after eating this muffin, you'd be tearing into a pan of brownies, just to get the flavor and texture out of your mouth! Major fail.




RECOVERY 
Oatmeal Cookie Muffins


A tasty little muffin laced with the flavors of an oatmeal cookie. It has the goodness of oats in it and is also low in fat, using canola oil and low fat buttermilk instead of butter. It does have sugar and I wouldn't recommend eating six in one sitting, but it's a useful alternative to a lot of high-fat recipes or fast food muffins.

For my Oatmeal Cookie Muffin recipe, click here.





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MY FAIL #3 
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars



Oh, geez, don't ask. I have the photo because I was hoping it would work out. But it was such a major fail, I threw it out! (Never firmed up for cutting and the flavor was awful.)





RECOVERY 
Microwave Fudge






Yes, you really can make fudge using just your microwave. It's smooth and tasty and (IMO) nice enough to serve to guests or give as a gift.

For my Microwave Fudge
recipe, click here.












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My FAIL #4 
Key Lime Pie 



Distracted one day, I had miscounted the number of eggs in this pie. Woops. The homemade graham cracker crust was delicious and so was the pie, after I froze it.  But serving it thawed was a total disaster. My lesson: pay attention while cooking!





RECOVERY 
No-Bake Key Lime Cheesecake Pie

Another crack at the Key Lime Pie, while actually counting the number of eggs, led to success. But the fail led me to trying the recipe Marc's mom made for him as a kid, most likely from a recipe clipped from a newspaper or cream cheese package. (I tweaked her ratios until I was happy with it, and made it an even easier recipe by using a pre-made crust.)

To download a recipe PDF for the No-Bake Lime Cheesecake Pie, click here.



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#5 Not Quite a Fail, more like a... 
Not yet good enough!





Behold my latest try for my
Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Yes, I am still experimenting, trying to get that perfect balance with cake layers as chocolaty as they can be while still being strong enough to hold up to the pudding filling and frosting of the classic Blackout structure.


The experiments continue
into this week! 



When I get it just right, I'll start uploading it on my Web site. Check later in the week at www.CoffeehouseMystery.com for updates. And I'll be sure to share it with you right here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, too, so no worries. Until next week...

Try, try again... 
(with joy!)



~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries






Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Irish Oatmeal Cookie Muffins for St. Patrick's Day from Cleo Coyle


Cleo Coyle, who is a wee bit
Irish every March 17, is also
author of The Coffeehouse
Mysteries

On March 17, everyone is a little bit Irish, at least here in New York City. Our St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of the biggest of the year.

Hot coffee is a must for me and my husband on those cold March mornings when we line up with our fellow New Yorkers to applaud New York's Finest (of the NYPD) and its Bravest (of the FDNY) as they march up Fifth Avenue.

If you've never been to the NYC parade, allow me to take you. (I shared these photos last year, as well, but we have so many new site visitors and followers, I thought I'd share them once again...)


Portable food is always a good idea for St. Pat's Day parade watching, especially when it’s green. Last year, I baked a special batch of St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Pistachio Muffins, using ricotta cheese. To get a PDF of that recipe, click here or on the photo below.


This year, I have something as delicious and even more nutritious: an oatmeal muffin that tastes like a fresh-baked oatmeal cookie, redolent with the flavors of brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins.

A few notes on the recipe
before we start cooking...



You may wonder why I'm calling these "Irish" Oatmeal Cookie Muffins. Don't worry, you don't need any special oats to make these muffins (I use plain old Quaker brand "old fashioned" rolled oats). One reason I call these muffins "Irish" is because I soak my rolled oats in buttermilk overnight, which is a technique borrowed from the directions of McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal.


So what's the difference
between steel cut oats and rolled oats?



Steel cut oats (right), such as McCann's Irish Oatmeal, are whole oats that have been chopped up a bit. Rolled oats (left), such as Quaker Old Fashioned, are whole oats that have been literally rolled flat. "Quick cooking" oats are rolled oats that have been chopped up even further so they'll cook faster.

(Click here to visit McCann's site. Again, you don't need these oats to make my muffins, but if you're curious about trying them, and they're not in your local grocery, you can always use their online store.)

There is no significant difference in nutrition or dietary fiber between these different types of oats, simply taste. When you cook the steel cut oats (right), they're chewier and nuttier in flavor and texture than rolled oats (left).

For my own recipe today, if you use rolled oats, your muffin will be tender and cake-like in the crumb. If you use the steel cut version, you'll get a chewier texture with a slight nutty flavor, as if you've added chopped walnuts to the muffin. So it's your choice! Have fun!

To learn more about the difference between these two oats, click here or on the photo above and you'll jump to a web page with more info.

And now for the recipe!




CLEO COYLE'S
IRISH OATMEAL
COOKIE MUFFINS


So what’s the big-deal benefit about eating whole grains like oatmeal? For one thing, fiber-rich whole grains take longer to break down in your body, which means your glucose levels will remain more constant instead of shooting up and crashing down (so you won’t be craving another snack an hour later). Paired with a warm cuppa joe or freshly brewed tea, one of these muffins is deliciously filling, easily curbing the appetite between meals. Eat with joy! ~ Cleo




To download a free PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.


Makes 6 standard muffins

Ingredients

1 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine or make your own, see how at end of recipe)
½ cup rolled oats (old fashioned, not quick cooking, I use Quaker brand; for a chewier, nuttier texture use steel cut, such as John McCann's Irish Oatmeal)
1 egg
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola (or vegetable) oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins
1 cup all-purpose white or “white whole wheat” flour (see note below)*
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

*On the “white whole wheat” flour in this recipe: The King Arthur brand is especially nice. It's a lighter kind of whole wheat flour that gives you the fiber and nutrition benefits of whole grain but with a taste and texture closer to white flour. According to the King Arthur web site, you can substitute "white whole wheat" flour for all-purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio. While this won’t work in an angel food cakes or puff pastry, you can get good results using it in cookies, muffins, brownies, quick breads, and yeast breads. Learn more by clicking here.

Step 1 – Soak oats overnight: Very easy. Combine the buttermilk and rolled oats in a bowl or plastic container. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight (or at least six hours before making muffins). This soaking will soften the rolled oats, giving your final muffin a tender cake-like crumb. (If using steel cut oats, the muffin will be chewier and nuttier, but the soaking is still necessary to soften the hard grain.)

 


Rolled oats combined
with buttermilk.


Photo above is before soaking.
Photo below is after soaking overnight.
To make the same day, soak 6 hours.



Step 2 – Make batter: Crack egg into a mixing bowl and beat lightly with a fork, add buttermilk and oat mixture (from Step 1), dark brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, raisins. Stir well to combine. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda and stir to create a lumpy dough. Do not over-mix at this stage or you’ll create gluten in the flour and your muffins will be tough instead of tender.

Step 3 – Bake: Pre-heat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Line muffin cups with paper liners and lightly spray the papers and top of your muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. (This dough is low in fat and may stick to your papers otherwise.)


Using two tablespoons, drop the sticky dough into the muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake in a well pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until top of muffin is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with no wet batter on it. Remove pan from oven.

 



NOTE: If muffins remain in the hot pan, the bottoms may steam and become tough. Remove muffins from pan as soon as possible. Finish cooling on a rack and . . . Eat with joy!





HOW TO MAKE A
BUTTERMILK SUBSTITUTE

Buttermilk adds a wonderfully bright tang to recipes, deepening the complexity of flavor beyond plain milk. To make your own "sour milk" replacement for buttermilk, simply place 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or white vinegar) into a measuring cup and fill it with milk until the liquid reaches the 1 cup line. Allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature, then use as you would buttermilk in any recipe.


Drink with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries



To get more of my recipes, win free coffee,
or find out more about my books, visit me
 at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

 
Click on the book covers above
to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.

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A final, quick note for our mystery reading fans.
The latest Mystery Readers Journal with the theme Hobbies, Crafts, and Special Interests is now available.


The issue, edited by Mystery Fanfare's Janet Rudolph, includes many mystery authors who have guest posted for us over the past year. You can check out the contents by clicking here, which will also give you info on how to purchase a copy (hard or electronic) for yourself.


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