Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Banana-Cranberry Spice Muffins

A few weeks ago, our local supermarket had Fiber One on sale for buy-one-get-one-free. Well, since one serving of this stuff provides enough fiber to last you for something like, 5 days, I thought, "This might be a good thing."

So we bought one box of the Raisin Bran Roughage, and one box of the original Fiber One cereal. You know, the kind that looks like cat chow or rabbit pellets. I've never liked this stuff, but had heard that you could hide it in baked goods. So, I went to the Fiber One website and found a recipe for Banana-Cranberry Spice Muffins.

Fiber One banana-cranberry spice muffins
These muffins rock, and not just your colon! They actually taste really good! They stay moist for days, they're incredibly healthy, and they're a cinch to make. They're even better than my Hippy Muffins.

So, eat up you hippies!

Banana-Cranberry Spice Muffins
Recipe Source: Fiber One website

1 cup Fiber One® original bran cereal
1 egg
3/4 cup fat-free (skim) milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Heat oven to 350°F (the original recipe stated 400°, but I found that to be too hot and would burn the muffins). Grease bottoms only of 12 regular-size muffin cups with shortening or cooking spray, or use paper baking cups. Place cereal in resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag and crush with rolling pin or meat mallet (or crush in food processor).

In medium bowl, beat egg, milk and oil with fork or wire whisk until well mixed; beat in bananas. Stir in cereal; let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in remaining ingredients except cranberries until blended. Stir in cranberries. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown. Immediately remove from pan to cooling rack.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Before and After

Florida really got hit hard with freezes this winter. Even my "Bedsheet Boogie" attempts at saving a few precious plants did no good. After a certain amount of time, even the temperatures under the cloth/blankets thrown over the plants drop below freezing.

Sigh, this is what my garden looked like last May:

This is what it looks like now:

I know about half of this will come back, but I want to yell, "Hurry up and grow dammit! Look pretty before the weather gets too friggin hot!"

I have lots of seeds planted and plan the scout the PTA sections (Plant Torture Area) of Home Despot and Lowes for their discounted, pitiful misfits.

The garden shall rise again!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Carrot Cake Jam!

Tigress Can Jam Challenge #2

When hubs and I were married, we had carrot cake as our wedding cake. It’s his ultimate favorite cake in the whole-wide-world, and I happen to love it too. I had taken the Wilton cake decorating classes for a whole year before our wedding because I wanted to make our wedding cake. I couldn’t fathom spending hundreds of dollars on a cake and somehow, it seemed like the perfect wedding gift for the both of us. Homemade, made with love, imperfect, and beautiful.

So when this month’s Can Jam Challenge ventured into the world of the carrot, I mentioned out loud, “Hey, I think I’ll make that Carrot Cake Jam I’ve had my eye on.” I didn’t think there would be any objections.

Carrot cake jamThis beautiful jam tastes very much like apple butter, but there’s something else. The flecks of carrot accent every bite with a subtle earthiness. My jam set up to more of a soft-spread, which I prefer to harder set jams and jellies. Definitely a keeper recipe and this jam would make a gorgeous gift for anyone.

Carrot Cake Jam
Recipe Source: Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
Makes 7 - 8 half pints

1 1/2 cups finely grated carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped cored peeled pears
1 3/4 cups crushed, canned pineapple, including juice
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 package powdered fruit pectin
6 1/2 cups sugar

Combine carrots, pears, pineapple and juice, lemon juice, and spices in a large saucepan and bring to boil. Lower temperature to a simmer and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add powdered pecting, incorporating well, and bring carrot mixture back to a boil. Add sugar all at once and return back to a full boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 full minute.

Ladle hot jam into prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Central Florida Birds of Prey Center

Last week, me and a very good friend, Mary, decided to go visit our two "adopted" children who were living at the Central Florida Birds of Prey Center. For Christmas, Mary bought me a year-long "parenthood" gift for an injured, and wonderfully sweet Barred owl named Merlin.

Merlin's story is a little sad. He was brought to the center in 1987 as a juevenile. He had spent several weeks (illegally) with humans, who took him from his nest, which resulted in Merlin becoming imprinted on human beings. Imprinting means a bird will relate to humans, not their own species, which leaves them with no hunting or other survival skills.

There is a small window of opportunity where birds imprint on their caregivers, whether it is human, animal, or another bird. From that point on, the bird will try to learn the behaviors of their caregiver for survival, and if it is a human versus another bird (in my case, an owl), well it leaves little room for the bird to learn how to live as a bird.

After arriving imprinted on humans, Merlin was place in a large aviary with other owls. Sensing that Merlin was "different" from them, the owls attacked him, leading to the loss of his left eye. So, now Merlin cannot be housed with other owls, but is now an Ambassador of the center and helps teach children and adults about owls.I have to say that he has one of the most espressive, soulful faces I've ever seen on an animal.

My friend Mary adopted a Red Shouldered Hawk named Picasso who also lost an eye. I don't remember Picasso's story, but he sure was beautiful.

We also got to see some of the center's absolutely gorgeous bald eagles. Up close, they are very LARGE and so very stoic. All in all, it was a beautiful day!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Good and The Bad - Part 1

As a foodie, I’m constantly experimenting with new recipes and cooking techniques. Sometimes, recipes turn out better than I had ever expected, and sometimes the results are just plain ugly. I think it’s the challenge that attracts me. The more complicated or unusual a recipe appears the better. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I will reattempt complicated recipes; I know my limits and my talents. But sometimes, even accidents are worth keeping around.

Let me present Exhibit A:

The Awesome Cornbread That Should Have Been Biscuits

Several years ago, I underwent a personal challenge to learn how to make biscuits. Not just any old biscuits, but big, flaky, tender biscuits. The kind you see on television commercials. I must have spent a year experimented with different techniques, flours, and ingredients. Finally, I found an amazing recipe that yielded THE PERFECT BISCUIT.

One morning, as I was mixing up the umpteenth batch, I accidentally added a cup more milk than was called for in the recipe. Now what was I to do? I had this soupy mess that wouldn’t amount to anything decent. So, shrugging my shoulders, I added a cup of yellow cornmeal flour to the batter, poured it into a round cake pan, and hoped for the best.

This is what resulted:

This “accident” turned out the most amazing, tender, sweet, and delicious cornbread I have ever made! It's now a staple in my recipe binder. Now I have something to spread all those jars of fruit "sauces" that were supposed to be jams or jellies. It's all good!

Accidental Cornbread

2 cups of AP flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup shortening, or butter (I use butter)
1 2/3 cups of milk
1 large egg
1 cup yellow cornmeal

Preheat oven to 350°

Mix flour with baking powder and sugar. Cut in shortening or butter until it resembles course meal. Mix egg with milk and stir into flour mixture. Add cornmeal and briefly stir until mixture resembles cake batter. Pour batter into a greased, 9" round cake pan and bake until golden brown on top (about 35-45 min). Cool 5 minutes on cake rack, turn cornbread out of cake pan. Enjoy while still warm!

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