oh joy a holiday potluck

I am usually the mom making the "healthy" snack that walks the fine line between nutritious and yummy and is always the one left over at the end. So this year for the school potlucks, I asked the kids what we should make. Nate, as always, said "pancakes." But it got us thinking along the lines of chocolate chips and breakfast foods. Nothing flax-seedy here but nothing too artificial either. These easy muffins were so good that few were left over which to the kids felt like an accomplishment and maybe, maybe made them want to cook with me again. 

CHOCOLATE CHIP MUFFINS
 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (whole or buttermilk is preferred)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 & ½ cups chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray a 12 cup muffin tray with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Slowly add to the dry ingredients. Gently fold together until JUST combined.
  4. Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups (or 24 mini cups) and bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then turn the oven heat down to 375°F and bake for another 13-15 minutes. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes and enjoy warm. (Muffins taste best the day of, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.)

adapted from Lily Ernst of Little Sweet Baker



 

snacks et al

Despite the fact that I attended grad school, "snack" is recently one of my most used words because 1. I have kids who don't like meals and 2. because whenever we entertain, it's too cramped and chaotic for dinner so I like to serve just wine and snacks, or hors d'oeuvres as the fancy French call them. 

I have some theories about pre-dinner snacks. They should be relatively simple with recognizable ingredients. Complex gourmet canapés initially impress but don't really ease that meet-and-greet-time awkwardness—especially when the pilot goes out in your mother-in-law's semi-broken 1920s oven and you only realize it 1.5 hours into turkey roasting time.

Anyway, I have been called the "dip queen" by several friends and family members for good reason. And I have a few tricks up my sleeve that once I reveal will ruin me forever but I'm gonna do it - you're welcome. 

  • Easy Dip: mix sour cream with any spice mix (ala onion soup mix but preferably some kind of salt/herb mix). You can also add in mayo or yogurt for a creamier dip. Other fun stuff to make it seem sophisticated: lemon juice or zest, sherry vinegar, pesto, fresh herbs, chunky salt, chopped up smoked salmon, avocado, blue cheese, etc. Serve with crudite.
     
  • Ricotta: drizzle with olive oil and good salt. serve with pita chips.
     
  • Nuts: Mix pecans or mixed nuts with melted butter, brown sugar and fresh rosemary. Serve warm.
     
  • Pickled Vegetables: add cut up cauliflower, radishes or carrots to a brine of vinegar, sugar and salt. (Or any good pickling liquid recipe you can find.) Drain and serve in a pretty bowl.
     
  • Crostini: toast slices of baguette and smear with goat cheese or even cream cheese. Drizzle with olive oil or pesto and kosher salt. 

Any other ideas out there? Please let me know!!

 

my turkey secret

I've made the Thanksgiving turkey on a few occasions but it wasn't until last year that I discovered that easier is actually better. I used Russ Parson's "Judy bird" recipe which calls for dry brining and the idea is that you cover the bird in salt and let it sit in the fridge for three days. Then you cook it. No fancy stuffing, tying, basting, turning. Just put it in the oven and come back in three hours to a delicious, handsome turkey. 

I wrote this post about it last year but thought I'd mention again because I'm gearing up to do the same recipe this year. Really, it's crazy easy.