Monday, December 30, 2013

Amazing Birthday Blueberry Muffins

Whew! With a birthday party and Christmas preparations now complete, I feel like we are all taking a deep breath.  Our Christmas day was peaceful and lovely, and I hope yours was too. 

Our oldest recently turned 6 and we asked her if she'd like to plan her special day. From what to have for breakfast, to what activities the family would do, she picked her favorite things. It was both fun and endearing. Her first request was blueberry muffins for breakfast. 

With all the holiday indulgences I wanted to serve a very nutritious muffin, but of course it also had to be delicious and feel special for her special day. Then of course, we are in December, pretty much the opposite side of the year from fresh blueberry season in Northern California. I picked up some frozen organic blueberries. A bit leery of them releasing too much moisture into the batter, I thawed them (just by leaving them out in a bowl on the counter top) and then gently patted them dry with paper towels. 

For extra blueberry-ness, I used a special blueberry infused honey, compliments of Sonoma Harvest. If you don't have this, any good local honey will work.

The second trick to these muffins is ripe bananas--blended well. A while back I made banana crepes (which were incredibly tasty). When you prep the batter for banana crepes, you blend the banana, eggs, flour and milk together with an immersion, or stand blender until the mixture is totally smooth. I have since employed this strategy whenever baking with bananas. I love this technique because you get all of the banana nutrition and natural sweetness, with out those little chunks or brown stringy bits that pop up in your banana baked goods when you just mash with a fork. Now if you're into banana chunks, but all means go for it. But for these muffins the perfectly blended bananas work wonders.

All I have to say, is mission accomplished! These muffins had loads of blueberries, held together by a 100% whole grain, refined sugar free batter. 

A note about the recipes: you probably noticed that I changed the format of my recipe display here. While cooking over the holidays, and usually using an iPad to reference my recipe, it was constantly bugging me that I was scrolling up and down between the ingredients and the method. It leads to either a rather messy iPad, or attempting to scroll with my elbow, which never works well. I came up with this side-by-side orientation in the hopes that you can view all the essential information at tonce. I'd love your feedback on the best way to view recipes, well actually I'd love any feedback at all :-)

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Milk & Honey Giveaway!

It's an exciting day--our first giveaway. I have mentioned Milk & Honey Ice Cream before, a small batch ice cream company that utilizes seasonal, local ingredients. Their ice cream is made only from all the good stuff: organic cream, eggs and evaporated cane juice -- that's it, no stabilizers or other strange ingredients.

Their Rum Ginger Caramel Ice Cream was amazing! My Pear & Butternut Squash Pie was delicious, but that ice cream took it over the top into the completely, utterly fabulous realm. Well, today, you get a chance to win two pints of Milk & Honey Ice Cream! Cool, right? (Seriouslyno pun intended.)

Brittaney is the talent behind these wonderful ice creams. She's a local Sonoma mom, and all around great gal, and has graciously offered to host a giveaway here. You can enter to win a pint of each of this month's flavors, and they sound fabulous:

Eggnog: Straus organic cream and milk, Hooker House bourbon and cognac with a touch of winter spices.

Chocolate Chip Candied Orange: Straus organic cream and milk, homemade candied organic orange and chocolate chips with swirls of silky chocolate sauce.

I am also going to include a jar of my homemade Salted Caramel Sauce, just in case you want to "gild the lily." With just 4 ingredients, organic cream, butter, cane sugar, and sea salt, it is completely delicious drizzled over ice cream, cakes, or folded into marshmallows. More to come on that . . .

So, how to enter? You need not be local to win -- I will pack it up appropriately and FedEx it anywhere in the United States. Sorry, Australian readers, no international shipping yet.

Step (2) Like Milk & Honey on Facebook.

(If you are already a fan, yay! Just go to Step (3).)

Step (3) Then leave a comment on the Olive Oil Salt & Pepper Page on Facebook letting us know the ice cream flavor you'd most like to try!

For an extra entry, just share this Facebook post and we will add your name to the drawing again.

The winner will be selected on Wednesday, December 18th. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Persimmon Posibilities

I have been in a bit of a cooking slump. I think it was a the Thanksgiving preparations, Christmas preparations, and having a nasty cold. Frankly, I was starting to worry a bit that I wasn't going to feel that burning desire to create something in the kitchen.

Fortunately, I AM BACK! Due in no small part to this inspiring post at Abi's Farmhouse Kitchen. In the last 24 hours, I made yeast raised waffles--wow! Salted caramel marshmallows--amazing! And, this awesome persimmon pork dish.

It seems this year has yielded a bumper crop of persimmons in Northern California. Some dear friends gave us a huge box full of Fuyu persimmons from the tree in their yard and told us they don't really care for them. Even my brother, who is a chef, says they are not high on his list. However, I think persimmons, Fuyu persimmons, are underrated, (and clearly my daughter agrees as she just ate 5 of them). And, I am willing to bet I get can my brother and our friends to love persimmons.

I dreamed up an entire persimmon menu, think of an Iron Chef episode with persimmon as the secret ingredient.

Persimmon Lavender Shrub Cocktails

Persimmon Carpaccio with Burrata and Shaved Fennel
Bresola wrapped Persimmons and Arugula
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Caramelized Persimmons and Kalamata Olives

Salad of Shaved Brussel Sprouts and Kale with Warm Pancetta Persimmon Vinaigrette
Eggnog Ice Cream with Persimmon Salted Caramel Sauce

Friends, (you know who you are), you will be called upon give some or all of these ideas a taste!