Oodles of Noodles

When my son discovered that the money train AKA his parents credit card had left when he entered grad school he quickly discovered the joys of pasta, or more specifically, ramen noodles. Left to his own devices (and given his limited time to spend in the kitchen) this staple in his pantry would have been the entree of choice. I convinced him, though a little culinary magic, a few simple recipes and a $50 gift card to Kroger have to try a few different types of noodles to kick up his menu variety.

Created in China (not Italy as most people believe) noodles were an integral part of the Chinese diet from as early as 200 B.C There are several kinds of noodles in Chinese cuisine, mien noodles (egg), rice noodles, wheat noodles and bean noodles. In northern China,
wheat noodle are eaten more regularly than rice or rice noodles. Rice noodles are considered a southern Chinese staple. I told my son that while there were nice inexpensive “Americanized” alternatives to the Asian noodles (lets not forget Japan here) that the originals were actually tastier and more interesting.

The first noodle I introduced him to was the Soba noodle. A Soba noodle is made with wheat flour and buckwheat. It’s high in fiber and has a nutty full bodied flavor. The higher the buckwheat content the more expensive the noodle. Soba noodles are typically served in soups or with a plain with a dipping sauce. Less expensive alternative: whole wheat spaghetti or linguini.

He already knew about Ramen but for the uninformed, Ramen are thin and skinny curly dried egg noodles that are typically sold in an instant soup form. There is usually a packet of flavored instant soup powder in the package. My son has eaten it for years and has added veggies and left over chicken or turkey. There isn’t really a less expensive alternative as they are cheap cheap cheap but regular spaghetti noodles are pretty close.

Rice noodles are round or flat, thin and slightly translucent white noodles made from rice flour and water. They kinda have zero flavor of their own (just a great squishy texture) and they pair with just about any strong meat of fish flavor. You can substitute vermicelli, linguine, or fettuccine but it’s not really a close match.

Bean thread, cellophane or mung bean noodles are very thin noodles that are semi-transparent noodles made from the starch of mung beans. Bean threads become very slippery when cooked. Their subtle flavor is the perfect complement to any meat or fish dish. I would suggest rice noodles or vermicelli as a substitute but they are sort of a one of a kind noodle.

For most the tried and true method of cooking noodles is to boil the and then add them to the other ingredients, pour sauce over them or add ingredients to the pot they were cooked in. I really don’t have much to add to that for my column other than don’t over cook them and read the instructions on the package.

If possible try and buy fresh noodles as opposed to the dried variety. Fresh noodles should be soft but not limp, sticky, or brittle. Fresh will keep for 3 or 4 days in the refrigerator and for 1 month in the freezer. Dried noodles can be kept until just about the next ice age in a cool, dry, dark place.

One final “noodle note” those ‘chow mein’ found in most Chinese restaurants are an American invention so if you’re looking for “authentic” pass the up and get yourself the real stuff. For those of you that don’t eat shell fish you can always substitute chicken or fish.

SLEEPING DRAGON NOODLE SALAD

1/4 cup sesame oil

1 tablespoon hot sauce

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

zest of 1 lemon

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 carrots julienned

1/4 cup chopped celery

4 radishes julienned

2 cups shredded Chinese cabbage

4 packages ramen egg noodles, cooked, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons black or toasted sesame seeds

 

In a large
salad bowl combine the sesame oil, hot sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar,
sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk to combine. Add the noodles and toss to
coat. Add shredded cabbage and toss to coat. Add the green onions, carrot,
celery and radishes. Toss to combine and top with sesame seeds before serving.
Serves 8.

 

SHRIMP NOODLE STIR FRY

2 teaspoon cornstarch

2 egg whites

1/3 to 1/2 lb shelled shrimp (raw) cut in half

3/4 lb noodles (any kind will work but I like soba noodle with this)

salt

3 tablespoons sesame oil

3 to 4 green onions cut into 1 inch pieces

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1 1/2 tablespoon white wine

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon sesame oil

 

In a bowl mix the cornstarch and ginger with the egg white and whisk to combine. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Set aside. Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Heat the 3 tablespoons sesame oil in a skillet. Add the green onion, and shrimp and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, wine and sugar and mix to combine. Cook for about 1 minute. Add the noodles and mix to combine. Continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes and just before you’re finished add 1 teaspoon sesame oil, cook
for 30 seconds, stirring constantly and serve. Serves then add the sesame seed oil just before serving. Serves 2 to 4

Modified from a recipe submitted by Carlie Smyth Chicago IL

 

HOT AND SPICEY PORTABELLA AND EDAMAME WITH NOODLES

For sauce

1/3 cup water

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 teaspoons Wasabi paste (this is hot, you can use less)

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

10 ounces portabella mushrooms, chopped into small pieces

8 cups shredded Napa cabbage

6 green onions, thinly sliced

8 to 9 ounces soba

1 cup frozen shelled edamame

3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

 

In a bowl combine the water, soy sauce, Wasabi and brown sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Set the sauce aside.  Heat the
oil in skillet then add the ginger and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the portabellas and saute, stirring frequently for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat and add cabbage and 2/3’s of the green onions (save a tablespoon for garnish) and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer 2 minutes.

 

While cabbage is cooking, cook the soba and edamame together in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until the noodles are just tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and edamame in a colander and rinse with cool water. Place the noodles and edamame in a large bowl and add the vegetable mixture. Mix to combine. Serve sprinkled with remaining green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

 

BOTH SIDES BROWNED NOODLES

Kind of like a noodle pancake

1 pound fresh or dried egg noodles

2 tablespoon sesame oil

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (or more if needed)

In a large stock pot, add enough water to cover the noodles and bring the water to a boil. Add the noodles, stirring to separate. Cook until the noodles almost done, tender, but still firm. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Place the noodles back into the pot and add the sesame oil and toss to coat. In a frying pan or a wok, heat 2 tablespoons oil over a high heat. Add the noodles. Spread the noodles out to the edges of the pan, and then let them cook, without stirring, until they are browned on the bottom (6 to 8 minutes). Flip over and brown the other side. You can do this by placing a plate over the top of the pan, flipping the noodles out onto it and then sliding them back into the pan. You may need to add a little more oil to keep them from sticking. Cook on the second side until crispy, 4 to 5 more minutes. Remove the fried noodle pancake to a serving plate.  Cut into wedges and serve with stir fried vegetables or grilled meat. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Submitted byTony Easteron River GroveIL

WARM GINGER AND PEANUT NOODLE SALAD

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon wasabi

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound uncooked angle hair pasta or linguini

1 1/2 cups shredded carrot

1/3 to 1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise

1 cup thin strips red or yellow bell pepper

3/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1 can sliced water chestnuts

1/2 to 3/4 cup honey roasted peanuts

 

In a large
bowl combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil,
Wasabi and garlic. Whisk to combine and set aside. Cook the pasta according to
the directions on the box. When the noodles are al dente (still a little
crunchy) turn off the heat and add the carrot and snow peas. Let the mixture
sit for 2 minutes then drain, saving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Add the drained
pasta and noodles to the salad dressing in the salad bowl. Toss to coat. Add
the bell pepper, water chestnuts and onions. Toss to coat. Add the pasta water
and toss to coat. Sprinkle the honey roasted peanuts on top and serve warm.
Serves 4. This recipe can be doubled or tripled

 

SPICY CASHEW NOODLE SALAD

8 oz dried linguini, spaghetti, or soba noodles

2 cups broccoli florets cut small

1/4 pound pea pods, sliced in 1/3’s

1 carrot, peeled, julienned

1/2 red onion chopped fine

3 tablespoons sesame oil

2 to 3 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoons lime juice (fresh is best)

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

3 green onions, sliced

1 large tomato seeded and chopped

1/2 cup red pepper, julienned

1 cup toasted cashews

 

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and drain again and then set it
aside. Steam the broccoli, pea pods, and carrots for about 2 minutes, making
sure they are still crisp. Rinse them in cold water and set them aside. Heat 1
tablespoon of the sesame oil in a frying pan, add onion, ginger and garlic and
saute for 2 to 3 minutes until just soft. Add the green onions, tomato and red
pepper. Mix to combine and cook for about 2 minutes. In a bowl combine the lime
juice, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, soy sauce. Add the sauteed onion
mixture to the sauce and mix to combine. Add the noodles and steamed vegetables
to the sauce. Toss to coat the pasta. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before
serving. Great at room temperature or served cold. Before serving sprinkle the
pine nuts on the top. Serves 6.

 

SALSA SHRIMP AND NOODLE SOUP

1 lb shrimp, peeled and divined

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups water

2 packages  flavored Ramen Noodles (use 1 packet of seasoning)

2 cups salsa

1 15 oz can black beans rinsed and drained

1 can corn

1 green onion thinly sliced

 

In a medium bowl combine the lemon juice chili powder, cumin, and pepper. Mix to combine
and add the shrimp. Toss to coat and let sit for 1/2 hour. In a large sauce pan
bring water to boil, stir in 1 ramen flavor packet, break the ramen noodles
into pieces and add them to the saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil cook for 1
minute. Add shrimp, salsa, beans, corn, and green onion and then reduce the
soup to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink.
Serves 4.

 

Submitted by Lenore Hentz Trenton NJ

 

ASPARAGUS AND NOODLE STIR FRY

3 oz. pkg. oriental or shrimp flavor ramen noodle soup mix

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 red onion chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 lb. sea scallops cut in half or talapia cut into pieces

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Cook and drain ramen noodles as directed on the package and set them aside. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in wok or large skillet. Add the asparagus, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Add the scallops and stir-fry until they are white and firm. Add the ramen seasoning packet, soy sauce, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and hot sauce and stir into scallop mixture. Stir in the cooked noodles. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until everything is hot throughout. Serves 4 to 6.

Modified from about.com

 

 

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Why Wait? Have an Apple Cake Today!

While it may be a tad prosaic I always manage to serve apple cake at some point during the fall. While dinner is probably the most likely suspect for its appearance and breakfast is great alternative I tend to have it around for snacking as well. Apples are plentiful this time of year and let’s face it, apple cake is terrific anytime you serve it.

I typically use Granny Smith, Jonathan or Pippin apples in my cakes but there are quite a few other varieties that are just as good. My favorite apple web site is paulnoll.com and the chart below is one I use every year to help me decide exactly which variety I’m going to use for what purpose.

 

Apple Varieties and their Best Uses

See Table below for Apple Varieties and their Best Uses

Variety
Flavor,
Texture
Fresh
and Salads
Pie
Sauce
Baking
(Whole)
Red
Delicious
Sweet,
Crisp
Excellent
Fair
Fair
Poor
Golden
Delicious
Sweet,
Tender
Very
Good
Excellent
Very
Good
Very
Good
Granny
Smith
Tart,
Crisp
Very
Good
Very
Good
Very
Good
Fair
Jonathan
Moderately
Tart, Tender
Very
Good
Very
Good
Very
Good
Good
Rome
Beauty
Slightly
Tart, Firm
Good
Good
Good
Excellent
Winesap
Slightly
Tart/Spicy, Firm
Very
Good
Very
Good
Good
Good
Criterion
Sweet/Complex,
Crisp
Very
Good
Good
Good
Good
Gala
Sweet,
Crisp
Excellent
Good
Good
Good
Jonagold
Sweet-Tart,
Crisp
Very
Good
Very
Good
Good
Very
Good
Newtown
Pippin
Slightly
Tart, Firm
Very
Good
Excellent
Very
Good
Good
McIntosh
Tart,
Tender
Good
Good
Very
Good
Poor

 

 

Chart from paulnoll.com

Most of the following recipes have been sent to me by readers over the past few years and they are all ones I’ve made time and time again to rave reviews. Some are better suited to a breakfast or snack cake and others are show stopping desserts you want to serve after everyone has eaten too much, loosened their belt buckles because they are the perfect light touch to end a perfect meal.

Yes I do make applesauce and baked apples at some point during the 3 month time frame we lovingly call fall but for my money, the apple cake is the best way tosay to any member of my family work crew who walks in my door, “hummmm……you look hungry from all that yard work come, sit, have bite to eat before you go back to the rest of my to do list”.

 

NOTE: Many of the recipes are dairy free for those of you that are lactose intolerant.

 

CINNAMON APPLE CAKE

A great breakfast or snack cake

 

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 ounces cream cheese, softened (about 3/4 cup)

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 cups chopped peeled Granny Smith apples (about 2 large)

 

Preheat oven to 350. In the bowl of an electric mixer
combine the 1 1/2 cups sugar, margarine, vanilla, and cream cheese and beat
until combined. Add the eggs and beat to combine. In another bowl combine the
flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to cream cheese mixture,
beating on low until blended. In another bowl combine the 1/4 cup sugar and
cinnamon and mix to combine.  Chop the
apples and then add 2 tablespoons of this cinnamon mixture to the chopped
apples. Mix to combine and then add the apple mixture to the batter. Mix to
combine. Grease a 8 or 9 inch spring form pan. Pour batter into the prepared
pan and sprinkle the remaining cinnamon mixture over the top. Bake for 1 hour
and 10 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool
completely and remove spring form side. Cuts best if you use a serrated knife.
Serves 10 to 12

 

Modified from about.com

 

MORNING GLORY APPLE CAKE

 

1 1/2 cup oil

3 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups chopped apples

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup coconut

1 cup golden raisins

1/2 to 2/3 cup chopped dried apricots

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

 

1 cup white sugar

1cup brown sugar

3 cups sifted flour

 

Preheat oven to 325. Grease a bunt pan and set it aside. Combine
the eggs and oil in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the remaining
ingredients and mix to combine… Grease a large bunt pan for 1 hour and 15
minutes. Cool and remove from pan. (you can use 2 to 3 loaf pans (depending on
their size) or cupcake/muffin tins cooking for 35 to 40 minutes. Serves 10 to
12

 

Submitted by Margie Quintin Oak Park IL

 

APPLE AND HONEY TORTE

 

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is best)

3 large tart apples, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges
(about 1 1/4 pounds)

3/4 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup sifted flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground almonds

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a spring form pan and set it
aside. In a skillet combine the honey and lemon juice. Heat to a simmer and add
the apples cook until they start to soften, stirring constantly so they don’t
burn or stick for about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside. When
cool drain the apples and set them aside

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine 3/4 cup
granulated sugar, butter, brown sugar, and vanilla and beat to combine, 3 to 4
minutes. Add the eggs and mix to combine. Add the lemon zest and mix to combine.
In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, mix to combine. In
1/3’s add flour mixture to the sugar mixture, beating to combine between each addition.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the apple slices anyway you like
on top of the cake, they can even overlap if you like but make sure you push
them slightly into the batter. In a bowl combine 1 tablespoon brown sugar, the
ground almonds and cinnamon; sprinkle it over the top of the apples. Bake 1
hour or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool on a wire
rack. Cut into wedges using a serrated knife. Serves 10 to 12

 

Submitted by Richard Olaphan St. Louis MO. modified from
epicurious.com

 

 

NUTTY APPLE CAKE (dairy or pareve)

 

6 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and finely sliced

juice of 1 lemon

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

1/3 plus 2 tablespoons milk or non dairy substitute

2/3 cup flour, sifted

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts or pecans, chopped

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup pine nuts

3 tablespoons sugar for topping

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease and line the bottom of a
spring form pan with parchment paper and set it aside. In a bowl combine the
sliced apples in lemon juice, toss to coat and set aside.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar
and vanilla and beat until light yellow, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and
butter and mix to combine. In a bowl combine the flour and baking powder
together and then fold them, by hand, into the egg mixture until just combined.
Add the add the ground nuts, raisins and pine nuts. Fold in gently. Gently fold
in the apple slices with the lemon juice they have been soaking in.

 

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
Mix the 3 tablespoons of sugar with the cinnamon and then sprinkle over the top
of the cake. Bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes or until the cake is cooked
through. If you find the top browning too quickly, cover with foil and continue
cooking. Let the cake sit for about 10 minutes before removing it from the pan.
The cake will contract as it cools making removal a lot easier. Cool completely
before serving. Serves 10 to 12.

 

Modified from an old Gourmet Magazine recipe

 

GLAZED RUM AND APPLE SPICE CAKE

 

Cake:

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

4 eggs

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla

3 cups chopped peeled Golden Delicious apples

1 cup chopped pecans

 

Glaze:

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons (or more) rum

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a bunt pan and set it aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the sugar and oil and mix to combine.
Add the eggs 1 at a time mixing to combine between each egg. Add the vanilla
and mix to combine. In another bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking
soda, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and salt together.  Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture
gradually, mixing well after each addition.
Fold in the apples and pecans by hand.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the cake
is cooking make the rum glaze by melting the butter in a saucepan.  Add the brown sugar and rum.  Cook the mixture until the sugar has
dissolved and the mixture is heated but don’t let it boil. When the cake is
done put the pan on a cooling rack and drizzle a little of the glaze over the
cake. Let it sit for about 1 minute for it to absorb and then flip the cake
onto the plate you’re going to serve it on. Poke holes in the cake with either
a fork or toothpick and then brush the warm glaze all over the cake. Let cool
and serve. It can be served warm if you prefer it that way. Serves 10 to 12.

 

Submitted by Donna Schwartzman Chicago IL

 

MAPLE & CURRANT APPLE CAKE

This is a pudding like cake is brimming with tender
chunks of apple

 

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups applesauce

1/2 cup pure maple syrup (NOT the fake stuff, its yucky)

4 large apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into nice
sized pieces

1/2 to 2/3 cup currants (you can use raisins but currants
are best)

1/2 cup ground walnuts or pecans (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9X13 pan and set it aside.
In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (and ground nuts
if using) and the set it aside. In another bowl combine the applesauce and
maple syrup. Stir the flour mixture into the applesauce mixture and mix until
just combine. Fold in the chopped apples, mixing just to combine and then spoon
the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a
toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve warm.
Serves 8 to 10. You can also make this into cupcake/muffins, makes 12.

Cupcake VS Muffins You Choose the Winner

It isn’t often in this trouble filled world that a difference of opinion is solved in an amiable manor. The dispute over what or what is not a cupcake (as opposed to a muffin) and be solved in either a simplistic, cupcakes have frosting, muffins do not answer or with a semi scientific response where a basic recipe for both require about 2 cups flour, 2 to 4 tablespoons sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1
egg, 1/4 cup oil, shortening or butter and 1 cup milk. To turn the basic muffin recipe into a cupcake it to double the shortening, sugar and egg ingredients and voila, the muffin becomes a cupcake.

Seeing that is was about 2 o’clock in the morning when this craving came upon me I of course came up with a few less politically
correct answers for the question “What is the difference between cupcake and muffins?”

1. A muffin is a confused cupcake or vice versa depending on which you like more.

2. If you throw a cupcake against a wall you a gentle “whomp” sound and lots of crumbs as it explodes and falls on the
floor.

3. If you throw a muffin against a wall you get a
“thud” noise and it puts a dent or hole in the wall.

4. Cupcakes are made of cake silly, whereas muffins
typically a quick bread.

5. Muffins are unattractive cupcakes and cupcakes are
pretty muffins.

6. In a cupcake you cream the butter and sugar together
before adding the other ingredient. With a muffin you dump everything in the
bowl at once and hope it doesn’t explode.

7. Most cake recipes can be utilized to make cupcakes
where as you can’t really make a cake out of a muffin recipe.

8. Muffins typically cook at a higher temperature than
cupcakes.

9. While you can/do grease the muffin/cupcake pans before
cooking you rarely use a paper liner for a muffin

10 Who cares, they’re both delicious.

 

Make no mistake; this is an equal opportunity cup cake
and muffin column. It came about when I decided I couldn’t go one more day
without a muffin, or was that a cup cake. I went through my recipe files and
came up with two almost identical recipes but one was called a cup cake and the
other a muffin. Being the curious soul I am, I ended up researching and the
following recipes that could be either muffins or cupcakes are the happy
result. You decide.

 

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN MUFFINS

 

Topping:

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, divided

1 can (10 ounces) pineapple slices, drained cut in thirds

 

Muffins:

 

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup oatmeal (not the quick kind)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup oil

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple with juice

1 cup shredded carrots

3/4 cup raisins

 

Preheat oven to 400. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan.

 

Make the topping: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon brown sugar into
each prepared muffin cup. Place 2 pieces of pineapple in each muffin cup. Set
the pan aside.

 

Muffins: In a large bowl combine the flour, oats,
cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine and set it aside.
In another bowl combine the brown sugar and eggs and mix well. Whisk the oil,
orange juice and vanilla into the egg mixture and mix until combined. Add the
crushed pineapple, mix to combine and then add the egg mixture to the flour mixture
and stir until just blended. Gently mix in the carrots and raisins. Divide
batter equally among prepared muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until tops
are golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Immediately
run a knife around edges of cups and turn muffins out onto a baking sheet.
Reposition any stray pineapple pieces. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve
upside down, warm or at room temperature.

 

Adapted from 750 Best Muffin
Recipes by Camilla Saulbury

AFTER THE HOLIDAY SWEET POTATO MUFFINS

Leftovers are the key to this
recipe

 

1 cup mashed sweet potatoes

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup water

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup cranberry sauce

 

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 12 cup muffin pan. In a
large bowl combine the sweet potatoes, eggs, sugar, oil, water, orange zest,
and vanilla. Mix to combine and set aside. In another bowl combine the flour,
salt, baking powder, and baking soda, then add to the sweet potato mixture. Mix
to just combine. Add the cranberry sauce and mix to just combine. Fill the
prepared pan so that the batter fills each muffin cup 2/3’s full. Bake for 25
to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the muffins in pan on
a rack for about 5 minutes then remove to cool on a rack. Makes 12.

 

JAM FILLED ALMOND MUFFINS

 

2 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup blackberry, blueberry, raspberry or cherry
jam

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

 

 

Preheat oven to 400. Grease 12 muffin cups with cooking
spray and set it aside. In a bowl combine the jam and almond extract and mix to
combine. Set it aside. In a bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda
and salt. In another bowl combine the eggs and brown sugar. Mix until combined
and then add the buttermilk, orange juice, oil and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add
to the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until JUST combine. Do not over
mix. Fill each of the 12 muffin cups ½ full of the batter. Drop a generous
teaspoonful of the jam into the center of each muffin and then top with the
remaining batter, filling each muffin cup ¾ full. Sprinkle the almonds on the
top and then sprinkle the sugar over the almonds. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or
until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched. Loosen edges with
a knife and remove them from the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Makes 12

 

Tip: You can substitute 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1
cup milk for the buttermilk.

 

Modified from eatingwell.com

 

 

CREAM CORN AND SALSA CORN MUFFINS

 

1 cup corn meal

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/3 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup milk

1/2 cup salsa

1/4 cup vegetable oil or butter

2 teaspoon honey

1 egg

1/2 cup cream style corn

1/3 to 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

 

Preheat oven to 375. Grease 12 muffin cups and set them
aside. In a large bowl combine the corn meal, flour, baking powder and salt. In
another bowl combine the milk, lemon juice, oil, honey, and egg. Mix to combine
and then add the milk mixture to the flour mixture. Mix to just combine and
then add the corn and peppers. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on
top. Makes 12.

 

 

CHOCOLATE MUFFINS AKA BREAKFAST CUPCAKES

Great with butter or jam they can also be frosted

 

2/3 cup (2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa

1 3/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached
All-Purpose Flour

1 1/4 cups (9 3/8 ounces) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips

2 eggs

1 cup (8 ounces) milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons vinegar

1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter, melted

coarse pearl sugar, for topping (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 400. Line a standard muffin pan with
paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups.

 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour,
sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips. Set
aside.

 

In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl,
whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients,
along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend;
there’s no need to beat these muffins, just make sure everything is
well-combined.

 

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin; the cups
will be heaped with batter, and the muffin will bake into a
“mushroom” shape. Sprinkle with pearl sugar, if desired.

 

Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake
tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins
from the oven, and after 5 minutes remove them from the pan, allowing them to
cool for about 15 minutes on a rack before peeling off the muffin papers or
silicone cups. Yield: 12 muffins.

 

From the King Arthur Flour website.

 

CHOCOLATE AND PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES

Using a mix makes this super easy

 

1 box devil’s food cake mix

1 cup water

1/3 cup oil

4 eggs

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use Combine all ingredients
into a bowl and mix well. Pour into cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3
full. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until tooth pick inserted into
center comes out clean. Cool completely.

 

Make the filling

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup powdered sugar

 

In a glass microwavable bowl combine the butter and
peanut… Microwave for 30 to 45 seconds or until the butter is melted. Stir to
combine and add the graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar. Mix to combine,
but don’t worry, it will be thick. Refrigerate the peanut butter mixture for 30
minutes to firm. Once cupcakes have cooled completely, use a small paring knife
remove a hole in the center of the cupcake making sure not to go all the way to
the bottom. Make it shallow and wide as opposed to deep. Roll just over a
tablespoon of filling into a small ball and place into center of the whole and
set them aside. (you may have extra filling, it makes a great buckeye candy if
you dip it in chocolate).

 

 

Peanut Butter Frosting:

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 teaspoon vanilla

1 to 1 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

4 cups powdered sugar

3 tablespoon milk

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the butter and
vanilla and mix to combine. Add the peanut butter and mix until combined. On a
low speed slowly add the powdered sugar in one cup at a time and then add the
milk to give the frosting its desired consistency. Frost the filled cupcakes
being careful as you cover the peanut butter filling. Makes 12. .

 

Submitted by Rhonda Trilalon Detroit MI, modified

Perfect Pot Pie

SLICE OF LIFE BY EILEEN GOLTZ

The phrase “it’s as easy as pie” to make is one that readily comes to mind whenever I’m in the mood to make pot pies. Surprisingly the mood seems to strike whenever I have leftovers that don’t seem to be just quite enough to make a full meal all by themselves. The light bulb in my head (the one that looks eerily like the one in my fridge) goes on and the word balloon appears and it blinks, pot pie, pot pie, pot pie.
Recipes for pot pie cooking methods date back to the Middle Ages in Europe, and were brought to America along with all the other hand me down recipes our ancestors had in their own personal cookbooks. Simply put, a pot pie is a savory meat or vegetable stew/thick soup cooked in a single or double crusted pan depending on your personal preference and your geological frame of reference. A lot of recipes from south of the Mason Dixon line have  a biscuit type of crust and those from those Yankee states are more apt to use pastry dough or puff pastry. Those that originated in other countries use potatoes or barley or even rice in the crusts. It just goes to show you that even though cooks all over the world may have a different set of staples in the house we know what to do with them when it comes to making the best of leftovers.
. The following recipes include several that I’ve made for years and years and more years and have absolutely no idea where the original recipe came from and the rest have been sent to me by readers who love pot pies as much as I do. .So, even if you’re ordinarily a the kind of cook that burns water, making a pot pie will raise your confidence level 10 fold and your standing as the best cook in the world for turning leftovers into a spectacular meal 100 fold.

REMINDS ME OF MARSHALL FIELDS CHICKEN POT PIES

2 sheets puff pastry dough, thawed
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of thyme
12 ounces cooked chicken meat, cut into strips
1 onion, minced
1/2 cup peas, if frozen, thawed
1/2 cup diced cooked carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red pepper

Preheat oven to 450. Grease a 9×13 baking pan and place on sheet of the dough on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Press to push it slightly up the sides of the pan. set it aside. In a sauce pan melt the butter and then stir in the flour. Cook, whisking until the flour is incorporated into the butter and then add the broth and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the mixture is thickened. Add the pinch of thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Mix to combine.  Add chicken, peas, onions, celery and carrot and mix to combine and pour the mixture into the prepared pan over the dough. Top with the second piece of puff pastry dough making sure to tuck the edges into the pan and connecting it with the bottom dough if possible. Bake for approx 25 minutes until the top has puffed up and is golden brown. Cool 5 minutes and serve. Serves 4 to 6.

RICE AND CHICKEN POT PIE

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup flour
2 cans (14 1/2-ounce) chicken broth
1 package (16-oz) mixed frozen vegetables
3 cups cooked rice
2 cups cooked chopped chicken
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1/2 cup baking mix
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup finely chopped green onions

Heat butter in skillet  and add onion, garlic, thyme, sage and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes until onion is tender. Add flour, cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in broth; cook, whisking 4 to 6 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens.

Stir in vegetables; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in rice, chicken and parsley; cook, stirring 2 to 3 minutes more. Place in 2-1/2-quart casserole. (May be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before baking.)

Combine baking mix, buttermilk and green onions in medium bowl. Gently stir, just until dough comes together. Form dough into 9-inch long log on lightly floured surface; cut crosswise into 6-1/2-inch rounds. (Or roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/2-inch thickness and cut with different shaped cookie cutters.)

Top casserole with biscuits, spacing evenly. Bake in 425-degree oven for 20 minutes until filling is bubbly and biscuits are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Modified from cdkitchen.com

MASHED POTATO TURKEY POT PIE

1 tablespoon oil
2 pounds ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
1 red pepper diced
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
3 (16 oz.) cans cream style corn
8 white potatoes, cooked and mashed
Butter or margarine
Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 325. In a skillet sauté the onion, celery and red pepper together in the oil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and then add the turkey. Cook until turkey is no longer pink.  Drain any liquid, add the poultry seasoning, mix to combine and put the mixture in a 9X13 casserole dish. Pour the creamed corn over the mixture and top with the mashed potatoes. Place small pieces dabs of butter or margarine on the potatoes. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake an additional 10 minutes and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

Submitted by Audry Snarling

VEGGIE POT PIE

1 tablespoon oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 onions, diced
1 green or red pepper, diced
3 to 4 carrots, peeled and diced
3 or 4 yellow or zucchini squashed, diced
15 ounces can vegetarian chili (you can use the stuff with meat if you like)
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
6 ounces box cornbread mix (or your favorite recipe)
salsa and sour cream

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare the corn bread mix and set it aside. Grease a 9×13 baking pan and set aside. In a large skillet sauté the garlic in the oil for about 1 minute and then add the onion, green pepper, carrots, and zucchini; cook 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Stir in the chili, mix to combine and then spoon the mixture spread into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with the cheese. Spread the corn bread mixture over the top of the cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cornbread is golden brown.  Let sit for 3 to 5 minutes then serve. Serves 6

SWEET POTATO POT PIE

3 tablespoons   olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 teaspoon minced garlic
3 cups fresh sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small  pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 sheet puff pastry dough, thawed
1 egg mixed
Poppy or sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large skillet sauté the onion, jalapeno, garlic and, sweet potatoes in the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the corn.

In a small bowl whisk together the milk and cornstarch, then pour the mixture into the sweet potato mixture. Bring the mixture to bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook until the liquid starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into a 9X13 pan and then gently lay a sheet of the puff pastry dough on top pushing the edges in to the mixture around the side of the pan.  Brush the top of the dough with the beaten egg and then sprinkle the top with sesame or poppy seeds. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits in the top of the crust (you can make a design) to let the steam vent. Place the casserole on a cookie sheet with sides just in case it bubbles over. Bake about 15 to 20 minutes until the top is golden. Serves 4 for dinner 6 for lunch

Note: you can use canned sweet potatoes but don’t saute them with the other vegetables, add them with the corn.

HONEY DIJON MUSTARD POT PIE

1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons oil
1 lb chicken breasts, no bones or skin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup peas, frozen or canned
2 ready make pie crusts, defrosted
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons parsley
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup minced onion
Water, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425. Marinate the chicken in the soy sauce for about 10 minutes then drain. In a skillet sauté the garlic and onions in the oil. Cook until they just start to wilt and are still firm. Add the chicken and cook until the chicken is done through. Add the honey, carrots, broth, parsley, salt, pepper and mustard. Mix to combine and cook on a low heat. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and enough water to make paste. Bring the chicken mixture to a boil and add the cornstarch mixture, stirring constantly as you add it. Cook until the liquid starts to thicken. You can make more of the cornstarch mixture and add it if the liquid to too runny. Spoon the chicken  mixture into one of the pie shell and then top it with the other crust. Cut a few slits in the top so steam can escape while it bakes. Cook for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees F and bake for another half an hour or until the crust is golden brown and the pie is hot. Serve immediately with vegetables and mashed potatoes. Serves 4 to 6.