Category Archives: Snacks

Corn Muffins

Corn MuffinsIf you’re thinking “Doesn’t she already have a cornbread recipe on here?” the answer is yes. In fact, I have three. Don’t worry, this isn’t a fourth. Ohhh no. You see, these are corn muffins, not cornbread. Sure, both recipes share a lot of the same ingredients, but I am here to tell you that these corn-centric sides are two different things.Corn Muffins

You read that right. This is not a cornbread recipe, or at least it’s not the cornbread I know. The southern-style stuff I grew up with is super savory, sugarless, grainy and crumbly, while corn muffins are a sweeter, softer, more northern thing—they’re like cornbread and cupcakes had a baby. A sweet little corn muffin baby…or twelve sweet little corn muffin babies, if you want to get specific.Corn Muffins

These evoke everything I love about Jiffy corn muffin mix (the only baking I ever saw my mother partake in), but better and completely from scratch. Sure, they take an extra minute or two since you have to measure everything out before mixing, but that’s really no trouble when the results are this soft, sweet and delicious.Corn Muffins

The secret to really excellent corn muffins? Sour cream. I made eight test batches with whole milk and buttermilk, and while both will work in a pinch, the gorgeous muffins you see here are super moist and tender from rich, tangy full-fat sour cream. It keeps my corn muffins in perfect shape for days after baking—nothing sad or dry here!

Corn Muffins come together with almost no fuss. You’ll see in the recipe that you need some ingredients to be at room temperature, but that’s pretty standard and no real trouble—I routinely get eggs to room temp by putting them in a bowl of warm water and pop milk in the microwave for 30 seconds to take off the chill. The simple truth is that room temperature ingredients combine more evenly than cold ones do; that’s very important in baking. If these tiny steps sound like too much “extra” effort for you, remember that adding cold milk and eggs to melted butter will un-melt (?) it and then you’ll have to start all over again. Talk about a time suck. I promise that all your room temperature-ing will be worth it when you pull a pan of corn muffins from your oven.Corn Muffins

Oooh, y’all. These are pretty irresistible. Soft and corny (in a good way!) with a solid sweet and savory balance, homemade corn muffins are the perfect accompaniment to a roast chicken or chili on a cold night. And, pro tip: should you have leftovers, you should split and toast them with butter and jam for breakfast the next day. Or do what I do and eat them cold, straight out of the fridge in the middle of the night for days on end. Really, you can’t go wrong.Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins
makes 12 muffins

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cupcake liners, or grease well. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small-medium mixing bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together milk, sour cream, butter and eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon just until combined.

Divide batter among muffin cups, about 3 tablespoons each. Carefully tap the pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 12-13 minutes.

Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for five minutes before serving or removing to a rack.

Leftovers will keep well tightly-covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five. Muffins may be double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.Corn MuffinsCorn MuffinsCorn Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsIt’s been gloomy out lately, but I’m keeping it sunny in my kitchen with these classic Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThey’ve got loads of bright lemon flavor from fresh zest and juice, a little crunchy texture from poppy seeds, and they stay moist for days thanks to ingredients like eggs, oil and whole milk.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThese muffins come together quickly and easily and don’t require a mixer. In fact, a mixer would be a detriment here. The secret to tender Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (and most muffins and quick breads) is to mix them as little as possible. You can stir the wet and dry ingredients separately as much as you like, but once they’re in the same bowl, you want to stir just 15 or 20 times.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsThe batter is divided into 12 muffin cups before being baked at 400F for five minutes, and then 350F for fifteen more. That initial blast of heat helps them to dome, while the remaining bake time ensures they cook evenly.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsOnce baked, let your muffins cool a few minutes before drizzling on a quick lemon glaze. You could skip it in the name of breakfast or health, but…why?

Life is short. Muffins are breakfast-appropriate cupcakes. This glaze is “secretly” an icing.

Don’t. skip. the. glaze.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsServe your Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins up with coffee or tea or whatever makes you happy. Good luck resisting a second. I’ve been known to eat three or four of these throughout the day, which seems like a lot, but can you blame me?Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
makes 12 muffins

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 medium lemons)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 medium lemons)
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2-1 medium lemon)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, use your fingertips to rub lemon zest into sugar. Whisk in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds.

In a small-medium mixing bowl (or large measuring cup), whisk together milk, lemon juice, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon just until combined—no more than 15-20 strokes.

Divide batter among muffin cups—they will be full. Carefully tap the pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 350F and bake for an additional 14-16 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment or wax paper.

Remove muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for at least five minutes before removing to prepared rack.

Make glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar and lemon juice until thick, but pourable. Pour or drizzle over muffins. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving. Glaze will set completely after several hours.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days. Unglazed muffins may be double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months.Lemon Poppy Seed MuffinsLemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Puff Pastry Pigs in Blankets

Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsWhen I think back on the Super Bowl parties of my youth (and since I am Texan, there were a lot), I don’t remember who played or much else, except for the food. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (probably on Friday): I don’t care about football or the Super Bowl at all, but I *love* football food. If it’s rich, salty, creamy, cheesy, meaty and/or buttery, and can be used to distract me from a sporting event in which I’m uninterested, I. am. in.Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsSometimes when I am bored, I tune out and think about recipes. That said, you won’t be surprised to learn that the idea for these Puff Pastry Pigs in Blankets popped into my head during the last Super Bowl.Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsThese are the sorts of things I think about instead of thinking about things that are actually important. I mean, *someone* has to think about the game day food, right? No? Just me? Anyway…Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsPuff Pastry Pigs in Blankets are exactly what they sound like: classic pigs in blankets (aka cocktail wieners wrapped in yeast dough), made with puff pastry. Miniature hotdogs wrapped in flaky, buttery pastry? Sign me up!Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsThese little morsels are super easy to make. Start by rolling out a sheet of puff pastry. I like to use Rough Puff, but any all-butter puff pastry will do.Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsSpread a thin layer of dijon mustard over the top and then slice the pastry into strips. Wrap each strip around a cocktail wiener…Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsPuff Pastry Pigs in Blankets…then brush them all with egg wash and sprinkle them with poppyseeds and/or sesame seeds. This is purely for aesthetics, but I like the added texture it provides.Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsBake the pigs in blankets for 15 minutes at 450F. The pastry will be gorgeous and golden when they’re done.Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsServe ‘em with ketchup and more dijon mustard, or any condiment you like. Make sure to hoard a few for yourself before putting them on your Super Bowl table though because they’ll disappear before you know it, especially if I’m invited.Puff Pastry Pigs in Blankets

Puff Pastry Pigs in Blankets
makes about 40 pieces

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For assembly:
1 1/2 tablespoons (4 1/2 teaspoons) prepared dijon mustard
1.5 packages cocktail weiners (about 30 per package)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon poppyseeds (optional)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)

For serving (optional):
ketchup
mustard

Make Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Preheat oven to 450F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Assemble the pigs in blankets. Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Use a large, sharp knife to trim any uneven edges. Brush surface of the dough with dijon mustard.

Use a floured chef’s knife to slice the sheet of dough in half lengthwise, and then into 3/4-inch thick strips. Working with one strip at a time, place a cocktail wiener at one end and roll it toward the other end, so that most of the wiener is coiled in dough. Place each piece, dough ends down, on prepared pans. Repeat until you run out of strips, chilling dough for 15 minutes if it becomes warm or soft.

Make an egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to brush all exposed dough. Sprinkle with poppy and/or sesame seeds, if desired.

Bake pigs in blankets for 15-17 minutes or until pastry is golden. Let cool a few minutes on pans before removing to a serving platter.

Serve with ketchup and/or mustard, if desired. Pigs in blankets are best the day they are made. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Note:

You may use frozen all-butter puff pastry instead. Thaw according to package directions and begin the recipe at the paragraph that begins “Preheat oven to 450F.”Puff Pastry Pigs in Blankets Puff Pastry Pigs in BlanketsPuff Pastry Pigs in Blankets

Spicy Cheddar Shortbread

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadI figure you’ve all got your Thanksgiving menus nailed down by now, but can I just suggest one more thing? Just one?

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadOkay, good.

You don’t want to miss these Spicy Cheddar Shortbread. They’re the slice-and-bake cheese plate addition that you didn’t know you needed. But make no mistake, you do.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadYou may not need them on Thursday (because you probably have it all together and have already started making your cornbread and rough puff–you’re totally killing this Thanksgiving business 🙌🏻), but sometime between now and January 2nd, you’re going to be very happy you have this recipe in your back pocket.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadI mean, these savory shortbread are basically cheese crackers for adults. They’re crispy and light-textured with a full-bodied cheddar flavor because, unlike the cheese crackers you can buy at the grocery store, these guys are made with real cheese. Oh, and on top of all that, the dough comes together in five minutes in the food processor.

You’re welcome.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadThis dough really couldn’t be simpler. Start by grating half a pound of extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadPut some flour, black pepper, cayenne, and salt in a food processor.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadThrow the cheese in there and pulse everything into a rubble.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadSpicy Cheddar ShortbreadAdd some cold butter and a teaspoon of mustard…

Spicy Cheddar Shortbreadand process it until it’s dough.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadForm it into logs, wrap it in plastic, and give it a chill. Then slice…

Spicy Cheddar Shortbreadand bake.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadMaybe serve them next to a big pile of apple slices, just to be extra seasonal. Or maybe put them on a cheese plate. I’m gonna do that for aaaallllllll the holiday parties.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadBut I’m also going to pile them in a jar and eat them by their lonesome because they’re so good, they don’t need any accoutrements. I suggest you do the same.

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadHappy Thanksgiving, dear readers 💗

Spicy Cheddar ShortbreadSpicy Cheddar Shortbread
makes about 4 dozen shortbread

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
8 ounces grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon prepared dijon mustard

Combine flour, cayenne, black pepper, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter, cheddar, and mustard, and process until a dough ball forms. Divide dough in half and form into two 8-inch logs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices and place at least an inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, or until light golden at the edges. Let cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Shortbread are best the day they are made. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to two days.

Tropical Cashew Granola

 It’s officially summer, and I can’t wait to get to the beach. I’m only four weeks away from a trip to Maine with a bunch of friends–it can’t get here soon enough! It’s super woodsy and we definitely won’t see any palm trees, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be eating tons of tropical fruit while we’re up there.

How, you may ask, will we have tropical fruit in the wilds of Maine? In the form of my new favorite granola! 
Yes, I am that person who packs homemade granola into her luggage. And why wouldn’t I? It’s full of whole grains, nuts, and fruit, so it’s super satisfying. It’s also refined sugar-free, gluten free, and vegan, so this is one recipe that will fit all my friends’ various dietary needs.

Between easy breakfasts and snacks, I know we will go through the full two-quart batch in no time. I mean, who can resist this Tropical Cashew Granola?! It’s loaded with dried mango and pineapple, toasted coconut, and cashews–perfect for any day at the beach. 
Normally, I am not a huge fan of dried fruit (especially in granola), but I make exceptions for dried mango and pineapple. I’ll eat a whole six-ounce bag in a day! The sweet mango, tangy pineapple, and toasted coconut work incredibly well with the crunchy oats and cashews. A moderate amount of sweetener and a full teaspoon of salt keep it all just sweet enough to enjoy with your favorite yogurt and fresh fruit. I can’t get enough. 

Having made a lot of granola in the last few years, I can tell you that the homemade stuff is a snap to put together and infinitely better than any boxed variety. When you make something from scratch, you can control the ingredients and customize it to your taste.

For instance, I love my Maple Pecan Granola (which I used as the base for this recipe), but sometimes I want my granola to have more clusters than that recipe allows. So, I took the basic formula and swapped half the maple syrup for brown rice syrup. It’s super thick and allows the oats and cashews to cluster a bit without adding excessive amounts sweetener. And since brown rice syrup has a mild flavor, the maple is still front and center!

Tropical Cashew Granola is like summer in a bowl! Don’t be surprised if the combination of mango, pineapple, coconut, and buttery cashews has you packing a jar for your vacation, too! 

  Looking for more granola? Check out my Peanut Butter Granola!

Tropical Cashew Granola
makes about two quarts

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown rice syrup*
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups raw unsalted cashews, chopped
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
6 ounces unsweetened dried mango, chopped into bite-size pieces
6 ounces unsweetened dried pineapple, chopped into bite-size pieces

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats, cashews, and coconut. Spread mixture on prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes, stirring at the 15 and 30 minute marks to prevent burning.

When granola is done baking, let cool five minutes before stirring in dried mango and pineapple pieces. Let granola cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

Note:

Brown rice syrup can be found near the honey and syrups at most well-stocked grocery stores, or on Amazon. If you cannot find it or do not wish to use it, you may use an equal volume of mild honey or maple syrup. Your granola will not have many clusters, but it will still be delicious.