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Eclecticisms: September 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Apple Strudel Muffins

Last week, Sara and I went to an apple orchard. It was raining and there was a bit of thunder, but that didn't stop us. The plan had been to go to the museum, but I was taking care of a chicken we found in the woods at a BBQ a couple days prior (yes, in Chicago... long story! I'll post pics soon.) so I didn't want to do anything that would take us all day. Last night we finally made something with them... Apple Strudel Muffins! They came out fantastic and I plan to make more. The flavor isn't overly sweet or heavy and they are pretty quick to make. Yay for fall, my favorite season!


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped apples

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoon butter (we added an extra 1/2 Tbs)

Peel and dice your apples. We used a combo of Empire and Jonathan. Then, preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease or line a muffin pan with muffin cups. (Cups= less mess when you eat!)

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar and eggs until smooth. Mix in vanilla.

Stir in apples, and gradually blend in the flour mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan.

In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is like coarse crumbs. It's helpful to use your fingers to do this, and we found a little extra butter was neede to really get good crumbs.

Sprinkle over tops of mixture in muffin pan.

Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to sit 5 minutes before removing muffins from pan and cool on a wire rack.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Slacking again!

I don't have a new recipe to blog about yet (though I did remake that quiche this weekend!), partly because I've been focusing on the visual arts and jewelry. I finished two collages that I'd been working on tonight, and made a pendant too.

All I can say is- thank god for creative outlets.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Corn and Red Pepper Chowder

Remember when I said I wanted to give Jeanne Lemlin a hug? Here's another reason why that woman deserves some huggin'. This chowder is filling, healthy, and delicious. Finding that combo isn't always easy, but with this recipe, you have it all. Taste, tummy, and soul, you will be satisfied to the max. It tastes best after a day or two, but is still amazing right out of the pot.

Serves 4 as a main dish, at least 8 as an appetizer or side

2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 Tbs olive oil
2 med onions, finely diced (we used white onions)
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups vegetable stock
2 large potatoes (ORGANIC! If you chose to buy anything organic, start with potatoes!)
2 medium red bell peppers, finely diced
1 celery rib, very finely sliced
1 bay leaf
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp dried)
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs sugar
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 Cps frosen or fresh corn kernels
6 scallions, very thinly sliced
1/2 Cp milk
1/2 Cp heavy cream

Most of the time you spend on this recipe will be washing and chopping up your fresh produce. Start by heating the butter and oil over medium heat in a large stock pot. Add the onions and garlic, sauteeing until the onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Do not brown.

Stir in the stock and bring to a boil. Now add your potatoes, red peppers, celery, bay leaf, basil, salt, sugar, and pepper. Bring to a boil again. Once boiling, lower the heat and bring to a simmer, covering your pot. You want the potatoes to cook until tender, or about 15 minutes. The timing will depend on how small your cut your potato pieces.

*Because soil will hold pesticides for many years, it is important to use organic potatoes whenever possible, as they are a root vegetable and much more likely to absorb these chemicals. From my experience, organic potatoes are the only organic food I can identify immediately, both by smell and taste. The extra few cents or dollar is well worth it. On a happier note, potatoes are jam packed with vitamins B6 and C.

Once the potatoes are cooked, stir in the corn and scallions. Cook 2 more minutes if the corn is frozen, and at least 8 if fresh. Remove the bay leaf. (Make sure to do this before the next step!)

Remove 3 Cps of the soup and puree in a food processor or blender. Return to the pot and stir in the milk and cream.

Heat a few minutes until ready to serve. Allow to cool completely before storing.


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Monday, September 20, 2010

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie

Oh cheese, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Actually, that would take days, years even. For the sake of my readers, I will not count the ways.

Even if you aren't as in love with cheese as I am, this pie is fantastic (and like all desserts, I think it tastes WAY better after a day or two). The pumpkin is perfect for the fall weather we've started to have (FINALLY!) and the cream cheese mixture is a perfect compliment. To tell the truth, I'm not even that much of a fan of pumpkin pie, but this one did the trick. I'm a fan!

I got this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book.

Click here for the crust recipe. You can make the sweeter crust, but the savory one (using salt instead of sugar) works great. I personally think the pumpkin is sweet enough on its own. (Plus you're adding sugar already... it's your call!)


Single Pie crust
1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 slightly beaten egg
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
1 cp evaporated milk
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 brown sugar (we used dark)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 Tbs flour
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs butter, softened

Line a 9-inch pie pan with your pie crust and set aside. (Crimp edges as desired.)

Beat together cream cheese, 1/4 Cp sugar, vanilla, and the slightly beaten egg. Mix until smooth (use an electric mixer). Ours was a tiny bit chunky from the cream cheese, which was no big deal. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of your pie.

Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, 2 eggs, 1/4 Cp sugar, 1/4 Cp brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

Pour over the cream cheese mixture.

Cover the edge of the crust and pie with foil. This will help with over browning.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 25 minutes more.

While the pie is baking, combine pecans, flour, brown sugar, and butter. Because I'm not a fan of nuts on pie (or in generally really... I just started eating them for the first time, and I'm almost 30.), we halved this part of the recipe, as you'll see in the pictures. Sprinkle over the pie and bake another 10 minutes. The pie is done when a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool for at least 1-2 hours on a wire rack. Refrigerate to store. 


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Monday, September 13, 2010


*Disclaimer: This blog probably shows more about me 10 years ago than I'd like it to, but hell, I'm goin' for it.

I'm not feeling much like blogging about my last two baking adventures (yet), so I decided to go through some old college papers and essays, and post something informative. Except- I can't find them. So I'm a bit pissed. The computer versions were backed up when my old laptop died, and the hard copies are probably even more buried. Instead, I found a few things I wrote long, long ago. Here there are. Shitty, good, I don't know. It's hard to be objective (or subjective) about stuff you wrote when you were in your late teens/early 20's, idealistically judging the world, and full of ideas on ways to fix it (all while your attitude resembled the latest Cure song). Maybe it's how jaded I am now that makes me not want to write anymore. Well, sometimes anyways. Who wants to read nothing but sad stuff? (Hence, HappyTuesdays!)

I'm reaching out with things I wrote before I knew anything about writing or it's many forms. Here are a few pieces. Enjoy, hate, love, burn them. Do something with them! That's what they're there for.

Haiku, around 2006

I'm putting on hold
the ridiculous notion
that I missed my shot

Guaranteed Weight Loss

Do not eat
Take lots of speed

Train of Thought (1998)
I dreamed of a better life the night we danced Cheek to Cheek as I flew across the floor like a swan on the water as it searches for a fish to eat who's swam down under to his castle below our world, a dream; Truely reality sang by our brothers under the same moon so long ago on this land we've raped dry of its life. under law we are none, together we are but one lost soul, soon to be winnowed out of a universe lost in space.

Vast Winter Wonderland
I am a Visual Vagabond, rapt in the arts
Resplendent are my words-
Some may call me a reveler
Other may call me a rambler.
A vanda in the midst of a desert,
A raceme in a pile of ash,
I am a variable star.

Inspired by Two Sisters By: Nick Quijano
Insperable from the seed
In life they painted
their story
Generation to Generation
Lost in a stereotypical identity
Under the Eye
of their past
Framed for the world
to view upon
as our lives are framed
for others
to interperate.

Night Run
Lightening strikes
my skin
the electricity
runs through my body

Shivers shoot
up my spine
Rivers flowing
to my head

I came to you
to forget this place
Soft as silk,
touching my arms

run down your back
A shudder
in ecstacy

Deep penetration.

Connection (2000)
I call the name you gave
into the night
at the light at the end of the tunnel
I follow.

I listen to seashells
but the sounds
of bottles broken in alleys
have deafened me.

The circular path on this Merry-Go-Round
I am spinning till I'm dizzy
I am loosing my connection
with my gaining infection
that closes my eyes.

In dark I can see how the light
can be blinding
with constant commotion
and serious devotion
In an alley with the glass in my feet...

The dark soothes my eyes;
then a baby cries.
Mother is lost.
What was the cost?

We will be exterminated.
Your connection has been terminated.

Shells Upon Beads (2007)

I much prefer the clinking of shells upon beads

than gold on gold, and rainbows to black and white.

We fight as if we were not one and lose sight, this war

of colors and materialism turn our heads from what

we need and who we were when innocence shined from

all our eyes. Open to the idea of freedom or so we say- binding

ourselves and our brothers in chains and hide them behind

laws growing more constrictive each day, I fear to see the day

come again when women cannot choose and religion

justifies crucifixions and makes excuses for our blindness.

We take steps forward but each step back puts us more

Off track- we spin, like cars on ice or records on turntables,

being scratched and worn. We cease to dance when the music fades;

ignoring the songs we carry within, depending on others

to carry the torch so they can be scorched and we

can sit around watching TV- plasma screens, high definition.

What condition is it when the rich get richer and the poor get poorer

and suddenly you realize the grip is too tight to bear

turning some into what they never were – we’ve screamed “Too late”

for centuries now, but individuals have still managed to change

the way things roll as minds are opened and pulled from this dense

fog we’ve come to live in.

With a war we are kept numb to and the kids I grew up with

are shot on soil not their own; some still choose to pretend

our world is blue skies and bridges aren’t broken. What

have you done to save the world today? Think about it for a minute and

let your thoughts meander in the maze, the endless intertwining

mess we have on our hands. Have you woken, or are you still

among those walking in sleep on these crowded dirty streets?

This child is starving, this animal is tortured, this family lost their

only means to survive while Walmart and Walgreens get bigger and bigger,

prices drop so low, that those driven out of work can almost afford them.

Helping to sustain a world where people must take pills to live

their every day lives and guns in the classroom are no surprise anymore,

yes, we are at war. We are killing ourselves and our mother earth

to whom we owe our very existence. Where is the resistance?

I much prefer the clinking of shells upon beads

than gold on gold, and rainbows to black and white.

With this fight we can pass that torch and put our songs

upon the pages of this generation. Remember love, and what it was

before we knew fighting and fear. Let’s make it clear we will not be hushed

and make them hear when we scream for justice.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Shitake Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quiche

Mushrooms? Goat cheese? Yes, please! This quiche really is a little bit of heaven in your mouth. I got this recipe from Jeanne Lemlin's Vegetarian Classics, and after eating this quiche I think I want to give her a big hug. If you like mushrooms and you like goat cheese, make this recipe. You'll thank me (and Jeanne!) later... trust me.

Start by preparing the crust.

The recipe says to use a glass pie pan or one with a removable rim. I used neither of these (there were some issues with the first step in the recipe) and it turned out fine. I read up on the difference between metal and glass pie pans, and the glass plates distribute the heat more evenly. When using them, it is suggested you reduce the temperature of the oven by 25 degrees. (Which makes me think I cooked this at too low a temperature, but it turned out great.)

After the crust has been chilled in the pan (at least 30 minutes), poke the bottom with holes and line it with aluminum foil. (The foil is extremely important, as you will see in a minute.) Use pie weights, dry beans or raw rice to hold the crust down, bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the foil/weights and bake another 15 minutes. Let cool.

Not realizing the aluminum foil needed to be used, we poured the lentils right in. Oops. Getting them out after baking was proving to be tedious, but the biggest problem came after crust came right out when we tried to pour them back out. This was after a good 5 hours in the kitchen, so I was less than excited. Still- I've never whipped up another batch of dough so quickly in my life.


While the dough is baking (whether it be your first or second try!), melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Sautee the mushrooms until brown and juicy and allow them to cool.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs together in a small bowl. Add the cream, salt, pepper, and once cooled, the mushrooms.

Next, add the crumbled goat cheese to the mixture. The cheese shouldn't be mixed in too well. Allowing for larger pieces will give you goat cheese explosions of goodness in the quiche. That's right... I said goat cheese explosions of goodness.

Place your pie pan on a baking sheet. Line the pie crust with your grated swiss cheese, and carefully ladle in the egg and mushroom mixture.

Bake 30 minutes at 375, or until golden on top. Cool on a wire rack and serve warm. You just might want to make two if you have a few people over... this goes FAST! (I think between 4 people, we devoured it entirely in less than 20 minutes.)

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Basic Crust Recipe

I'm back! It was way too rainy and cold for apple picking on Saturday, so I spent a good 6 hours in the kitchen making pie, quiche and chowder.

Pie crust is definitely not my specialty, but the more I make it, the better I get. (Practice makes perfect, right?) I've found it's most imporant to be patient, use enough flour, make sure your butter and water are very cold, and to use wax paper, always for the bottom and the top as well, if it's extra sticky or crumbly,

Needing two crusts, I doubled this recipe (and later re-made it, as you'll later read about in the quiche blog, due to a mishap). I went with the savory version, which ended up working perfect for both the quiche and pie.

This recipe came from Vegetarian Classics, by Jeanne Lemlin.


1 1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/4 tsp salt (for a savroy crust) or 2 tsp sugar (for a sweet crust)
2 Tbs chilled, unsalted butter
2 Tbs canola oil
1 1/2 tsp of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (I used the vinegar)

 Fill a glass with ice water and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt (or sugar).

Cut the butter into pieces and toss them into the flour. Using your hands, flatten the pieces until they are roughly the dime-sized. If the pieces are too small, they will melt faster and your crust won't be flaky.

Now, in a small bowl, combine the 3 Tbs of the ice water along with the apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) and oil. Drizzle this over the flour mixture and blend in using a fork. The apple cider vinegar and lemon juice both help to break down the gluten in the flour, making for a less chewy crust.

Gather the dough into a ball and knead a few times until it is pliable. (Don't over knead!)

If the dough is crumbly, you can add more water. Make sure to add it slowly, roughly 1 tsp at a time. A little water goes a long way, and too much will leave you with a sticky mess.

Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes (no more than 48 hours).

To roll out the dough, first allow it to come to room temperature. (I've found that this happens almost immediately, just from the heat of your hands.) Place wax paper on your surface and lighly flour it. Lightly flour your rolling pin (or place more lightly floured wax paper on top of the dough) and roll out from the center. You want to make sure your crust is large enough to fill the bottom and edges of the pan (about an extra 2"). The wax paper not only helps to prevent sticking, but it makes getting the dough into the pan a lot easier.

There are tons of ways to do your edges, but I prefer the fluting method. It's quick, easy, and at this point I'm usually tired of working with the dough. (It's not easy!) Here's a good site that shows you different methods. Chill the dough in the pan while you make your filling.

Now fill the dough with something delicious. (Two blogs to come!)


Thursday, September 9, 2010

I need your help!

First, let me apologize for my recent lack of blogging. I've been very busy and not baking at all. I have plans to go apple picking soon (this Saturday if the rain holds off!) and finally cleaned my craft/art area, so more blogs will be here soon, I promise!

This quick blog is to let you know that I'm doing a Fam Sanctuary walk on October 2nd to help promote awareness of and end the cruel practices that occur on factory farms. This is a cause extremely close to my heart and I need your help!

Factory Farms are extremely hazardous to our health and the environment. I urge everyone to look more into the matter, whether or not you can donate. We need your help, even if that help comes in the form of self-education!

Here is a link to my page. Every dollar helps and I will be eternally grateful for anything you can give!

Here's a quick link to get you started with some information. Remember the recall of hundreds of millions of eggs for salmonella contamination recently? That's just one example of why our standards on what we put in our bodies and where it comes from needs to change. This isn't just for the factory farmed animals... it's for the good of everyone involved, including Mother Earth.

As always, thanks so much for reading my blog! (And I promise... I'll write a more "fun" one very soon!)