Glorious Morning Glory Muffins

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I haven’t written for a few weeks. It’s not that I’m not cooking, I’m just not creatively cooking. Or I make standard fare that I have already written about, such as chicken pot pie and chocolate cake. We had a fabulous post New Year Thanksgiving dinner with a roast turkey and all the trimmings including sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and apple pie. Sometimes I just throw chicken in the oven to bake with barbecue sauce or pan sear steaks or pork chops. Frozen vegetables, in a multiple of varieties, round out the meal. And I confess, sometimes dinner is sandwiches made with frozen breaded fish fillets!

And then there is the impetus for weight loss and heart healthy cooking. Hubby and I are not getting any younger and the medical folk have been looking at our hearts regarding cholesterol levels and hypertension, and our sedentary lifestyle, a little more closely lately. So how can I bake yummy desserts with these issues in the front of my mind?

I wanted to bake something. I used to bake muffins every week so that Hubby and the Girls would have something to take along for the commute to school. The Girls are now all grown up with boyfriends and fiances and such. But a healthy muffin might take the place of cupcakes, right? I have an entire section of my recipe notebook devoted to muffins. Most of them claim to be low-fat and have whole wheat and/or oatmeal in the list of ingredients. I chose this one because it has apple butter as an ingredient and I found half a jar of good apple butter when I did a recent fridge cleaning and inventory.

Morning Glory Muffins: this is an adaptation of a recipe submitted to All Recipes.com 2005 by a Jack D. I adjusted the eggs and the amount of sugar and the raisins.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (in future I would use 1 cup all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (in future I would use 1 cup)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons toasted wheatgerm (I did not remember if the wheatgerm I have is toasted already so I dry toasted it in a small skillet over high heat on top of the stove)

Oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 18 muffin cups or line with papers. I was able to make 20 muffins.

Whisk eggs, apple butter, oil, and vanilla together in a medium bowl

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a larger bowl. These are the first 7 ingredients.

Add the goodies, carrots, apple, Craisins, to the dry ingredients. Then stir in the apple butter mixture just until all is moist.

Mix the wheat germ and the walnuts together in a small bowl.

Spoon into the muffin pans, sprinkle each with the wheatgerm mixture, and bake for 20 minutes. The tops will spring back when lightly pressed.

These were fabulous. I don’t remember baking these before even after printing out the recipe back in 2006. They are enjoyable warm right out of the oven, in the middle of the morning as a snack, and also the next day, and evening, and then for morning again…

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Chicken Vegetable Casserole

Greetings my dear readers! This is an updated version of a casserole I used to make when I first started a family many years ago. I am not sure where I got this but it is one of those canned soup recipes. And back then I used canned soups. I don’t anymore and haven’t for a long time. I have learned how to make my own cream sauce. I thought I would share this with you all. I had thawed chicken thighs and didn’t want to do another lemon chicken recipe. So here is what’s for dinner.

Original recipe: 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 pound large cut vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli and carrots, shredded cheese if desired, and one cut up chicken.

Here’s my update:

  • 8-10 medium sized chicken thighs; I wanted to be “healthy” so took the skins off.
  • 1/2 super large bag of frozen Normandy style vegetables: zucchini and yellow squash, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower; use at least two pounds of large cut vegetables. You could cut fresh vegetables for this as well.
  • (I could have added about  4 ounces of mushrooms but the ones I had smelled too earthy for my liking.)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • generous sprinkling of seasonings of your choice; I used Herbs de Provence; it is my new go-to herb mixture
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt; I threw this in at the last minute to add a creamy “healthiness”
  • 1 cup shredded cheese; I used a mixture of cheddar.

Super simple to make: heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray your 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray, or oil it if you prefer. Place your vegetables in here. Place your chicken on top of the vegetables. Make your sauce.

Melt the two tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan. Add broth. Sprinkle on your seasoning or herbs. Mix the cornstarch with the half-and-half. Add to pan and bring just to boil. This will not be thick but on the verge of thickening. Pour the sauce on top of the chicken. This looked thin to me so I smeared the yogurt on top of the chicken. Sprinkle the cheese over this.

Bake for at least one hour. Test chicken for done-ness with meat thermometer: 165-175 for thighs.  Dinner is served. This has your vegetables and your protein. Rice or egg noodles could be a side which would be nice with the sauce.

Enjoy!

Hoppin’ John

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It’s New Year’s Day and these are the ingredients for dinner. My Mom used to make something like this saying it would bring good luck in the New Year. The three basic ingredients are pork, rice, and black-eyed peas. Mom would soak dried peas overnight but I chose canned. The two ladies in the grocery store trying to find them also wanted to use canned although one said her mother also used to soak the dried. The three of us had a time finding these cans as they were buried in a stack of boxes and not readily available on the shelf. They are using a ham bone; I am using pork chops. Some traditions add greens, such as Collard, but I like spinach. I make this differently each time so here’s how I made it this year.

  • bacon, I hacked off about two half- inch chunks of bacon from the end of the package
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 1-2 cups frozen spinach
  • about two cups of quinoa/rice mix; this was one envelope from this “cook in ten minutes” box cooked according to directions
  • one can black-eyed peas, undrained
  • several hefty shakes of red pepper flakes
  • one pork chop per person

For the Hoppin’ John, I cooked the bits of bacon and the onion in a cast iron skillet until the bacon was cooked. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes into this. I then added the spinach and continued cooking the concoction for about five minutes before adding the black-eyed peas and the prepared rice mix. Stir that all together and let heat thoroughly. The liquid from the can of black-eyed peas will reduce somewhat.

IMG_0838 1My original plan was to “stuff” each pork chop with the Hoppin’ John mixture. But Hubby wanted to glaze them with the blackberry preserves and he looked so endearing and delighted when he talked of it. So, in the spirit of compromise, I gave him the task of cooking the pork chops. He broiled them in the oven, flipped them over and put about a teaspoon of blackberry preserves on each and left them in the oven to glaze. This whole process took about ten minutes.

The Hoppin’ John was the side dish as well as leftovers for lunches for the week. Yum!