Saturday, February 19

Lemon Berry Muffins

In an attempt to eat breakfast more frequently, I've started making these muffins for Ryan and me on Sundays. They are quick to make, and surprisingly healthy (about 185 calories and 7 grams of fat per muffin) - to make them even healthier use whole wheat flour. You can experiment with whatever type of berries you like - raspberries make them very tart, blueberries are a nice compliment to the lemon also and tone down the tartness. I'm thinking the next time I make these I'm going to put a 1/2 tsp of lavender in the processor with the lemon and sugar to see how that changes the flavor.


Makes 12 muffins

1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp real vanilla extract
2 cups flour (wheat, white or half and half)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup frozen berries (any type or mixed - whatever you like)

Pre-heat oven to 400

Peel rind off lemon with a vegetable peeler, avoiding white pith.  Place rind and sugar into a small food processor and pulse until lemon is well chopped and blended with sugar.  Put lemon sugar into a medium bowl, and add buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla.  Stir with whisk to mix and set aside.

In a larger bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour through salt) and then add wet ingredients to dry and stir with spatula to mix.  Add frozen berries and gently fold into batter.

Spray a muffin pan with oil and using a large spoon (I like my soup spoons for this part) scoop a spoonful of batter and place into each muffin cup.  Bake for 25 minutes or until brown on top.

Remove from oven and eat one or two while they are hot just to make sure they turned out ok :)

Once cool, place them in a ziploc bag and store in the fridge - they'll last you all week!

Black Beans and Rice

This is a great meal because you can make a big pot on the weekend and then eat it for lunch throughout the week.  If you want to use this for a dinner party, pair it with the Chile Rubbed Shrimp.  Just make sure to soak the beans overnight and the rest is easy!  I like to soak my beans in the same pot I plan on cooking them in so that its less dishes to wash.  Also, keep in mind you need to cook the beans for about 2 hours so start them early to have them in time for dinner!

Makes 8 one-cup servings of beans and rice

1 1b dried black beans
2 cups dried rice (whatever type you'd like)
4 cups chicken broth (or veggie if you'd like this to be a vegetarian dish)
2 bouillon cubes
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 sweet onion
3 garlic cloves - skins removed and just slightly mashed with the side of a knife
1/2 celery stalk
3 cilantro sprigs
1 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of coriander
Canned diced green chiles
Chipotle Tabasco

Drain the beans and put them back in the pot.  Add the broth plus 2 cups of water.  Turn on the heat and while the pots starting to heat add the bell pepper, onion, garlic, celery and cilantro to the pot (none of these ingredients need to be chopped - they are just for flavor so leave them whole and keep it easy).  Once the pot starts boiling, turn it down to a simmer and cover for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes add cumin, coriander, and a few dashes of tabasco.  Stir, recover and leave on for another 45 minutes.

Now this time your timer goes off its time to taste the beans - this is the best way to tell if they are done.  The beans should be velvety in texture - not grainy or hard.  If there is any doubt, keep them simmering for another 1/2 hour and you should be good.

While you are waiting for your beans to finish, go ahead and cook your rice.  I like to flavor my rice with the bouillon cubes, but you can leave them out if you'd prefer.

When the beans are done, taste and season with additional tabasco if you'd like.  Stir in about 3/4 can of the diced chiles.  Stir in your rice - use about a 1/2 the cooked rice if you like your beans and rice a bit soupier - or use it all if you want to make it carborific.  Save any left over rice for another purpose (maybe the Cheddar and Poblano Stuffed Portobellos)

Serve hot with garnishes like diced tomatoes, avocado, fresh grated cheddar, cilantro, or sour cream.  This will last 3 days in the fridge so enjoy the leftovers!

Chile Rubbed Shrimp with Avocado Salsa

This is great served with the Black Beans and Rice.  I like cooking it under the broiler, the same way I did for the Shrimp Cocktail, but you can also grill these or saute them with some vegetables.

Serves 4


For shrimp:
1 lb large shrimp
1 tbsp ancho chili powder
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Mix all ingredients except for shrimp in a large bowl.  Peel shrimp and add directly to marinade.  Toss to coat and put in the fridge while you make the salsa.

For salsa:
2 ripe avocados, diced
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
2 tbsp sliced scallions (dark green parts only)
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 lime
kosher salt

Add avocado, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro to a medium bowl.  Squeeze lime over ingredients and season with a bit of salt.  Gently stir to combine and place in fridge while you finish the shrimp.

Place a broiler pan or baking sheet under the broiler and heat on high for 5 minutes.  Place shrimp on hot broiler pan (use should hear them sizzle) and broil for 3 minutes on high.  Flip and broil another 3 minutes on the other side.

Serve hot over rice and beans with avocado salsa as a garnish.

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