Sunday, March 30, 2014

Apple Nut Oatmeal Muffins

So several people have asked me since I began the Modern Southern Cook for a muffin recipe that reduces the oil and fat without bananas. Of course. the reasonable substitute is apple sauce. This recipe uses apple sauce both as a substitute for oil as well as a flavoring ingredient. The addition of oats also adds a great texture to the muffin. For an added benefit, while these tender, delicious muffins are in the oven, your house will smell of apple pie, which is never a bad thing! Give these muffins a try; they are absolutely so moist that you would never guess they are a lighter version of something so hearty.

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Oats
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ginger
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 pinch Salt
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Cup Cinnamon Apple Sauce
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 Cup Chopped Pecans
2 Tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
Yield: 6 Jumbo Muffins
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat the muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.
3. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a large measuring cup.
4. Slowly stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. The batter will be thick.
5. Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared muffin pan.
6. Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over the top of the batter.
7. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and the spring back to the touch. You can test with a toothpick for doneness if you are not sure.
8. Remove from the oven and carefully run a knife around the edges of the muffins. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before inverting from the pan.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Oatmeal Muffins

When trying to decide what to make for breakfast this week, I wanted to experiment with a new muffin recipe. By replacing some of the flour with oats, the fiber content of these muffins is bumped up. Additionally, the oil is replaced by a mashed bananas, adding a little sweetness, creaminess, and additional nutrients. This oatmeal muffin has all of the flavor profile of a traditional banana nut without all the guilt....if you feel guilty about things such as that. More than anything, this recipe gives you an extra muffin recipe to add to your archives. Plus, you will have an easy and portable oatmeal breakfast for those rushed weekday mornings!
1 Cup Oats
1/2 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Pecans
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ginger
1 pinch Salt
1 Banana, mashed
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
1. Place the oats into a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until the oats are the consistency of flour.
2. Place the processed oats, flour, brown sugar, pecans, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt into the bowl of a large mixer. Stir to combine.
3. Add the mashed banana. Mix for 1 minute to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
4. Add the milk, egg, and vanilla to the mixer. Mix the ingredients for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl to combine.
5. Prepare a large muffin tin by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
6. Evenly divide the batter between the six muffins.
7. Sprinkle the reserved brown sugar on top of the muffins.
8. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.
9. Allow the muffins to cool at room temperature for 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Grasshopper Lunar Cookies

A few weeks back, I began experimenting to recreate one of my husband's favorite childhood treats. He loves the classic Southern sandwich cookie known as the "Moon Pie." These cookies have a crisp, almost graham cracker like shortbread cookie layered with marshmallow cream and covered in chocolate. After much research and an afternoon in the kitchen, I had developed a pretty good recipe. This recipe is a modification of the original recipe. In honor of Saint Patrick's Day, I added the green food coloring to the marshmallow cream. The mint flavor makes the sandwich cookies reminiscent of another one of my husband's favorite childhood treats, the Andes mint. If you are willing to be patient and try something new, you will love these cookies.

1 Cup Margarine or Unsalted Butter, Softened
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Lightly Packed
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla 
2 1/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Egg Whites
1/8 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
1/8 teaspoon Salt
2/3 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/2 teaspoon Pure Mint Extract
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
15 drops Green Food Coloring
12 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
Yield: 21 Sandwich Cookies
*Note: Read all of the instructions prior to beginning the process.
1. In the bowl of a large mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the margarine/butter until light and fluffy. Add the brown sugar and cream for an additional 3 minutes.
2. Reduce the speed to medium and add the egg and vanilla. Beat to combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl.
3. With the mixer on low, add the flour and salt to the cream mixture, incorporating a little at a time.
4. Divide the dough equally onto two pieces of plastic wrap. Tightly cover and form a small disk. Allow to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
5. After chilling, remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a very well floured baking mat. Roll until between 1/4" and 1/8" thickness. Use a 2 inch cookie cutter to cut the cookies from the rolled out dough. Carefully place the cookies onto a cookie sheet lined with a Silpat mat or parchment paper. Leave at least 1" between each cookie. Place any unused dough back in the plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator while the batch bakes.
6. Bake at 350-degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes before transferring the cookies to a cooling rack.
7. Repeat the process as many times as needed to use all the dough. This will vary depending on the size of cookie sheet you use.
8. Allow the cookies to cool completely.
9. When the cookies are completely cool, begin preparing your marshmallow cream.
10. Place the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt into the bowl of a large mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Slowly increases the speed of the mixer to incorporate air. Continue to whisk until stiff peaks form.
11. While the egg whites are whisking, heat the corn syrup over high heat in a small saucepan. DO NOT STIR!!! Use a candy thermometer to read the temperature of the syrup. Heat, undisturbed, until it reached 235-degrees.
12. Slowly stream the hot syrup in the the stiff peaked egg whites. Continue to beat for 2 minutes until the mixture is glossy.
13. Reduce the speed to low and add the powdered sugar, extract, and food coloring.
14. Using two spoons, mound 1 Tablespoon of the marshmallow cream onto a cooled cookie. Place another cookie on top of the mound and carefully press. If the cream begins to spread unevenly, simply slowly rotate the top cookie to even distribute the filling. Repeat for all of the cookies. Place the sandwich cookies on a cooling wrack placed over a large cookie sheet.
15. To create the chocolate coating, place the chocolate chips and oil in a large heat proof measuring cup or bowl. Heat in 30 second bursts in the microwave, stirring between each heating. Repeat until all of the chocolate is melted. It should take 3-4 bursts.
16. Carefully spoon the melted chocolate over the sandwich cookies, using the back of the spoon to carefully drip the coating over the sides.
17. Refrigerate the sandwiches for at least 1 hour to allow the chocolate to harden and the marshmallow to set.
18. Store cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Smokehouse Brussel Sprouts

My husband loves brussel sprouts. This vegetable is actually one that he had to convince me to eat when we first began dating. I had always heard horror stories about the food and refused to even give them a try. However, what I have found is that I really do love the vegetable. The trick is all in the preparation. This recipe uses fresh brussel sprouts and combines them with one of my husband's other favorited foods, mushrooms. I call these Smokehouse Brussel Sprouts because they are a quick but elegant side dish for your favorite cut of meat. Yet, they are also hearty enough for the vegetarian in your life.

2 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, Divided
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
1 Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 Pound Fresh Brussel Sprouts, Halved
4 Ounces Button Mushrooms, Halved
1. Heat 1 Tablespoon of butter over medium heat with olive oil. Allow the garlic, salt, and peppers to infuse the oil for 1 minute.
2. Add the mushrooms and brussel sprouts. Gently stir to coat in the seasoned oil.
3. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sprouts should be tender but not soggy.
4. Right before serving, add the remaining butter and stir to coat.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sunrise BLT

As I was coming home from work one day this week, all I could think about was what I was going to eat when I got home. I was starving and craving something unusual. During my long commute, several possibilities flooded through my mind, but nothing really said, "Yeah, that's it!" That is until this sandwich came to mind.
A good BLT sandwich is a favorite of mine. I love the crispy, thick bacon piled high on a bed of tomato and lettuce, complimented by the crunchy toast and creamy mayonnaise. However, on this particular day, all I wanted to do was put a fried egg inside. Why? I have no idea, but I am glad that I did. The resulting sandwich was perfection. The still soft yolk combined with the sandwich in a harmonious symphony of texture and flavors. 
So why is it called the Sunrise BLT? Well, as I looked at the sandwich, I thought the perfectly cooked egg looked like a beautiful sunrise on the bed of deliciousness. Whether you are wanting something unique for breakfast, lunch or dinner, give this a try. I am sure glad I did!

2 Slices Toast
3 Slices Bacon
1 Tomato, Thinly Sliced
1 Egg
1 Leaf Lettuce
1 teaspoon Mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper, To Taste
1 Tablespoon Butter or Margarine
1. Cook you bacon according to your favorite method or package directions. I like to place mine on a broiling pan and cook in the oven. To do this method, simply place in a cold oven and then allow the oven to come up to 375-degrees with the bacon inside. By placing the bacon in the oven prior to preheating, this allows the fat to render from slices while it crisps. Once the oven come to temperature, the bacon will take approximately 5 minutes to cook. However, you need to keep a check on it as it will depend on the thickness of your bacon slices. You want to stop the cooking once it is browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before using.
2. While the bacon is cooking, heat the butter/margarine over medium heat in a small skillet. Carefully add the egg to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and allow to cook until the yolk becomes hazed over.
3. To assemble the sandwich, spread the bottom piece of toast with mayonnaise. Top with lettuce, tomato slices, bacon and then top with the egg before placing the other piece of toast on top. To see the "sunrise" cut diagonally, making sure the yolk is in the middle. If cooked properly, the yolk to absorb slightly into the top piece of toast and may even run down through the sandwich. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Quick Crispy Chicken

Sometimes you just want some delicious comfort food for a Sunday night dinner. However, when the thoughts of making a large batch of Southern Fried Chicken come to mind, I dread the process, not to mention that I am not the biggest fan of traditional fried chicken anyways. This recipe takes the stereotypical boneless, skinless chicken breast to a whole new level by marinading it in a milk bath, reminiscent of buttermilk, which will allow the meat to become very tender. If you have buttermilk on hand, simply replace the milk and leave the vinegar out. I very rarely keep buttermilk on hand because of this easy and quick replacement. By allowing the chicken to pan fry, you still get the crispy crust but the oven allows the excess oil to drip away while cooking the center of the chicken. I will be keeping this recipe on hand for quick meals as well as sandwiches and chicken biscuits!
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Oil, For Frying
2 Cups Fat Free Milk
2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 teaspoon Paprika
1. Place the chicken breast between two sheets of wax paper. Using a rolling pin or meat mallet, flatten the breast until it reaches a 1/2" thickness.
2. In a shallow dish, combine the marinade ingredients. Place the flattened chicken breasts into the marinade, making sure to submerge each piece. If your dish is too large and the pieces do not fully submerge, simply flip them halfway through the marinade process.
3. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
4. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature while the frying oil comes to temperature.
5. In a large heavy bottomed skillet, I used cast iron but you could also you an electric skillet, heat 1/8" layer of vegetable or peanut oil over medium high heat until it reaches 375-degrees.
6. While the oil comes to temperature, combine the dredge ingredients in a shallow dish. Remove a chicken breast from the marinade and allow the excess drip off. Thoroughly coat both sides of the chicken with the seasoned flour. Place directly in the hot oil, making sure to lay the meat away from you in order to prevent hot oil from splashing on you.
7. Cook for 4 minutes per side or until golden brown.
8. Remove from the pan and place on a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack.
9. Place in a preheated 375 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165-degrees.