Category Archives: Cooking

Muffin Monday: Apple Cranberry Walnut Muffins

Cranberry Apple Walnut Muffins

Cranberry Apple Walnut Muffins


  • 1 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 3/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup finely diced Apple
  • 1 cup chopped Cranberries
  • 3/4 cup chopped Walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prep muffin cups with baking spray.

2. In a large bowl mix the Whole Wheat Flour, Baking Soda and Pumpkin Pie Spice.

3. In a blender puree the Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Eggs, Vanilla Extract, Apples & Cranberries.

4. Mix the liquid into the dry ingredients until smooth.

5. Add the Walnuts.

6. Divide the batter evenly  into 12 muffin cups.

7. Bake for 20 minutes until muffins are golden brown and pass the toothpick test.

8. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before enjoying.

Cranberry Apple Walnut Muffins fresh from the oven.

Cranberry Apple Walnut Muffins fresh from the oven.

I like the bit of crunch from the walnuts. These are moderately sweet and yummy.


Farm Fresh Challenge: Tomato & Turkey Sauce with Ziti

This week's CSA box from Calverts Gift included: Green beans, tomatoes, french  fingerling potatoes, sweet peppers, escarole, head lettuce, cherry tomatoes, rapini. I also picked up some purple sage from the extras box

This week’s CSA box from Calverts Gift included: Green beans, tomatoes, french fingerling potatoes, escarole, head lettuce, cherry tomatoes, rapini. I traded out the sweet peppers for extra potatoes.  I also picked up some purple basil from the extras box

Goin’ old school with the Farm Fresh Challenge today and keeping it simple with my recipe for Tomato Sauce.


  • 4 Tomatoes
  • 12 Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 bunch Purple Basil
  • Rapini

INGREDIENTS from previous BOX:

  • 1 head of Garlic


  • 1 Tbls butter
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 1 pound lean Ground Turkey
  • 1/2 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 1 pound Ziti
  • shredded Italian Cheese


1. Peel the Garlic. Mince the cloves.

2. Heat the butter in a large pot on the stove. When the butter is melted add the Garlic and brown.

3. Add the Purple Sage and cook for 1 minute.

4.  Peel the large Tomatoes, chop into 1/2″ chunks and add to the Garlic. Cut the Cherry Tomatoes in half and add to the pot.

5. Stirring occasionally so the Tomato Sauce doesn’t stick to the pot cook until the Tomatoes are very soft. About 15 minutes.

6. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

7. Remove to a bowl.

8. Add the Olive Oil to the pot then add the Ground Turkey. Brown completely.

9. Add the Italian Bread Crumbs and cook a few minutes longer.

10. Put the Ground Turkey in with the Tomato Sauce and wipe out the pot.

11. Fill the pot with 4 to 6 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Add the Ziti and a dash of Olive Oil and cook for 14 minutes (or follow directions on package.) When Ziti is tender drain in a collider.

12. Combine the Ziti with the Tomato/Ground Turkey Sauce in the pot, cover and set aside.


Rapini is similar to Brocoli Rabe. Both the stems and leaves are edible. Today well eat the stems.

1. Trim the bottom 1/4″ from the Rapini stems and discard. Cut stems in 1/2″ pieces up to the leaves (which you can save for another meal.)

2. In a second, smaller pot heat 1/2″ of water to boiling. Add the Rapini stems when the water is ready and boil for 5 minutes.

3. Drain and plate with the Ziti.

Garnish with Shredded Italian Cheese.

Tomato Sauce

The great thing about Tomato Sauce is you can add a little of this or a little of that to suit your needs. Next week I’ll be in the kitchen with my nephew who started his own garden this year.  He’s got some Ground Venison in the freezer and I think we’ll try that instead of (or maybe in addition to) the Turkey. Or you could leave out the meat all together.  I also like Onion (but didn’t have any in the pantry. So I’d add that. Pepper is always a nice add in (if everybody can tolerate it. Mushrooms too.

What else to do you add to your Sauce?

Farm Fresh Challenge: Kohlrabi Coleslaw and Polenta Lasagna

Greetings fresh food lovers. We had another amazing box from Calvert’s Gift Farm CSA this week, and farmer Jack, who knows I love Kohlrabi, surprised me with a special gift of the sputnik shaped veggie in my box! Thanks Jack!

Here’s a shot of what I’ll be working with for the Farm Fresh Challenge. (We had more in the box but this is what I chose to use last night.)

Yellow squash, Kohlrabi, Beets, Spring Onion, Sage, Garlic. (Not shown: Mint)

Yellow squash, Kohlrabi, Beets, Spring Onion, Sage, Garlic. (Not shown: Mint)

I decided to make a three part challenge today, a drink, side dish and main dish. All part of…

[Not associated with the real Chopped, the Food Network or Tim Allen.]

[Not associated with the real Chopped, the Food Network or Tim Allen.]

Round One: Cream Mint Tea


1 bunch of Mint leaves, stripped from the stem

1 Red Bush (de-caf) Tea Bag

4 cups Boiling Water

3 cups Almond Milk

3 cups Ice Cubes


1. Heat the water to a boil

2. Brew the Mint Leaves and the Tea Bag for 20 minutes

3. Remove the Tea Bag and Leaves. In batches, place  1/3 of the tea, 1 cup of Almond Milk, and 1 cup of Ice Cubes into a blender and process until smooth. Repeat twice more until the tea is complete.

4. Keep chilled. If Tea flattens, pop it back into the blender for a few seconds to froth it up.

Bubble Tea

Round Two: Kohlrabi Coleslaw


3 medium Kohlrabi

1 bunch of Beets

1 bunch of Spring Onions

1 bunch Radish

1 Fennel Bulb

3 Tablespoons of Mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

1/2 lemon

Salt and Pepper



1. Grate  the Kohlrabi, Beets, Spring Onions, Radish and Fennel (use a large whole grater).

2. In a small bowl mix the Mayonnaise, Olive Oil and the juice of the 1/2 Lemon.

3. Toss the grated vegetables with the Lemony Mayonnaise.

4. Salt and Pepper to taste.

5. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This is an excellent Crisper buster. I not only used the super fresh ingredients from the box (Kohlrabi, Beets, Spring Onion) but I used up some ingredients that I hadn’t had a chance to use from last week (Fennel, Radish). If I had celery or carrots they would have made it into the slaw as well. I think some raisins and or nuts would be an excellent add in. 

BONUS to Baltimore readers: The Beets give this a certain RAVENS purple, so its perfect for a picnic if you want to celebrate our Super Bowl Champs… Just sayin’.

A serving of Kohlrabi Coleslaw goodness.

A serving of Kohlrabi Coleslaw goodness.

Round Three: Polenta Lasagna


1 pre-cooked Polenta “sausage” (my market has this with the rolls in front of the deli counter. It is not refrigerated.)


Cooking Spray

1/4 cup of fresh Sage Leaves

1 whole Garlic

1 bunch of spring Onion

4 medium Yellow Squash

4 slices of Provolone Cheese

Grated Italian Cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste



1. Pre-Heat Foreman Grill to 350 degrees. (You could also use a frying pan)

2. Cut up the Polenta into  1/3″ slices (Warning the Polenta is packed in water…which tends to squirt out when you pierce the plastic wrap.) (Ideally you’ll want to get 15 slices out of the slices — think slice and bake cookies)

3. Spray the surface of the Grill (or pan) and heat the Polenta slices for 5 minutes.

4. Separate the Garlic into cloves.

5. Cut up the Onion and Squash into same size slices.

6. When Polenta is finished cooking remove from grill and set aside. Place the Garlic, Onion and Squash on the grill and cook for 5 minutes.

7. Spray a square glass pan (like a cake pan) and arrange the Polenta. Top with Sage Leaves.
You should be able to fit two row of three slices and a third row of half slices. Put the rest of the Polenta to the side.

8. When the Garlic, Onion and Squash is cooked arrange it in a layer over the Polenta. Top with slices of Provolone.

9. Add a second layer of Polenta. Add extra Sage Leaves, Salt and Pepper and grated Italian Cheese.

Polenta Lasagna

Polenta Lasagna

10. Keep in refrigerator until a few minutes before plating then pop in the Microwave for a few minutes to reheat.

Since you can make this ahead of time it makes for a nice Summer dish. The Polenta Lasagna feeds 3 or 4 adults.

Polenta dinner

Farm Fresh Challenge — Fennel meet Orange

I’m inspired by a recipe on Fox and Fawn Farm’s blog for the muffin half of today’s post. Fox & Farm is a CSA near Minneapolis, MN that’s run by Red and Nina Kirkman. I found the recipe (which I adapted here) through a Google search on ‘what the heck am I going to do with Fennel?’ (really I search for ‘Fennel Muffins’).  If you are looking for some additional farm fresh recipes give their site a look. It is well organized and equally well stocked with recipes and ideas.

Here’s what I took home from my fabulous CSA — Calvert’s Gift — today:

The box was bountiful this week. Carrots, turnips, beets, fennel, zucchini, garlic scrapes. romaine lettuce, mixed greens, eggs

The box was bountiful again this week. My haul included:  Carrots, turnips, beets, fennel, zucchini, garlic scrapes. romaine lettuce, mixed greens, spring onions, green and purple basil and eggs. (Items in bold face are used in today’s Farm Fresh recipe.)

I knew right away that I wanted to make a twist on a Caesar Salad and I wanted to find a muffin recipe for those lovely fennel bulbs. So here we go…

[Not associated with the real Chopped, the Food Network or Tim Allen.]

Week Four [Not associated with the real Chopped, the Food Network or Tim Allen.]

Round One: Fennel Orange Cherry Muffins


  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Vegetable Oil (I used Peanut Oil)
  • 3/4 cup Brow Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 cup grated Fennel Bulb (save the Fennel Tops for the salad)
  • 1/2 cup grated Zucchini
  • 1/2 cup grated Carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced Cherries
Zucchini, Carrots, Cherries and Fennel.

Zucchini, Carrots, Cherries and Fennel prepped and ready to go.

  • 2 1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Sliced Almonds


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep muffin cups with spray.

2. Grate the Zucchini, Carrots, Fennel. Dice the Cherries.

3. Put the Orange Juice, Eggs, Oil, Brown Sugar, and Vanilla in a large bowl and combine. Add the Zucchini, Carrots, Cherries an Fennel.

Isn't that a festive bowl of liquid ingredients?

Isn’t that a festive bowl of liquid ingredients?

4 Add the Flour, Baking Powder and Salt all at once to the liquid and fold in.

5. Divide evenly into 12 muffin cups (I had some left over… so BONUS MUFFIN !) Top with Almonds.

6. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes. (It took the full 35 minutes for me) until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean and muffins look golden brown.

Finished muffin

Finished muffin

Round Two: Orange Caesar Salad w/Veal Sausage


  • 1 head Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 cups assorted Spring Mix
  • 2 Spring Onions
  • 1/4 cup Garlic Scrapes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Fennel Tops, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic, finely minced
  • 5 leaves of Purple Basil, chopped
  • 2 slices of Bread, cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Eggs, coddled
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 pound Weisswurst (Veal Sausage)


1. Whisk together the Olive Oil and Garlic in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the EGGS and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes to coddle. Remove eggs from water and set aside. Refresh water and bring to a boil.

Eggs Coddled

I’m not big on adding raw eggs to a salad, which is traditional for a Caesar. I found a recipe that recommended Coddling the eggs so they are par cooked. You still get the lovely velvety-runny yolk, but it isn’t 100% raw. **

3. Clean the Lettuce/Spring Mix and pat dry with a paper towel. Break up the Romaine into  1″ to 2″ pieces. Chop the Spring Onion, Fennel tops, Purple Basil and Garlic Scrapes. Cut up the Bread.

4. Toss all the veggies and bread*  into the Olive Oil.

All the veggies in the salad before mixing or dressing

All the veggies  and bread in the salad before mixing or dressing

5. Put the Weisswurst in the boiling water to cook. When the skin breaks on the sausage it is ready.

6. In a medium bowl whisk the Orange Juice, Worcestershire Sauce, Coddled Eggs, Parmesan Cheese and a dash of Salt and Pepper together.  Pour the dressing over the greens and toss gently but well.

7. Plate the salad topped with sliced Weisswurst with a muffin on the side. Garnish with an additional sprig of Fennel top. Enjoy.

Plated meal.

Plated meal.

I liked the brightness that the orange juice brought to the Caesar Salad, and I’m digging the Orange / Fennel combo. The muffins were just sweet enough. The Cherry / Orange / Fennel combo worked well there too. They are moist and you’ll probably want to keep them in the fridge on these summery days.


Previously on Farm Fresh Challenge / Parkton Chopped:

• Farm Fresh Challenge: Kohlrabi Stir Up

Roasted Turnip Salad

Turnip and Ham Salad

*Maggie suggest adding the bread later.

**(If a par cooked, runny egg still leaves you running for the hills, then hard cook the eggs. Chop up hard boiled eggs and use a garnish. — But add a tablespoon of mayonnaise to the dressing to act as a binder.)

Muffin Monday: Ginger Molasses Muffins

With a name like Ginger Molasses Muffins you’ve got to expect a powerful amount of sass in the flavor profile arena, and these muffins don’t disappoint. The only thing I found misleading is that they look incredibly chocolatey, which they are not. Still, they are so flavorful I doubt you’ll miss the chocolate.


Ginger Molasses Muffins


  • 3/4 cup melted Butter
  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 2 Eggs slightly beaten


  • 1/8 teaspoon  Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon Ground Cloves


  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream


  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Blackstrap Molasses


  • 1/2 cup Pecan pieces


  • 1/2 cup Dates


  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 medium Zucchinni, grated



1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prep 18 muffin cups with a light coating of cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl add the ingredients one at time in order. Mix after each addition.

3. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Test with the toothpick test — if a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean they are done.


5. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes.

6. Remove from muffin cups and cool an additional 5 minutes  before enjoying.

Taster Maggie S. called them the “perfect rainy day muffin” and said “these muffins are so good I ate a second one without seeking permission!”




Bonus Muffins — The Dunder Mufflin

Aren't these the cutest little muffins ever? The plates are from a set my grandmother used to have. I never knew what those tiny little plates were for. But now I know -- mini muffin plates!

Aren’t these the cutest little muffins ever? The plates are from a set my grandmother used to have. I never knew what those tiny little plates were for. But now I know — mini muffin plates!

I didn’t think it would happen, but it did. I miss The Office. I know that all things must come to an end (and, honestly, the really the good part of this Thursday night staple passed several years ago — though it has had a rebound of late). And now I find I miss my weekly dose of Jim and Pam, and Dwight and the gang.

So when my brilliant and creative husband suggested I create a muffin called the Dunder Mufflin I jumped at the chance.

The one ingredient I knew it had to have… Beets! And they had to be mini muffins to make them muffLINS.

Here goes…


Dunder Mufflins



  • 1 1/2 c White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 c Almond Meal (or if you are frugal like Dwight, Almonds that you grind in a Blender)
  • 1 Tbsp of Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 c of Brown Sugar
  • 1 c non fat Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 stick (4 oz) melted Butter
  • 1 cup Cherries
  • 1 Cup Beets


  • 1/3 c Flour
  • 2 Tbsp White Sugar
  • 1/2 stick (4 oz) melted butter
  • 1/3 cup Almond Meal
  • 1/2 c Sliced Almonds


1 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prep 36 mini muffin cups with paper liners and spray.

2. Grate the Cherries in a food processor or blender.

3. Grate the Beets in a food processor or blender.

grated beets

4. Combine the Flour, Almond Meal, Baking Powder and Salt in a large bowl.

5. In a medium bowl beat the Eggs and Brown Sugar together, add the Milke and Almond Extract. Slowly add the Melted Butter.

6. Combine the liquid to the dry to create a smooth batter.

7. Fold in the Cherries and Beets.


8. Divide the batter evenly into the mini baking cups.

9. In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients for the Topping.


10. Top each Mufflin with some of the Topping. (I had left over topping).

11. Bake for 20 minutes. Mufflins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before enjoying.


I would not put the Dunder Mufflins in the sweet muffin catagory, but they are very good. The beets were undetectable, and the cherries gave it just a little bit of a kiss of flavor (but didn’t make the muffins too tart). They were moist, but not gooey.  A nice mild muffin to get your work day off right. Kind of the Pam of the muffin world.

I think the guys at the Office would give these Mufflins their nod of approval.


IMG_2525 (Photo credit: justiny8s)

Farm Fresh Challenge: Roasted Turnip & Beet Salad

finished plate

Welcome to week two of the Farm Fresh Challenge! Or as I like to call it…

[Not associated with the real Chopped, the Food Network or Tim Allen.]

[Yeah … I’m gonna use that graphic until Tim Allen asks me personally to cut it out.]

I picked up the box at the CSA and it was filled with similar bounty of wonderfulness.

A CSA, you’ll recall, stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and we get our share from Calvert’s Gift Farm in Sparks, MD. We’ve been a part of Calvert’s Gift for five years now, and there’s a lot to love about the farm…

  • the produce picked fresh and is organic
  • it taste terrific
  • the farm is super local, so I don’t fret about the carbon footprint of eating a veggie that’s been trucked from another state (or country!)
  • there is a share box at the barn to swap out a product that doesn’t fit my dietary needs / tastes
  • there are always extras in the bonus box.
  • Calvert’s Gift also has a stall at the Kenilworth Farmers Market on Tuesdays and the Bel Air Farmers Market on Saturdays. Sometimes — when I’m feeling particularly cook-y —  I hit the market too.
  • the CSA is intimate, so as share holders we aren’t just a number
  • Jack and Becky, the farmers are friendly and helpful

Last week’s Turnip and Ham Salad was a huge hit with my family, so when I saw turnips in the share this week I knew I wanted to do another kind of salad.  Blessed with a bit of cooler weather I decided to roast some veggies to make

Roasted Turnip Salad…

In the CSA box I had:

2 Bunches of Scallions, trimmed with the stems chopped and the bulbs set aside

green Onions

2 Bunches of Turnips, greens and roots trimmed off  and turnips cut into 1/2″ chunks.


1/2 cup of Carrots, cut into 1/2″ chunks (technically my carrots were left from last week’s box)


12 medium organic strawberries, diced


I head of lettuceLettuce

From  the pantry:

1 cup of beats, cut into 1/2″ chunks

3 Tbsp virgin Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon Red Pepper

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Parsley

2 teaspoon Cilantro

1/4 cup grated Italian Cheese

1 COOKED Chicken Breast, diced (optional)


4 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard

(Chopped tops from the Scallions from above)

Salt and Pepper to taste


1 Pre Heat the oven to 350 degrees

2. Put the Scallions, Turnips, Carrots and Beets into a bowl and toss with the 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, Red Pepper, Salt, Parsley and Cilantro.

Turnip Salad tossed

3. Once the vegetables are coated transfer to a roasting pan.they should be in a single layer.  Put the pan into the heated oven for 20 minutes.

4. Carefully stir the vegetables and heat for an additional 10 minutes.

5. While the veggies are roasting prepare the dressing by whisking the Olive Oil, Apple Cider vinegar and Mustard together. Add the Scallions.

6. Once the vegetables are tender enough to pierce with a fork remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

veggies in roasting pan

7. Dress the veggies and add the chicken (optional), strawberries and cheese. Toss gently.

8. Serve on a bed of fresh lettuce greens. Enjoy warm or chilled.

Turnip beet cheese

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