A Salute to the Muffin Tin Part 1

This week’s post is something new. It’s not a chronicle of this week’s crockpot magic, but instead its a 2 part salute to another amazing piece of cookery: the muffin tin. Do you catch the part about this being a 2 parter? Get ready.

I feel like the muffin tin is underutilized in general…the name alone sort of hinders it from really reaching its true potential in my opinion. They can do so much more than muffins. As you are about to find out! They are also excellent at making cupcakes! Now, I understand that this isn’t much of a stretch from the norm (you’ll get more of that from part 2) but for most people its a major use for this item.

Cupcakes are the best. You can be as creative or conventional as you want, and whose day isn’t a little better after eating one? As it happens, my friend had a birthday today (Happy Birthday Schmidt!). What better way to celebrate than to make some super fun cupcakes. FYI the main point of this adventure in cupcakery isn’t the recipe (I totally used a box) but the execution.

Now, if you’re going “box” cupcakes you can do no better than funfetti. The recipe allows you to take funfetti to a whole new level by making them….wait for it….TIE DYE. Here’s how to make some cool tie dye cupcakes of your own.

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First you want to prepare the cupcakes per box instructions. Then you want to portion out the batter into individual bowls (the number of bowls is equal to however many colors you want). Then you want to add food coloring to each batter bowl and mix until you get the color you want.

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Then you want to spoon different colors into the cupcake liners. You can pick and choose which colors you want per cupcake. Just glob it in there and the messier/more carefree you are the cooler your tie dye will come out. No need to swirl them.

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See how cool they look when they’re done!

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Its really cool when you take a bite and see all the different color combos.

They are a tasty and fun way to enjoy a favorite treat. I guarantee everyone will love them!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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A Salute to Muffin Tins Part 2

So Part 1 of my salute to the muffin tin covered how to use your tin to make cool tie dye cupcakes. And I admit that while those cupcakes were totally awesome, using a muffin tin to make cupcakes is hardly a revolutionary idea. That’s why I posting this guy. Part 2 will provide you with other, less conventional, ways in which to enjoy your cook wear.

The great thing about the muffin tin is that can divide your food into appropriate serving sizes. If you’re like me and pack lunch and whatnot, this is a VERY convenient feature. The other night I used my tin to make Turkey Meatloaf Muffins. In other words, individual servings of of tasty turkey meatloaf.

Before I tell you how you can make your own I’m going to give you some other treats to make in your muffin tins—individual quiches, beef meatloaf, mini pies, and so much more than muffins.

Here’s how to make your own mini meatloafs (meatloaves?…)

1 package ground turkey (around a pound)
1 egg
1/4 breadcrumbs (I used italian flavored)
minced garlic (I trust that you know how much you like so I won’t regulate)
1 onion chopped small
spices (salt, pepper, other things you like)

In a bowl you want to combine all the ingredients together and form into balls.

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Spray the muffin tin with non-stick spray. Put the balls into the tin and bake at about 350 for around 20-25 mins.

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You get these delightful little meatloafs that you can easily eat and store. (and if you’re having a dinner party you can ensure that everyone gets some!)

I’ll include the side I made with my turkey treats because they were so delicious. I made some baked zucchini fries (A healthy alternative to potato fries).

Here’s what you’ll need: (this recipe serves 2-3)

2 medium/small zucchinis (really depends on how many people you’re cooking for)
1/4 cup bread crumbs (again I used my italian ones)
1/4 Parmesan cheese
1 egg

In a bowl you want to whip the egg a bit with a fork. In another bowl you want to mix up the breadcrumbs and cheese (with any spices you want). You want to peel the zucchini a little because the coating sticks better to the porous parts. Then slice them into thick fries.
Dip the zucchini in the egg and then coat it in the crumb mixture and put onto a cookie sheet. Repeat until all your zucchini is done. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 mins.
NOTE: Zucchini holds a lot of water so you don’t want to make these ahead of time because they’ll get limp.

A meal to warm you up in cold weather

Overall this winter has been CRAZY warm. It was real easy to forget that based on the cold temperatures this past weekend though. 20 degree days…gross.

The cold weather made me crave something weather appropriate. Nothing suits cold weather like a solid soup…or stew…I don’t discriminate. The thing is I am by no means a soup/stew enthusiast. I don’t dislike them, I just don’t prefer them. But hey, when its cold outside you do what’cha gotta do. So I flipped through my cookbooks until I found something that intrigued me.

I settled on Turkey Chowder. Did you even know that there was such a thing? I sure didn’t…but again, I’m no soup expert. I figured it was a solid choice to warm me up, feed me for the week, and not bust my budget. Plus, turkey is one of my favorite things and I like chowder, so it stands to reason that I would enjoy them together.

This is a pretty low maintenance recipe (are you noticing a trend here?) and only takes about 15 minutes of prep time…less if you have good knife skills.

Here’s what you need:

3-4 pieces turkey bacon crisped
1 lb turkey cutlet cubed (1/2 pieces)
1 potato peeled and cubed
1 celery stalk chopped
1 carrot chopped (this seems conservative, I used like 3 smaller ones)
1 onion chopped
2 cups reduced sodium chicken stalk
2 10 oz condensed cream of mushroom soup
spices (salt, pepper, tyme, whatever you want really…you know what you like)

You just throw it all in the crockpot and turn it on. Cook for like 4-6 on high or 8-10 on low.

The result is 8 1 cup servings of a tasty and hearty soup!

Now, I’m a bit of space cadet and I forgot the bacon part (I even had a list at the grocery store!) and mine still tastes good…so I guess you can call that part optional. Though why anyone would willing leave out bacon is mystery I don’t want to understand…

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Simple ingredient list

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the end result

Super Bowl Super Fondue

This week Crocket took a break….partly because I ran short on time this week. BUT I did break out the new fondue pot! I was really excited to use it and when more perfect a time than to whip up a Super Bowl treat.

I started looking online for some fondue recipes (I went cheesy rather than chocolate for the Pot’s maiden voyage FYI) and found some good ones. Fondue can be super heavy calorie count wise, which can be a bummer, but I managed to find a low fat cheddar recipe that ended up being perfect. I also learned some new tricks from this recipe…those of you who have cooked with low fat cheese before probably know that it can be a little challenging….the cheese doesn’t melt quite right. A great trick to remedy this melting problem is by using a mix of regular cheese and low fat cheese, and also using a white bean puree..which helps keep that silky smooth texture.

Additionally, the dark ale that you put in adds great flavor. If you’re like me and know little about beer (if its not Bud Lite, Blue Moon, or PBR I’m in the dark about its “qualities”) asking the people at the liquor store is a smart move. I had a lovely conversation with the guy at my local liquor store…he recommended a suitable dark beer (I gratefully took it) and he told me tales of his honeymoon in Switzerland and the fondue he and his wife had there. Good times had by all.

I put the recipe I found at the bottom of the post. It can be expensive building a pantry from scratch and my budget is tight so I made some substitutions. I don’t have Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or dry mustard, so I used regular mustard, cayenne pepper and some other spices. I got some french bread, broccoli and cauliflower from good’ole Stop & Shop and used those guys as dippers.

For my first attempt at fondue I’d say it went pretty well. I liked it, my friends liked it. And best of all you get a great taste for less calories…and no one will even no the difference!

Cheddar and Ale Fondue:

Ingredients 
15 1/2-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained (such as great northern, navy or cannellini)
12- ounce bottle dark ale or other beer
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup grated reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste

Directions 
In a food processor, combine the beans and   1/4 up of the ale. Puree, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, until very smooth, about 4 minutes.(I used my new Magic Bullet type thing for this and it worked great!)

In a medium saucepan, combine the bean puree and the remaining ale. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to simmer.

Add the cheeses in handfuls, stirring constantly, until the cheese has melted. Stir in the dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.

Transfer to a warm fondue pot.

Per serving: 105 calories; 5g fat (3g saturated); 15mg cholesterol; 7g carbohydrate; 6g protein; 2g fiber; 187mg sodium.