Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins

These muffins are one of my very favorite "signs of fall." The recipe is my mom's; if you don't know her personally, rest assured that she is a fantastic cook. She does cool things like persuade ethnic grocers to give her cooking lessons; then we all reap the benefits (not that these are ethnic grocery muffins, but you get the idea). The point is, while I usually only post recipes here that I've made up or adjusted, these muffins are just dandy the way they are.

So here you go.
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil (I substitute applesauce)
2 eggs
3/4 c. canned pumpkin (about half of a 15-oz can, although I generally use leftover sugar pumpkin puree)
1/4 c. water
1 1/2 c. flour (I do 100% whole-wheat but you could substitute in white flour for part)
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. chocolate chips

Combine wet ingredients, then add dry, then add chocolate chips. If you care about perfect;y rounded muffin tops, don't overmix; I prefer knowing that everything is well mixed, and (as you can see in the picture), I really don't care about peaked muffins. Except that one time when I was seven or eight and I had to make about four batches of muffins for the state fair in order to get twelve that were perfectly rounded. I think that's why peaks are fine with me now.

Spoon into muffin tins (I just grease the muffin tins and don't bother with wrappers, since I don't want to lose any goodness that's stuck on a wrapper) and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Makes 1 dozen.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Whipped sweet potatoes

Oooh, I just LOVE sweet potatoes. They're so redolent of the holidays! But I hate them with marshmallows on top, because I want to feel justified in eating them all the time (plus I really only like marshmallows in s'mores).

The recipe below is one I found in MS Living. I usually make it without the cream and with about 1/3 stick of butter rather than half a stick, and I add a teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of nutmeg. Sometimes I just leave out the butter entirely. I also usually don't do the apple topping (because I like it to be a make-ahead thing that doesn't need attention while it's cooking). In the past I've cooked it without a topping entirely, or with a little bit of brown sugar sprinkled under flaked coconut, or with brown sugar underneath very thin sliced rings of apple. All are equally delicious. Whatever you do, just don't leave out the ginger--that's what elevates this to something really tasty and a little bit surprising (in a good way).

Anyway, here you go!

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Carmelized Apples
from November 2006 Martha Stewart Living. Serves 6.

4 large sweet potatoes (yams), pierced with the tines of a fork
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 T. heavy cream
1/2 c. applesauce, preferably homemade
2 t. grated fresh peeled ginger
1 t. coarse salt freshly ground pepper

2 apples (1 lb) peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 T. sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375. Arrange potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment (I use tin foil, but make sure you do this so you avoid sticky goo all over the oven).Bake until tender, 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand until cool enough to handle.

2) Cut each potato lengthwise. Scoop flesh into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; discard skins. Add 2 T. butter and the cream; mix on medium speed until smooth. Mix in applesauce and ginger, season with salt and pepper.

3) Transfer potato mixture to an oven-proof dish. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.

4) Meanwhile, toss apples with sugar in a bowl. Melt remaining 2 T. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apple mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are golden and carmelized, about 10 minutes. (I ended up adding about 2 t. brown sugar while the apples were cooking.)

5) Remove potato mixture from oven, top with carmelized apples, and serve.