Archive | May, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Salad

29 May

This is probably the easiest salad you could make.  It takes a little time to roast the veggies, but you can easily do the cooking several days in advance.  They’re also great right out of the oven (without the balsamic vinegar on them). 

You can, of course, use any vegetables you like, in any combination you like.  We had a ton of veggies in our CSA box, so the salad in this photo contains: yellow and green zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, onions, and garlic.  All but the onions and garlic actually came from the box, so there was already a ton of flavor from local organic produce.  Roasting brought out all the sweetness, and the balsamic vinegar just helped to round out the flavors with a little acidity.

Serve this as a cool summer side dish, alone or tossed with greens.  Or add some chicken or shrimp and make it a meal.  It’s satisfying and oh so tasty.  Oh, and it’s awfully pretty too!

Elisa’s Roasted Vegetable Salad

  • 3 cups chopped mixed fresh vegetables (see note above)
  • 1  tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

In a large roasting pan, toss vegetables with salt, pepper, and oil.  Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and lay out in a thin layer on a clean baking sheet and cool in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.  Toss with balsamic vinegar in a bowl.  Serves 4.

I told you it was simple…  But oh so good….

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An Interesting Musical Opportunity

27 May

I don’t put stock in fortune cookies.  I know full well that they’re written by underpaid workers in San Francisco.  But I have to admit that when I opened mine last week at PF Chang’s I got a little shiver.

I’ve never before had one that was at all specific, you see.  Always “you will receive great riches” or “friendship is your greatest asset” or something.   But this one:

In case you can’t see the photo for some reason, it says: “An interesting musical opportunity is in your near future.”

Strange…  How much of the population would actually welcome an “interesting musical opportunity”?

I kept it for that reason – that it was so strangely specific.

And, well, it looks like my near future was nearer than I realized.

Last year my college choir buddy, Lyndon, performed with his band, LP7, at the San Diego County Fair.  I had just reconnected with him on Facebook, and I dragged my husband with me to see the performance.  I remember thinking that I could totally sing backup – his backup singers were great, but I already knew at least half of the songs’ backing vocals without trying.

You see, it’s an odd talent of mine that I can sort of pick apart the vocals in a song on the radio, and I’ve always always been able to hear the backing vocals just as well as the lead ones…  I thought it was how everyone heard music, until I was singing along to the radio one day and my dad asked me what on earth I was singing, and then how on earth I could hear that harmony.  It served me well during my years as a Teaching Assistant in the UCSD Gospel Choir – if the tenors or altos or basses needed extra help, I could easily pick out and sing their part with them, and then go back to singing soprano.

Anyway, it turned out that one of Lyndon’s backup singers was moving, shortly after last year’s Fair performance.  I sort of half-jokingly said, “hey, if you need another backup singer, let me know!”  Over the intervening months, it came up a couple of times, but we determined that it would be pretty difficult for me to make practices in North County on weeknights.  So it was sort of tabled.

But…  This Tuesday morning I got an e-mail.  Lyndon’s band had a gig at the fair and he really needed a backup singer.  Even though it would be a tough timeline, did I think I might be able to make it work?  Would I be interested?

Hmmm…  An interesting musical opportunity?

Heck yes.

In college, the group of us choir friends used to mess around vocally after practice – think about how the kids on Glee are always playing with songs.  We’d just choose a song and play, finding harmonies.  Musical people are like that – my old coworker Jeff and I would sit and harmonize for hours at work – and it’s an unique cameraderie. 

I already knew how well my voice blends with Lyndon’s (some people have voices that go well together – it’s in the vocal qualities – and others just don’t).  I only considered for a few minutes before writing back – YES.  I did ask my husband whether he was okay with me practicing in the evenings (not for permission, but for his blessing, since it’ll mean some nights where he has to fend for his own dinner!); his response was that singing made me happy, so of course.

Now, it’s not glamorous being a backup singer.  Lord knows, it’s probably not something I’d want to do for a lifetime.  But we had two rehearsals so far, and I am relishing singing three-part harmony again…  It turns out that my voice also blends really well with Rebecca’s (the other backup singer).  It sounds SO good.  And it’s coming fairly easy – there are some original songs in the set, so I have a lot of words to learn, but I can hear most of the harmonies I have to sing without really worrying.  There were even a few songs where the band started playing and I started singing on the right notes, no preparation needed, which was insanely cool.

It’s literally been years (almost a decade?  can it be?) since I performed in public – growing up, it was rare for me to go a month or two without being on stage.  So I’m a little nervous, but mostly incredibly excited.

Our performance is coming up on June 15th at 3pm at the San Diego County Fair.  Tickets can be purchased at any Albertson’s for only $3!  I know it’s not a time that will work for everyone, but I’d love to see you there if you can make it!

Gardening!

19 May

I swear even though it looks like all I do all day is cook, we are soooo much busier than that!  Aside from job-hunting (so frustrating) and a host of other projects I’d wanted to finish, I finally got to plant the garden I’ve been dreaming about.  Okay, maybe not the garden I’ve been dreaming about, since that distinction is currently given to the beautiful garden in It’s Complicated:

This was obviously not my photo; it's all over the internet, and not the best view of the gorgeous garden at that... Oh, if I only had the room for such a garden!

We have a pretty tiny backyard.  It’s got clay soil and either gets a TON of sun or none at all.  So it’s a challenge.  I gardened back there in 2006 and 2007, but was so incredibly busy in 2008 that what little got planted never got watered (sigh).  In 2009 I didn’t even bother.

Unfortunately, weeds took over.  In mid-2009, though, hubby and I covered the whole yard with black tarp and left it there.  In December, we removed it, in anticipation of the use of his uncle’s roto-tiller (we attempted to work the ground by hand, but it was packed solid).  There were a few yellowed strands of crabgrass under the tarp, and unfortunately we got hit pretty hard by an industrious gopher, but overall the whole place looked good.  And weed-free.

Sadly, hubby’s uncle’s roto-tiller had to wait; between rain, the holidays, more rain, and his uncle’s schedule, we simply couldn’t get the tilling done.  Finally in late March we were able to rent a tiller, but not before we had killed four-foot dandelions (courtesy of all the rain we got during those three months) with boiling water and spent days ripping out the roots (I really really really don’t want to use chemicals – I try to garden organically).  I have a photo but I refuse to post it.  It’s bad.  Really really bad.  I feel really sorry for my neighbors who had to walk by it!

We then began a very long process of re-setting the paver patio (something I will never, EVER do again – I’d rather build a wooden deck myself than have to deal with paving sand again, and despite our liberal use of expensive paver  fabric that hubby assured me would guard against weeds, we’re already getting crabgrass poking through), and planting the garden beds (6 in back, 2 in front – hubby got the landlord’s ok to till the front of the house, where the sprinkler’s demise had caused all the grass to die).  We got weed control fabric (luckily cheap at Big Lots), drip hoses, and a TON of cedar wood mulch (which, I know, they say might harbor pests – but it was either that or weed every night, so we’re going to try this…  plus it looks nice and keeps my plants moist).  We have literally poured hundreds of hours into getting this yard useable and pretty again.

I have to play the proud momma and share baby photos of my garden:

Squash bed (finished last night!). Includes four globe artichoke (I purchased a single plant four years ago and never watered it but it's divided three times!), 5 patty pan squash, Malabar spinach (it apparently grows on a VINE, hence the support), and pots containing strawberries and the avocado tree I luckily didn't kill a year ago.

Cucumber and Pepper Bed - Includes two tomatoes (that's Kellogg's Breakfast at the edge, and Camp Joy in the middle), 9 pepper plants (including Purple Belle, Cubanelle, Tequila Sunrise, and a couple of others), three lemon cucumber plants, three "pickling"-size cucumber plants, and a tomatillo. Behind the bed you can barely see the bottom of the pot my garlic plant is in; beyond that are the two smallest beds in the yard. I've planted okra and herbs in one, and the other will be for sunflowers.

Tomato Bed - includes three tomato plants (from the top, Sungold, Black Krum, and Isis), Lavender Eggplant, several basil plants, parsley, and dill (both of which were planted after this photo was taken). Against the fence you might just be able to see some bean seedlings. I love being able to walk out the kitchen door and grab herbs!

We’ve already got quarter-sized green tomatoes on my Sungold plant, and Isis, Black Krum, and Kellogg’s Breakfast are flowering.  We have peppers on three of our nine plants (two on Tequlia Sunrise plants and one Cubanelle), and flowers on the rest, and the cucumber and tomatillios are flowering too.  No flowers yet on the patty pan squash, okra, or watermelon – but give it time.

Teeny-tiny tomato; this little guy was set this week on my Sungold plant.

This was one of the very first tomatoes my Sungold plant set.

Baby Tequila Sunrise pepper

The second set of seeds were planted yesterday (the first set having been decimated by birds – although I did get two squash plants and a single corn – from 20 seeds! – out of the ordeal), including pumpkins, okra, and salsify (which I’ve never tried, but if I’m successful I’ll blog about). 

Seeds! Clockwise from the yellow straw on the top: Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin, Sweet Pea, Parsnip, Butternut Squash, Round Carrots, Jack-be-Little Mini Pumpkin, Multicolored Sunflowers, Okra, Salsify, and two pots of bush beans. In the middle are corn, and in the side container are more pole beans, since about half of my others were eaten by the birds.

We’ve even got some flowers – planted in the shady part of the yard, with the lettuce and beets, and some of the herbs. And I saw this beautiful pinwheel at Big Lots a few weeks ago and had to pick it up.

I've had a thing for pinwheels since I was a kid. This one's about three feet tall, and if I'd have seen it 28 or 29 years ago I think I'd have flipped out! The stains on the wall are from the people who lived there before us; they had climbing roses.

And even though I’ve been gardening for years, and have read a TON of gardening books (my favorite is the Reader’s Digest one my sister got me in 2006!), I’m still learning new things.  For example, it’s my first time planting eggplant (since I only really learned to like it last year).  Did you know that there are fierce spikes on the leaves?

I knew artichokes and okra defended themselves... But it was a total surprise when I was working with the eggplant and got stuck by these spikes!

My garden has always been my sanctuary – last time I had a nice garden, I would come home after work and sit for an hour or more just weeding away.  I’d have breakfast on the patio.  Of course it wasn’t always all veggies – at one time I spent over $100 on sod, and would come home at lunchtime just to water it.  The landlord’s gardeners mowed it – twice, the second time after our express request for them not to – in the middle of July, when it was only a few months old.  Of course it was dead soon afterwards.  Oh well, more room for veggies!

My very first garden, complete with the doomed grass and the first incarnation of the patio, in April 2006. The veggies were only in the bed behind the patio - the rest was flowers. The tree you see on the left edge of the photo was chopped down a few months later by the landlord because it was getting in the plumbing. Sad - I liked that tree.

Four years ago a little baby mockingbird came out of a nest as Hubby (who was not yet Hubby) and I were eating lunch out there, and got wedged between some chairs.  I moved them so he could get out, and we went inside to watch as his mother found him and fed him.

He was stuck between these chair legs in the corner of the yard! Doesn't he look like a cranky little old man?

Taken through the bedroom window screen, you can see the mommy bird on the tomato cage in my first garden; she's got food for baby (the shadow under the leaves on the right!)

Gardening makes me feel like I am doing something right – like not only am I helping to put good food on my table, but I’m helping the environment.  Yes, it takes water (although when we move, eventually we’ll get a rain barrel and perhaps even a gray water system).  And it’s not cheap, or particularly easy.  But I’m not only getting awesome yummy vegetables, I’m also enjoying myself.  I feel centered when I’m out there, and happy.

There’s still a lot to do – we have to finish three more garden beds and clean out the area next to the house where hubby left a “pretty” weed that has now grown literally up to the roof (oops), for starters, and finish putting things in their proper places (like the barbeque in the photo above) – but I’m so incredibly excited to finally have a garden of my own again!

All of this work is making me think about what we’ll do when we have a house of our own – which will eventually happen, even if it’s happening later than I’d hoped.  I’m thinking raised beds, an automatic sprinkler system, a deck or poured concrete patio, a pretty flower bed with a bench shaded by grape vines, and fruit trees!  Money permitting, of course. 🙂

Homemade Margherita Pizza

17 May

I love making pizza – it’s a beautiful meal, and can be quick and easy.  Oh sure, many pizza recipes call for parking the dough in the fridge for a day or two, but my (admittedly unorthodox) version uses a dozen ingredients (including salt, pepper, and all the pizza dough ingredients) and was on the table in less than an hour.

And is so, so good.

The first thing you have to remember is that even though bread dough typically does best when it’s allowed to rest and rise for an hour or more, there are no food police who will come cuff you for ignoring that part.  The second thing is that using a few simple ingredients that are really, really good often yields better results than using a ton of fancy ingredients.  So when you’re looking for tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil, go for the best specimens you can find.

And, without any further ado…

Elisa’s Margherita Pizza

  • Bread dough to make one pizza crust (aka 1/2 of my basic bread dough recipe, or 1 1/2 tsp yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 1 1/4 cups water, 1 tsp salt, and enough flour to make a wet dough)
  • 12 small garlic cloves, skin on (you can use larger ones, and adjust the numbers accordingly, but I had a ton of the teeny tiny ones that I hate to peel and I wanted something that cooked quickly)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced (obviously you can use larger or smaller ones; I ended up with about a cup of tomatoes)
  • 2 handfuls of fresh basil (about 2 tbsp chopped – and please don’t use dry basil here)
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley (about 1 tbsp chopped… this is optional but I do like it)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, or several ounces of sliced mozzarella cheese (the sliced stuff won’t melt as well, though)
  • small uncooked shrimp, sausage, or chicken pieces (optional and not traditional, but we often add them if we’re looking to have this as our main meal with salad instead of a side dish)

Please read the basic bread dough recipe first, as I’m just going to gloss over the technique here.  While the yeast, sugar, and water for the pizza dough proof in a bowl, wrap the garlic cloves in tin foil and pop them in the toaster oven at 300 (use a toaster oven for this step so you can bake the crust in the oven at the same time).  Check on them often; you want them to roast enough to mash well but the idea isn’t to burn them, and small cloves burn faster than large ones.  Yes, I know that this is also not a traditional technique for roasting garlic, but it works well for this purpose!

I actually am finding myself making more use of my stand mixer with it’s dough hook for wetter doughs; I like to mix pizza dough with less flour than I would use making standard “smooth and elastic” dough, especially when I’m not going to let it rise for a long time.  For this pizza, I’d say to add about a cup and a half of flour to the mixer and let it incorporate fully before adding any more; if the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, you don’t need to add any more.  Obviously you can mix this by hand – I’d actually say to use a big spoon rather than your fingers, since I really do prefer to keep this sticky.  Let your stand mixer mix this dough for 3-5 minutes on medium (but don’t let the dough creep out the top – if it starts to, push it down and turn down the mixer).  Add a little olive oil to the bowl to coat the outside of the dough and set it aside, covered by a towel, in a warm place, to rest for 10 minutes.

Lay out your tomatoes on top of a paper towel on a plate and salt and pepper them.  You don’t want to use too much – I use about a teaspoon of each – but this will be all the seasoning for the pizza, so don’t skip this step.  Also, don’t skip the paper towel – it ensures that you don’t have too much liquid on the pizza.  Set the tomatoes aside while you chop the herbs.

After the dough has rested for 10 minutes, stretch it out on a large cookie sheet to your desired thickness (I like a nice thick outer crust with a thin inside).  Immediately bake it in a preheated oven at 450 for 7 minutes. 

While the crust is cooking, remove the garlic from the toaster oven and unwrap the tin foil.  Enjoy the gorgeous aroma before de-skinning the garlic (it peels very easily when it’s cooked this much, and sometimes you just need to poke it a little and the whole clove comes out).  Mash it up a little bit in a bowl or on a plate before the crust comes out of the oven.

Remove the crust from the oven (it will only be slightly baked, but it will ensure that the middle gets completely cooked) and top it with the mashed garlic.  You really want to make sure that every piece has some nice garlicky flavor, so spread it thinly throughout.

I usually lay out my tomatoes and then add basil and parsley and any meat I’m using before drizzling olive oil on the top and scattering mozzarella cheese on the top.  I find that this way I don’t have puddles of olive oil or burned herbs, but your mileage may vary.

Pop the pizza back in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese gets bubbly and starts to get golden brown on the edges.  Enjoy with a large salad or as an appetizer.

I included some small shrimp on top of this piece, but this pizza is awesome as a side with just the mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Perfection.

Tuscan Beans

14 May

Actually I have no idea if this recipe is actually Tuscan.  More likely, it’s just a mash-up of various things.  A sort of Italian-herbed version of a French cassoulet.  But it’s what my family makes frequently and calls “Tuscan Beans.”  Whatever you call it, this is a good dish.  A great dish.  A super-simple and oh-so-satisfying dish, eaten as a side or a main.  With meat or without.  It’s not a recipe that needs careful supervision (no constant stirring required, and no chance of burning on medium-low).  It can be made in a pot on the top of the stove, or a crock pot on the counter (if you decide to go this route, I’d cook the aromatics and sausage in a separate pan and combine them with the beans and tomatoes and just a little wine in the crock pot for a few hours on low).  It can be refrigerated or frozen and warmed up at your leisure.  My family makes giant batches of it for family parties – I make less-giant batches of it for my husband and I to nosh throughout a week (it’s one of my favorite lunches).

Basically, you need to make this dish.

There’s not much to it – beans, a few aromatics (you’ll notice the same ones I use in my spaghetti sauce – most Italian soups and sauces start with this base), some herbs and fresh tomatoes, and some wine.  Sausage or another meat if you wish.  But, oh, the possibilities.  I like to eat this alongside some beautiful roasted chicken.  Or some crusty Italian bread.  Or smeared on top of flatbread.  Or in a big old bowl by itself.  Don’t judge.

It doesn’t hurt to double or triple the recipe, either, just to make sure you have some on hand for later.  I can’t take all the credit for this recipe – my family sort of developed it all together.  But I did write it down! 🙂

Elisa’s Family’s Tuscan Beans

  • olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (you want to have a ratio of approximately twice as much onion as carrot, and approximately as much carrot as celery)
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery, chopped
  • 4-8 cloves garlic, mashed (what? I like garlic!)
  • 2 links Italian sausage, chopped (optional; it’s very good without, but I do add this when I’m making these beans as a main dish)
  • 3/4 cup tomato pieces (I used grape tomato halves, about half a container; you could also use a couple of medium tomatoes, cut up, or even a small can of drained diced tomatoes)
  • 2 cans low-sodium white beans, rinsed and drained (Organic beans often have the lowest sodium content of grocery store beans…  I like to use white northern beans or white kidney beans; cannelini tend to be a little mushier but are also tasty…  of course you could also use any other bean you might have in the cupboard, or you could soak dry beans overnight and use them!)
  • 1-2 cups dry white wine (whatever you like to drink; I typically use Pinot Grigio if I have it in the house…  you could also subsitute low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth here, or water, but I like the flavor wine brings to the dish)
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped (approx. 1 tbsp; you can sub about 1 1/2 tsp dry parsley if you need to)
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil, chopped (approx. 2 tbsp; you can sub about 1 tbsp dry basil)
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Add enough oil to barely coat the bottom of a medium saucepan.  Warm it on medium-low heat until the oil shimmers.  Add the onion and cook for 1 minute.  Add the carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables have softened (7-10 minutes).  Add the garlic, stir, and cook for 1-2 minutes or until garlic has softened.  Add the sausage pieces (if using) and cook until they begin to look cooked (no need to cook through, but you want to give them a little color; about 5-7 minutes); if you’re not using sausage, just cook your aromatics for another few minutes before adding tomatoes.  Add your tomatoes and let cook for 5-7 minutes or until they’re softened.  Add the beans and parsley, plus a little black pepper, and enough white wine to barely cover the beans.  Stir everything together and add a bay leaf.  Cook for 15-20 minutes uncovered on medium-low heat.  The beans should simmer but not boil, and most of the liquid will evaporate.  If you let your beans boil too hard they can explode and the beauty of this dish is that the beans are perfectly cooked at the end; most of them should still be toothsome, like al dente pasta.  Once most of the liquid has evaporated, turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf, and taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir in chopped basil.  Serve immediately or refrigerate overnight (because like a good sauce they’re better the next day!).

It may not look like much, but this is a bowl of beany goodness!

Avocado Ice Cream

7 May

We had a ton of avocados from our last CSA box (the next one comes in just three days – hooray!), so we decided to try something completely new. 

 The owner of our favorite ice cream shop (Mariposa Ice Cream in Normal Heights – seriously, if you haven’t been here, you need to!) said a while ago that he’d made avocado ice cream in years past.  Unfortunately the price of avocados had been too high for him to do so recently.  But we had them…

And my parents dug out their (once-used) ice cream maker and gave it to me.

So we had to make avocado ice cream.  We just had to try it.

Overall I trust most recipes from Food Network’s Alton Brown, so we decided to use his (from the Food Network website):

  • 12 ounces avocado meat, approximately 3 small to medium
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Basically you puree the avocados with the other ingredients and then dump it all in your ice cream maker.  Give it a half hour to spin around and then pop it in the freezer for 6 hours.  No one said it was easy!

    But it was pretty tasty.  It tasted better when it was totally frozen (as opposed to just churned).  It was definitely an avocado-flavored ice cream, so it was a little strange.  But tasty and not super sweet.  I will say I probably didn’t churn it enough – it was a little icy – but it was definitely worth trying!

    Strawberry Balsamic Muffins

    3 May

    Sooo… I happened to get a great deal on a box of strawberries yesterday at the Farmer’s Market.  Unfortunately one whole basket (out of the three) was on it’s last legs – several of the berries had mushy spots and a few at the bottom had molded.  2/3 of the berries were fabulous right out of the basket, but once I picked through (and tossed the moldy ones too!), I had this whole basket of just-too-ripe berries.  Well, what’s a girl to do but bake?

    I know I’d just made strawberry-banana muffins last week, and while I actually “rescued” a couple of brown-spotted bananas from my parents’ house this weekend I didn’t feel like doing the same today.  So I adapted my basic low-fat banana muffin recipe (which I have yet to post, but eventually I will!) to make all-strawberry muffins instead.

    Except I really did want another flavor too.  So I added some balsamic vinegar to the mix, and – voila! – Strawberry Balsamic Muffins.  Yummy!

    I am posting the recipe here, with one notable difference from how I made them.  I totally forgot to add in the baking soda.  And with the vinegar in the recipe, this was one time that I really should have included it.  I think with the additional leavening these guys would have been even fluffier.  They were still pretty nice, I have to admit.  A vibrant magenta (where the strawberry-banana muffins were pink).  You really can’t even taste the vinegar – you might even be able to up the amount – but there is definitely a nice fullness to the flavor you wouldn’t get with strawberries and sugar, alone.  And – another bonus – I did a quick google search after I started putting these together and didn’t see a single Strawberry Balsamic Muffin out there (a cupcake or two, but they were all made with tons of butter and cream cheese…  With ONE tablespoon of oil, these are a far healthier treat!).  YAY for creativity!  (By the way, if you want to, frost these.  I’m sure they could hold up to a nice buttercream or cream cheese frosting, a la the Strawberry Banana ones.  But I’m not going to try it…  At least not today!)

    These are sweet, but not too sweet, with a nice complexity to them.  Enjoy!

    Elisa’s Strawberry Balsamic Muffins

    • 1 cup strawberry puree (about one basket of fresh berries, given a ride in your food processor or blender…  I’m sure you could use frozen berries when fresh ones are out of season!)
    • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tbsp cooking oil (I have used olive oil in other baked goods, but I was afraid to here – because it felt like I would have been building a dressing!  Even so I’ll bet it’ll work fine)
    • 1/2 cup sugar (I used a little vanilla sugar with the white sugar, mostly because I basically use vanilla in every sweet baked good I make – if you like vanilla and don’t have vanilla sugar, you can always add a touch of extract to the batter when you add the vinegar)
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten
    • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda (again, the muffin in the picture doesn’t have this inside – but I usually include this in my banana muffins and here I have a feeling it would be a great asset)
    • dash salt
    • 1 1/3 cups flour

    We’re making muffins here, so the technique is easy.  Add the puree, oil, sugar, and vinegar to a medium bowl and whisk to combine.  Add the egg and carefully stir in.  Add the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt all at once and stir until just combined.  Spoon about 1 1/2 tbsp each into prepared cupcake wrappers or muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool on a rack.  Makes 12 cupcakes (okay, I fill mine pretty full…  so it only made 10).

    Pretty, tasty, low fat, and easy to make... Strawberry Balsamic Muffin!

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