Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bunny Love

carrot cake muffins with pineapple cream cheese frosting

Chances are you didn't buy a bunny for your child this Easter. I know this because according to The Humane Society, sales of bunnies are down this year. That's a good thing, since many American kids fervently love their bunnies until the Tuesday after Easter.

So that got me thinking... since fewer bunnies were purchased this Easter, there must be lots of extra carrots around. And what better way to use up carrots than in carrot cake muffins?

These muffins are a tasty collision between Morning Glory Muffins and classic carrot cake. The sweetness of the grated carrots, crushed pineapple, plump raisins and toasty coconut is balanced by earthy walnuts and spicy cinnamon and vanilla. Since carrot cake cannot be eaten without cream cheese, each muffin is topped with a heavy drizzle of pineapple cream cheese frosting that's good enough to eat by the spoonful. I know.

Carrot Cake Muffins with Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes 6 jumbo or 12 regular muffins

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons canned crushed pineapple, drained, with 2 tablespoons juice reserved
3/4 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup lightly toasted shredded sweetened coconut
1/3 cup raisins, coarsely chopped

Pineapple Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 ounces cream cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons pineapple juice

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir well. In a separate medium bowl, whisk oil, eggs, vanilla and crushed pineapple. Add slowly to the flour mixture, stirring well until flour is thoroughly dissolved. Gently stir in carrots, walnuts, coconut and raisins. Pour batter into the prepared muffin tin.

3. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before removing.

4. To make the pineapple cream frosting, combine cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and pineapple juice in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. It should be on the thick side. Using a small spoon, drizzle frosting over muffins. If you'd more frosting, the coat the entire muffin top.

You might also enjoy these carrot cake dessert recipes:
Luscious Moist Carrot Cake recipe from Whipped
Carrot Cake Waffles recipe from Willow Bird Baking
Carrot Cake Cookies recipe from The Craving Chronicles
Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cardamom Cream Cheese Frosting recipe from Cupcake Project

Monday, April 25, 2011

Got Easter Egg-Hunt Leftovers? Make Egg Salad Sandwiches.

Looking for ways to use up Easter egg-hunt leftovers? Make an egg salad sandwich. Actually, make several egg salad sandwiches, one for each day this week, because today marks the start of National Egg Salad Week in the U.S. Yup. We love egg salad so much that we devote an entire week in its honor.

Our love for egg salad sandwiches runs deep, all the way to 1896. That's when one of the earliest printed recipes for a sandwich made with egg salad appeared in The Original Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, written by Fannie Merritt Farmer. Then with the introduction of sliced soft white bread in the 1930s, egg salad sandwiches became a brown-bag lunch staple as well as a common item at delis, diners, and cafeterias.

It's no surprise that the majority of egg salad sandwiches are eaten after Easter when many people are looking for tasty ways to use up Easter egg-hunt leftovers. While there are various ways to make egg salad, I favor grandma's fuss-free version: tangy, sweet, and creamy.

Don't fret if you don't have any leftover Easter eggs this week. May is National Egg Salad month. I know. As if a whole week in April weren't enough.

Egg Salad Sandwich
Makes 2
Printable recipe

4 eggs
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
2 thinly sliced scallions
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 slices toasted white, whole wheat, or sourdough bread

1. Place eggs in a large saucepan and fill with enough water to cover by 2 to 3 inches. Bring water to a rolling boil and cook eggs 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Drain and cool eggs in a bath of cold water for 10 minutes. Peel eggs and let cool to room temperature. In a medium bowl, mash eggs with either a fork or a potato masher.

2. In a separate small bowl, mix mayo, mustard, relish, scallions, salt, and pepper. Pour over mashed eggs. Stir until combined. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before using.

3. Divide egg salad evenly between two slices of toasted bread. Close sandwiches, slice in half on the diagonal, and serve.

California Egg Salad Sandwich: Add slices of fresh avocado, watercress, and pea shoots and serve on multigrain or sourdough bread.

Here are more egg salad recipes you might enjoy:
Tarragon Egg Salad recipe from Simply Recipes
Smoked Egg Salad recipe from The Perfect Pantry
Jalapeno Egg Salad recipe from Homesick Texan
Curry Egg Salad Sandwich recipe from A Cozy Kitchen

Photo credits: Matt Armendariz

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Kids Are Bananas Over Banana Split Sandwiches!

For most of the country this week is school vacation. And I've got the #1 most awesome, super-duper, wicked cool kid's sandwich ever: A Banana Split Sandwich!

That's right, the iconic banana split that was once America's favorite 1920s soda fountain treat is now a sandwich! Hot fudge, peanut butter, bananas, and strawberry and pineapple jam play happily together between two warm, toasty slabs of bread. I don't need to tell you that a cold glass of milk is the only accompaniment this sandwich needs.

For more fun, kid-friendly sandwiches including a Banana Bread and Cream Cheese Sandwich, Ice Cream Sandwiches and a Chip Butty (that's a French Fry Sandwich), check out my new book, The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches!

Banana Split Sandwich
Makes 1
Printable recipe.

About 2 tablespoons butter
2 thick slices white bread, such as country white or Texas toast
1 tablespoon creamy or chunky peanut butter
1 to 2 teaspoons chocolate sauce or hot fudge
1 small banana, cut lengthwise, then in halves (4 pieces total)
1 tablespoon strawberry jam
1 tablespoon pineapple jam

1. Butter 1 side of each bread slice; place buttered side down.

2. Spread peanut butter and chocolate sauce on 1 slice, and top with 2 banana pieces. Spread jams on the other, and top with remaining banana pieces. Close sandwich.

3. Place on a griddle over medium-high heat. Cook 1 to 2 minutes, flip gently, and cook 1 minute more, or until bread is golden and toasty.

Click here to purchase a copy of The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches on Amazon!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cookbook Review: The Whole Family Cookbook by Michelle Stern

The best way to get kids to eat healthier is to get them cooking in the kitchen. Whether you're already raising little sous chefs or don't know where to start, Michelle Stern's cookbook, The Whole Family Cookboook, has everything you need.

Michelle, who is a personal friend of mine, is both the founder of the popular blog, What's Cooking with Kids? and owner of What's Cooking, a certified green company in the San Francisco Bay Area that teaches families how to cook more healthfully. Now she has a cookbook with over 75 healthy, tasty, family-friendly recipes for you and your kids to whip up in your own kitchen.

Chapters are divided by meal types: "Breakfast of Champions," "Lunchtime Favorites," "What's For Dinner" and "Scrumptious Sides." There are two extra chapters entitled "Mom-Approved-Treats" with recipes such as Apple Crisp with Vanilla Sauce and "Make-It-Yourself" dishes with recipes such as homemade pancake mix.

Instructions are smartly color coded for children of different ages and many are accompanied by fun facts and trivia. While some recipes are clearly geared to kids, such as "Turkey Toes," a healthy riff on chicken nuggets, most will be happily eaten by kids and adults alike. What mom wouldn't enjoy Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Caramelized Apples or Cinnamon Pear Clafouti?

In this book you'll learn how to:
*Become a smarter shopper.
*Think and eat like a locavore (a person who tries to eat locally sourced foods).
*Make your kitchen healthier.
*Engage your kids in grocery shopping and cooking.
*Save time making home cooked meals.
*Have fun cooking with your kids while teaching them important life skills.

Since I love tofu, I made Michelle's recipe for Crispy Tofu Triangles with Asian Dipping Sauce. Whether or not you're a vegetarian, tofu is a healthy, tasty alternative to meat. In this recipe, the tofu is cooked until golden and crisp then dipped in a sweet and tangy sauce made with honey, soy sauce and fresh chives. I don't have kids, but my husband who is most definitely not a tofu fan, liked it too.

Crispy Tofu Triangles with Asian Dipping Sauce
Serves 4-6
Printable recipe.

2 packages of extra firm tofu, preferably organic
3 tablespoons canola oil

Asian Dipping Sauce: 
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon honey, agave nectar, or brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 garlic clove
Fresh chives, to taste
Chile oil, optional

1. Open and drain the packages of tofu and cut into slices approximately 1/3" thick. Cut the slices diagonally into triangles. Place onto towel in a single layer. Place another towel over the top of tofu slices and top with another baking sheet. Put something heavy on top to it presse the liquid out of the tofu. Allow to rest for 30 mintes to 1 hour.

2. Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add the canola oil. When it starts to shimmer, carefully place the tofu triangles into the pan. Cook 2 1/2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp. Remove from skillet and drain on a plate lined with a dish towel or paper towels. Pat the tops to absorb the oil as well.

3. To make the sauce, pour soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and rice vinegar into a small bowl. Stir. Peel the paper off the garlic. Use a garlic press to mash the garlic, and add it to the sauce. Use clean scissors to snip some chives into the sauce, for color and a wonderful mild onion flavor.

Note: I received a complimentary copy of the book for review purposes but was not paid. If you'd like to learn more about the book, check out Michelle's video.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'll Be Talking Sandwiches on "Everyday Food" on Martha Stewart Living Radio Today

Today at 9:15 am PST and 12:15 pm EST, you can hear me talk sandwiches on "Everyday Food" on Martha Stewart Living Radio.

If you'd like to listen on Sirius XM, then you can try their FREE 30-DAY subscription.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches is Released Today!

Hundreds of millions of you who read this post today will also eat a sandwich. OK, maybe hundreds of millions of you won't read this post (it is a Tuesday, after all), but you will eat a sandwich.

Will it be a classic breakfast sandwich of tender eggs, melty cheese and crisp bacon on a toasted English muffin? A humble lunchtime ham and cheese? Perhaps it'll be a delightfully gloppy Sloppy Joe with the kids for dinner.

Everyone loves sandwiches. That's because they are among the most democratic of foods. They can be eaten in your car at lunchtime and over the kitchen sink at midnight. They can be a quick snack or a bona fide meal. Decadent or plain, six inches or six feet, sandwiches have always been filling, unfussy, honest food.

The New Yawk Reuben 

Now, there is an entire book dedicated to the glorious sandwich: Today is the official release date of The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches, written by yours truly. It was a labor of love and gluttony. (I gained five pounds while testing the sandwiches and had to upsize, um, upgrade my skinny jeans.)

The book shares recipes, history and trivia for 110 beloved sandwiches and includes over 400 variations. Each sandwich, as you can see from the images here, is accompanied by a full-color, gorgeous photo beautifully styled by Adam C. Pearson and photographed by Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites. Thank you, gentlemen, for your talent, creativity and hunger!

Wine-worthy Prosciutto and Fig Sandwich

The book would never have been as tasty without the guidance of my editor, Margaret McGuire. Thank you for your support, wisdom and humor. Many thanks to Jenny Kraemer for her fresh, stylish design and to sandwich aficionados Jane Morley and Alenxandra Bitzer for their research and editorial support.

Thank you, Food Blogga readers, for your encouragement and support. You are fabulous! Finally, thanks to my dad thanks for proudly telling every person in Rhode Island about this book. To my mom for happily testing every recipe in this book. And to Jeff, for eating every sandwich in this book. Often more than once. And for never complaining when his jeans got tight.

Pulled Pork Sandwich -- Oink! Oink! 

In The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches, you'll find cherished classics such as Peanut Butter and Jelly, Fluffernutter and the Muffuletta as well as perky up-and-comers including The Cubano, the Artisanal Grilled Cheese Sandwich and the Vietnamese Banh Mi.

The Mexican Torta. Get ready to unbutton your jeans. 

Regional favorites such as Hawaii's Spamwich, New Orleans's Po' Boy and Pittsburgh's Primanti are included along with quirky creations such as The Potato Chip Sandwich, The Chow Mein Sandwich and The Doughnut Sandwich.

The virtuous Veggie Sandwich

Belly-busters such as the Italian Hoagie, The Muffuletta and the all-American Jucy Lucy, or "inside-out" cheeseburger, share space with Skinny Sandwiches including the Grilled Portobello Sandwich, the Salmon Sandwich and The Roasted Vegetable Panini.

We all scream for Ice Cream Sandwiches!

You didn't think we'd leave out desserts, did you? The book has several sweet options including the kid-friendly Banana Split Sandwich, the adult-friendly Nutella Sandwich and everyone's favorite frosty treat, the Ice Cream Sandwich.

Whether you're a carnivore, vegetarian or omnivore, you'll find plenty of tasty options between sliced bread in The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches.

The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches, Recipes, History, and Trivia for Everything Between Sliced Bread (April 5, 2011). Published by Quirk Books and distributed by Random House, Inc.