Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Our freezer always contains a stash of homemade muffins– it’s just the way things are. The vast majority are used for my daughter’s daily school snacks, but I admit to sneaking a few to nibble on now and then. I most often go with pumpkin or banana muffins, but this time my daughter asked for oatmeal muffins with cinnamon and chocolate. It sounded like a tasty combination to me, so off I went to the internet in search of a recipe.

I ended up modifying this recipe, adding cinnamon and omitting the pecans. Also halving the baking powder, per the recommendations of many reviewers. The finished muffins turned out quite well, extremely moist and almost reminiscent of a chocolate chip cookie in flavor.

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Spinach Cheese Puffs

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I think I may have mentioned before that I love appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. Just love them. My favorite kind of work event is one where they serve drinks and “heavy appetizers” or “passed hors d’oeuvres,” because I know that there’ll be something involving cheese, bacon, or some kind of pastry… sometimes all three. So naturally I like to have a few recipes for similar items in my repertoire for when I want to host my own delicious event.

This particular recipe was born out of the need to come up with something that I could make ahead of time and that would be able to survive for several hours in a hot car before being served at a casual barbecue. That meant most cheese- or meat-based items were out, and any fresh vegetables were similarly not going to work. I decided that the best option was something with puff pastry, and once I noticed the half-empty package of fresh baby spinach slowly wilting in my refrigerator, the decision was made!

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Candied Citrus Peel

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After making the panna cotta tart with all those different kinds of citrus, I had a bunch of peel left over, so of course I had to do something with it! And since I love candied peel, this seemed like a great opportunity. I had grapefruit, Cara Cara orange, and blood orange peel to work with (the clementine peel was too thin and the kumquats required a different technique).

While I’d made candied lemon peel before it hadn’t firmed up as well as I’d expected, instead staying kind of soft and soggy– fine for use in ice cream or baking, but not so great for snacking. I decided this time to try a different recipe from David Lebovitz, who has some great recipes both on his website and in his books. It was basically the same as the other recipe, calling for blanching the peels (three times this time since grapefruit can be bitter) and then boiling in sugar syrup.

Oddly, my grapefruit peels refused to turn translucent, staying stubbornly white while the other peels turned just fine. After boiling and boiling well past the estimated time in the recipe, I finally decided to just let it go and set everything out to dry together overnight. They turned out better than I’d anticipated– still soft, but not squishy or soggy.

Since I like my peel chewy rather than soft, I let these dry on the baking pan, coated in sugar, for a good 24 hours after the initial overnight drying period. They were much better after the lengthy drying time, and I couldn’t stop snacking on them!

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Potato Chip Cookies

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After a recent party, I found myself with half a bag of potato chips left over and no idea what to do with them. I didn’t want to just snack on them out of hand– that seemed boring and overly salty– so it seemed providential when a recipe for potato chip cookies appeared in my online feed. I’m always a fan of a sweet-salty combination, and since I had plans to bake one morning anyway I decided to take advantage of the stand mixer already on the counter and the preheated oven, to try them.

I was a little concerned about the low flour content and the lack of any leavening in this recipe, but once I tasted a cookie I was an immediate convert, as were all of my coworkers who got over their initial skepticism and tried one. These are great– crispy with a hint of chew to them, with a salty, slightly warm flavor that’s not immediately identifiable as potato chips but which people appreciate once the secret ingredient is disclosed. I’ll bet they’d also be great dipped halfway into dark chocolate…

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Uni Bocadillos

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Oh my god, these are really, really good. I knew they would be since I’d had them at Toro Boston as part of a tasting menu and swooned over them then, but I didn’t quite believe that the recipe I found online would be a perfect replica. I was wrong.

What is this culinary wonder, you ask? An uni bocadillo (translated as sandwich or snack). That’s right, a sandwich made with uni– sea urchin roe (okay, it’s really the entire gonads of the urchin, but “roe” sounds more appetizing so let’s go with that). When I first tasted it at Toro I was blown away by the delicate sweetness and seafood flavor of the roe– it was rich and creamy and luxurious, and I couldn’t get enough of it! The waiter described it as “like a grilled cheese, only with uni,” and it was a fair assessment– the creamy uni worked perfectly with the buttery toasted bread, and it really did remind me of a very upscale grilled cheese sandwich.

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Green Pea-Avocado-Radish Tea Sandwiches

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This past weekend I was trying to decide what kind of sandwich to bring to a historical picnic. It had to be easy to eat– nice, neat bites and no dribbly sauces or chunks that might fall out and stain my outfit– and not require too much refrigeration. It couldn’t get soggy over time, or squish too easily in my picnic basket, and of course it had to be both tasty and somewhat refreshing in the hot weather.

I settled on radishes as a must-have ingredient, basically because I like them and they’re crunchy, and after a little googling I found a recipe for a radish sandwich paired with a green pea and avocado spread. While I was a little concerned that the avocado would brown unattractively, the combination sounded interesting, so I gave it a try.

I actually really like these– they’re nice and peppery, both from the radish and the dash of hot sauce, and the avocado adds richness while the peas add sweetness. You can make the spread the night before and cover it tightly to avoid browning, and even the radishes can be pre-sliced as long as you store them in a bowl of cold water in the refrigerator to keep them nice and crisp. Just be sure to dry them thoroughly before assembling your sandwich!

If you like, you could make these on tiny triangle toasts and serve them open-faced as well!

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Weeknight Blueberry Muffins

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I make a lot of muffins these days, not least because my daughter needs something to eat for an afternoon snack at school, and I’d rather pack these (with fruit) than storebought granola bars or crackers. And while we both love the cranberry-orange muffins and pumpkin-white chocolate muffins, those really need nuts to make them shine– and nuts are, regrettably, not an option for school these days.

Instead our latest batch of muffins was the classic blueberry muffin– no bells, no whistles, no yogurt or sour cream or lemon zest to make them fancy… just a good old-fashioned muffin, tender, not too sweet, and studded with handfuls of fresh blueberries. The recipe doesn’t make a full dozen but you could easily add more blueberries to bulk up the mix– since I wasn’t using paper muffin liners I didn’t want to risk the muffins falling apart during unmolding due to an excess of berries, but looking at the finished product I think they’d be fine with a full pint of berries.

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