Magic Muffins

This is a great quick recipe, perfect for those times when you’re being careful with your money or don’t feel like shopping, but need to satisfy a craving for something a little sweet. I give recipes like this the name “magic” because they can be made with a wide variety of ingredients (Magical Options) and they come out a little different every time, depending on what you have in the kitchen…. they’re a nice dessert, a great snack, a quick breakfast and a super gift for friends and neighbours… enjoy!

Ingredients

Dry ingredients:

2-3 Cups Muffin mix and a few Magical Options (see below)

Wet ingredients:

1 C water, 1-2 T cooking oil (or melted margaine or butter) and an extra cup of water

Mix your wet and dry ingredients separately, then make a ‘well’ in the middle of the dry. Add the wet mix to the well, stir it through to coat the dry mix; keep adding water a little at a time until the mixture is moistened all the way through, but not too stiff to stir. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350ºF and grease your muffin tins well. Fill to 3/4 full of muffin batter, bake for 20-28 minutes or until they spring back to the touch and smell just right.

Magical Options (pick a nice combination from below and use your imagination!):

1/2 cup shredded coconut 1/2 C raisins or currants, chopped dates, dried cranberries, papaya, apricots…

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, almonds, walnut or pecans

1 tsp. powdered ginger 1 tsp. cinnamon powder

1 plain chocolate bar, chopped (or 1/2 C chocolate chips, or 2-4 T. cocoa

1 small apple, chopped or 1/2 C blueberries, strawberries

Muffin Mix

1) Store bought mix: you can find cake or muffin mix on sale and add “Magical” stuff from your kitchen

2) Homemade mix: 3 cups flour (or 2 Cups flour and 1 cup oats) 2 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt 3/4 C of sugar, or more or less to taste

Suggestions

Fruit Filling: Fill each muffin tin half-way and add 1/2 tsp jam, jelly or soft fruit in the middle. Fill the cups 3/4 full with the muffin batter and bake!

Time Savers:

1) Keep half of the batter in a clean jar in the fridge to make fresh muffins quickly anytime; the batter will keep for 4-7 days.

2) Make a big batch of dry muffin mix and keep it in the freezer – When you’re ready to make muffins, shale out what you need into a big bowl, add your wet ingredients and magical options and bake.

Sweet combinations:

“Fruity” explosion: Add chopped apple and a few raisins and berries to the dry mix; put a spoonful of jam in the middle of 2 layers of batter.

Ambrosia: Add coconut, ginger, cinnamon, almonds and orange essence, diced orange rind or mashed banana.

Gourmet ideas: You can blend a whole orange with the seeds removed into the wet mix, add some chocolate chips or cocoa to the dry and make a nice chocolate orange muffin!) How about lemon, poppy seed and cornmeal?

Savory Combinations: Leave out the sugar and add one or a combination of: Shredded cheese, chopped sundried tomatoes, cooked beans, diced carrot, fried minced onion, celery

Add herbs and spices – chili powder, oregano, rosemary, parsley , olive oil

Rough Times Bacon ‘n’ Egg Muffin: (you’ll never want to stop at a fast food place for breakfast once you’ve tasted these! ) Put a small piece of cooked bacon (vegetarians can use soy bacon), a bit of grated cheese and a spoonful of stirred raw egg in the middle of each muffin, fill the muffin cup with no-sugar batter (you can add a few herbs too!) and add a little grated cheese on top. Bake as usual.

Tip: Don’t have a muffin tin? Well, use a cake pan, a frying pan with a heatproof handle, small tart or other baking dishes – or get to the second hand store and find a nice muffin tin… it’s still probably cheaper than buying those store-bought muffins.

Much Love, Gramma Willi

Good Clean Food for Everyone!

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Curried Potatoes

A quick and easy recipe, good as a side dish or when you want to treat family or unexpected guests This is a delicious and elegant way to use leftover potatoes. Make it a complete meal by adding some protein food (eggs, mild cheese, tofu, beans-lentils, meat). Don’t forget to serve vegetarian meals with bread or other grain food, so that your body gets enough protein.

4 tsp. curry powder
1 onion, chopped or sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Oil for frying
4 – 5 large cooked potatoes, peeled and cubed
Water to cover

Sauté the onion and garlic in oil on medium heat until soft. Add the spices and gently stir, taking care not to burn.
Add potatoes, coat with the spice mixture, and heat through.

Suggestions: Add finely chopped green onion, sautéed red or green peppers. Grate some mild cheese over all at the end to add protein

Hint: Add more potatoes if you’re serving a crowd or want lots of leftovers.

!Vegan! Smothered Tofu “Steak”

This Nolan family favorite is great served over mashed potatoes with some whole grain buttered garlic bread and vegetable side dish. It also tastes great over rice. Be sure to use lots of onion.

1 lb. tofu
2 tsp. ground cumin
soy sauce to taste
2 – 3 onions, sliced in thick strips
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 inch slice of raw ginger, peeled and chopped (or 1/2 tsp. powdered)
oil for cooking
salt and pepper to taste
onion powder to taste
1T chili powder (optional)
1 1/2 – 2 C. water
3-4 T. flour or cornstarch to thicken gravy

Cut tofu in 1/2 inch thick slices and drain by placing slices on a plate with another plate on top, weigh it down with a pot of water and let sit for 15-20 minutes, pour the water off, repeat. Marinate the tofu in cumin and soy sauce, set aside and turn it occasionally.
Heat a frying pan, add some cooking oil, and sauté the tofu until well browned. Set aside.
Cook onion and garlic and ginger in the pan until soft, add salt, pepper and onion powder and heat though. Add water to cover and a little soy sauce (to color it nice and brown) and simmer for 10 minutes. Mix flour or cornstarch in a cup or jar with a fork with cool water and slowly add to onion mixture a little at a time, stirring until it thickens. Adjust seasonings, add the tofu, stir gently and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve.
Options: Adding a little red cooking wine to the gravy, then serve over flat noodles for a meatless version of “Beef Burgundy.” Use sesame or peanut oil for extra warming flavor. Pepper lovers will want to grind it fresh over each portion before serving. Sauté diced red or green pepper with the onions to “kick it up” a gourmet notch. (… so there, Emeril, see if YOU can feed 4 people this inexpensively!)
Freezing Tofu: The tofu will not need to be drained if you freeze it ahead of time and thaw for cooking; to freeze fresh tofu, slice and place on a tray in the freezer for a few hours, transfer it to a bag or freezer container and use as needed.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. If you buy the cheese and pasta on sale, it actually costs less per serving than packaged noodles with cheese powder, cooks almost as quickly, tastes better and is a lot better for you.

2 – 3 C. pasta (macaroni, rotini, shells, etc.)
2 – 3 T. cooking oil
1 C. cold water
2 – 4 T. flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. ketchup
1/4 pound cheddar cheese, grated

Cook the pasta until almost tender, drain. Put a little cooking oil in the pot, add the pasta and toss to coat. Put the cold water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Mix the flour, salt and pepper with a little more cool water in a jar, mix in the ketchup, and add this mixture to the boiling water. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until thickened, add grated cheese (reserve some for the topping) and stir constantly until cheese has melted – don’t let the sauce burn! Stir most of the cheese sauce into the pasta to coat it evenly. Place pasta in a baking dish (glass is best) pour the rest of the cheese sauce over the top, sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Serve hot.
Hints: Use good olive oil or margarine to coat the pasta if you have it. Using fancy pasta like rotini, fusili or shells gives that “gourmet touch” for the same money (but most kids just love old fashioned macaroni).
Suggestions: Mix chopped tomatoes, green pepper, frozen vegetables into the pasta mix before placing in baking dish. Double the recipe and freeze individual or family portions for quick meals on busy nights.