Monday, March 19, 2007

Green Muffins and Greek Potatoes

I know, I know. I'm a little tardy on this (which could be my Native American name!), but I wanted to make some goodies to take to school today to welcome everyone back from spring break. And since no one was around for St. Patrick's Day, I decided to make holiday-themed treats. King Arthur Flour sent this recipe in an e-mail awhile back, and I just had to try these muffins. I love pistachios, and the green color was cute for St. Pat's. My roommate asked me if these were muffins or cupcakes? If I were Rachael Ray (heaven forbid!), I might call them cupkins, as the texture is more like a cupcake but they are not as sweet (like a muffin). Whatever you call them, they are mighty tasty, and would be appropriate to bake year-round.

Wearin' O' the Green Muffins

1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) butter (oops--I just realized that I accidentally doubled wonder mine were more like cake!)
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
3 1/8-ounce package instant pistachio pudding mix*
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon pistachio flavor (I used almond extract instead)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) milk
1/2 cup (2 ounces) + 2 tablespoons shelled, coarsely chopped pistachios

*You may find that national brands give you better green color than store brands.

3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) melted butter
1/4 (1 3/4 ounces) sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pistachio flavor, to taste (I omitted this)

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper or silicone muffin cups, and grease the cups with non-stick vegetable oil spray; this will ensure that they peel off the muffins nicely.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and pudding mix until smooth. Add the eggs, beating for several minutes and scraping the bowl, till the mixture is smooth and shiny. Beat in the baking powder, pistachio (or almond) flavor, and salt.

Gently beat the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Stir in the 1/2 cup of pistachios. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling with more nuts.

Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, or until they're starting to brown around the edges and a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, and let them cool for a couple of minutes, or until you can handle them. While they're cooling, melt the butter (this is easily done in the microwave). Combine the sugar and pistachio flavor in a jar with a lid, and shake vigorously to combine thoroughly (I just poured vanilla sugar into a bowl).

Use a pastry brush to paint the top of each muffin with the butter (or dip the top of each muffin in the butter--but I used a brush myself), then sprinkle with the sugar (or dip muffin top in--Cyd dipped them for me). Allow the muffins to cool on a rack.

Yield: 12 muffins.

I have one more recipe to share today, though no picture. I got the idea from another blog, but forgive me, I can't remember which one (though there are lots of recipes and variations for this dish that you can Google). Instead of baked or regular oven-roasted potatoes for dinner last night, I made some Greek-style oven roasted potatoes that were just wonderful! I realized too late last evening that the recipe I was following called for an hour and a half of baking...and we were hungry! So I actually nuked six medium-sized potatoes halfway (about eight minutes in my microwave), then cut them up into big chunks and tossed them with the following:

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped (or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic will work)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably, Greek!)
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste (I probably used 1/2 teaspoon)

Then instead of roasting the potatoes at 350 degrees for an hour and half, I cranked the oven up to 450 and roasted them for maybe 45 minutes or until they were browned. (I turned them over with a spatula a couple of times while they cooked to promote even coloring.) When they were done, I squeezed another half of a lemon's worth of juice on them before serving. DEEEEE-lish!


Anonymous said...

Wow, I never even knew there were pistachio pudding mixes. I gotta try one of those!

Anonymous said...

That's a nice looking muffin! I don't like the green shade, but then again it was for St. Patrick's so of course it needed to be green. The texture looks good and so does the top. I might try this recipe with a different, non-green, shade of pudding....maybe coconut or just plain vanilla. The green is cute for St. Patricks, though.