Friday, January 11, 2013

Savory Cheese Muffins

Savory Cheese Muffins
These muffins mix up in a snap and make a wonderful accompaniment to soup. (Need some soup ideas?  Try Butternut Squash Lentil Soup or Creamy Cauliflower Soup from 2012 posts or Honey Corn Chowder from a 2011 post.)  The original recipe, Fig's Cheese Muffins, was a finalist in a contest on the Pioneer Woman blog. I played around with some of the ingredients--swapping honey for the sugar, for starters.  These muffins are amazing when eaten hot right out of the oven.  They're respectable cold--but the cheesy goodness shines when they're warm! 

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin, being sure to spray the top of the tin, too, as these muffins have a tendency to stick.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat for a firmer crumb)
1 tablespoon (yes! tablespoon!) baking powder1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Toss in the grated cheese and mix to coat. Melt the butter and stir the honey into it to combine well.  Stir in the milk  and beaten egg and combine well.  Pour the milk mixture over the flour mixture and stir quickly to combine--don't over mix.  Spoon the batter in to the prepared muffin tin, filling about 3/4ths full.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until muffins are nicely browned.  Eat soon!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Honey for What Ails You

If you're feeling a little peaked at the start of 2013, then you can do worse than turn to honey for some relief.
The National Honey Board retweeted a link a recipe for "Grandma's Homemade Cough Syrup" from the Mrs. Happy Homemaker blog.  It has just three ingredients:  honey, olive oil and lemon juice.

A 2007 study by researchers at the Penn State College of Medicine found that "a small dose of buckwheat honey before bedtime provided better relief of [night time coughs]...than no treatment or dextromethorphan (DM), a common cough suppressant."  So you don't actually have to make any cough syrup--just take a teaspoon of honey!

The Honey Board's website also includes many skin care recipes for soothing chapped skin and lips. My favorite is the simplest:  Just smooth about a teaspoon of honey on your dry face and let it sit for a minute or two and then wash off.  Your face will feel smooth (and will be sweet enough to kiss!).

Another simple and soothing recipe, especially if you're nursing a cold, is fresh ginger tea.  Take about a 2-inch knob of fresh ginger and scrub it well.  There's no need to peel the skin, since you'll be straining it out.  Slice the knob into about 1/4 inch slices and put in a tea pot.  Pour about 2 cups boiling water over the ginger and let it steep for five minutes.  Strain out the ginger, pour into a cup and add honey to taste, and breathe deeply while you sip!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Beekeeping Classes in Pittsburgh 2013

Caught the beekeeping bug yet?  If so, those amazing Burgh Bees are at it again with the best beekeeping courses in the area taught by Master Beekeepers Steve Repasky and Joe Zgurzynski.  Details for the classes are available at the Burgh Bee's website:

Hurry and sign up, the classes fill up quickly!

Beekeeping in the Classroom 101:  January 15, 17 & 22

Beekeeping 102, What to Expect in the Second Year, for new beekeepers with a year under their veils.

2013 Western PA Beekeeping Seminar February 15 and 16.
For novice, experienced and wannabee beekeepers, the annual Western PA Beekeeping Seminar is a great place to meet beekeepers and learn about the most up-to-date techniques and latest ideas.  Click on the link for more information and details about how to register.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Healthy Honey Dishes for a Happy 2013!

Robert and I celebrated New Year's Day with a delightful dinner of Honeyed Lemon Salmon en papilotte ("in paper"--which, in our case was actually a piece of aluminum foil).  When you cook fish in a little packet of parchment paper (or aluminum foil) it steams the fish, keeping it nice and moist. The packet also helps to guard against over-cooking.

I'm also including a recipe here for a delicious and brightly-colored chopped salad, which was the hit of the Cookie Day 2012 (an annual gathering of nieces, nephews and friends to over-decorate sugar and gingerbread cookies and celebrate being together).  I wish I had a picture of the salad, folks, but it got eaten before a camera could be found.  Scroll down for some great Cookie Day 2012 photos, though! :)

Honeyed Lemon Salmon en papilotte
The original recipe comes from the Seattle Bon Vivant blog, but I made a number of changes to the recipe.

MARINADE (for 1 ~8-ounce salmon fillet)
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or rosemary or tarragon)
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all of the ingredients and pour over the salmon fillet. Cover and marinate in the fridge for about an hour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Take the salmon out of the marinade and place on a large piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil, skin side down.  It's fine to include some of the garlic and herbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fold the paper over the salmon like you're wrapping a sandwich and securely fold down to enclose completely.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes.  Carefully unfold wrapping and check that fish is done--it should flake but still be a little translucent.  It may need another five minutes.  In general, 1/2 lb of salmon serves one person--though Robert and I usually just split a small fillet.

Colorful, Delicious & Healthy Chopped Salad
The inspiration for this salad came from two recipes from Mark Bittman, the wonderful food columnist for the New York Times.  Bittman and Sam Sifton (another Times writer) took on the task of making a "feast in a day" just before the holidays and that included a chopped salad.  Bittman's book, The Best Recipes in the World also includes a chopped salad of cabbage.  This is what I made with the ingredients I had and it was fantastic!  The honey, of course, is "SteffesWood Apiary" original addition.  This salad feeds a crowd--we had 14 people here for Cookie Day (though no leftovers to take a photo of, alas.)

1 small head purple cabbage, chopped in 1/2 dice
kosher salt
1 sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped in 1/2 dice
1 sweet yellow pepper, seeded and chopped in 1/2 dice
1/2 English (seedless) cucumber, chopped in 1/2 dice
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped in 1/2 dice
3 celery stalks, chopped in 1/2 dice
1 can large ripe olives, cut in half or thirds
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the cabbage, place in a colander or sieve over a bowl and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt, tossing to incorporate the salt well.  Let the cabbage sit in the colander for about an hour.  The salt will pull out some of the water from the cabbage and wilt it a bit.  Once the cabbage has wilted, rinse it thoroughly with water and drain then dry the cabbage as best you can using a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) or paper towels.  You don't want the cabbage to be wet so that the dressing will adhere to it.  Place the dry cabbage in a bowl along with all of the other vegetables, olives and parsley.  Toss to create a colorful mixture.  Drizzle the honey over the salad and toss well to incorporate the honey with the salad.  Put the lemon juice and oil in a jar with a tight fitting lid, secure the lid firmly and shake to emulsify the oil and lemon juice.  Pour over the salad and toss.  Taste and add salt and pepper.  The salad can be served immediately or covered and refrigerated for up to four hours to feed hungry cookie baker a little something nutritious. :)

Celebrity Guests at Cookie Day 2012