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(No-Butter) Meyer Lemon Pound Cake Muffins

13 Nov


I am not a breakfast eater by any means. I know it’s the frowned-upon meal to miss, but I simply would rather have those extra minutes of sleep (sorry, what can I say).  Usually coffee is even too much work in the morning, which is why Mike usually ends up making it. He makes a better cup of coffee than I do anyway, and for that I am extremely grateful -I repeat, I am not a morning person. Needless to say, I love all breakfast foods. Waffles, bacon, eggs, oatmeal, bacon, pancakes, croissants, BACON; you get the picture. So when I’m heading out the door in the morning, it just makes sense to have a little something to nibble on during my drive to work. I like something portable, slightly sweet and just filling enough. Because after all, I have to eat something or else I get light-headed and awfully cranky.

I love pound cakes for this very reason. They are not overly sweet and perfect with morning coffee or tea. I only have one issue, okay maybe two but we’ll get to the other in a second. Most pound cake recipes I’ve come across contain an insane amount of butter, which always makes me feel kinda guilty about my go-to breakfast. Don’t get me wrong. I love butter. I was the kid who would stick my finger into softened butter on the counter and lick it off. Ask my mom, I’m sure she remembers. I hope not. Anyway, I’ve come up with an interesting alternative. I have substituted fat-free greek yogurt and (heart-healthy) olive oil for the butter. I loved the result.


Okay, now my next point of contention. I love the look of a traditional pound cake loaf. And by all means, if you’re having guests over for breakfast or brunch, bake it in a loaf pan. It sure looks pretty. But like I said, I need something portable that I can eat on the run. The problem with a slice of pound cake is that I always end up having to wrap it in a napkin and when I’m on the go, I always end up losing a corner of the cake to my lap, bottom of my car, or the sidewalk. And I want to enjoy every inch of my homemade treat. I guess when I’m in my car I’m a tad messy.  So I decided to bake these muffin style. That way I can peel a little of the paper back and eat my way through that baby. And the paper liner catches the crumbs for me, which makes the crevices of my car seats much tidier.

So if you’re like me, go ahead and try these lovelies. I promise they’ll get you through to lunch without any guilt or shame. I know without a doubt that the combination of fruity olive oil and fragrant meyer lemon zest is a sure way to jump-start your taste buds for the day. Plus these pound cakes contain yogurt, so they’re healthy right? Right.

No-Butter Meyer Lemon Pound Cake MuffinsIMG_0916

makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon meyer lemon zest (can substitute regular lemon)

3/4 cup fat-free greek yogurt

1/2 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

For the Glaze (Optional):

1 meyer lemon zested and juiced

1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with paper liners. (If baking in a standard loaf pan, coat with non-stick cooking spray).

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to combine. In a large bowl add the sugar, meyer lemon zest, greek yogurt, olive oil, vanilla extract and eggs. Whisk well to combine. Add the dry ingredients all at once. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in dry ingredients until just combined. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full. (If using a loaf pan, pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top).

Bake until the tops are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. (If baking in a loaf pan, bake until golden brown, until a toothpick comes out clean, about 50 minutes).  Let cakes cool on a wire rack.

To Glaze:

Whisk together the meyer lemon zest, juice, and powdered sugar. The mixture will be thick, but if it needs to be thinned you can add a few drops of water. Pour a spoonful of glaze over the cakes and allow to run down the sides and set up.


Stress-Free Chicken Dish

8 Jul

If you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal, try this chicken recipe. A pan-seared chicken breast topped with a versatile fresh salsa is the perfect solution to getting dinner on the table in a flash.

The great thing about this recipe is that the chicken can be swapped out for thin pork chops or even lamb chops. The method I’m using for the chicken is a pan-sear, but you could just as easily grill it (outdoors or in), whatever works for you. As for the salsa, I’m using red grapes, as we have a great selection currently in California, but try swapping

green grapes, cherries or even pomegranate seeds when in season. Feel free to change up the ingredients to your liking. Dig a little heat? Add some thinly sliced red or green chiles. Want to add cheese? Any dry, crumbly, salty cheese such as feta, cotija, halloumi, or ricotta salata would be a beautiful addition. Even the herbs are a toss up. Tarragon instead of cilantro would enhance the licorice flavor of the fennel; if you’re like me you likely have fresh parsley in the fridge at all times, add it in!

Of course the original recipe is sweetly satisfying…just as is.

Seared Chicken Breasts with Red Grape-Fennel Salsa

Serves 4

1 large bulb of fennel, green stalks removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup red seedless grapes, halved

2 green onions, finely sliced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 lemon, zested and juiced

2 teaspoons honey

salt and pepper to taste

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Cut the fennel in half through the core, then separate each layer. Slice each layer into strips, then cut the strips into small chunks. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the fennel and a pinch of salt, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer fennel to a bowl and add the grapes, green onions, cilantro, lemon zest and juice, and honey. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside while you cook the chicken.

Place one chicken breast flat on a cutting board. Place your knife parallel to the cutting board with the blade in the center of thickest mass of the breast. With long, slow strokes, slice the chicken into two equal pieces. Now you should have 2 thin breasts, from one thick breast. (Keep practicing this technique, once you have it down, it will save you cooking time and money! – Of course you can just ask your butcher to halve the breasts for you.) Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until very hot. Season your halved chicken breasts with salt and pepper and pan sear each breast, until golden brown on the first side, about 5 minutes (don’t turn the meat over until you have a nice golden brown color and it releases on its own). Flip and sear on the second side until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let rest, loosely covered for a few minutes. Serve the chicken topped with the reserved salsa and enjoy!

Salsa Ingredients