Sunday, March 8, 2015

Pecan Pie Muffins

Summer is coming!

I should really try making something uber healthy, but when I go on Pinterest to search 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix Extreme recipes, I always find super sweet treats on the main page and get distracted instead...and then I make them which is where the biggest problem lies.  

Somehow I came across this recipe for Pecan Pie Muffins.  I like pecan pie. Ok, I love it, but what's not to like?  Anyway, I had a bag of pecans in the freezer and they needed to be used so why not?

I NEVER follow a recipe to a T.  EVER.  I just don't.  I always change it up.  In this case I chopped up the nuts in the food processor and then added the remaining ingredients to the food processor along with 1/2 cup of small chocolate chips, vanilla extract and rum flavoring (that one was just because I had it).  Also, I used dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar.  I always sub dark for light in recipes and most times I even sub dark brown for white sugar. What I thought about adding was some cinnamon.  I really wish I had added cinnamon.  These turned out great, but they were missing cinnamon for sure. Brown sugar and pecans require cinnamon in my world, even with the chocolate chips.  

So, I just whirled up all the ingredients into a relatively smooth batter and plopped it into 10 muffin cups.  I am pretty sure her recipe says it only makes 8 muffins but there is no way mine would fit in 8.  Maybe you will find a way.  I even filled mine up pretty much to the top so I an even 12 is possible if you stick to 2/3 of the muffin cup.

I added a pecan half and a few more mini chips to the top for decor.
The best way to remove them from the muffin cups is to let them cool completely, but the baker can always choose to scoop one out with a spoon to sample if she desires :)  Isn't that every baker's rule?

Weren't there 10 when they went into the oven?  :)
Now that I am thinking about it it might be pretty tasty with some vanilla ice cream.  I think I would scoop them out a little rustic style still warm from the oven into a bowl and plop a scoop or two of a decadent vanilla right on top.  Not the cheap stuff of course, but some Blue Bell if you are in TX or some Graeter's if in Ohio. Live somewhere else? Bummer.  Just kidding.  Knowing the best ice cream in each state could be useful so let me in on the secret.

Ultimately they were pretty tasty.  The texture is more like a bar cookie with a slight lean towards a muffin.  

Pecan Pie Muffins

2 cups pecans
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup flour
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 TBLS vanilla
Optional:  1/2 tsp Rum flavoring

Oven 350 degrees.

1.  Put the pecans into a food processor and chop up into small pieces.  
2.  Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth.
3.  Scoop into well greased muffin cups.  
4.  Bake 15-17 minutes.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Taco Soup

It snowed last night.  In Texas!  In March!  It iced and snowed, well mostly iced, last week too.  So even though it is March we are still in soup season here.  We are also in spring cleaning season but I'll save my new tips on that for another day. 
Back to soup season.  My 2 favorite soups are Taco Soup and Baked Potato soup.  I make Taco more often though because my husband prefers it.  Darn husbands and their opinions.  Ok, just kidding.  I'm just glad he will eat soup.  He is pretty picky. 
Soup is fairly forgiving.  I'm not sure how it can be screwed up, but here is my basic recipe if you aren't sure where to start. Sometimes I switch it up a little but for the most part this is what goes in mine most of the time. 
It is rich in tomatoes and antioxidants (ya, I went there) and of course fiber.  While it still looks like winter, it's time to start thinking about those summer clothes.  Fiber is a good place to start.  Don't knock it until you try it. 
For all the canned goods try to get the low sodium varieties or you will never see those pretty ab muscles under all that bloat. 
King Taco soup
1 lb ground beef (I used 93% this time, but whatever is your favorite will work, just strain off the fat before proceeding)
1 red bell pepper chopped finely
1 TBLS oil
1 can black beans (strain and rinse)
1 can red kidney beans (strain and rinse)
1 cup frozen corn
2 packs of taco seasoning (definitely go low sodium here or use your own favorite sodium free recipe)
1 large can of petite cut tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
1 can of beef broth
Shredded cheese (pepper jack, cheddar, a Mexican blend, whatever sounds good to you)
Sour cream
Corn chips (Fritos style are my favorite, but a traditional tortilla chip is fine or score some style points and make your own.  My mom makes amazing flour tortilla chips that would be delicious to dip into this soup)
Extra chopped tomatoes
This can be done in a crock pot or for a one pot meal use a large pot on the stove. As a working mom that hates dish duty, this is the method I recommend.  Also, the less dishes I dirty, the more likely my husband is to clean up after dinner.  I try to make it easy on him.
1.  Whatever method you use, start by sweating out the red peppers in your large pot with the oil on medium low.  Just get a little color on them and get them to tender. 
2.  Add the ground beef and brown until done on medium. 
3.  Stir in the remaining 7 ingredients and turn to simmer.  Let simmer for an hour to develop and marry the flavors.
4.  Scoop into bowls and let each person top with their favorite toppings.  Enjoy!
Leftovers will last up to 3 days in the fridge, but know that it will get a tad bit spicier by the next day. 
This soup also freezes great.  Scoop any leftovers after the soup has cooled, into individual bowls and freeze.  Same thing on the spicier though. 
For the crockpot version, do step 1 as above and then add it and the remaining ingredients to a crock pot.  Depending on when you want to eat, is what temperature you set it.  High if you want to eat within 2-4 hours, medium for 4-6, low if you are not eating it until after 6 hours.  It will hang out just fine for up to 10 hours if your crockpot goes that long.
Now that you have tried this recipe, you can get more creative next time.  Add a can of Rotel instead of the taco seasoning or maybe in addition if you are brave.  Add ground chicken or turkey instead of the beef.  Add diced potatoes, pinto beans, green bell peppers, bacon, and/or onions.  A lot of recipes I have seen have a packet of ranch dip mix.  I'm not sure of the point to that, but it might be good.
Let me know how you like it and how you made it your own.