Monday, January 30, 2017

Healthy Tiramisu Muffins #MuffinMonday

Inspired by the traditional dessert, these muffins have the flavors of tiramisu in a whole wheat breakfast treat.

Hey ho! Before I get into today's Muffin Monday post, I'd like to remind everyone that the KitchenAid Mixer Giveaway ends tomorrow! Click here to find out more info. I'd also like to direct your attention to my How To Eat Local This Year series of posts. Thanks for your time and attention!

whole wheat tiramisu-inspired muffins on a counter

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Let's get one thing straight off the bat--there are no ladyfingers in these muffins. This is not the traditional Italian dessert made individually in muffin cups. It is Muffin Monday and I had the idea to take some tiramisu ingredients (namely mascarpone cheese, espresso powder, and chocolate) and bake them into a muffin. I got these ingredients after our local grocery store finished their Taste of Italy promotion and everything was marked down. Half price imported espresso powder and mascarpone cheese? I'm so in.

a square image of whole wheat tiramisu-inspired muffins

I like my baked breakfast goods to be on the healthier side, however, so I chose to make these with white whole wheat flour. Even though I prefer less sweet muffins, what with the chocolate chips I opted to go big and bump up the sugar a bit from my standard ¼ cup up to ⅓ cup for the dozen. I mean, this is definitely a treat. I was thinking these could be a sweet start to a Valentine's Day celebration.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Honey Semolina Wheat Pizza Dough

A recipe for basic pizza dough, with a bit of honey, semolina and wheat flours to make a nice chewy crust that stands up to whatever toppings you'd like to use.

a smooth basic pizza dough with a sturdy crust and nice chewiness

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This pizza dough is a good basic dough. I've been making it weekly for a couple of months now, and it fits with a variety of toppings and sauces. It's sturdy enough for a heavier topping or deep dish pizza, mild in flavor, and has a nice chewy crust.

mixing up honey semolina wheat pizza dough in a stand mixer

Pizza dough is best made ahead. The dough has time to relax and chill, and so do you.  Usually for me that means I throw the dough together sometime on Thursday for our family's Friday Night Pizza Night. Lately I've pushed the envelope on what 'make ahead' means. Typically I'm mixing up dough while my first cup of tea steeps, around 6 am, shaping it into a ball and bagging it, then chilling until I get off work or the kids get home from school. One of us transfers the dough bags to the counter to sit for 1-2 hours until it's back to room temperature. At dinnertime it's time to shape it, top it, and bake it as described in the photo exhaustive My Pizza Primer post.

Monday, January 16, 2017

How to Choose a CSA Farm Share

Factors to consider when choosing a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm share.

a typical summer CSA farm share box with corn, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and beans

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Welcome to Part Three of my series on How to Eat Local This Year. I'm trying to cover all the aspects I've learned over more than a decade of eating locally-sourced produce, so I've addressed different questions in each post of the series. In the first part, How to Eat Local, I cover the WHY question. To me, local produce just tastes better--and supporting local businesses supports your local economy. In the second part, Where to Find The Best Local Foods, I cover the WHERE--looking at farmers markets, on farm markets, grocery stores and Community Supported or Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) farm shares. Today I'm diving a little deeper into the HOW, to share the thought process behind choosing the CSA that's the best fit for you.

the chicken RV at Keener Family Farm
The chicken RV at Keener Family Farm.

How do you find what CSAs are in your area? There are several websites that offer a CSA search function, each with slightly different populations, so you're sure to find something from one of these. My favorite is through the website Local Harvest. The USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service operates the National Farmer's Market Directory. The EatWell Guide offers a listing of markets and CSA farms as well as farm to table restaurants. My favorite site for finding pick your own farms,, operates a sister site called Simply enter your zip code or postal code and search for the closest CSA.

The most common form of CSA is a produce CSA--mostly vegetables, some fruits. There's also meat CSAs, prepared dinners CSAs, bread CSAs, and even beer CSAs! Here in the US we are lucky to have a wide array of CSA farms in many urban, suburban, and rural areas. With multiple farms to choose from, how do you pick the one that's right for you? Since we've now made this choice 4 times in 2 states in the past 12 years, I figured I'd write a bit abut the primary factors that went into the decision. The biggest factor is convenience followed by the farming method, and finally the CSA model.