Tag Archives: spinach

Mostly Organic Spinach Cupcakes

6 Apr

When I first started trying to figure out how to make leafy greens into a dessert, I thought of spinach. If you can make a carrot cake that doesn’t take like vegetables, why not a spinach cake? Thank goodness for the internet, because the only sweet spinach cake I could find was on this great blog about Turkish food. So I found Binnur’s original Spinach Cake (Ispanakli kek) recipe, adjusted it a little, and got to work.

I started with the spinach, which I bought organic since spinach is one of the Dirty Dozen vegetables. I bought 2 5-oz packages organic spinach, snapped the roots off, and pureed it all in the food processor. Side note: this was the first time I ever used a food processor, and it was amazing. I can’t wait to find other things to process.

BeforeAfter
I set the spinach aside so I could start the batter. First I preheated the oven to 375 F. In a large mixing bowl, I blended 3 organic eggs and 2 cups sugar with a hand mixer on low for about a minute. Then I added 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon organic vanilla, and all the spinach and blended until it all incorporated.

IngredientsThen I slowly added 2 1/2 cups flour and 1 tsp baking powder. I blended that for about two minutes longer.

Batter

Cupcake Batter
Then I scooped the batter into paper-lined muffin cups. I popped them into the oven and baked for about 18 minutes, until it passed the toothpick test.

Muffin or Cupcake? Muffcake!

Spinach Cakes

I tasted one and it was actually pretty good! It smelled like spinach but tasted like cake. Though I will say, I kept some plain ones in a sealed plastic container for a couple days, and when I took the lid off, that was some strong spinach smell. I decided it could use some frosting, so I whipped up some vanilla buttercream.

I dropped 1 stick softened organic butter (1/2 cup) into a mixing bowl and blended it with a hand mixer for just 30 seconds or so till it was smooth. Then I added 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar and blended on low until incorporated. Then I added 1 tablespoon organic vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons organic heavy cream. I blended on medium for about 2 minutes. Once it was the perfect texture, I frosted the cupcakes.

Spinach Cupcake!The vanilla buttercream balanced the spinach cake perfectly and made for a pretty light but sweet cake. And unusual too!

How Sue Sees It:
– You could probably serve these without the frosting and call them muffins, but they’re still pretty sweet. And they’re better with the frosting anyway.
– This is a great option for people who need to hide vegetables in food in order to get kids or spouses to eat them, a la Jessica Seinfeld.
– This would also be great to serve for a St. Patrick’s Day party!
– I took them to a party and was very hesitant and almost apologetic about serving spinach cupcakes. I explained what they were, and then went back outside to move my car to a more legal parking spot. By the time I got back 10 minutes later, there were only 3 left! I guess they were good.

Like hotcakes!

Seasonal Ingredient: Leafy Greens (March-December)

5 Apr

Aside from peanuts and sweet potatoes, which grow year-round, pretty much the only seasonal produce in March in North Carolina is leafy greens: lettuce, spinach, kale, chard, cabbage… the list goes on. And the list of nutrients they provide goes on and on too: calcium, fiber, vitamins A, C, K, and E, and more.

Leafy Greens
A lot of people must love leafy greens, because there’s even a Leafy Greens Council! As a kid, I hated leafy greens. Everything from the bland taste and the hard-to-chew texture to the way that no one can eat a salad gracefully, well, just gross. But as an adult, I’ve slowly broadened my tastes. I enjoy a good salad – at first I would only eat iceberg lettuce and cucumbers with ranch dressing (my little sister called me “Plain Salad Girl” for a while), but now I’ve expanded to more variety. And after salads, a whole new world opened up. I still am pretty inexperienced in the wider world of leafy greens, but I am a huge spinach fan. I add spinach to everything — stews, pastas, curries. I love adding it in during the last couple minutes of cooking and watching it shrink down to a fraction of its original size. And I love that it tastes like the dish I added it to instead of like leaves.

The Center for Young Women’s Health reminds us that our bodies need healthy fat in order to absorb all those vitamins, so when you eat them, you should add things like butter, canola oil, olive oil, cheese, or salad dressing. I think I can handle that.

So what are leafy greens?

  • Arugula
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Collard Greens
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Kale
  • Mustard Greens
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard

I’ve never even eaten probably half the things on that list. I probably could not identify half the things on that list. I guess I should research a little.

Time to get crackin’ on my leafy greens recipes. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Mini Party Quiches

20 Nov

Can you tell we like things mini? Mini things are so cute!

Last weekend my family and I threw a surprise party for my Dad’s 50th birthday. Once I got my baking assignments, I called Betsy, and we got together that morning to put together a couple dishes. We made a simple blueberry cobbler, but the mini quiches were the highlight, and we made a TON of them. Quadrupling the recipe may have been a little overboard — there were plenty leftover — but we wanted to be prepared. We made two different varieties: a bacon cheddar quiche and a spinach, tomato, and swiss quiche. Deelish!

We began by mixing up the fillings and setting them aside.

  • For the bacon cheddar: Betsy cooked up 10 slices of bacon, let them cool, and then crumbled them up. I mixed 1 8-oz block softened cream cheese, 4 T milk, 4 eggs, and 2 T dried garlic flakes into a large bowl, and beat it with an electric mixer on low until it got relatively smooth. I stirred in 2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese and set the bowl aside. The bowl of cheese mush looked pretty disgusting, especially sitting next to a plate of bacon bits.
    Milk, eggs, and cheese... yum!Gross Cheese Mixture
  • For the SpinTomSwiss: I chopped up 1 1/2 hot house tomatoes and a couple handfuls of spinach and set them aside. Then I mixed 2 8-oz blocks softened cream cheese, 2 T milk, 4 eggs, and 2 T oregano into a large bowl, and beat it with an electric mixer on low until it got relatively smooth. I stirred in 1 cup grated swiss cheese and set the bowl aside. This one looked disgusting too.

Now for the tricky part. We greased some mini muffin pans and set them out. I un-popped a tin of crescent rolls, spread them on the counter, and mushed the scoring lines back together so it would be one big square instead of divided into the triangles. Betsy used a circle cookie cutter and cut round pieces of dough that I shaped into the mini muffin pan.Cutting DoughWord to the wise: Leave the dough in the fridge as long as possible before you take it out, and work quickly with the dough once you open the tin. The dough seizes up really quickly. We tried to roll out the leftover dough and cut it again, and it was REALLY hard. The dough becomes really elastic, so when we tried to spread it into the muffin tin, it just shrunk back up on itself. If you have an extra couple dollars to spend, I recommend just buying a couple extra tins of crescent rolls and tossing the old dough. We re-used a little bit of the dough, then got frustrated and threw it out. So in the end, it took about 3 tins of crescent rolls to make the base for 48 mini quiches.

Dough Cups
So once we lined all the muffin tins with dough, I filled them up.

  • Bacon Cheddar:  Sprinkle bacon in the bottom of each quiche cup. Fill each cup with about 1 tsp of the cheddar mixture. Sprinkle a couple more pieces of bacon on top. (This just makes it easier to identify what it is, which is nice visually, but also is important if you have any vegetarians in your crowd.)
    Mmm... bacon cupsBubbling Bacon Cheddar Quiches
  • SpinTomSwiss: Sprinkle tomato and spinach pieces in the bottom of each quiche cup. Fill each cup with about 1 tsp of the swiss mixture.
    Spinach and Tomato CupsBubbling Spinach Tomato & Swiss Quiches

Bake on 375 F for 10-12 minutes. The bread edges of the quiche will start to turn a golden brown, and the tops might get a little bubbly.
Golden Brown Edges

They’re so cute! The bacon cheddar is a nice golden yellow color, and the SpinTomSwiss is more of a white color.

Mini Party Quiches!

How Sue Sees It:

  • The most difficult part of this is definitely working with the dough. If you want them to look nice, like if you’re serving them at a party, then don’t worry about re-using the dough. Just buy extra, toss the leftover dough, and don’t worry about it. But if you care more about taste than looks, just cram the dough down there however you can. Even if the dough kind of sits on the bottom and doesn’t make a cup, the dough will still rise and the egg mixture will stiffen enough that it will still hold a firm muffin shape.
  • And don’t worry too much about over-filling the cups either, unless you’re going for a nice uniform look. It will still hold a muffin shape.
  • Take some time to experiment with your own flavors! The original recipe I found called for bacon and swiss, and I just modified the recipe a bit more to our crowd’s tastes. As long as you preserve the basic egg and dairy components, you can add or substitute pretty much whatever else you want in there.

Betsy & Susie