Friday, June 24, 2011

Deliciously Delightful Bran Muffins

I've been eating these bran muffins for as long as I can remember - and making them since I could stir.  Over the years, I've had many roommates (and now husband) taste them and fall in love with them.  Why?  They're relatively healthy - and they taste like cake!  Literally - from roommates who were on Weight Watchers to men who could care less about fat and calories - these are loved by all.  So, by request - here are my grandmother's bran muffins.  Enjoy!


2 c Kellogg's All Bran Buds
2 c Boiling Water
1 c Oleo (i.e. vegetable oil)
2 1/2 c Sugar
4 Eggs
1 qt Buttermilk (you can also use your regular milk and add some lemon juice to transition it)
4 c Fiber One
5 c Flour
5 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp Salt

Okay - yet another simple recipe!  Start off by combining the All Bran Buds with the boiling water in a bowl.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, add 1 c oil and 2 c sugar.  Stir.  Add 4 eggs, one at a time and stir after adding each.  Add the buttermilk and Fiber One cereal, using a hand mixer to blend well to break up the cereal.  Next, add the water-soaked bran.  Blend again.

Finally, add the baking soda and salt.  Stir.  Add the flour, one cup at a time, stirring in between each cup. Let mixture sit for an hour to help the bran gain moisture.  Grease your muffin pans.  The batter should be enough for approximately 48 muffins.  Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.  Bake at 375 F for 25 minutes.

Because this recipe makes so many (which makes me happy), I normally divide the batch and place some in freezer bags for later.   Depending on where you live, you can store them in a ziplock bag on the counter or in your refrigerator.  Enjoy plain or with butter and/or jam.

Bon Apetit!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Wild Grape Bistro

I know there's been a lot of discussion regarding group deals as of late (i.e. Living Social, Groupon, etc.).  I see many possible benefits for consumers and businesses IF both use them correctly and intelligently.  I actually did a marketing evaluation in my MBA program on Groupon.

Anyway, the reason I mention this is that a LivingSocial deal allowed me to try out Wild Grape Bistro - a restaurant that has been on my list since it opened.  I had an email warning me to use my deal soon or lose it - so use it I did.

Wild Grape Bistro took over a restaurant location that seems to have experienced a lot of turnover.  When they first arrived, I wondered how long they would last.  Here's to hoping they continue.  My meal on Saturday was superb.  Have a glimpse into my experience.

We started with a small plate of Potato Gnocchi, served with braised beef, mushrooms, spinach, truffle oil, and a dusting of parmesan.

Delicious.  I'm a sucker for gnocchi.  Pretty much anytime I see it on a menu, I need to try it.  A large part is due to the fact that good authentic gnocchi seems incredibly difficult to find.  I'll be honest - the gnocchi here were good but not what I consider gnocchi done right.  The flavor was there but the texture too squishy.  Good gnocchi should be somewhat firm.  These were closer to potato dumplings.  The real winner of this dish?  The braised beef.  It was incredible.  Tender, pull apart, but with the right amount of chew so you still felt like you were eating meat.  My next visit will include their tenderloin just so I can taste the magic they create again.

Next up - Grape's Bison Burger.  8 oz. Colorado Bison, house-made steak sauce, blue cheese, fried onions, spinach, bacon, and served with house cut fries.

Sadly, due to pregnancy food restrictions (which also prevented me from ordering their Arugula salad which sounded ridiculously good for a summer day) I had to withhold the blue cheese.  The sacrifices I make....anyways.  I hadn't experienced Bison before.  For those who are a little more on the reserved side when it comes to game meats or meats not normally seen in the grocery store I'd say go for it!  It's an incredibly mild tasting meat but delicious.  I assume the grind wasn't mixed with any beef suet but it's possible.  The burger was exquisitely composed with the right layering and thickness of bun to burger with a lovely crunch of onion and sweet tang from the steak sauce.  Another win for Wild Grape Bistro.

Lastly, we finished with a Organic Chicken Breast, served with Moroccan roasted vegetables, polenta fries, and smoked eggplant.

I had wondered what the "polenta fries" would come out as.  I love polenta, and tend to prefer a firmer style.  This was perhaps a bit too firm for me and resembled more of a coarse corn bread than polenta.  The chicken was moist and slightly garlicky.  And the vegetables were the real win.  Tender, well-seasoned, and summery.  I fear it was unfair to the chicken to have followed the braised beef.  If you're in the mood for chicken, it was well cooked and satisfying but not memorable in the way the braised beef was.

So, while some may argue that group deals are of the devil (and some consumers abuse the system to make it so while some businesses overestimate their ability to fulfill), it proved successful for me.  Wild Grape Bistro?  I happily recommend your fare.  Your service was great and patio seating on a lovely summer day are hard to not love.