Friday, January 05, 2007

Lightly sweet treat with a firey dinner

If you have visited us a few times, you probably know that we love muffins - they freeze well and make for excellent on-the-go snacks. However, this Cran-Apple Ginger Muffincake I baked today brings a new look to the smaller, individual-size goodies. While some muffins could be mistaken for a dessert, this muffincake is less sweet, making it perfect for a mid-morning or afternoon snack.

Filling the inside of this tall beauty are chunky granny smith apples and tart fresh cranberries with a toasted nutty flavor coming from finely chopped pecans scattered throughout. I kept the ginger faint so there is just enough to make you wonder what else is in it, but I think it could be increased some - crystallized ginger may be a good option as it could also bring a touch more sweetness if you prefer that.

Be sure to keep the apples on the chunky side - this way they don't go too soft and have a more pleasurable bite to them. Drizzled with a light glaze, this tender and moist cake spotted with color made for a fine substitute to our regular muffins.

Woo... spicy! This is how we decided to describe tonight's dinner of Jamaican Jerk Chicken Hash. I almost didn't get a chance to make this... I forgot that the chicken needed to marinate for 24 hours and at 9pm or so last night, I thought "Oh crap, I need to get the chicken going!" Thankfully, from the use of a food processor, the marinade came together quite quickly and didn't make too much of a mess before we headed to bed. Green onions, fresh ginger root, a habanero (yipes!), lime juice, dark rum, molasses, allspice, thyme and garlic are pureed until mostly smooth - this is then combined with a mixture of chicken and left to chill in the refrigerator. Feel free to use a seeded jalapeno instead if you want to tame the heat. The original recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds of chicken thighs, but I only had a pound in the freezer - so I added a couple chicken breasts to match the weight called for. Cubed russet potatoes are boiled until just tender and left to cool while you start heating the skillet to cook the chicken. The pungent marinade and chicken are then cooked together - when done, the chicken is chopped and added back into the skillet along with the potatoes and some evaporated milk. It looks a bit wet at first, but as the mixture cooks just until heated through, it begins to thicken up and the potatoes drink in the strong flavored sauce. I would suggest using all thighs, but this mixture did work good - the chicken was extremely juicy and the darker meat brought a rich depth of flavor. This was absolutely delicious and filling - however, I kept thinking how much better this could be if the potatoes had a different texture - usually when I think of a hash, the potatoes end up being well browned and have a more crisp texture. It may not get an A+ for visuals, but that didn't stop us one bit from devouring this.

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