Family Ski Meal – Chili and Citrus Cornbread Muffins

We went skiing (finally) last weekend.  As usual I brought my vegetarian chili.  The great thing about this dish is that I make it the day before and freeze it.  Then we bring the frozen chili in the car on the drive to Tahoe.  By the time we get there it may or may not be totally thawed (depending on traffic).  Then we have a sure fire meal for the evening and can go out play without worrying about making dinner.

And while my family likes the chili, they really like what I make on the side even better…Citrus Corn Bread Muffins.   These muffins are a favorite from The Petit Appetit Cookbook, and are a little sweet and a little savory.  They’re made moist by the addition of banana.  Happily this recipe makes 12 – 15 full size or 36 mini muffins so we have lots to share or save.  My kids think it’s the perfect snack for packing for school or on the go – like heading to the snow.  These can be made and stored in a air tight container for about 3 – 4 days.

Citrus Corn Muffins

1 tablespoon grated orange zest (about 2 medium oranges)

2 cups unbleached flour

½ cup cornmeal

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup low-fat buttermilk

2 large, cage free, organic eggs

½ cup organic light brown sugar, packed

½ cup mashed banana (about 1 large banana)


Preheat oven to 400 F.  Lightly grease 12 cup standard muffin tin or 24 cup mini muffin tin with vegetable oil.  Using a small knife or zester, remove 1 tablespoon on zest from oranges.  In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, powder and salt and whisk to mix.  In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, eggs, brown sugar, banana and zest.  Mix well.  Using a rubber spatula, fold wet ingredients into dry mixture.  Be careful not to over mix, as muffins will be tough.  Spoon batter into muffin tin cups, ¾ full.  Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until muffins are brown on top and test pick comes out clean.  Remove from oven and place on wire rack.


Get Picky!  Keep toothpicks or small wooden skewers on hand to check muffins and other baked goods for doneness.  Simply insert pick in center, and when comes out clean, muffins are done.



Holidays, Cold and Flu Are Here…Tea to the Rescue

Last year we got the flu just before Thanksgiving.  This year it was literally on the drive home from my parents.  Thanksgiving dinner was great as was the visit, but the drive home made us not want to think about doing it for a very long time.  Long story short my poor son got sick in the car and we ended up having to stay in a motel on I5 just outside the Grapevine where he was up all night with the flu.  The next day we were finally able to drive home – my son sleeping most of the way.

It would be two days later when my daughter got it (although a milder version).  And now my husband and I both have colds.  There is one thing that seems to be soothing whether healthy or sick during these cooler months for all ages and that is tea.  You know about my love of iced tea, but hot’s great too.  My kids love tea with a touch of honey.  My pediatrician’s nurse actually suggested it as a remedy for coughs rather than medicine. (But never for those under 1 year.).  This time of year we stock up on peppermint tea which you can only get in winter.  But we also have a large variety of everything from cammomile to ginger to mint to chai to fit everyone’s mood and illness.  Tea is the most popular drink in the world – so there must be something there.

Mint Chamomile Tea

A cup of chamomile tea can be soothing for a child on a cold day or with a cold inside. The added mint syrup lends a bit of sweet and spice. Most children don’t like drinks and food too hot. Keep temperature on warm or lukewarm.

Makes 1 cup


1 cup water

1 bag chamomile tea

2 teaspoons Mint Syrup (see below)

Bring water to a boil
in a saucepan. Add tea bag and let steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully squeeze
tea bag and discard. Add syrup and stir.


Mint Syrup

The symbol of hospitality, mint has been used for scores of culinary and medicinal purposes over the centuries. This simple mint syrup can be added as a sweetener to hot
and cold teas, as well as lemonade and plain water.

Makes 2 cups syrup


¾ cup turbinado sugar

2 cups water

2 cups fresh mint (1 bunch), torn into 2-inch pieces

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and mint. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until sugar has dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and let stand for at least 30 minutes.

Pour though a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl or pitcher and discard mint.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.