Blue Mage Muffins

Instructor Trepe“Uses a whip. When in danger, uses monster skills she has learned. Her admirers in the Garden have formed a fan club.”

—Scan description of Quistis Trepe, FFVIII

  • 3 cups flour (360 g.)
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • ½ tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 12-oz. can of frozen 100% orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 12-oz. bag of frozen organic blueberries (about 2½ cups)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin pans with 24 unbleached baking cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oat bran, baking soda, and spice. Pour in the thawed orange juice concentrate, the blueberries, and 1 cup of water. Mix just enough to moisten all ingredients.

Divide the batter among the 24 cups and bake until lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan and place on a rack to cool.

Makes 24 muffins. Per muffin: 100 calories, 0.4 g. fat, 0.1 g. saturated fat, 0.2 g. poly. fat, 0.1 g. mono. fat, 0.48 mg. sodium, 154.7 mg. potassium, 22.7 g. carbohydrates, 1.4 g. fiber, 2.9 g. protein, vitamin C 29%, calcium 1%, iron 6%

Ovenmeister’s Potatoes

Alexandrian chef“A good shake o’ salt ♪ Potato, potato ♪ “

—Eiko Carol, FFIX

This is one of those very simple recipes, like Tifa’s Premium Heart, where you might say, “Everyone knows how to do that.” But when I was growing up, we cooked potatoes in the microwave — I didn’t learn how to prepare a proper restaurant-style baked potato until I was an adult. The extra baking time is worth it!

  • Russet potatoes, up to 4
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Butter
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Snipped chives
  • Freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch drippings.

While the oven is heating, scrub potatoes and pat dry. Poke each potato deeply with a fork about 5 or 6 times. Coat lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt.

Place the potatoes directly on the top rack of the oven. Bake about 1 hour, until skin is crispy and flesh underneath is soft. Remove from oven and use the fork to create a dotted line down the length of the potato. Press the ends of the potato towards each other until the line cracks open. Be careful, the steam will be very hot!

Place each potato in a bowl and serve with butter, sour cream, cheddar cheese, chives, and black pepper for topping.

Ruby’s Mini-Theater Chili

Ruby's Mognet letter to ZidaneCinna: “H-Hey, Ruby! I heard you started a mini-theater.”

Ruby: “That’s right, darlin’! My plays are a hit!”

Blank: “Cool! Let’s go watch!”

Marcus: “Yeah!”

Ruby: “Alright, cowboys! Zidane… You ain’t comin’, are ya? That’s awright, darlin’. Come on over whenever you want. Let’s go, boys!”

—FFIX

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 lbs. ground beef (chuck), 85% lean
  • 4 tablespoons hot chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 14-oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with green chiles
  • 4 15-oz. cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • Finely diced white onion
  • Finely diced green jalapeno peppers
  • Oyster crackers or saltine crackers

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add the ground beef, use a spatula to break into bite-sized pieces, and sprinkle with chili powder, flour, salt, sugar, cornstarch, cumin, and coriander. Cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 6–8 minutes.

Add tomatoes, beans, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Remove lid and continue to simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in vinegar and serve hot with cheese, onion, jalapeno peppers, and crackers for toppings.

Makes 12 heaping 1-cup servings. Per serving (does not include toppings): 414 calories, 19.6 g. fat, 7 g. saturated fat, 0.7 g. poly. fat, 9.1 g. mono. fat, 77.1 mg. cholesterol, 1224.7 mg. sodium (this will be less if you use homemade chicken stock instead of storebought), 340 mg. potassium, 27.4 g. carbohydrates, 7.3 g. fiber, 29.9 g. protein, vitamin A 2%, vitamin C 7%, calcium 8%, iron 24%

Treno Corn Pudding

Treno slums“Power to the people! We’ll never go hungry once we become nobles!”

—girl in the Treno slums, FFIX

  • 2½ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (70 g.) dry white corn grits
  • ¼ cup (1 oz.) grated sharp cheddar cheese or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon half & half
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons (10 g.) olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning (a blend of dried basil, oregano, and other spices)

Bring water and salt to a boil in a large deep pan over high heat. Slowly stir in grits and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently and reducing heat as needed to prevent sticking, until mixture is thick and bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, half & half, and butter until melted. Divide between two bowls. Drizzle each bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon crushed Italian seasoning.

Makes 2 servings. Per serving: 278 calories, 17 g. fat, 28 g. carbohydrates, 2 g. fiber, 6 g. protein, iron 2%

Echo Herb Stuffing

Locke Cole in Thamasa“An herbal medicine used with minimal preparation. The leaves are ground up and swallowed to cure throat ailments.”

—description in Bravely Default

A natural companion to Echo Herb Chicken, this dish is also an excellent accompaniment to Roast Cockatrice. Use any leftovers to make Cockatrice Pie.

  • 1 pound sourdough bread
  • 1 pound hot Italian pork sausage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion or two small onions, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 medium carrots, chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 4 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

The day before you want to serve the stuffing, cut the bread into ½-inch cubes. Spread the cubes out on a baking sheet and leave them uncovered on the counter or in the oven to dry overnight.

Remove the casings from the sausage and chop into ½-inch pieces. Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven and add sausage, onion, carrots, celery, and sea salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sausage is browned and onions are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Transfer the bread cubes to a large bowl and add the sausage mixture from the skillet. Toss with parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, and pepper. Add broth and toss until liquid is absorbed. Stir in the eggs.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9×13″ ceramic baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the stuffing in the dish, cover tightly with foil, and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is lightly browned and crisp, another 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Quan’s Chicken Soup with Rice

Vivi in Treno“Vivi! I learn art of fulfillment without eating food!”

—Quan, FFIX

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 parsnips, scrubbed and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 turnip, scrubbed and diced (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 8 cups homemade chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice or long-grain brown rice (about 200 g.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 oz. baby bok choy, chopped
  • 12 oz. zucchini, chopped (about 3 small/medium zucchinis)
  • 10 ounces chopped kale
  • ¾ oz. Italian parsley, chopped
  • ¾ oz. fresh dill, chopped
  • ¼ cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add parsnips and turnip and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and reducing heat if the vegetables are browning too quickly.

Add the chicken pieces to the soup pot and sprinkle with salt. Brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add rice, broth, bay leaves, and thyme, and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook about 35 minutes, until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprigs and stir in bok choy, zucchini, and kale. Remove from heat and stir in parsley, dill, and vinegar before serving.

Makes about 8 heaping 1-cup servings.  Per serving: 346 calories, 10.7 g. fat, 1.8 g. saturated fat, 1.5 g. poly. fat, 5.9 g. mono. fat, 64.1 mg. cholesterol, 361.2 mg. sodium, 753.2 mg. potassium, 34.6 g. carbohydrates, 5.8 g. fiber, 28.2 g. protein, vitamin A 47%, vitamin C 97%, calcium 11%, iron 13%

Quan’s Salmon and Pasta

Quan“To eat everything not true way of gourmand!”

—Quan, FFIX

With winter holidays on the way, now’s a great time to let your body relax and recharge with simple meals and high-quality ingredients.

  • 8 oz. uncooked brown rice pasta
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 2 skin-on wild Pacific salmon fillets, about 8 oz. each
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • Chopped dill or other fresh herb

Cook pasta as per package directions. Drain and divide into two bowls. Drizzle each bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add salmon fillets skin side-down and sprinkle with sea salt. Cook until skin is rendered and crisp, about 5 minutes. If skin shows resistance when attempting to lift with a spatula, allow it to continue to cook a little longer until it lifts easily.

Flip salmon, sprinkle skin with salt, and cook on second side until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 120°F for medium rare or 130°F for medium, about 1 minute longer.

Place a salmon fillet in each bowl on top of the pasta, skin-side up, and garnish with fresh herbs. Instead of the traditional white wine, serve with a splash of blueberry or cranberry juice in a goblet, topped off with sparkling mineral water.

Makes 2 servings. Per serving: 1,028 calories, 50 g. fat, 86 g. carbohydrates, 4 g. fiber, 58 g. protein, iron 15%