Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

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I can't believe 2014 has already come to an end. This year has been a wild ride. Personally, it has been more highs than lows. Thanks to God for His favour and protection! I have so much to be grateful to Him for. But I know it has been a difficult year for a lot of people I know, and for the world in general. And it has been a year full of bad news - literally. I've hated even looking at the newspaper most of this year. Here's hoping 2015 is better! 
I wanted to make something nice for the last breakfast of the year. If you know me at all, you know how much I love baking (and eating!) muffins. So that's what we had for breakfast this last morning of 2014. The flavours are classic, the recipe is easy and the muffins are pretty darn good!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins
Adapted from this recipe on
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 1/4 cup corn starch (or 2 cups cake flour)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
Scant 1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
90g (slightly more than 3oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 tbsp melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh/frozen blueberries

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin by greasing and flouring, or lining with paper liners. I used free-standing paper muffin cups, and lined them up on a cookie sheet. So convenient! 
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Stir well to combine. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl or in the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese, lime juice and vanilla.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is creamy. 
5. Beat in the melted butter, mixing until completely incorporated.
6. Beat in the buttermilk and whisk well to combine.
7. Add the dry ingredients and fold together until combined, and no dry pockets of flour remain.
8. Fold in the blueberries.
9. Spoon into your prepared muffin tin, and bake in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes until the tops are lightly browned and the tops spring back when touched.

The cream cheese flavor in these muffins is subtle but it adds so much! The crumb is moist, the tang is subtle but brilliant - enhanced by the lime juice, and the blueberries are fresh and bursting with flavor! I just loved this recipe to bits! The base recipe is brilliant and I think would be great with so many other add-ins. Next time, I think I'll try strawberries or a cinnamon-sugar ripple! Mmmm…

The only addition I would make to this recipe would be to add a nice crumb or streusel topping. The muffin itself isn't too sweet, which is how we like it. But some sweet crunchy topping would definitely be welcome! 
Try this recipe, and I'm sure you won't be sorry!

So that's it for 2014, folks! I'll see you in the new year. And once again, I pray that 2015 will be good to us all. God bless you!

The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, "The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!" Lamentations 3:22-24
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Monday, December 22, 2014

Spiced Cranberry Orange Muffins

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This Christmas has been such a busy one so far! One of the busiest ever, I think. But then again, I probably say that every year! It is nice to be busy and have a lot of things to do. I just wish I had a few more hours in the day so I could get some sleep!

Well, enough of the 'if only's and on to these muffins. Cranberries, spice snd citrus zest. These muffins are just so Christmassy! I think they'd be a perfect addition to the Christmas breakfast or brunch table. My little girl insisted they we use colored sanding sugar but feel free to use plain old regular granulated sugar. 
I used frozen cranberries to make these, and the tartness of the cranberries, the sweetness of the batter and the flavor and aroma of the citrus and spice are just awesome together!

Fresh Cranberry Orange Muffins 
Adapted from this recipe on
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt  
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
A dash of freshly grated nutmeg 
1/4 tsp dried ginger powder 
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
1 large egg 
Zest of one orange 
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice 
1/4 cup venerable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin by lining each cup with a paper liner. 
2. In a large bowl, combine all the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir well to combine. 
3. Add the frozen/fresh cranberries into the flour mixture and toss well to coat the berries. If any of the berries are extra-big, you could halve them before adding them in. 
4. In a smaller bowl, combine the egg, orange zest, orange juice and the oil. Whisk together. 
5. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Don't over-mix, or you'll be left with tough muffins. 
6. Spoon the muffin batter into the 12 cup muffin tray, dividing the batter evenly.
7. Sprinkle the tops of the muffin with some sugar. 
8. Bake for about 18-20 minutes until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched and they just start to brown. 
While at first I thought these muffins are a little too sweet, it just balanced well since the unsweetened fresh/frozen cranberries are so tart. The texture is lovely, and the crunch of the sugar top is very nice!

Oh and I must mention that they smell lovely while baking! Definitely a recipe that I would recommend.

Here's wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful day with lots of love, laughter, music, good and presents! But most of all - I hope you get a chance to reflect on what Christmas really means.

Isaiah 9:6 - For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 
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Monday, December 15, 2014

SRC Cookie Carnival: Russian Tea Cakes

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The Christmas season is something I look forward to every single year. I love the music, the food and the fellowship. I love going to church extra early, and coming back home and watching my kids open their presents with squeals of joy. I guess you could say I just love celebrating the birth of my Saviour! 

I doesn't matter that I'm... um... as old as I am - the  season is just so festive, bright and full of life that I turn into an excited child who just can't wait for Christmas eve. But every year, come December, I am so exhausted and tired, that I can't wait for January to get here! :) Christmas is a lot of work, I guess! But at least most of the Christmas related 'work' is tons of fun! Like today's post!
This month, as a bonus, the Secret Recipe Club that I've joined just recently is having a Christmas Cookie Carnival! How fun... For this event, I was assigned a wonderful blog from my own Group B - meet Melissa from Smells Like Brownies! This chocolate-loving mom of an adorable toddler is so talented! I love her site. Her recipes look and sound fabulous, the photographs are great and her choice of recipes is amazing - I want to eat everything off the screen. And she makes the prettiest wedding cakes! I repeat - SO talented! 

Melissa had a wonderful array of cookie recipes for me to choose from and the super decadent-sounding Fleur de Sel Caramel Cookies were my first pick! Don't they sound divine? But then my eye caught these Mexican Hot Chocolate Crackle cookies! Oooooh cookies that taste like hot chocolate!? Yum! And then my very inquisitive 5 year old came peeping and as I looked through the cookies, this one caught her eye and she asked me what they were! And when I told her that they were snowball cookies, it was all settled. She said she had to have these cookies, and soon. I guess we had decided. And if I didn't give in, I was sure to hear 'snow cookies, mama' every hour for the next two weeks. Never mind that there were other cookies that sounded like heaven in a bite. We had to have snow. 
Thank you Melissa for this yummy recipe that didn't make me regret my daughter's pick. These cookies were really, really good! I've made snowball cookies before, and I've eaten my fair share. It was fun and exciting to try a new recipe! These cookies tasted rich, and nutty and were just the right level of sweet - even with all the 'snow'. The powdered sugar did make it a messy treat for the kids, but it was so worth it!
Russian Tea Cakes/Snow Cookies
Adapted from this recipe on 
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup confectioner’s sugar, plus extra
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2¼ cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup finely chopped walnuts 

1. Cream the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and fluffy. 
2. Stir in the vanilla and beat for a minute or so. 
3. Add the flour, salt and nuts and stir until it comes together. 
4. Set the mixing spoon aside and gently mix the dough with your fingers till it comes together into a ball. 
5. Pinch of bits of dough and form cookie balls about 1" in size. Lay them out on baking tray/cookie sheet leaving about an inch between each of the cookies. 
6. Bake in a preheated oven at 200C/400F for about 12 minutes. At this point the bottom of the cookie will have colored golden brown but the rest of the cookie will remain whitish. 
7. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and working quickly, dredge each hot cookie in the powdered sugar and set on a cooling rack. The cookies aren't too hard to handle when they're hot. Just don't touch the hot baking tray. 
8. Leave the cookies on the cooling rack to cool completely. When they're completely cool, dredge them again in the powdered sugar. This time, the sugar will stick a lot better and the cookies will look like they're covered in snow. 
9. Store in an airtight cookie jar away from the reach of little hands - unless you want your whole house covered in a fine layer of powdered sugar. 

Thank you Melissa! Love love love your blog and I will also be making the other two cookies I wanted to make! I can't wait! These were so yummy and buttery and nutty and sugary and so good! The photographs turned out messy because of all the sugar and the two pairs of grubby little hands I had to keep swatting away while trying to get a decent picture! 
EDIT: Just saw the Chocolate Mint Butter Cookies! Yum! And more importantly, - CONGRATULATIONS, Melissa! :)

And thank you Sarah for all that you do for Secret Recipe Club. What a lot of work it must be! Thanks for organizing this cookie carnival! I loved being a part of it! :)

I hope you guys try this recipe. I'm sure it will get added to your Christmas baking list every year. Until next time...

Check out the links below for more awesome Christmas Cookie ideas!

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Tomato Jam

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When I received my assignment for Secret Recipe Club for this month, I must admit was a little confused. I mean - how do you choose ONE recipe from a blog that's chockfull of awesome recipes? And even while I was lolling about in confusion, she went ahead and posted this tempting chowder recipe. Thanks for adding to the confusion, Julie!

This month, the blog I was assigned to cook from was the wonderful A Little Bit of Everything. Julie has been blogging since 2009 and has almost 750 posts on her blog. Yes, you read that right. Seven hundred and fifty! Is it any surprise that I found it hard to choose something?

This recipe was one that I passed over the first time because I thought it was too simple. But even after I bookmarked a few other yummy ones - including a cranberry-jalapeno jam which sounded divine, my mind kept going back to this one. And I am so glad I decided to go with my gut!
It was my first time ever making a tomato jam, and wow - it really is something! I stayed true to Julie's recipe with only a few minor adjustments - a little less sugar than she used, and some extra acid because the tomatoes I used just weren't tart enough. Apart from that, I stuck to Julie's recipe and instructions and it was just delicious!

And with Christmas just around the corner, I'm sure your friends would love receiving this beautiful red jam in pretty little jars with cute ribbons around them!

I must also mention that I only made half the recipe, using 2.5 pounds of ripe tomatoes. 

Tomato Jam
Slightly adapted from this recipe
2.5 pounds/1.1kg of ripe tomatoes
1 1/3 cup white sugar
4 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp red dried chilli flakes

1. Wash, core and chop the tomatoes fine. I used a food processor. (If you're the kind of person who is bothered by tomato skins, you can blanch and peel the tomatoes. The skin doesn't bother me. So I skipped that.)
2. In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Stir together and set the saucepan on a stove on medium heat.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
4. Lower the temperature and allow the jam to cook on low heat for about an hour or more. You will need to stir it and scrape down the sides at regular intervals. The frequency of stirring must increase as the jam gets thicker. You don't want it to catch and burn. 
5. When the jam is thick, mine reduced to less than one-third of the original volume, the mixture is sticky and glossy. 
6. If you're using to bottling and canning, follow your usual procedure to store this yummy jam. Or you could just allow the jam to cool, transfer to an airtight jar.

I store most of my jams and preserves in the refrigerator, and this one went into the fridge too.

I loved the flavor of this jam. It is sweet, tart, spicy and has a lovely sticky texture that keeps you licking your fingers. There are so many things I can think of to do with this jam - my brother suggested something with goat cheese. A tart maybe? I was thinking it would be awesome with feta or haloumi too. 
We made a simple grilled cheese with cheese, tomato jam, and tabasco sauce for added heat. It had lovely flavor and we enjoyed it! 

Thank you Julie for a lovely recipe and for your awesome blog posts. I've bookmarked quite a few including this delicious sounding Lemon Butter Baked Shrimp. I look forward to getting to know you better as we cook together in SRC! Until next time! :)

To see more yummy recipes from Group B of the Secret Recipe Club, visit the link below!

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Banana, Date & Walnut Bread

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I've been just so bad at blogging. It has been a challenge for me to sit down and get a post out, and I apologise! I should be posting more regularly going forward. Fingers crossed!
This recipe came out of need - I just needed to use up some leftover, overripe bananas, and some dates that my daughters have outgrown. Yes, outgrown. These kids and their food choices. One day they love dates and they insist I buy them a large pack. And the next day - "Dates? Blechhhhh!" How am I supposed to keep up with that!

I loved the way this recipe turned out. It was loosely based on a recipe from I changed it up quite a bit - the biggest changes being using mostly honey, and a lot less, in place of sugar, and the addition of some butter in the recipe. 

Banana, Date & Walnut Bread 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup water
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp sugar
1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp flaxseed powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large overripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 cup)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. While the oven is preheating, lay the walnuts on a small oven-safe plate or tray and allow them to toast in the oven. Remember to remove them when the oven reaches temperature. Alternatively, toast the walnuts in a skillet or frying pan. 
2. Pour the water in a saucepan, add the butter, honey and sugar and place it on a stovetop on medium heat.
3. Heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is starting to bubble.
4. Add in the dates and cook for approximately a minute. Turn off the heat and set the saucepan aside.
5. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, flaxseed powder and salt. Stir well to combine.
6. Add the date mixture, which will be a little cooler now, and stir until combined. Stir in the mashed banana.
7. Fold in the walnuts. 
8. Pour the batter into a greased and floured 9" loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the tin comes out clean.
9. Remove from the oven, and allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Ease the loaf out of the tin and allow to cool down on a rack.
10. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Let me tell you - this is a hearty, healthy and filling bread. We loved it! It was great as a part of breakfast and a yummy tea-time treat!

I ate a couple of slices with some peanut butter. My husband liked it with a caramel spread. But my favourite was when I ate a leftover slice the next morning - toasted and slathered with butter. It was just awesome!
I love the flavours and textures that come together in this loaf, and I think you will too! 

Until next time… 
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Sourdough Waffles

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This last couple of weeks has been quite crazy for me. We had a health related fright with a loved one (which turned out to be nothing serious - thank God!), celebrated a bunch of birthdays, baked three birthday cakes and caught up with a lot of friends. I have barely had the time to sit down and write a blog post. My apologies.
This recipe is one I've been using for a few months now. All of us prefer this over the regular waffle recipe. A sourdough waffle is superior in flavour, texture and it is better for your gut as well! The waffles are perfectly crisp on the outside with a fluffy interior, have a slight tang which boosts the flavor and they color up beautifully! 
I have a wonderful sourdough starter going. His name is Bub and he is a feisty fella. He is about 8 months old, very active and very demanding. I have a small jar in the fridge as a backup, but I have a large jar sitting on my kitchen counter which gets used a LOT. I've made breads, pizza dough, waffles, muffins, and most often, we make pancakes. I have shared my favorite sourdough pancake recipe on my Facebook page before, but I will get around to posting it soon.  
If you would like to start a sourdough starter from scratch, here are some great websites to guide you along in getting started.

Sourdough Waffles
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2-4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
8oz sourdough starter 
6 tbsp butter, melted

1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir well to combine.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.
3. Stir in the sourdough starter and whisk together until combined.
4. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined.
5. Mix in the melted butter.
6. Adjust the consistency of the batter by adding a little more milk or flour. You want a thick batter that is like pancake batter.
7. Cook the waffles according to the instructions of your waffle maker. 
8. Serve hot topped with a pat of salted butter and generous amounts of syrup.

I made half the batch and then decided to add some toasted pecans to the rest of the batter and we loved that addition as well!
I find that yeasted waffles are way superior in texture and flavor than the baking powder or baking soda recipes. If you don't have a sourdough starter, and aren't keen on starting and maintaining one, you should try an overnight waffle recipe! I'll post that recipe soon.

Until next time!
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Monday, November 10, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Blueberry Muffin Streusel Cake

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It's time for another Secret Recipe Club post. This is only my second month but I am totally loving it!

This month I was assigned to Anne-Marie's wonderful blog, This Mama Cooks. And boy, does she cook! She cooks up a storm. Her website is a treasure trove of wonderful recipes of all kinds. And best of all - if you have a special dietary need, she probably has something for you. Just fantastic healthy recipes, eggless recipes, low-cal weight watchers recipes, and tons of gorgeous gluten free recipes! Plus she has so many other fun lifestyle and health posts! I think I am now addicted to her blog. 

It took me a while, and I almost made something else (it was my husband's birthday yesterday and I almost made this Gluten Free Flourless Chocolate Walnut Torte), but I ended up making a recipe that we all love eating around here. This is the kind of stuff that my family loves, and so I made this gorgeous muffin cake for breakfast one morning. And I was right - they loved it! I try not to make these indulgent breakfasts too often - maybe a couple of a times a month.
I didn't make too many changes in the recipe apart from substituting some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat, and reducing the sugar just a little.

Blueberry Muffin Streusel Cake
Adapted from this recipe on This Mama Cooks 
1 cup flour (I used equal parts of all purpose and whole wheat) 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 tbsp canola oil (or any neutral flavoured  oil)
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen 

Streusel Topping:
1/2 cup flour (I used equal parts of all purpose and whole wheat)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1 tsp vanilla 
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup raw pecans, roughly chopped 

1. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F. Grease a 9x9x2 square baking pan and lightly dust with flour. Set aside. 
2. In a medium bowl, combine all the streusel ingredients and mix well to combine. I got a nice even mix by using my fingers. I think a food processor would work well too. Set aside. 
3. In another medium bowl, combine all the cake ingredients except the blueberries, and stir just until completely combined. You don't want any pockets of dry flour. 
4. Fold in the blueberries gently. 
5. Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking tin and sprinkle the whole top of the cake with an even layer of the prepared streusel topping. 
6. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 
7. Serve warm. 
My favourite thing about this recipes was how easy it was to put together. No fussing about. Combine all the ingredients, mix and bake! Just loved it!

Another fabulous thing is that even though the cake and topping have very little butter/oil, it doesn't taste that way. It tastes really, really good - especially that awesome crunchy streusel topping with those amazing toasty pecans! The whole thing was polished off in a matter of hours! 
The level of sugar was just right for us but if you have a sweet tooth, you should up the sugar and use what Anne-Marie originally recommends. And while you're visiting her, make sure to check out her other fabulous recipes, and don't forget to say hello from me. Right now, apart from that gorgeous walnut torte, I also plan to try my hand at her awesome looking homemade chorizo, and this totally tempting Baked Pumpkin Chocolate French Toast with Bananas. I mean, how good does that sound?!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! Check out the other fabulous SRC recipes at the link below. 
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Friday, November 7, 2014

Jaffa Cake Muffins

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I have never liked the combination of orange and chocolate. But when I saw this muffin recipe, I was intrigued by the unusual method of preparation, and the rave reviews that I read. And I just had to make them!
And hey - they're really good! The thing I liked the most is the fresh orange hit that you get from this muffin. I HATE fake orange flavoured stuff. Orange candy. Orange soda snd orange flavoured anything actually. But fresh oranges are awesome in my book. And when you read this recipe, you'll see that this is as fresh as it gets! 

Jaffa Cake Muffins
Adapted from this recipe 
1 whole orange, quartered and deseeded 
1/2 cup fresh orange juice 
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 
1 large egg
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar 
1 tsp baking powder 
3/4 tsp baking soda 
A pinch of salt
3oz or 85g of mini dark chocolate chips 

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and prepare a 12 cup muffin tray by greasing the cups or lining with paper muffin cups. 
2. In a blender jar, purée the quartered orange - peel and all, and the orange juice until completely smooth. 
3. Add the butter and the egg and blitz for about 20 seconds until smooth. Transfer this mixture into a medium sized bowl. 
4. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 
5. Add this dry mixture to the purée and mix until completely combined. 
6. Gently stir in the chocolate chips. 
7. Divide the batter among the 12 muffin cups. 
8. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until the tops of the muffins are lightly browned and spring back when touched. 
9. Remove from the oven and allow the muffins to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before removing and serving. 

The intense orangyness is really surprisingly good. The original recipe calls for more sugar and when I tried that I found it way too sweet for us. So the next time I made it, I cut down the sugar by a third and found it a lot better. The chocolate chips also add to the sweetness. 

These muffins aren't dense. They're very cakey and light. Honestly, I prefer a dense muffin and I even had difficult referring to this as a muffin for a while. But whatever you choose to call it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. 

If you are a fan of this orange-chocolate combination, you should totally try this recipe. And even if you're like me, and aren't a fan, you should still give it a try. You might be surprised. I was!

Until next time :) And watch out for my next Secret Recipe Club post on Monday! Cheers :)

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Healthy Banana Nut Muffins

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I've been making quite a lot of nice breakfast recipes lately, but just haven't been able to photograph them! 

My favorite were these yummy pistachio and cranberry scones. They were so good that even though I made a huge batch and froze them, they were gone within 4 days and then my husband complained when he realized there weren't any left over on the fifth day! That's how good they were. And I just didn't find the time to get a picture. Oh well! I'll just have to make them again. 
When I made these muffins, I just insisted on taking 10 minutes to take a few quick pictures! And I'm glad I did. We loved these muffins and I am sure you will too!

Healthy Banana Nut Muffins
Adapted from Tyler Florence's Banana Nut Muffin Recipe 
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp salt
2 large overripe bananas
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1/3 cup chopped walnuts 

1. Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F and prepare 6 large or 8 regular muffin cups in your tray by either greasing them or by lining them with paper muffin cups. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and flaxseed meal. Stir together and set aside. 
3. In a medium bowl, peel and mash the bananas until fairly smooth. 
4. Add in the sugar and whisk until combined and the mixture is a little frothy. 
5. Beat in the egg, oil and vanilla and whisk to combine. 
6. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the banana mixture. 
Stir until just combined. Don't over-mix. 
7. Stir in the walnuts and fold gently till incorporated. 
8. Spoon the batter into 6 large or 8 regular muffin cups. If there are any empty muffin cups in your tray, pour a little water into each to keep them from warping. 
9. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until ththe tops spring back when touched gently and are lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature. 
These muffins stay good at room temperature for a day but after that, I have like put them into the fridge or freezer. They're quite moist with the bananas and I would think they'd go back quite quickly.

These muffins are loaded with flavor. I was a little worried that they might be too sweet but they were just right! The only thing I would do different  the next time around would be to throw in some tart dried cranberries. I think they would be divine in there. Ooh ooh or maybe some chocolate chips! Chocolate is healthy too right? So that would work!
Until next time :)

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Chewy Red Velvet Cookies

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Can you believe I got to do TWO posts in my very first SRC month? I love Secret Recipe Club! One of the Group B bloggers wasn't able to do her post since she just had a little baby! How fun! Congrats! Enjoy your little one :)

The second site I was assigned to was Cheese Curd In Paradise! Wow. Ashley's SUCH a great cook, and has SOOOOO many lovely recipes. I loved looking at pictures of her little fella too... Such a cutie! Oh I must say I had such a hard time picking out a recipe I was going to make! I just kept bookmarking and going. It actually took me a few DAYS to find this recipe, but the minute I saw it, I knew this was the one for me! You know me and my love for Red Velvet, don't you?
Are you groaning "not another red velvet recipe"? Don't you dare! I may have done red velvet ice cream and red velvet madeleines and red velvet whoopie pies and even more red velvet stuff. Heck, I even have a recipe for a red velvet emergency - because that IS a real thing! But I have never made red velvet cookies before.

Chewy Red Velvet Cookies
Adapted from this recipe on Cheese Curd in Paradise
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp red food coloring
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a baking/cookie sheet with grease-proof paper.
2. Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl.
3. Beat in the egg and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.
4. Stir in the food coloring
5. Stir in the vinegar.
6. Stir in the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder and mix in well.
7. Fold in the white chocolate chips.
8. Drop the cookie dough using an ice cream scoop or large spoon. You want about 2 tbsp worth of dough for each cookie. Make sure you have a distance of at least 2 inches between the cookies.
9. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
10. Allow to cool on the pan for 3-4 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.
11. Store in an airtight container.
I love the dense, chewiness of these cookies. And I have always been a fan of white chocolate with red velvet and that's why I substituted the regular chocolate for white. My only major changes to the recipe were reducing the amount of food coloring, and adding a splash of vinegar. Somehow in my mind, red velvet recipes need to have some vinegar in them. I guess you could say I am a red velvet purist - if there's such a thing!
I loved visiting your site, Ashley! In the days that I spent browsing through your site, I have bookmarked quite a few more recipes to try! My favorites so far are your Bang Bang Chicken Skewers, the peanut butter popcorn - (which I'm planning to make this weekend!!!), and the Strawberry Basil Shortcakes - which sound divine! Thank you for sharing your awesome recipes with all of us! You are such a prolific cook...

I loved having two wonderful sites to explore and share with you on my very first month of SRC! Can't wait for my next Group B assignment!

You can visit my other SRC post for this month here.

Click on the cute froggy face below to see the other awesome recipes from SRC's Group B!


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Secret Recipe Club: Carrot Cake Pancakes & more...

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Woohoo! Yay! Yippeeee! This is my first time with Secret Recipe Club and I am so excited. Can you tell? From the first moment I heard I was accepted, I couldn't wait to see whose lovely blog would be assigned to me. And I wasn't disappointed one bit! 

For my first SRC post with Group B, I was assigned to a fabulous blog - Amy's Cooking Adventures. Hey - my little girl is an Aimee! :) 

Wow! The first time I visited her site, I was amazed! So many awesome recipes to choose from! How on earth was I going to choose? And from what I've read, she's an amazing mom, a strong woman and she's as cute as a button, I tell you! There's this picture of her with her new braces, and I swear I haven't seen anyone look so adorable after just getting braces! 

And just when I finished making the yummy food, and writing this post, I saw a message that another Group B member wasn't able to make her post happen, and I jumped at the chance of cooking from two blogs! Loved every minute of both. I've linked to my other post at the end of this one!

Now, back to my dilemma. I started off by bookmarking recipes on Amy's blog. I bookmarked 20 to start with. Ended up making three. And all of them were yummy! I will share the recipe for one of them here in the post. For the other two, you'll have to head on over to her site and get the recipe. 

These pancakes really were a treat. They were so reminiscent of a carrot cake - that same spice hit and moist goodness. And to make the experience complete, we had it with a cream cheese-maple glaze. It really was awesome. And it is such a healthy recipe! Can't believe something that tastes this good can be healthy too! Thank you, Amy, for an awesome recipe! 

Carrot Cake Pancakes

Adapted from this recipe Amy's Cooking Adventures
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
¼ cup ground flax seed
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
1 1/3 cup skim milk
½ cup pureed carrots
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. In a large bowl, combine the flours, ground flax seed, baking powder, spices and salt. Stir together and set aside.
2. In a smaller bowl or measuring cup, combine the eggs, milk, carrots, honey, sugar and vanilla. 
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and stir just to combine.
4. On a hot skillet over medium heat, add some 2-3tbsp butter or oil. Tilt the pan to spread evenly.
5. Drop small ladlefulls of the batter on the skillet. You should be able to make 2-4 per batch depending on the size of your skillet.
6. Wait till small bubbles appear on the surface of your pancakes and flip them using a spatula. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the pancake is cooked through. 
7. Serve topped with pancake syrup, maple syrup, cream cheese glaze, sweetened Greek yogurt or a topping of your choice. 

Amy suggests serving this topped with toasted walnuts and that would have been just perfect! But I just plain forgot. All of us loved this recipe - especially my Aimee. She ate two for breakfast and then came back for another at snack time! Thank you, Amy!

Another recipe I tried from her site was the 'Melt in your mouth' chicken. This one was surprising. It is ridiculously easy to make and surprisingly tasty! I served it over elbow macaroni because it had quite a lot of sauce, and the kids gobbled it up! Surprisingly, the biggest fan was my husband. The only changes I made to the recipe was adding a glug of Tabasco sauce, and sprinkling the top with some smoked paprika. It was really good! 
This was a simple, quick and yummy dinner that all of us loved! Our only complaint was that there wasn't more of it!
I also made Amy's recipe for Peanut Butter Dog Treats! And my Jerry loved them and gobbled them up without hesitation! Here you can see him staring at a doggie treat with great longing in his eyes! :) I wish I had taken more pictures! 

It was a pleasure visiting your site and getting to know you a little, Amy. You are a beautiful person, a wonderful mom, and after I spent time reading your "Angel Wings" posts, I think you're a such strong person too! God bless you and your lovely family... XOX to you! 

I loved my first month of Secret Recipe Club! Don't forget to visit my OTHER SRC  post!

Click on the cute froggy face below to see the other awesome recipes from SRC's Group B!

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

French Breakfast Muffins

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My older daughter just turned five. I can barely believe how quickly time is passing by. It seems like just last week that she was a teeny weeny little baby. She's now a sweet, loving, smart, talented and beautiful five year old teenager. Oh and did I mention drama queen? She had a fun, small birthday party and got the pink bicycle she has always wanted and prayed for. 
She also loves to help me when I cook or bake. She always has. I remember her helping me shell peas when she was as little as 17 months old. She loves looking through cookbooks with pictures and picking out recipes for us to make. And she picked this recipe out from the cookbook based on Disney's animated flick 'Ratatouille'. She loves this book and was contemplating asking me to make the dirt cake - complete with plastic rats and gummy worms - from this book for her birthday. But finally, she decided on a Barbie cake which we had fun baking together. 
This morning she asked me to make these breakfast muffins from the cookbook and we had a good time making them together. 

I modified the recipe slightly to make it a little healthier and reduced a little of the sugar in the recipe.

French Breakfast Muffins
Adapted from Disney's Ratatouille Cookbook
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg 
3 tbsp flaxseed powder
1 large egg
90g/6tbsp butter, melted
1 cup milk
3 tbsp yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla 
1/2 cup of dried, chopped cranberries 
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tbsp butter, melted 

1. Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and prepare a 12 cup muffin tin with liners or lightly grease and flour each cup. 
2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, nutmeg powder and flaxseed powder. Stir well to combine. 
3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg lightly. Add the melted butter, milk, vanilla and yoghurt and whisk well to combine. 
4. Add this liquid mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. 
5. Stir in the cranberries. 
6. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups and bake for about 20-25 minutes until the muffins just start turning lightly golden and the tops spring back when touched. 
7. Remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool slightly in the tin. 
8. While they are cooling, in a small bowl, stir together the sugar and the cinnamon powder. In another bowl, pour in the melted butter. 
9. When the muffins are cool enough to handle, remove each muffin from the tin, dip the tops lightly in the melted butter and then roll the tops in the cinnamon sugar. 
10. Shake off the excess sugar and place on your serving plate. 
These muffins were really lovely in texture and flavor. Considering I am big fan of the flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon, I was in heaven. The tart cranberries cut through the sweetness nicely and were a great addition, if I do say so myself. 
My husband and I both felt the sugary topping was a little too much for us. The kids didn't complain of course. Us grown ups just brushed off some of the sugar just before we dug in.
I was glad to be able to get in the berries, flaxseed and the whole wheat flour without any complaints. Next time we make this recipes, I'm going to add some oatmeal and maybe some seeds or nuts, too. This one is a keeper!
Until next time :)

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