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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