Blueberry Muffins

Wow! So it’s been almost an entire year since I completed a blog post… and “oh boy” has a lot happened since then. Most notably (and also an entirely unexpected surprise!) is that we now have a son, who is 2 months old tomorrow :)

But onto the muffins. As mentioned at least once before, one of my favourite cookbooks on my shelf is my Eating for Pregnancy book. And this past year I was even more delighted that I had not given it away. The recipes are healthy, easy to make, and often use on-hand ingredients. This may have been the second time I made Chris Prouty’s Saturday special blueberry muffins, however I cannot be sure. Might have been the first.

With my eldest off to school early weekday mornings, and me up at night with the baby, our go-to weekday breakfast has started to be cereal. It alternates between honey nut Cheerios and gorilla munch, neither of which are particularly healthy, but are always eaten with milk. Our toddler is actually a fantastic eater, and would eat less sugary things, but alas she wants what the other has.

So this evening, with a sleeping baby (who was incredibly fussy prior to sleeping) in the wrap carrier, I set off to find a healthy alternative, and something I could eat now as a treat. These muffins were simple to make, with an optional streusel topping. I made the topping, but opted not to put it on (aka I forgot).

Without further ado, here is my modified version, which makes slightly more than a dozen well-sized regular muffins.

Blueberry Muffins

Set oven to 400 degrees F, and spray or line a muffin tin. You will need one 12-muffin tin, plus either 2 more muffin slots, or a 6-8 ounce ramekin. I used a ramekin.

If using topping, mix together:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon

Mix: 2 cups blueberries and 1 tablespoon flour; set aside.

Next in large bowl add and whisk together:

  • 1.5 cups flour (I used 1 cup white and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/3 cup wheat germ OR ground flax seed
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • Set dry ingredients aside

In a 2-4 cup measuring bowl, add

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • ~ 3/4 milk (up to the 1.5 cup measuring mark)
  • Whisk until combined

Add the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well. Fold in the blueberries. Divide amongst the 12+2 muffin cups. I filled mine about 3/4 full and ended up with awesome slightly raised and nicely browned muffins, plus one giant muffin :)

Last put streusel topping on each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes until nicely browned.

Mad Healthy Muffins

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I love to bake; have I mentioned that before? Since the craziness of our recent international move, and me adjusting to becoming an official stay-at-home-mom, I have finally stocked my pantry enough to begin baking again. Hurray! It also helps that little B is an excellent, on-schedule napper :)

So, the muffins. I have a go-to recipe – Muffin Madness from Moosewood Cooks at Home, but am always adjusting. These days it’s to cut out as much sugar as possible without compromising taste or texture. Most of the time I substitute out half of the sugar for a mashed banana, and find it works quite well.

This time I opted to use banana entirely, and only used a bit of honey to “sweeten” the recipe; debatable whether that was necessary or not. I also switched it up by incorporating two variations – banana and zucchini.

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My Mad Healthy Muffins

1.5 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium)

3/4 cup mashed banana (about 1 large)

2 eggs

2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup oil

Mix above ingredients until well combined. *Optional – add 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup; stir until incorporated. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a separate bowl, combine:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

dash of salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1-2 teaspoon(s) cinnamon

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined; **Optional add 1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Butter or oil standard muffin tin cups, and divide batter into the 12 muffin slots. Bake for 20 minutes or until knife comes out clean from centre of muffin. Cool on rack, and enjoy right away :)

Butter Fried Kale and Perogies

So, the other day I posted this: chicken-pot-pie to my other blog, but should have posted it here! Forgot I had also started a food blog…

Anyway, today I thought about cooking lunch, and wanted to make a tasty and healthier-than-just-perogies side dish for my frozen chicken empanada.

And here is what I came up with!

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While the perogies were boiling, and a few minutes before they were done, I heated up my ceramic frying pan and added about a tablespoon of butter. Once melted, I added a quarter of a cup of frozen, chopped, green kale. I fried that for a few minutes, strained the cooked perogies, and added to the pan. I fried both sides until nice and crispy and served with the empanada and a dollop of greek yogurt. Scrumptialicious!

My Favourite Short Cakes!

I received a pregnancy cookbook the Christmas before our first baby was born, back in 2009. This book, Eating for Pregnancy, remains one of my favourite cookbooks. It has healthy meal ideas and quick and easy recipes.

Another one of my go to recipes is the Strawberry whole wheat short cake. And as usual, I am always changing the recipe, particularly to cut down on the sugar. We’ve topped the cakes with every berry and in season fruit available, separate and all piled together. The cakes always turn out wonderfully!

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Here is my take on the original recipe.

Short Cakes:

For the filling – use 6 cups fresh fruit and a few tablespoons sugar. Let sit for a couple of hours to get the juices out, and let the fruit soften. OR use 6 cups frozen berries. Thaw on counter for a few hours or quickly in the microwave. Strain out the juice but keep to top the finished product.

For the cakes – Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with Silpat mat, parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray. Combine 1/2 cup whole wheat flour with 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I’ve even used 3/4 whole wheat for a drier but still scrumptious cake). Mix in 1.5 tsp baking powder and 2 TBLsp sugar. Using a pastry knife, cut in 3 TBLsp unsalted, cold butter until mixture resembles course meal. Add 1/2 cup milk and mix until just combined. Divide into 6 equal portions and arrange evenly onto baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.

Let cool for a few minutes while you whip your cream. Slice each cake horizontally and remove the top; set aside. Next dollop whipped cream on top of cake bottom, spoon berries onto that and then top with the cake. Can drizzle with the remaining berry juice, if you used frozen berries.

Voila! Easy, delicious and fast dessert.

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Chocolate Pudding!

I love chocolate. A lot.

I haven’t made a from-scratch-pudding in a very long time and today made a lovely chocolate pudding. I got the original recipe from here.

But I followed a slightly different path and, of course, loved the results!

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

Mix:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup corn starch and,
  • a dash of salt

Into a heavy bottomed sauce pan.

Add:

  • 2 & 3/4 cups milk while whisking (I used a mix of 1 cup whole milk and 1 & 3/4 – 1% milk).

Heat on medium until slowly boiling and mix until thickened. Turn off heat and add 1-2 tablespoons butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix well. Cool for a few minutes, if you can wait.

Top with unsweetened whipped cream, which slowly melts into a lovely puddle on top :)

Next time I will add a couple of tablespoons of rich, fresh, hot expresso coffee into the milk first and will decrease the sugar even more.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies – first modification

I really wanted chocolate chip cookies yesterday. My 3.5 year old daughter was more than onboard with baking some when I suggested it. However, I wanted to use some science while deciding how to make them; this post, The Science Behind Baking the Most Delicious Cookie Ever, provided that.

I love ooey-gooey cookies, but also wanted them to fluff up. Perhaps not the easiest combination. I added more flour, switched out the baking powder for baking soda and substituted mashed banana for the brown sugar. The cookies smelled heavenly, and were nicely puffed, cake-y, and moist, with a hint of banana.

Chocolate Chip Cookies – cake-y

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together in small bowl:

  • 2 cups flour (*optional: 1 cup white, 1 cup spelt)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt

Set aside. In a medium bowl, mix the following until light and fluffy:

  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (regular/average sized banana, can be previously frozen)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • *optional – 1 TBL sp corn syrup

Then add:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix until almost all incorporated. Next add: 

  • 1/2 cup mini M&Ms, or other small chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts, *optional

Spoon onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until firm to the touch and fragrant. Enjoy warm, and store in sealed container. Will keep for a couple of days. 

Pumpkin loaf

The other day (yesterday in fact), a wonderful, beautifully pregnant friend of mine was coming to visit so I wanted to make something tasty and “healthy”-ish. I was going to make muffins, then decided on pumpkin muffins. But after a bit of thought, I changed my mind again because a loaf would be even easier!

I found this great recipe – Easy one-bowl Pumpkin Loaf – from the Baker Chick. I changed a few things though. To start, I was out of brown sugar so I substituted one mashed (and previously frozen) banana for that. Then I only used ~ 3/4 cup white sugar (rather than the full cup). I mixed the banana and white sugar together first, until well mixed and “fluffed”. I proceeded to follow her instructions but used Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice in place of the spices added separately. And lastly I also used coconut oil. Yum!

The loaf came out of the oven smelling very delicious and was one of the moistest, most pleasant loaves I have ever eaten. My cute pregnant friend strongly agreed :)