Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Apple Pecan Streusal Muffins

Oh man...I am addicted to these!! I usually try and stay away from muffins, since they're never as healthy as you think they are. Really its just a cupcake with fixins without the icing, so I mine as well go all the way and eat a really good cupcake! But these just might be the exception. A take on a healthier muffin, it's still loaded with all the flavor, fluffiness and cakey goodness a muffin should have. I had to freeze half the batch to keep from devouring all of them, but their good to have on the mornings when you are running out the door, just take one out of the freezer the night before, grab a piece of fruit and you're good to go.

Apple Pecan Streusal Muffins
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp firmly packed unrefined sugar
1/4 chopped pecans (toasted)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour (or whole grain flour)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 gala apple, cored, peeled and cut into bite size chunks

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners
2. Mix together 2 tbsp of brown sugar with the pecans and cinnamon
3. In another bowl mix together the two flours, baking soda and salt
4. In a mixer combine remaining 3/4 cup of brown sugar and oil. Add eggs
5. Add in applesauce and vanilla. Alternate adding flour and buttermilk until just combined
6. Scoop batter into muffin tins using an ice cream scoop and top with pecan brown sugar mixture.
7. Bake for approx 20 min or until toothpick comes out clean.

Note: I made my own applesauce, just peel, core and dice 3 apples, toss in a small pot with a splash of vanilla and let the apples soften and release their juice. When they are soft use a potato masher to mash them into a puree. (Chunks are fine too).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Coconut Almond Granola

I was at Gourmet Warehouse awhile back, looking at their varieties of coconut when I got to talking to one of their knowledgeable staff members. I was asking if they had sweetened coconut and she told me to try the unsweetened variety. She said to toast it in the oven and once you try it you won't ever go back! I guess I never realized coconut has its own subtle sweetness to it, I was always used to using the sweetened variety. I found this recipe on a new fave blog of mine and finally had an excuse to try using my unsweetened coconut flakes. This recipe is great, stores nicely in a tin and its a great addition to my morning yogurt and fruit.

Coconut Almond Granola (from Kath Eats Real Food)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp vanilla

1.Preheat oven to 350
2. Warm honey and add in brown sugar, oil and vanilla
3. Toss together with oats, almonds and coconut and spread out evenly on a cookie sheet.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden

Monday, June 16, 2008

Double Chocolate Banana Cookies aka MUFFIN TOPS

I told you I was on a banana kick...I think I went a little overboard and bought one too many, they ripen too fast before I can eat them all. Not a problem! All I had to do was google banana recipes. I was entrigued when I found a recipe for banana cookies, I like bananas! I loove cookies! SOLD.
Of course I like chocolate even more so I took the concept of the recipe and made up my own. After sampling them with a friend, I realized they aren't cookies at all! Yes, same cookie making procedure, but the end result tasted like a muffin top! Even cakier than a muffin too. What's better than a muffin top!? My friend was reminded of a Seinfeld episode about the muffin top, where the muffin top bakery gives away their bottoms to the homeless and they get offended. I had to youtube it to see for myself and ohh mann is it hilarious!! See for yourself. Top of the muffin to youu!

Double Chocolate Banana Cookies/Muffin Tops
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup agave syrup (or use maple syrup/honey)
1 egg
1 cup mashed bananas
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup Robinhood nutriblend flour (or 1/2 cup whole wheat, 1/2 cup white)
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup flaxmeal
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chocolate chunks, roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Cream butter with sugars and agave until fluffy
3. Add in egg then mashed banana
4. Mix together dry ingredients and add into banana mixture, just until combined
5. Add in chocolate chunks and drop onto a lined cookie sheet
6. Bake for 12-15 min or until tops are set and aren't soft in the middle

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cold Soba Noodles with Miso Peanut Dressing

I'm always looking for alternatives to white pasta and had been wanting to make a pasta salad that I can throw in my bag and take for lunch. Soba noodles aka buckwheat noodles were this weeks choice! Going along with the Asian theme I threw together a miso peanut dressing. I apologize in advance because sometimes when I'm trying new recipes I start tossing things in and forget to write down my exact measurements! All I can suggest is taste as you go! Not salty enough? Add in a little more miso paste or soy sauce, not sweet enough? Add in some honey, agave syrup or sugar. Only problem I have is I always make too much pasta, I may be eating this one for a week...

Cold Soba Noodle Salad
1 small pkg soba noodles (I know helpful right? I'd tell you the exact amount, if only I could read the Japanese writing on the package..)
1/2 red bell pepper, julienne
1 carrot, julienne
1 bunch green onions, cut on a diagonal
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
shredded chicken (optional)

Miso Peanut Dressing
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
3 tbsp miso paste
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp chili flakes
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp honey or 1 tbsp agave syrup
enough hot water until you get the consistency of a dressing

1. Boil pasta until al dente, drain and rinse under cold water, using paper towel dry off noodles so the dressing will stick to them.
2. Toss everything together and chill in the fridge. Reserve extra dressing on the side as the noodles tend to absorb alot of it.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Better For You Banana Bread

I'm on a banana kick right now and besides bananas slathered with whole nut butters, banana bread is my favorite! I grew up eating alot of banana bread and everybody knows my moms is the best! In fact her recipe is even called Best Ever Banana Bread which is why I wanted to take her recipe and turn it into Better For You Banana Bread. I used less sugar and substituted in maple syrup and agave nectar, whole grain spelt flour instead of white flour and ground flax seeds. Thanks to the mashed banana it was still nice and moist and had a nice nutty texture from the spelt flour and flax seeds. Now if only I could substitute out the oil, maybe next time I'll try using peanut butter instead, peanut butter banana bread?! Oh yum. Oh and if you have any leftovers it makes great banana bread french toast topped with fresh strawberries or a nice banana bread pudding.

Banana Bread
(makes 1 loaf and approx 6 muffins)
3 medium bananas
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup agave nectar (if you don't have just use maple syrup)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup ground flax seeds (flax meal)

1.Preheat oven to 350
2.Butter and flour pan
3. Mash bananas
4.Beat egg, sugar and oil, add mashed bananas and vanilla
5.Mix dry ingredients together.
6. Alternate adding dry ingredients into liquid mixture with buttermilk, starting and ending with dry ingredients.
7. Bake for 1 hr 20 min or until toothpick comes out clean
8. Bake muffins 16-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Triple Berry Chocolate Shortcakes

I went to a dinner party at a friends place and wanted to bring a dessert that was A. Chocolate (for selfish reasons as I was craving chocolate and hey who doesn't love chocolate?!) B. Summer worthy and C. Transportable. I thought about a cake but without a cake container or cake box they are a helluva pain to transport and in a hot car with icing? No Thanks! The answer? Individual chocolate shortcakes! Easier to make than a cake, all you have to do is pack your shortcakes in a tin, berries and whipped cream in separate containers and throw it all in a small cooler. As a bonus individually plated desserts always just seem to look nicer too. Also if you are in a time crunch (which I was!) this dessert can be made start to finish in about half an hour. Nobody needs to know you didn't sweat it out in the kitchen all day!

Triple Berry Chocolate Shortcakes
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tbsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chocolate chunks, roughly chopped
1 egg lightly beaten
3 tbsp raw sugar (or any coarse sugar to sprinkle on top)

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

fresh berries (I used strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)
fresh mint (for garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
2. Add in cold butter and using a pastry blender or your hands mix until butter is the size of small peas. Mix in chocolate chunks
3. Add in buttermilk just until combined
4. On a lightly floured board knead dough gently until it all comes together.
5. Roll out approximately 2 cm thick, round.
6. Cut into circles using a 6cm round cutter and place on a baking sheet lined with silpat or baking paper
7. Brush the tops of the shortcakes with the beaten egg and sprinkle with raw sugar
8. Bake for 12-15 min. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool.
9. While shortcakes are cooling, in a mixer whip the whipping cream, slowly adding in the icing sugar and vanilla. Whip until soft peaks form
10. Slice strawberries if using.