Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Faux Bran Muffins


One of the free books I downloaded onto my Kindle is called "Smart School Time Recipes" by Alisa Flemont.  A lot of the recipes come from different blogs and cater to special diets.  I like the emphasis on healthy stuff that kids will actually eat.  This is the first recipe I've made (although I have several others bookmarked) and it was a winner.  The batter turned out  a little thin so my raisins sunk to the bottom of the muffins but the end texture was really good so I don't know if I'd adjust the proportions next time or not.  The texture and consistency is of a good bran muffin but these are made of almond flour and flax meal with no refined sugar or butter.  They also are a good source of protein, lower carb, gluten free. 



Baby girl LOVES baked goods (don't know where she gets it from!) and ate 5 mini muffins as soon as they came out of the oven.  Needless to say, these didn't last long around our house.

Raisin "Bran" Muffins (8 regular or 20 mini muffins)

3/4 c. blanched almond flour
1/4 c. flax meal (ground flaxseeds)
1 tsp. baking soda
1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. honey (I used 2 T honey and 2 T agave)
3 eggs
3 T canola oil
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line or grease 8 regular sized muffin tins (I made about 20 mini muffins).  In a large bowl, combine almond flour, flax meal, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  In a blender, combine honey, eggs, oil, and water and blend on high for about 1 minute, until smooth.  Mix honey mixture into flour mixture and then add raisins.  Spoon batter into lined muffin tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Cool and serve.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Meyer Lemons



  • We have a small Meyer lemon tree on the side of our house.  I don't often walk that way or see the tree and you know the saying, out of sight, out of mind.  The other day I was chasing baby girl around the backyard and I noticed that the lemons were really ripe and I wanted to make something with them.  These little lemon cakes were delicious.  Martha Stewart says to divide the batter amongst 6 jumbo muffin tins (like individual cakes) but I made 12 regular sized ones.  They didn't last 24 hours.  Baby girl was crazy about them (she loved any kind of baked good) and when I got home from my race the next morning, the last 2 had disappeared - sad!

We did have some help eating them - our Claremont friends and their two girls came over for supper.  When we first moved here (one year ago tomorrow!) I felt like it would take forever to make new friends but now we're lucky to have this other family that we like to hang out with.  

If you have extra lemons and want some ideas, you might also try these recipes:

Glazed Lemon Cakes
  • from Everyday Food 6/04

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tin
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk or plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated, plus juice, 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup muffin tin (or line with paper liners). In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla, and zest and juice of 1 lemon. Set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar until light. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk mixture.
  3. Divide evenly among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in tin, then cool completely on a rack.
  4. Set rack over wax or parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir confectioners' sugar with remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice until smooth. Pour over cakes, spreading to edges with a small knife. Let set 30 minutes.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Edamame Dip


I've said it before, but I'm not great at thinking up and putting together appetizers when I'm hosting dinner.  Dessert is a must but appetizers aren't my forte.  However, I tried out this dip and made homemade pita chips to go with it and I highly recommend it.  Our company and my kids liked it and it even got two thumbs up from my husband.  The recipe made a decent sized bowl so I kept eating it with raw veggies for a few days.


Edamame Dip (makes about 2 cups)
from Simply Recipes

8-10 oz shelled edamame, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup packed, roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. lime or lemon juice
1-2 tsp. salt
some Tabasco 
some Sesame oil

Add the edamame to boiling, salted water and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until tender.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Place the edamame in a food processor (or blender - I used a hand blender which was a little tedious but worked in the end).  Pulse a few times.  Add the cilantro and pulse again.  Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until pureed.  Add more water if you want a smoother consistency.  Adjust seasonings (salt, tabasco, lime, sesame oil).  I started with about 5 shakes of Cholula (no Tabasco) and 1/4 tsp. sesame oil.  I needed to add more salt and a little more lime juice.  

Serve with pita chips, crackers, or veggies.



Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me!

Well, if I can't get you lurkers to post a comment any other way, maybe you'll be guilted into wishing me a Happy Birthday :)  I'm 34 years old today and have had a wonderful weekend and day so far.  Because tomorrow is Valentine's Day, my birthday has included a cooking project with big sister while Little took her nap.

If you need a Valentine's day treat, this is easy . . . the hardest part (especially for the 4 year old) is waiting the 3 hours to slice and eat it!

I was going to make fudge at Christmas time and even had the ingredients, but my girls got sick, I got behind and it was one project that just didn't materialize.  So, I saved the idea (and the mini marshmallows) for today.

The recipe can be found here.  I followed it exactly and it looks good.  I really liked how it didn't involve a candy thermometer and the ingredients were common.  I even (for once) lined my pan so that I have a chance of getting the fudge out to slice it into squares and give as gifts.  Even if it is my birthday, I can't eat the whole pan myself!

After I got Big all excited about the project, I realized that most of the cooking was on the stovetop with hot liquid sugary mess.  So, she measured into the pot before I turned on the heat and then got to decorate.

The best part . . . . . sprinkles!

Now we have to wait 3 hours

My future food blogger.  I love the concentration on her face as she tries to capture the perfect shot of the end product.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Broccoli Soup

I have no idea why this picture keeps uploading upside down . . . oh well.
I know this isn't a sweet recipe like I've been posting (homemade Valentine's fudge is on the agenda for the weekend, so I'll let you know how that turns out).  During the brief interludes of actual cool winter-like weather, I've been making soup.  The recipe comes from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros.  It's a beautiful cookbook, organized by color and well-written with memories, stories, and recipes all interwoven.  I picked something from the "green" section to help us increase our vegetable intake, and the soup was good.  It's a simple recipe with few ingredients and I'd add some fresh herbs to it next time to give it a little more flavor.

Broccoli soup (6 servings)

6 cups chopped broccoli
7 cups cold water 
salt
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into big chunks
1 red onion, peeled and quartered
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (plus more for serving)
freshly ground pepper

Save a handful of broccoli florets but put the rest in the saucepan with the potatoes and onion.  Add the cold water; season with one or two teaspoons of salt, and bring to a boil.  Skim the surface if necessary.  Lower the heat slightly, and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes.  Add the other handful of florets 10 minutes before the end of the time.  You should be able to squash the broccoli easily on the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Puree everything in a blender (in batches) until completely smooth.  It should be thick but if it seems too thick, add some hot water.  If it's too thin, then cook it uncovered a little longer to reduce the liquid.  Add salt until you can taste the depth of the broccoli flavor.  Swirl in the cream and heat through.  Serve immediately.  Add a little swirl of cream to each portion and a good grinding of black pepper.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cherry Clafouti



A clafouti is a French dessert, traditionally made with cherries.  The batter is custardy, almost like a pancake.  I made this for dessert recently and thought that the red cherries would make a nice Valentine's dessert.  But, when I ate it, I immediately thought breakfast with that custardy texture & flavor.  This would be a great sweet addition to brunch. 

Remember brunch?  Before we had kids we were big fans and always on the lookout for a good Sunday brunch.  But now, the kids are all about breakfast before 7am and they don't sit still in restaurants so much.  I don't even know of a good place in Claremont to go out for brunch.  Anyways, the moral of that story is make brunch yourself (and it'll be lunch for your kids).

Speaking of my kids, here's a good recent picture of my 18 MONTH old baby girl!!


For the fruit in this recipe, you can use fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted or frozen pitted cherries, thawed and drained.  I used frozen (cherries being out of season) but I think fresh would taste much, much better.  Also, as I ate it I thought that other fresh berries (raspberries or blueberries?  a combination?) would also work well.

I also think this version with Amaretto looks good!

Cherry Clafouti (8 servings)
from Food & Wine

1 lb cherries (see note above)
1 c. whole mik
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
4 large eggs
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
powdered sugar for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 10 inch springform pan (or 8 ramekins or custard cups).  Arrange cherries in a single layer in the bottom.

Combine milk and cream in a small saucepan bring just to a simmer over medium heat.  Set aside.  Combine eggs, flour, sugar, lemon zest, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk to blend.  Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture; whisk until custard is smooth.  Pour custard evenly over cherries in pan.  If necessary, gently shake pan to allow custard to settle.

Bake clafouti until custard is set and top is golden brown, about 30 minutes for the ramekins and 40-50 minutes for the cake pan.  Let cool 3 minutes and then, if using a cake pan, run a skiff around pan sides to loosen clafouti.  Dust top with powdered sugar, cut into wedges and serve.

~195 cal/serving

Friday, February 3, 2012

Another brownie recipe



Are you ready for Valentine's Day?  Now, I'm not a big fan of overly commercialized Hallmark holidays but I *heart* Valentine's Day.  It's probably because my birthday is the day before and I have happy memories of heart shaped cakes as a child and cheesy dollar store decorations as a college student, but to me, it's fun.  Really, we shouldn't need an excuse to tell people we love them (or eat chocolate) but we have one every 14th of February.

So, the next few posts are a departure from the healthful fare I've been making at home and on to something more decadent.  You know I have been searching for the perfect brownie recipe and I think this comes really, really close.  They are fudgy and chewy and just plain ol' yummy.  Added bonus:  you probably have all these ingredients at home and they are quick & easy to make.  I used semisweet chocolate chips and used a 9x13 pan for a double recipe.

Make some plans to show somebody you love them!



David Lebovitz's Brownies (9-12 brownies)

6 tablespoons butter
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch process
3 tablespoons corn starch
optional: 1 cup nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1. Butter an 8x8 pan (or line the inside of an 8-inch square pan with foil so that it goes up the sides to the rim then lightly grease the foil with butter or non-stick cooking spray). Preheat the oven to 350ยบ.
2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a medium saucepan over very low heat on the stove top, stirring constantly until smooth.
3. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time.
4. Sift together the cocoa powder and corn starch in a small bowl then stir them into the chocolate mixture. Beat the batter vigorously for at least one minute, until the batter is no longer grainy and nearly smooth. It will pull away from the sides of the pan a bit.
5. Add the nuts, if using, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
6. Bake for thirty minutes, or until the brownies feel just set in the center. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from the pan and slicing.
Troubleshooting: If the finished brownies are crumbly, that means you didn’t beat the batter long enough in step #4.