Sunday, June 27, 2010

Banana-Carrot-Cranberry Muffins

Another day off after a nice little outdoor swim I had to bake something. It was gonna be a "banana-something" because I had 2 very ripe bananas begging to be used.
But I also wanted to make something with carrots, for variety and because I've been making a lot of shakes lately, I want to keep my frozen fruit for smoothies!! So, I looked through some books, found a recipe for carrot muffins, but not using bananas. And then there's my favorite recipe of banana-oat muffins, not using carrots. So I took a shot and kinda combined the two. The carrot muffin recipe looked amazing as it was though, I will try it eventually!

These came out great, they are moist and light. The molasses taste comes out a little, but not over-powering. It gives it a nice darker color too.

Ok. Here's the recipe, adapted from Marg Ruttan's "Biscuits et Muffins":
(yields 9-10 big muffins)

Dry ingredients:

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Wet ingredients:

2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup melted butter, cooled
1 cup mashed bananas

1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Grease up some muffin molds, and turn the oven at 375F. Set the rack in the middle.
Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl, set aside.
In another bowl, mix all the wet until lightly frothy.
Pour the wet mix in the dry mix, along with the carrots and cranberries, mix until just combined, without over-mixing.
Scoop in the muffin tins(ice cream scoop works best), and bake for 20-25 minutes.
When they're done they will spring back when you press on them, or do the knife test...
Cool for 10 minutes in the molds, then carefully unmold and cool on a wire rack.

Very nice and tender muffins.

With margarine and a glass of juice, it's a nice little pre-workout snack or afternoon sugar fix.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Honey-Nut Cake

Today I had the day off, so I decided to bake something. It was either that or go for a bike ride, I chose the sweet treat!

I wanted to try a new recipe from my favorite baking book, looked through and decided to go for this cake. It sounded really nice, different, and I had all the ingredients on hand. Even the skim milk powder!! I bought it months ago, thinking it would be good for shakes, but it sat in the pantry for a long time until now. This recipe calls for only 2 Tablespoons of it but hey, now that the bag is open I WILL use it in shakes..!
In this recipe there's a lot of honey, and that flavor comes out so nicely! The ground ginger tones it down a bit, but the honey!! It's beautifully sweet and it makes the cake nice and yellow.
Okay, so here's what you'll need:

Dry ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour, sifted.
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt

Wet ingredients:

3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup low-fat milk
1 egg
2 egg whites
2 TBSP instant skim milk powder
1 TBSP canola oil
1 TBSP vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Turn the oven on at 350F, set the rack in the middle.
Mix all the dry stuff and set aside.
Mix all the wet stuff until frothy, pour in the dry stuff, add walnuts and mix until just combined.
Pour in an oiled 8-inch square pan, smooth the top and bake for 35-40 minutes.

When it's done, the top will spring back when you press on it gently in the middle.
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, on a wire rack.

Unmold and cool completely on a rack.

Enjoy with some frozen yogurt or ice cream!

I decided to leave the cake dry but a nice lemon or orange glaze would be really nice with this. Or a berry coulis of some sort...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blueberry-Yogurt Smoothie

I've been really out of touch lately!! Like I said in a previous post I'm working full time, always around food so I get food from work and don't really cook anymore. Or when I do it's something quick like spagehtti and tomato sauce or rice and sunflower seeds. The other day I got home at 8 and had a bowl of cereal for diner. tst tst...
Anyway so this morning I was able to sleep in a bit, so after waking up so rested I felt like a nice cold liquid breakfast.

Well, I'm having toasts on the side as well but that's not what this post is about...even though they're real good toasts with my homemade bread and Nutella, my favorite spread E-V-E-R!!
Ok moving on...
For one smoothie:

Throw in a blender, or a magic bullet if you have one that works...:

1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 banana(or a whole one if it's a small banana)
Cover with orange juice
1/2 cup plain yogurt(i like Activia because it's creamy and a bit sweeter than most plain yogurts I've tried, and the commercials are will do wonders for your digestive system!!)
2 TBSP ground flax seed(for omega-3's and protein)

Blend, blend, blend...
Pour in your favorite glass and enjoy!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Two recipes: Apple-Cheddar Bread and Chicken salad sandwich.

It was time to bake a bread for the week today. And once again I kinda just threw it together hoping it would be edible...and it is so nice! The apple in it doesn't really come out in the taste but it adds a nice moisture, as does the cheddar cheese. I was hoping for a stronger taste but nevertheless, this is gonna make great sandwiches and toasts.
Actually, I had a chicken salad sandwich with this bread for diner, and the "recipe" follows this one. This post here is kinda like a 2 in 1...since I don't have a whole lot of time anymore to cook, bake and post stuff on this blog, I give you 2 recipes in the same post. Aren't I generous??!
So for the bread, I got inspired by the cheddar-jalapeno bread from a month or so ago. I really liked how the cheese softens the bread. I used medium cheddar, but for a stronger taste I would use strong or extra strong cheese. The apple, as I mentionned earlier is only for moisture. If I'd had apple juice I would've thrown some in but I thought of it AFTER the trip to the grocery store...oh well...
Here's the formula:

4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1tsp apple jelly(the jar was almost empty...had I thought of it ahead of time I would've bought a new jar and added a lot more...)
1 apple, peeled amd shredded (do this at the last minute to prevent the apple from browning)
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded(throw in a pinch of flour in it so it doesn't clump together...)
1- 1 1/2 cup warm water, at 120F

Mix flour, yeast, salt, sugar and oats in a bowl.
Heat up the water, add jelly, pour in the flour while stirring with a fork, add the cheese and the apple and stir stir stir until it comes together in a ball. Transfer to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, adding more flour or water as needed.
When it's nice and smooth, let it rest for 5 minutes, put in an oiled bowl and cover. Let it rise for about 45-1 hour.
Punch it down, gently, and shape:

*This time I decide to do kind of a braid: cut the dough in 3 equal pieces and roll into logs. Stick the 3 ends together and braid as normal...well, as you can tell on my "before" shot, I don't remember how to braid...oh well...still looks pretty.
Put the dough in a loaf pan, or on a sheet, and proof for about 30 minutes, until it's double in size.
Brush on some egg whites (right before sending it to the oven...).
Bake at 375F for 35-40 minutes.
When it's ready it'll sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a rack.

Isn't it so pretty-looking?

I'm sending it to Susan at Yeastspotting, a gorgeous website about bread and baking, showcasing a wide variety of breads from Ms.Yeastspotting herself and other bloggers passionate about bread. Love that website! Go check it out!!


Now for the second recipe...
For diner I really wanted to use that bread for something, and toasts with jam(my first choice) is not really diner so I went for a sandwich. I thought of just grilling a chicken breast and sticking it between 2 slices, but that delicious fresh bread deserved better than that. So I made a nice little chicken salad.

For 1 sandwich:
Heat olive oil in a pan at medium high heat. Season chicken a breast on both sides with salt, pepper, paprika, oregano and garlic power. Grill in the pan(or on the "barbi"). The way I do it is this: I throw the chicken when the pan is really hot, let it cook for about 3-4 minutes on that one side, flip it, turn the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and finish cooking it, covered. Takes about 10 minutes.
When it's done, let the chicken sit on a cutting board to allow the juice to settle, and chop into small cubes. In a small bowl, mix 1 tsp dijon mustard, 2 tsp mayo, 1 green onions, salt, pepper and dried parsley. Mix in the chicken until all coated. Slab that in between the fresh slices of apple-cheddar bread with some baby spinach and enjoy!!

Have a great week, everybody!