Friday, May 25, 2018

Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Muffins

I would dare to say this is the best chocolate chip muffin recipe I have ever made - delicious! Just amazing! I found them on the blog Sugar Spun Run. I love the tip she gave about letting the batter "sit" to get a higher muffin top rise - genius! It worked! (I actually let the batter sit for her recommended 1 hour total). The muffins came out light and fluffy. The sugar on top gave them a perfect, crunchy "crust". I will be making these again!

I ended up using a 12 count muffin tin. I baked them at 425F for 7 min, then turned the oven down and baked them at 350F for another 10 minutes (total baking time was 17 minutes). 

Here is Sugar Spun Run's recipe word for word:

Ingredients

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled at least 5 minutes (57g)
  • ¼ cup canola oil may substitute vegetable oil (60ml)
  • 1 cup sugar (200g) (granulated sugar)
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg white room temperature preferred
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk* room temperature preferred -- please see note for buttermilk substitute
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 220g
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips I used a mix of mini and regular sized, but you can use either or a combination (175g)
  • 1/3 cup additional granulated sugar, coarse sugar preferred for topping (67g)

Instructions

  1. Combine butter and canola oil in a large bowl.  Stir well.
  2. Stir in sugar.
  3. Add egg, egg white, and vanilla extract.  Stir very well, until all ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  4. Add buttermilk and stir well.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, corn starch, and salt.
  6. Fold dry ingredients into wet gently, taking care not to overmix.  Once about half of the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the batter, add in chocolate chips and continue to fold in to batter until all ingredients are just combined.
  7. Cover bowl with a dry towel and allow batter to sit 15 minutes**
  8. Preheat oven to 425F (218C) and line muffin tin with paper liners.  
  9. Once oven has preheated, portion batter into 6-cavity large muffin tin (you may also use regular, 12 count muffin tin, you will just need to bake them for less time), filling each tin all the way to the top with batter (without overflowing).
  10. Sprinkle tops generously with sugar and place muffin tin in preheated oven.
  11. Bake on 425F (218C) for 8 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 (177C) (do not open the oven door or remove the muffins, just leave them in and reduce the temperature) and bake another 15 minutes, or until tops are just beginning to turn golden brown (if you are using a 12-count muffin tin rather than jumbo-sized, these will not need to bake as long.  Start checking your muffins after 7-8 minutes on 350F (177C).
  12. Allow to cool, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*If you don't happen to have buttermilk, you can use this substitute:  pour 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar into a measuring cup and then fill up to the 1/2 cup line with regular milk.  Stir well and allow mixture to sit for at least 5 minutes (it will thicken) before using.
**This is optional, it helps give the muffin tops a higher rise but you can certainly put them straight in the oven without waiting and they'll still taste delicious.  Ideally you would let the batter set at least one hour, but I found 15 minutes gives me a decent rise (the muffins in the photographs were allowed 15 minutes) while still not dragging out the process too much. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Cacao Hemp Crispy Treats

I just love loVE LOVE the blog My New Roots (I own all her cookbooks, as well).  When I came across this recipe on her blog I knew I had to make it - and I KNEW it would be delicious (it really is). I love having these healthier desserts on hand.....because my sweet tooth is bad.....and these really satisfy my cravings!!  The freeze-dried strawberries make these pretty and add a tart sweetness. I also added a tablespoon of unsweetened cacao nibs for extra chocolately crunch.

Here is her recipe word for word (check out her blog because her photos are incredible):

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil, plus a little more for greasing
2/3 cup unsalted nut or seed butter of your choice <I used sunflower butter>
2/3 cup brown rice syrup <WF was out of brown rice syrup, so I used honey>
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
heaping ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1/3 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
4 cups puffed brown rice crisps
1 cup hulled hemp seeds
3 Tbsp. chia seeds
a few pinches flaky sea salt
3-4 Tbsp. freeze-dried raspberries <I used freeze-dried strawberries>
<I also added 1 Tbl unsweetened cacao nibs>
 
Directions:
1. Rub a little coconut oil in an 7″x11″ (20x30cm) baking pan.
2. Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over low heat. Add the nut butter, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, vanilla and fine salt, and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Stir in the cacao powder until thoroughly incorporated.
3. Add the puffed brown rice, hemp seeds, chia, and stir quickly to combine, then pour the mixture into your baking pan and press firmly (using the back of a large spoon or spatula rubbed with a little coconut oil really helps). Once smooth and even, generously sprinkle the top with the freeze-dried raspberries and flaky salt. Place in the fridge or freezer to firm up, then slice into bars or squares and enjoy. Store the bars in a tightly sealed container in the fridge or freezer.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Crispy Polenta Squares with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce


This is one of my family's favorite dinners. Polenta is so easy to make and it really is delicious. I usually cut the polenta into squares - but sometimes for a special treat I use cookie cutters for the kids....stars, hearts, butterflies....you can make it fun! 

The polenta recipe comes from The Vegan Bible cookbook by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.  When I make this dish I do make it vegan.....but you could easily use regular milk instead of non-dairy milk and you can also use powdered Parmesan cheese instead of nutritional yeast (but let me just tell you this recipe as is is just incredible- don't let the word "vegan" scare you!!)  

If you need a fast sauce you can certainly use regular marina sauce from a jar (we always eat Rao's because it's the best). But I like to shake my sauce up a bit and add a jar of roasted red bell peppers to the jarred sauce.

I serve this with a side side. Enjoy!

Polenta Ingredients:
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups polenta or coarse cornmeal
1/4 cup milk or almond milk or any non-dairy milk
1 to 2 tsp salt
3 Tbl nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes in oil <I use a jar of finely chopped sun dried tomatoes bc my children prefer smooth sun dried tomatoes over chunks>
2 Tbl fresh chopped basil
2 Tbl chopped parsley <I use dried>
1 tsp olive oil

Sauce Ingredients:
2 cups marinara sauce (I like Rao's)
1 7oz jar of roasted red bell peppers (or homemade if you like)
1/4 cup milk or non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Pinch of salt

Directions:
Heat water and broth to boiling in a 4 quart saucepan. When the water/broth has boiled, add polenta and stir frequently on low-medium heat using a whisk- be careful that the pot doesn't boil over. Slowly add "milk", salt, and nutritional yeast, and whisk until the liquid is absorbed and the polenta thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, basil and parsley, stir for one minute more and remove from heat. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Pour the thickened polenta into a greased 9X12 pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Let the polenta set up for about an hour or two.

Heat the oven to 400F.

Cut the polenta into squares or use a large cookie cutter to punch out shapes. Grease a foil lined baking sheet with 1/2 tsp olive oil. Place polenta pieces onto foil and brush the remaining oil on top. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Flip polenta to the other side and bake for another 10-15 minutes until crispy on the outside and soft in the center.

To make the sauce - place all sauce ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Heat in a saucepan. Serve warm with baked polenta.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Chickpea "Meatball" Sub Sandwiches

Oooh these were so yummy! My husband loved them; the kids loved them - I will definitely be making them again!! I served these subs with a salad and a fries. It was a tasty, easy weeknight meal.

I found this recipe on the blog Karrissa's Vegan Kitchen. This blog is really fun and I'm looking forward to trying more of her recipes.  I did make a couple of changes (I'm a vegetarian, not vegan, so I used eggs instead of making flax eggs and I used real cheese).  All of my changes are in italics.

Here is Karrissa's recipe word for word! Enjoy!

Ingredients for Chickpea "Meatballs":

  • 2 cups chickpeas - reserve chickpea liquid if using canned
  • 2.5 tablespoons ground flax seed *<Instead of using flax and water to make a flax egg, I used one regular egg>
  • 6 tablespoons water *<see note above about egg>
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions for "Meatballs":

  1. If you're using dried chickpeas, soak for 4 hours. Boil them until they are splitting, about 45 minutes to an hour. Skip to Step 2 if using canned chickpeas!
  2. Drain the chickpeas & pinch the skin off as many as you have the patience for. Blend chickpeas in a blender until broken down. <I used my food processor to combine all the "meatball" ingredients>
  3. Make your flax seed "eggs" - mix 2.5 tablespoons of ground flax seed with 6 tablespoons of water. Let sit for 10-15 minutes. <I used one egg instead of the flax seed and water>
  4. Mix together the chickpeas and flax seed eggs <I used one regular egg>
  5. Mix in the remaining ingredients. If the mixture is too sticky, add more breadcrumbs half a tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add a little chickpea liquid or oil. You want a consistency that will be easy to roll into balls without sticking to your hands or cracking. <I ended up adding 1 Tbl of the chickpea liquid>
  6. Taste it - does it need something? Add more of your favorite seasonings if you want! The perk of veggie meatballs is that you can taste test before cooking! <I didn't add anything, mine tasted perfect after following the recipe>
  7. Form the chickpea mixture into "meatballs" and place onto a greased or parchment-lined baking dish.
  8. In a 450 degree oven, bake the chickpea meatballs for 20-25 minutes, turning over halfway through. They will be golden and crispy on the outside when done!

 Ingredients for "Meatball" Subs:

  • chickpea meatballs
  • vegan Parmesan <or Parmesan or Provolone - I used Provolone>
  • sub rolls
  • marinara sauce <I only use Rao's sauce- it's the best!>

Instructions for "Meatball" Subs:

  1. In a 400 degree oven, toast your subs on a baking sheet until desired level of "toastiness".
  2. Meanwhile, warm up the marinara sauce in a sauce pot on the stove.
  3. Place the chickpea meatballs in the toasted sub rolls, top with the amount of marinara you desire, and sprinkle with Parmesan.  <OR if you want to use Provolone like I did, place the cheese on top of the "meatballs" and sauce. Place in the oven for 3-5 minutes until the cheese has melted>. Devour!


Monday, April 9, 2018

Orange Blueberry Dream Cake

I am telling you right now that this is one of the tastiest creations I have ever made. This cake is absolutely delicious and I'm feeling quite proud! I really hope you enjoy it as much as my family does. It is quite sweet for a breakfast cake - but it would certainly do for brunch or dessert.
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of one orange – about 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I use Wyman's frozen wild blueberries)
For the Icing:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbl fresh orange juice 
Preheat oven to 325F

Generously grease an 8 inch loaf pan.


Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, combine sour cream, sugar, maple syrup, eggs, orange zest, fresh orange juice, vanilla, and coconut oil. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and beat with a hand mixer until well combined.


Fold in blueberries and pour batter into the pan. Bake for 53-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cake cool for 20 minutes in the loaf pan. Use a knife to loosen the cake from the edge of the pan. Turn cake over and remove from the pan (you may want to put the cake on top of a piece of parchment to make for easy clean up after drizzling the icing).

Make the icing while the cake is baking. Place powdered sugar and fresh orange juice in a small bowl. Use a small whisk or a fork to combine. I always sift my powdered sugar when making icing - it is an extra step that is always worth it - it keeps the lumps out of the icing.

Drizzle the icing over the turned out cake. Let sit for a few minutes so the icing hardens.  Slice and ENJOY!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Sweet Potato, Roasted Tomatoes & Pesto Pizza


I was inspired to make this pizza after seeing a similar one on a favorite blog of mine- that recipe involved bacon and I won't lie, adding bacon to this would be delicious! But no surprise, I omitted the bacon and added roasted cherry tomatoes, arugula and balsamic glaze to finish it off. I have to say this pizza was AMAZING!!!! I can't wait to make it again.

I absolutely LOVE salad with my pizza - in fact, I usually put the whole salad on top of my pizza. Arugula is my favorite pizza topper and I went crazy with this one. I took a pretty picture for the blog with a tiny bit of arugula just to give you an idea.  Many times the pictures that I post do not look anything like what I actually serve. I mean, do you really think I sprinkle five shreds of Parmesan cheese on my pasta dishes? But dinner realities aren't as pretty and so I take a quick pic for my readers and then I load up my plates with all the extra goodies I want to inhale.  I thought you would get a kick out of the way my pizza really looked, LOADED with arugula, before I ate it! It was so yummy!!
Here is a beautiful piece of pizza with a bit of arugula and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.













And here is what my pizza actually looked like,
loaded down with arugula and drenched in
balsamic glaze!












 Now on to the recipe.......

*One pizza was enough for my husband and myself. The kids got a boring ol' cheese pizza upon request (too bad for them).
Ingredients:
1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced into thin circles
20ish cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 Tbl dried oregano or basil
1/3 cup pecans
Pesto sauce, homemade or store bought (I used store bought)
2 cups mozzarella, shredded (you know I used the bagged stuff)
pizza dough, homemade or store bought (I used store bought)
olive oil
arugula
balsamic glaze
salt & pepper

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400F

Toss the sliced sweet potatoes in 1 or 2 Tbl olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread the potatoes out on a lined baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes and then flip. Roast for another 5 to 10 minutes or until nearly done (they cook a bit more when you bake the pizza).  Set aside.

Toss the sliced cherry tomatoes in 1 Tbl olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Sprinkle with oregano/basil. Toss to coat. Spread on a lined baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes. Set aside.

After the veggies have been roasted you may need to adjust the temperature on your oven. Many crusts bake on 425F or 450F. Just check the label on the dough you are using. If your dough doesn't give a temperature, go with 450F.

Roll out the pizza dough in the shape that you like and place it on a greased baking sheet or pizza tray.  I generally use store bought pizza dough because it's just easier for a weeknight dinner. I like to par-bake dough so that the bottom is cooked through by the time I'm ready to take it out of the oven. I find if I don't par-bake, the center isn't as crisp as I like it. I usually poke a few holes in the dough (if you don't poke some holes huge dough bubbles will form while par-baking) with the tip of my knife and then bake for about 5 minutes.

After your dough is par-baked spread on the pesto sauce. Spread the mozzarella cheese on top of the pesto.  Layer evenly with roasted sweet potatoes, roasted tomatoes and pecans (don't skip the pecans, they are unusual I know - but they are super yummy). 

Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes. Just keep checking to make sure the crust doesn't burn. Let sit for a couple minutes and then slice. Top each slice with arugula and drizzle with balsamic glaze. ENJOY!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spiced Applesauce Muffins



Another snow day, another reason for me to try a new muffin recipe! I found these on the blog A Homemade Living. They are light and airy and super yummy! The perfect muffin for breakfast or an afternoon snack. Hope you enjoy!

Here is the recipe word for word from A Homemade Living:

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) + 3 tbs unsalted butter, melted <I only used one sick of butter>
1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Topping:
1 tbs granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


Directions:

1. First, preheat your oven to 400 deg F, and line a standard sized muffin pan with 12 paper liners. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon, ground allspice and nutmeg. Set aside.

2. In your electric mixer bowl, whisk together the eggs and the brown sugar, then slowly begin pouring in the melted butter, and mix until you have a smooth mixture. Add in the vanilla extract and applesauce, then begin adding in the dry ingredient mixture. Gently fold in the chopped nuts (you could substitute raisins for chopped nuts, those would work well too!) and then divide the batter equally between the 12 muffin cups (you want them to be about 3/4 full). Sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon sugar topping mixture (this will form a thin “crust” on top of the muffins as they bake), then bake the muffins for 18 – 20 minutes <I only baked mine for 16 minutes>, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Once baked, let the muffins cool for a couple minutes before eating.