Sunday, February 21, 2010

More muffins, with some experimentation!

Hey everyone! Man, this going back to school thing has been a lot more work than I thought it would be... I guess I was really out of rhythm with all this, because the school + family thing doesn't scary me much - I have done it already before.

School talk aside, remember the amazingly delicious Almond Butter Banana Muffins? Well, I really loved that recipe and have been having some fun in the kitchen by experimenting with it, so I came to report a couple of variations I tried.

First, I tried the same recipe but using
Peanut Butter, and we found out that the peanut butter really competes with the banana flavors. While we could quite not taste the almond butter on the original recipe, the peanut butter flavor really came through in this variation. I still used bananas and everything the same, but one bite and you could easily tell there was PB in there - as opposed to the muffins made with almond butter that left Matheus and the Husband guessing what the "secret ingredient" was. The final verdict was that the we liked much more and preferred the muffins made with almond butter!

Another experiment I made was transforming the flavor and using Pumpkin in place of the bananas to create Almond Butter Pumpkin Muffins! This ones turned out really good and we all liked it. It was moist and with the same deliciously fluffy texture that the original banana recipe had. Only thing I did was use pumpkin instead of bananas and omit nuts, only adding chocolate chips; also added a bit of water as I thought the wet ingredient mixture was a little too thick, feel free to add a little more water if needed.
We liked these muffins, but in terms of Pumpkin Muffins the Vegan Pumpkin Muffins are still our favorite one. Matheus and I even baked a batch of them today as he wanted these particular pumpkin muffins for breakfast, it really is the best!

Now, back to this recipe that I have been tweaking around, even though we liked and ate all of the muffins, the very favorite of these were the original Heather's Almond Butter Banana Muffins, they were the absolute winner and I am sure will be repeated many times in my kitchen as I just can't get over the awesome flavor and texture these muffins have.
Really, if you want to try some great banana muffins then try this recipe, it is really good!
And here is the pumpkin variation I tried. If you guys try any of these variations let me know, I am curious to see if more people will like these so much as I did!

Almond Butter Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup Pumpkin Puree
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup almond butter (I would NOT use PB on this one...)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup oat flour (simply process oats in your blender or food processor until it becomes flour if you don't have this)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour - I am going to try that next time)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (omit if you use salted nut butter)
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F and line or spray muffin tins.
In a bowl stir together water, pumpkin puree, almond butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix everything together just until combined. Gently stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for about 18 minutes.

Yields 10 muffins

Sunday, February 14, 2010

For those who celebrate it today:

Happy Valentine's Day!!

We started the day with heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast, so yummy and cute, aren't they?! Matheus loves pancakes for breakfast on weekends so it was a good excuse to make some today!

If you are still looking for an easy and quick chocolate fix for the day take a look at this chocolate mousse recipe that I posted a while ago: Dark Chocolate Mousse.
It is delicious and super easy to make, plus you don't need more than 1 hour in the fridge for this dessert to set. It is one of Matheus' favorite dessert!
We had some friends over yesterday for a night of appetizers, pizza, and games - and some wine, (a delicious Riesling I want to post about soon) - I made chocolate mousse for dessert and everyone loved it! (and we still have one for each of us today, perfect valentine's dessert, yum!)
Hope you all have an awesome Sunday with your loved ones!

Here is a pic of the way I served the mousse yesterday, cute and fun!

Note: using agave nectar in place of sugar to sweeten the mousse works great (be sure to add and taste, adjusting the amount to your preference for sweetness), I love agave!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Heather's Almond Butter Banana Muffins

My love for almond butter had me trying new things with it lately - besides having it on top of my oats, graham crackers, or straight from the jar out of a spoon!
The first thing I wanted to use if for was Muffins!! Of course! Those of you who have been following me for a while already know my love for making muffins (just check the side bar for our favorite recipes!). It is one of my favorite things to make and experiment with, and almond butter was on my list to try for these.
Where else could I look for some delish recipes with almond butter than Heather's blog? A blog called "Heather Eats Almond Butter" could only lead me to something good, right? And it sure did!
I tried her Almond Butter Banana Nut Muffins and they were a huuuuuge hit at our house! Simply put, they were perfect! The muffins have 3 mashed bananas in the batter so they were banana-y and delicious, you can't actually taste the almond butter in these but it gives the muffins such an interesting flavor and awesome texture. My muffins came out super fluffy and sort of tender and soft inside. It was really such a different texture, and that is what drew our attention so much to these muffins, they were different and so good!
I already experimented with a variation and will be posting that tomorrow, but right now I will post the original Banana Muffin recipe that I got from Heather, with just a couple of minor changes I made. Her original recipe you can see by clicking here!
Try it, I am positive you are going to like! And if almond butter is not available I believe peanut butter would be really great in this too! (Matheus even asked about that!!)
And of course, check out Heather's blog, she has lots of yummy recipes and ideas there!
Gotta love Almond Butter!!!

Ps: as you can see, Matheus really enjoyed the muffins for breakfast, that's his picture and the only one I got of the muffins, so I hope you can see the goodness through that!

Almond Butter and Banana Muffins
(adapted from Heather's Blog: HEAB)

3 bananas, mashed
1/4 cup almond butter (or another nut butter of choice)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup oat flour (simply process oats in your blender or food processor until it becomes flour if you don't have this)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour - I am going to try that next time)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (omit if you use salted nut butter)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)

Preheat oven to 350F and line or spray muffin tins.
In a bowl stir together the bananas, almond butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients and mix everything together just until combined. Gently stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for about 18 to 20 minutes (check at 18, mine were done by then)

I got 11 muffins out of this batter.
Woke up to this out of my window this morning... Yep, more snow. There was only snow (no ice, sleet) this time so it was really pretty, especially after the sun came up (I took the pics kinda early...), it is bright and white outside today.
At least this time it didn't accumulate in the streets! phew!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Comfort in a Bowl...

Oatmeal, I just absolutely love oatmeal!
Had this for dinner tonight, yep, dinner. Got the news this afternoon that, for the second time, some moles I had removed came back with pre-cancerous results from the biopsy. With another appointment scheduled so they can dig deeper this time, all I needed was something to warm up my soul, and to me no other food can do that job better than oats.
In my bowl I had 1/2 cup oats (old-fashioned rolled oats, not instant/quick) + 2 tablespoons oat bran, all cooked in a cup of soymilk. Stirred during cooking were 1/2 tablespoons chia seeds and 1/2 tablespoon flaxseeds (should have ground them but wasn't in the mood, so whole they went), plus a little agave to sweeten and 1 tablespoon of the amazingly delicious almond butter plopped on top in the end (yes, the blob you see is almond butter!).
So delicious, I could not wish for anything different today. Just perfect, as oatmeal always is!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Easy chocolate cake!

Another day without school... still lots of ice/snow outside on the roads, and to get things a little worse it was raining, the whole day, sigh.
At least we were able to get out of the house and went to the YMCA, mom gets an workout and kid can play with friends, and we both come back home happy!
But what one do when there is another afternoon of nothing ahead and it is so cold out that it makes you want to have tea and hot cocoa for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Make chocolate cake, of course!
And that's what we did! You can't beat a slice of warm chocolate cake, it warms you up from the inside out - chocolate does put a smile on my face! (and wrecks my morning workout, but that's another story... we gotta live a little, right?!)
After a few days staying home I got the urge to bake, and after a batch of muffins (I made Morning Glory Muffins this time!) and a frittata for lunch I was left with no eggs... "no problemo", I can find a chocolate cake recipe without eggs, right? Sure, and to be true I even have one like that in my archives already (this one), but still I wanted to see if there was something different out there and got me some google action! (What can't you find on google, tell me?!!)
A minute on the search engine led me to some very similar recipes to the one I had previously made, and after adapting my recipe and and combining it with a slightly different one I came up with a new egg-free chocolate cake recipe, and guess what? It was way better than the one I made before!!
People, if you don't have eggs, or milk, or if you can eat any of those ingredients, do not fret, you can still have some awesome chocolate cake! Some call this a whacky cake, but you can call it whatever you want and I don't care, just don't shy away from making this cake, it is really yummy!
Plus you will only dirty up one bowl, that's all - and the baking pan. Super easy and so fluffy and chocolaty, we really enjoyed it!
The combination of vinegar and baking soda is the key to this cake, it is what gives the leavening action and make this type of cake rise, pretty cool, huh?
The cake was delicious warm just by itself, and that's how we ate it right after it came out of the oven. Then, a little later, we decided that a chocolate sauce would only improve the goodness. I quickly whipped some of our favorite chocolate syrup and we went to town, it was heavenly!
This recipe yields a small, 8-inch round cake, which was just perfect for the three of us. It is a fluffy, very tender cake, chocolaty and delicious, just perfect for another snow day!

Easy no-egg chocolate cake

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 or 3 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon white vinegar (I used champagne vinegar, it was what I had)
3/4 cups sugar (feel free to add more if you want it sweeter)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water (cold)

Preheat oven to 350F and spray an 8-inch round cake pan with oil.
In a bowl mix up dry ingredients, make a well in the center, add wet ingredients and stir all together until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes.

My notes: start checking at around 20 minutes. Turn on the oven light and see how it looks, if risen then open and check with a toothpick, mine was done at 22 minutes.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Apple Muffins

2010 started and January is gone already, Gee, seems like time is really flying out of my hands lately!
However, we had a good start around here, and after a few weeks getting used to having classes again I am ready to come back and post more on my little space, I so miss this blog, I truly do and don't know why sometimes I can't get myself to post. Life happens and we get mixed up into other things I guess.
Anyways, I am loving my classes!! I am taking a Nutrition and a Food Science class this semester. Still just as a post-grad, but I certainly want to figure out which one I like best and decide what I want to do for the semesters that follow. Haven't made my mind yet. All I can say is that I am loving this idea of going to school to learn and talk about food, it is awesome!
On another subject, I have been cooking a lot lately too, and taking pics whenever I remember. Sometimes I get home from school and am so hungry that I just devour my food without thinking much about blogging it. Then as I eat and find it good the "oh, I should have taken a pic for the blog" thought comes to mind but it is usually a little late. I am working on paying more attention to that though!
Today I am posting an Apple Muffin recipe, one that come from Ellie Krieger and that is very yummy! It is my adaptation to one of her recipes. The original called for pecans but I did not used on mine. We do like pecans but seems like whenever I made these I am out of them so the recipe I am posting doesn't have them. Still, these are good anyway you make it, with or without nuts.
We are snowed in since Saturday... it might sound fun for some but I am tired of being trapped home. Our town is not well prepared for snow storms and with the bunch of inches of snow we got this weekend we ended up not being able to leave the house since then. Only today they started plowing the streets so it is safer to drive, but we still didn't have school or any other activity we might normally have. I am just hoping that tomorrow Cary (the city I live) will go back to normal life.
Ok, too much snow talk. I'll go ahead and present you with some good eats, which is all we have been doing these past days while trapped home!

Apple Muffins
(adapted from Ellie Krieger)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar (add more if you like)
1/4 cup canola oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup yogurt plus 1/4 cup milk)
1 apple peeled, cored and diced (or grated if you prefer)

Preheat oven to 350F and grease, or line with paper cups, 12 muffin cups.
In a bowl add flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, sugar and diced apples, stir and mix all dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk, the eggs, the applesauce, the vanilla and buttermilk, mix all together just until everything is incorporated. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

My notes: my batter was on the liquid-y side, I filled up my muffin cups to the top and got nice rounded muffins!