Monday, July 1, 2013

Carrot pineapple muffins with chia seed topping

I've been testing recipes for healthy on-the-go breakfasts, and this one is a winner! The kids have always loved "sunrise muffins" -- carrot pineapple muffins that they traditionally make at their preschool in the spring. I took the basic recipe and tweaked it, substituting whole wheat and oat flour for part of the bleached flour, and adding ground flax and chia seeds to add protein and fiber. Instead of refined white sugar, I used coconut sugar, which has a much lower glycemic index.

The final product was moist and lightly sweet, with a crunch from the chia seeds on top. Mom-tested, kid-approved!

I used the recipe below, with the following substitutions:

1 cup coconut sugar (rather than 1 cup refined sugar)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup oat flour + 1/2 cup bleached flour + 1 tbsp flax meal (rather than 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt + 1/3 cup vegetable oil (rather than 2/3 cup vegetable oil)
1/2 cup chia seeds, sprinkled on top

Carrot Pineapple Muffins

Friday, June 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in June

I recently found myself in a position of having to cook at 15-pound turkey. In June.

It's a long story, but the short version goes something like this:

We spent Thanksgiving on a cruise last year with my in-laws, so we did not have a traditional turkey meal. However, our neighboring supermarket was holding a promotion where they gave away free turkeys to everyone who spent more than x amount of dollars that month.

The friendly manager at the supermarket ended up pressing the free frozen turkey upon my father-in-law, saying "why refuse something free?"

So that's how I found myself with an extra turkey in the freezer for 6 months. Last week, I finally decided it was time to reclaim my freezer, and so decided to throw a "Thanksgiving in June" playdate party on a Monday in June.

I found a "dry-brine" recipe online and brined the turkey in the fridge for 36 hours. The genius part of the recipe is that it brined as it defrosted in the refrigerator, and was ready for the oven by the time I got back from a weekend away! The result was juicy and tender -- the best turkey I've ever made! This will now be my go-to recipe for turkey. I cannot wait to try this again in the fall.

Russ Parson's Dry-Brined Turkey

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Banana chocolate chip muffins with chia seeds

I have been on a health kick recently. But with 2 growing kids, and being the baker that I am, I couldn't completely cut out carbohydrates. Instead, I am trying to tweak classic recipes to be a bit more nutritious. Having our cake and eating it too, so to speak.

This morning I decided to bake banana chocolate chip muffins for a playdate. After all, two four year-old boys need lots of energy to run around and wreck havoc on the house!

I started with a straightforward recipe for banana chocolate chip bread, but made the following substitutions:

3/4 cup wheat flour for 3/4 cup bleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt for 1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup agave syrup for 1/4 cup refined sugar

I also mixed together 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1 tsp of refined sugar, and 1/4 cup crushed banana chips as a crunchy topping.

The final product was moist, banana-y, and not too sweet. Added bonus? It has much more fiber and protein than the original recipe. The boys (and I) gobbled it up!

Monday, June 17, 2013

My favorite chocolate cake

I found this recipe for Beatty's chocolate cake a few years ago and it has changed my life. An amazingly simple recipe for chocolate cake that manages to be both light and decadent at the same time. I've used it to make cupcakes for the kids' birthday parties, and am now working on making layer cakes.

Combined with tangy cream cheese frosting, this cake was a hit for Father's Day yesterday. An easy layer cake? Yes please!

Beatty's Chocolate Cake

Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting

Friday, May 31, 2013

"How hard can it be?"

Quite difficult, it seems. Apparently even blogging about special baking projects was beyond me. (Doesn't help that I haven't really baked anything special since last August.) It's almost funny how breezy my tone was when I began this project.

Rather than a strict resolution to try three new recipes per week, which proved so daunting that I just stopped cold turkey, I will try to come back to this blog periodically to post thoughts on food. And of course post pictures of an annual special birthday cake in August (already planning this year's!)

With my 35th birthday coming up, I've begun to think more seriously about eating healthfully. Thus today's lunch: herbed green salad with lemon dressing, tuna salad with carrots and capers (subbing olive oil in for mayo), and a quinoa pilaf with kale and shallots. I am actually pretty addicted to this pilaf right now. Lemony, tangy, and full of protein and fiber. It feels like an indulgent treat when I know I'm actually getting a ton of nutrition when I eat it!

Kale and Quinoa Pilaf  (I don't like pine nuts so I did without)

Monday, August 13, 2012


Turns out "three a week" is actually tougher than it sounds. As can be seen through my diminished blog posts, it has proven tougher to try three new recipes per week than I'd originally assumed. Life just gets in the way. However, I can say that the experiment has broadened my repertoire to the point where I can easily whip up a weekday lunch or dinner without giving it much thought. And my picky family is even complaining that some of their favorites are not in rotation enough!

Now I'm saving my energy for bigger projects for special occasions, such as the salted dark chocolate peanutbutter birthday cake above (yes, you read that right. A little slice goes a long way). And yes, the birthday boy has a thing for Star Wars. I won't reveal his age though :)

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen's infinitely more chic looking cake. I need more practice so my celebration cakes can look like that!

Monday, April 30, 2012

ina garten's lemon loaf cake

Finally back in SF after a whirlwind wedding weekend in LA. I was looking forward to seeing family and relatives, and to eating all of the wonderful food that I miss so much, but all of the events left me (and the kids) overtired and cranky. I am glad to be back home, and to have a chance to cook and and eat simply again.

We are kicking off our week home with a lemon loaf cake. A friend is having a tough time in her personal life, and I thought we could give her a little sweet to cheer her up. Filled with lemon zest and eggs, this loaf cake is surprisingly light, with a tender crumb. When life gives you lemons - make lemon cake!

Ina Garten's Lemon Cake

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

vegetarian gyoza

Not exactly a new recipe. In fact, no recipe link today. Unfortunately in the last few weeks my 3 a week resolution has been felled by 1) Spring Break, 2) a really nasty flu, and 3) my mother's visit from Taiwan. On the upside, what better timing for a visit from my mom? It's been great to bask in her attention and sleep in while she gives the kids breakfast, and have homemade gyoza for dinner. Yippee for moms (especially moms who specialize in homemade gyoza)!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

cavatappi with lemon, ricotta, and arugula

After a week in Tahoe and 3 days in bed from a bout with the flu, I'm finally starting to think about cooking again! Tonight's simpler-than-simple dinner was inspired by the beautiful spring produce I found in the market today - just picked corn, tender arugula, and fresh basil. Veggies this fresh don't need much cooking to taste great. Happy Spring!

Lemon, Ricotta, Arugula, and Basil Pasta

Saturday, April 7, 2012

marie callendar's lemon cheesecake pie

Having grown up in Southern California, I've always had a fondness for Marie Callendar's pies. When I was young, it was always such a treat if a visitor brought a pie to share. My favorites were the fresh strawberry, piled high with strawberry and glistening under a ruby glaze, or the sour cream cheesecake pie, with its velvety cream cheese layer topped with the smoothest, whitest cloud of sour cream. What luxury!

Faced with a surfeit of lemons this week, I found this recipe for Marie Callendar's lemon cheesecake pie. It was easy and quick to make using a pre-baked graham cracker pieshell, though as you can see the crust doesn't hold up well. Next time I'll probably make my own crust using a shortbread dough, and sprinkle with a touch more sugar to bring out the lemony flavor of the lemon curd on top. For an easy springtime dessert, this recipe worked out great (and apologies for the pictures this week - as you can see, serving the guests took precedence over photography this week!)

Marie Callendar's Lemon Cheesecake Pie