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)