Leftover bananas can sneak up on you. It seems like one day they are firm, yellow and delightful and the next day they are dark brown and overripe. Thankfully bananas are very versatile. They are fantastic for baking, making smoothies and drinks and even in savory dishes. I enjoy making banana bread with my overripe bananas and have posted my favorite version here. This time I wanted to make some muffins that were healthy AND delicious with some chocolate thrown in to make it special. I used mini chocolate chips because 1/2 cup goes a long way and feels like there is a lot more than there is! They turned out moist, flavorful and delicious. This recipe makes one batch of 12 muffins. If you get up early, you can throw the ingredients together stick it in the oven and go for a 22 minute run and come back to incredible warm muffins for breakfast. It’ll improve your performance (guaranteed) when you know such deliciousness is waiting for you!
Spiced Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used Atta, or Indian WW flour)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt
2 large bananas, mashed
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1/4 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup non fat greek yogurt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl mix the flours, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas, baking soda, egg, melted butter, milk and yogurt until well incorporated. Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended (don’t over mix). Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and using an ice cream scooper fill the muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake the muffins for 30 minutes until golden brown. Transfer the muffins to rack to cool for 15 minutes.
I hate things going to waste. I also hate opening up the fridge and seeing small containers of mismatched leftovers. It’s annoying. A few days ago I made Spinach Artichoke dip for people hanging around the house. It was a huge hit but I had about a cup of it leftover. I also made some quick rise rolls in my cast iron skillet (I’ve loved making these fast rolls) but since the skillet only holds twelve rolls, I have dough left over. I also had ONE piece of grilled chicken left over. It was time to clean out all this stuff and make one dish. I am also a big fan of Danny’s Kitchen, a great blog. A few months ago Danny started a contest called The Great Leftover Challenge. I participated in that first challenge and had a lot of fun. Danny has thrown down the gauntlet again for The Great Leftover Challenge #2. So….since I’m throwing stuff together anyway, I thought I’d enter the challenge. Judging by how quickly the pizza got eaten, I’d say it was a hit.
I did pre-heat my oven to 500 degrees with my pizza stone in it. This made the surface really hot and I think helped the crust develop really nicely. I have other great recipes for pizza crust but this “leftover” dough made a pretty darn good showing!
Chicken Artichoke Spinach Pepperoni Pizza
Quick Rise Rolls (half recipe)
Any leftover grilled or pre-cooked chicken
1 cup Spinach Artichoke Dip (I’ll post the recipe for this soon)
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 500°F with Pizza Stone in it (or if you’re using a metal pan, heat that as well). Roll out the dough and carefully lay it on the preheated pizza stone. Spread spinach artichoke dip evenly over the dough. Sprinkle the chicken and pepperoni and finish off with cheese on top. Place back in oven and turn heat down to 450°F. Cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.
I remember it clearly, even though it was 19 years ago, the immediate cessation of pain at 6:29 a.m. Suddenly someone else was crying with some gusto in the room besides me! I have been blessed to have two amazing kids. A boy AND a girl! Onjoli came along on Father’s day morning, June 20th, looking surprised and a little ticked off. She still has that look on any given 6:29 a.m.
Raising kids, especially a daughter has been an adventure. All through Kindergarten, Onjoli insisted on wearing a crown to school…EVERYDAY. The teacher would not let her bring the matching wand for safety reasons (who knows who could get whacked in the head?). That pink bejeweled plastic crown will always have a special place in my heart. After all, if you are a princess you should have the crown to go with it. Over the years, I’ve made my share of birthday cakes. The Barbie with the giant skirt cake, Pokemon, a myriad of Disney characters and unusual requests like the giant chocolate chip cookie pizza with candied toppings. Parties have changed from the chaos of a million kids running around to brunches at fancy restaurants. Each year the tastes and palates of both my kids have developed and become more sophisticated. This year, Onjoli wanted Carrot Cake cupcakes with “really good frosting”. I tried to deliver. After all, I don’t know how many more years I will have the privilege of making birthday cakes. I will always be a mom even as the quality of our relationship changes and becomes richer and deeper over the years. Even as I look back with nostalgia on the little girl I once had, I am ever so proud of the young woman I see before me. I am one blessed woman and mom!
Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Cream & Goat Cheese Frosting and Candied Carrots
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup oil
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
2 cups shredded carrots
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup pecans (optional)
8 oz Neufchatel Cheese, room temperature
4 oz fresh Chevre (goat cheese), room temperature
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups powdered sugar
1 medium carrot, peeled into strips
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Pre-heat oven to 350° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or if you’re using a hand held mixer, just use a big bowl) place all the ingredients of the cake except for the nuts and mix at low speed until blended. Increase speed and mix for 2 minutes until light and airy. Mix in the nuts by hand. I usually scoop out 6 cupcakes without nuts (due to some nut allergies in the family) and then add the nuts to the rest of the batter. Line cup cake pan with liners and fill 3/4 full using an ice cream scooper. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.
To make the candied carrots:
Peel one carrot into long thin strips. In a small sauce pan heat sugar and water until boiling and add the carrots. Simmer for about 6-8 minutes. Take out the strips using a fork or a chopstick and place on some wax paper to cool. Separate them out as you take it out of the syrup so they will not dry out in a large candied clump. Set aside
To make the frosting:
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix all frosting ingredients together until smooth. Place in a piping bag with a star tip or in a plastic storage bag with the corner cut off and frost the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with a piece or two of the candied carrots. Makes 24 cup cakes
I’ve never put together this particular combination together before. I was adding spices as I went along. The combination of the brown rice and red lentils go pretty well together because they cook for the same amount of time. The red lentils almost disappear, adding a richness to the texture of the rice. It had a nutty flavor from the rice and a touch of sweetness from the raisins that goes really well with the cardamom flavors. A great rice dish that goes with so many proteins like pork chops, gola kabobs (that’s how we ate them) and as a light meal by itself.
Gola Kabob literally means round kabobs. Kabobs can be made dry, in a gravy or skewered on a stick (that’s where the word “shish” comes in handy, it means to skewer). Gola Kabobs originated in Pakistan. The dry version can be eaten with Naans, Parathas or Rotis, while the “wet” version can be eaten more easily with rice. I love making a Naan sandwich with Gola Kabobs, some fresh greens and topped off with a little Raita. I think of it as a Pakistani Gyro. Gola Kabobs are traditionally made with beef or lamb. I decided to make mine with ground turkey and pair it with a brown rice and red lentil kitchuri (bengali for “hodge podge”). I’ll have to post that separately to make it easier on everyone. It was a tasty and hearty dinner that doesn’t cheat on flavor but it’s really low in fat. My kind of meal!
Turkey Gola Kabob in Gravy
For the Kabobs:
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
2 dried red chilis
1 bay leaf
4-5 whole green cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
4-5 whole peppercorns
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1 small stick cinnamon
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 tsp garlic and ginger paste
For the sauce:
1/2 medium onion, chopped
4 tbsp oil
3 tbsp greek yogurt
1 1/2 tsp paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp toasted coconut
1/2 tsp salt
In a medium cast iron skillet heat the first 8 ingredients listed under Kebob until toasted. Put in a coffee grinder that is dedicated to spices and NOT coffee and grind until it is powdered. Add this to the ground turkey along with garlic, ginger paste, cilantro and salt. Mix well and form into round balls about 3/4 inch in diameter. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat oil and add chopped onions, salt, paprika, garlic and ginger. Cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add in water and simmer for a few minutes. Add the gola kabobs and let it simmer gently covered for about 8 minutes. Add yogurt and cook another minute or so. Add toasted coconut and chopped cilantro right before taking off heat. Serve with Kitchuri or plain rice.
We eat a lot of chickpeas in South Asia. In cooked food, in fried fritters, in sauces and especially salads. I wanted a quick and easy salad with a little crunch and some protein in it so it could double as a filling lunch and not merely a side dish. I loved how this salad came together. Perfect for a summer Saturday after a killer workout!
Chickpea, Radish, Cucumber and Pepper salad with herb vinaigrette
1 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup of sweet 100 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
3 tbsp pomegranate vinegar
1 tbsp honey
lemon zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
2 tbsp flat leafed parsley, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh cracked pepper
salt to taste
Whisk together all the ingredients of the vinaigrette until an emulsion forms. Toss together all the salad ingredients and pour dressing over the vegetables. Let it sit for a few minutes before eating!
There are many ways to cook eggs and I think I love every one I’ve encountered. I like eggs. They come through in a pinch, they are cheap and taste amazing in pretty much any type of dish from savory to sweet. This particular recipe came from my older sister Rita. She and her husband have lived in some amazing parts of the world. Along the way, she’s picked up languages and recipes. On our frequent phone conversations we often find ourselves discussing food and our various body parts and why they won’t defy gravity any longer. This is one of the recipes that she insisted that I try, telling me that it was “soooo good and soooo easy”. I trust her judgement so I cooked it up following her directions and she was right. It was delicious and very easy to make. The Keffir lime leaves are the key ingredient in this dish. It makes it rock and roll in your mouth. This was such a hit at our house that Ryan, my eldest, wanted this to be one of menu items at his Mehndi. Mehndi means “henna” and can also refer to the parties we have before a wedding. Ryan and Marie’s Mehndi was the day before their wedding and we had a little over a 100 guests coming to our house. So I found myself making a batch of this recipe with 190 eggs. I have never peeled that many eggs in my life and I hope to never do it again (even though I had help!). You can pair this with some rice, pita bread or I’ve even mashed up the leftovers into a killer “egg salad” sandwich.
Balinese Style Eggs with Keffir Lime Leaves
1 dozen eggs, boiled and peeled
4 roma tomatoes, rough chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
5 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 large onion
1 green chili
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
8-9 keffir lime leaves
1/4 cup sugar or to taste
1/4 cup oil
In a blender mix together tomatoes, tomato paste, turmeric, garlic and ginger, onion, green chili and chili powder and blend until smooth. Heat oil in a large saucepan and pour in the tomato mixture along with the keffir lime leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes until the oil begins to separate out from the tomatoes. Add sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes, add in the water. Cook another minute then add the eggs. Cook another 5 minutes until all the flavors marry together. Take off heat. Serve with rice, pita bread or naan.
There is really no food that I DON’T like. I am not allergic to anything either. I can eat it all. At one time in my life I think I tried to do just that, eat it ALL, which was not pretty. Being a fat dietitian is kind of like being an ugly beautician. Who takes you seriously? I decided to take my own advice a few years ago and began to eat in moderation, exercise a lot and drink lots of water. I still love food but I don’t have to eat huge quantities any more. I find that when I think up a recipe and go through the creative process of making something from scratch, I don’t have to eat very much of it. I know the flavors will be great and the process of cooking satisfies something within me. I often end up making a big batch of something and then look for people to feed it to. Fortunately, finding people to eat home cooked foods is not usually that difficult. Case in point, this brownie fruit pizza with a chevre (goat cheese) and cream cheese filling, it was gone so quickly that I didn’t even get to taste it. I guess I’ll have to make another one really soon just so I can taste a little of it. According to everyone who ate it, it was “the bomb”. You decide.
Brownie and Chevre Fruit Pizza
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dutched cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
5 oz chevre (goat cheese), room temperature
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 lemon, zested
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 pints fresh strawberries or any berry in season
1 cup fresh blueberries or any fruit in season
Making the Brownies:
Sift together the cocoa, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and set aside in a pan. In a sauce pan melt the butter and add in the sugars and mix together. It’ll be kind of a dry mixture. Add that mixture to the sifted flour mixture along with eggs and vanilla. Line a half sheet cake pan or a jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Pour brownie mixture into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-22 minutes in a pre-heated 350° oven. Run a butter knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the brownie. Place a cooling rack over the pan and invert pan. Gently peel off the parchment paper and invert the brownie either back into the pan or on a large platter (I use a cardboard cake server covered with foil).
In a separate bowl zest the lemon and then cut the lemon and measure out 1 tbsp juice. Add cream cheese and goat cheese along with the sugar and mix until smooth. Spread evenly over the brownie. Wash and slice the fruit and arrange in any visually pleasing way that you want all over the brownie. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
I love fresh fruits of any kind. Especially berries. I had never had any type of berries until I moved to the States and lived on a farm with my American family. Every summer I helped to pick raspberries, marionberries and blueberries. I got scratched a lot in the middle of the bushes. The thorny kinds had the best yields. That’s when I learned that freshly picked berries warmed by the sun are a special treat. I ate as many as I picked!! I keep meaning to put in a berry patch in my yard but they never seem to fit into my landscaping plans. So, I’m always on the look out for fresh berries at the grocery store. This week there were entire flats of blueberries available for $4 at this local store I like to go to that sells unusual combination of things. I had to buy them up. I ended up making blueberry compotes, chutneys, breads, pancakes ….and muffins. These muffins were everything a muffin should be and unlike the Seinfeld episode, I ate the whole thing with my coffee and not just the muffin tops!
Very Blueberry Muffins
1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup milk
raw cane sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 375°. Line muffin pans with paper liners. Using an electric mixer cream the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add in the eggs and the vanilla and continue mixing. In a separate bowl smash 1 cup of the blueberries with a fork and add to the batter and mix. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, salt until blended and with the mixer running at low speed add half the flour mixture to the batter and half of the milk and blend. Add remaining flour and milk. Fold in the remaining blueberries by hand. Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and sprinkle a little of the raw can sugar on top of each muffin. Bake for 22-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire cooling rack before serving.
I love cookies with nuts in them. Unfortunately, my husband is allergic to all nuts except cashews. Which is a bummer since cashews are not ideal for every recipe. I’m trying to make more cookies and quick breads that have enough “other” stuff in them that you don’t miss the nuts. This is one of those cookies. It’s variation of the basic chocolate chip cookie! The sweetness of the white chocolate chunks is nicely offset by the unsweetened dried cranberries and the brandy is great in this cookie. Don’t skip it, you’ll love the flavor. If you don’t have brandy on hand, then I guess you can use vanilla extract but I highly recommend the brandy! Pour yourself a good cup of coffee, a few of these cookies and a good book…bliss!
White Chocolate Chunk Cranberry Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup tightly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp brandy
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chunks
1 cup dried cranberries
Mix together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. Using an electric mixer blend butter and sugars until creamy, add in the eggs and brandy until well blended. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture beating at a low-speed until well blended. Stir in white chocolate chunks (I used a knife and an ice pick to make my chunks) and cranberries by hand. Drop cookie dough using a cookie scoop onto parchment or silpat lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom. Cool on cooling racks.