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 am the Thrift Store Queen. I love the stuff you can find, from clothes, to shoes, cookware, furniture and the variety of strange and amazing things. Another man’s trash really can be your treasure. Part of the reason for my fascination with Thrift Stores is to show others that you can dress stylishly, find amazing deals and feel no shame in the fact that you’re using previously owned things. I work with newly arrived refugees. Most families when they arrive have very little in terms of material possessions. Not only does an entire apartment have to be furnished but often clothes (especially here in Salt Lake we need clothes for four DISTINCT seasons) are desperately needed. Thrift Stores are a must when buying entire wardrobes for a family all at once and picking up kitchen tools and small furniture items. I like looking at my clients in the eyes and telling them that everything they see me wearing is from the Thrift Store and that we need to begin a new adventure by having a shopping fashion show. Over the years we’ve had a lot of fun. A few weeks ago, while taking a family of four from Burma through the Thrift Store, I came upon two cast iron skillets. They were $4 each. I was almost hyperventilating with joy. I bought both. One for the Burmese family and one for me.
The Burmese family love their new skillet. I love mine as well. I’ve already cooked with it on the grill outside, used it to press down on paneer as a heavy weight and made a pineapple upside down cake in it. It’s time to make rolls. This was my first attempt at making rolls in the cast iron skillet. I loved how evenly they cooked and how long they stayed warm. The roll recipe is QUICK. There is extra yeast added to make it rise in 20 minutes so while you’re getting other things ready for dinner, you can put these rolls together. They were just the right texture, warm, buttery and delicious. The batch makes two dozen rolls, so I ended up with a dozen rolls in the cast iron skillet and pan full of garlic breadsticks. Not a bad deal at all!!
Quick Rise Rolls
1 3/4 cups warm water
3 packets active dry yeast (2 tbsp plus 1 tsp)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted butter and a little extra for brushing
2 tsp salt
Kosher salt for sprinkling on top
2 large eggs, beaten
4-6 cups flour (more if needed due to humidity)
Pre-heat oven to 400° F. If using a stand mixer, attach the paddle attachment and in the mixing bowl, mix together water, yeast and honey and let it sit for about 5 minutes until foamy. Mix on low speed and slowly add in the melted butter and eggs. Add in 3 cups of flour and continue to mix on low for a minute or so. Add in salt and flour as needed until a soft dough is formed and it begins to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Portion half of the dough into 12 balls and roll smoothly. Place in a cast iron skillet and cover with a dish cloth or plastic wrap. Shape the remaining dough into rolls or bread sticks (can also be used as a pizza dough) if desired. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes. They should double in size during that time. Brush with melted butter and place the skillet in the pan. Bake for 25 minutes until tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter and sprinkle each roll with a small amount of kosher salt. Serve warm with butter, jam or any other topping!
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.
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.
I kind of have a soft spot for Granola. You see, I had just stuffed my mouth full of some yogurt and granola in the university dining room. I had misjudged how much my mouth could handle and the extreme chewiness of the granola so I was trying desperately to gnaw my way through like a chipmunk….when I saw HIM. He had hazel eyes and long eye lashes and was wearing a dark green sweater. It’s funny the memories that come up with certain smells, sounds or foods. As I was getting all the ingredients together for this granola for Onjoli and I to have with our yogurt or just as a cereal, I was grinning to myself and thinking about that first “meeting”. The best part of that encounter was what happened a few minutes later. I finally gulped down the granola and decided that I should make myself memorable. Earlier that week I had learned the English word “saunter” (I was trying to improve my English by learning and using new words everyday). I understood “saunter” to be sort of like a supermodel walk down the catwalk. Not accurate, but hey, I was 17 years old. In my head I planned to “saunter” past this hunk of manhood in my female glory so he’d be amazed and wonder “who was that gorgeous woman?” I was so busy “sauntering” that I ran into one of the closed doors of the cafeteria. I mean a serious face plant on the door.
The plan did work, he did notice me, just not exactly in the way I was planning. Something must have worked, because that was 28 years ago. Next week we will celebrate 26 years of marriage!
I was inspired by the awesome Chef Connie and her recipe for granola (she has a great blog!). The granola turned out fantastic and I know that each time I take a bite, I’ll smile just a bit. Do you have food that brings back a flood of memories? I’d love to hear it!
5 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans, rough chopped
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup raw peanuts, rough chopped
1 cup sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of any type of dried fruit you like—I used dates, apricots and dried cherries
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sea or kosher salt
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp oil
Mix all the nuts, oats and seeds together (reserve the dried fruit for later) in a large pan or big bowl. Add the spices, brown sugar and salt. In a saucepan mix the applesauce, honey, maple syrup and oil and heat all the way through. Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well. Spread the mixture evenly on a parchment or Silpat lined cookie sheet in a pre-heated 350° oven. Cook for 40-45 minutes but make sure and stir it every 10 minutes to brown it evenly. Remove from oven and add in the dried fruits and mix well. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Back in March when I started this blog, I had no idea what I was doing. I still don’t. But one of the fun things about blogging has been reading other blogs whether food related or not. I’ve learned new things, added new foods to my repertoire and improved my culinary skills. Who knew it would turn out to be so much fun? One of the blogs I fell in love with has been Tasha’s Foodashion’s blog. I saw her post on artichokes and the gorgeous pictures and I was hooked. I finally made a variation of her original recipe and I gotta tell you it was delicious. Mine was not nearly as visually stunning as Tasha’s but we ate them up in record time!
Gorgonzola and Camembert Stuffed Artichokes
4 Fresh Artichokes
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup Camembert cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped flat leafed parsley
2 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 onion, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
4-5 kalamata olives, finely chopped
Wash and trim the artichokes with kitchen shears. Smash them down a little on your counter or cutting board (leafy side down) so they open up a bit like a flower and place them in a pan with water and lemon juice, (save the zest of the lemon in a separate bowl)and cook covered for about 25-30 minutes until tender. Meanwhile assemble the stuffing. Heat olive oil and saute the onion and the garlic together, add in kalamata olives and take off the heat. Mix the cheeses with lemon zest, parsley and add to the onion mixture in a small bowl. When artichokes are cool enough to handle take out the middle part and clean out the “choke” with a spoon. Divide the stuffing between all four artichokes making sure to stuff between leaves as well. Bake at 425° for about 20-25 minutes. Cool slightly and dive into the gooey goodness!