Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes, part II

Yesterday I posted the first of my two attempts at vanilla cupcakes.  Yesterday I showed you the recipe I considered more risky, because I didn't know if it would turn out.  One, because the batter was really runny and I didn't know if it would firm up enough, and two because it was my first shot at making anything by that blogger, so she and I didn't have an established history I could fall back on to reassure my baking nerves.

Today's recipe is from Annie's Eats.  Annie's recipes always turn out for me.  They always are ones I'd like to share, and are always ones I enjoy enough to make several times.  And this go, is a repeater for sure.  Annie, you never let me down!

Annie's Eats Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes: 2 dozen cupcakes

1 3/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup cake flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add vanilla and baking powder to mixture.  Combine flours in a bowl.  Alternatively add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. 
Fill lined cupcake tins with batter. 
Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before transferring to cooling rack.

Source:  Annie's Eats

Monday, May 28, 2012

Vanilla Cupcakes, part I

The end of May means I'm coming to the end of my last Wilton cake decorating class.  This one was Level 4, Advanced Gum Paste Flowers.  As usual, at the end we make our grand finale cake.  This time though, I was more in the mood for cupcakes.  Gerbera daisy cupcakes.  I found these cute cupcake liners at the dollar store that look like gingham picnic fabric, and planned out a light, flowery, fun, summer design.  Then I had to decide on the cupcake.

For the other courses, I've made chocolate cakes, and a spice cake.  This time, I wanted a lighter fare, more summer-like.  I decided on vanilla cupcakes.  Then the real work began: where to find the recipe.  I got it down to two: one new one from Glorious Treats, a new source for me, and a classic recipe from the Annie's Eats 2012 calendar.  Then I got stuck... which to try?  How to choose?

I gave in, and made both, ha ha!  Today I'm showing you the more risky one. This one, based on ingredients, I wasn't sure what to make of.  It came out as really runny batter, had a very short baking time, and had me a little nervous.  But, it all came out wonderfully, all light and fluffy, and left my house smelling all yummy and vanilla for the afternoon.  What more could a girl ask for?

Glorious Treats' Perfect Vanilla Cupcakes
Makes: 15 - 16 (I got 12)

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup oil (vegetable, canola or extra light olive oil)
1/2 cup buttermilk(or 1/2 cup milk plus 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice- add acid to the milk then set aside for 5 minutes before using)
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt.  Stir together with whisk, and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, add eggs and beat 10-20 seconds.  Add sugar and continue to beat on medium speed about 30 seconds.  Add vanilla and oil, beat.
Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add about half of the flour mixture.  Add half of the milk, then the rest of the flour and the rest of the milk.  Beat until just combined.  Scrape down the side of the bowl.  
The batter will be thin.   
Pour batter into a muffin pan prepared with paper liners.  Fill liners about 2/3 full. 
Bake cupcakes in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes. 
Cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan (carefully) and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Source: Glorious Treats.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coconut Chickpea Soup

In searching for new lunch ideas, I had stumbled across this recipe.  It sounded good, right up until I came across the requirement for curry.  I have a very iffy relationship with curry.  It's just not for me in strong amounts, but, in small amounts and the right balance (like butternut squash soup) I can see its benefit.  Either way, for the sake of trying it out, I was willing to do the curry thing.  Top that off with the fact that it was raved about in a reader comment in this month's Clean Eating Magazine, and I knew I had to try it.  It sounds like an odd combination at first, but it works.

Coconut Chickpea Soup
Makes: 4 servings

2 15-oz cans chickpeas (BPA-free cans & unsalted organic recommended by CEM)
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups roughly torn kale with stems removed
2 cloves garlic
15 oz low-fat coconut milk (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp raw honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

In a blender, combine everything and puree until completely smooth, about 30 seconds.  (If you're like me, you'll need to make a few batches.) Transfer to a medium pot and heat on medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Divide among serving bowls and serve with toasted whole-wheat pitas.

Source: Clean Eating Magazine

Friday, May 25, 2012

Adzuki Bean Patties

This recipe started out as just a curiosity to me.  It's multi-coloured, multi-flavoured, multi-textured, and very sticky.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  It could go either way and be something I really enjoy, or something that makes me wish I had a dog to feed it to.  Luckily, it turned out well and is a meal I'm really enjoying, even as leftovers.

Adzuki Bean Patties
Makes: 8 - 10 patties

2 cups cooked adzuki beans
1/2 cup wild rice
1 medium sweet potato or equivalent chunk of peeled squash
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 - 2 tsp ground mustard seed
1 Tbsp dry oregano
1 - 2 cloves of mashed garlic
sea salt to taste
brown rice or chickpea flour as needed to create a drier texture, optional

Cook wild rice in 1 cup of water.  Add rinsed beans when water begins to boil and cook until rice is tender (about 15 minutes).  While rice is cooking, wash and cut sweet potato into chunks and then add on top of rice and beans halfway through cooking.

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet, then add the cumin, coriander, oregano, garlic, and onion.  Saute until the onion is tender but not browned.  Set aside and wait for rice/beans to be done.

When the rice mixture is done, let it cool slightly then add the onion and spice mixture.  Mash all together and add ground mustard seed, pepper, salt, and flour if necessary.

Cook as desired.  I did them in a frying pan the same as the salmon patties.

 Source: Rachel Hewitt, RHN.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Coconut Bread

I'm enjoying the long weekend by rediscovering semi-forgotten joys.  I spent the past hour eying all the beautiful creations on Ravelry, and the past few days finishing up the miscellaneous garden chores I get to forget all winter.  I bought these two hanging baskets for the front of my place that are just beautiful.  And in a short while I'll get to replace the tulips out there with the summer flowers.  Last year I planted begonias, this year I'm not sure yet.  Any ideas?

My whole house smells like coconut.  Coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flour...  This bread is light and mildly sweet, reminiscent of a coconut biscotti, but minus the crunch.  The heat kicked in this weekend, and had I not baked this bread at a freakishly early hour this morning, I'd probably have put it on the back-burner.  But now I've got bread and coconut smell, and a beautiful, sunny day to enjoy.

This bread's tasty on its own, or nice with a little bit of coconut oil or almond butter if that's your thing.  Either way, if you're a coconut fan, this is one recipe that'll surely hit the spot.

Coconut Bread
Makes: 1 loaf

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour (I substituted brown rice flour instead of battling the long weekend lineups at the grocery store)
1/2 cup full cream can of coconut milk (about half the can, using only the creamy part on top)
5 eggs
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
Stevia, to taste

Blend together the eggs, coconut milk, stevia, and salt.  Add the flours and baking powder, mixing until you don't see any lumps.  Pour into loaf pan greased with the coconut oil and bake at 350F for 40 minutes.  The top of the loaf should be firm and a light golden colour.

Enjoy a little coconut sunshine!
 Source: The Candida Diet website.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chicken Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

This recipe's a repeat.  Well, at least for me it's a repeat.  I was so excited to see it in this month's Clean Eating Magazine, that I rushed right out to get the ingredients to put it together.  Thing is, between buying the ingredients and trying to make the recipe, I misplaced my magazine.  So the first time I made the recipe, I had to wing it.  I used what I'd bought best-guessing the how-to on previous experiences I've had making beef shepherd's pie.  It actually turned out quite well, and I got really excited to make it again, as CEM intended.  I've got to say, both times, I was extremely happy with the results.  This is one of my new favourite recipes, hands down.

The great thing is that the whole thing won't go to waste if you're missing an ingredient -- play around.  Pick different spices, try it with different mustards, try ground chicken, try different veggie combinations... really the possibilities are endless.  I sincerely encourage you to try this one; you'll love it!

Chicken Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie
Makes: 4 2-cup servings

2 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
sea salt & ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
2 Tbsp flour (whole wheat, or alternative)
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen peas

 Preheat oven to 350F.
Boil sweet potatoes until fork-tender, about 10 minutes.  Drain and mash, mixing in Greek yogurt, and sea salt and pepper to taste.  Mash until smooth and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil, then onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.  Add cubed chicken breast and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes, until golden brown.  Add flour and marjoram and stir to coat.  Add chicken broth and Dijon mustard and bring to a simmer.  Cook, stirring frequently for 1 - 2 minutes until sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in carrots and peas.

Spoon mixture into a 9-inch pie dish, spreading evenly over the bottom.  Spread sweet potato mixture over the top, smoothing with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until filling is bubbly and top is golden brown.


Source: Clean Eating Magazine, June 2012.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Celebrating 100 Posts!

This is an occasion to mark! I'm today writing my 100th blog post.  I'm excited for that. I don't really think in August when I started that I really expected to find this many recipes to share.  I didn't think I knew 100 recipes, or at least, not 100 different ones!  I'm enjoying the process and still having fun experimenting in the kitchen, and that's what counts, right?

Tonight, instead of sharing a fresh, new recipe, I'm sharing a picture of a little treat I made recently for my nurse man.  One of the weeks after we'd started dating, I had been looking for an idea for my Wilton cake decorating class 'grand finale' cake.  It's the one where we put all the skills we've learned to good use in a looks-good, smells-good, almost too pretty to eat cake.  I was stumped.  I couldn't think of what to make that seemed good enough.  In a joking way, he'd suggested I make an igloo, (because at that time it was cold out,) and a penguin to go with it.  And originally I'd laughed and shrugged it off as an impossibility and more-or-less forgot about it.  But the seed of idea had been planted.

Then, one day not too long ago, the idea came back to me.  When I'd made chocolate cake, either for Dad's birthday or one of my cake courses (I can't remember now) I'd had too much batter and ended up making a mini-cake in a spring-form 4-inch pan.  So, I took that little, frozen mini cake and thawed it, iced it with buttercream tinted with mint, covered it in fondant and made myself a penguin.  Then because he looked lonely, I made him a buddy to share his itty-bitty igloo.

So today, for my 100th blog post, I'm sharing with you the penguins & igloo I made for my nurse man.

 (In case you were wondering, the cake has been eaten but the penguins remain.  They're just too cute to eat!)

Happy Victoria Day weekend!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Teff Breakfast Bowl

Yup, it's another breakfast recipe!  This one's a little different, again.  I have to say it was one that had to grow on me.  The first time I tried teff, it seemed too grainy for me.  But, with the right variety of fruit to go with it, I can say now I'm a teff eater.

The whole breakfast from start to finish takes about 20 minutes, but since the recipe makes enough for two, if you're eating alone you'll have breakfast for tomorrow, which cuts down the prep time drastically, which is always a good thing.  A quick, simple, and filling breakfast makes for a good morning, doesn't it?

Teff Breakfast Bowl
Makes: 2 servings

1/4 cup whole grain teff
scant pinch sea salt
1 tsp ground flaxseed (also called flaxseed meal)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 small banana*
1 cup strawberries*
2 Tbsp pecan pieces

* I used apple because it's what I had on hand.

In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil.  Add teff and pinch of sea salt, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. 

Remove from heat, stir and let sit, covered, about 3 minutes.
Stir in flax and cinnamon.  Divide equally between two bowls; pour almond milk over teff and top with fruit and nuts.

Source: Tosca Reno. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry

I had a great weekend.  The kind of weekend that they're supposed to be.  I got things done, but wasn't swamped so much that I felt all I did was work.  I got to relax a little, spend time with people I enjoy, and see a little of Ottawa.  I even tried a Skor Cheesecake Beavertail, yum!  All in all, a good weekend.

To round off my weekend, an easy stir fry.  This recipe's good because I have time all day to thaw out the chicken and not be stuck like I would be on a weekday if I forgot.  There isn't really anything I don't normally have on hand in it, and it's adjustable to whatever you do have on hand.  In my case, I was out of broccoli, so I substituted Brussels sprouts, and it still came out yummy.  This is a great recipe if you're a big fan of ginger -- the taste comes through quite well.

Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry
Makes: 4 servings

1 1/2 pounds chicken, boneless, skinless
1 1/2 Tbsp soya sauce (low-sodium recommended)
1 Tbsp ginger root, grated
3 Tbsp olive, canola, or hemp oil
2 whole green peppers, diced
4 whole green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup vegetable or chicken broth, low-sodium
2 cups broccoli (or Brussels sprouts)
1 cup bean sprout, fresh
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Cut chicken into cubes.  Marinate in soy sauce and ginger for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a non-stick skillet, heat oil on high heat.  Add chicken and stir fry for 3 minutes.  Add vegetables and stir fry for 1 minute.  Dissolve cornstarch into broth, then add to stir fry.  Continue cooking until chicken is cooked through.  Serve with rice if you please.

 Source: Rachel Hewitt, RHN.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Crustless Broccoli & Cheese Mini Quiches

It's May already, and it's raining still.  But, in light of my birthday turning into a week of celebrating, I was off in search of low-fat, high-protein snacks.  Ever notice how trendy the 100-calorie snacks are? They seem to be everywhere!  It's a little crazy... and reading the ingredient list on some of them sounds like a chemistry lesson, so they won't be in my grocery basket.

What is in my basket, or at least was this week, are eggs, broccoli, milk, and Greek yogurt.  It seemed like it was meant to be when I found this recipe in my Clean Eating book.  These mini-quiches are perfectly snack-sized, go well with veggies (for a little crunch!) and don't need to be re-heated if you're eating on the go.  Plus, they have a protein kick to get you through the afternoon. 

The only caveat I can offer, is on the oregano.  I like oregano, don't get me wrong, but this recipe has too much for my liking.  Probably half would have been enough.  That said, when I make it again, I may even only use one quarter teaspoon, just to gauge the difference.  They're still good, don't get me wrong, they're very good, just very oregano-y.

Crustless Broccoli & Cheese Mini Quiches
Makes: 12 (6 servings)

olive oil cooking spray
1 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli
2/3 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup low-fat Greek-style yogurt
2 Tbsp low-fat milk
1 whole egg
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp sea salt
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350F and spray the cups of a muffin tin lightly with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a medium skillet.  Add broccoli and saute five minutes.   Distribute broccoli evenly among prepared muffin cups; spread half the cheese evenly on top.

In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, milk, egg, and seasonings, then distribute evenly over top of broccoli and cheese. 
Top with remaining cheese and bake 25 minutes or until quiches are set and lightly browned around the edges. 
Cool five minutes and serve, or col and refrigerate until ready to enjoy.

Source: Best of Clean Eating Magazine, page 160.