As I was making my son breakfast I noticed that I had two perfectly ripe bananas. Too ripe for eating but perfect for baking, so I whipped up a quick batch of banana muffins. Yum! These are so delicious and quite healthy too with the whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour and almond meal, only a cup of sugar and wholesome bananas, eggs and yogurt. Try it for a quick breakfast with some fruit or a healthy snack.
Healthy Banana Muffins
Servings: 12 large muffins
Time: 15 minutes active, 20-25 minutes in the oven
1/4 cup plain yogurt (I use non-fat, but use what you prefer)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 large eggs
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries, juice sweetened or unsweetened (watch out, these can have a lot of sugar added) or raisins
1/4 cup nuts of choice (I used pumpkin seeds today)
parchment paper muffin liners
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
Combine flours and next 7 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk.
In a small bowl mix with a whisk the yogurt, oil, egg, banana and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the cranberries and nuts. Stir gently.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, stirring just until moist. Will be pretty thick.
Spoon the batter into a muffin tin lined with parchment paper muffin liners. The parchment liners don’t require any oil, they are non-stick and are an incredible find! If you don’t have these then lightly spray your muffin tins with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
I usually freeze half the batch to put in a lunch box or enjoy at a later date.
Pretty warm day here in the Bay Area. I decided I would make crab cakes Crab Cakes and a tomato, corn and avocado salad. This was based on what looked fresh at the grocery store today. Just a quick salad that I threw together, no actual recipe, but I tried to capture it the best I could in the recipe below. Enjoy!
Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata
1 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on size
1 avocado, diced and soaked in lime juice
1 tablespoon lime juice (approx)
2 ears of fresh corn, cooked and sliced off the cobb
2 tablespoons ricotta salata cheese, very small dice
freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Combine the tomatoes, avocado with lime juice, corn and ricotta in a medium bowl. Try to add the corn while it is still hot or warm, it warms up the rest of the salad and makes the flavor more intense. Mix well.
Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and olive oil and mix well.
I took a little blogging-break, but hopefully I am back for the next month or so. June blog entries will probably be very light if at all. But hey, who wants to cook in the summer anyway! This a a very simple and easy dish to slowly get myself back in the swing of writing again. This is a Food & Wine recipe that I added asparagus and mushrooms to. A very flavorful and nice quick weeknight dinner.
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms (or white button), cut into thick slices
1 pound asparagus, ends broken off and sliced into one-inch pieces
fresh ground pepper
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (save time and buy it deveined, it is worth it!)
2 tablespoon small capers, drained
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a very large skillet heat some olive oil until it shimmers. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes. Add the asparagus and the shrimp and cook over high heat until the shrimp are lightly browned and barely opaque, about 2 minutes.
Add the capers and cook for 30 seconds. Turn the shrimp and add the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley. Cover and cook over low heat for 4-5 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through and the sauce is slightly reduced. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a dish and spoon the sauce on top. Add a sprinkle of the remaining 1 tablespoon of parsley and serve. Enjoy with some crusty whole wheat bread or rice.
Wow, ten days have passed since I last posted a recipe! My daughter was home for spring break and she was bored so she decided she would do a lot of the cooking, so Helpful! But she doesn’t follow recipes or want to participate in my blogging project, so I haven’t had much to post. Thank you again Melissa Clark and New York Times Cooking for this recipe! This is a very healthy and hearty vegetarian soup that can be bulked up further with lentils, grains or sausage (no longer vegetarian then) if one desires. We decided we just wanted a warm vegetarian soup that wasn’t too heavy, so we left it as is except we added a can of chopped tomatoes and some broth to the recipe.
1 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms such as shiitake, cremini, oyster, etc. medium dice
½ lb shallots, finely diced
fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped (use a little less if dried)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground allspice
one 14.5 oz can chopped peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
4 cups water
1 cup of low-sodium vegetable broth
5 ounces baby spinach
fresh lime juice, to taste (I cut one lime and served the wedges with the soup so people could squeeze in as much as they wanted at the table)
plain yogurt, for serving (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spread out chopped mushrooms and shallots on a large lightly oiled sheet pan. Sprinkle vegetables with a little salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes and then stir. Roast for another 10 minutes or until the mushrooms have substantially shrunk and most of the liquid has evaporated. You can alternatively do this in the pot you are going to make your soup in by sautéing the vegetables.
Heat a large pot over medium heat, add a little olive oil to just barely coat bottom of pot, after that is heated add the mushrooms and shallot mixture, tomato paste, thyme, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice. If you like a little more spice, add a little more of all spices as I did. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in can of tomatoes including the liquid, 4 cups of water and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook gently for at least 20 minutes. I simmered for over an hour because I had the extra time. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted, 1-2 minutes.
Using a blender or food processor, coarsely purée 1/2 of the soup and add back to unprocessed soup. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve in bowls with a squeeze of fresh lime, sprinkle of thyme and an optional dollop of yogurt. Enjoy!
The only one who usually eats pasta in this house is my son, and frankly he can eat enough of it for all of us if I let him! We call him a “pastaterian.” I came across a Food and Wine recipe entitled Spaghetti with Mushroom Bolognesethat I based this recipe on. I changed several things, most importantly I added ground beef and a little chicken breast sausage to 3/4 of the the recipe to satisfy my son who was craving a meaty Bolognese sauce but still left lots of vegetables in to make it healthier than a traditional almost all beef sauce. I also left 1/4 of it vegetarian to satisfy my daughter. The original recipe also called for eggplant but since I added meat I left out the eggplant. Overall we all really liked how both the meat and the vegetarian versions tasted. I noted where you can add the meat or leave it out depending on your preferences. Note: The quantities may look large in the pictures because I doubled the recipe so I can serve it again for a kid party in a couple of days.
3/4 lb lean grass-fed ground beef –IF it will not be vegetarian.
1/4 lb mild ground chicken breast sausage —Note: This may be hard to find, at Whole Foods they made this up for me, just ask you butcher, or just use plain ground chicken breast or pre-made chicken sausage or lean ground beef. I think spicy chicken sausage would be really good except for my spice phobe… so I used the mild sausage.–IF it will not be vegetarian.
1 lb cremini mushrooms, small dice
½ lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps diced
fresh ground pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon mild white miso (this is surprising but turned out to be worthwhile)
one 2-inch chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus grated cheese for serving
one 14.5 oz can crushed peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
one 14.5 oz can chopped peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
3 thyme sprigs (or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme)
1 tablespoon of dried oregano (I probably add more, but I don’t measure)
½ teaspoon sugar (or honey, to cut the tomato acidity)
1 package of fresh tagliatelle pasta (or pasta of your choice)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil (I think fresh is important here, dried basil really doesn’t taste the same, but do what you can)
In a small bowl, cover the porcini mushrooms with 1 cup of boiling water; soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Finely chop the porcini mushrooms, discarding any tough bits. Drain mushrooms, reserving 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid. Chop the mushrooms finely.
In a large pot (I like to use an enameled cast-iron casserole, it cleans up easily) heat 1–2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes. Add additional oil if needed and then add the ground beef if using, chicken sausage if using, cremini, shiitake and chopped porcini mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and miso and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chunk of cheese, tomatoes and their juices, thyme, oregano, sugar and reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and bring to a simmer.
Halfway cover the pot and cook over low heat so it simmers gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is very thick, about 1–1.5 hours. Discard the thyme and oregano sprigs (if using fresh herbs); season the sauce with salt and pepper and more oregano and thyme if needed.
In a pot of boiling water (salt optional), cook the pasta until al dente. Drain
Add the pasta and chopped basil to the sauce; toss to coat. Serve in bowls, topped with grated cheese.
I originally made this in the fall after going to the Farmer’s Market where I saw this very fresh and beautiful Fennel bulb that I had to buy as well as some super fresh assorted baby lettuces. These are still available and looking pretty good at Whole Foods, so I thought I would make it tonight. My recipe is inspired by Food and Wine’s Spinach and Fennel Salad with Candied Bacon . The F&W recipe uses A LOT of bacon and sugar, so I lightened the recipe by adding more vegetables, cutting out the “candied” part of the bacon and using 75% less bacon. I feel that just a little bacon adds a lot of punch, no need to go overboard. Yum! I really like the combination of the slightly sweet dressing with the very savory bacon and feta. Try it out and let me know what you think.
1 medium sized fennel bulb. Halved, cored and sliced very thinly
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for the dressing plus some extra for drizzling on the fennel)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (this is very different from regular balsamic vinegar — I like it in this dressing because it is slightly sweet to contrast with the savory bacon and feta –if you don’t have any use a white wine vinegar and add a little more honey)
½–1 teaspoon of honey
~8 oz. mixed baby lettuce
1 large heirloom tomato (or whatever is available), cubed
4 radishes, thinly sliced
Fresh feta cheese to sprinkle over the top
2 tablespoons of pine nuts, lightly toasted
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
Cook 2 pieces of bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes or until desired doneness (I often cook more pieces and put some of it into my son’s lunch box that week). Lay cooked bacon on a plate with several paper towels to absorb as much grease as possible. Let the bacon cool and then chop into small pieces.
At the same time, lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Add sliced fennel and lightly drizzle a little olive oil onto the fennel and season with a little salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft and starting to brown a bit. Remove from oven and let cool.
In a small container whisk the Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, honey, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a several grinds of fresh black pepper. Set aside.
Combine the tomato, radishes, lettuce, fennel, bacon, feta and pine nuts. Toss with the reserved dressing and serve.
Pairs nicely with an unoaked Chardonnay or Chablis
Extremely flavorful chicken and vegetable dish that can be fancy enough for company or simple enough for a weeknight meal
safflower seed oil or other high smoke point oil
3-4 pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1 cup of dry white wine
few sprigs of fresh thyme
handful of fresh sage leaves
few sprigs of fresh oregano
2 Tablespoons of fresh rosemary, chopped
5 spring onions (or scallions if you can’t find spring onions), bulbs only sliced thinly, green parts left long
6 large carrots, 2 peeled and cut into thirds, and the others peeled and left whole
2 cups mixed color baby potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 head of cauliflower (or more if you are serving more people), washed and cut into large chunks
2 Tablespoons capers
Heat a large dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat. Add a little oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan and when sizzling add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Remove browned chicken from pan and set aside.
Wipe off any extra oil in dutch oven and then place chicken back into it along with broth, wine, herbs, carrots that have been cut into thirds, sliced onion bulbs and capers. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer.Braise the chicken for 40 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove chicken and vegetables from the liquid.
Reduce the liquid until about 1 cup or so. Set pot aside.
While chicken is braising, heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray cooking spray on a baking sheet and place potatoes on the sheet. Sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and some rosemary on the potatoes and roast in the oven until partially cooked, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees F and add cauliflower, whole carrots and sprinkle with more olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs and roast 10 more minutes, then add cooked chicken, skin side up and cook 8 more minutes or until all vegetables are tender and slightly browned and the chicken is crisped.
Remove chicken and vegetables from oven and arrange on a platter. Serve with the reduced liquid on the side. Enjoy!
This is a project, I have to be honest, but well worth it, it came out AMAZING! The beef was so tender and the vegetables were so full of flavor! Last night my husband and I had dinner at Zola, a French bistro here in town. The food was really good, very rich, but in portions that one can handle the richness. My husband and I like sharing our food so we can try more things that way and generally control the large portions that most restaurants dish out. We have been to this restaurant one other time so I knew the portions were normal human sized, so we shared a beet salad, which was delicious, and got a scallop dish and Short Rib Beef Bourguignon. The beef dish was so delicious that my husband requested that we try to recreate it at home. “We,” hah! Anyways, the cooking thing is my new hobby, so I said why not try it.
I made this following a recipe by Melissa Clark on the New York Times Cooking site. I added twice as many vegetables, much less bacon and a pound less beef than the original recipe. I also decided to throw the mushrooms into the stew while it was cooking instead of the traditional method of sautéing the mushrooms with additional onions in butter and adding them when serving. This way I saved some calories (no butter) and an extra step that I won’t miss! If you want it richer, then go ahead with this step. I also added some baby potatoes to the stew, so it can be a complete one pot meal and will hopefully feed us for the next two nights (because now I am tired).
2 pounds beef (beef chuck is most common, but can be very fatty – today I used organic grass-fed chuck eye steak and beef ranch steak), cut into 2-inch cubes and patted dry.
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 strips of applewood smoked bacon, thick cut (or any bacon)
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
3 large carrots, large dice
3 celery stalks, large dice
1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on the size (I also had some trumpet mushrooms in my fridge so I threw those in)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, medium dice
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons of all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups red wine, preferably a light young red such as Pinot Noir
1 cup beef stock or low sodium beef broth
1 large bay leaf
3 large sprigs of thyme
3 sprigs of parsley
2 cups of mixed color baby potatoes (or large potatoes cut in 2 inch cubes)
Season beef with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat and cook the bacon until browned and crisp. Remove bacon to a paper-towel line plate and pat off as much grease as you can. Wipe out at least half of the bacon grease left in the pan, leaving a little grease and all the browned bits for flavor.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Raise the heat under the dutch oven to medium-high. When pot is fully heated, add the beef in a single layer in the pot, leaving space between each piece. Cook until well browned on all sides and transferring pieces to a plate as they brown, about 10-15 minutes. Repeat with remaining beef.
Crumble or chop the crisped bacon into a small pieces. Set aside.
Reduce heat to medium to prevent burning and stir in onion, carrot and celery. Add a pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper grinder and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes.
Add garlic, tomato and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in flour, cook for 1 minute and then add wine, stock, bay leaf, thyme and parsley, scraping up browned bits at bottom of the pot.
Add the browned beef and bacon back to the pot, along with two cups of mixed baby potatoes and then cover with tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Let cook in the oven for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender. Occasionally stir the beef mixture while it is cooking in the oven.
When finished cooking taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Fish out the bay leaf, parsley and thyme sprigs and discard. Serve in individual casserole dishes or in shallow bowls with a sprinkle of fresh parsley. Bon Appétit!
After yesterday’s risotto, I decided today should be an easy and simple dinner. I found this recipe on Food and Wine. For once I think I actually followed the recipe without adding or deleting anything. My creativity was lagging I guess or maybe it was that the recipe just looked perfect that way it was for a Thursday dinner. I think I start to burn out a little as the week goes on…
Anyway, the dish in all its simplicity was just right. The hubby and kiddo both seemed to like it and one of them even had seconds, so I think it went over well. Happily tomorrow is Friday, dinner out night. As much as I enjoy cooking and creating new dishes, I need a creative break sometimes.
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons of Asian fish sauce
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil of choice (today I used Safflower oil because it has a high smoke point, low saturated fat and is high in healthy fats.
1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 pound asparagus, sliced on the diagonal, 1 inch thick
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread the cashews on a pan and toast in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until they are slightly browned and fragrant. Set aside and let cool.
In a medium bowl toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken in an even layer (I made two batches so I didn’t overcrowd the pan) and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned and just cooked throughout, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked chicken to a clean bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of fish sauce to the pan along with the oyster sauce, lime juice and cayenne pepper. Simmer until the sauce is reduced to 1/3 cup, about 2 minutes. Return the chicken pieces and sliced asparagus to the pan and toss to heat through. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cashews, basil and chives. Season with freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately over fresh brown steamed rice.
Food and Wine suggests serving with a spicy, full-bodied Syrah. We drank a full-bodied white Burgundy with this dish and it was delicious.
This is pretty much a straight-up Food and Wine/Andrew Zimmern recipe. Really easy and really flavorful! Original recipe included 2 scallions, thinly sliced and did not include the mushrooms or tomatoes that I added. I think some chopped avocado and/or hardboiled egg would be really good in this as well. I served this with Quick Brined Roasted Salmon with Lemon Garlic Oil and some simple brown Jasmine rice. Very easy and delicious meal. My son could not get enough of the salmon and the salmon’s savory sauce.