Raspberry Tahini Muffins

It’s been a busy summer, and a hot one at that! I haven’t had the motivation to crank the oven or stand over the stove, so it’s been a while since I’ve experimented with any recipes. Lately though, I’ve been seeing tahini based recipes, and especially sweet variations, a whole lot. These piqued my interest, and for the 4th of July I tried out Food 52’s Tahini Cake with Blueberry Swirl recipe. Here’s a picture of the swirl:

I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out! The swirl was gorgeous dark blue, and the sesame and fruit flavors mingled perfectly to create a sweetness complemented by moist, fluffy cake that made it good for dessert and breakfast alike.

After the cake was long gone, I found myself craving tahini again and wanting to eat it all the time. When my husband and I visited a new local spot and they featured an apple tahini cake on their menu, I knew immediately that I wanted to experiment with other fruit and tahini flavor combinations. The possibilities seemed endless!

I often make pancakes and waffles for breakfast, but I thought muffins would be a nice change of pace. I didn’t know what to expect. Would the tahini flavor be too strong? Not strong enough? Too bitter? It happened that I hit on the perfect amount of tahini flavor and sweetness, while keeping a soft fluffy muffin. In fact, these muffins were so good that in the course of the weekend, my husband and I ate the whole dozen. By ourselves (don’t judge…). They were just that delicious.

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These muffins only use one bowl to make, so they are super easy. Just mix and bake! Fluffy moist inside is made by creaming butter and sugar, and a crispy puffy top comes from the combination of high heat and raw sugar sprinkled on top. Delicious!

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To make these, I followed a recommendation from Sally’s Baking Addiction for her Blackberry Lemon Poppyseed muffins, to cream the butter and sugar together first in a KitchenAid Mixer. After creaming the butter and sugar,  I added the other wet ingredients except the milk (eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and tahini), and beat it at medium speed until everything was creamy and emulsified. There should be no chunks of tahini left.

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Next, I added all the dry ingredients on top of the wet mixture. I know, I didn’t pre-mix the dry ingredients, such blasphemy! I used the mixer to stir until just combined, and then added the milk, mixing again until just blended. Next, I added the fresh raspberries, folding them in.

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I don’t like to use cupcake liners (unless it’s actual cupcakes) so I greased a 12-muffin pan and filled each cup to the top. Then I took raw cane sugar and sprinkled the tops of each muffin: this will give it a crispy sugary crunch!

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These muffins were baked first at 425 degrees for 5 minutes and then for an additional 13 minutes at 350 degrees. The two temperatures, one high, one lower, is what gets the nice puffy muffin top.

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Raspberry Tahini Muffins, makes 12:

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp (or microwave cold butter for 5-10s)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 3 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh raspberries
  • Raw cane sugar, for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and grease a regular 12-muffin pan
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. This took about 1 minute at medium-high speed.
  3. Add eggs, yogurt, vanilla, tahini, and oil, beat at medium to high speed until creamy and emulsified, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure everything is getting equally combined.
  4. To the bowl, add the flour, baking soda and baking powder, salt, and sesame seeds. Stir on low until just combined.
  5. Add the milk and stir on low again.
  6. Fold in the fresh raspberries
  7. Fill the muffin cups equally up to the top
  8. Pop in the oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake an additional 13-16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool 5-10 minutes before removing from the tin and letting fully cool on a rack.
  10. Eat and enjoy with butter, honey, or any topping of choice! Or eat plain, which is what we did after our first two…

*Recipe modified from Sally’s Baking Addiction Blackberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

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I’ll probably make these again, since the first batch didn’t last too long! I might try different fruits too. Have you tried any tahini based sweets?

Happy Weekend!

Hearty Cheddar Cornmeal Pancakes

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post anything, the days have just been flying by! In fact, all of 2016 has been going so fast, I’ve been trying to take more time to appreciate each day, and do more things that make me happy.

Breakfast is definitely one thing I love, and it’s developed into a little ritual between me and my husband. Weeknights are long and tiring, and he usually cooks. But on weekends, we make sure to take some time to slow down, and I take the mornings as as opportunity to treat him to a hearty breakfast.

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For me, pancakes are always an option. I love love love them: but I also love cheese (I may have mentioned this before). I have been wanting to do a pancake variation on the delicious cheddar cornmeal waffles I made before, and they came out pretty great. I used my favorite Old Croc cheddar and a little thyme for some herbacious goodness, and I just can’t get over how good they tasted, especially with some warm maple syrup.

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I love the slight crunch of the cornmeal paired with the savory cheddar and sweet syrup…we ate them all and I still want more.

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Fluffy and warm, filling and delicious. Who could ask for more?

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Best of all, if you don’t finish them all for breakfast (maybe not possible…) they make a great snack in the middle of the day. A delicious hearty pick-me-up.

Hearty Cheddar Cornmeal Pancakes: serves 4

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3 TBSP sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • a pinch of thyme (or rosemary would be good too)
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt + 1/2 cup water, mixed (or 1 cup milk of choice)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBSP melted butter (+ some butter for cooking, if desired)
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  1. mix the dry ingredients together in a big bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the yogurt and water until well mixed.
  3. Then add the egg and butter. The butter may seize (this can be avoided by using room temperature ingredients) but this is okay as long as you mix the pieces in really well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, also adding in the cheddar. Mix until just combined, but not more than that. The batter will be thick.
  5. Heat a griddle to medium heat with some melted butter. Dollop the batter into the pan, spreading if necessary into a pancake shape (or other fun shapes!)
  6. Flip when edges are matte and bubbles are present in the middle of the pancake.
  7. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, store in a warm oven or eat hot from the pan with some maple syrup!

What’s your favorite breakfast food?

Light and Fluffy Nutella Pancakes

I just might have to make these every weekend!! I was having a bit of sweet tooth: I had just made some World Peace Cookies to take to a friend’s Easter brunch, and was considering whipping up a batch of pancakes to feed the husband before I left. With chocolate on the mind, I decided to throw some Nutella into the pancakes as I whipped them up. That could be good right?  Man, they did not disappoint! When I set these steaming puppies down in front of the husband and he took the first bite, he told me they were the best pancakes I have ever made…and proceeded to eat them ALL. From the few bites I managed, I had to agree: they were some of the most delicious, fluffiest, hazel-nuttiest, easy to make from scratch, NUTELLA PANCAKES!

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As it happened, I had just enough of an almost empty Nutella jar lying around, waiting to be finished off! It’s one of those things, like Peanut Butter, that I absolutely must have on hand at all times. I never quite got into the Cookie Butter phenom, for me chocolate, hazelnut, and peanut butter are all that’s necessary in life.

The texture of the batter is thick and very light and fluffy looking: it kind of reminded me of frosting. I had to spread the dollop around the pan, rather than pour the batter, because it was just too thick and delicious. WORTH IT.

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I ended up topping mine with Raspberry jam, a delicious flavor combination if I do say so myself!

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You can probably guess that pancakes, waffles, and the like are my go-to breakfast items. It’s a nice way to de-stress on weekend mornings after a long work week, and I do it pretty much every Saturday. I love pouring some hot coffee and then rustling up some hot pancakes with warm syrup or sweet jam: total comfort food!

Recipe: Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 scant cup Greek yogurt + 1 cup water (or sub 2 cups total milk of choice)
  • 2 heaping TBSP Nutella
  •  1 egg
  • 3 TBSP melted coconut oil
  1. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients
  2. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt and Nutella, then mix in water and egg
  3. melt coconut oil, add it to the other wet ingredients while stirring well
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until well combined. It’s okay if a few lumps of coconut oil remain.
  5. Prepare a hot griddle, dolloping and spreading batter into the pan, as it will be thick
  6. Flip when edges are matte, and bubbles form in the middle
  7. Store in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Enjoy!

Orange Zest Sour Cream French Toast with Caramelized Bananas

2016-03-20 14.15.19So it’s the weekend again, and to me that means only one thing: Brunch time! I looooove breakfast foods and it’s hard for me not spend a little time in the mornings to cook up something on with ingredients on hand.

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Earlier in the week, it was Pi Day, and if you follow me on Instagram you know that I can’t resist any excuse to make delicious food. I chose to make “a pie worth waiting 40 years for” (because doesn’t that sounds like a necessity??) from Food52, except I subbed raisins for mini-chocolate chips, so it was essentially a chocolate chip custard pie. Anyway, this is just to say that I had a lot more sour cream left over than intended, since it was one of the main ingredients in the pie.

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Incidentally, I also had about a half a loaf of stale Tuscan french bread which led me to ponder french toast ideas. Did you know sour cream could be an ingredient in french toast? Initially I thought it was weird, but then I thought it might be good! Creamy, tangy, a little sour with a little sweet. Yum!

Just to add a little pop or flavor, I threw in the juice and zest of a Cara Cara orange; these oranges are absolutely my favorite citrus fruit right now. I’ve never had them before this year, and they are hands down amazing.

And just to add a little finishing touch, after all the toast was cooked and warming in the oven but the pan was still hot, I cut up a ripe banana and put it in with some sizzle-y butter, until it was sweet and caramelized. Nothing like a little caramelized banana on top of that french toast!

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And just for fun, who doesn’t love a little peanut butter with their banana french toast?

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Orange Zest Sour Cream French Toast with Caramelized Bananas

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk of choice, or light cream
  • zest and juice of 1 large Cara Cara orange
  • 7-8 pieces of sliced french sandwich bread, cut in half
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter, for frying

Instructions:

  1. slice french bread pieces in halves, zest and juice orange.
  2. Combine zest, orange juice, sour cream, milk and eggs in a large bowl, mix well. The sour cream will be lumpy, try to mix well to get out the lumps.
  3. Put 2-3 pieces of bread to soak in the egg mixture, heat a pan to medium heat with some butter.
  4. Cook on both sides until well done, meanwhile begin soaking the next pieces of bread. Once cooked, put on a plate in a warm oven (~200 degrees) until ready to serve.
  5. While pan is still hot but the french toast is all done, cut a banana lengthwise, then in half, and put in a pan with some butter, first with the flat side face down. Let cook for several minutes until brown and bubbly, try not to disturb the surface as the caramelization takes place! After 2-3 minutes, flip over and cook another few minutes.
  6. Serve hot, drizzled maple syrup and topped with caramelized bananas, additional and delicious options include peanut butter, or even nutella!

Serves 4

There’s a snow storm coming tonight, and as usual, everyone has stocked up on bread, milk, and eggs. I think they are all thinking the same thing: FRENCH TOAST!!

Happy Sunday!

 

Faux-Fur Pom-Pom Beanie

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Well it’s almost spring time: the sun was beautifully shining today and the temperatures have been climbing. There’s no more snow to be seen, and although spring is my very favorite season, the end of wintertime also means less occasion for cozy knitwear.

One knit accessory I kept seeing on the subways this winter were hats with faux fur pom-poms. There were pom-poms big and small, all different colored shades of fur, and of varying degrees of fluffiness. I thought, those can’t be hard to find! I’ll just pop one on top of whatever hat I’m knitting at the moment and that will be that!

I trolled Amazon for pom-poms that also shipped Prime (this is how I screen most things I buy…) and settled on this Bernat pick in Brown Muskrat. I thought the brown would best complement the minty green yarn I was working with, but they have other fun fur colored shades I’d love to try too such as Black Mink or White Rabbit. They also have fun colors like Coral, Aubergine, or Bright Green.

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For the hat, I used Bernat Roving yarn in Low Tide, a color I have absolutely fallen in love with. It’s chunky so I used size 10 circular and double pointed needles. I made it slouchy in a seed stitch pattern that cast on without a pattern, but there are a ton of others out there like it (such as this free one or this one already on Ravelry) that I’m sure do a much better job with pattern instructions than I can.

My husband thought the pom-pom a bit large and ridiculous, but I love it and can’t wait to wear it out. It’s perfectly slouchy and fun, with just the right amount of polish.

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The pom pom is also super soft and fuzzy! If the tag didn’t explicitly say “imitation” I would have sworn it was real. It’s such an easy way to spruce up an old knit beanie, or the perfect topper to a fun new one. 

  

 While the forecast calls for sunny and 50 degrees this week, I’ll be ready with this fun bright beanie for any last chilly days before spring comes out swinging! 

 

Easy Knit Baby Hat and Blanket Set

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I’ve arrived at the age when so many of my friends are taking that amazing next step into parenthood, a journey I myself have not yet undertaken. I’m wishing them all the best and have (I think) very enviable task of churning out baby related knit goodies and other crafty things!

I wanted to make a baby blanket and hat set, but jumping the gun as I usually do, I had no idea of the baby’s gender. Shopping the baby yarn isle, I found this yellow/grey/blue/white skein that I thought would be adorable for either a girl or boy. The yarn is Bernat Softee Baby Chunky in My Sunshine. I absolutely love it. I used four skeins altogether for the blanket and hat, which with a size 11 needle went a lot faster than I expected!

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The blanket and hat are both machine washable, and the blanket is reversible! It is shown blocked, but even before blocking it lays flat and looks great. I’m really happy with how it came out. It has a garter stitch edge and a knit stripe pattern that is plaid inspired. Super easy and quick to knit up.

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It was tight,  but I was able to use the last of the fourth skein after casting off my blanket to make a small baby hat, complete with mini pom-pom!

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The hat is nice and stretchy so it would be pretty roomy on a newborn, but fit the baby up to (I estimate) about 18 months.

Some Abbreviations:

CO= cast on

K= knit

P= purl

K2tog= knit two together

P2tog= purl two together

*Repeat pattern* between the asterisks to end, unless otherwise indicated

Striped Baby Blanket and Hat Set:

  • Size 11 Takumi 24″ Circular and Double Pointed Needles
  • 4 skeins Bernat Chunky Baby Softee in My Sunshine (5 if you are a loose knitter or want to expand your blanket)
  • (optional Pom Pom maker, I didn’t use one)

Blanket: finished size is 44″x 28.5″ blocked.

Note: All stitches are slipped purl-wise.

Cast On 110 stitches on size 11 circular needle. Long tail or provisional cast on methods are both okay, I used provisional cast on. Do not join in the round.

Rows 1-5: Knit

Row 6: Slip 1, K4, P2, K3, P2, K8, *P2, K3, P2, K14* three times, then P2, K3, P2, K8, P2, K3, P2, K5

Row 7: slip 1, K4, purl the purls and knit the knits until last 5 stitches, K5

Work rows 6-7 for a total of 14 rows, then:

Row 19: slip 1, K4, now knit the purls and purl the knits until last 5 stitches, K5

Row 20: slip 1, K4, knit the knits, purl the purls until last 5 stitches, K5

Continue to work a pattern repeat of  rows 6-7 across 14 rows, followed by two rows 19-20 (basically reverse of the pattern to create the stripe) 5 times. This square repeat can be worked as many times as desired for a larger blanket. When ready, end by working rows 6-7 for 14 rows.

Next Row: Knit.

Knit for 4 more rows (garter stitch) and then bind off. Weave in ends and block.

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Hat:

Using Size 14 double pointed needles, Cast on 44 stitches on 4 needles.

Next: K2, P2.

Continue until hat measures approximately 5″ from CO

Decrease:

Row 1: *K2tog, P2, K2, P2* K2 P2

Row 2: *K1, P2tog, K2tog, P2tog*

Row 3: K1, P1

Row 4: *K2tog*

Row 5: Knit (11 stitches)

Break Yarn and draw through remaining stitches. Cinch to tighten and secure, weave in ends. Make a 2″ diameter pom pom to top it off.

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I think these two would look great in any color, solid or a different festive mix of colors like this one. I can’t wait for some cute babies to try on my creations!

Feel free to leave a comment if anything is confusing,

 

The best cheddar thyme cornmeal waffle recipe

Like anyone, I love a good crispy waffle. Unfortunately, waffles have been a sort of kryptonite for me, in that I’ve tried so many recipes and have never found one I liked. My waffles were immediately crispy and fluffy, and then upon cooling, quickly became floppy, soggy, or both. Even folding in the most impossibly fluffy egg whites or a melting a whole stick of crispy butter didn’t save them. I’ve used coconut oil, regular oil, buttermilk, no milk. Never any good. What was I doing wrong?

Finally, I decided to investigate the trick that adding seltzer water to waffles made them impossibly crispy and delicious. This was something I could barely fathom, although the I knew it was used for this purpose elsewhere (think tempura batter…) but for some reason I had always chalked this up to myth. Well, as it turns out, not so! These waffles were by far the crispiest and most delicious waffles I have ever made: they held on to that crispness long after cooling, and they were the perfect blend of many things I love. Those things are sweet with savory, breakfast, and cheese. I love cheese.


 Just in time for Valentines Day, these waffles are enough work to be special without being very laborious. They are delicious drizzled with sweet maple syrup and the leftovers are great to make as sandwiches later, perhaps with a romantic picnic. I’m just fantasizing now because it’s literally a gorgeous sunny day with a thermometer reading of -8 degrees with a -31 degree windchill, not optimal picnic weather.

For these waffles, I used my favorite brand of grocery store cheddar, Old Croc. Those Australians know their cheese!

I always feel like I’m betraying nearby Vermont cheddar when I buy it, but I love them both equally so it’s okay. I’m an equal opportunity cheese-ist.

A few other classic ingredients like butter and cornmeal really give these waffles that extra crunch! The batter was thick and I cooked it in my no-peak Cephalon waffle maker on medium/dark until bubbly hissing goodness emanated from within. Pure magic.

Next, I’ll have to work on making a well shaped waffle. Right now, I’m all about the taste. Priorities…


 Aspects of this recipe were inspired by Cooks Illustrated Buttermilk waffles (seltzer water!) and King Arthur Flour’s cheddar cornmeal waffles.

Cheddar Thyme Cornmeal Waffles: 

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup stone-ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp sugar 
  • 5 Tbsp melted unsalted butter (1/3 cup)
  • 1.5 cups Greek yogurt (or buttermilk)
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup seltzer water
  • 1 cup grated cheddar
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  1. Combine first five dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chopped thyme and stir.
  2. In a separate bowl, or using a stand mixer, whip together the eggs and yogurt. Melt the butter until just warm, and slowly add to the eggs and yogurt as they are being whipped together. It is best to use room temperature ingredients so the butter doesn’t seize when you add it to the eggs and yogurt, but if it does that’s okay.
  3. Next, add the dry mixture to the wet ingredients while slowly mixing by hand, or on “stir” using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. At this stage, add the seltzer water, stirring until just combined.
  4. Lastly, add the grated cheddar and mix until just combined. The batter will be very thick, this is good!
  5. Cook about one cup of batter at a time in a pre-heated waffle iron until medium dark, transfer to a cooling rack until ready to eat.

Makes 4 medium sized waffles. Enjoy with warm maple syrup.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!