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!

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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!

 

Cheddar Cornmeal Pancakes and Rainy Day Knits

It’s an impossibly rainy dreary winter day, and waking up this morning to hot coffee and complete grey, I wanted nothing more than to cook some hearty savory pancakes and finish off some knitting projects.

In my fridge I had about quarter block of my favorite cheddar cheese that was just dying to be made into something delicious. I’ve turned out some pretty delicious cheddar cornmeal waffles before, so I decided to adapt the recipe into a pancake.

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My all time favorite cheddar cheese!

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I was decadently happy with the result, although I have to say these puppies aren’t exactly health food. But I love the flavor of the cheddar and the dense cake-like texture that would be great with some thick gooey maple syrup.

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Eating mine with some thick-cut orange marmalade

Cheddar Pancakes

The recipe is pretty straightforward:

  • 1 cup cornmeal (yellow stoneground)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup milk of choice
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp melted butter (plus additional for cooking)
  • 1/2 cup grated extra sharp cheddar
  • (optional) 1 tsp chopped dried sage

Mix the dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients except the cheese together, this works best if the wet ingredients are at room temperature. If you can’t use room temperature ingredients, mix the wet ingredients without the butter, then combine the wet and the dry together first, then mix in the melted butter. Lastly, stir in the cheese.

Melt some butter in a skillet and cook ’em up! This recipe made about 10 large pancakes.

  • Servings: about 4
  • Calories per serving: 291
    • Total Fat: 11g, Protein: 10g, Carbs: 39g, Sugars: 2g

Hat VernonAfter breakfast, I was finally able to finish the hat I’ve been working on, the Vernon Hat from Interweave Knits Winter 2016 issue.

I thought this hat was the perfect mix of interesting, challenging, and quick, all at the same time. The color combination is a little challenging to match with, I suppose I could have used more neutral colors instead. I initially loved the purple, but when I was looking for a contrasting color for the brim I bought a faint blue instead of the recommended white/ash, just by accident. I think they still work well together. I would definitely make this pattern again!

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I really think the two colors make this hat so much cuter than if it were all one color. I would love to do it in a yellow/grey or a navy/ grey as well.

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Love the slouchy back

I used to subscribe to Interweave Knits magazine through the mail, but now I just get it straight on my iPad. What that means though is I have a lot of old issues lying around containing patterns I wanted to make but never got around to. I was thinking of going through them again and re-evaluating which ones to keep and which ones to toss. I don’t know if it’s better to digitize the ones I like and store them on my computer, or clip them into some kind of scrapbook collection. Any recommendations?

I thought for my next project, I might use a super chunky yarn to arm knit pillow covers, to give my living room a fresh look. We’ll see how that turns out!

Healthy Whole Wheat Strawberry Chia Oat Muffins

Although it’s technically spring, Boston hasn’t caught up with the rest of the world yet, and still thinks it should be snowing. When I woke up to a cold house and a fridge in dire need of restocking, I knew I had to make some kind of hot breakfast item with whatever I had left so I didn’t have to leave the house.

We always buy a carton of strawberries for the week, and we still had a decent number left, but only in okay shape. Combine those with the oats and flour I keep on hand, a bit of almond milk and leftover yogurt, and voila! Some deliciously moist and not-too-unhealthy breakfast muffins.

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I forgot to put it in the picture title, but I added some chia seeds to the batter for extra protein. I am in love with chia seeds, but sadly my husband does not feel the same. He thinks they have a strange texture, and in liquids they do expand and remind me somewhat of slightly crunchy tapioca. I usually put them in my yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast, but if I bake them in something like pancakes or muffins, it disguises the texture and passes husband muster.

I’ve been experimenting with whole wheat flour recipes for baked goods, and this is the first one where I used no regular white flour at all, and still liked the texture! I’m really excited at how these turned out, and definitely would make again.

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For the muffins, Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, line a muffin pan with baking cups, or grease with kitchen spray. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Chop the strawberries.

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For wet ingredients, first mix greek yogurt and almond milk together until smooth. Add the vanilla and chia seeds, then the egg and coconut oil until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, mixing until just combined. The batter should be wet but not runny. If too dry, add a splash more of almond milk. Then fold in the strawberries.

2015-03-21 10.19.23Once combined, scoop into the muffin cups so that they are just to the to the top. Here is where I like to add a secret ingredient. I sprinkle the top of each muffin with some raw sugar crystals. I use Sugar in the Raw Turbinado Sugar. It gives the muffins a nice sweet crackle and sparkle when they come out of the oven, just that extra something.

Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean or the tops are golden brown.

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If you used muffin cups, let the muffins cool for a few minutes before trying to take the papers off, otherwise they will stick badly to the paper. I ate these straight out of the oven with jam, then snacked on one later after they were totally cool. They were just as delicious and moist as when they were hot out of the oven!

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Whole Wheat Strawberry Chia Oat Muffins:

  • 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Quick Oats
  • 1 TBSP Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it, i used 1/4)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt
  • 3/4 cup Almond Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 TBSP Chia seeds
  • 3 TBSP Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries

Makes 12 muffins.

For 1 muffin:

  • Calories: 152
  • Total Far: 5g
  • Total Carb: 25g
    • Dietary Fiber: 2g
    • Sugars: 14g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Vitamin C: 13%
  • Calcium: 6%
  • Iron: 4%

Lemon Currant Scone Recipe

In the mornings when I’m feeling spry and I have time, I thoroughly enjoy making a decadent breakfast. This flies in the face of the healthy eating I try to do during the week, but there is something about weekends that just warrants a little extra fun. I put the coffee on and get cookin…with whatever I still have lying around the refrigerator before the weekly shopping trip. This morning I had some cream, a lemon, one single serving of plain Chobani yogurt, and a few eggs. Hmmm…Scones, anyone?

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These scones came out so delicious and fluffy with just the right amount of sweetness and crunch, that both my husband and I marveled at my culinary success. I can follow a recipe just fine, but this one was one of my own design that wasn’t expected to turn out as delicious as it did. I simply had to share.

2015-01-17 10.57.43I ate mine with estate made honey, hot from the oven. What’s your favorite weekend brunch food?

Lemon Currant Scones:

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 6 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani 0%)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 8 TBSP butter, chilled
  • 1/2-1 cup Dried Currants
  • 2-4 TBSP light cream

Additional tools: parchment paper or baking mat, pastry cutter (optional).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. First, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder) and zest the lemon into the mixture. Then in a separate bowl, mix the yogurt, egg, vanilla, and lemon juice. Cube the butter by cutting into small pieces with a sharp knife. I heard you can grate frozen butter or use a food processor to do this for you, I do it the old fashioned way. Then using a pastry cutter, cut the butter cubes into the dry mixture until it has a crumbly texture to it. You can also use your fingers to break up the butter until crumbly, but this might warm up the butter which will make your dough tough.

Finally, pour the wet ingredients along with the dried currants (or any dried fruit of choice) and fold in to mix. Here I eyeballed how much dried fruit I wanted, and this can be adjusted to taste. Avoid over-mixing, but allow a pliable dough to form. If your dough is too dry or the flour won’t mix in, add a few tablespoons of chilled cream a little at a time until the dough is knead-able: form it into a large ball.

Flatten the dough ball onto a baking sheet lined with Parchment Paper, so it forms a disc about an inch high. Then use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into triangles. If you have a scone pan, you can skip that step. Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle rack until golden brown. Eat hot from the oven!

Servings: 6

  • Calories: 401
  • Carbs: 44g
  • Total Fat: 18g
  • Protein: 9g