Oatmeal Banana Muffins

After making these about 6 times in the past couple of months, I think I can declare these our official household muffins.

Adapted from food.com.

  • 1 cup AP flour (120 g.)
  • 1 cup 100% whole wheat flour (120 g.)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats (100 g.)
  • 1 cup cane sugar (210 g. turbinado)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 med.-lg. bananas, mashed (~100 g. ea.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to  375 degrees (I use 360ish because I have a dark muffin pan.)
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients (first 9 ingredients), in a medium bowl mash the bananas and add the remaining wet ingredients, mix well.
Add wet to dry, mix just until combined.  Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way full, sprinkle with large grain turbinado sugar.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, until toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs clinging.
Makes 16 muffins.  (They freeze well!)

Sloppy Turkeys

 

This has become a household standard. It freezes really well, so I always make a double batch (which is what the recipe below will give you.)

Modified from Rachael Ray.

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2.5 lbs. ground turkey (my store sells those 1.3 lb pkgs , so I just grab 2 of those usually.)
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 2 T. (scant) Montreal Steak seasoning (spice blend)
  • 2 sm. – med. onions, chopped
  • 2 sm. or 1 lg. red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 T. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 – 13 oz. cans tomato sauce
  • 4 T. tomato paste

In a large, high-sided pan, add the olive oil and begin to brown the ground turkey over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and steak seasoning.  When turkey has browned (you get more flavor if you really let the meat brown and start to build up some fond on the bottom of the pan), add the peppers, onion, vinegar and worcestershire sauce, deglazing the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes. (Original recipe calls for about half that cooking time, but I like to let the peppers and onions get a little softer.) Stir in the tomato sauce and tomato paste, and lower heat to a brisk simmer, and cook for another 5-15 minutes.  (You really just need to heat through, but I usually like to reduce the sauce a little.)

Serve on toasted buns.
Note:
Play with the proportion of brown sugar to steak seasoning to  taste.  The above will give you a fairly sweet mixture with a good kick of flavor from the steak seasoning.  Reduce the sugar and up the steak seasoning for a more savory and peppery version.

Toddler-friendly Baked Meatballs

One of the only ways we used to get Natalie to eat meat at home (she’d eat anything at daycare, of course) was with these homemade meatballs.  Now that she’s more adventurous, they are still a great protein option to have in the freezer for quick meals or when we’re having something she’s not likely to eat. I’ve been tweaking the mix each time and the last time I think I finally nailed it.

  • 2 lbs ground beef or turkey (I use 90/10 beef, as that is what my grocery offers in an all natural version.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 – 1 C. (approx) fresh veg, whizzed up into tiny pieces in the mini chop or food processor.  I use:
    • fresh parsley (about 1/4 of a grocery store bunch. The parsley I think might be the secret ingredient. The meatballs with parsley added were amazing.)
    • baby spinach ( 1 big handful)
    • onion (1/2 of a medium)
    • carrot (~3 sm-med)
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 C. whole wheat bread crumbs (I just take a couple of slices of WW bread and whiz them up in the mini chop before doing the veg.)

Preheat oven to 400*

Combine everything but the breadcrumbs in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly with your hands.  Add breadcrumbs ( you may need a little more or less than 1 C. depending on the moisture of your mixture.)

Roll into golf ball size balls — I use a 1 1/2 T. scoop to keep the size uniform — and place onto a roasting pan sprayed with cooking spray.  I’ve baked these meatballs on a cookie sheet before, but as they bake, the meat oozes some fat and juice and it makes a really unattractive collar of goo around the meatballs if there is no place for it to drain.  The roasting pan has, by far, been the best way to bake these.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the meatballs are deep brown and cooked through.  I get about 46 meatballs from a 2 lb mix.  (I used to make these a little smaller when Natalie was younger — cook time was more like 20 minutes.)  We have a vacuum sealer, so I usually freeze the whole batch of meatballs loose in a big ziploc bag first, then vacuum seal them in batches of 10 or so.

 

 

 

Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread

I’m ready to declare this my favorite pumpkin bread.  Especially after defrosting a 2.5 year old loaf from the deep freeze and finding it to be as delicious as if I had pulled it out of the oven that day.

Recipe from the delightful Joy the Baker.

Makes 2 loaves.

  • 2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 C. white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
  • 2 C. light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 C. granulated sugar
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. allspice
  • 1/2 t. cloves
  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree, or just under two cups
  • 1 C.  vegetable oil
  • 1/3 C. maple syrup
  • 1/3 C. water
  • 1 C. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 2 loaf pans (8″x4″)

In a large bowl mix dry ingredients listed, through the cloves. In medium bowl, mix wet ingredients.   Add wet to dry, fold with spatula until combined.  Mix in walnuts, reserving some to sprinkle on the tops of the loaves.   Pour into two prepared loaf pans.

Bake for 60-75 minutes, testing for doneness with a skewer.  Let cool in pans for 20 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.

Notes:

  • My frozen loaf was noted “nearly vegan”  but I have no idea what modification I made.  Maybe I used part butter, part oil?
  • To freeze, I wrapped in saran wrap and then foil, and then stored in a freezer ziploc bag.
  • The flavor and texture of this loaf are awesome.  Moist, dense, leans gingerbread-ish with the listed amount of spices.
  • I’m usually inclined to try reducing the sugar, but don’t know if I did that before or not.  2 1/3 cups + maple syrup is a lot of sugar, even for 2 loaves.  The one-third cup of white sugar seems especially extraneous.
  • Next time: review comments on Joy’s site — people have tried various methods of reducing both oil and sugar.

Vegetable Lentil Soup

A slight adaption of a much beloved Spicy Lentil soup recipe given to me by a friend:

Warning: this is a giant batch of soup. Makes about 6 qts.  Halve for more reasonable amount. Freezes well.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 4 cups of lentils (I used a 16 oz bag of french green lentils and a 16 oz bag of split red lentils. Any mix is fine.)
  • 3 or 4 celery ribs, with leaves for extra flavor
  • 2 medium Spanish or Red onions
  • [addition:  8 oz. package of cremini mushrooms, chopped]
  • 4 or 5 carrots
  • 1 shallot
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 qts of chicken or vegetable stock  (I used chicken base)
  • 2-3 T. red wine  vinegar
  • 1 clamshell or bag of baby spinach (I bet baby kale would be good here too.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • [2 jalapenos or other chile of choice, or a few tbsp of horseradish mustard for less spicy  – optional.  I opted out.]

In 8-qt pot heat olive oil. Add coarsely chopped veggies (not spinach), sprinkle with kosher salt, and saute until onions are soft but not brown and the mushrooms release their water (~ 10 mins). Add lentils and continue to saute about 2 more mins. Add stock and simmer until lentils are soft. Right before lentils seem done add spinach, red wine  vinegar, salt and pepper and horseradish mustard if you are using them.

Verdict: 

This soup is FANTASTIC.  The red split lentils basically dissolved, giving the soup some body, and the french green lentils stayed perfectly tender but not falling apart. Great texture.  I was skeptical about having no herbs or other flavorings, but it really doesn’t need a thing.  Will definitely make again. Once we eat all the quarts we froze from this batch!

 

 

My Favorite Brownies

This is my favorite brownie recipe of all time.  Fudgy, dense, moist and nearly a one-bowl recipe.

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen: Brownies as they Should Be.

Oven: 325F

  • 1½ C. flour (can go up to 2 C. for slightly less fudgy)
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t  salt
  • ⅔ C. butter
  • 1½ C. sugar
  • 4 T. water
  • 2 12 oz packages chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 C. chopped nuts (optional)

 

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl, set aside.

Melt butter, sugar and water in saucepan, bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and dump in one package of chocolate chips and the vanilla extract. Let sit for a minute or two to soften and melt. Stir until smooth.

Whisk in eggs, one at a time, incorporating each one fully before adding the next. (Make sure the chocolate mixture isn’t overly hot, and whisk quickly to avoid cooking the eggs!)

Add dry ingredients to chocolate mixture, stirring until just combined.  Add in remaining chocolate chips and nuts.

Pour into greased 9″x13″ pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Half batch: 9″x9″ pan, 25-35 minutes.

1/4/13: Made a half batch: I used the Pfaltzgraf square baking dish and they baked up great, in right about 30 minutes.  I also added about 1/4 C. more flour, because the idea of baking a pan of brownies only using 3/4 C of flour seemed impossible. Texture was great.

 

 

Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Tried a bread machine recipe for cinnamon raisin bread with whole wheat flour. It uses buttermilk, so this particular recipe isn’t going to be a throw-it-together-from-the-pantry staple for us, given that I don’t keep buttermilk in the house on the regular. But overall, it was tasty and I’ll try it again with some tweaks.

Adapted from Bread Machine Magic, for 1lb loaf.

  • 5/8 – 3/4 C. buttermilk (I used 5/8, next time try 3/4)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C. whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 C. bread flour
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon (more would be good)
  • 1/4 C. butter (I used a little more than half this.)
  • 2 T. brown sugar (I used cane sugar)
  • 1/2 C. raisins
  • 1 1/2 t. dry active yeast

Results:

  • Had to add more buttermilk, as the dough spiraled up and out of the baking pan. Added about 2T more during first kneading cycle.  Was afraid that I might have added too much when it looked like a wet blob when it started the first rise, but it seemed to rise okay in the end. Bread was a little unevenly dense – more so toward the bottom of the loaf.
      Next time: Add 1T more buttermilk at the outset and see what happens.
  • Crust got a little too dark.
      Next time: bake on light crust setting, or take out before end of bake cycle.
  • Raisins not evenly distributed.  More towards the bottom.
      Next time: Try adding raisins at the “Add” beep instead of with everything at the beginning. Try not soaking them first?

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread

New bread machine for Christmas!  The Zojirushi 1lb bread machine. I’ve creatively nicknamed her Zoji. 

I really wanted to try to replicate our favorite Rosemary Olive Oil bread from Harris Teeter for the first loaf.  Because it’s amazing, and why would I want to do something crazy like use one of the recipes that is included with my machine?

A little internet searching found me this Cuisinart page — it says it’s for a 1lb loaf, but not a single one of the recipes that came with Zoji called for 2 tsp of yeast, so I modified thusly:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups King Arthur unbleached bread flour
  • 3 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Everything went in the machine in the order listed, and set to regular density (not soft or firm) and regular crust (not light). 3:40 to finish.

Survey says? It was really tasty.  Crust was pretty light – we’d prefer it darker – and the bread itself was very fluffy and light.

Next time:

  • Try firm setting?  It was perfect for slathering with butter and dipping in soup, but would not have been firm enough for sandwiches.
  • The loaf rose within millimeters of hitting the lid.  Maybe back off of the yeast just a touch? (Can’t imagine if I’d have followed the 2 tsp yeast in the linked recipe!)
  • Maybe look for a foccacia recipe?  I think to better match the HT bread, I need to use more olive oil.  The HT bread is more of a sourdough-based texture.

Harvest Minestrone Soup

From MindBodyGreen

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet onion – medium diced
  • 2 celery stalks – medium diced
  • 4 carrots – medium diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil – or enough to cover the bottom of the pot
  • 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh zucchini – medium diced (about 1 medium or 2 small)
  • 2 cups green beans – cut in 1 inch pieces
  • [1 bell pepper – medium diced] omitted
  • [addition: 6-8 cremini mushrooms, diced]
  • [addition: 2 small chunks of parmesan rind]
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • [2 28-ounce cans of water] I only used about 1/2 a can of water
  • [1 tetra pak/4 C low sodium chicken broth]
  • 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans
  • [1 15-ounce can of chickpeas] I used 2 cans of cannellini
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups kale – stems removed, leaves chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric (or to taste)
  • [2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary]
  • [2 teaspoons dried parsley]
  • [grated romano cheese]
  • [fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon]

Large stockpot + oil, onions, carrots and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.

Add garlic and cook for about one minute.

Add zucchini, green beans, mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, add the turmeric, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, chicken broth, parmesan rinds, rosemary, parsley, canned beans, raise heat to high and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to medium/low and allow the soup to gently boil, uncovered, about 20 minutes.

Add the quinoa and cover for 15 minutes.

Remove the cover, add the kale and romano cheese, cook until kale wilts.

Add juice of 1 lemon, taste for seasoning

I cooked this even longer than above to let the veggies get soft and flavors to mingle

Verdict: Delicious!

What’s for Dinner: Chicken and Noodles

Last night I finally got to make Pioneer Woman’s Chicken and Noodles.  Made as directed, but with lots of extra carrots, and definitely included the onion.

At the end, it seemed a little flat, so I added a little spoonful of chicken base and the juice of about half a lemon. PERFECT.  I think the lemon is mandatory in the future.

Reames noodles were just as good as she said.  And – bonus – they didn’t seem to soak up all the broth in the leftovers.