Flourless Banana Chocolate Mini Muffins 

 

mini muffin or two bite brownie ? You decide!

 
Just to be clear, I love flour. All forms of gluten really, but flour based things in particular. But when my daughter was born (nearly 2 years ago now I can’t believe it!) I had an “aha” moment where I realized I was entirely responsible for everything that went inside this tiny person’s body and my choices would inform her relationship with food for the rest of her life. 

Woah- that’s a lot of pressure! I started to learn more about food and consider my nutritional choices more carefully. Two years later I am sixty pounds lighter than before pregnancy and am still learning so much about food and how it works in our bodies. Although my little one is no stranger to Tim Bits and sometimes eats things with “Mc” in front of them, she also loves kale chips, spinach smoothies and as of last night, these tasty, fudgy little two bite brownie type mini muffins. 

Thanks to Emma over at Better with Cake for the original recipe which I made a few changes to. They were soooo good and everyone at work shouted “send me the recipe!” in between mouthfuls. They satisfied my craving for something fudgy last night and were even better the next day when my little one was looking for a treat. The best thing is – not one dirty bowl! They are made in the blender and come together before the oven preheats ūüôā

Flourless Banana Chocolate Mini Muffins 

Makes approx 36 mini muffins (can also halve recipe) 

2 eggs

1/2 cup maple syrup

4 teaspoons of vanilla or scrapings of one vanilla bean 

2 tablespoons of butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled sightly

2 overripe bananas

4 tablespoons cocoa power 

4 tablespoons of unsweetened nut butter (I used sunflower but peanut, almond, cashew or similar would be fine- if you are using regular sweetened peanut butter reduce the maple syrup)

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoons of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon (I used epicure pumpkin pie spice)

1 teaspoon of sea salt 

4 tablespoons of mini semi sweet or dark chocolate chips

2 tablespoons of semi sweet mini chocolate chips 

—–

‚Äď Preheat oven to 350 f and line a mini muffin tray with papers or grease.

– Place all ingredients except choc chips into your food processor or blender and process/blend until well combined. FYI ‚Äď the batter will be very, very runny. Don’t worry! 

-Add your 4 tablespoons of chocolate chips and stir to combine.

‚Äď Spoon/pour batter into your prepared muffin tray (I use approx 2 teaspoons per mini muffin).

– Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on tops. 

– Bake for 10-12 mins until the tops spring back when lightly pressed and a toothpick has just a few crumbs attached when inserted into the centre.

– Allow to cool in the muffin tray slightly before transferring directly into your mouth to a wire rack to cool completely.

These are better (and less banan-y) the next day but are also good warm! 

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Roasted Squash with Pomegrante Rice Stuffing

Even though my husband and I are not vegetarian every once in a while we like to have a meatless main course which helps to cut down on both meal costs and calories.

I used to make a dish similar to this but with cous cous and Mediterranean seasonings and always used to use acorn squash. However my CSA share has yielded a great variety of squashes including delicata, carnival and red kuri.
*Any squash that can hold stuffing would be fine in this recipe but the carnival squash really was divine and all three of the aforementioned squashes have edible skins; just give them a good scrub before baking like you would a potato.

I cheated a little and used a bistro package of pre cooked unseasoned basmati rice which was heated slightly less than directed in the microwave one minute but we are quite picky eaters and it was very good! All was devoured and little miss Violet really enjoyed hers.

Serve with a salad for a very satisfying

Serve with a salad for a very satisfying and healthy meal

Roasted Squash with Pomegranate Rice Stuffing

Adapted from Chow com.

Serves 2-3

3 medium size carnival squash*

4 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

2 medium shallots, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 carrot, finely chopped

2 cups (or 1 small bag of bistro rice) of any cooked rice mix

1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins

2/3 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

1/2 cup chickpeas

seeds from half a pomegranate

1 tsp. thyme or Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 and cut squash lengthwise and seed.

Place squash cut-side up on a baking sheet, brush with 2 tablespoons of melted butter, sprinkle with sugar and a little salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until just fork tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of the melted butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it foams, add the onion, shallots, carrot and celery, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the thyme and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in the rice, pecans, cranberries/raisins, chickpeas, the majority of the pomegranate seeds and measured salt and pepper.

Divide the rice filling among the roasted squash halves (about 1/2 cup for each) and drizzle the remaining tablespoon of butter over top. Continue roasting until the squash is completely fork tender, the edges have started to brown, and the filling is heated through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Secrets to the PERFECT KALE CHIP

 

kale chips cooked on rack

kale chips cooked on rack

My kitchen is bursting at the seams with two things these days; delicata squash (more on this soon), and kale. This summer has been THE summer of kale in my life and although all these salads, smoothies, and cheesy kale won ton cups¬†were delicious, I’ll admit the whole kale in everything bit was getting a little old. Until…. I did a little experiment.

My amazing CSA often offers all three types of kale and I did something radical- just for you, my readers! (all five of you). I tried purple kale, curly green kale, dinosaur kale, different temperatures, gas and electric stoves (I am a spoiled I admit it), convection versus baking, on a rack, on a cookie sheet, on parchment, on foil, curly side up, curly side down, with seasonings, just salted… AND I polled all 10 or so family members about which they preferred.

I knew I had a winner when my carnivore brother was poking around the kitchen after dinner asking “any more of those kale things?”

This is what I learned people, enjoy.

  • Dinosaur/Tuscan kale makes the BEST chips. Red/Purple
    Kale chips are pretty good too. Dinosaur kale (the best kale for salads) is surprisingly the best for chips too! All hail the winning kale!

  • Purple kale has a nuttier flavour and dinosaur kale has a more satisfying crunch.
  • No one prefers the green curly kale chips – save your green kale for smoothies, salads, and in cooked dishes
  • On a cookie sheet works the same as on a rack but the chips cool nicely on a rack
  • Oil each leaf evenly (after destemming) by rubbing briefly with oil and a bit of salt
  • Taste a leaf before you cook to determine if further salt is needed
  • It does not matter if the leaves are placed curly side up or down on the pan
  • Seasonings are overwhelming; let the kale speak for itself
  • Store in a jar and they will keep crisp for at least a day (if I could keep them around for more than 24 hours I could tell you if they keep longer)
  • Thank you to Oh She Glows for the kale chip tips and all dressed kale chip recipe which I used as a starting point the first time I made these.

my kale chip experiment

my kale chip experiment

Kale Chips

Purple or dinosaur kale (or combo)

oil ( a few tablespoons)

salt (to taste)

Preheat oven to 275 convection (or 300f if you don’t have convection). Pull chunks of kale leaves off stems and discard stems. Wash kale leaves and dry well. Pour oil and salt into a small bowl. Using your hands, rub a small amount of oil onto each leaf (both sides- make sure to get into the crevasses on the back of the dinosaur kale) which should only take a second or two per leaf. Lay on cookie sheet making sure leaves don’t overlap (1 bunch of kale will take at least 2 cookie sheets). Cook chips 1- 2 cookie sheets at a time (on the same rack) for 10-15 minutes or until crisp, cool on rack and serve immediately or store in jar.

crispy, perfect kale chips

crispy, perfect kale chips

The BEST Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde

A few weeks ago tomatillos made their way into my kitchen for the first time by way of my – you guessed it – CSA share from Sweet Pea. Since then I have made a variety of salsas with these lovely little devils, and have this conversation about a dozen times whenever I serve salsa verde:

Snacker: “What is this ? It is really good!”

Me: “It is salsa verde – aka green salsa”

Snacker: “So…it’s salsa made with green tomatoes?”

Me: “No – it’s made from tomatillos”

Snacker: “What the heck are those?”

Then after I explain what a tomatillo is someone else walks into the room and the whole thing starts over again like a never ending Abbott and Costello joke. For some reason I love explaining things so I don’t mind this at all.

Tomatillos are a relative of tomatoes and are called “tomato verde” (green tomato) in Mexico but are quite different from tomatoes. These tangy little gems grow in a husk and are quite firm, even when completely ripe. I find they have notes of citrus and are almost creamy when roasted. They have a very light and pleasant yet totally distinct flavour – I love them!

To prepare them for cooking, just peel off the little paper husk and rinse off the sticky residue – no peeling or seeding needed.

On quite a few sites I have seen storage tips that say you can either leave them on the counter or in the fridge.  According to Amanda McCracken (Owner of Sweet Pea C.S.A), this is incorrect. Tomatillos should be stored (in their husks) on the counter. This makes sense as their tomato cousins are never to be put in the fridge as they become mushy and tasteless.  I have read a few things saying you can freeze them sliced or whole but have not tried this yet (look forward to a future post all about produce storage!)

There are three main ways to make salsa verde; boiling/blanching the tomatillos, roasting them, or blending them up raw.

I avoided the boiling method as reviewers said it produced a watery salsa. Roasting the tomatillos (along with the peppers and garlic as you can see below) made for a nice flavour, but the color was quite dark. A few batches later, a combination of fresh tomatoes, tomatillos, and roasted tomatoes and tomatillos made the BEST salsa verde ever!

Many thanks to A Cedar Spoon for the inspiration in using the tomatillos raw.

Stay tuned for more tomatillo recipes!

SALSA VERDE

1 pint of tomatillos
Small handful of cherry tomatoes
1 tablespoon of grapeseed or olive oil
1 medium fresh tomato
1/8- 1/2 tsp. chili pepper flakes or 1 fresh pepper* (seeds removed)
Juice of 2 limes or 4 tablespoons
Small handful of parsley
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced/crushed/grated
1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper

Place 1/2 of husked and rinsed tomatillos, the grape tomatoes, and the hot pepper(s) if you are using them. Drizzle oil and some salt and pepper over and roll around to coat.

Bake at 400 f for 10 minutes or until slightly blackened.

Add in with all other ingredients in a blender or food processor.

The garlic and spiciness factor will grow as the salsa is refrigerated, so go easy on these as you can always add more. Good for at least a week in the fridge.

* I have tried this with several different kinds of peppers (cherry bomb, cayenne, etc.) and find the heat level varies so much it is better to just use some red pepper flakes- a jalapeno would be good as well though.

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Won Ton Wrapper Mini Lasagnas!

 

Mini Lasagna Cups - Cute AND Tasty

Mini Lasagna Cups – Cute AND Tasty

There are some recipes I know I never would have come up with on my own, and this is one of them. Won ton wrappers are my new favourite thing and I have made 3 meals out of one package this week! I bought them to make squash ravioli and then had left overs (wow there are quite a few in that little pack!). Pintrest was happy to lend a hand and dinner was produced in less than 30 minutes.The leftovers reheated very well in some tinfoil in the oven and our dinner guests really enjoyed them. I ended up making a variety of sizes (regular muffin tin = one won ton square per cup and texas size/oversized muffin cups = two squares per cup, slightly overlapped) and the smaller ones were the most popular. I have since made them in mini muffin cups (still one won ton square per cup) and they were the perfect appetizer. Some recipes I have seen involve trimming off the outside edges of the won tons to make a circle before baking, and this is simply craziness. The extra crispy edges are the best part and why add an extra step to our already busy schedules? 

Regular muffin size and Texas muffin size

Regular muffin size and Texas muffin size

Way easier and tastier than traditional lasagna. The recipe I adapted comes from “Jo Cooks”¬†and the main change you’ll notice is the removal of the chorizo and addition of cinnamon instead of cumin. If you have never tried cinnamon in a tomato based pasta sauce, you are in for a treat! I learned this trick when I first saw a no-noodle type of Greek lasagna called moussaka¬†cooked on the Food Network. It adds an indescribable layer of flavour to even a (gasp!) store bought sauce that everyone seems to love. ¬†

Won Ton Wrapper Mini Lasagnas 

serves 4 for dinner, 8 for appetizer 

1/2 package of won ton wrappers

3/4 lb ground beef

1/2 jar tomato sauce 

3/4 cup of water or red wine

1 shallot, minced (opt.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon (opt.)

salt and pepper

1/2 large container of ricotta (traditional)

1- 1.5 cups of shredded cheese (I used a combo. of old cheddar and mozzarella) 

grapeseed/vegetable oil (to coat muffin tins)

chopped basil to garnish (opt.)

_____________

Brown the ground beef and drain if necessary. 

Add the shallot and saute for a few minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper, cinnamon and any other spices (basil, oregano, etc.) you prefer.

Add the water or wine and simmer for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the won ton wrappers.

Thoroughly grease muffin tins with oil. Grease the surface of the tins as well.

Place a won ton paper in each muffin well (use two for extra big muffin pans).

Put a spoonful of ricotta in each cup, top with few spoonfuls of your meat and sauce mix, and top with a little shredded cheese.

Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes (mini muffin cups = 10 minutes, regular muffin cups = 12 minutes, xtra large muffin cups= 15 minutes.)

Garnish with basil and enjoy!

 

 

Chia and Hemp Heart Granola

mmmm... very tasty and good for you :)

mmmm… very tasty and good for you ūüôā

Ah, granola, or hippie crack if you prefer. So much better home made and easy to modify to your tastes. I had made granola before but this time I wanted granola that was somewhat loose but also had clusters, which are better for snacking on. As with most things culinary I started off with some Alton Brown recon and ended up combining his granola¬†and granola bars¬†recipes as a base for my own. The result is a nutritional powerhouse that will make your house smell like hippie crack heaven. ¬†I stored mine in jars and after about a week the bit that was left wasn’t as crisp – easy to fix this by putting your granola back in the oven (on a cookie sheet) for 15 minutes or so at 325. ¬†Keep an eye on the fruit ( i sometimes remove the fruit for re-baking) as it will burn WAY before the oats/nuts do. When I make granola I like to give some away but also have enough for breakfast for my husband and I for at least a week so I don’t muck around. This is a decent sized batch and will make about 1-1.5 cereal boxes worth. Kids LOVE this and you will feel good givin’ it to em.

And hey, when your house smells like hippy crack heaven and you go to take this out of the oven (for the first time of many I’m guessing), don’t worry that it hasn’t crisped up. As it cools it sure will!

UPDATE: New easier method! See below for details. Also if you are ever out of oats but have a bland box of oat and nut/fruit cereal around just substitute 4 – 4.5 cups of a muesli type cereal for all the oats, nuts, and fruit.

Chia and Hemp Heart Granola

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup of shredded coconut
1 cup of  roughly chopped raw or roasted almonds
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup hemp seed hearts
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup honey or real maple syrup (just eyeball it or oil your measuring cup to avoid a sticky mess)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or grapeseed/ vegetable oil
2 tablespoons molasses
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons sea salt
1.5 cups large dried fruit, any combination of apricots cherries, raisins, etc. (Currants are too small. Roughly chop apricots.)
—-
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread the oats, sunflower seeds, nuts, and coconut onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Place in the oven and toast for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, combine the honey or maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Cook until the brown sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture begins to froth up. Add vanilla and stir.

Once the oat mixture is done, remove it from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees F.

Sprinkle spices, chia, and hemp hearts over oat mixture and stir to combine.

Pour the warm sticky mix over the oat mixture, stir well, and pat down into your largest parchment lined cookie sheet.

granola before baking

Bake for 30 minutes or until an even brown, no need to stir. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before storing in jars, ziplock bags, or tupperware.

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Mango Salsa

mango salsa

Mangos are a revelation ! I have abandoned lettuce altogether and most nights make either a kale or mango salad to go with our main course. This was a twist on the mango salads I’ve been creating (recipes coming soon) and was fantastic on simple grilled pork chops.

Best if it sits for a few hours first but if all you have is 20 min it will get the job done!

Use a mango that is just barely ripe.

1 ripe mango ( I have tried this with both kinds of mango and both work)

1 green onion or some chives (if you use chives also add 1 tablespoon or so of diced red, white, or yellow onion)

1/4 sweet red pepper or tomato

1 small jalape√Īo (or half a large – seeds and membranes removed)

1 – 1.5 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

1 – 1.5 tablespoons of fresh lime juice

1 tsp of red chili flakes

Handful of parsley or cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Dice mango and veggies and add other ingredients. Refrigerate.

Serve with tortilla chips, alongside fajitas, on top of any kind of grilled meat, or throw on top of a green salad for something special.