Banana Granola Crunch Muffins

My kitchen is back thank god! It had be NIS since Friday, total of 5 days. That’s 5 days of eating out for breakfast, lunch, dinner and it was been killing me! I couldn’t be happier to have a kitchen again. I’ll probably have to do a juice cleanse from all the Chick fil-a and Chipotle I ate.

Since my kitchen was MIA for a few days, all my Costco bananas became super ripe. I stored them in the freezer for future smoothies, but I left 3 bananas to make, what else? Banana bread! Banana muffins, actually. I love this recipe because it’s really easy and I often have the ingredients in my kitchen already. This recipe gives banana bread a crunchy twist that everyone that I’ve baked for raves about. I always have granola on hand because Sprouts has a different granola on sale each week in their bins, and they’re just so good on top of yogurt! Muffins are just so much easier to serve when I’m in clinic (don’t want to bring a knife into a clinic). Enjoy!

Banana muffins

Banana Granola Crunch Muffins

Servings: 18 large muffins

Prep time: 20-30 min, Total time: 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 3 cups All -purpose flour
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 lb Unsalted Butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 Eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup Milk at room temperature
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 3 bananas – 2 bananas mashed in a bowl, 1 banana diced into chunks
  • 1 cup diced walnuts
  • 1-2 cups Granola

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

2. With your mixer on the lowest speed, blend together the flour mixture and melted butter.
Note: flour tends to puff everywhere so I recommend mixing in the sink. Also, mix in the butter with a spatula first before the mixer.

3. Add in eggs one at a time, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don’t overmix!

4. Fold in your diced bananas, 1 cup granola, and 1 cup diced walnuts.

5. Line the muffin pan with paper liners and spray with non-stick spray.

6. Spoon the batter into each paper liner, filling to the top of the cup. Top each cup with granola.

6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until tops are brown and toothpick comes out clean. Let it sit in the pan for a few minutes to cool, and serve.

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No Kitchen….SOS…..

Our kitchen is having some major construction overhaul and I’m dying from all the eating out I’ve been doing…..the Hat, Chik fil-a, California fish grill….My wallet is slowly thinning and my thighs are slowly fattening up. They just finished the plumbing construction, but still leaves us with a hole of wet concrete. However, at least I can use the kitchen now which is a plus. I just have to hope I jump over the wet concrete and don’t miss. But stay tuned for some banana crunch muffins from all the ripened bananas I didn’t eat over the construction period!

Eggplant Caponata

First day of school and I’m already tired. You would think the first week would be easy, but it’s just full of littler errands to run here and there on top of your weekly workload. It’s only 10:30 and I’m already wanting to pass out.

I have a small 4 hour break in between my clinic hours and TA hours on Monday, so it gives me time to whip up something quick for dinner. I quickly scoped out sales at Sprouts, since I needed to go in that area anyways, plus they always have great produce prices. Eggplant and celery were on sale for 0.99 so I couldn’t pass up that offer! They also turned out to be the perfect ingredients for an eggplant caponata – a comfort Italian dish. It mixes with tomatos and red wine vinegar to make a sweet and sour tomato sauce. And even if you don’t have red wine vinegar in the cabinet, it’s really cheap at the store ($2-3/bottle). Add some chili pepper in it to give it a good kick! This a pretty flexible recipe where the main players are eggplant, celery, tomato and red wine vinegar, and many ingredients are optional. I like to add lots of veggies and give a little bit more complex flavors and play on the sweet and sour. Very quick recipe….to give you a scope I started cooking at 5:50 PM and ate dinner was able to rush out of the house by 6:50. Buon Appetito!

Caponata

Eggplant Caponata

Servings: 3-4 servings

Prep time: 20 min, Total time: 40 min

Ingredients

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • 1 med eggplant (about 1 pound) – cut into about 1/2″ pieces
  • about 2 tbsp of Tomato Paste
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp Red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp Sliced olives or capers (optional)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Baguette or any bread for serving

Directions:

1. In a wide pot, set to med-high and coat the bottom with olive oil.

2. When hot, saute your onion and celery until onion is just translucent.

3. Add in your garlic and red bell pepper. Saute for about 2-3 minutes.

4. Add in your tomatoes and half your tomato paste. Saute for about 1-2 minutes

5. Slowly incorporate your eggplant. Once it starts to simmer down, add in the rest of your tomato paste, or until everything is well coated. Use to your taste…you can’t use too much here!

6. Season with a good few shakes of italian season. Salt/pepper/ sugar to taste.

7. Keep sauteing the eggplant until soften. Add in your red wine vinegar.

8. Keep it on the heat until eggplant is well done (about 10 -15 min). Sprinkle in your raisin and olives/capers. Season with italian seasoning, salt, pepper and sugar to your taste. You can add in red pepper flakes to give a nice kick.

9. Serve on top of a slice of warm baguette or any kind of bread (I had it on a less fancy wheat toast).

Enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Scones

I have clinic on Saturday mornings now, and it’s as bad as it sounds. However, having a delicious breakfast to munch on while works makes it infinitely times more tolerable for me and everyone else. These scones are so quick and easy….quick enough for me to whip up right before work! I usually prepare the dry ingredients the night before and mix in the wet ingredients the next day, then just throw them in the oven! Sprinkle them with a little powdered sugar on top and they make delicious, not overly sweet breakfast treats that go great with coffee and tea! Perfect to impress friends and give their morning a kickstart!

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Cranberry Orange Scones

Servings: 16 scones (or 18 mini scones)

Prep time: 10-15 minutes, Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups of flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries – you can virtually use any dried fruit (raisins, currents, ect) and make any kind of scone you want
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Powdered sugar (optional for garnish)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1. Sift the dry ingredients together (flour, sugar, baking powder, salt).

2. Mix in the dried cranberries and orange zest. If you are doing this the night before, save the orange zest for the next day so it doesn’t dry up.

3. Mix the wet ingredients together. Make sure the buttermilk is room temperature so it doesn’t cool and clump up the melted butter.

4. Stir your wet ingredients into your dry ingredients JUST UNTIL everything is wet. If a little of it remains dry, that is Ok. Do NOT overmix!!

5. Make 16 plots on a baking sheet, preferably covered with parchment. I like to use an ice cream scoop and round out the base.

6. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until you see some golden brown edges.

Sprinkle some powdered sugar on top for decoration and enjoy!

Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Here’s another favorite of mine for a quick dinner. Not only is it healthy, but definitely some wonderful colors working in there. It’s surprising how one bell pepper can be so filling! Enjoy!

Bell peppers
Southwestern Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers

Servings: 3 servings

Prep Time: 10-15 min, Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 handfuls of Spinach
  • 1/2-3/4 cup corn – frozen or canned corn will work
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans – drain and rinse
  • 1 1/2 roma tomatoes – diced
  • Any kind of shredded/crumbled cheese – feta, shredded mexican, cheddar, ect. Omit if you would like to make it vegan
  • 2 tsp Cumin
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Chili powder (optional)
  • 3 Bell peppers – washed, tops cut off and seeded

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cook your quinoa as instructed. If you cook it with a chicken or vegetable, it adds a lot of flavor to the quinoa.

2. After the quinoa is done, take it off the heat and slowly mix in 1-2 handfuls of spinach.

3. Dump the quinoa into a large bowl. Add in the corn, beans, tomatoes and cheese. The amounts listed are pretty relative. You can really add as much of each as you want.

4. Mix in the cumin and salt/pepper to taste. Add the chili powder if you want a kick to it.

5. Place your bell peppers into a pan. I like to use an oiled loaf pan so they stand up well.

6. Spoon the quinoa mixture into the each bell pepper. Sprinkle some cheese on top.

7. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the filling is hot. The bell pepper will still have some bite to it.

Enjoy!

Warm Beet and Feta Cheese Quinoa Salad

After a day of shopping indulgence, I decided to whip up something less guilty before I hit the gym: a warm beet and feta cheese quinoa salad! So quick and easy to make, and I usually have the ingredients at hand. This a favorite lunch I like to whip up on the busy weekdays. The colors in the salad are beautiful so it looks as good as it tastes! Enjoy!

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Warm Beet and Feta Cheese Quinoa Salad

Servings: 2-3 servings

Prep Time: 5 min, Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4-1 cup of Quinoa
  • 2-3 handfuls of Spinach
  • 1 can of beets – drained and sliced to bite sized pieces
  • Crumbled feta or goat cheese
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Basil (optional)

Directions

1. Cook quinoa according to maker’s instructions. While it’s cooking, you can start cutting up your beets

2. After quinoa is finished cooking, take off heat and slowly mix in the spinach. You can put as much as you like. I usually go with about 2-3 handfuls.

3. Slowly incorporate your beets. Be careful not to mash them.

4. Pour a serving into a bowl and drizzle a little balsamic vinegar and a little bit of olive oil to taste. Sprinkle some feta cheese and mix in. Top with fresh torn basil leaves.

Enjoy!

Julia Child’s Croissants

Still on my week off of break so I’ve had a lot of time to experiment. The last two days I’ve attempted to make croissants from Julia Child’s recipe, and let me tell you I do not wish that kind of horror on anyone. Slightly hyperbolic, but not too far from it. It was extremely time consuming and a lot of muscle and sweat put into rolling out the dough and folding it many times to get all those 86 layers of buttery flakiness a croissant has. My inspiration was to try to make my own cronut (half croissant, half donut, all delicious). But, if you ever want warm, homemade croissant, Trader Joe’s croissants are THE best way to go. They are the perfect “homemade” croissants you can get. They’ve got buttery and flakiness down to a par and all you have to do is let is sit overnight then bake for 20 min the next day! You’ll never buy those old Costco croissants every again!

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How my croissants turned out

Surprisingly, Julia Child’s recipe came out to be more like Viennese croissants rather than French, which is slightly more bread-ier than the French version, but still delicious! A bit of history: croissants actually originated from Vienna and brought to Paris and popularized by Marie Antoinette. To be honest, I’m pretty sure even Marie Antoinette would enjoy some fresh baked Trader Joe’s croissants! They’re that good!! And no, I’m not a spokesperon for Trader Joe’s. Below is the recipe just in case you are brave enough (and have enough time) to try it. Good luck!

What I would recommend

What I would recommend

Julia Child’s Croissants

Servings: 12 small croissants

Prep Time: 9-10 hours, Total time: 9-10 hours + 15 minutes

Bonus Videos: You might want to watch Julia before attempting: Part 1,  Part 2, Part 3

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 2 cups of flour – both Julia Childs and I agree her flour mixture comes out much nice: 2 parts pastry flour, 1 part all purpose. It has a lower gluten content in it which will make rolling out dough MUCH easier and less likely to spring back on you.
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cups Tepid (warm) milk
  • Vegetable Oil – unbleached = use 2 Tbsp , bleached = use 4 Tbsp
  • 1 stick (4oz) of chilled butter
  • 1 egg

Directions:

1. Mix the first 4 ingredients together (yeast, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tbsp sugar, 1/4 cup warm water). Allow the yeast to start bubbling which tells you the yeast is active.

2. Mix together your the flour, sugar and salt. Incorporate your milk, oil and yeast mixture.

3. Knead your dough. I used a kitchen aid dough hook for about 5 minutes. If you’re using your hands, you can use Julia Child’s slap down method, which includes a lot more fun (and work).

4. Let the dough sit in a bowl and snip a small “X” on top of the dough with scissors.

5. Cover the bowl with a bowl and let it rise for 1hr-1 1/2 hr at room temperature.

6. When your dough has doubled in size, punch down your dough, cover it with plastic wrap and chill for 20-30 minutes in the fridge.

7. Time to soften your butter! Take out your chilled butter and whack it down with your rolling pin until it is flat and not lumpy. You can use the palm of your hand to work out the lumps. You want the butter to have the same consistency as your dough. You need to work FAST so the butter does not get warm.

8. Flatten your dough to a disc larger than your butter. Place your butter in the center and fold the dough into the center and pinch it to make your “dough package”. You don’t want pieces of butter sticking out!

9. Flour your board very lightly. Roll out your dough package into a rectangle about 14″ inches long, and about 6-7″ wide.

10. Fold it into 3 by folding the top third in, then folding the bottom third over it like a business envelope.

11. Turn the dough envelope so the folds face you and roll it out again to your same rectangle. Repeat step 10.

12. By this time, your dough will be too warm to work with, so you want to chill it again in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

13. Take your dough out after it’s chilled and repeat steps 9-12, but this time chill for 2 hours. (ie roll out twice and chill another 2 hours)

Croissant making time!

14.  After 2 hours, take your croissant dough on a lightly floured board. Roll out a rectangle this time about 20″ long and 5″ wide. Cut this piece in half and chill 1 half.

15. Take the other half and roll it out to a rectangle about 12″ long and 5″ wide.

16. Cut this piece into 3 sections and chill 2 sections.

17. Take your one square section and cut it corner to corner so you make 2 triangles. An isosceles triangle is ideal where 2 sides are equal.

18. Start from the bottom of the triangle and start rolling towards the point. Pull the 2 sides of the croissants in.  Make sure the point of the triangle is tucked well to the bottom of the croissant and set aside on a baking sheet. You will have 2 croissants made at this point. Do not be distressed if your croissants don’t turn out as beautiful as you normally see them….it takes practice and precision to roll out the dough right! They will still taste yummy!

19. Take your other 2 sections and repeat step 17-18 to make 4 more croissants.

20. Take your other half and repeat steps steps 15-18 to have a total of 12 croissants.

21. Let the croissants rest for 1 hour at room temperature. They will puff a little bit at this time.

22. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Make an egg wash of 1 egg + 1 tbsp water, beating it. Brush this over the top of your croissants. This will give it a beautiful glazed appearance.

23. Bake your croissants for 10 minutes or until golden brown. They will puff up even more and fill your house with yummy smells. Let them cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes.

And voila! as Julia Childs like to say. Bon appetite!

Comfort Veggies, Beans and Rice

New blog, new inspirations and a soon to be new start to the quarter. Here’s a VERY easy recipe to get all your veggies for the day and keep it delicious! Best of all, all the veggies in the recipe right now are in season! Which means cheap cheap cheap at the grocery store! I love going to Sprouts for produce…they surprisingly have amazing produce prices. The recipe is very flexible – you can use whatever veggies you want (ie. use what’s in your fridge or what’s on sale for the week!). I chose these veggies because they give the dish so much color and it’s very eye pleasing.

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Comfort Veggies and Rice

Serves: 4 servings

Prep time: 5-10 min, Cook time: 10 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice – cooked (I like short grain brown rice)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow summer squash
  • 1 Green bell pepper
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2/3 can of chickpeas
  • 2-3 handfuls of spinach
  • Coriander
  • Chili powder

Directions

1. Wash and cut your veggies leaving skin on. For the squashes I cut it in half lengthwise then quickly slice it down to bite size pieces. Cut the bell peppers into bite sized strips.

2. On med heat, drizzle some olive oil in a wide pot and throw in your garlic. Let it cook for 1 minute.

3. Turn heat to med-high and add in all your veggies and season with salt/pepper. Let it cook for 4-5 minutes until veggies are tender.

4. Turn heat down to med-low and throw in your rice and chickpeas. Mix it well with your veggies.

5. Slowly incorporate your spinach in handful by handful. You can really add as much spinach as you want…I love lots of spinach!

6. Add in about 1 1/2 tablespoons of coriander. Really you can add in as much as you want to taste. Add a few shakes of chili powder. Salt/pepper to taste.

Enjoy your warm veggies and rice! I love adding sriracha on top and mixing it in!