Archive | May, 2011

Chocolate Chip Protein Muffins

22 May

Happy weekend all!  Have you been up to anything fun?  I haven’t been doing much besides getting things done around the apartment and baking.  Two of my favorite ways to spend the weekend!  Last night Alex and I watched the King’s Speech.  I thought it was well done but somewhat slow at parts.  I’m not quite sure what all the fuss was about.  Did you see it?  What’d you think?

In an effort, to incorporate more protein in my diet, I’ve been looking to some of my favorite bloggers for inspiration.  One recipe that I’ve had bookmarked for a long time is Janetha’s Lemon Yogurt Chiaseed Protein Muffins.  While I’m not a big fan of lemon-flavored baked goods, I do like the idea of increasing the protein content in them.  So I set out to create my own adaptation with one of my favorite elements, dark chocolate.

I used slightly different ingredients which resulted in a lower protein content, however, they still have great stats.  8 grams of protein in a soft, chocolatey muffin is hard to beat.

I was slightly hesitant baking with the Garden of Life Raw Protein powder for the first time but it worked wonderfully.  These muffins turned out every bit as rich and moist as their non-protein counterparts.  In fact, I have to say that I favor these because of how dense they are.  I plan to eat these as a protein-filled afternoon pick-me ups throughout the week.

Well, that is, if they last that long :-)

Chocolate Chip Protein Muffins
(adapted from meals & moves

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup protein powder (Garden of Life Raw Protein)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (I used Fage Total 0%.)
  • 1/3 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp egg whites (equivalent to two large eggs)
  • 2 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp almond milk
  • 1/2 cup all natural dark chocolate chips (optional)
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients, except chia seeds.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients except the milk.
  4. Add the dry to the wet and mix until combined.  Add milk if necessary to create a thick batter.  I used about 2 tablespoons.
  5. Fold in chia seeds and chocolate chips.  If chocolate chips aren’t your thing, then you can use any number of mix-ins.  Some great choices would be blueberries, strawberries, walnuts, carob chips, dried fruit, etc.  Be creative!
  6. Pour batter into a greased or lined muffin tin.
  7. Bake muffins for about 20 minutes, rotating pan halfway through.
How do you incorporate more protein into your diet?  Have you baked with protein powder before?

Five Favorites Friday – 5/20/11

20 May

Helloooooo Friday!  Am I happy to see you!  I know that earlier this week I mentioned that the week seems to be going very slowly.  Unfortunately, the whole week felt that way!  But we’ve made it to Friday, my favorite day of the week.  Even though Friday isn’t actually part of the weekend, it’s my favorite because there is so much anticipation.  When I leave work on Friday evenings I know I have two whole days off to enjoy.  What’s better than that?!  Nothing, I tell ya.

Today I want to talk about bread.  Yeast breads, specifically.  Every Friday, Susan at Wild Yeast posts what she calls YeastSpotting.  YeastSpotting is a weekly collection of yeast recipes that have been prepared and submitted by bloggers.  This week is my first week participating.  I submitted the Cheesy Pretzel Bites I made last weekend because, honestly, they’re too good not to share! 

This week I’ve compiled a list of yeast bread recipes that look fantastic!  I found most of them through YeastSpotting.  If you’re interested in baking with yeast, I highly recommend checking out Wild Yeast for yourself!

My five favorites for Friday May 20, 2011: 

  1. Sunny Cranberry Loaf (from Cookistry)
    This bread looks great mostly because of the addition of sweet, dried cranberries!  The title also makes me think of sunny, summer days which I’m really looking forward to.
  2. Garlic Rolls (from My Singapore Kitchen)
    Yum, I love garlic rolls.  They bring me back to my college days where a plain slice and garlic knots was a welcomed dinner!  I also love that there are step by step pictures included for those of us that like a little bit more direction. :-)
  3. Double Hydration Focaccia (from Bewitching Kitchen)
    Focaccia bread is one of my favorites because it is so flavorful and fluffy.  I’ve never made my own though and this recipe looks like a great place to start! 
  4. Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread (from Swapna’s Cuisine)
    Do I really need to explain why this one made the list?!  Cinnamon and sugar were made to be together!
  5. Cinnamon Vanilla Swirl Bread (from Bran Appetit)
    Can you tell that I really like cinnamon?  I especially love the cinnamon swirl in the center of the loaf.  Yum!

Have you ever baked with yeast?  What’s your favorite yeast bread?

Health(ier) Zucchini Bread

18 May

Hi there!  How’s this week been treating you?  For me, this week has been Draaaaging (yep, with a capital D and four a’s).  It’s probably the combination of crummy weather (aka, rain non-stop and mid-50s temps), the fact that I’m taking a mini-vacation next week, and that work has been a little slow as of late.  Do you ever find that the week before some time off just crawls by and all you can think about are those few luxurious days of rest you want so badly to enjoy?

Also, today happens to be passing even more slowly since I’m really looking forward to hot yoga after work.  Have you taken hot yoga before?  I went to my first class a couple weeks ago and I really enjoyed it.  There is just something to sweating your heart out while you stretch every muscle in your body.  I’m excited to go back for a second round.  If my schedule permits, I hope to make it a weekly event! 

Over the weekend I got to thinking about quick breads.  What?  You don’t spend your free time contemplating such things?  Ah well, even if I am alone, humor me by reading this.  Please?  Okay, thanks. 

I think the most common quick bread out there would have to be banana bread.  It’s a sweet treat that if prepared properly can also be quite healthy.  Banana bread is a great addition to the breakfast table but can also be enjoyed as a snack or dessert.  But I’m not here to sing the praises of banana bread.

Today I want to talk about it’s less fornuate cousin, zucchini bread.  Zucchini bread is often underrated and overlooked.  You see, I think most people don’t like the thought of vegetables in their bread.  And I understand that.  It’s not something most people are used to and therefore they stay away from it. 

But I urge these doubters to reconsider!  This bread is moist with a spicy, sweet kick.  The cinnamon and nutmeg really shine through each doughy slice.  I reduced the amount of butter and sugar and added some whole wheat flour to make it a little healthier.  While I wouldn’t say this is the healthiest bread around, it is quite a tasty, health(ier) quick bread.

So next time you’re in the mood to bake some quick bread, please don’t leave the zucchini behind!

Zucchini Bread
(adapted from simplyrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp applesauce
  • 1/2 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups grated fresh zucchini
  • 1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the applesauce, sugar, egg, and vanilla.  Mix in the grated zucchini and then the melted butter.  Sprinkle baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.  Slowly add the flours.  Sprinkle in the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix.
  3. Pour the batter into a greased 9 by 5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.

Have you ever made zucchini bread?

D.U.M.B.O.

17 May

If you aren’t familiar with NYC, then chances are you’ve never heard of D.U.M.B.O.

DUMBO is a neighborhood in Brooklyn and it stands for “Down under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.”

This past weekend, Alex and I found ourselves in DUMBO so that we could meet with a potential wedding photographer.  The meeting and our visit went well!

First up, we stopped for lunch at O’Crepes.

O’Crepes is a small creperie with a menu that features local and organic ingredients.

They offer both savory and sweet crepes with the option to create your own if you don’t like any of their signature crepes.  Everything looked so yummy but we were there for lunch so we stuck with savory crepes.  I ordered the J Hook which was a buckwheat crepe filled with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and spinach.  Alex went with the Architectural Digest which had chicken, mushrooms, ratatouille, and onions.

We got to watch the chef hard at work!  He made the crepes right in front of us in no time flat.

Yum!  This crepe was huge!  I couldn’t finish the whole thing but the part that I did eat was great.  My only complaint was that the smoked salmon was very salty.  I think if I ever find myself back at O’Crepes, I’ll order what Alex got.  His dish was fantastic.

After lunch, we had a little bit of time before our appointment so we decided to walk around.  Not two steps from the restaurant, what should we come across?  A humongous candy shop.

Alex was thrilled.  He was very focused and had to make sure he walked away with the best of the best.  Candy shopping is no joke. :-)

Dewey’s was such a fun shop!  There was so much to look at and to taste.  Alex and I were quite pleased with our purchases.

As we finally made our way to the photographers, we ran into this guy.  I couldn’t leave without snapping a picture!  He said hi and requested that you go to Brooklyn for a visit.

:-) We had a great time and hope to go back soon.  There was so much to see that we only scratched the surface!

Have you ever been to Brooklyn?

Honey Roasted Cinnamon Cashew Peanut Butter

16 May

Yes, it’s quite a mouthful.  On so many levels.

In fact, if my mouth weren’t so full of Honey Roasted Cinnamon Cashew Peanut Butter I might be able to tell you its fabulous.  And that I’m addicted.

You see, ever since I made my first batch of peanut butter, I’ve been having so much fun.  My mind has been full of flavor possibilities and my mouth has been full of nut butter.  Do you see a trend?

Over the weekend I indulged myself with this sweet, smooth, and rich nutty creation.  A not-so-thin layer spread over an English muffin and topped with bananas, was the perfect treat.

So if you need a pick-me-up on this dreary Monday, this is just the thing. 

Oh who am I kidding?  This is always just the thing.

Honey Roasted Cinnamon Cashew Peanut Butter
(adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup unsalted, dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup and 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp coconut oil, optional
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. On a pan covered with parchment paper, spread out peanuts and cashews.  Drizzle honey on top and mix.
  3. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes.  Be careful they don’t burn!
  4. Once nuts are roasted, dump into the food processor and allow them to cool for a few minutes.
  5. Begin processing the nuts.  This mixture did not butterize as readily as the peanuts alone so you may have to scrape down the sides of the processor several times.
  6. To help the nuts butterize, I added some coconut oil about five minutes in.  You can decide if you want to add it as you don’t necessarily need it.
  7. Once the nuts are smooth, add the cinnamon and salt through the feeding tube.  Continue to process until the desired consistency is reached.

Someone out there please confirm that I’m not the only nut butter addict.

Cheesy Pretzel Bites

15 May

When I first saw this recipe, I immediately emailed it to Alex.  His response was precisely what I expected.  He asked that I make them as soon as possible since they looked amazing.  I couldn’t have agreed more.

Unfortunately life got in the way and before I knew it months had gone by without these pretzel delights.  Luckily, this weekend I found the time to make some.  They. Were. Awesome.

The pretzel dough was soft and chewy with a light salted, buttery finish.  The cheese adds nice flavor and little extra chew.  Each bite was well worth the three plus hours it took to make them.  Trust me, when I say you won’t be sorry you made these.

Cheesy Pretzel Bites
(recipe from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp packed brown sugar, divided
  • 2 Tbsp warm water (110˚F)
  • 1/2 cup warm milk (110˚F)
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt

Directions:

Gather your ingredients.

(The water and butter were too shy to be photographed but I think you know what they look like.)

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, and warm water and let rest 5-8 minutes until foamy.

In another bowl, stir together the remaining 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and warm milk until dissolved.

In a large bowl, add 1 1/4 cups flour.  Pour in milk mixture and the yeast.

Combine all ingredients until a smooth ball of dough forms.

If dough is sticky, you can add up to an additional 1/4 cup flour.  Mine was pretty sticky, as you can see from the picture above.  I slowly added flour one tablespoon at a time.  In the end I only need 2 tablespoons to reduce the stickiness and used the remaining two when kneading the dough.

Once the dough comes together into a smooth ball, knead it for 5 to 8 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.

Transfer the dough to a bowl sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.  Spray the dough with oil and cover with plastic wrap.

Let the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

After the dough has risen, remove the dough and place onto a lightly floured surface.  Divide into 2 equal pieces.  Roll one piece into a 12×4-inch rectangle.  Gently press 1/4 cup of cheese into the bottom portion of the dough.

Roll-up very tightly, starting with the end that has the cheese.  Cut into 12 1-inch pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Repeat with remaining portion of dough.  I ended up with about 27 pieces because I had a little extra dough.  No worries, it just means more pretzels :-)

Let the pretzels rest, uncovered, at room temperature for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil.  Add the baking soda and turn heat to low.  Slowly boil pretzels in batches, putting the pretzels into the poaching liquid, seam side down.

Poach for 10 seconds then carefully turn the pretzel over in the liquid.  Poach other side for 10 seconds then remove with a slotted spoon to the same prepared sheet pan, seam side down.  Repeat with the remaining pretzels.

Bake in preheated oven until golden-brown, about 15 minutes.  Once the pretzels are removed from the oven, brush melted butter on top and sprinkle with salt.

I have submitted this recipe to Yeastspotting.

Have you ever made homemade soft pretzels?

Five Friday Favorites – 5/13/11

13 May

Random is the name of the game today.  I’ve read so many great posts over the past week or so that I complied quite the random listing.  This is just a glimpse of what’s been happening in the blogworld this week.  I’m sure there are many awesome posts that I missed.  If you feel I overlooked something stellar, please share in the comments! 

My five favorites for Friday, May 13, 2011:

  1. Brown Rice Horchata (from skinnytaste.com)
    For those of you who have never heard of horchata, it is a Mexican drink made from rice, milk, cinnamon and sugar.  A few years ago this drink was foreign to me too however, it is one of Alex’s favorites.  He’s always on the look out for horchata when we go to a new Mexican restaurant.  Once I saw this recipe, I knew I had to save it so that I can make him some in our very own kitchen! 
  2. Burpee Blasts (from Getting Healthy with Heather)
    If you thought burpees were hard, think again.  The burpee blast takes this plyometric exercise to the next level.  Heather was brave enough to do 101 at once and she lived to tell the tale.  Phenomenal.  I hope to try these myself sometime however my goal is much more modest.  I’m hoping I can do more than one :-) 
  3. Weighing In (from Slate)
    This article discusses the importance and ease of using a kitchen scale.  Years ago I would have thought it crazy to weigh my ingredients when baking a simple batch of cookies or a loaf of quick bread.  But as I spend more time in the kitchen, I’ve come to learn that weighing the ingredients can make all the difference between soft, chewy cookies and cookie shaped rocks.  I use the EatSmart Precision Pro Kitchen Scale.  It’s probably the best $25 I’ve ever spent on kitchen supplies.
  4. Spring Abs Workout (from The Fitnessita)
    This is another great fat blasting workout that focuses on the core.  I like that it’s short and sweet but I’m sure highly effective.  It’s another one I plan to try soon!
  5. DIY Decorating with Masking Tape (from How About Orange)
    This last one is so much fun!  I love the simplicity and versatility of each design.  Also, if you’re not happy with your work, you can always take the tape off and start again.  You can change the tape according to the season, your mood, or whatever you like.  Personally, I’m quite partial to the purple tape but that’s just me :-)

Any big plans for the weekend?  Alex and I are going to keep it pretty low-key for the most part but we do have a meeting with a wedding photographer on Sunday.  I’m looking forward to it.  Wedding planning has been a lot of fun and it’s nice to see each piece of our big day fall into place.  Have a good one!

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