Healthier Blueberry Muffins

Ellie Kreiger has been a kitchen staple for us these past couple years.  She has brought 3 cookbooks to our kitchen that have all become indispensable.  Each recipe is based on making healthier and most of the time- fresher more flavorful- versions of our favorites.  Cooking from her books makes us feel good about what we make and what we are eating.  In her latest cook book, Comfort Food Fix,  she shares a healthy spin on classic blueberry muffins and true to form, they are just as tender and delectable, our all time favorites still will always be the Fig Muffins, however!  Using half whole wheat flour, low fat buttermilk, applesauce and zest of lemon are all ways in which these muffins add a nutritional punch and flavor to a muffin!
Adapted from
Ellie Krieger Comfort Food Fix
makes 12 muffins
Nonstick cooking spray

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. table salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce

Zest of 1 whole lemon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk both flours, the baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and oil until the mixture is pale and slightly frothy. Whisk in the applesauce, lemon zest, and vanilla. With the whisk, stir in about half the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining flour and then the remaining buttermilk, stirring until well incorporated.

Gently fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them to the top. Tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and then unmold. Serve warm or let cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or wrap individually and freeze for up to 3 months.

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Fresh Cherry Pancakes

Who doesn’t love a delicious pancake on a slow weekend morning?  Well we love our breakfasts, if you couldn’t tell!  Making pancakes a little healthier for you is easy if you mix 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 regular flour to your regular recipe, this adds fiber and protein to fill you up for a busy day.  Cherries are so good right now, and even though they take a while to pit and cut up, it is worth it!  Here is how we made these:
Ingredients
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup non-fat milk
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped fresh cherries
Method

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Preheat a large nonstick griddle or skillet over a medium-low flame.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through salt). In another medium bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk, non-fat milk, honey and vanilla.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing only enough to combine them.  Fold in the cherries. The batter will be somewhat lumpy.
 
Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to ladle the batter onto the griddle or skillet. Flip the pancake when the top is bubbling and it is golden brown on the bottom. Then cook until the other side is golden brown. Hold on an oven proof plate in the oven until the entire batch is ready. When all the pancakes are ready, serve with real maple syrup and more fresh in season berries like strawberries!

LOVE eggs and toast

Happy 7 years to US at Urban Kitchen.  We started the day with some themed breakfast, and how sweet does that look?  With a simple heart shaped cookie cutter you can make anything “lovable”.  Simple eggs, toast and Farmer’s Market tomatoes with salty cheese= perfect way to start the special day.
Serving for TWO
Brush olive oil on both side of two pieces of bread ( we used a dark rye), using a heart shaped cookie cutter, remove and reserve the center.  Heat a non stick pan over medium heat and place the bread and heart centers in the pan, crack and egg in to the cut outs and cook for 2 minutes before flipping, cook an additional minute until desired egg doneness, we like over easy.  Then serve the toasts with sliced tomato and a salty hard cheese such as Pecorino, Parmesan etc.  Enjoy and feel the love!

Early Morning Biscotti with Cherries, Almonds and Chocolate

Over the holidays for the annual cookie party, Jamie made the most incredible biscotti for her cookie recipe.  It had orange zest, pistachios and was dipped in white chocolate- and so incredibly tasty!  So imagine our surprise to find a similar, and healthier, version of biscotti in our favorite go to cookbook So Easy, Ellie Kreiger.  It’s not hard to make, just a little time consuming.  The process is to make the dough, easy, then form in a log and bake it for 25 minutes, cool for 15 minutes, carefully slice ( it does crumble so use a sharp knife and be gentle and slow!), place slices back on cookie sheet, bake 10 minutes, flip over and bake 10 more minutes.  So, this was done on a lazy, well we had some time, Sunday and we’re enjoying it and sharing it all week long!  The combination of almonds, chocolate and cherries is certainly a favorite; you can also switch out these 3 ingredients with anything similar you may prefer or have on hand… pistachios, cranberry, white chocolate…. pecans, golden raisins, caramel baking chips…. and so on.  Give it a try, you won’t be sorry… till they are all eatin up!
Ingredients

(adapted from So Easy, Ellie Kreiger)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried tart cherries, finely chopped
1/2 cup almonds, finely chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, finely chopped
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl beat together the sugar, eggs, oil, orange zest and vanilla extract until well combined. In batches add the dry ingredients until the mixture forms a dough. Beat in the cherries, almonds and chocolate.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead several times. Shape into a log about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes. With a serrated knife, cut 1/2-inch diagonal slices. Arrange cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the cookies over and bake the biscotti until golden, 5 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Yield:

12 biscotti, 1 biscotti is a serving

Blueberry and Almond French Toast Bake

This breakfast was delicious, and So Easy from her cookbook Ellie Krieger says it perfectly, “The hardest thing about this dish is waiting for it to come out of the oven because as it is baking it fills your kitchen with the most enticing, heartwarming, vanilla-cinnamon aroma. Its looks and taste hold up their end of the bargain too. Inside it is egg-y, perfectly sweetened, and studded with bursting warm blueberries. Outside it is crisp and crowned with sugared toasted almonds.”  Put this together the day before and cover in the fridge over night.  Waking up and putting it in the oven is really a treat- no need to make batter and more dishes in the morning, just enjoy your coffee and wait for the timer to go off! We halved the recipe to serve just 4 and below is our version, enjoy:

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 4 ounces French baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cups fat free milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/8 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Spray a 8 by 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Arrange the bread in a single layer in the baking pan. Whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup. Pour the egg mixture over the bread in the pan, spreading it around so the liquid saturates the bread. Scatter the blueberries evenly on top and sprinkle with the almonds and brown sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the baking pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm, cold or at room temperature.

Sunday Morning Breakfast Sandwich

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and to be honest, it is our favorite meal of the day! This was certainly a hearty, easy and healthy way to start our day. Using left over chopped basil, green onion and red pepper from homemade pizza night we made an egg scramble, topped with leftover mozzarella and bacon on fresh Ciabatta bread from Trader Joe’s. Serves 2 very hungry people….Here’s how we made this
Beat together:
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon fat free milk
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
Bring a 10″ omelet pan ( sprayed with Pam), over medium high heat. Pour in the eggs, cook pulling the edges in towards the middle of the pan to distribute the un-cooked eggs across the pan ( like you were making an omelet) when it is half way set, toss in chopped veggies… we did about:
2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup each of:
Green Onion
Basil
Red Pepper
Tuck veggies into eggs and flip the omelet over. Take off the flame and top with 1/4 cup fresh mozzarella cheese ( sliced thin), cover with a plate to allow cheese to melt ( about 2 minutes).
Cut Ciabbata bread into 2 and then slice horizontally for your sandwiches. Drizzle each open face with olive oil and place face down into a heated pan on the stove top. Press them down to get a nice golden brown toast.
TO build:
Place half of the cooked eggs on toasted Ciabatta bread bottom, layer on some cooked bacon and then top with the Ciabatta bread top; repeat for other sandwich and enjoy!

Apple Walnut Muffins

Another great, whole grain, fruity vitamin packed muffin recipe!  There are several ways you can make this muffin your own, using what you have on hand!  For instance, if you don’t have walnuts you could us pecans… if you don’t have apple butter or apple sauce you could use pumpkin or carrot puree.. if you don’t like cinnamon, don’t use it…. and if you don’t have an apple, this muffin works without it, according to our reliable sources.  Don’t have buttermilk?  Use 3/4 c. fat free milk and a squeeze of lemon juice- tastes and works just like the real thing.  We made this recipe as follows and the result is a real treat of a muffin, decadent crumble topping with the brown sugary nutty goodness and a tender moist muffin full of apple flavors from Arnie and Julie’s homemade apple butter and apple sauces ( thank you for the Christmas gift!), and the chunks of apples really bring this one home.  So gooooooood, please try it:

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup natural applesauce

1/2 cup apple butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 Gala apple, cored and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the walnuts and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauces and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pecan mixture. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.  These can be wrapped up and stored in the freezer for easy grab and go breakfasts or snacks.  Just pull one out the night before or toss in the microwave for 45 seconds and enjoy!