Banana Muffins with Oats and Greek Yogurt! 

So, I suppose we do still blog here… Only after weeks of busy days at our normal jobs can we somehow find ourselves with a few minutes to share what we have been baking and creating in our kitchens. So here goes… I recently decided to experiment with other types of flour. I am loving coconut flour- it makes really good (and healthy) pancakes!

In my search for a double chocolate muffin recipe, using alternatives to wheat flour, I came across this recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip muffins using Greek yogurt and oats. I love throwing my overly ripe bananas into quick bread. I recently discovered a very good Greek style yogurt made with sheep’s milk. Since I usually have that on hand as well, thee muffins had to be made. 

 

This recipe is easy because you can throw everything but the chocolate chips into your food processor and let it all mash up really smooth. It is an easy way to prepare healthy (but tasty) muffins for your Monday morning breakfast or for whenever you want. These muffins are worth it… you can’t just eat one! But who cares because they are healthy. You can take my word for it or you can go to your kitchen and try it for yourself! Enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

(using oats as a flour substitute and sheep’s milk Greek style yogurt)

ingredients:

1 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 ripe bananas

2 eggs

2 cups rolled oats

1 + 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F.

Line a muffin pan with liners or spray with cooking spray.

Add oats to your food processor and process for 2 minutes. Then add all ingredients (except chocolate chips) and process again until the batter is smooth. The oats should be broken down and blended.

Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 15 minutes or until a knife inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

Allow muffins to cool on a baking rack.

Enjoy warm or for up to a week if stored in an airtight container.

(You can also freeze these muffins for up to three months.)

Enjoy!

Advertisements

GF Pavlova with a Twist by Allison

I tried making pavlova two times before with my hand-held “immersion blender/tool” but it was an epic fail. The egg whites just never got stiff enough and my “Tesco special” was not making the grade. So I gave up…..until I pulled my cobalt blue KitchenAid mixer out of my top cupboard. Why yes, I had a KitchenAid mixer but couldn’t ever get it to work properly as my voltage converter I had wasn’t working properly. A friend was getting rid of hers so whallah! I knew where all of the fuse boxes were and had access to all of them in case I blew any fuses, which I did, but I got my prized KitchenAid mixer to work! This definitely called for a re-do of the pavlova as I knew my KitchenAid would be able to get the job done. You see, I was such an avid baker that I decided to carry my KitchenAid mixer back with me from the U.S. to Prague in my carry-on bag several years ago. Oh you should have seen the looks on the security personnel’s faces! They were pulling each other towards the screen and shaking their heads in disbelief! One gentleman pulled me aside and said, “Mam, is this mixer yours?!” I replied, “Yes it is sir….” with a smile of course and he said, “Oh, well Mam, we haven’t seen a KitchenAid mixer come through here before! It is quite an unusual item to carry with you but everything is fine from our side, hope it makes the journey for you” and that was that! I knew it was a questionable item to take on the plane but I did have my Mom wait before she left the airport in case they wouldn’t allow it so I could give it to her to take home. But I gave my Mom the thumbs up signal and waved goodbye before I headed towards my gate on the other side of security.
FullSizeRender_2

Luckily I was flying business class on award miles and no one questioned the weight of my bag along my journey. In case you’re wondering, I was able to lift it into the overhead compartment on my own on two different flights as well! So you can imagine how rewarding it was for me to finally use it and to pull off a pavlova to serve at Easter brunch! The twist is the pavlova has cinnamon and vanilla bean in it…..and it is delicious, seriously delicious.

FullSizeRender_3

FullSizeRender_4

FullSizeRender_1

FullSizeRender

 

Now I just need to work on preventing the cracking of the pavlova so next time I won’t cook it as long!

recipe for the pavlova slightly adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients 

For the pavlova:
6 egg whites
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 heaping teaspoon balsamic vinegar
seeds scraped from a vanilla bean

To assemble:

2 small containers or 1 large container of liquid whipped cream 40% fat
2 Tbsp. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups mixed berries for the top

To make the pavlova: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until satiny peaks form. Add the sugar, 1 spoonful at a time, and continue beating until the mixture becomes stiff and very shiny.

Using a spatula, fold in the cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, and vanilla bean. Spoon the mixture onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, forming a 10-inch circle that is about 2-inches thick.

Place in the oven, and immediately turn the oven down to 300°F or 150°C. Bake for about 1 hour . When the pavlova is done baking, it should look and feel dry on top. Remove from the oven, and let cool in a dry place overnight.

The next day, invert the pavlova onto a serving dish, peel away the parchment and reverse onto another serving dish. The pavlova shell can be made up to 48 hours in advance. Be sure to wrap it well in plastic wrap and keep it in a dry place until ready to assemble.

To make the whip cream: Use an electric whisk to beat the whipping cream until smooth. Whisk in the icing sugar and vanilla extract.

To assemble the pavolva: Dollop the whipped cream into the center of the pavlova, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the fruit over the cream. Enjoy with friends and family!

 

 

Pears + honey + fall spices = Honey Pear Spice Muffins! by Nikki

It's Autum... and time for muffins!

It’s Autum… and time for muffins!

It is officially Autumn. The seasons have changed from warm Summer sunshine to crisp, cool Fall mornings. It is the time of year when the pumpkins and other squash varieties show up in the grocery store. The farmer’s market is full of deep, rich colors as the end-of-summer growing season has been recently harvested and is now available for our purchasing! When the daylight hours grow shorter and the rain begins to fall, I crave time in my kitchen, and I crave muffins. I LOVE muffins!  Experimenting with my basic muffin recipe brings my taste buds (and my friends) a lot of joy! A little flour, a few spices, one egg and a variety of “fillings”, and you have got yourself a tasty baked treat.

Thanks for the pears friends...

Thanks for the pears friends…

I have a new teaching colleague on our Kindergarten team this year. I am really enjoying working with and getting to know T… as well as her husband and family! In the first few weeks of school, T showed up in my classroom with a handful of pears that her husband, D had stopped to pick while on a bike ride with their daughter. I always appreciate good, fresh fruit… and these pears were gladly accepted! Combined with honey, fall spices and my favorite baking ingredient- buttermilk, these pears turned my standby honey spice muffin recipe into a pear-y good experience. And with only a 1/2 cup of sugar (and a whole lot of honey), these muffins were sweet with a hint of spice… and the verdict was they were  oh, so, nice!

Pear-y delicious

Honey Pear Spice Muffins

dry ingredients: 2 cups spelt flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon

wet ingredients: 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 egg, 1/4 cup butter (melted), 1/4 cup honey, 1 cup buttermilk

fruit: 1 cup pears (peeled and diced)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 375 degrees F and line a muffin tin with muffin papers, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients then set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until well blended.

Pour over the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon.

Gently fold in the pears.

Spoon batter into the muffin cups until each is 3/4 full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown or a knife comes out clean from the middle of the muffin.

Let cool for 5 minutes then serve warm with a pat of butter.

Store muffins in an air-tight tupperware for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months!

ENJOY!

Gluten-Free Blueberry Buckle by Allison

Blueberries by the basket you say? Yes indeed, I’ve been buying blueberries by the basket! Why not? Being from the Pacific Northwest I grew up with being able to have fresh berries at my fingertips. I can remember back when I was in college and seeking out “U-Pick Farms” and I got bucket loads of raspberries for 50 cents a pound! I made cartons of freezer jam that night until the wee hours of the morning! Now I’m in the Czech Republic which is also “Berry Land” and I’m lucky to be able to have access to local farmers who grow the berries. They just taste better than the kind you buy in large stores let me tell ya! So here’s one way to get some more antioxidants in your system, eat blueberry buckle!photo (4)

This is my Mom’s recipe and it is certainly a family favorite. You can use frozen blueberries as well just be sure to thaw them out before-hand and make sure they are without extra moisture. My crumbly topping sank to the bottom as I used a bit more butter than needed but they turned out great and they were very delicious!
photo 4

 

Blueberry Buckle Coffee Cake
slightly adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook

Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free flour ( I like Schar Mix C gluten-free flour)

¾ cup sugar

2 ½ tsp. baking powder

¾ tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. butter

¾ cup milk

1 egg

2 cups well-drained blueberries

 

Topping:

½ cup sugar

1/3 gluten-free flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ cup soft butter

Mix and sprinkle over batter in pan.

 

Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.  Grease round layer pan, 9 ½ inches or square pan, 8″ x 8″ pan or pour into a muffin tin.  Blend all ingredients except blueberries and topping.  Beat for ½ minute.  Spread in pan.

Sprinkle topping over batter and bake for 45 to 50 minutes if baking it in a pan or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. My muffins baked about 20 minutes.

 

photo 2

photo 1

Gluten-free Cinnamon Yogurt Muffins by Allison

This muffin recipe is a keeper, let me tell ya! I remember tasting these muffins at dear friend’s home when I was in Elementary school way back when. This recipe has withstood the test of time. One of my Mom’s best friends, CW, used to make these for camping trips, snacks after her kids (my dear friends then and now too) and I got out of the pool, post softball games and for breakfast. I loved them then and I loved them now (gf of course) and they have that same taste I can remember from way back when. I needed to make some food for some friends of mine here in Prague who just had a baby and these muffins popped into mind! I whipped up a batch and placed them into two bags, one for the freezer and one for them to eat right away. These are a yummy, anytime kind-of-a-treat!

muffins 1
GF Cinnamon Yogurt Muffins
 slightly adapted from Cindy W’s recipe

3/4 cup margarine (Hera here in Prague)

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

8 oz. plain yogurt

2 cups GF flour (I use Schar Mix C)

1 tsp. GF baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

 

Cream together margarine, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add yogurt and blend well. Combine dry ingredients, then add yogurt mixture (stir only until all dry ingredients are moistened). Fill greased muffin tins or cupcake liners half full. Combine 3 Tbs. sugar with 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; sprinkle half of this mixture over batter in each cup. Fill with remaining batter; sprinkle muffins with remaining cinnamon mixture. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 14-17 minutes. Enjoy! 

muffins 2 muffins 3

Last Minute Sunday Morning Banana Muffins by L

photo 4

“Mommy, I want muffin,” those were the first words out of little P’s darling little puckered lips this morning.  “Mommy, I want muffin.”

Mommy wanted another hour of sleep. Although waking up at 8:10 on a Sunday morning shouldn’t be anything to complain about, especially if you are living with two toddlers. However, for someone who used to sleep until 10am on the weekends BK (Before Kids,) these “early” morning wake up calls are a heavy adjustment. I’ve never been a morning person.

Children do change you. They really do. That change happens so quickly, in a very natural way and for me, this parenthood journey continues to be a positive one. So, when my almost 3-year-old requested muffins for breakfast, I quickly set off for the task. When you have such a precious little person in your life, all you want to do is make them feel happy and loved. If it was muffins she wanted, it was muffins she was going to receive. Request granted!

photo 3

Where does one go for the quickest, healthiest and most reliably tasty muffins? The Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook for their Banana Bread recipe which can also be used to make more than a dozen muffins. This dairy free muffin recipe also includes whole wheat flour, wheat germ and just 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Fortunately, we had some very ripe bananas for the job and the rest of the ingredients on hand. It was a go!

After whipping up the recipe, scooping the batter into the muffin tins and taking them out of the oven 25 minutes later, I presented lil’P with her muffin. Can you guess how many bites she took? Go ahead, make a guess! Ok, I’ll tell you…THREE. Yes, THREE bites and she walked away from the table and asked her dad for some grapes. The story does have a happy ending. Her twin sister, lil’T, after eating her own muffin, reached over to her sister’s plate and happily enjoyed eating the rest of her sister’s abandoned baked goods.

The End.

Banana Muffins (adapted from The Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook)

3 very ripe bananas

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup wheat germ

Optional – 1 cup dates or 1 cup nuts or 1/2 cup chocolate chips (we chose the latter)

Preheat over to 375F or 170C

Grease or line muffin tray.

Mash bananas until smooth.

Cream oil and sugar, then add bananas and stir well.

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

Mix in wheat germ.

Add this to the banana mixture and stir in any of the optional ingredients if you choose to use any of them.

The batter will be quite stiff.

Scoop into muffin tray, just halfway if you want smaller muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick of knife in center.

If it comes out clean, it is done.

Enjoy!

 

 

Carrot Cake Cupcakes by L

IMGP8900

This Easter, we celebrated with some fun brunches, toddler partying and of course, with a few Easter egg hunts. I searched around the web for a carrot cupcake recipe that wouldn’t be too difficult to prepare and taste delicious. I ended up finding this one from Pinch of Yum. These sweet and moist cupcakes were a hit with both the kids and the adults.

We decorated our cupcakes with some Cadbury’s mini chocolate eggs and some purple bunny Peeps. I was never crazy for these candies when I was a young girl, nor as an adult, but they did mark the Easter holiday for me. Somehow living abroad and away from my native country makes me pine for these little confectionaries. This holiday, we lucked out and received two special deliveries. Topping the cupcakes with these childhood treats, made me feel a bit closer to home this year. Hope your Easter was full of sweet memories!

photo-15

IMGP8911

Party Cake by L

Party cake!

Party cake

Lately it seems like I’ve been baking every dessert recipe featured in Jamie Oliver’s book, The Return of The Naked Chef. The naughty treat that I will be writing about is called “Party Cake,” and rightly so. This cake is full on! We are talking chocolate, cream, strawberries, raspberries and MORE chocolate. It’s a true celebration for the taste buds.

Getting ready for the party.

Getting ready for the party.

This cake was baked in honor of fellow TPB contributor, Nikki. Only the best party cake for our birthday girl! This combination of chocolate with fruits swimming in sweetened cream equaled a deliciously moist birthday cake. Thank you Jamie O. for another fine recipe.

Adding the finishing touches.

Adding the finishing touches.

The finished product will make your honored guests think you slaved all day and night preparing this gorgeous delight. However, the required task is not at all daunting. It’s been the easiest fancy birthday cake I’ve baked in ages! Now, go bake one too. Party or No Party. Bake it, you know you want to! And please tell me all about it.

This slice has party written all over it!

This slice has party written all over it!

Party Cake from Jamie Oliver

Ingredients-

Cake:

3 rounded tablespoons cocoa powder

200 grams caster sugar

200 grams butter

3 large eggs

200 grams of self-raising flour, sifted

1 rounded teaspoon baking powder

1 handful of flaked almonds

200ml double cream

1 large handful raspberries

1 large handful strawberries

Who's birthday is it?

Who’s birthday is it?

Chocolate topping:

100 g butter

100g best cooking chocolate

100g icing sugar

3 tablespoons milk

Pre heat oven to 180C/350F

Line the bases of 2 X 20cm/8 inch cake tins with greased parchment paper.

Mix the cocoa powder with 4 tablespoons of boiling water until smooth.

In a separate bowl, beat the sugar and butter until fluffy, add the cocoa mixture, eggs, flour and baking powder.

Mix well, fold in the nuts.

Divide the mixture between the tins.

Bake for about 25 minutes.

When cooked, allow to cool then remove from the tins.

Topping:

Melt the chocolate topping ingredients in a bowl over some lightly boiling water.

Stir until blended well and allow to cool.

Whip the double cream to soft peaks and sweeten with a little sugar to taste.

To assemble the cake, remove the grease proof paper from both sponges.

Spread the cream on top of one of the sponges.

Then sprinkle it with the fruit.

Place the other sponge on too and press down.

Run a knife around the edge of the cake and smooth it off.

Then drizzle the chocolate topping over the whole cake.

Let the topping firm up before serving it.

Enjoy with your fellow party-goers!

 

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies by Allison (GF, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free)

While these cookies don’t taste like my Mom’s chocolate chip cookies, they taste really good when you’ve cut out all the nuts, dairy and grains on top of the gluten! By the way, nothing can beat my Mom’s cookies. Really truly. I’m serious. She has a gift, well many gifts, but one of them being the ability to make amazing cookies. Her sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, molasses crinkles, peanut butter blossoms, and oatmeal raisin cookies are all off the charts fabulous (and I’m not the only one who thinks so)!

I haven’t always been gluten-free, but the last three years I have and I don’t miss much as far as food or treats go, but I do miss my Mom’s incredible cookies. These coconut chocolate chip cookies can’t be measured against your cookies Mom, they are not even in this same world but they are interesting. They are a totally different kind of cookie than you’ve ever had before but I still think they are worth the calories! You can buy everything you need right here in Prague as well! Whip up a batch and have it with a glass of coconut milk and tell me what you think! Enjoy!

photo-20

photo-21

 

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, Grain-Free – but not taste free)

recipe adapted from The Lemon Bowl

 

Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed plus 3 Tbsp. water (mix and let sit)
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (melted )
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ cup coconut milk (I use homemade as coconut milk has a lot of additives in it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup + 2 Tbsp coconut flour (gf )
  •  ⅓ cup mini chocolate chips (I use Lifefood 80% sugar-free chocolate)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line a baking sheet with baking paper or foil
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together ground flax seed and water, then set aside for a few minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl mix melted coconut oil, date sugar, coconut milk, vanilla, and salt.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, stir in coconut flour, chocolate chips and flax seed mixture.
  5. Scoop cookies using a large tablespoon and form a ball, flatten with the palm of your hand and place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes or until slightly browned.
  6. Let cookies cool completely before removing from pan. Enjoy!

 

Two Nut Chocolate Torte and it is Gluten Free! by L

IMGP1496

If you are looking to indulge, this is the cake! I found this recipe in a hand-me-down copy of Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef (thanks C.M.) It calls for a favorite combination of mine: Chocolate and Nuts. Although the recipe says you can substitute any kind of nut, I followed Jamie’s instructions to a tee. For my next round, I might try it with hazelnuts or pecans.

IMGP1487

Besides having a fantastic dessert to look forward to, another sweet thing to come out of this baking experience was the chance to reconnect with my ol’mixer. It is a powerhouse of a kitchen gadget, something like a Kitchen Aid, but I think this one really rocks the house. I pulled out my Bosch MUM out of the pantry, dusted it off and gave it a quick whizz. After sitting idle on the shelf for over 2 years, it was still in perfect condition. Before the children were born, this machine had a very important place on my kitchen counter and was used very often. When the twins arrived, good ol’ Bosch got shoved aside by the Avent bottle sterilizer.

Well, it’s back and I can honestly say, it’s getting a lot of use again.

IMGP1497

Two Nuts Chocolate Torte (from The Return of the Naked Chef, by Jamie Oliver)

(Note: We enjoyed the torte more the day AFTER it was baked. It seems like the flavor and texture could use a bit of settling in time. If you are looking to really indulge, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche. SOOOOO good!)

150g of ground almonds

150g of finely ground walnuts

300g of your best quality cooking chocolate

1 teaspoon of cocoa powder

255g butter

100g caster sugar

6 large eggs, separated

salt

Preheat the oven to 190C

Line or grease the bottom of your spring form or baking tin.

Place nuts, chocolate and cocoa in food processor and whizz for 30 seconds to break up the chocolate.

Put aside in a separate bowl.

Add the butter and sugar to the food processor and beat until pale and fluffy.

Keep the processor running and add the egg yolks, one at a time, then mix together with chocolate and nut mixture.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks.

Gently fold in the egg whites into the chocolate, butter and nut mix.

Pour all the mixture into the tin.

Bake in the oven for around an hour.

To test if the torte is cooked, insert a toothpick or tip of a knife in center of the cake and hold for 5 seconds.

When it is removed, it should be clean.

Enjoy with some ice cream, whipped cream, greek yogurt or creme fraiche!