These Zucchini Muffins are Jussssst Right! by L

The Chosen One

The Chosen One

On Fridays, at the Andel Farmers’ Market, there’s a stand I find a bit daunting because I haven’t mastered the Czech language. The vendor sells different kinds of bio flour, as well as a wide selection of bio dairy products. When I say “different kinds,” we’re talking about 7 varieties, from spelt to rye to whole wheat. However, it’s not just plain ol’ “Whole Wheat.” There are three to choose from and yes, I bought them all: “Hruba,” “Polohruba” and “Jemne Mleta.” I’d like to be able to ask a thousand questions about the range of available flours. Unfortunately, actually I should say embarrassingly, (after 8 years of living here) I can’t speak Czech well and so I am limited to the language translator app on my iPhone. My trusty translator tells me that “Hruba” is the coarsest of the three, “Polohruba” is medium coarse and “Jemne Mleta,” is finely ground.

One of these days I’m really going to have to get the skinny on all these flours. Many of the recipes I use call for whole wheat flour, but never do they specify how coarse the grain should be. Here in Prague, I have yet to find an all-purpose whole wheat flour. The unfortunate result has been a number of baking disasters and wasted hours in the kitchen. I kind of feel like Goldilocks, trying to find out which flour is “just right.” If anyone in the Prague area is an expert in flours, please feel free to rescue me!

P2060507

Ours come in Mommy size and Toddler size

I’ve been on the hunt for a healthy zucchini muffin that I could share with my two tots. One that uses whole wheat, a natural sweetener and of course it had to be both delicious and moist inside. I took a gamble and tried this new recipe using the whole wheat polohruba flour. Luckily, my muffins turned out “jusssst right!” My girls and I have been enjoying these for breakfast and snacks on the go. It’s perfect!

Just Right Zucchini Muffins (adapted from Weelicious)

1 cup all-purpose flour (for our Prague readers: I used hladka white flour)

1 cup whole wheat flour (for our Prague readers: I used polohruba whole wheat)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, whisked

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup vegetable or any other neutral oil

2/3 cup honey

1 1/2 cups zucchini, shredded (about 2 small zucchini)

(If you aren’t worried about nuts or added sweeteners, feel free to add a 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or almonds or chocolate chips.)

P2060510

These didn’t last long in the muffin jar!

Preheat oven to 180/350 degrees.

Grease or line your muffin tins.

Place the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.

Stir until mixture is well combined.

Pour the batter into large or small muffins cups. (I made 24 mini’s and 5 in large silicone baking cups)

Bake 15-17 minutes for small muffins and 20-25 minutes for large ones.

Cool for 10 minutes and then serve.

Advertisements

An EGG-cellant veggie scramble! by Nikki

Farm Fresh Eggs and Green Grapes

As the days quickly grow dark in the late afternoons and the air becomes more and more crisp, I find myself longing for the markets I visited this summer- in the warm weather and sunshine! While in Croatia with three friends, we discovered a large open air market in the center of Split.

fresh summer produce in Split, Croatia

The colors of the summer fruits were vibrant and the smell of watermelon and nectarines were sweet in the air. On our last day in Split, before heading to Dubrovnik, Mel and I decided to wander through the open air market before hitting the beach for the rest of the afternoon. We were wandering to enjoy the warm weather, the excitement of the market and of course, to purchase something to snack on during our bus journey the following day.

Red and green grapes GALORE!

I picked up two bunches of green grapes. Their fragrance was slightly floral but tasted wonderful and were refreshing on our hot, stuffy bus ride along the coast! After we picked out our fruit, we wandered through a less crowded strip of the market, where we stumbled upon a more permanent stand selling fresh eggs. Knowing we would need a good breakfast before our bus ride the next morning, we picked up 6 eggs… which we enjoyed scrambled with cheese!

the friendly egg lady

Whether it is warm or cold outside, I am always a fan of eating eggs for breakfast… but let’s just be honest, I enjoy eggs MOST on a lazy weekend morning! Why? Because I can take my time to scramble them together with a variety of ingredients. I can relax in the kitchen, with a mug of Earl Grey in hand, Frank Sinatra singing to me through my iTunes, and prepare this healthy, morning meal in my pajamas!

eggs for a scramble

For this simple egg scramble, I used random vegetables I had in the fridge, butter for the pan and seasoned it with green onion, a little garlic salt, paprika, and ground pepper. It is simple… it is delicious… it is an EGG-cellent idea for a lazy morning!

An EGG-cellant Veggie Scramble

The Lazy Morning Veggie Scramble

ingredients: 3 medium or 2 large eggs- preferably fresh from your farmers market or very own hens!

3-5 cremini mushrooms, half a medium zucchini (green or yellow will do!), green onion, fresh basil leaves, fresh flat leaf parsley,

seasonings: garlic salt, ground pepper, paprika,

optional: preferred cheese, a variety of veggies, and of course, bacon is always a good option for meat lovers!

Directions:

First, I usually scramble the eggs with a little milk and set aside.

Then prepare all vegetable saute ingredients.

In a warm pan, melt a pat of butter (or the heart-healthy option is using a soup spoon of olive oil) with a dash of garlic salt, paprika and ground pepper.

Next, add onions and saute for 1-2 minutes then add the veggies and saute until tender.

Notes: I often add the basil leaves and saute with veggies for the last 2 minutes.

ALSO- If using bacon or other meat based additions, use a seperate pan to prepare the meat according to directions then add to the scramble as the last step!

When the veggies are ready, remove them from the pan and set aside. Put the pan back onto the stove, add the eggs and scramble to desired texture… I like mine fluffy!

When the eggs are 1 minute from feeling ready, add the veggie saute back into the pan stir together for 1 minute.

I like to serve mine sprinkled with fresh, chopped, flat leaf parsley, another sprinkle of ground pepper, and grated parmesan… Enjoy!

mmm… fresh EGGS!

The Breakfast Battles by L

Zucchinis at the Andel Farmer’s Market in Prague 5

I’ve only been a parent for 14 months, but I quickly discovered that nothing, NOTHING remains constant for too long when it comes to raising a baby. Actually, I should now be using the word toddler. Once I thought I got the whole “Eat, Sleep, Play” routine down, my two toddlers go ahead and twist the whole game around.

Breakfast time is where our current struggle lies. When my daughters first began “eating” solids, they sloppily, but happily, took their baby cereal first thing in the morning. Lately, one of the girls has begun to refuse her daily bowl of porridge. Her favorite food to break her fast is plain ol’ natural yoghurt. She doesn’t seem to tire of it, but I do. As a new mother, it concerns me that yoghurt is all she will consume. Therefore, I went on a search for new breakfast ideas that might entice her appetite and keep the door open for variety.

One of the things I didn’t want to do is trade her natural yogurt for something sweet and unhealthy. I looked to my trusty and much-loved cookbook, The Laurel’s Kitchen for help, but none of the recipes met my needs. So, I turned to their other book, The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book and that was where I found my pot of gold: Zucchini Cheese Muffins.

This was a meal in one. A savory muffin made with whole wheat, oats, a veggie and protein. Then there was the added plus of NO sugar. It seemed like the perfect breakfast food to bake. Now, I don’t want you to think I’m the sugar police! My daughters do enjoy a cookie here and there for a snack. However, my conscience feels better knowing that the food they eat is packed with sensible nutrients and the right kind of calories.

This is quick and easy to prepare. These days, having hassle free recipes on hand is essentially important for maintaining a household with a set of toddlers. It only took one bowl to mix the ingredients together and very little preparation was needed.

Is your muffin bigger than mine?

So, what did my daughters think? Well, Ms. Picky Eater wouldn’t let her muffin go after she got her hands on it! We even had to wrestle the wrapper out of her hand. I read that as a good sign.

Can you guess who Ms.Picky Eater is?

Zucchini Cheese Muffins (adapted from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book)

As I was trying to photograph the muffins…

2 tablespoons minced onions

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup oat flakes

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated mix of Swiss, Cheddar and Parmesan cheese (to save time, buy the pre-grated packs)

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

2/3 cup of water

1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of nutmeg (optional)

…they kept disappearing!

Pre heat oven to 375/190 degrees

Prepare your muffin tin.

Saute the onions in the oil.

In a large bowl, add the egg, cooked onions with the oil and the oats.

Mix.

Then add the cheese, zucchini and water. Stir.

Add the flour, salt, baking powder and nutmeg.

Stir until well mixed.

Pour a few spoonfuls of the batter into each muffin wrapper.

Top with remaining pieces of cheese.

It should be enough for 12 muffins.

Bake for 20-30 minutes.

Cool before serving.

Your muffin will taste even more delicious if you find an adorable little toddler to share one with!

Zuchinni Boats by Nikki

Full of goodies!

Last week, I over filled my basket at the Farmer’s Market. Normally, this is not a problem especially when it is stuffed with so many colorful, seasonal fruits and vegetables. However, when you are traveling in and out of the country during the summer, you really need to remember that filling the fridge before the next journey is not a wise thing to do! So, on the eve before my week cycling trip I invited a friend over for dinner. We called it the “empty-the-fridge” dinner! I used the remainder of my summer veggies from Wednesday’s market visit, leftover rice and a variety of cheeses to over-stuff this large, locally farmed zucchini!

summer vegetables + fresh herbs = “empty-the-fridge” dinner!

This is a very simple recipe that is full of vitamins, naturally healthy foods, and looks colorful on your plate! Serves well with warm bread and butter… sometimes I substitute the rice for quinoa, and I have been known to make this recipe with leftover Bolognese sauce too! Enjoy!

Stuffed Zucchini a.k.a Zucchini Boats

Veggie Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Ingredients:

2-3 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise with the middles scooped out

1 ear of sweet corn

1 small red bell pepper

1 small yellow pepper

1.5 cups chopped, fresh green beans

3-5 mushroom caps, sliced

1/4 sweet, yellow onion, chopped

1-2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 teaspoon

3 tablespoons tomato paste

fresh herbs of choice (I used cilantro and green onions)

cheese for topping (parmesan, shredded mozzarella or cheddar are best!)

Optional: 1/2 cup cooked rice, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, or 3/4 cup browned, ground beef or turkey

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. If using rice or quinoa, follow cooking directions on package and prepare now.

While waiting for water to boil, chop all veggies and place into a steamer basket in a saucepan with 1/4 inch of water in bottom of pan.

Using a sharp knife, cut the kernals off the corn cob and place in the steamer basket with other veggies.

When water is boiling, place zucchini into pot and par-boil for 8-10 minutes- just until Zucchini begins to glisten. When finished, place upside down on a baking rack over the sink to allow the zucchini to drain for 10 minutes. PREHEAT oven to 185 degrees C or 350 degrees F.

While zucchini is resting, steam veggies just until crisp. Be careful as steaming too long will cause veggies to get mushy in the oven later. At the same time, quickly saute the onion and mushrooms in teaspoon of oil until tender. If you are using ground beef or turkey, now is the time to begin browning it.

Combine all cooked ingredients into a medium bowl. Add the chopped fresh herbs, oil and tomato paste. Mix together until ingredients are covered with sauce.

Pat the zucchini dry with a paper towel. Place in a non-stick baking pan. Fill zucchini with the veggie/rice/meat mixture. Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover with tin foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove tinfoil and bake for another 3-5 minutes to allow cheese to brown a little.

Let cool for 5 minutes then serve and enjoy!

Hip! Hip! Puree! by L

Simple. Easy. Practical. Lately, these are the words that continiously ring in my head. My husband and I come from different continents and our parents still live in the cities where we were born and raised: NYC and Valencia, Spain. We both grew up with members of our extended families living in the same neighborhoods and we both experienced relatives coming in to pitch in and help raise the children. Our adult lives turned out differently, mainly because our jobs took us far from home. Sadly, our daughters don’t have the luxury of having all those family members nearby to spoil them. In order to provide some of that extra family support, we had to come up with an alternative. We asked our parents to come to Prague and move in for a few months for some extra tender loving care, both for our twin daughters and ourselves. They happily accepted and we devised a schedule that allowed both sides of parents to have a chunk of time with us. Unfortunately, all good things must come to a pause. This past weekend, my mother flew back to NYC, after 4 wonderful months of having her by my side. Mom got the babies started on solids, witnessed the first time they crawled, taught them to wave “hello” and even attended swim lessons with us. I started missing her before she even left. However, my solo flight time will last just a week. My in-laws are eagerly awaiting our arrival for the summer holidays. But there is nothing like having your own mother by your side.

My mom even enjoyed preparing the babies’ food. Every two weeks, we receive a box of organic fruits and vegetables from Fresh Bedynky to make the girls’ meals. As soon as the delivery arrived, my mother would whip out the hand blender and start creating a variety of pureed baby food.  Without my mom, Team T&P are minus some extra hands. Hence the words: simple, easy and practical. This meal is exactly that, a puree for all!

What is particularly special about this week’s order from Fresh Bedynky are the purple carrots. This heirloom vegetable appears to be making a comeback and when I saw that it was available, I had to sample a bunch. Don’t these carrots have a gorgeous blend of colors?

When the zucchini, potatoes, onions and carrots were cooked, I separated a batch on the side for the grown-ups in the house in another pot. While the girls’ portion was cooling down, I added a little more seasoning and broth to make the adult version of Puré de Verdura. We often have this dish as a starter in Spain, followed by a second course. For us though, the only accompaniment was a salad on the side. I still have some of that leftover baby belly to shed. Ugh!

Puré de Verdura (Vegetable Puree Soup)

For babies, omit the garlic, bay leaf and bouillon cube. Instead of frying the vegetables at first, boil them all together in one pot. Use the liquid from the boiled vegetables to puree the baby food to the consistency of your liking.

3 potatoes
1 zucchini
1 carrot
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 bay leaves
water or vegetable broth
bouillon cube (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Peel and chop all the vegetables.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot.
Add onions.
After a few minutes, add the other vegetables.
Stir and let cook for a few more minutes.
Then add enough water or broth to cover the vegetables.
(If just using water, you may add a bouillon cube here)
Add mashed garlic clove and bay leaves.
Let it come to a boil, then lower heat.
Cook for at least 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Then set aside to cool.
When ready, remove the bay leaves and pour into a blender
or use a hand blender, to purée all the ingredients.
Pour mixture into a serving bowl.
Add a tablespoon or two of good olive oil.
Mix well.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Top with croutons and serve.

Homemade croutons

2 slices of whole wheat bread
Few tablespoons of olive oil
salt and dried herbs

Chop the bread into tiny cubes.
Heat a small pan with some olive oil.
Add the bread to the pan on low heat.
Sprinkle some salt on top and other dried herbs to your liking.
Cook until toasty brown on both sides.