Thursday, July 29, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

I was looking for a muffin recipe that would be really quick to make and came across these oatmeal muffins. While I wouldn't call them healthy (as I prefer most of the muffins I bake to be), they do fall somewhere between cupcake style "muffins" and healthy actual muffins. (Speaking of delicious unhealthy muffins, why haven't I made Peabody's peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip muffins yet?!) They're 2/3 oats and 1/3 whole wheat flour, and nice and soft, especially for a whole grain muffin. They do have 1/2 cup of melted butter but hey butter is delicious! I added some raisins, as E thinks many baked goods are improved with them and he really liked them.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Spiced Carrot Muffins
Maple Pecan Muffins
Banana Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins
Whole Wheat Orange Spice Muffins

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins
Adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook

Makes 12 muffins

2 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking oats)
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

In a medium size bowl, mix the oats and the milk and set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients, making a well in the center. Stir in the liquid ingredients and the oatmeal mixture until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Fold in raisins. Batter may be lumpy.

Fill the muffin cups about three quarters full. Bake for 16-18 minutes until lightly golden or a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out with moist crumbs attached. Do not overbake.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Caramel Crunch Ice Cream Bars

I remember when I was younger, I used to take my neighbour's dog for a walk and would get paid 50 cents. (For a long time I thought their dog's name was "U-ey" but actually it was Huey. Makes a lot more sense.) I'd take my 50 cents and rollerblade up to the corner store and buy myself an ice cream sandwich. Those were exciting times!

Now I rarely eat ice cream sandwiches, and while I do go through times of ice cream obsession (like if there's some coffee flavoured Haagen Dazs in our freezer), ice cream is the easiest dessert for me to turn down. But E loves all things ice cream, and my friend was coming over for dinner who also loves ice cream so I thought I'd try these out. I loved them, a lot. The cookie part was so addictive and I must admit that I loved eating it with ice cream!

I had a couple of issues with these ice cream bars, but neither were the recipe's fault. The first was that I used chopped milk chocolate on top of the bars and I think my milk chocolate is old so wouldn't melt very well - I ended up leaving it in the oven longer to try and get it to melt but it just started to dry out and be strange. The other problem was the ice cream. I let it soften too much, so that when I put the sandwich together, the ice cream oozed out. It was a delicious mess though!

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Cowboy Cookies
Monster Cookies
Peanut Butter Squares with Milk Chocolate and Oats
Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

Caramel Crunch Ice Cream Bars
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

I made these as ice cream sandwiches but you could just eat the cookies as they are too.

For the base
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 ounces mini semisweet chocolate chips

ice cream, softened so that it's spreadable (I used vanilla)

For the topping
6 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped (next time I'd use bittersweet chocolate)
3/4 cup toffee pieces (I used Skor, in the US they're Heath)

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly butter a 9x13 inch baking pan, line the pan with foil and butter the foil. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

Make the base: Whisk together the flour, espresso powder, salt and cinnamon.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until the mixture is light and creamy. Beat in the vanilla, then turn off the mixer. Add all the dry ingredients, cover the stand mixer with a kitchen towel (so you and your kitchen don't get showered with flour) and pulse the mixer on and off on low speed about 5 times - at which point a peek at the bowl should reveal that it's safe to turn the mixer to low and mix, uncovered, just until the dry ingredients are almost incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix only until the dry ingredients disappear. If the chocolate isn't evenly mixed, finish the job by hand with a spatula. You'll have a heavy, very sticky dough. Scrape the dough into the buttered pan and, with the spatula and your fingertips, cajole it into a thin, even layer.

Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the base is bubbly - so bubbly you can almost hear it percolating - and puckery. It will look as though it is struggling to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the pan to a rack and turn off the oven.

To make the topping: Scatter the chopped chocolate evenly over the top of the hot base and pop the pan back into the oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chocolate is soft. Remove from the oven and immediately spread the chocolate over the bars, using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the toffee bits over the chocolate and press them down lightly with your fingertips. Place the baking pan on a rack to cool to room temperature.

If, by the time the bars are cool, the chocolate hasn't set, refrigerate them briefly to firm the chocolate.

Carefully lift out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut about 26 bars, each about 4 inches x 2 inches. (Next time I'd cut the bars when the cookie is a bit warm because my cookies cracked when I cut them at room temperature.)

To make the ice cream bars: Working with half of the squares, leaving them frosted side up and working on a baking sheet, spread them with a thick layer of softened ice cream. Top with the other half of the bars, frosted side up, and slide them into the freezer to firm up again. If you need to keep them for a while, double wrap each bar in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Southwest Brunch Bake

In addition to the flatbread with caramelized onions and brie and blackberry orange tea scones, I made this southwest brunch bake as part of the mother's day breakfast for dinner! (Yes I really need to catch up on my posts.) It's super easy to put together, basically just stirring hashbrowns, black beans, corn, red pepper and onion. Then cheese on top, then pour egg & milk mixture on top.

It's a great dish to have in your repertoire because you can make it beforehand then bake it when you need it - good for breakfast or for a weeknight dinner on a night when you don't have time to cook. I liked the dish the way it was, but I think the flavour could be kicked up a bit. Maybe more onion or a stronger cheese? I didn't add the cilantro so that would help bring more flavour too.

Abby, just chillin.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Savoury Vegetable Cheesecake
Butternut Squash Casserole
Tomato and Corn Pie
Squash and Aged White Cheddar Tart with Sage and Roasted Garlic Custard

Southwest Brunch Bake
Adapted from The Best of The Best and More

I left out the 2 tbsp cilantro and 1/4 tsp cayenne because I wasn't sure how well cilantro would go over with my family and didn't want it to be spicy for my niece. So feel free to add those back in if they sound good to you!

Serves 6-8

4 cups frozen shredded-style hash browns
19 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
8 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp salt

Spray 9"x13" baking dish with cooking spray. Mix potatoes, beans, corn, red pepper and onion in baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Beat eggs, milk and salt until well blended. Pour evenly over potato mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but no longer than 24 hours.

Heat oven to 350F and bake, uncovered, 55-60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center come sout clean. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blackberry Orange Tea Scones

I know these scones might look like a bit of a mess, but trust me, they're yummy! So yummy in fact that my brother asked for the recipe and made them himself a few days later (and he doesn't usually bake - aside from bread). They're really soft and moist, more cakey/muffiny than sconey though. Personally I prefer my scones more scone-like but whether you call these scones or muffins, they're delicious. I found the blackberries hard to "fold" in so I had to mush them around.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Apricot Orange Scones
Orange Cream Cheese Muffins
Orange Berry Muffins
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Blackberry Orange Tea Scones
Adapted from Blackberries: Recipes From Powell River

Makes 18 scones

3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, cold
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1 orange, juice and zest
1 cup blackberries

Preheat oven to 425F. Prepare baking sheet by greasing or using a Silpat baking mat.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, juice and zest. Stir into dry ingredients, then fold in blackberries.

Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead 10-12 times. Pat down to 1/2" thickness, and cut into triangles. (Note: My dough was way too sticky to pat out, so I ended up treating them like drop scones and used an ice cream scoop. My brother didn't have any trouble patting them out though.) Place 1" apart on baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thai Coconut Corn Stew

I told you that Eat, Drink & Be Vegan was my new favourite cookbook right? Well this soup is another reason why. I loooooooove corn and I looooooooove corn soup. I love creamed corn, I love corn on the cob, I love those canned baby corn, I love frozen corn, I love corn muffins and corn bread. And I especially love this Thai coconut corn stew. I almost always prefer my soups pureed, as this soup is, and I liked how after pureeing, you add in some extra corn kernels and diced bell pepper for a bit of texture. I thought the soup tasted "Thai" if that makes sense - with the lemongrass (my first time using it!), lime, cilantro, ginger, coriander and coconut milk. This soup is definitely in my top favourite soups ever and possibly top favourite meals? It's so well flavoured. (Oh and I'm showcasing for the first time my new bowl! I've been eyeing this bowl for years and finally bought it.)

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Greek Red Lentil Soup with Lemon, Rosemary and Feta Cheese
White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup
Hungarian Mushroom Soup
Middle Eastern Chickpea Soup

Thai Coconut Corn Stew
Adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan

Makes 4-5 servings

1/2 tbsp oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
3/4 tsp coriander seeds
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 stalk lemongrass
4 cups frozen corn kernels
2 cups vegetable stock
1 can (14 oz) light coconut milk
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large pot on medium heat, add oil, onions, celery, garlic, ginger, coriander seeds, salt, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cut off lower yellow bulbous portion of lemongrass,and remove and discard tough outer leaves along with upper portion of stalk. Using a chef's knife, "bruise" the bulbous portion to release flavour: cut a few slits and using pressure of knife, open and bruise stalk. Add it to the pot, along with 3 cups corn kernels, stock, and coconut milk, and increase heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove lemongrass, and with a hand blender, briefly puree soup to make it a little creamier. Return lemongrass to pot, and stir in remaining 1 cup corn kernels and diced red bell pepper. Cover and cook for another 5-6 minutes on medium-low heat. Stir in lime zest and lime juice (adjust to taste). Season with additional salt if desired. Just before serving, stir in cilantro.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sun Dried Tomato, Feta and Oregano Muffins

As much as I love sweet baked goods, I think I like savoury baked goods better because you can eat them more often! This muffin is a variation on another savoury muffin I made before - caramelized onion, sage and cheddar muffins. This time I did things a little bit different using sun dried tomatoes, feta and oregano, and I used all purpose flour instead of whole wheat and all milk instead of half heavy cream. I loved the texture of the muffins which was tops with scone-like crispy edges and insides that were nice and soft. The tomato flavour is really strong so I might cut back a bit on that next time though.

It's been a really long time since I've participated in the blog event No Croutons Required. This month, you have to make a bread recipe (quick bread or yeast bread) that you think would go well with soup or salad. I think this muffin would go great with a Greek red lentil soup or Mediterranean pepper salad. You have until July 20 to submit your entry. I can't wait to see all the savoury baked goods!

If this sounds good, you might also like:
A Dilly of a Cheese Scone
Cheddar and Black Pepper Scones
Irish Soda Bread
Cheddar & Dill Beer Bread Rolls

Sun Dried Tomato, Feta and Oregano Muffins
Adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Makes 12 muffins

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp dried oregano
10 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
2 large eggs
1 cup milk, at room temperature (I used 1%)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped (rehydrated in hot water if not packed in oil)

Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with muffin papers (or butter and flour the cups or spray them with nonstick vegetable cooking spray).

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, sugar and oregano

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter and eggs. Whisk in the milk until combined.

3. Add the cheese and sun dried tomatoes to the flour mixture and gently toss with your fingers to coat. Make a well in the center. Pour the butter mixture into the center of the well and using a rubber spatula, gently pull the flour mixture into the center of the well until just combined.

4. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup until full. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the center come sout clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Salt & Pepper Tofu

I love tofu but I've had a hard time amassing a decent collection of yummy tofu recipes. There's the honey-mustard marinated tofu, lemon miso tofu, lemon soy garlic ginger tofu, and the ever tasty Matthew's delicious tofu. I've tried lots of others but these are the only ones I've really loved, as stand alone tofu dishes anyway. But recently I've found a few new tofu recipes that are keepers, like this one. There's a salt and pepper tofu dish at Chinese restaurants that I love, so I was hoping this one would be like that, and while it does have the essential elements of salt, pepper and jalapeno, it's not deep fried. (Though if you check out Erin's, it looks more nice and fried than mine.) The first time I made it, I added the recommended 1 tablespoon salt (I used sea salt) and holy man was it ever salty. But I had high hopes for this recipe so tried it again with 1 teaspoon of salt and it was much better. If you have a favourite tofu recipe please share it in the comments!

My mom's dog (a labradoodle) with Abby.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Honey-Mustard Marinated Tofu
Lemon Miso Tofu
Lemon Soy Garlic Ginger Tofu
Matthew's Delicious Tofu

Salt & Pepper Tofu
Adapted from fresh365 who adapted from Secrets of the Red Lantern

1 package extra-firm tofu (12-16 oz), drained
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp five-spice powder
2 tbsp olive oil
4 green onions, chopped

With a sharp knife, cut tofu, lengthwise into thirds. Place side-by-side on an absorbent towel and cover with an additional towel. Place a heavy pot on top of the towels (the heavier the better, as you are trying to extract as much water as possible from the tofu) and let sit 20-30 minutes. Cut tofu into 1" cubes.

In a large bowl, combine jalapeño, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, sugar and five-spice powder. Stir well and add tofu cubes. Toss until tofu cubes are well coated on all sides. In a large skillet, heat oil and add tofu (and spices). Cook on medium-low heat, 8 minutes, turning cubes every 1-2 minutes. Add green onions and cook an additional 2 minutes, until tofu is golden brown.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Thai Chick-Un Pizza

Have I mentioned that one of my new favourite cookbooks is Eat, Drink & Be Vegan? There's a photo of this Thai Chick-Un Pizza on the back cover of the book and it's been tempting me for quite a while. I love when pizzas have sauces other than tomato sauce - this one has peanut sauce. And for toppings, lots of yummy things! Chickpeas, red pepper, pineapple, green onions, and snow peas. Next time I'd add the recommended cilantro and peanuts as well.

I know I've mentioned before how much I love peanut sauce, and how I found "the" peanut sauce but I think I've found a second "the" peanut sauce. This one is seriously amazing. I've never had a peanut sauce with ketchup in it. I think there's enough sauce and toppings to make 2 pizzas, as I found that this one was quite overflowing with stuff so next time I'll split it up. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the whole wheat pizza crust I used here! You can split the dough into 2 to make 2 thin crust pizzas, or make one thicker one (which is what I did). I've made whole wheat pizza crust before, but never had such a soft dough. I really liked this recipe and will try it again, and try it thin crust style next time.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Pad Thai
Tofu and Broccolini in Peanut Sauce
Szechuan Tofu Triangles in Triple Pepper Sauce
Fresh Pear and Curry Pasta

Thai Chick-Un Pizza
Adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan

Peanut Sauce
2/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 large cloves garlic, quartered
1 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
1/4 cup soy milk
2 tsp honey (I didn't have agave but use agave to make it vegan)

1 10-12 inch whole wheat pizza shell (see recipe below)

1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup fresh pineapple, chopped (I used drained canned pineapple chunks)
3/4 cup snow peas, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, sliced
peanuts, chopped (garnish)
fresh cilantro leaves (garnish)

To prepare peanut sauce:
In a food processor, add peanut butter, ketchup, rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and honey, and puree until smooth (add 1-2 tbsp water to thin is desired - sauce should be thick enough to spread on pizza and not runny).

Preheat the oven to 500F. Line a pizza pan with parchment or oil the pizza pan. Roll or stretch the ball of dough to fit your pizza pan. Bake just the crust for 5 minutes. Take crust out of the oven. (Note: If you're not using this crust, then omit this step of prebaking the crust, and just bake the pizza for 17-20 minutes.)

Spread peanut sauce evenly on pizza shell. In a bowl, lightly flatten chickpeas with a large spoon (or in palm of your hand), and distribute evenly over sauce. Distribute bell pepper, pineapple and snow peas evenly. Bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on crust thickness), sprinkling on green onions for last minute of cooking, until the crust is golden and toppings have heated through. Serve sprinkled with chopped peanuts and cilantro if desired.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Adapted from Marla on

1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
3-3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.

Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in 3 cups of whole wheat flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a floured surface and add the other 1/2 cup whole wheat flour as needed. Knead until the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.