To help celebrate Grilled Cheese Month and to join in Panini Happy’s Grilled Cheese Pageant and because I just had a craving for a dish like this, I decided to make an indulgent, grilled cheese sandwich filled with scrambled eggs.
A few weeks ago, I purchased whole wheat flour and oat bran at Trader Joe’s and since then, I’ve been remaking my favorite quick bread and muffin recipes to increase fiber and decrease fat. Zucchini Bread is my most recent target. Awhile ago, I posted the Zucchini Bread recipe handed down to me by my mother that I’ve been using since the early eighties. It’s great: sweet, moist, and flavorful. But it’s loaded with sugar and butter and calls for only bleached flour. If you’re in the mood for something a little healthier, try this version instead. It packs as much flavor but the pleasure comes without the guilt.
Healthier Zucchini Bread
2 medium loaves
2 cups grated zucchini
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose (bleached) flour
1/2 cup oat bran
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray 2 9′ x 5′ baking pans with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Add sugar, zucchini, oil, applesauce and vanilla. Mix lightly but well (with a spoon).
2. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients.
3. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture (in batches) until blended. Don’t over mix.
4. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans.
I’m still on an oat bran kick after purchasing a package of oat bran at Trader Joe’s. This recipe provides a scrumptious way to use bananas that have gotten just a little too ripe. This is not a super low-fat recipe, like the previous post, where I substituted applesauce for some of the oil and used minimal amounts of sugar. These are a bit more traditional, but the oat bran, whole wheat flour and bananas definitely make them relatively guilt-free. Yes?
Banana Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
Makes a dozen muffins
3/4 cup all-purpose bleached flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat bran
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup – 1 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the first 6 ingredients.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, egg whites and vanilla.
4. Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir to just combine. Stir in bananas and fold in 1/2 cup of pecans.
5. Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup (optional) pecans on top of the muffins. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool slightly before serving.
Recently, I’ve been enjoying the blueberry bran muffins at Peet’s Coffee I’ve noticed how I don’t have my normal mid-morning hunger pangs as a result. So that set me to thinking it’s time to add bran muffins to my cooking repertoire. I purchased whole wheat flour and oat bran at Trader Joe’s as well as some dried fruits, like apricots, dates and… figs. So today, I tried a fig and oat bran muffin and it came out great.
I really tried to make this a healthy, low-fat recipe, so instead of my normal “stick of melted butter,” this recipe has a mixture of applesauce and canola oil for the fat. It has a bit of brown sugar, but not too much and no white sugar. And, of course, it has whole wheat flour and oat bran. The orange peel and spices make it a nice holiday (healthy) treat.
Spiced Fig & Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
Makes 14 Muffins
1 cup all-purpose (bleached) flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat bran
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped dried Black Mission Figs
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
3 Tbsp apple sauce
2 large eggs
1 cup Stonyfield Farms Oikos Yogurt (or other Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Grated peel of 2 clementines (about 2 tsp)
1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line muffin tins with papers and spray inside of papers lightly with nonstick cooking spray (optional).
2. Mix together the first 9 ingredients (all dry) in a medium bowl. Stir in figs and pecans. Set aside.
3. Mix together the brown sugar, oil and applesauce. Whisk in the 2 eggs until well blended. Stir in the yogurt and the milk. Whisk in the vanilla and stir in the grated peel.
4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Don’t overmix. Drop batter into paper cups, dividing evenly.
5. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.
Day 5 of 14 Days of Apple brings us to the latte. Mmmm. The Pumpkin Pie Spice Latte was such a success last month, I thought I’d try to replicate the fall fun with apple. While you could just buy various syrups to accomplish the result below, I like to make things from scratch, so I’ve created an apple syrup here with ingredients you probably have on hand. Simply make the syrup, steam some milk and add it all to espresso.
I am no espresso expert, but I recently discovered an espresso maker while cleaning out a basement closet, so I’ve started experimenting. I can’t get the milk steamer to work, though, so for this recipe, I make warmed, frothed milk on the stove top. If anyone has any advice, please pass it along. Basically, when I try to work the steamer, there is a clicking noise instead of steam. My other great discovery since finding the machine were these Illy espresso “pods” that take the guess work out of making the perfect cup of espresso. Just pop the pod in and press “go.” They’re available at Amazon:
Apple Pie Spiced Latte
Makes 1 latte
1 cup apple juice
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup whole milk
1 shot of espresso
1-2 Tbsp whipped cream (optional)
1. In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, bring the apple juice to a boil and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Bring back to a boil and allow to reduce further and thicken. Add cinnamon and nutmeg and stir to blend. When syrup clings to the back of a spoon and there are about 2 Tbsp of liquid left, remove from heat and pour into a Pyrex measuring cup to cool. Remember, boiling sugar is extremely hot, so be careful. I put my syrup into the freezer to cool faster, but that may not be necessary. Just bring it to room temperature at your own pace.
2. Now, make the espresso in an espresso machine (or strong coffee with a French press would be good too). If you’re lucky enough to have an espresso machine as well as a milk steamer, you can use that to steam the milk, but I can’t get my milk steamer to work, so here’s how I do it: Heat the milk very gently in a medium saucepan. When it is getting warm, add the cooled syrup (both tablespoons of it), and whisk it in rapidly. While you are whisking, you’ll be adding enough air to the milk mixture to make it frothy. Once everything is warm, mixed and frothy, pour it over the espresso in a tall cup and enjoy. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle on a bit more cinnamon for that special touch.
We’re back, live, with another food-blogging marathon. This month, we’re streaming APPLES and we’re kicking it off with a scrumptious apple-orange-cranberry loaf. I say “we.” It’s just me – back from an exciting weekend at the Breeders’ Cup down at the Santa Anita race track near Los Angeles. Zenyatta, the filly, came from behind to beat all the boys yesterday. It was a thrill to be there for the historic event, surrounded by the stars of my favorite tv shows, no less. Somebody pinch me. It’s time to wake up and make the donuts. Or the quick bread as the case may be.
Day 27 of 31 days of pumpkin and I have to say this recipe is a real highlight. How could it not be? I’ve taken a layman’s stab at a recipe in Claire Clark’s stunning book, Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts.
Who is Claire Clark, you ask? Why, she is simply one of the world’s greatest pastry chefs. Back in London after spending 4 years as head pastry chef of The French Laundry in Yountville, CA, she’s currently working on a project of her own which is set to open in the Spring 2010. Indulge is an amazing book, as is the French Laundry Cookbook itself.
The granola on top of the custard is literally one of the best tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth and I’ve eaten at The French Laundry. Twice. That I can make this at home anytime I want is a true revelation. Now I’m thinking I should do a mega marathon, like cook through her entire book of 100 recipes in a year or something. Oh wait. That’s been done already.
I read in the French Laundry Cookbook that Thomas Keller dictates that a liquid in his kitchen should never pass from one pot to another without first passing through a sieve. Claire Clark’s recipe reminded me of that today and the pumpkin custard passes through a sieve TWICE. I love it. It really makes a difference and is something I want to do more in my everyday cooking life.
Spice Pumpkin Custard with Orange-Infused Granola
This is my simplified version of Claire Clark’s recipe. She of course, uses real pumpkin in her version and has you boil it in milk and use some of the reserved milk. Yum. She also reports all of her measurements by weight. I’ve converted many of them here to volume measurements for ease of use, in case you don’t have a kitchen scale (I do and I was so happy to have it today). If you want the real Claire Clark recipe, you’ll have to buy the book.
Ingredients for the Custard
1/2 cup milk
13 oz canned puréed pumpkin
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 medium eggs
2 1/4 oz caster sugar
1 1/4 oz dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Ingredients for the granola
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 oz dessicated coconut
3 oz pecan nuts, roughly chopped
3 oz slivered almonds
4.5 oz large rolled oats
2 Tbsp canola oil
grated zest of 2 oranges
Method for the Granola
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Put the sugar in a large pan with the honey, maple syrup, butter, and vanilla extract and bring slowly to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. I started out on very low heat, and as everything melted and dissolved, I increased it to medium-low heat.
2. Remove from the heat and add the coconut, pecan nuts, almonds and the oats. Mix well, and then quickly stir in the canola oil and orange zest. Work fast because the sugar starts to harden pretty quickly.
3. Turn out onto a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (or covered with a nonstick baking mat) and spread out evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown, turning frequently to ensure even coloring. Remove from the oven and, as the granola cools, break it up into pieces. After it cools, store the granola in an airtight container.
Method for the Custard
1. Preheat the oven to 325˚F and bring water to boil in a teakettle. In a large saucepan, whisk together the cream, eggs, and milk. Warm it up over very low heat. While it is warming, add the pumpkin purée by passing the canned pumpkin through a sieve on its way into the mixture. Then add the caster sugar, brown sugar, all of the spices and mix well. Stir over very low heat until sugars are dissolved. You’re only heating it to help the sugars dissolve. Remove from heat and whisk in the melted butter. Pass the mixture through a sieve again.
2. Divide evenly among 6 ramekins and lay them in a roasting pan. Place the roasting pan in the oven and then pour near boiling water into the pan until it reaches about 1/2 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set. The tops should spring back when you press lightly on them. Remove the dishes from the roasting pan and let cool, then transfer them to the refrigerator where they should chill completely. Serve with the granola sprinkled on top.
Day 23 of 31 days of pumpkin and let me tell you, there are a lot of pumpkin bread recipes out there. This one is the best. I’m not lyin’. The difference between this one and some of the other good ones? It’s made with 100% real butter baby. Not canola oil, not vegetable oil. Butter. Melted. It’s got all the sugar and twice the fat, but if you’re going to eat a piece of Pumpkin Bread, why do it any other way?
Since this recipe yields two loaves, I decided to throw 1/2 cup of chopped pecans into one of them. Love it. Until I tasted this Pumpkin Bread, I thought Starbucks® really had something. They got nothin’.
Day 20 of 31 days of pumpkin and I’m heading into new territory again. I’m really not a bread baker, but I wanted to do a recipe with yeast before the month was over so I hunted around and cherry picked different parts from several existing recipes to make my perfect Pumpkin Yeast Rolls. The result is a slightly sweet, light and airy roll with definite pumpkin flavor. I feel like a whole new world has opened up to me now that I can confidently add bread baking to my repertoire. I know I’m late to the bread making party, but better late than never.
Day 12 of 31 days of pumpkin and I’ve decided to do a healthy breakfast recipe for this installment. My 19 month-old daughter wolfed this down for breakfast this morning. I just love it when she takes to a new food instantly.
Basically, all I’ve done here is create a mini pumpkin custard (except I’ve left out the eggs) and swirled it into traditional oatmeal. The oats I used are labeled Old Fashioned oats, but the directions say to cook them for 3-5 minutes, which sounds like Quick Cooking oats. Use whatever you’ve got as long as it’s not instant. Just follow the package instructions. For this recipe, you cook the oats and the pumpkin separately anyway and then combine them at the end.
I garnished the oatmeal with an apple slice, but the apple with a little bit of the pumpkin sauce on it tasted so good that next time, I plan to top the bowl with about 1/4 cup of diced apple. Continue reading