Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

February 16th, 2017

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Breakfast can be a tricky meal in my house. During the week the kids are up quite early for school and need to be out the door on the double. On the weekends I like to sleep in just a bit, so they’re on their own as far as food is concerned. It’s really easy to pick up some muffins at the market or maybe some chocolate babka and call it a day. But then I read the labels and think; with just a bit of effort I can really do better than store bought pastries loaded with refined sugar, fat and fillers. Enter Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. These muffins are delicious and so easy to make. They are made using just one bowl and you basically throw everything in (I actually Google recipes that use melted butter or oil for baked goods because I hate having to drag out the Kitchenaid). While, I can’t claim to make homemade muffins every week (my name’s not Martha after all), I do make an effort to pick up those brown, over-ripe bananas whenever I see them.

INGREDIENTS:
3 very ripe bananas
6 teaspoons butter (unsalted), melted
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1½ cups of all-purpose flour
1-teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of Kosher salt
½ cup mini chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini muffin pan. In a medium sized mixing bowl mash the bananas with a fork until smooth. Stir in the melted butter. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Then mix in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla. Finally add the flour. Stir until just combined. Mix in the chips.

Scoop (about 1/4 cup) batter into each muffin cup. Bake about 18 minutes. Edges will be just lightly browned and the top spongy. Remove to a cooling rack.

*Adapted from Simply Recipes Banana Bread http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/

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Eggs: Two Ways

February 10th, 2017

Eggs

Well it’s a snowy wonderland outside and a chaotic zoo inside. I find that whenever the kids are home from school we seem to eat six meals a day instead of three. Plus snacks. I become the queen of some fictitious cooking show about being creative with whatever is in your refrigerator at any given moment. Basically I have eggs and some old vegetables. Not particularly exciting, but a fun challenge. So I started with Egg Muffins. We had just made these at Young Chefs club to mostly positive reviews. One of my young friends said “I love these” and I said “I’m so glad you like them” and she admonished me by stating “I said I love these, not just like!”

I moved on to hard-boiled eggs. Saved half for snacks and used the other half to make Egg Salad. This is a super easy egg salad and is just as delicious for breakfast as it is for dinner. Yes, you heard me, dinner. Moreover, it’s kind of fun for the kids to pick and choose their favorite way to eat it. You can have toast or English muffins or lettuce cups on the bottom and sliced cucumber or avocado or Sriracha on top. Or really anything you want. When was the last time someone offer you “anything you want?”

Egg Muffins

Egg Muffins with Broccoli, Ham and Cheddar Cheese

INGREDIENTS:
10 eggs, beaten
1 crown broccoli, blanched, florets small chopped
1-¼” piece of ham, small diced
¼ cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt/pepper
Cooking spray

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium sized bowl, mix all the ingredients together. Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, scoop mixture into the prepared muffin pan.

Bake about 18-20 minutes or until the tops are just dry.

Easy Egg Salad

INGREDIENTS:
8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced
½ cup celery, finely diced
2 Tablespoons onion (red or white), finely diced
¼ cup light Mayonnaise
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons mustard
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all the ingredients together until well blended.

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No Bake Chocolate Nutella Avalanche Cookies

December 1st, 2016

No Bake Chocolate Nutella Avalanche Cookies

The Thanksgiving holiday is over and everyone is back to their usually scheduled program. Thanksgiving was a great celebration with close friends and family. Dinner was a success, though I actually made too much food. Mostly the standards: To start was a crudité with Green Goddess Dip, an assortment of cheeses and nuts, and my friend Juliet brought something we call “heart stoppers”. Long slabs of bacon wrapped around a crunchy water chestnut and smothered in some kind of sweet delicious sauce. Perhaps I can coax her into giving up her secret recipe. Not too much to start off with, but enough to stave off the wolves until the turkey gets carved. For dinner I served Green Beans with Cream of Portobello Mushroom Soup and Crispy Fried Onions, thank you Trader Joe’s for taking an American Classic and kicking it up a notch! Then sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, Bourbon Sweet Potatoes (thank you Cindy), three kinds of stuffing: traditional stovetop, Shitake Mushroom and Butternut Squash (made this on the fly with some gorgeous hand-picked shitake mushrooms from the Pleasantville Farmer’s Market), and the one stuffing that Thanksgiving would not be complete without, Citarella’s Sausage Stuffing (hand delivered by my friend Chris), Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas (Juliet again), Agata and Valentina Roasted Root Vegetables (special thanks to Roberta and Fred), cranberry sauce, and gravy. Whew! Oh wait then there was dessert. My favorite is always a stunning cheese cake from Simply Recipes (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_cheesecake/), Chocolate Bread Pudding (Cindy you are my idol), brownies (Sara they were perfect), Avalanche Cookies from Cookies and Cups (see my fun twist on this recipe below), Vanilla Melt-Away Sprinkle Cookies (adapted from Taste of Home), Chocolate Pudding Pie (Galloways Bakery), Levain Bakery Cookies (Brenda you have a lifetime invitation to Thanksgiving dinner), Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel from Smitten Kitchen https://smittenkitchen.com/2012/10/apple-mosaic-tart-with-salted-caramel/, and the best Apple Pie in New Jersey straight from the Ritz Diner (Madi your one-finger cooking never fails). I realize that this is a giant run on paragraph but somehow that seems appropriate for a Thanksgiving dinner description!

These no-bake Avalanche cookies were 100 times better than I expected. They are lighter, easier to bite into and more delicious than at first glance. I used semi-sweet morsels instead of white chocolate, swapped out the peanut butter for Nutella and added some pretzel pieces. Here is the original recipe from Cookies and Cups http://cookiesandcups.com/no-bake-avalanche-cookies/. I also plan to try a version with soy butter so that I can make these with my Young Chefs club.

img_7117 img_7118 img_7120 No Bake Chocolate Nutella Avalanche Cookies

INGREDIENTS: (makes 12 large cookies)

1 cup Rice Crispy cereal
½ cup mini marshmallows
½ cup pretzel pieces (I use the Glutino pretzel sticks)
1-cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
¼ cup Nutella

DIRECTIONS:

Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl mix together Rice Crisp cereal, marshmallows, and pretzels. In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips. Start at 20 seconds, stir, and then continue melting/stirring at 10 second intervals. When melted add in the Nutella and stir well. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal, marshmallows and pretzels. Mix to coat. Using 2 spoons, drop tablespoon size mounds onto the prepared cookie sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is set. Store in the refrigerator.

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Lasagna Roll-ups

November 15th, 2016

Lasagna Roll-ups

I have been making Lasagna Roll-ups forever. I have taught this in classes for kids and adults for the past several years. I have sent countless friends and family to my website for this easy, delicious recipe. And I just realized it’s not actually on my website. Ooooops!

We made this great dish today in young chefs cooking club. This is an adorable group of 5, 6, and 7 old boys and girls. The kids did a great job mixing the filling and assembling the roll-ups. They did an even better job of cleaning their plates, literally eating every last morsel of pasta, bit of tomato sauce and fleck of spinach.

The parents were thrilled to see such exuberant eating. Several of them decided to go straight to the market and pick up the ingredients to make these roll-ups for dinner. I felt that that level of enthusiasm for a recipe deserved prompt attention. So here is the now infamous recipe for Lasagna Roll-ups…

INGREDIENTS:

1 32oz. container of Ricotta cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 bag frozen chopped spinach, drained
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 Jar tomato sauce
1 box lasagna, cooked according to the box instructions
1 8oz. bag of part-skim, low moisture shredded Mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the Ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, spinach, and salt. Lightly coat the bottom of a casserole dish with tomato sauce. Take one long lasagna noodle and lay it flat on a cutting board. Take two tablespoons of the Ricotta mixture and spread it evenly across the entire noodle. Then roll up the noodle and place it seam down in the casserole dish. Continue doing this until the entire dish is full. Then pour some more sauce, making sure all the noodles are covered, and then top with the shredded cheese. Bake this in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling. If the cheese starts to burn cover it with some tin foil.

* You may have some extra Ricotta filling. No worries. Either use it as a filling for an omelet (I just bought the Tramontina 80114/535DS Professional Nonstick Restaurant Fry Pan, 10-Inch, Natural Aluminum and I love it. In fact I performed the restaurant flip with my omelet this weekend and earned the momentary respect of my 10 year old son. Need I say more?). Or mix it in with some Israeli cous cous and serve it with a piece of grilled chicken or fish.

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Chocolate Covered Apple Pops (and Mummies too)

November 6th, 2016

The trees right now are an amazing mix of brilliant orange, gold and burgundy colors.  My daughter and I were out the other evening taking a few photographs as the sun set at the end of a wondrous fall day. I was moved by a picture she took of me. She said, “mom, it really feels like you, out here in the freezing cold, racing against the setting sun and doing something you love”. What she didn’t realize, was that the best part of that evening was being out there with someone I truly love, her.  I stood there watching the expression on her face, pure joy, with her red tipped nose and beautiful smile and couldn’t imagine being happier.  I realize as I get older how important it is to recognize those fleeting yet magical moments in life.  This post was supposed to be light and fun, about chocolate covered apple mummies, and yet somehow when I sat down to write this is what came to mind.  There is something poetic and nostalgic about this time of year.

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While Halloween has come and gone, fall is still alive and well. The smell of apples still lingers in the crisp air.  I have really enjoyed apple season this year. I have a new apple cake with crumb topping that has become a cult favorite in my house (adapted from www.spendwithpennies.com). I also made a wonderful applesauce from Simple Recipes and some better-than-expected Chocolate Apple Pops from www.delish.com (Lauren Miyashiro)….

Now chocolate covered anything is usually a hit, but sometimes there’s just too much stuff on a chocolate covered pop, making it hard to enjoy and ultimately better to look at than to eat. But these pops are really good. And easy. And a great treat to bring to a family dinner party. My mother-in-law told me they were so beautiful and professional looking that I could sell them! I’ve made them a few different ways, first the chocolate dipped pop with colorful sprinkles and then the chocolate apple mummies (or ghosts).

Chocolate Covered Apple Pop

Ingredients:

4 large Honey crisp apples, cut into 4 thick slices each or cut into quarters (no core!)
16 Popsicle sticks
1 bag chocolate chips
¼ cup coconut oil or canola oil
1 cup white chocolate chips
Decorative candy: mini M&M’s, pretzel pieces, broken Oreos, candy eyes, chopped nuts, etc.

Directions:

Take the cut apples, lay them flat, and insert a Popsicle stick through the bottom of the apple and parallel to the counter.

In a microwave safe bowl start to melt the chocolate chips. Start with 20 seconds and microwave in 10-second intervals until melted. The chips may be melted but still holding their shape. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil until smooth and slightly thinned out. Use a bit more oil if needed. Dip the apple pops into the chocolate, allow the excess to drip off a bit and lay them out on a silpat lined (or waxed paper) rimmed cookie sheet. Put them into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

In a clean bowl melt the white chocolate chips the same way as the chocolate chips. Do not over melt. White chocolate is less stable and has a tendency to harden unexpectedly (especially from contact with water or heating too quickly). Whisk in the last tablespoon of coconut oil until smooth. Using a spoon or pastry bag, drizzle the white chocolate over the pops. Decorate with candy, lightly pressing the candy into the chocolate and allow to harden in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

 

Chocolate covered apple mummies

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