Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mad about minis: Low Fat Chocolate Banana Nut Muffin for One


Banana Chocolate Muffin
Most of my single-serving or mini recipes have been really decadent stuff: lava cake, brownies, coffee cake. This one however, was inspired by a need. I wanted a muffin, but the car was in the shop and I did not want to walk to the nearest bakery (about a 20 minute walk, round-trip). I had time and ingredients on hand, so I thought I’d google and see if I can satisfy my craving.

I found the Blueberry muffin recipe from Chocolate-covered Katie and started with that. It was summer and I had blueberries handy for my cereal. It was perfect… I did later tweak it to add some texture and my current obsession with oats.

Below is what I have so far. Sometimes, I have experimented with different flours, so I’ve tried different combinations (almond, spelt, coconut). The combination below is my most basic one, since these are usually in my pantry. It also simplifies my recipe… for those mornings when I really need coffee.


Low Fat Chocolate Banana Nut Muffin for One
Makes one muffin

Ingredients 
  • 3 tsp of rolled oats
  • 4 tsp of whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp of all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp of brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 4 t of mashed banana (original recipe called for 1T oil - about 2 inches of banana)
  • 4 tsp milk of choice (Use less if using liquid sweetener.)
  • 2 tsp of walnuts (optional)
  • 2 tsp of chocolate chips (optional, but why not!!!)

Directions
  1. Preheat your oven to 330 degrees.
  2. Mix first six (dry) ingredients in a ramekin, then add wet.
  3. Mix until combined (don’t over mix - but make sure its mixed thoroughly). 
  4. Bake for 15 minutes or so. (20 minutes in my toaster oven). Baking time will vary, depending on the flour and oil/applesauce you use.) If this is too long, you can also put this in the microwave for about 90 seconds or so. Remember, microwave times vary.

Verdict

Peanut Butter Swirl Muffin
Variation: Peanut Butter Swirl Muffin
It has been a staple particularly if I haven’t baked a batch of muffins over the weekend (or am tired of that batch). I’ve substituted applesauce instead of bananas, and that works just fine.

I also use this as a minimal clean-up recipe: that is why I just mix and eat this off the ramekin. I’ve also got it down so I only use my 1 tsp and 1/4 tsp measuring spoon.

The problem with this is that this can be so good that you wish you baked a big batch of it… or at least two.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mad about Minis: Coffee Cake for One



coffee cake in a panThe trip to Wayfare Tavern inspired me to make coffee cake. I have not made an entire coffee cake before, and looking at the recipes on the internet, I think I am a bit hesitant to make something with that much butter and eggs. Don’t get me wrong… I love coffee cake. Once a week, I go on a quick coffee cake run for breakfast. I just know that if I bake a huge batch, I will probably gain 10 pounds in one week.

That said, I think I can commit to a mini-coffee cake. Besides, Wayfare Tavern served mini coffee cakes with our bill. It is just appropriate to make a small one.

I found a recipe for coffee cake in a mug from Chocolate-covered Katie. I think this will just do the job… to start. I did end up doubling the streusel because the first time I made it, it was not quite enough. I also did not put streusel in the middle of the batter, since there was not enough for the top in the first place.

I did use applesauce on my second attempt to cut down on fat on the streusel. I ended up using real sugar though, since I am not a big fan of sugar-alternatives (If you are diabetic or watching your carbs, feel free to substitute).

Here’s what I ended up with. I hope you enjoy and tell me what you think.


Coffee Cake for One

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 3 TBSP of Spelt Flour (You can use 1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 Tbsp whole-wheat flour.)
  • 1 TBSP sugar (or 1 stevia packet or 1/2 tsp pure) 
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 TBSP plus 2 tsp water
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp walnuts (optional)

For the streusel (optional):  
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp applesauce
  • tiny pinch salt
  • about 1 tsp of walnuts

Directions:

  1. If using an oven, preheat to 330 F.
  2. Combine batter dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Add wet and mix until just mixed. In a separate bowl, combine all streusel ingredients.
  4. Fill a greased ramekin with the batter.
  5. Sprinkle on the streusel on top of the batter.
  6. Cook 20-25 minutes in the oven (Alternatively, you can microwave it for around one minute in the microwave. Remember microwave times vary.)
 
Verdict

coffee cake servingThis is a great start. It tastes just like store-bought coffee cake, but maybe slightly denser than store-bought coffee cake, but probably a bit healthier. I may need to experiment with using less sugar and perhaps using applesauce instead of butter.

I may also need a new toaster oven. Things just take way too long to bake in this one.

Maybe after I get a food processor.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Craving for Popovers


An obsession of mine ever since I visited Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern was their famous popovers. Perfectly baked, crispy yet soft in the inside; it was quite buttery too. It was worth the visit just for popovers.

To get over my obsession, I decided to bake popovers. Also, I figured this would be a good recipe to try out on my new muffin pan and also my husband.

popover servingI decided to use the recipe from AllRecipes.com that I’ve been used to, except that I used my usual soymilk instead of real milk (I rarely have real milk in my refrigerator). However, I was not sure how to make it more buttery, so just added butter in the pan (as I’ve read in one of the reviews from Allrecipes.com) and also brushed it with butter after baking.

It did not occur to me to look for Tyler’s recipe since hey… it was early in the morning. I was lucky enough to be able to read a recipe.

I did remember the tip from my original pop-over post: "Hot pan, warm batter!". Not bad for 7 am.

Here’s my recipe (for this week) at least. I am sure that there will be some tweaking… and more baking!

Simple Popovers
Makes 9-10 muffin sized popovers
 
Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup soy milk (I used Soy Dream)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp of butter (plus 1 more Tbsp more for brushing, if desired)

Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Divide 1 Tbsp of butter evenly in the pan. Place muffin pan in the oven to preheat. Grease the muffin cups with the melted butter.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs slightly.
  4. Microwave milk for about 2 minutes to warm it. Beat in flour, milk and salt until just smooth; being careful not to overbeat (The batter will be thin).
  5. Fill muffin cups 1/2 full.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes more. Important: Do not peek. Immediately remove from cups and serve piping hot. Brush with melted butter, if desired.

Verdict

popovers in a panThis recipe was pretty good. Even though this was not Wayfare Tavern’s, my husband enjoyed it and had two for breakfast and another two for dinner with his stew at dinner. With my picky eater, I consider that a success!

With this new pan, I may need to play with time a little bit. I’d like a darker golden brown look to it. With the muffin pan, I may need to increase the temp a bit to 425 degrees.

…and I got to get a pop-over pan!

…and try Tyler Florence’s recipe.

But first, I got to find it!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Poulet avec Herbes de Provance (or "How I Made a Chicken French")


Chicken with Herbes de ProvanceGoing to Wayfare Tavern last week inspired me to write about my adventures in creating Chicken with Herbes de Provance. I first encountered Herbes de Provance in reading a magazine article, probably from Food Network or Bon Appetit (most likely the latter).

For those who are not familiar with Herbes de Provance, this is a combination of dried herbs typical of Provence, France. These mixtures typically contain savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and, lavender leaves, and other herbs, although lavender was not used in traditional southern French cooking (From Wikipedia).


Herbes de ProvanceI have not used Herbes de Provance before so I looked for the easiest recipe possible. Somehow I ran into using it while roasting chicken. This was super easy, so I thought this would be a great place to start.

I actually combined a number of recipes that I found on the web: from Williams-Sonoma to Bon Appetit to Epicurious. Some used olive oil, but I figured, it would not be French if I did not use butter. As a compromise, I used half and half.

My final recipe is below. I am very interested to see what you think.

Chicken with Herbes de Provance
Serves 2-4

Ingredients

  • 2 quarter chickens (thighs and leg)
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1  Tbsp of butter, plus more veggies
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1-1/2 cup of potatoes, sliced (depending on how big your pan is)
  • 1-1/2 cup of carrots, sliced (same comment as above)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 to 3 tsp. Herbes de Provence
  • Lemon slices, for serving

Directions:

1.     Preheat an oven to 400ºF.
2.     Rub the chicken with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Season the chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper, then rub on both sides with the herbes de Provence.
3.     In an ovenproof pan roaster or a sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp of Butter. Place the chicken, skin side down, in the pan and sear until browned and crisp. Flip the chicken to the other side and slightly sear. Place all the chicken, skin side up, in an oven proof pan.
4.     Add potatoes, carrots, and garlic to the pan and pour the oil from the previous pan on the chicken. Add butter and more herbs on the vegetables, if desired.
5.     Put the chicken in the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken, away from the bone, registers 160ºF.
6.     Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Leave the chicken whole or cut into slices, if desired. Serve immediately.


Verdict

Chicken with Herbes de Provance - Serving
The result was a delicious dish and will definitely put it in our household rotation, especially when the weather gets colder. Per Bon Appetit, the chicken can be made 2 days ahead, Let cool. Cover and chill; bring to room temperature before serving. So leftovers would be great, although it did not last long enough for me to test that theory.

When I do this again, I would try to use an oven proof pan to minimize cleaning. If I were brave enough to use my cast-iron pan, I would use that instead.

Chicken with Herbes de Provance - Baking
I also read that you can use Herbes de Provance mixture for practically anything: fish, meats, and even vinaigrette. I think that would be a great use of the leftover spices.