Saturday, October 26, 2013

Discovery Weekends: Sweet Taste of the Tropics At Plumeria Flours


Plumeria Flours Box Lid
I finally had a chance to redeem a gift certificate from Plumeria Flours. It was a gift from a friend of mine (Thanks Sengita Warich!) and after a long hard work week, I felt it was about time to redeem it.

Plumeria Flours has a cozy shop tucked away in a strip mall near Walnut Creek’s Broadway Plaza.  One of their specialties is square tropical-flavored cupcake, which is what my gift certificate was good for – six of them! OMG, I do not think I can finish six cupcakes!

They had four flavors available that day: Mango, Papaya, Guava, and Kona Coffee. Since my favorite fruit is mango, I got two mango cupcakes. Also, two Kona Coffees, and one each of the papaya and guava. I think of the bunch, Kona Coffee is my favorite: good coffee flavor complemented by a mocha frosting. Yummy. My next favorite: you guessed it – mango. The cupcakes were topped with a thin layer of whipped cream frosting, appropriately flavored of course. This ratio was okay for me, since I usually do not like too much frosting. However, I felt it could use just a tad more. The frosting may not be enough for most people though, but there was more than enough cake, which I think is the most important part.

Square Cupcakes in a Box
I was disappointed that they did not have Haupia cupcake that day. Haupia is a traditional coconut-milk based dessert or snack. It has a similar consistency to gelatin, but richer. Haupia is one of my favorite snacks while I am in Hawaii and reminds me of being in Hawaii.

Another specialty item is their chocolate covered and plumeria decorated Oreos. I did not see any while I was there, perhaps because it was late on a Friday afternoon. If you check out Plumeria Flour’s website, you can see how gorgeous these cookies are (The website did say that it is Out-of-Stock).

Coffee Cupcake OpenedHowever, the caramel popcorn was very tempting and quite inexpensive too. I think $6 per bag. The popcorn had names like “Kalua Pig”, “100% Hapa”, “Humuhumunukuapua’a”. The names reflect the flavor: “Kalua Pig” was Bacon Caramel and “Humuhumunukunukuapua’a” (the Hawaiian state fish, a type of triggerfish) was Seaweed infused, if I remember. I don’t remember what “100% Hapa” was made out of… but I did remember discussing the contradiction in the name (“Hapa” is a pidgin Hawaiian word derived from the word “Half” … so, go figure, 100% = Half?).  Anyway, with six cupcakes, I decided it maybe prudent to save popcorn for a later trip.

For the fall, Plumeria Flours have limited hours: only Wednesday – Friday, 10 am – 5:30 pm. You can catch them at different Polynesian events in the San Francisco Bay Area. Check them out at PlumeriaFlours.com.

Friday, October 18, 2013

October Oatmeal and Oatbran Pumpkin Muffins

pumpkin muffins in a pan


I can’t let October to pass by without making something with pumpkin. I am still obsessed with oats and need muffins (even though, I baked that gigantic batch last week). One problem: I have not worked with canned pumpkin before.

I found a great recipe at AllRecipes.com. It had the perfect name: October Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffins. However, since I do have a huge batch of banana muffins, I decided to half the recipe.

Also since I am now also obsessing on oat bran, I decided to substitute some of the oats with oat bran. It just gives a hint of fiber! I also remembered the Chia Seeds this time for that touch of Omega-3.

I know this may look like a lot of ingredients, but I usually have most of these in my pantry. And I listed subs in case you don't have oat bran, whole wheat flour, etc. It will simplify the recipe. Also, especially this time of year, I usually have maple syrup handy - something I got accustomed to while vacationing in Pennsylvania.

October Oats and Oatbran Pumpkin Muffin 
Adapted from October Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffin from AllRecipes.com
Made about 10 muffins in a regular muffin tin

Ingredients: 
  • No-stick cooking spray
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TBSP all-purpose flour (or just use whole-wheat flour)
  • 2 TBSP of oat bran (or just add more oats)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Generous pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree (I used Trader Joe’s Organic Pumpkin)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup (or just use more brown sugar)
  • 1/4 cup (or more) of walnuts (optional)
  • 2 TBSP of butter, melted (optional – should just be 1 T (maybe its why its so moist)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of chia seeds (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Soak oats in the almond milk.
  3. Whisk oat bran, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, salt, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.
  4. Stir oats mixture (from step 2), pumpkin puree, milk, egg, and maple syrup into the dry ingredients until batter is smooth;
  5. Fold in walnuts and chia seeds in the batter.
  6. Scoop batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them to the top.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes; set aside to cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.


Verdict

pumpkin muffin with banana muffin
Pumpkin muffin and friends
This is very good and very pumpkin-y. It’s very moist too, but maybe it’s because I put too much butter. I usually have peanut butter with my muffins, but these are so tasty that one does not really need it. I do know someone who would eat it with PB.

Next time, I think I’ll try it with white chocolate chips. That would be a great decadent twist... or a potluck treat for our Halloween party.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Very Banana Nut Oat Muffins (with chocolate on the side)


I’ve been slammed at work lately and had barely enough time to cook during the week. Even when I am working from home, lunch is usually something easy and placed between bread (Think veggie burgers). I also have morning meetings that make making single-serve muffins or popovers impossible.

banana nut oat muffinsSince having cereal everyday does not appeal to me (not that there is anything wrong with that), I have been baking a batch of muffins every weekend. I’ve been in an oats mood lately. I love the texture, and besides oats are supposed to be heart-healthy.

I found the Healthy Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins recipe in AllRecipes.com, and thought that this would beautifully meet my criteria. It was also the perfect time to clean up the pantry a bit, so I think this is the perfect opportunity to do so. As an example, I did not have enough chocolate chips on hand (oh, the horror!). I also do not have applesauce handy, but I did have lots of bananas! I also have some coconut flour leftover, so I thought using this up would be good to put a bit of coconut flavor.

Here’s the resulting recipe. Let me know what you think.

Very Banana Nut Oat Muffins
Makes 1 dozen muffins and 20 mini-muffins

Ingredients 
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour (can use whole-wheat flour instead)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (I use Silk unsweetened)
  • 1 1/2 cup mashed banana (about three bananas, preferably over-ripe)
  • 1/8 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners.
  2. Stir rolled oats, the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.
  3. Make a well in the center. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl until frothy; mix applesauce, almond milk, agave nectar, and banana into eggs.
  4. Pour moist ingredients into well made in dry ingredients; stir just to moisten. Batter will be lumpy.
  5. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips, if using.
  6. Fill prepared muffin cups about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of several muffins comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to finish cooling on wire racks. Mini-muffins bake for about 10-12 minutes. (I added about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips to the mini-muffins only)

Verdict

This is like the big batch version of my Low-fat Chocolate Banana Nut Muffin for one, except this one uses eggs and rises better than my single-serve version, probably because I baked it in the oven instead of the toaster oven.

This is a very filling muffin, perhaps from the combination of oats, whole wheat, and bananas. This goes great with Nutella, Chocolate Peanut Butter, or just plain peanut butter. My husband loved it – he’s the peanut butter maniac.

I will half recipe next time. I figure half of the recipe will make 9 to10 muffins, which will be perfect for the week. With the recipe halved, I can use mostly agave nectar (I did not have enough last time). I also forgot my usual mainstays: chia seeds for that Omega-3 boost! I would add one tablespoon next time (I did have chia seeds).

The coconut flour did not come through as much, but I am considering using some coconut oil next time. Adding both coconut flour and oil may elevate the coco-nutty flavor (I usually put about 2 tablespoons of butter for moisture, but I ran out). And I did miss the moisture.

Problem is coconut flour and oil is high in saturated fat, so use sparingly if you are watching your cholesterol. Coconut oil “is a good source of antioxidants and lauric acid, a heart-healthy fatty acid with anti-bacterial properties” (Source: “All Dressed Up” by Matthew Kadey, Yoga Journal, May 2013)

Definitely cleaned out the pantry and refrigerator, though.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

My First 5 in 5: Orecchiete with Sausage and Kale

I am a big fan on The Chew. Whenever I am working from home, I try to catch at least the last 30 minutes (after my walk) or catch the show at the gym.  Darn noontime workouts.

Pasta with Sausage and Kale Of the five hosts, Michael Symon is probably our favorite. I first saw Chef Symon in Iron Chef America. I love his personality and of course the wonderful dishes that he creates. My husband also loves his laugh; it is so infectious.

When I found out that Chef Symon has a new book on "5 in 5" dishes, I knew I had to get it. The concept of "5 in 5" is "five fresh ingredients plus some already in your pantry prepared in five minutes". Bonus is that it is under $5 per serving. This is perfect for a working person who does not have time to prepare dinner during the weeknight. Not only we get an insight on his thought process, but I am hoping we can get yummy dinners in no time: definitely a win-win.

I browsed through the recipes and what caught my eye was Oricchiete with Sausage and Kale (page 45). I love kale and combining it with pasta and protein seems to be a balanced meal.

A sign came last Friday for me to make this dish: my husband came home with a pack of spicy turkey sausage, Having had sandwiches most of the week, I was not in the mood for another sandwich, However, I did remember that I bought Orecchiete last week and we have most of the ingredients on hand including kale. It was meant to be.

Pasta with Sausage and Kale cookingIn the interest of not violating any copyright laws and perhaps increasing Chef Symon’s book sales (not that he needs it, the book is already number one in Amazon’s list), I will not publish the recipe on this post. I did make some changes. I did not have fresh pasta so I had to adjust for that. Since we love garlic and some heat, I added three cloves of garlic and a dash or two of cayenne (to make the sausage spicier).

It turned out to be more like 5 in 20 minutes, but it was okay. I had a really hard week, and cooking was meditative and relaxing.

My husband loved this recipe. I halved the recipe and it is all gone! Definitely something that we will make again!

Thanks Chef Symon. My next 5 in 5 maybe coming soon!