Friday, November 30, 2012

"Apple Trinity" Apple-Cinnamon Muffins

One of the top internet searches that lead people to my blog is "apple cinnamon muffins", and it lands people on this recipe from 2010. I have made several changes to the recipe since I published it two years ago. The main difference is that instead of using a mild Golden Delicious apple, I now use a tart and *KAPOW* Granny Smith. Also, instead of making them with non-dairy milk, I now make them with unsweetened apple juice, and the addition of unsweetened applesauce makes it a perfect apple trinity!

Trinity Apple Cinnamon Muffin

They are like little morsels of Autumn! The Granny Smith really makes these muffins extra special and appley, and that crunchy topping is such a treat. I am submitting this recipe to Ricki's Wellness Weekend event.

"Apple Trinity" Apple-Cinnamon Muffins (makes six muffins)

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric (for color, optional)
1/4 tsp salt
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/3 inch squares
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 tsp almond extract, optional
2 tbsp ground flax seeds*
1/2 cup light brown sugar**

For the nutty topping:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with six paper liners and spray each one with cooking spray.

2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, turmeric, and salt. Throw in the diced apple and mix well.

3. In a small sized mixing bowl, whisk together the apple juice, oil, applesauce, almond extract, flax seeds, and brown sugar.

4. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the dry ingredients and gently fold until all ingredients are just incorporated. Spoon the fairly thick batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each three-quarter full or all the way full if you like big muffin tops. The batter should not be very runny at all, but if you find that it is crumbly and it's not coming together, add a tablespoon or two of apple juice until you can work with it.

5. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts evenly on each muffin top and gingerly press the nutty bits down so that they won't fall off the muffins after they're baked. Stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle all over the muffin tops.

6. Bake for about 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. My oven bakes these en exactly 22 minutes.


Notes:

* I like using golden flax seeds for light colored baked goods, but you can definitely use regular flax seeds instead. If you want to skip the flax seeds you can replace them by adding two extra tablespoons of flour to the dry ingredient mix. They're really only there to give them a tiny Omega-3 boost.

* I make my own light brown sugar by mixing 1/2 cup of ground turbinado sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of molasses.

Let's take a look inside!

Trinity Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I have made these so many times! Last time I made them (first picture) I didn't realize I was out of pre-chopped walnuts before we went grocery shopping, but I did have a bag of whole nuts in the pantry which I had to crack open with my kitchen scissors. I am used to cracking nuts this way, but only a few at a time as a snack. This was an epic walnut-cracking session! Needless to say, I have added a nut cracker to my Christmas wishlist. At least Mr. Wing-It got to appreciate my sexy walnut-cracking face. Too bad you guys missed it, but it looked something like this:


Kitteh via Cheezburger.com


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Video: Making Strawberry Santa Hats (Four Ways!)

Oh, I think I'm going to be throwing Strawberry Santa Hats at you all the way through Christmas! I can't help it! There is a small window of opportunity to make these little treats! This time I made you a short video showing how to decorate the Santa Hats. The video shows four different methods to decorate them: two methods using special tools, and two methods that don't require any fancy equipment.

Strawberry Santa Hats
From easiest to most involved, I think they all have their own festive charm!


The four methods from bottom to top (because I am always a little bit backwards):

✓ The fanciest method, which is the one I used for the Santa Hats I made last Monday, requires a piping bag, an open-star decorating tip, and a coupler. It consists of a short-shell buttercream border all around the bottom of the strawberry, finished with a pretty pompom on top. It might take some practice if you have never made a shell border before, but it's quick and easy when you get the hang of it.

✓ The second method also requires a piping bag, an open star decorating tip, and a coupler. Simply make a straight buttercream border all around the bottom of the strawberry, taking breaks to turn it around as you keep decorating it. It's super easy and it still looks quite fancy!

✓ Then there is the third method, which I think looks very nice even though it's done with a ziploc bag or parchment paper cone instead of all the fancy tools used for the previous methods. Just snip a little corner off a ziploc bag, fill it with your favorite non-dairy buttercream, and draw a circle on top of the surface where your Strawberry Santa Hat will sit. The circle should be larger than the base of the strawberry. Place the berry on top, give it a pompom and call it a day!

✓ The final and easiest method, which doesn't require any decorating tools at all, is to simply dip the strawberries in buttercream. First the tip where the pompom should be, and then the base. The buttercream should be quite softened for it to easily stick to the strawberry. Just let it sit at room temperature for a couple of minutes until it has the consistency of whipped cream. Or you could just skip the buttercream and use coconut milk whipped cream! I might make yet another video with Strawberry Santa Hats hand-dipped in coconut whipped cream.

Enough yada yada! Let's watch the video!



I hope you enjoyed this very homemade video! Will you be making Strawberry Santa Hats this holiday season? :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Festive Chocolate Rum Cake Truffles - Wing It, Don't Fling It!

More festive treats ahead! This Wing It, Don't Fling It treat isn't actually a result of a screwed up recipe (it's an early Christmas miracle!) These little Chocolate Rum Cake Truffles were made from a tasty chocolate cake that was going to be getting stale soon. We are only two people, there is only so much cake we can eat while it's still fresh!

Rum Cake Truffles
Chocolate Rum Cake Truffles dipped in melted chocolate and sprinkled with ground white chocolate.


Rumless cake before truffling

That's the bit of cake that I used to make the truffles. It wasn't much, but it gave me eight delicious little truffles. I know that some of you might be thinking that a monkey could have made cake truffles and it's not necessary for me to describe how I made them, but if there is one person reading this that doesn't know how to turn a cake into cake truffles - then the following paragraph is for you!

To turn leftover cake into truffles, you will need to either whiz the cake in a food processor until it's nothing but cake crumbs, or you could also crumble it manually with a fork if you don't have a food processor. Then stir in a splash of rum (one tablespoon was more than enough for this little bit of cake, but only you know how boozy you want it!) and enough coconut milk to make it doughy. It shouldn't be crumbly, but it definitely shouldn't be soupy. It should be like a soft playdough. Now you're ready to form little balls with your tasty "playdough" and start thinking about your coating. You can roll them in cocoa powder and be done with it, which is the easiest and quickest way to go. Or you could roll them in shredded coconut, or ground up chocolate chips, or ground nuts. If you want to dip them in melted chocolate chips, like I did, you will need to nuke the chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals at 50% power (stirring every 30 seconds) until they are melted. I don't do double boilers. Dip your balls in the melted chocolate (say nothing) one by one and place them on a sheet of wax paper to set. You can sprinkle some ground up white chocolate or coconut or nuts on top of the truffles while the chocolate is still soft! If you prefer a softer, more ganache-like chocolate coating, you can add about 1/2 tablespoon of coconut milk per 1/2 cup of chocolate chips before you melt them.

Rum Cake Truffles

Let's crack one open and get in its face...

Rum Cake Truffles

I think they look rather festive and winter-wonderlandy with the white chocolate on top, don't you? Stay tuned for a Strawberry Santa Hats video coming soon to a blog near you! :)


Friday, November 23, 2012

Strawberry Santa Hats!

Update: Check out this new post with four different ways to decorate Strawberry Santa Hats - includes a handy how-to video! :)

With Thanksgiving out of the way, it's time to unleash the Christmas frenzy! Let's kick off the festive season with a classic! I first shared these often imitated Strawberry Santa Hats back in 2008, and then I blogged about them again in 2009 when I temporarily moved to another blog (The Crafty Kook). Now it's time to bring them back for yet another encore appearance. This time, they are sitting pretty on top of semi-sweet chocolate circles. This post is dedicated to a lovely reader called Sarah Glasson, from Australia! Thank you Sarah for being so awesome! :)

Leftover Soup Enchilada Sauce

This is a picture-heavy post, so I'll try to keep the text on the lighter side. To make the chocolate circles, all you need to do is spread melted chocolate chips on a piece of wax paper, refrigerate it until almost completely solid, and use a cookie cutter to cut out little chocolate circles. The circles should be about 1/2 inch bigger than the base of the strawberries. I made 12 circles, which took 5 ounces (140 grams) of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Now that that's done, let's move on to the fun part!

Making Strawberry Santa Hats

You will need your prepared chocolate circles, basic vanilla buttercream (3/4 cup of Earth Balance made enough buttercream for 12 strawberries), strawberries (washed, extremely dry, and stemmed), and something tasty to fill your strawberries. You don't need to fill the strawberries with anything, but it adds some extra deliciousness to them. Just remove a bit of the centers with a paring knife and fill them with whatever floats your boat. I used a chocolate hazelnut spread, but you can use chocolate ganache, or even more buttercream.

Making Strawberry Santa Hats

This is the chocolate hazelnut spread that I used:

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
This tasty treat was an early Christmas present! Thank you, Mr. Wing-It! :)

*2014 update: This hazelnut-chocolate spread is no longer vegan. BOOOOO!!! :(

Now that the strawberries are ready, use a pastry bag with a star decorating tip to squeeze out a bit of buttercream onto the center of each circle. This will be the glue that holds the strawberry to the chocolate while you decorate them.

sMaking Strawberry Santa Hatsanta-hats3

Place a (dry, very dry!) strawberry on top of each dollop of buttercream:

Making Strawberry Santa Hats

Use the buttercream-filled pastry bag (or ziploc, or parchment paper cone) to decorate  the bottom of the "hats":

Making Strawberry Santa Hats

It's time for the pompoms! Just use your bag to squeeze out a little buttercream on top of each strawberry. (Press down for a second and then pull up.)

Making Strawberry Santa Hats

We are done! Let's admire our handiwork!

santa-hats7

Strawberry Santa Hats

There are at least two ways to eat these. My way involves eating the top first, and then delicately eating the base bite by bite. Mr. Wing-It's way involves popping the whole thing in his mouth all at once! How would you eat them? Are you team bite-by-bite or team just-pop-it-in-your-mouth? :D

How to eat a Strawberry Santa HatHow to eat a Strawberry Santa Hat
How to eat a Strawberry Santa Hat How to eat a Strawberry Santa Hat
How to eat a Strawberry Santa HatHow to eat a Strawberry Santa Hat



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

From Boring Soup to Zingy Enchilada Sauce - Wing It, Don't Fling It!

 

Leftover soup is one of my least favorite things to eat. A few days ago I made a vegetable soup for dinner with all the veggies that needed to be used up: onion, garlic, carrots, beets, potatoes, one mushy tomato, and also some cannellini beans. The soup was mildly flavored and it didn't have any super pungent spices or herbs, which gave me lots of recycling possibilities!

Leftover Soup for Enchilada Sauce
In the Blendtec, ready for recycling.

The formerly boring soup became a zingy enchilada sauce! I've seen something similar made with store-bought tomato soup, but this is super extra frugal. I blended the soup until smooth, added a little bit of tomato sauce, plenty of paprika (for color), and a lot of taco seasoning until I was pleased with the taste and spiciness. I assembled the enchiladas, baked them at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, added the cheesiness and baked for a few more minutes - done!

Leftover Soup Enchilada Sauce

The filling was a wing-it spicy black bean and mushroom concoction, and the gooey cheese on top is that dreamy coconut milk cheddar that I've mentioned again and again... and again. With a little cashew sour cream and some fresh minced chives, we ended up with some pretty fabulous enchiladas! I'm already having lots of fun with the Wing It, Don't Fling It challenge! Go leftovers! :D

This is not the most festive post to publish the day before Thanksgiving, is it? Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who is celebrating!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Spanish Tortilla, and Introducing The Wing It, Don't Fling It Challenge!


If you are anything like me, then you are not a stranger to kitchen misfortunes and baking disasters. I am quite possibly the most forgetful person in the world, which means that very often I forget to add some sort of ingredient to a cake, or maybe I will be distracted watching TV and over-mix an otherwise perfect batch of muffins. If I were to fling out the window every failed meal or baked good, there would be an Everest-esque pile of food out there blocking our lovely view!

However, a lot of us food bloggers tend to show only (or mostly) our kitchen victories, while keeping the disappointments to ourselves. No more! Enter the Wing It, Don't Fling It challenge! I have shown you a couple of failed recipes that were recycled into something delicious recently (these Chocolate Pumpkin Tart Truffles and these Brownie Truffles) and I will continue to share my failures-turned-successes regularly! I should never run out of material! If you are a food blogger, I invite you to join me, if you dare, and share your own rescued kitchen-wrecks with your readers. If you are interested and you would like to read a little more about the "Wing It, Don't Fling It!" challenge and display a little logo on your "food makeover" posts, you can find out more here. I'd be delighted if you would join me!

The "Wing It, Don't Fling It!" challenge also applies to leftovers. I really dislike leftovers, unless we're talking about something fabulous like Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. On the other hand, it kills me to throw away perfectly good food! What to do? Recycle! A few days ago I shared a recycled Cream of Fajita Soup, and today I bring you a Spanish Tortilla with repurposed leftover stir-fry veggies!

Wing It, Don't Fling It! Spanish Tortilla

A Spanish Tortilla is basically a big savory omelette made with potatoes and eggs, but in this case, the eggs are replaced with chickpea flour and some cornstarch. The beauty about the Spanish Tortilla is that you can wing it any way you want by adding whatever extra veggies you need to use up! I had a few leftover stir-fry veggies that needed to be eaten ASAP: mushrooms, broccoli, and cauliflower. I couldn't resist throwing in a little handful of baby spinach as well. You might have spotted this recipe before when I shared it on GoDairyFree.com and xgfx.org. This time I am also submitting this Spanish Tortilla to Ricki's Wellness Weekends event! Check out Ricki's blog, Diet, Dessert and Dogs, for more info and join the wholesome fun!

Wing It, Don't Fling It! Spanish Tortilla

Spanish Tortilla

1 large yukon gold potato, about 12 ounces/255 grams, OR a 9 ounce/340 gram potato and about 3 ounces/85 grams of add-on veggies (chopped mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, fresh chopped tomatoes, or even veggie chorizo!)

1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp nutritional yeast, optional
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon minced parsley
1 tbsp olive oil for frying

1. Wash the potato and prick a few times with the tines of a fork. Microwave on high for five or six minutes or until soft. Transfer the hot potato to a bowl filled with cold water so you won’t burn your hands peeling it.

2. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the chickpea flour, cornstarch, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, nutmeg, salt, and black pepper. Gradually add the water while whisking to avoid lumps. Stir in the lemon juice and the parsley.

3. At this point your potato should be cool enough to handle. Peel it and slice it into 1/4 inch thick slices. The slices will break and crumble into pieces, that’s OK. Add the potato to the chickpea mixture and gently stir to coat all the pieces. If you are adding extra veggies, throw them in there as well.

4. Heat the oil in a 9 inch non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Test the oil temperature with a drop of the chickpea mixture, the oil will be hot and ready when the drop sizzles. Carefully pour in the chickpea/potato mixture and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

5. Here comes the fun part! Shake the frying pan to loosen the tortilla. If it’s stuck somewhere, use a heat-resistant spatula to gently lift the area of the tortilla that is not coming off. When the whole tortilla is sliding with ease, slide it onto a plate. Flip the tortilla onto the frying pan, raw side down. Cook for 5 more minutes and slide the tortilla back onto the plate. Serve hot!

*Remember that if your tortilla breaks while you’re flipping it, you can always turn this into a tasty potato scramble! :)

* Wing it! Add your favorite seasonings to it!

* This makes enough for one huge serving or two smaller sides.

* You can definitely omit the nutmeg if you think it will clash with the flavors of whatever add-on veggies you're using.



Let's ask Randomduck what he thinks about this blog challenge:

Randomduck
Randomduck approves!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Recycled Cream of Fajita Soup

 

 I don't really like eating leftovers, unless we're talking about something fabulous like Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. On the other hand, it kills me to throw away perfectly good food! What to do? Recycle!

This Cream of Fajita Soup is a perfect example of what I mean. Mr. Wing-It and I had fajitas for dinner the other night (mine were naked on top of cauliflower "rice"), and we didn't quite finish all the roasted bell peppers and onions. The next day I recycled the roasted veggies into a lovely Cream of Fajita Soup!

The original Naked Fajita dinner:

Naked Fajitas

The recycled Cream of Fajita Soup:

Cream of Fajita Soup!

Here's what went into it:

1 10oz/285g cooked and peeled yukon gold potato (it can be microwaved, steamed, boiled, baked)
3oz/90g roasted fajita veggies (about 3/4 cup)
1oz/30g fresh baby spinach (a big handful)
about one cup of vegetable stock
salt, black pepper, and a pinch of cumin to taste

It all went into the blender until smooth, and after a couple of seasoning adjustments it was ready to be heated and served. Done! I did not add anything red to the soup (except for the roasted red peppers) because I wanted a bright green color. Thank you, baby spinach! This made enough for either one huge serving or two modest ones.

Now that we've had dinner, let's watch some videos that made me smile! The first one is about a little Pug hastily running upstairs... but how?! Boingy boingy boingy boingy! The second one is the latest Simon's Cat video. They never get old! I love how well the different personalities of the cat and the dog are portrayed.



Friday, November 9, 2012

Magic Brownie Truffles!

Here's another outtake for you! Last week I showed you how I fudged up two pumpkin tartlets and turned them into truffles. This week's screw up consisted of a gummy experimental batch of wheatless Almond Butter Blondies... without the almond butter! Yep. I forgot to mix the almond butter it in there. The blondies were wheatless and I was witless. It happens. Frequently.

Brownie Truffles Before...

I know what you're thinking - they don't look so bad. But they were. They were gummy and crumbly at the same time! How?! The flavor was fine, but the texture was awful! As soon as I took one bite I knew they were destined for the food processor! Mr. Wing-It said he liked them and he asked me to leave a couple of squares "untruffled". The man is weird.

Anyway, I threw the blondies into the food processor with some freakin' almond butter and enough melted chocolate to form a sticky dough. After processing for a few seconds I had a tasty truffle mix, which I shaped into little balls, which were then dipped in melted chocolate chips. The result?

Brownie Truffles

Brownie Truffles
VoilĂ ! Like magic, Brownie Truffles!

Yes! Brownie Truffles! I'm telling you, man, chocolate is an airhead's best friend! I didn't bother making them pretty because I had already messed with this recipe long enough. I just wanted to be done! Inside shot...

Brownie Truffles

Success! Next time you fudge up your blondies, or cookies, or cake, you'll know what to do! :)

Let's ask a random duck what he thinks about these Magic Brownie Truffles...

Tickled Pink
One out of one duck approves!

 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Furniture Makeover: Hair and Makeup Station!

Who loves furniture makovers? I do! I do! I showed you our revamped hutch last week, and now it's time for a non-kitchen related makeover. For someone who doesn't wear makeup regularly, a hair and makeup station seems like a waste of furniture, but it's nice to have a place where I can keep all my supplies organized and sit down comfortably to doll meself up when I'm feeling girly. My hair and makeup station consists of an old (70's) beat up desk, its matching old beat up chair, a generic-looking stool, and a generic-looking mirror...

Desk (and stool) before. Yawn.
The old beat up desk and the stool before.

Chair (and mirror) before
The old beat up chair and the mirror before.

The desk and the chair belonged to my mother in law. She didn't want them anymore and she asked me if I wanted them (knowing that I like to upcycle things!). Do I want it?! Gimme! I knew what I wanted to do with them right away - hand me the white paint! I have a thing for white furniture with dark hardware. Behold the makeover...

Desk after!
Swoon!

I love my new hair and makeup station! Even if I don't use it daily, I still enjoy having it there just looking purdy. See that little mirror on the desk? That used to have a gold finish, but I painted it aqua. The little plastic drawers on top of the stool used to have grey knobs, but I painted those as well. Perhaps I should have taken a picture of the stool so you could see it better. It has white legs with a dark walnut seat. Look inside one of the drawers!

Neatly lined drawer

The drawers were unfinished inside. I painted them white and covered the bottoms with shelf liners. Wanna see the fabric I used for the chair?

Purdy fabric
Swoon! (it's from Hobby Lobby)

That's it! I hope you enjoyed this furniture makeover! Let me know if you still want to see more - there is one more cool makeover that I could brag about! :)

Today's duck photo goes out to Christina! What's wrong with this seemingly sweet picture though?

What's wrong with this picture?
Oh no! Curly is having an Alien moment!