Saturday, March 29, 2014

Banana Oat Fudge Muffins

Muffins are my thing. I never remember feeling fond of them as a kid, but I think that's because my main exposure were those nasty banana nut ones from the grocery store. Homemade muffins are worlds better than those overly moist, crumbly store bought ones.

Muffins are also a win because they're quick, easy, and bake up fast. I prefer them to banana bread and the like because they're less messy and labor intensive. Plus they come packaged in perfect portions and pop out of the pan like champs. They're also really easy to make a little healthier, while retaining maximum deliciousness. A couple of simple swaps like ripe bananas for sugar and applesauce for oil and you can feel extra good about popping a few.



Especially if they're mini like these! I was so pleased with these fudgy banana muffins. They're about 75 calories per muffin-so just 150 for two. The flavor combo of bananas and chocolate is perfect, and there are little bursts of chocolate chips here are there.

I like my muffins on the hearty side with texture and some staying power, so I used oat flour. I just ground up some quick oats in my food processor, but you can buy oat flour if you want. 



Banana Oat Fudge Muffins
Adapted from Yammie's Noshery

Servings: 10-12 (makes 10 regular muffins or 24 mini muffins
(Nutrition info below is for 2 mini muffins)

Calories: 149
Fat: 4g
Carbs: 26g
Fiber: 3g 
Sugar: 13g
Protein: 4g
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 bananas)
  • 1 cup oat flour (or grind up oats in a blender/food processor)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease muffin tin with baking spray and set aside. Whisk together the egg, sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and bananas. Mix the dry ingredients and add to the wet. Mix just until combined and then add chocolate chips.

Bake for about 20-23 minutes for regular muffins or 12-16 minutes for mini muffins. You want to slightly under bake these so they retain that yummy fudgy texture.

Speaking of muffins, we had some pretty great ones at our hotel in Alexandria during my birthday trip to Alexandria earlier this month! Whenever we head out that way, we go to DC and overlook all of the amazing things that northern VA has to offer. We shopped the peep museum at the National Harbor and rode our bikes around Old Town in Alexandria, taking in it's rich history and eating a delicious Italian dinner, but the crowning jewel of our trip was Mount Vernon! Just wow, what an unforgettable experience. George Washington was an incredible leader, and learning of his legacy of sacrifice and patriotism made me even prouder to be an American. 




As a birthday bonus, Gradon made me dinner for the first time since we've been married, and a fudgy cheesecake birthday treat to boot! He's in trouble now that he's raised expectations! I also got to open thoughtful cards and presents from my friends and family. All in all, I had a very happy birthday!


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hot Cross Biscuits

I’ve always wanted an Easter bonnet. Where does one acquire one? I’d wear it while I made these hot cross biscuits.

I’m a major lover of biscuits. They’re fast, easy, delicious and the best part for your yeast haters-they come out fluffy and beautiful without an ounce of it!


 Anybody can make a fabulous biscuit. And these hot cross biscuits are just what the Easter bunny ordered to make you feel fantastically festive this holiday. Serve them for breakfast or on the side during dinner for a slightly sweet component.


 I substituted cranberries for currents because I’m just not that into currents-do what moves you-even if that means chocolate chips! But whatever you do, don’t forget the most important part-the tangy cream cheese frosting cross.



These biscuits are a little flaky but soft and subtly sweet with a mild citrus component. And the cream cheese takes it to that next level of deliciousness.  Keep in mind these are best served the day they’re made.



Hot Cross Biscuits
Makes 8-10 biscuits (I made 8 bigger ones)

Ingredients

Biscuits
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, cold (make your own with lemon juice, if needed)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup dried currants, cranberries, or chocolate chips

Frosting
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract 

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add lemon zest.  Add cold butter and, using a pastry cutter (or your fingers if needed) work the butter into the flour mixture until the butter will range in size between small pebbles and oat flakes. Work quickly and do not over combine or you’ll end up with a tougher biscuit-less is more here.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg and buttermilk. Toss the add ins (currants, cranberries or chocolate chips) into the dry ingredient mixture, and create a well in the center. Pour in the buttermilk and use a fork to incorporate the ingredients.  Make sure that all of the flour bits are moistened by the egg and buttermilk but do not over mix.

Dump the shaggy dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Bring together, kneading lightly, until the dough forms a 1-inch thick (give or take-not measuring here) disk.  Use a biscuit cutter, or if you’re like me, a glass, to cut into rounds. Place on the baking sheet. Gently knead the remaining dough scraps together and repeat.

Brush biscuit tops with buttermilk and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until ever so slightly tan on top. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting with a cross.

For the frosting, in a medium bowl, combine 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons cream cheese, and 1 cup of powdered sugar.  Add just a dash of vanilla extract and a sprinkle of cinnamon if wanted. Mixture will be thick. Scoop the frosting into a zip lock bag or pastry bag and cut off the tip. Pipe crosses onto cooled biscuits and serve.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Broiled Balsamic Asparagus

Asparagus doesn't need much-it's delicious in its simplicity. But here's one of my favorite ways to dress it up just a little. It's so easy and is ready to go in less than 10 minutes! 



I love watching the asparagus turn a brilliant shade of green before tossing it in this simple sauce. The soy sauce component intensifies the balsamic to give it a bit of an edge.



Broiled Balsamic Asparagus

Ingredients
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Preheat broiler. Cut or snap woody ends off of asparagus. I usually bunch up the entire pound together and slice off a little less than an inch in one fell swoop.

Lay asparagus on a pan (lined with aluminum foil to minimize the mess). Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Broil for 5-6 minutes while prepping the sauce.


In a small bowl, combine vinegar, soy sauce, and olive oil. Remove asparagus from the oven and toss or brush with dressing. Serve!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

I'll admit, I wasn't sold on this concept right away. I'm an italian girl and in my mind, buffalo and lasagna don't seem to jive. But this dish was wildly delicious! It's a positively fun, interesting and downright delectable dish. The flavor is rich and a bit spicy, but not too much so. Trust me, you'll be salivating over the leftovers.


I discovered this recipe on one of my new favorite blogs, Prevention RD. It's hard to fathom that a hefty portion of the pan is less than 350 calories and 10 grams of fat. And the work is minimal-you don't even need to boil the noodles beforehand! I'm telling you, there is a lot to love about this lasagna!



Buffalo Chicken Lasagna 
Slightly adapted from Prevention RD

Servings: 8
Calories: 349
Fat: 9.1g
Carbs: 37.5g
Fiber: 4.8g
Protein: 28.4 g



Ingredients 

  • 1 lb white meat rotisserie chicken, cubed or shredded
  • 3 cups marinara sauce
  • 1 cup Frank's zero calorie buffalo wing sauce
  • 1/3 cups water
  • 15 oz low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 16 whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 9 slices 2% pepperjack cheese (or other 2% cheese)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine chicken, marinara, wing sauce, and water. In a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine ricotta cheese and eggs.

Spray a 9 x 13-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spread enough sauce to coat the bottom of the pan. Arrange 4 noodles over the sauce. Spread more sauce, then a layer of ricotta mixture. Add another layer of sauce, and repeat the whole process until you end with a layer of sauce.

Cover with tin foil and refrigerate overnight or bake immediately (covered) for 1 hour. Uncover and place cheese slices on top.  Bake an additional 5-10 minutes uncovered. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.