“Kitchen Sink” – Power Breakfast Muffins

Breakfast Muffins

These days I have exercising like a fiend.  I am extremely proud of myself because I usually train when I have a race coming up, and then take a more relaxed attitude to working out.  But, since this year I wanted to not only lose weight, but get healthier and feel better, I have stuck to a rigorous gym workout for the last 4 months.  (Patting myself on the back now.)

The only problem, is mid through my workout, I get ravenously hungry.  I have done the fruit and yogurt with granola, the eggs with toast, smoothies, you name it.  I needed something filling and portable to take to the gym with me, that is healthy, but also feels like I am indulging.  So, I went into my pantry, I love having a pantry after all these years, by the way, and basically took out a basket full of ingredients that could possibly go into a muffin.  I edited quite a few, but I did end up using most of them.  The result was perfect.

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Made with whole wheat flour, oat bran, chia seeds, walnuts, fruit and some cinnamon and chocolate for that splurge factor, these are fantastic little nutrient power houses, with no added fats!  Ridiculously delicious and easy to make, and super healthy, these will be a staple to carry in my gym bag when my belly starts a rumbling!!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup oat bran

1/4 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup chopped semi sweet chocolate

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 cup oat milk (you can substitute soy, almond or real milk if you want)

1/2 cup apple juice or sauce

1/2 cup molasses

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).  Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray, set aside.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together.  Sprinkle in the walnuts, raisins and chocolate.  Mix well.  In another bowl, mix the banana, oat milk, apple juice, molasses and egg.  Fold into the dry ingredients.

Use a 1/4 cup measurement to fill the muffin tin 3/4 full.  Cook for 16-18 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before serving.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipes No. 72 – Shepherd’s Pie

Sheperd's Pie

I bet you thought I had forgotten about my self-imposed challenge.  True, I haven’t been cooking as much lately, but as I have been preparing for the wedding and busy with beaurocratic bullsh*t since I moved, the inspiration has been on the back burner.  But I’m back, with a vengeance!  Finally after settling in and having the majority of my tasks completed, I now have time and the chutzpah to dedicate to some serious cooking.  Especially now that the weather has turned, and I can open my kitchen windows and let in that beautiful spring breeze!

I have made shepherd’s pie for many, many years.  It was one of the first ways I got my daughter to eat her veg, masked under the layers of creamy mash.  That is why I was so excited to try this recipe from Saveur, because it looked delicious.  And true to its word, as my daughter put it, it was the best shepherd’s pie she had ever eaten.  Quite disillusioned with the recipes that we tried before from the magazine, she was super surprised when I told her its provenance!

I know I mentioned in my first challenge that I would recreate the recipes exactly as they are printed, but since moving to Madrid, I haven’t found “my markets” yet.  You know, your go-to places to get those ingredients that are a little harder to find?  Well, in my case, even the easy ingredients are harder to find.  It’s amazing how much Madrid differs to Barcelona.  Some things that I considered staples in my household because I knew where to buy them, have now become extremely difficult to attain.  So, this recipe has two variants.  Instead of lamb shoulder, I used ground beef, (I get lots of lamb chops in my neighborhood, but shoulder, not so much.)  And, I added peas.  Just cause we all love peas.  (I snuck some nutmeg into the mash too….)

This dish was a winner.  The layer of beef was juicy and flavorful, the mash was silky smooth on the inside, and perfectly crispy on the outside.  Total hit!

Overall Points:  9/10 –  It beat the Carbonnade!

Difficulty:  Medium, just for the varying components of the recipe.  But, it is leaning more towards easy.

Availability of ingredients:  Readily available

Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 lb trimmed lamb shoulder, cut into 1/4″ cubes

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup beef stock

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 bay leaves

1 15 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand

1/2 cup frozen peas (my addition)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 lb russet potatoes, peeled

1/2 cup heavy cream

8 tbsp unsalted butter

Freshly grated nutmeg (my addition)

1. Heat oil in a 6-qt saucepan over medium high heat.  Add lamb, and cook, stirring, until browned all over, 10-12 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and set aside.  Add celery, garlic, carrot, and onion to pan, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes.  Add wine, and cook, stirring to scrape bottom of pan, until wine evaporates, about 8 minutes.  Add stock, Worcestershire, bay leaves, and tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, about 6 minutes.  Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, add the peas and lamb, mix well, and transfer to a 9″ deep-dish pie plate; set aside.

2.  Heat oven to 400 F.  Place potatoes in a 4 qt saucepan, and cover with water by 1″; bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook until tender, about 30 minutes; drain.  Meanwhile, bring cream and butter to a simmer in a 1 qt saucepan; keep warm.  Transfer potatoes to a food mill or potato ricer, and process into a bowl; add hot cream and butter, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and whisk until smooth and fluffy.  Spoon potatoes over meat filling in dish, spreading to cover to the edge; drag tines of fork lightly over potatoes to create ridges all over.  (Alternatively, fill a piping bag with the potatoes and pipe them in rows over the filling.)  Bake until potatoes are golden brown and filling is heated through, about 45 minutes.  Let cool 20 minutes. (Serve with peas if you didn’t add them in!)

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Rigatoni with Cauliflower

Rigatoni with Cauliflower

It is amazing how many variations of sauces there are for pasta.  Although there are some that can be found throughout Italy, such as carbonara, ragu bolognese, al pommodoro, there are some that are truly autochthonous to a certain region.  For example, the only place that I have seen pasta to be eaten with lentils, is Naples.  This one, rigatoni with cauliflower, is from Sicily.

My household wasn’t very excited at the prospect of having cauliflower with their pasta, probably because my fiancé Paolo is from the north, and you just Don’t. Put. Cauliflower. On. Pasta. Period.

But, I need them to eat their veg, and I figured under the tomatoes and anchovies and breadcrumbs, it would be well masked.  This dish is great for anyone that want to get their vitamins and some omega 3’s in a plate of pasta.  Seriously, isn’t that the best way?  (Unless you are allergic to gluten, that is!)

This is another recipe from the book that I mentioned in my last postThe Country Cooking of Italy, by Colman Andrews.  I have to admit, I was unsure of how it was going to taste, since I never actually ate this anywhere in Sicily, but to all of our surprise, it was really delicious!  If you aren’t fond of anchovies, you can omit or lessen the amount.  I personally love them, but I know they aren’t everyone’s favorite!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4-6

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup toasted breadcrumbs

1 small head of cauliflower, separated into florets and finely chopped

6-8 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp peperoncini

salt and pepper to taste

5 whole canned san marzano tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 lb rigatoni

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the breadcrumbs, stir well, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are well toasted, about 15 minutes.  Set them aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same frying pan over medium heat.  Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the anchovies, garlic, and peperoncini and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in 1/2 cup water, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 20 minutes more.

Add the tomatoes to the cauliflower mixture, stir well, and continue to cook, uncovered, until the tomato liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8-12 minutes.  Drain the pasta well and return it to the pot.  Stir in the cauliflower mixture and transfer to a warmed serving bowl.  Pass the breadcrumbs at the table.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Peposo : Tuscan Peppery Beef Stew

Tuscan Beef Stew

 

It’s April.  It’s still cold.  It’s. Not. Fun.

Normally at this time, I would be thinking of springs vegetable bounty, but unfortunately, my body is still asking for belly warming dishes such as these.  I came across this recipe from one of my cook books, “The Country Cooking of Italy” by Colman Andrews.  It is a beautiful book, full of regional recipes with beautiful pictures and anecdotes.  My decision to make this was the absolute ease of the recipe.  You basically just throw the ingredients in a dutch oven and slow cook for hours.  Perfect for when you want something delicious and homemade but don’t have the time to sit at the stove.

These ingredients are also readily available in your pantry – Pepper, Salt, Garlic, Tomato Sauce and Wine.  That’s it.  Easy as 1-2-3. (Now you’re thinking of the Jackson 5, aren’t you?)

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I made this last night for some friends who came to dinner.  Yet, I had to run a whole bunch of errands, but no problem.  Slow roasted in the oven for 8 hours, it left me plenty of time to do what I needed and still come home and whip up some boiled and buttered potatoes.

This recipe did not taste at all like any other Italian food I have ever eaten, the simplicity was very italian, but it’s peperiness reminded me more of an Asian dish than a Tuscan one.  It was truly delicious nonetheless!

So, if you have things to do and still want to make a hearty homemade meal that the family will love, you absolutely must try this dish.  And you won’t even need a knife.

 

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4-6

1 kg of beef for stew

2 tbsp crushed peppercorns (not ground)

12 garlic cloves, peeled

Salt

1 cup tomato sauce

1 bottle Chianti

Preheat the oven to 135C.  In a large dutch oven, add the beef, peppercorns, garlic, generous amount of salt, tomato sauce and the wine to cover.  Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven, cooking for 6-8 hours, do not take off the lid.

Serve with your favorite starch…..or not.  It’s delicious on its own.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla