Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cocoa Baked Oatmeal

Featured Ingredient: Steel-Cut Oats

Ever since Tabi and I started enjoying hearty steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast, we can’t seem to go back to the rolled oat variety. I usually cook up a big batch with a mixture of water and milk to produce creamy results and spruce things up with nuts, seeds and spices. Certainly, there are worse ways to start off your day as steel-cut oats are nutritional powerhouse.

Primarily, they are a leading source of beta-glucan. This is a soluble fiber shown to help improve cholesterol numbers which makes oats a champion for heart health. They are also a wonderful source of fiber, magnesium, and folate – a B vitamin that helps cells form properly which slashes cancer risk.

Recently, Bob’s Red Mill kicked off their second annual Spar for the Spurtle 2 Oatmeal Recipe Contest, which invites home cooks and professional chefs alike to submit short videos demonstrating a unique recipe that makes use of BRM steel cut oats. From the entries, three finalists will be flown to Portland, Oregon to compete in a live cook-off. How cool is that? I don’t think you’ll have Gordon Ramsey tossing four letter words your way.

Here’s the best news: The winner of the cook-off will receive an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Scotland, including $2,500 in cash, to help represent team Bob’s Red Mill in the 19th Annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship!

Click here to learn more about the contest.

The kind folks over at Bob’s Red Mill would love to give Muffin Tin Mania readers some of their oat products to try out in the kitchen. All you need to do is enter their Spar for the Spurtle contest and let me know that you did by commenting on this post and they will send you some product. The deadline to submit entries in the Spar for the Spurtle contest is July 20, 2012. Sorry Gretzky fans, this contest is only open to U.S. residents.

If I was to enter, I think this might be the recipe because why should you just eat oatmeal from a bowl?  Bake up a batch of these and you’ll be set for a week’s worth of nutritious breakfast meals. They are also perfect for when you need a healthy on-the-go breakfast option. I like to dress mine up with blueberries and some coconut, but you can choose other berries or toppings as you prefer.

Baked Cocoa Oatmeal

1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup hemp hearts (optional)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cups low-fat milk or non-dairy alternative of choice
1 large mashed banana
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Flaked coconut

In a bowl, cover oats with water and soak overnight or for several hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drain oats and add to a large bowl along with almond flour, cherries, almonds, hemp seeds, cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and mix with milk, banana and maple syrup. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir to combine.

Divide oat mixture among 12 medium sized muffin cups. Cook for 22 minutes, or until a tester comes out mostly clean.

Serve baked oatmeal cups warm topped with blueberries, flaked coconut and additional maple syrup if desired. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Maple Pecan Energy Cups

Featured Ingredient: ProBar

A few years ago as Tabi and I prepared for a self supported bicycle trip around Cuba, we knew that outside of the homestays the food options were going to be a little lackluster to say the least. Cuba is not known as one of the great culinary destinations. Seriously, you’ve gotta try a peso pizza! So we were looking for a source of portable energy we could pack into our panniers to keep our stamina up during the day. We found our answer in the ProBar.

As far as energy bars go, the offerings from ProBar hit the mark with respect to nutrition and taste. Packed with mostly whole food ingredients, I appreciate that they have enough calories to keep me going strong. I’d have to say that my favorite flavors are the Koka Moka, Cocoa Pistachio and Maple Pecan. Simply delicious.

So I thought it was about time I got around to trying to replicate one of the flavors using the trusty muffin tin. These bundles of nut and seed energy include a lot of the ingredients you’ll find in the Maple Pecan ProBar and boy are they tasty. We are having a heat wave at the moment up here in Ontario (Yes, the igloos have melted and the polar bear hanging out on the front lawn is sipping a mojito), so the best thing about them is that they let the oven hibernate.

And here’s more good news: It’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveway. Who doesn’t love free food? The kind folks over at ProBar have agreed to give one lucky Muffin Tin Mania reader a sampling of their flavors. So if you’re going to enjoy the great outdoors this summer you can pack a few to keep your energy levels up.

But free food must be earned. So the person who leaves a comment on this post that

Best outlines three different nutritional benefits of the recipe that follows AND
An outdoor activity that you would use ProBar to help fuel 

will have a box of tasty bars sent their way. I’ll announce the winner next Monday, so if you entered check back then.

Maple Pecan Energy Cups

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup unsalted cashews
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
A couple pinches of salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup natural peanut butter

Add all of the ingredients except the maple syrup and peanut butter to a food processor container and process until oats and nuts are pulverized. Add maple syrup and peanut butter and blend until the mixture clumps together.

Divide mixture among 12 lightly greased standard sized muffin cups and press down to firmly pack contents. You don't need the grease if using silicon cups. Place tray in freezer for about 30 minutes to harden up.  Unmold and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Pesto Cornbreads

Featured Ingredient: Blue Cornmeal

I decided I wasn’t done with my blue cornmeal yet. The blue cornmeal pancakes from my previous post turned out so great, I wanted to use it to whip up another batch of something in the muffin tin. Cornbread and pesto are two marvelous items, so why not pair them together? These are really packed with flavor and make a great accompaniment to a meal or simply something your grab from the fridge for a quick snack. You’ll have leftover spinach pesto, but that is always a good thing. Add it to sandwiches, pasta dishes or try grilling potato chunks in a vegetable basket on the grill and mixing them with the pesto – this is really awesome.

I’d love to giveaway another copy of my cookbook Muffin Tin Chef to fan of the muffin tin. 

I have some additional blue cornmeal in the pantry, so I thought I would turn to my readers for some inspiration. The person who leaves a comment on this blog with the best TWO creative suggestions for ways to use blue cornmeal to make a muffin tin creation will get a copy of my book. I will announce the winner next Tuesday, so check back in if you participated. 

Spinach Pesto Cornbreads

2 cups spinach, packed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts
½ cup grated Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano
Juice of ½ lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place spinach, garlic and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely minced. Add cheese, lemon juice and salt; process until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Through the feed tube add the olive oil while the machine is running until fully combined.

1 cup blue cornmeal
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
3 heaping tablespoons spinach pesto
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl, mix together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, pesto and oil. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Divide mixture among 12 standard sized muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes before unmolding.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Blue Cornmeal Pancakes

Featured Ingredient: Blue Cornmeal

As I have previously discussed, I’m a big fan of cooking pancakes in the muffin tin. You don’t have to worry about that whole flipping thing or trying to keep some hot while you cook up another batch so that everyone can chow down together. Plus, mini muffin sized pancakes are a fun way to break out of the breakfast meal doldrums.

For this version, I’ve employed blue cornmeal. The inspiration for its use came from a recent article for Vegetarian Times magazine that I wrote about this heirloom variety of corn. It turns out that the pigment which makes blue cornmeal, well, blue is the same type of anthocyanin antioxidant found in blueberries that has food researchers scurrying to unravel all of its health-boosting properties. Plus, blue corn is not yet genetically modified unlike its yellow brethren.

To make these pancakes, I used the excellent medium grind blue cornmeal from Bob’s Red Mill to give them some nice texture. 

Of course, my girlfriend would say that no pancake recipe is complete without a generous topping of blueberries and dark maple syrup.

Blue Cornmeal Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup blue cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or other granulated sugar of choice
2 tablespoons oil of choice or melted butter
Pure Maple Syrup

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together wheat flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg and stir in milk, sugar and oil. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until everything is moist. Divide mixture among 20 mini sized greased or paper lined muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a pancake comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes before unmolding. 

Like these? Try these:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Asparagus Spinach Frittatas

Featured Ingredient: Asparagus

It seems one of the more popular recipes in my cookbook are the broccoli frittatas. I can understand why. Perhaps there is no simplier main dish that you can prepare in the muffin tin and the ingredient combinations are almost endless. For the recipe below, I paired up spring asparagus and spinach from a local farmer with salty feta cheese with good results and little fuss.

It will be sad to see asparagus season fad to black for no other reason than the nutrient payload the spears provide. Nutritional perks include hefty amounts of vitamin K, folate, iron, fiber and vitamin C. When making muffin tin frittatas, it’s a good idea to give vegetables such as asparagus a quick cook in the skillet to soften them up and improve the flavor of the final dish.

If you’re in need of a quick weeknight dinner that offers up great leftovers, this is the recipe for you.

Asparagus Spinach Frittatas

1/2 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups spinach, roughly chopped
8 large eggs
1 cup diced feta cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus, shallot and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.

In a large bowl, light beat eggs and stir in cheese, thyme, mustard, paprika if using, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir in cooked vegetables and divide among 12 standard sized muffin cups. Bake for for 20 minutes, or until eggs have set. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.