Friday, July 20, 2012

Peach Milkshake

Featured Ingredients: Peaches and Nut Butter

In my mind, the difference in flavor between local in-season peaches and those imported during the winter months is unmatched by other fruits. So deliciously sweet, when I see the boxes of fresh peaches show up at our farmers’ market in July, I zealously pounce on them. And immediately I go to whirling up these peach milkshake frozen cups.

Protein-packed Greek yogurt and silky soft tofu (you won’t taste it!) makes the milkshakes deliciously rich and thick yet without the prodigious amounts of fat and calories often present in offerings from fast-food joints. A hint of cloves adds unexpected sparkle. Often, I like to blend in a fresh peach as well when making the milkshakes.

For extra richness, try blending in nut butter into your shake. Two great options are almond or hazelnut butter, which can have a leg up nutritionally compared to their peanut counterpart. Case in point: Almond butter is richer in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, bone-building calcium and hunger-quelling fiber than peanut butter. Rich tasting hazelnut butter is brimming with vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that may help slow cognitive decline.

To help you get these smoothies into your tummy, the kind folks at Kettle Brand are offering a lucky Muffin Tin Mania reader with a jar of their very own almond butter and hazelnut butter. The makers of the popular potato chips also blend up some delicious nut butters.

For your chance to win, simply leave a comment on this blog post saying “Nut Butters are Just Peachy” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials or name and I will use this tool to randomly select the winner. I’ll announce the winner next Friday July 27th, so check back in then if you entered. This contest is open to U.S residents only.

Congrats to Susan S who was randomly selected as the winner of the almond and hazelnut butters. Susan, just fire me an email with your shipping details and I'll get the product off to you. 

Peach Milkshakes

4 1/2 cups low-fat milk or non-dairy milk of choice
1 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey
4 ripe peaches, quartered
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups silken soft tofu
4 tablespoons almond or hazelnut butter
Nutmeg (optional)

Add 1/2 cup of the milk as well as all of the yogurt, maple syrup, peaches, ginger, vanilla, cloves and salt to a blender or food processor container and blend until smooth, about 30 seconds. Divide mixture among 12 medium sized muffin cups, place in freezer and freeze until solid, about 4 hours.

Unmold peach cups and place in a zip-top bag for storage in the freezer. If not using silicon muffin cups and you have trouble unmolding the peach cups, try dipping the bottom of the muffin tray in warm water for a few seconds, being careful not to thaw the contents.

When ready to serve, place 3 peach cups in a blender or food processor along with 1 to 1 1/2 cups milk, 1/2 cup of the silken tofu, 1 tablespoon of the almond or hazelnut butter and a fresh peach if desired. Blend until smooth. It’s often best to carefully slice the peach cups into halves or quarters before blending. Pour into serving glasses and dust with freshly grated nutmeg if desired. This makes about two servings.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Quinoa Lentil Cakes with Curry Yogurt

Featured Ingredient: Quinoa

You know quinoa is no longer an obscure grain when there are now cookbooks devoted to it. But in many ways it’s very much deserving of its rise to fame. Just consider its upsides:

Quinoa is ready to eat in about 10 minutes, making it a perfect option for harried weeknight cooks.

It’s loaded with magnesium, an often underconsumed mineral that’s been shown to slash diabetes risk.

The tiny whole grain is a stellar source of dietary fiber, which most people should eat more of. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that dietary fiber can help increase the amounts of healthy bacteria in our guts which promotes better digestive and immune health.

In the kitchen, quinoa is very much versatile. It can work as a simple side dish or as a stand in for bugler in tabbouleh. Also try it in veggie burgers, soups, and, of course, muffin tin creations.

These quinoa lentil cakes are a wonderful vegetarian meal option. They are completely no-fuss and packed with nutritional goodness. The garam masala and curried yogurt sauce gives them some Indian flare. I included the olive oil and the yogurt topping to make sure they had some moisture.

For the two main ingredients, I used the amazing sprouted products from TruRoots. By sprouting legumes and grains, you amplify their nutritional prowess and make them even easier to digest. They also have sprouted chia, mung beans and rice as well as some good looking gluten-free pasta varieties.

The generous folks at TruRoots would like to award one lucky Muffin Tin Mania reader with their very own bags of TruRoots Accents Sprouted Quinoa Trio and Sprouted Lentil Trio to play with in the kitchen. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post saying “I Heart TruRoots” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials or name and I will use this tool to randomly select the winner. I’ll announce the winner Friday July 20th, so check back in then if you entered. This contest is open to U.S. residents only.

Congratulations to Andrea who is the winner of her very own TruRoots quinoa and lentils. Just use the contact info above to send me your shipping details. Thanks to everyone who entered.  

Quinoa Lentil Cakes with Curry Yogurt Sauce

1 cup quinoa

1 cup green or brown lentils

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 green onions, green and white parts, thinly sliced

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Place quinoa and 1 3/4 water in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 12 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed.

Place lentils and 3 cups water in a separate saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered until tender.

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together quinoa, lentils, sunflower seeds, olive oil, green onions, lemon juice, eggs, garam masala, garlic and salt. Divide mixture among 12 greased or paper lined standard sized muffin cups and press down on each to make sure the contents are well packed in. Cook for 25 minutes or until slightly brown on top and set. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.

To make the curry sauce, whisk together yogurt, curry powder and cayenne in a small bowl. Serve quinoa lentil cakes with curry yogurt sauce.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Coffee Chocolate Smoothie Cups

Featured Ingredient: Coffee

In the last couple weeks, several studies have come out that again prove coffee is indeed a healthy drink. Case in point: A new study published in Cancer Research found that drinking coffee can slash the risk for developing basal cell carcinoma which is the most common form of skin cancer. A separate investigation in the journal Circulation determined that imbibing about 2 coffee beverages daily can protect against heart failure.

Where the problems arise for coffee is with excessive consumption or when people add too many undesirables like sweeteners and creamers.

So the studies above make these java smoothie cups even more delicious. I have to tell you, these are truly awesome. A rich tasting mix of coffee, chocolate and cardamom flavor – a perfect way to beat the heat this summer. I usually add some protein powder (Manitoba Harvest hemp protein to be exact) to boost the protein levels, but it’s not essential. You can also play around with the dried fruit and nuts used. I think dried figs and pecans would be a winning combo as well. For even more coffee goodness, I’ll blend in the homemade coffee extract I discussed in this post. Silicon muffin cups come in handy for frozen smoothie cups because they are bendable which makes extracting frozen stuff a breeze. But you can also use metal if that is what you have.

For the coffee, in my opinion there is no better option than Doi Chaang. Not only has this coffee from Thailand garnered much praise from coffee tasting experts, but it’s half owned by the growers in the northern Thailand mountains and, hence, the label “Beyond Fair Trade.” A couple years back, Tabi and I actually biked up to the growing community which was a wonderful experience. You can read my story about that trip by clicking here.

The kind folks at Doi Chaang Coffee would like to award two lucky Muffin Tin Mania readers with a 1 lb. bag of coffee beans of their choice. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post saying “Doi Chaang Rocks” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials or name and I will use this cool function to randomly select two winners. How easy is that! I’ll announce the winners Monday July 16th, so check back in then if you entered.

Thanks to everyone who entered. Congratulations to Jenn and j.lies@aol as you were randomly selected winners. Just use the contact button above to let me know which roast you would like from this list and your shipping info and I'll get them sent your way. Not the civet coffee, though :)

Coffee Chocolate Smoothie Cups

2 1/2 cups strongly brewed coffee
1 cup pitted dates
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup protein powder (optional)
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons vanilla or coffee extract

In a bowl, combine coffee and dates. Let soak for at least 30 minutes. Combine all the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide mixture among 12 medium sized muffin cups, place tray in freezer and freeze until solid, about 4 hours.  

Unmold smoothie cups, place them in an airtight container, and return to freezer until ready to use. If you did not use silicon muffin cups and are having trouble unmolding the frozen cups, try placing the bottom of the muffin tin in warm water for few seconds, being careful not to thaw the contents.

When ready to make a smoothie, place 1 cup water or other liquid of choice (milk is really good too) and 2 coffee smoothie cups into a blender container and blend until smooth. For most blenders, its best to carefully slice the smoothie cups into halves or quarters first before placing them in the blender container to help make blending easier. 

You'll get 6 smoothies total out of 12 frozen smoothie cups. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Currant Granola Muffins

Featured Ingredient: Currants

If there was ever an ingredient worthy of the fanciful lotus cups from PaperChef it’s fresh currants. I was thrilled when our local currant grower showed up with her tart gems at the farmers’ market last week for the first time this season. Being such an ultra-seasonal fruit, fresh currants are not to be missed when available.

I’ve been itching to test out the new lotus cups from PaperChef for a few weeks now and these currant and granola infused muffins were worthy of the task. Wholesome and tasty indeed. If you’re preparing a muffin tin creation for a picnic, summer backyard party or your local book club, the lotus or tulip cups are sure to elevate the presentation. Made from parchment paper, they are completely non-stick and biodegradable.

So indeed, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania product giveaway. The fine folks over at PaperChef would like to award one lucky reader with a box of each of their lotus and tulip cups to help create a work of art in the muffin tin. But, of course, such a stellar prize must be earned. The person who leaves a comment on this blog post that best answers the following questions, will get their very own boxes of culinary parchment to play with. Good news Gretzky fans, this contest is open to both U.S. and Canadian residents.

1)   Fresh currants come in a few different colors. What are two of them?
2)      What is one nutritional benefit of popping currants into your mouth?
3)      What are 3 good alternatives to currants in this recipe if they are not available in your neck of the woods?

 I'll announce the winner next Tuesday, so if you entered check back then. 

Great answers Suzan. Just fire me your shipping address and I'll get some PaperChef products sent your way. 

Currant Granola Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup palm sugar or other granulated sugar of choice
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or other oil of choice such as canola
3/4 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 1/2 cups granola of choice
3/4 cup fresh currants

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs. Stir in sugar, oil, yogurt and lemon zest. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Add additional liquid if the mixture appears too dry. Fold in 1 cup granola and currants. Divide batter among 12 medium sized muffin cups and sprinkle remaining granola on top of the batter. Bake for 18 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.