Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blueberry Maqui Smoothies

Featured Ingredient: Maqui Powder














I was meaning to put up this recipe last week but my computer crashed. Like taxes and death, I guess that is inevitable at some point nowadays.

Anyways, it’s still prime smoothie weather here and I am now the lucky owner of Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris. It’s packed with so many thirst inducing smoothie ideas that it is sure to keep my blender humming along on a regular basis. I am intrigued by the idea of whirling together cauliflower and cocoa nibs or organizing a play date with cashews and frozen peas.














So I thought I would adapt one of the recipes to my regular rotation of smoothie cups. Blueberries, tofu (yes, tofu!) and maqui powder team up to create a power packed drink. Silky soft tofu really works well in smoothies as it provides some creamy texture and vegetarian protein. If you have not heard of it yet, maqui powder is gleaned from the namesake berries which are indigenous to southern Chile. The berries are tinted with a very deep purple color which is a tip-off that they are laced with the same anthocyanin antioxidants found in blueberries and blackberries. A number of studies suggests that diets rich in anthoycanins can help improve brain functioning. Which I guess is why I'm such an Einstein :) The powder is also a stellar addition to yogurt or chocolate baked goods. So is maqui the new acai?














These smoothie cups can be blended up with any guise of milk, but I really like them with almond milk or coconut milk beverage. I’ll even toss in some more fresh blueberries for an added punch.  

Wanna blend up these smoothie cups? Well, it’s time for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway? The fine folks at NavitasNaturals would like to award one of my readers with some of their very own antioxidant plush maqui powder. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “Maqui is berry good” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner Tuesday September 10th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Good news Suzan E, you were randomly selected the winner of your very own Maqui. Just pass along your shipping details using my contact button above and I'll get some sent your way.

Blueberry Smoothie Cups
















2 (300 gram) packages soft tofu
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons maqui powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all of the ingredients in a blender container and blend until smooth. The mixture should be somewhat thick.

Divide the mixture among 12 standard sized muffin cups 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 or liners 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 liquid of choice and 2 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. 




Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Zucchini Frittatas with Tomato Jam

Featured Ingredient: Zucchini














We have a serious zucchini problem! Our gardens have been so-so this year, but one thing that is growing in copious amounts is zucchini. The fridge is packed with elephantine sized squash, so I’ve been adding zucchini to everything these days – gazpacho, muffins, salads, you name it. In my recent no-cook cookbook, I have a recipe that uses shaved zucchini in salads, which I’m finding is a great way to use it up.

Zucchini is also a stellar addition to these muffin sized frittatas. Because they reheat wonderfully, they are a perfect thing to have on hand for harried work-week dinners. In a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine they had a killer sounding tomato jam that I really wanted to try out. Indeed, this is most flavorful topping imaginable. Particularly using ripe-this-very-minute local tomatoes.

If you try out this recipe, let me know how it goes.  

Zucchini Frittatas with Tomato Jam

Tomato jam adapted from Bon Appetit.














Frittatas:
2 cups grated zucchini
8 large eggs
1 cup fresh corn kernels, about 1 cob
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped dill
1 shallot, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Jam:
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 large beefsteak tomatoes, coarsely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place zucchini in colander, toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let sit 15 minutes. Place zucchini on a clean kitchen towel, roll tightly and wring out as much water as possible.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs and stir in zucchini, corn, Parmesan cheese, dill, shallot, paprika, salt and black pepper. Divide among 12 standard sized greased or paper lined muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until eggs have set. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.   

To make the jam, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, coriander, and cardamom. Cook, stirring often, until mustard seeds begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add shallots, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add fish sauce, sugar, turmeric, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, until tomatoes are falling apart and mixture thickens, about 35 minutes. Mix in lime juice and black pepper.


Serve frittatas with tomato jam. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Peanut Butter and Jam Cups

Featured Ingredient: Peanut Butter

If tomatoes have basil and beets have goat cheese, jam has a special friend in the food word as well, and that’s peanut butter. It’s a dynamic duo indeed that has inspired many taste buds – both young and young at heart.

That’s why I am so happy to report that I’ve created a muffin tin version of the iconic peanut butter and jam sandwich. These little frosty treats are packed with all of the cherished PB&J flavors. I decided to make them with real berries instead of jarred jam to up the health ante, while whisking the nut butter with evaporated milk makes it easier to pour into muffin tin molds and improves its texture for freezing. If desired, you can use strawberries in lieu of raspberries.

I’ve also included a bonus recipe that replaces the raspberry topping with chocolate for a more decadent tasting treat. These are just as amazing! I like to include some chili powder for a little kick, but this is very much optional.














Many people are now savvy to the fact that high-calorie nut butters are not to be feared because they pack a legitimate nutritional punch. With good amounts of protein, unsaturated fats and assorted minerals, you certainly can make worse dietary choices.

For these recipes, I used the wonderful creamy nut butter from Nuttzo. They pack in seven different nuts and seeds including peanuts, almonds and flax. Plus it’s organic for bonus points. They also have peanut free nut butter options if peanut allergies are a concern for your household. The chocolate infused versions certaintly don't disappoint either. You can learn more about the story of Nuttzo by clicking here.














Ready for another Muffin Tin Mania giveaway? The fine folks at Nuttzo would like to award one of my readers with some of their tasty nut butter. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on this blog post that says “I’d go nuts for Nuttzo” along with some way of identifying yourself such as your initials, name or email address and I will use this online tool to randomly select a winner. I’ll announce the winner next Tuesday August 20th, so if you entered write the date down on your calendar and check back in then for a chance to claim your prize.

Congrats to Bridge who was randomly selected to win her very own Nuttzo butter. Bridge, just use the contact button above to send my your shipping details. 

PB&J Cups
















3 cups raspberries
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Add raspberries and honey to a food processor or blender container and blend until smooth. Pour raspberry puree into a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and press down with a spatula or wooden spoon. Make sure to scrape the puree from the underside of the sieve into the bowl. Discard the seeds.

In a separate bowl, whisk milk into peanut butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until silky smooth. Stir in vanilla.

Divide the peanut butter mixture among 10 to 12 standard sized muffin cups, making sure the bottoms are completely covered. Top each with raspberry puree. Place pan in freezer until solid, about 4 hours.

Unmold cups, place them in an airtight container, and return to freezer until ready to use. If you did not use silicon muffin cups or liners 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.

To serve, let each cup sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften.

PB & Chocolate Cups

















3/4 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne or chili powder (optional)
Coarse salt such as Fleur de Sel (optional)

In a medium sized bowl, whisk milk into peanut butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until silky smooth. Stir in vanilla.

To melt the chocolate, stir chocolate in metal or glass bowl over a saucepan of lightly simmering water until smooth. Or place chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 25 second intervals until melted, stiring between each intervals. Stir in cinnamon and cayenne or chili powder if using.

Divide the peanut butter mixture among 10 to 12 standard sized muffin cups, making sure the bottoms are completely covered. Top each with melted chocolate. Sprinkle tops with salt if desired. Place pan in freezer until solid, about 4 hours.

Unmold cups, place them in an airtight container, and return to freezer until ready to use. If you did not use silicon muffin cups or liners 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.


To serve, let each cup sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Matcha Slushies

Featured Ingredient: Matcha













Green tea meat your matcha. Steeped in tradition, precious matcha is the star of the centuries-old Japanese tea ceremony Sadō and is traditionally gleaned from high altitude, shade-grown Gyokuro tea leaves. Plucked in the spring, the leaves are lightly steamed, air-dried and then stone-ground into a very fine verdant powder. Hence its epithet from the Chinese words mo cha, meaning to grind tea.

Matcha has been billed as a wonder tea because when you drink it, you’re consuming the entire leaf instead of just steeping the leaves and then removing them. So your body benefits from a lofty dose of wonder-working antioxidants. A University of Colorado at Colorado Springs study found that matcha contains up to 137 times more antioxidant firepower than traditional green tea.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about matcha for Vegetarian Times magazine and the recipe developer came up with this wonderful recipe to accompany the piece. These icy matcha slushies are a great addition to any summer beverage menu. The printed recipe suggests using ice cube trays, but I found mini muffin cups work well too. The recipe makes enough for 8 slushies.

















Matcha comes in a few different grades. A great place to get yours is matchasource.com. For this recipe, I’d suggest going with the café grade matcha.

Matcha Slushies
















Adapted from Vegetarian Times

2 tablespoons matcha tea powder
2 cups soymilk, hemp milk or almond milk, plus ¼ cup more for each slushie
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar

Place matcha in medium bowl, and whisk in 2 cups water brought to just under a boil. Let cool for several minutes.

Whisk milk and sweetener into cooled matcha tea. Pour into 32 mini muffin cups and freeze until solid, about 2 1/2 hours. I did this in batches as I have only one silicon mini muffin tray.


To make a matcha slushie: Place 4 frozen cups in a blender with 1/4 cup milk. Blend into a slushie consistency. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Eggplant Dill Muffins

Featured Ingredient: Eggplant

















I have to say that I have an appetite for savory muffins as much as I do sweet ones. They make a great snack during the day or as a component to a light summer meal. And with local farmers’ markets in full swing, there is plenty of cheap vegetables and herbs ready to be stirred into muffin batter.

These muffins make use of eggplant which adds a lot of body and moisture to the batter without many calories at all. The dill is what provides the flavor punch. This is a muffin that just screams for a light spread of butter.

If you enjoy savory muffins and have some eggplant on hand that needs to be used try whipping up a batch of these.

Eggplant Dill Muffins

Adapted from Vegetarian Times magazine.

















2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cups peeled and grated eggplant
Zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, stir together flour, dill, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, combine eggs, buttermilk and butter. Stir in onion, eggplant and lemon zest. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir gently just until everything is moist.


Divide batter among 12 greased or paper lined standard sized muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out mostly clean. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.