August 4, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Here’s a perfect example of baking something that I didn’t need, but was happy to stuff into my face. Guys, I have to fit into a very tight dress for my other son’s wedding in five weeks. Although there are healthy ingredients in this recipe, I went overboard and added streusel and drizzle to what would have been an acceptable muffin recipe.

Okay, so streusel and drizzle definitely takes this to the NEXT LEVEL, but really? I may has well have just plunked two of these bad boys directly on my hips before they passed through my lips.

Now, as for the size of these muffins? Well, they certainly ain’t muffkins. I like them BIG. Why? Why not?

Is there anything better than a muffin top? With the exception of one that sticks out if your pants are too tight (which may happen if you scarf down a few of these – consider yourself warned).

I absolutely love fresh peach season and throwing in the dried dates into this recipe was a nice twist. I’m getting tired of adding the usual cranberries and raisins to things. Aren’t you?

Oh yes! What about this muffin pan? The nice folks at USA PAN sent this to me a few months ago (pre-demolition), and I have been saving it until we finished the kitchen and had our ovens in full gear. I’m sure you can imagine how many muffin tins I have collected over the years, but this one is special. First of all, it has an amazing design. Love the stripes! Secondly, although I’m always cautious to either spray or line my muffin tins, this pan didn’t need ANYTHING because it’s super non-stick. My muffins practically fell out on the floor when I released them. Five second rule applies here if you happen to drop one.

Speaking of which, I get many requests about freezing baked goods. These muffins are perfect to pop in the freezer for up to three months or they will stay fresh in an airtight container for three days. Having said that, why is it that I never have to freeze anything? Most likely because I either take my goodies to the office OR I polish them off myself before they have a chance to make it into the freezer.

There are no secret ingredients in this muffin recipe. Just plain old fashioned DA BOMB diggity peachy keen muffins here.  Ready, set, let’s get baking!

For the streusel topping
– ⅓ cup packed light or dark brown sugar
– 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
– ⅔ cup all-purpose flour

For the muffins
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 cup rolled oats,quick cooking
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
– ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1 cup granulated sugar
– ⅓ cup light brown sugar, packed
– 1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
– 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
– ¾ cup milk (almond, rice or soy will work too)
– ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
– 3 fresh peaches peeled and diced into small cubes
– ½ cup chopped dried dates

For the vanilla drizzle
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– 3 tablespoons milk
– ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1) To make the streusel topping, in a large bowl combine both sugars, cinnamon, melted butter and flour until the mixture is very crumbly. Set aside or place in fridge while making your muffin batter to keep the streusel from getting too warm.
2) Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick spray; set aside.
3) In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the rolled oats and set aside.
4) In a large bowl using an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and both sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy; about 3 minutes.
5) Add in the egg, egg yolks, and vanilla and continue beating until well combined. Turn mixer off and set batter aside. In a large measuring cup add the milk and sour cream; whisk well to combine; set aside. With the mixer speed set to low; alternate adding the flour mixture and the sour cream/milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Be sure not to over mix. With the mixer turned off, add in the diced peaches and dates and use a spatula to gently fold the fresh and dried fruit into the batter just until incorporated.
6) Divide the batter evenly among prepared muffin tins. Don’t be shy, fill those tins to the brim. Top each muffin cup with about 3 tablespoons of crumb topping.
7) Bake for 27 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool muffins 10 minutes in the pan before transferring to a cooling rack. Once the muffins have cooled completely, make your drizzle by combining the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla. Drizzle over each muffin and let set. These freeze well, but I’m going to be honest here, there won’t be any left to freeze once you get your hands on these. Makes 8-12 large muffins.

xx, Debi
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June 9, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Guess what?

I HAVE OVENS!

Not one but two. Yep. That’s what I wanted in the new kitchen, because God only knows what the future will bring. I figured that it was a practical move since entertaining for a crowd will be inevitable. My mom always loved  her double ovens. When she hosted  large family gatherings twice a year, there was always enough room to place extra dishes in both to keep all the food nice and toasty.

Last night I made my first pizza in the lower oven. Why the lower one? It’s much easier to reach into. Despite the fact that there is still no running water on the main floor, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to bake, broil and roast again.

As an added bonus, Steve has planted all our fresh herbs in the garden and you know what that means? I’m out there snipping and clipping. Now, I’m not a big chive lover but to be honest, they were unbelievably good on this pizza. Along with the fresh herbs, I used sliced zucchini and farmers cottage cheese for my toppings. This was one fancy dancy pizza, don’t ya think?

Oh, and I also have counter space to work on now. OODLES of counter space, which I’m going to tell you about.

I’m in the midst of writing a detailed renovation blog, but I wanted to share this one piece of information with you today. If you have been following along in this adventure, you will remember that I have ISSUES in making up my mind. It’s not that I’m indecisive. Well, maybe a little. Okay, maybe A LOT.

I just want things to be RIGHT. I figured that I have to be in love with the choices I make for this kitchen, otherwise I will be waiting for the opportunity to change things in the future. Deciding on a counter top was one of the toughest decisions for me to make.

You see, being a food blogger means that you are going to beat the crap out of your work space. It means drips, spills, scratches and work space abominable messes. What does all that mean? It points towards choosing a durable surface that can withstand ME.

I searched and searched through every possible man made quartz counter top sample and finally decided on one.

THEN.

I changed my mind. (insert Steve’s eye roll thingie here) Let me tell you what happened.

I walked into a showroom to choose my quartz slab and the salesperson said “don’t look to the right”. When I asked her what she meant by “don’t look to the right”, she informed me that all the marble slabs were to the right and all the quartz slabs were to the LEFT.

So naturally I went to the right.

That was my first mistake, because I fell hopelessly IN LOVE. All the slabs I saw were exactly what I have dreamt of having in my kitchen. There wasn’t one person who didn’t try to talk me out of getting marble. I was basically told “it would be the worst decision ever”.

So what did I do?

I chose marble.

Am I insane for doing so? Probably. Is it beautiful? YES. Is it perfect? No. With every natural stone there are flaws, but I guarantee that there will be more once I start my usual kitchen antics.

I was super careful last night with this pizza. I used every trivet I had in the house to make sure that the pan didn’t come in contact with the counter. Worth it? Uh huh.

Making my own pizza dough is something that I love to do, but for a quick version and since I’m still running up and down the stairs for water, I used a store bought whole grain shell for this pizza. Easy peasy.

The whole shebang took me less than ten minutes to throw together and look how pretty it is!

I’m starting to see a light at the end of the kitchen tunnel. For instance, I have a couch now which has nothing to do with the kitchen, but it’s somewhere that we can sit now. Or should I say, the cat can sit. She was ecstatic that we gave her back some furniture to park her butt on. Why is it that she thinks she owns everything? Most likely because she DOES.

ZUCCHINI & FARMERS CHEESE PIZZA WITH FRESH CHIVES

– 1 store bought pizza shell
– flavored olive oil, I used garlic& herb
– 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
– ½ cup fresh baby spinach leaves
– 1 teaspoon dried oregano
– 2 zucchinis, thinly sliced, steamed and blanched
– 6 tablespoons farmers cottage cheese or goat cheese
– kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
– fresh basil leaves, for garnish
– 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives for garnish

1) Preheat oven to 450F. Grease a 14-inch round pizza pan. Place your pizza shell on the pan and brush with flavoured oil.
2) Evenly sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the crust. Top with spinach leaves. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and sprinkle the dried oregano evenly over the top.
3) Bake in the lower third of the oven until the crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly and browning on top, 8 -10 minutes. Meanwhile, steam zucchini slices for 3 minutes in the microwave with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Drain and blanch in ice cold water.
4) Remove pizza from oven and top with zucchini, dollop farmers cottage cheese over it and sprinkle with chives. Place back into the oven for two to three minutes just to warm through. Slice and serve immediately.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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May 19, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Now I know I’ve completely lost my mind and I’m sure you wanna know why.

I’ve been searching through archived photos of my food photography for the past few months, just came across these and guess what? I don’t even remember when I shot them. It was somewhere between 2014 and 2017. That’s all I know. The other thing I’m pretty certain about is this…..

These muffins were the bomb.

To narrow down the timeline, it’s clear that these were made during blueberry season (well duh, there’s a load of them in the recipe ,so this wasn’t something that I needed the FBI to figure out).

Anyhoo, you know how I feel about blueberries. They are plump jewels of happiness that make everything taste better. Especially when they burst out of a muffin and into your mouth.

Wait.

How about these roses? My husband is always a sucker for good foliage. He makes his way down to the flower markets whenever there is an occasion, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, my birthday or a just-because-I-love-you-day.

Let me tell you what he did for Mother’s Day.

Of course, he surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of roses, similar to the ones in these photos.

Then, he gave me a really cute card with an enclosed paper (hand made) puzzle. Yes, he made the puzzle out of letters that were my “clues” to my gift.

I had 10 minutes to piece together these letters, otherwise Steve informed me that the gift was NULL and VOID.

No pressure, right?

OMG, I suck at puzzles. I could never win Survivor. Plus I’m really bad in math, which has nothing to do with puzzles, but I just thought I would let you know that useless piece of information.

Oh, and we were in the car on our way to brunch when I opened my card. Steve set his iPhone timer for 10 minutes and yelled “GO!!!”

I was fiddling around with the stupid paper pieces for exactly 7 minutes, when he realized that he may have spelled the word wrong. Not surprising, since his spelling is comparable to my math skills. It’s a good thing we can assist each other with daily simple tasks because, really?

So now we are stopped at a red light, he grabs one of the squares of paper and scribbles over the letter making the correction.

I have 3 minutes left and I’m starting to shvitz (sweat).

I figured it out with a minute to spare and guessed it!

You won’t believe this one. He still spelled it wrong.

These where my letters:

L

O

S

V

E

G

A

S

How do you really spell it? Las Vegas.

Do I gamble? No. I hate losing money.

Do I need to go to Las Vegas now, with two weddings coming up this summer? No.

Can I try spelling something else with those letters and still get a gift? All I could figure out was LOVES GAS so maybe a gift certificate to ESSO might be another option. Okay Steve?

Here’s the moral of the story. No matter how you spell it, these Blueberry Oat Chia muffins are a sure bet.

BLUEBERRY OAT CHIA MUFFINS

– 2 extra large eggs
– ½ cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
– 2 medium size, ripe bananas, mashed
– ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 tsp baking soda
– ½ tsp ground cinnamon
– ¼ cup cup chia seeds
– ¾ cup quick oats
– 1 cup + 2 tbsp white whole wheat flour (or a mix of all purpose and whole wheat is fine too)
– 1½ cups cups fresh blueberries

1) Preheat your oven to 350F and prepare a 12 cup muffin pan by spraying with non stick cooking spray or lining them with paper liners. Set aside.
2) In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Whisk in the Greek yogurt, bananas,sugar, vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, chia seeds and oats mixing until smooth.
3) Add in the flour and gently stir it in until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.
4) Toss the blueberries in 1 tablespoon of flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins, then fold them into the batter.
5) Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, using an ice cream scoop. Fill them almost to the top. Sprinkle with additional oats if desired.
6) Bake for 20 -­ 22 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins begin to turn golden and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
7) Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. These will keep well in an airtight container for up to 5 days or they freeze well for up to 3 months.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
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May 17, 2017

Chef Luke Makes Banana Chocolate Chip “Muffies”

My favorite thing about cooking with Chef Luke…is his excitement to cook each week. He is constantly thinking of new ideas for his show and gets overly excited to try new recipes. Being such a foodie myself I feel pretty darn lucky that my kids love to eat and cook as much as they do.

Today Chef Luke is making “Muffies”.  You may be asking yourself…what on earth is a Muffy? And is Seri spelling it right?

A Muffy is what Luke calls the tops of muffins. He gets a muffin every week before his soccer class…and rips off the top and leaves the bottom for the wolves. He named these muffin tops – Muffies.

So today…he’s making Muffies!  They are amazing.  Like banana chocolate chip muffin COOKIES. Yum!

Watch how Luke whips up these bad boys and you can find the recipe below.

Chef Luke’s Banana Chocolate Chip “Muffies”

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
2 bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, set aside.
2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar and whisk together.
3. In a large bowl combine mashed bananas, egg, milk and melted butter and stir.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients slowly, mixing together so all is combined well.
5. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour, then shape into large balls.
6. Bake on a greased baking sheet for 15-20 minutes. Do not over bake. Let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooking rack to cool all the way.

xx, Seri
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April 28, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend With Simply Beautiful Eating

As we go into week 8 of our kitchen renovation, I am experiencing deep baking withdrawal. Although I have to admit, being ovenless has been an acceptable excuse for not cooking and baking.

I thought it would be relaxing and a well deserved break, but to be honest, it’s been hard…..like really hard.

So instead of banging out creations week after week, I’ve succumbed to pouring over pictures of wall colours, countertops, taps, lighting and other various kitchen paraphernalia that has landed me into more trouble than you want to know about with my husband (and the contractor).

Just when they thought it was safe ……….I come up with another “brilliant” idea”.

What was it this week?

A pot filler.

Yes.

A pot filler. You’ve seen them. They are stuck on the wall over the cooktop and conveniently dispense hot and cold water directly into your pot on the stove. GENIUS.

When we first started to design our kitchen, the contractor asked me if I wanted one. Then, two of my friends who are interior designers said, “you’re getting a pot filler, right?” Of course I said YES and my husband said NO.

Steve’s justification for his answer was as follows:

“What do you need it for? Can’t you just walk over to the sink and fill the pot? We only have pasta once a month, so it’s a big waste of money.”

Not to mention he would have to do extra plumbing work for this little kitchen thingy.

To which I answered, “BUT IT’S SO PRETTY!”

Then I stopped to think about the fact that I do have two sinks in the kitchen – one on the island and a main one just a few steps from the cooktop. So I eliminated the pot filler option from my mind UNTIL……..last night.

I’m going to blame Pinterest again, because if you key word search “Beautiful Kitchens”, the majority have these damn pot fillers sticking out of the wall.

As you know, Steve needed to change all the lighting in the house. Since he was already in a lousy mood from that task even though he admits he was W.R.O.N.G. , I figured it was an opportune time to ask for another item we clearly DO NOT NEED for the kitchen. Guess what?

HE SAID FINE JUST DO IT.

He said what?

I had to confirm his answer again, because I thought I heard him say something like “YOU WILL BE FINE WITHOUT IT.” But no, in his current state of exasperation, he said YES!

This brings me to today, and as I write this blog I’m thinking about how to rationalize having that thing on the wall. For instance, this recipe has nothing to do with a pot filler except for the fact that it is also really pretty. Oh and it’s easy. Oh oh…….and it’s a great side dish for pasta which means only one thing……….

I need the pot filler. Right Steve?

Black Sesame & Herb Double Cheese Twists

– 2 sheets frozen puff pastry
– 1 extra large egg
– 1 tablespoon water
– ½ cup shredded jalapeno jack cheese
– ½ cup shredded OKA cheese or Jarlsberg
– 1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs, I used thyme & parsley
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
– Freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board until it is approximately 10 X 12-inches. Beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry. Sprinkle each sheet evenly with both cheeses, fresh herbs, salt, pepper and the sesame seeds. With the rolling pin or your hands, lightly press the flavourings into the puff pastry. Cut each sheet crosswise with a floured knife or pizza wheel into 11 or 12 strips. Twist each strip and lay on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Brush with additional egg wash.
3) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each straw and bake for another 2 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating

xx, Debi
Party conversation
  1. Abby

    This is so simple yet looks very fancy!
    Thanks for sharing the recipe 💖

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