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
Post your comment

*Required

July 28, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

As most of you know, I like to eat. I also love pasta and my biggest issue has always been eyeballing the measurements for a single serving. No matter how hard I try, and yes, I’ve used those stupid gadgets that are supposed to measure spaghetti. They lie about it being an actual serving for ONE. Or, if they think that’s a serving for ONE, it’s not a big enough serving for ME.

Sometimes, I’m forced to eat alone, which is another one of my problems. I seem to have many, right?

It’s not that I don’t like BEING alone, I just hate “EATING ALONE”. I have this shtick about never eating in a restaurant alone, with the exception of last year when I went to visit my niece at her home in Quogue, NY.

I spent the most part of the week all by myself, while the family was in the city working. I have to say, it was very relaxing, with the one exception of the “EATING ALONE” part. The majority of the time, I picked up food at local eateries and took it back to the house. Only once did I actually head out to a small café to order a meal and sit at a table ALONE.

The only way I could get through the entire meal was with my Ipad and a good stiff drink of cranberry and soda. For some reason, I always feel like everyone is staring at me when I’m seated like a lonely loser in a restaurant. Oh, don’t take this the wrong way. There’s nothing weird about being alone or a loser. I JUST DON’T LIKE IT and I swear that other diners are watching me AND feeling sorry for me. Probably not true and they couldn’t care less.

Anyways, this pasta dish was one example of a single meal that was supposed to be just for me. Take a look at this plate. Does this look like one person could finish this? No. It was sufficient enough to satisfy 4 – 6 “normal” people. I just happen to have finished three quarters of this dish BY MYSELF. I mean, once you start twirling those noodles, how are you expected to stop?

The recipe was made with our garden tomatoes, which are currently in full bloom due to the obnoxious amount of rain we have been getting here. I also loved adding the fresh basil into this dish, the fragrance is intoxicating. The marinara sauce was a no-brainer, it literally took me 10 minutes to throw together. All in all, a wonderful meal to serve at my table for one.

SPAGHETTINI WITH ROASTED TOMATOES, FRESH BASIL AND LIGHT MARINARA SAUCE

FOR THE SAUCE
– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
– ½ teaspoon kosher salt
– 1 teaspoon sugar
– ⅛ teaspoon fresh black pepper

ROASTED TOMATOES
– 2 cups small cherry tomatoes
– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– 2 large cloves of garlic, smashed
– sea salt
– freshly ground black pepper

SPAGHETTINI
– 12 oz (350g) package fresh spaghettini pasta
– ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, plus a few more for garnishing
– freshly grated parmigiano cheese, for garnish

1) Make your sauce first by heating a medium size saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil to the pan, allowing it to warm for 1 minute, then add the garlic and sauté it for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until it’s golden brown and fragrant (watch that it doesn’t burn).
2) Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar, stirring to combine. Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then season it with additional salt, pepper or sugar, to taste.
3) While the sauce is simmering, preheat your oven to 450F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Rinse the tomatoes and pat them dry.
4) Place the tomatoes and smashed garlic cloves on a parchment lined large baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread them out on the baking sheet. Roast the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping them every 5 to 10 minutes or so, until they are soft and they begin to burst.
5) While the tomatoes finish roasting, boil the dried pasta until done (about 3-4 minutes if you are using fresh pasta). Add the fresh basil leaves to the pasta water just before the spaghettini is cooked.
6) Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Place the pasta back into the pot and add in the marinara sauce.
7) Add the warm, roasted tomatoes and toss gently. Add reserved pasta water a little at a time to thicken the sauce, if necessary.
8) Garnish each pasta serving with additional basil and a sprinkling of parmigiano cheese.

xx, Debi
Party conversation
  1. Vikram

    Nice Post & sweet beautiful Food

Post your comment

*Required

July 21, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

When I go grocery shopping with Steve, it’s always an experience. Let me explain.

Usually, we stay together and one of us pushes the cart down each aisle as we peruse the items that will ultimately make it into the cart. As a rule, the collaboration on what’s A YES and what’s A NO usually goes something like this:

ME: “OOOOOO!!! Look at these…..I want to make ______with them.”

STEVE: “YOU DON’T NEED THEM.”

ME: “Yes, I do. Can you imagine what they will look like in a photograph?”

STEVE: “It’s going to go bad in the fridge before you ever photograph them.”

ME: “NO, I’m going to make the recipe when we get home.”

STEVE: “YA, RIGHT.”

ME: “Can I get these too?”

STEVE: “NO”

ME: “WHY?”

STEVE: “Because you will forget that you have the container and it will expire”.

Enter these gooseberries. I have to admit something to you but you need to promise not to tell Steve, okay?

I really didn’t need these. Don’t get me wrong, they were super cute and really made for an unusal twist to this recipe BUT the bottom line is, they were totally an impulse buy and were not ripe enough to eat out of the container.

That’s exactly why there is a good amount of honey in this recipe because unless you like things REALLY SOUR, and I mean SOUR, you are going to want to ripen these on your window sill for a few days OR until you forget about them.

Oh, and my solution for shopping with Steve is not going shopping with Steve. I usually make my way to the store to buy everything my heart desires, quickly unpack it and try to camouflage it in the fridge. Works like a charm, until he finds it with arms and sleeves three months from now.

GOOSEBERRY MANUKA FROZEN YOGURT

– 1 cup low fat vanilla flavoured yogurt
– ¼ cup Manuka honey
– pinch of cinnamon
– 1 pint fresh gooseberries, frozen

1) Place all ingredients into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
2) Select Variable 1.
3) Turn machine on and slowly increase to the highest speed.
4) Use the tamper to press ingredients into the blades.
5) In about 30-60 seconds, the sound of the motor will change and four mounds should form.
6) Stop machine. Do not over mix or melting will occur. Serve immediately with additional gooseberries for garnish.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
Simply Beautiful Eating

xx, Debi
Post your comment

*Required

July 14, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

The best part about having a new cooktop is having a NEW COOKTOP!!

I’m happy to say that FINALLY, yes finally, there is LIFE in the kitchen again. Oh ya, there’s still so much to do but at least I have my major appliances up and running. Now, you would think as a food blogger I would create a special one-of-a-kind kick off the NEW KITCHEN recipe to make on my new and very, very HOT stove. Well. That didn’t happen. I think between the renovation that will never end and the upcoming weddings for my two boys, my brain is functioning at ZERO to none.

This is when you call in the expert. Thank you MARTHA STEWART for this winner of a chicken dinner. It’s quick, super easy and look how stunning that chicken is swimming in that pool of yellow.

I stepped out to the garden for the first time this season to forage for some fresh herbs. Steve did a stellar job in planting this year. Mind you, he does a wonderful job every year unless there are unforeseen circumstances that heed his crops. Which brings to ask, where is Alice? Remember last year we had a bunny in the backyard and I felt the need to name her because she was so cute but really was a devil in a rabbit suit? I saw someone that looked similar to her in the spring but haven’t seen her since. Last year she foraged through the garden and annihilated all the provisions we had before we a chance to harvest them.

Don’t get me wrong, but although I miss seeing her sweet l’il bunny tail hippity hopping around in the backyard, I’m not going to send a search party out for her.

BYE ALICE.

Okay, so lately my incessant laziness for developing recipes has been unforgivable. I had some valid excuses to fall back on, but now I can’t play the “I don’t have a kitchen card” anymore. I promise my culinary mojo will return after wedding number one.

Right now, I’m trying to figure out whether to go with a side part or a centre part for my hair. This has nothing to do with this chicken recipe but I thought you would appreciate being  part of the prenuptial planning.

QUICK CURRY CHICKEN WITH SPINACH & PEAS

– 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1½-inch pieces
– Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
– 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 3 shallots, halved and thinly sliced (1 cup)
– 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
– 2 tablespoons minced ginger (from a 2-inch piece)
– 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
– ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
– 1 red finger chile, thinly sliced (2 tablespoons)
– 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
– 1 cup frozen peas
– 2 cups packed baby spinach

1) Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.
2) In a large braising pan, melt butter over medium-high. Working in two batches, brown chicken until golden, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to a plate.
3) Reduce heat to low and add shallots and cinnamon stick. Cook, stirring often, until shallots are soft, 8 minutes. Add ginger, spices, and chile. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and sugar and cook 30 seconds more. Stir in coconut milk, ¼ cup water, chicken, and any accumulated juices. Season with salt and pepper. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low, partially covered, until chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add peas and spinach just to heat through. Serve over rice, topped with almonds and cilantro.

See you next week!

debi @simplybeautifuleating
Simply Beautiful Eating 

xx, Debi
Post your comment

*Required

July 7, 2017

Ready, Set, Weekend with Simply Beautiful Eating

Yep. It’s that time of year again. I seem to have missed the lilac and cherry blossom boat and you know what that means? No stolen flowers to use from the neighbourhood for my annual ice pop post.

Oh well, the best I could do here was run over to the local market and grab some pink roses which I promptly hung upside down in my spare bedroom to dry. You heard me right. I didn’t even get to or want to enjoy them while they were alive.

I wanted them DEAD and DRIED UP. Wanna know why?

Dead roses look really really purdy scattered over ice pops……just like this ↓

See?

I told you.

If you’re not into eating flowers just forget it but you have to promise me you will “go to town” with your toppings.

Here’s what I did with mine.

White chocolate chips, crushed pistachios, sliced almonds and oodles of melted chocolate.

Totally decadent right?

Now, here’s what happens when you bite into one of these babies. They completely and utterly fall apart all over you.

I tried taking a good chunk out of one and ended up with a nice piece of chocolate coating on my white pants. I quickly picked up the errant piece and shoved it into my face only to have another part of the pop fall onto my lap again. That’s when I thought it might be a smart idea to get a plate. Duh.

So you might be wondering what’s up with the kitchen. Well, I’m very excited to say that I now have two working sinks, a hot water spout for tea/coffee and ……..a few handles on my cabinetry. Notsobad at all. Did I also mention that my cooktop is fired up and ready for action?

I promise to show you the first recipe I made on my new baby. I have to admit, this is the hottest cooktop I have ever laid eyes on. I mean, 18,000 BTU’s of FIYAH! When I was using it the other day, I thought the exhaust fan was going to suck up my chicken thighs and I would never see them again. Not joking.

Okay, back to these ice cream pops. Are you ready for this? I made 12 of these and 6 fell apart. Not everything works out for me ya know. I have had my share of kitchen conundrums more times than you are willing to believe. I’m going to tell you what happened and this most likely will not repeat itself again.

I was waiting for the marble shine guy to swing by to polish the new countertops. He arrived early and I had taken 6 of the pops out of the freezer as I was setting up the shoot for this post. Then of course, I did what I do best…TALK.

I totally forgot that they were sitting on the counter and when I went to release them from their molds the stick slid out and the pops remained inside. Just a quick tip for any wannabe food bloggers out there. If you are going to work with ice cream, you can’t abandon it and expect it to remain intact. Ice cream is as temperamental as a two year old. I’m super lucky that I made two batches otherwise I would be posting a salad again on here today.

HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE DIPPED ICE CREAM POPS

– 1 litre vanilla ice cream, softened
– 12 popsicle sticks
– 20 oz. 70% dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped
– 2 coconut oil (you can use canola or vegetable oil too)
– optional toppings – Crushed pistachios, sliced almonds, white chocolate chips, dried rose petals

1) Take softened vanilla ice cream and spoon into ice pop molds, place a popsicle stick in each mold and freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight.
2) When ready to serve, make your melted chocolate by placing it into a heat proof bowl with 2 tablespoons of oil.
3) Set the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan. Stir gently until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is barely lukewarm, 15 to 30 minutes.
4) Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
5) Run mold under warm water to release ice cream pops.
6) You need to work quickly now. Ready?
7) Dip the ice cream pop into the chocolate until the ice cream is completely covered. Let any excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place each dipped pop onto the baking sheet. Continue dipping the remaining pops. Sprinkle with desired toppings and additional melted chocolate if there is any leftover.
8) Return the dipped bars, uncovered, into the freezer until the ice cream and coating have both hardened, at least 30 minutes.

xx, Debi
Post your comment

*Required