Kitchen Creations

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Do you know the muffin man?

I had some bananas on the counter and they were not looking so lovely any longer.  That always means its time for some baking.  I rarely make banana bread.  I usually make the dough into muffins.  We find the single servings perfect in our household and they freeze great that way too (that is if they last long enough to freeze any - warm baked muffins tend to disappear rather quickly).  I wanted a muffin that had some "umpf" to it this time, so I took my basic go to banana bread recipe and went from there.  We were all extremely pleased with the outcome!  Best of all, they are pretty darn good for you too!

What are you doing with your bananas?

Banana-Oat-Quinoa Muffins
 4 ripe bananas (the riper, the sweeter, the better)
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional depending on how ripe the bananas are)
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats (you can add them as whole flakes or pulse them in a food processor)
1 cup  quinoa (you can add them uncooked for a crunchy texture or add it cooked for softer texture)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 cup bran

Cook the quinoa if you are going to go the cooked route.  It takes 2 cups of water per 1 cup of quinoa and generally 20 minutes.  If you are cooking the quinoa, you will yield 3 cups cooked for every cup uncooked.  Keep this in mind.  You'll only need 1 - 1/2 cups of the cooked quinoa.
Mash together bananas (I use my mixer and just add the ingredients as I go). 
Next add the sugar if you choose to add it - it's only needed if the bananas aren't very ripe.
Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Mix cooked (if going the cooked route) quinoa into the banana mixture at this point.
In a separate bowl combine flour, oats, quinoa (only if going the uncooked route), baking soda, baking powder, ginger and bran.  Mix well.
Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well.
Spoon into muffin cups and bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until tops start to brown and look crunchy.

Enjoy!  They are super yummy!

Click here for a printable link

Monday, February 11, 2013

Quick & Delicious!

I was searching the time-void otherwise known as "Pinterest" for some new dinner recipe inspiration.  I came across this delicious sounding meal, "Thai Fried Quinoa".  I was nervous about the young one.  He is picky, but I've learned that it's best not to plan or cook around his taste buds, they change rapidly, with his mood.  So, with a few adaptations to fit our family - the older boy will NOT eat peas and since he's so good about eating everything else, I indulge this aversion.  I have to say, this meal was AH-MAZ-ING!  We all had seconds, which unfortunately resulted in no leftovers in my lunchbox tomorrow.  Boo!  This recipe is quick, simple and healthy.  The cooking goes really quick, so read through it first and have your ingredients ready to go.  I did not do these things and Mr. Filabuster (a.k.a. our younger son) decided to vocalize every thought in his head at the same time I was reading the recipe and cooking.  Thus my advice, read through it first and have things read.  That's what my frazzled brain was wishing I'd done.

Enjoy a big bowl of this healthy yumminess tonight!

Thai Fried Quinoa  
*Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats food blog
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 cup lite coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. olive oil
5 green onions, chopped
2 Tablespoons minced ginger
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup frozen edamame
1-8oz can pineapple tidbits, drained
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
4 eggs
2-4 Tablespoons soy sauce (I used 4 because we like the flavor)
juice of half a lime
chopped cashews or peanuts (optional)

  1. Place rinsed quinoa in a saucepan over high heat. Add coconut milk and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, place a lid on top, turn the heat down to medium-low, and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is tender.  It takes about 15 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and spray with olive oil (or add to pan and swirl to distribute evenly). Add green onions, ginger, and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't burn.
  3. Next add the edamame, pineapple tidbits, and cilantro and cook for 1 additional minute.
  4. Push the ingredients to the sides of the pan, creating a clear space in the center. Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl, then pour into the pan. Stir with a spatula until the eggs are scrambled, then stir to combine with the rest of the ingredients.
  5. Add cooked quinoa, soy sauce and lime juice to the pan, and stir to combine. Cook for an additional minute or two, or until the quinoa begins to crisp up. Serve with optional chopped nuts on top.
Click here for printable recipe

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sweet + Sour = Yum!

In England the term "hotpot" means a casserole topped with sliced potatoes.  I found this recipe for sweet and sour mixed bean hotpot in one of my vegetarian cookbooks.  The name did not entice me but, as often is the case, the picture most definitely did.  It looked delectable, warm and hearty.  It also looked relatively easy!  Always a plus on a work night!  So, I set about recreating the recipe to meet our families likes and specifications.  This made a terrific main dish for us, paired with some fresh fruit.  If you are a must have meat person, this dish would be a fantastic side.  It is FULL of flavor and texture!  Either way, it's a nice change of pace from the norm!  It does take a bit to bake, but the good news is that the prep is minimal and you can do other things while this takes its sweet time in the oven.

Sweet & Sour Vegetable Bean Hotpot
2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Butter
1/3 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/4 cups tomato sauce
2/3 cup of pear juice (apple would work too, but I had pear on hand)
4 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup Vodka (optional - the original recipe called for Sherry, but I only had Vodka on hand)
1 can navy beans
1 can butter beans
1 can chick-peas
2 cups green beans
1 cup shallots, sliced
3 cups sliced mushrooms
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
1 Tbsp. fresh marjoram
salt and ground pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Thinly slice the potatoes and boil them for 4 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and toss them with the olive oil, making sure they are coated all over.  Set them aside.
  • Melt the butter and add the flour, tomato sauce, pear juice, sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and vodka in a large saucepan.  Heat gently while whisking until sauce begins to boil and thickens.  Simmer for 3 more minutes, stirring continuously.
  • Rinse and drain the beans and chick-peas and add to the sauce, along with all remaining ingredients.  Stir together, mixing well.
  • Spoon the bean mixture into baking dish.
  • Arrange the potato slices over the top of the bean mixture, overlapping them slightly, until the entire bean mixture is covered.
  • Cover with foil and back for 50 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are golden.
Click here for printable recipe

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dreaming Of Summer

Lately it's been rather cold and dreary here in the Northwest.  I enjoy all the seasons, but so many days of cold has left me dreaming a bit of warmth and the joys that summer brings.   One of those joys is fresh vegetables from the garden.  In my early growing up years, we lived out in the country in Southern Illinois and we had a huge garden.  One of our staple summer meals was spinach salad.  Really, this salad can be a side, but we loved it as a main dish.  Nothing is better on a hot summer evening than a big bowl of fresh, cool salad.  This salad can be tweaked however you need it to be; healthy, meatier, meatless......  I love it just the way my mom used to make it for us.  Be aware, you must eat this the same night, it's not nearly as good the next day.

Bring some summer dreams into your home tonight.

Spinach Salad 
2 bunches fresh spinach, washed & stems removed
4-5 boiled eggs, sliced
1/2 lb of bacon, cooked and sliced or broken up
1-2 bunches of green onions, sliced (depending on your love for onions)
For the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vinegar (your favorite kind, but not balsamic)
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce 
3 Tbsp. ketchup
dash of garlic salt/powder

  • Mix together ingredients for the dressing and shake well.  I usually use a mason jar.
  • Lightly toss all ingredients for the salad.
  • Either drizzle dressing over whole salad, or individual salads.
**Roasted sunflower seeds make an excellent substitution for the bacon if you are looking for a meatless alternative!

Click here for printable recipe   

Friday, February 1, 2013

Easy Lasagna

My older son LOVES lasagna.  I don't really like making it much.  Lots of steps, lots of time involved.  I LOVE easy crock-pot meals.  I found this recipe for crock-pot lasagna and it felt like a match made in heaven.  I tried it out last night.  I was very low on energy and in this recipe I didn't even have to cook the noodles first!  I was hoping this worked out well.  I was concerned because you wouldn't get the crusty cheese top.  Would it be as good?  Would it be too liquidy?  Wait!  I didn't have enough of the thick sauce and now have to substitute my own homemade sauce, but it's thinner!  I did it anyway.  It was smelling great and looking great.  Now for the true test, taste!  It was winner all over.  This is the crusty cheese kind, but this is the melty goodness that satisfies in every way.  My sister also gave me a great idea when we discussed this recipe today.  You could use a kitchen torch (ala creme brulee) to get that nice crusty cheese on top!!!

Dive into this cheesy goodness soon!!

Crock-pot Lasagna

12 whole wheat lasagna noodles
2 large jars pasta sauce (your favorite - thicker is going to make for a thicker lasagna, thinner is more soupy)
2 16-ounce containers of small curd cottage cheese (or ricotta)
2 eggs
1 10-ounce package of frozen spinach
2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 package spaghetti sauce spice mix (this is optional, but I really liked the flavor it added)
1 cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese

  • Thaw spinach in microwave (2 minutes on high) and then squeeze out extra liquid using a kitchen towel.
  • Mix together cottage cheese/ricotta, eggs, nutmeg, spaghetti sauce, spinach, 1/2 cup of Mozzarella Cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan Cheese.
  • Layer 1 cup pasta sauce at the bottom of the crock-pot. Next layer 4 lasagna noodles (breaking as needed).  Now 1 more cup of sauce, then the cheese-spinach mixture.  Then another layer of 4 noodles and another cup of sauce and then the remaining  cheese-spinach mixture.  Top off with 4 more noodles and the remainder of the sauce.  
  • Place the lid on the crock-pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours (I did 6).  
  • In the last 10-15 minutes add the remaining cheese.  Cover and cook until ready to serve.

Enjoy with a nice salad and some crusty French bread.

Click here for printable recipe