Monday, April 27, 2015

Blueberry Bran Muffins

Bran muffins are something that take me back to childhood. It seems like my mom was always pulling a batch of muffins out of the oven, so good on their own but even better with a smear of butter. My take on my mom’s recipe calls for dried blueberries (it was always raisins in our house when I was growing up) and uses applesauce instead of shortening to lighten things up a bit.

Blueberry Bran Muffins 
1 cup bulk oat bran
1 cup boiling water
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
2 cups bran cereal
2 ½ cups flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups dried blueberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir water and oat bran together in a small bowl. Mix applesauce and sugar in large bowl. Add eggs and continue mixing. Stir in buttermilk. Mix in oat bran, bran cereal, flour, baking soda and salt. Fold in blueberries and stir until mixed. Grease muffin tins with butter or cooking spray. Scoop ⅓ cup mix per muffin cup. Bake for 20 minutes.

Yields 24 muffins.

Monday, April 13, 2015

New cookbooks earning a spot on the shelf

My cookbook collection has grown quite a bit in recent months thanks to all kinds of thoughtful gifts from friends and family. Here’s a quick rundown of the recipes I think make these books keepers.

The Newlywed Cookbook 
Favorite recipe so far: Southern Shrimp & Grits
Also want to try: Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Smoked Sea Salt

Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook
Favorite recipe so far: Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos with Cilantro Coleslaw
Also want to try: Spiced Chickpea Wraps with Tahini Dressing

One Pan, Two Plates 
Favorite recipe so far: Beef Stew in High Heels
Also want to try: Lemony Risotto with Asparagus, Carrots and Chives

Fifty Shades of Chicken 
Favorite recipe so far: Roasted Chicken with Hearts of Palm, Avocado and Orange Salsa
Also want to try: Jerk Chicken with Spices, Rum, Chiles, and Lime

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook 
Favorite recipe so far: Sesame-Spiced Turkey Meatballs and Smashed Chickpea Salad
Also want to try: Mushroom Bourguignon

What’s your favorite cookbook right now?

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Chocolate Banana Brunch Bread

This bread isn’t easily categorized. On one hand, it contains bananas and low-fat yogurt, so you might think it’s healthy enough to eat as a guilt-free breakfast. On the other hand, it’s full of chocolatey goodness and could easily pass for a dessert. So, my solution? Think of it as brunch bread -- a good way to start your day that feels like a special treat. It’s great with your morning coffee but is also quite enjoyable when paired with a mimosa or two.

Chocolate Banana Brunch Bread 
1 cup white whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup very ripe, mashed banana (2 large bananas worked for me)
½ cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
¾ cup light brown sugar
Cooking spray or butter, to grease loaf pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease one 9-by-5 loaf pan. Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder in large bowl and stir or whisk to blend. In another bowl, combine bananas, yogurt, vanilla extract, egg and brown sugar, stirring until blended. Add dry ingredients to the bowl with banana mixture, stirring until everything’s nice and gooey. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Slice and serve.

Adapted from A Couple Cooks, who adapted Smitten Kitchen’s recipe 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Make-Fast Mondays: Egg and Sausage Muffin-Tin Scrambles

Some people eat breakfast before heading to work, but I’m not really hungry until after I’m at my desk and checking email. This make-ahead breakfast is great whether you’re eating at home in your jammies or between morning meetings. They also hold well in the fridge for a day or two and take just about a minute to reheat and enjoy.

Egg and Sausage Muffin-Tin Scrambles 
8 ounces breakfast sausage (I used Jennie-O Lean Hot Turkey Breakfast Sausage)
1 large red bell pepper, diced
6 large eggs
¼ cup whole milk
½ cup grated pepper jack

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a skillet or frying pan, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. Stir in bell pepper and continue to cook for a couple more minutes to soften the pepper. Remove from heat. Beat eggs and milk together in large bowl. Stir in sausage, peppers and cheese. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or butter. Divide mixture evenly among muffin cups (it’s about ¼ cup per muffin if you’re using a 12-cup pan). Bake for 20-25 minutes until knife inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.