Lunch With Loni

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Orange (Carrot) Blueberry Muffins June 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 12:28 am

I figured a departure from my recent lemon-blueberry infatuation was in order.  You’ll be seeing another orange blueberry muffin recipe soon, as I came across a few in my search that looked good to me.  This one starts by soaking oats in orange juice.  Never done that before!  The result is that you can’t really even tell the muffins have oats in them.  Sometimes I like the texture, but for this type of muffin, I think the smooth result is better.  I made a few switches, such as using whole wheat flour in the place of half of the all purpose flour.  I also substituted egg whites for one of the eggs, and some pureed mango for some of the oil (I figured it would “go” better than applesauce in this citrus-y muffin).  I cut down on the sugar content, and used an orange/carrot juice blend (this is what I happened to have in the fridge).  I also didn’t put the crumble topping on them that the original recipe calls for.  This was mostly because it avoided an extra step and extra bowl!  I’d likely make them that way if I were making them for a brunch or something, but for our everyday consumption (and freeze-ability), the sans topping version is better.  The muffins are a pretty orange color, and the higher baking temperature gives them a nice crusty top.  The little one has already eaten three mini muffins in the two hours they’ve been out of the oven, so I guess this recipe is a keeper!

Oh, and here’s a tool I forgot to share in my last post.  The Tovolo “better batter” tool is like a whisk on steroids, and is a must if you make a lot of muffins and quick breads.

Tovolo Better Batter Tool

 Recipe Located At: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/orange-blueberry-muffins

 

Orange Blueberry Muffins 

  Ingredients

  • 1 cup uncooked oatmeal
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup mango puree
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 egg white
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, honey, brown sugar, yogurt, egg, and milk together until combined.  Whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla extract until smooth and thick. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips together (if using).  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and lightly whisk until combined.  Try not to overstir the muffin batter or your muffins will have a tough (not soft) texture. Stir as little as possible until no flour pockets remain.
  4. Fill the muffin cups practically all the way to the top. Between 3/4 full and all the way full. See photo above for a visual.  Bake for 5 minutes at 425F degrees. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350F and continue to bake for 12 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Drizzle muffins with melted peanut butter if desired.
  6. Muffins stay fresh at room temperature for 3 days (I popped mine in the fridge after day 2—it’s been so humid here lately). Muffins without peanut butter on top freeze well, up to 3 months.
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“Skinny” Peanut Butter Banana Muffins June 21, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 1:18 am

Growing up, my mom always had my sister or I bake banana bread with overripe bananas when we had them.  The ironic thing is, I did not like banana bread at all.  I didn’t mind baking it, I just wouldn’t eat it!  Well palates can change.  I am still not a fan of many banana-flavored things (I don’t care for banana smoothies, but am okay with a banana in a smoothie as long as I can’t really taste it, and I cannot stand banana-flavored candy).  I use bananas in so many of the muffins I bake.  It’s a healthy way to add moisture, and I usually have some on hand.  As my daughter gets older, she really enjoys helping out more and more in the kitchen (which for a nearly two year old can sometimes mean help make a mess in the kitchen).  She especially likes stirring.  These peanut butter banana muffins were a team effort, and she and I were both very happy with the finished product!  Ours were even healthier than the original.  I straight up forgot to add the egg, but they turned out just fine thanks to the extra 1/2 banana I tossed in to use it up.  We used some PB2 chocolate powedered peanut butter powder + almond milk to make the peanut butter.  We also skipped the glaze, though I’m sure it would be delicious.  We would not have skipped the chocolate chips, except we didn’t have any in the cupboard (which is rare)!  I think these may be my daughter’s favorite muffins yet.  They definitely disappeared quickly.

Since I’m trying to share more products/tools that I like, here’s the peanut butter we used: http://www.amazon.com/PB2-Chocolate-Powdered-Peanut-Butter/dp/B00864OJ4K/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1403312521&sr=8-8&keywords=pb2

chocolate pb2

I still use regular peanut butter on sandwiches, but I really like this powder for smoothies and I often add a spoonful of it to things I bake.

Here’s the scoop I use to put my batter in my muffin pans.  It’s so handy.  Much less messy than tablespoons.

Cookie Scoop

http://www.amazon.com/OXO-Grips-Medium-Cookie-Scoop/dp/B0000CDVD2/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1403312749&sr=1-1&keywords=oxo+medium+cookie+scoop

Here are the silicone muffin cups I use (regular and mini size).

Muffin Linersmini muffin

http://www.amazon.com/Chicago-Metallic-Baking-Essentials-Silicone/dp/B0047T6UQI/ref=sr_1_1?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1403312708&sr=1-1&keywords=silicone+muffin

http://www.amazon.com/Kitchen-Supply-2373-8-Inch-Silicone/dp/B001ET7B9Y/ref=sr_1_5?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1403312708&sr=1-5&keywords=silicone+muffin

And finally, a tip on fitting maximum muffins in the oven to keep from having to keep putting them in/out.  I use these little toaster oven trays for “spillover” muffins and mini muffin liners.  I can usually fit two of them next to my normal 12-count muffin pan, whereas I cannot fit two of the muffin pans in my oven.  The ones I use are really meant for pizzas, and are probably not ideal for muffins since you don’t necessarily want a crispy bottom, but I haven’t noticed any ill effects from using them so I’m sticking with it and saving $ instead of buying an extra set of non-crisping ones.  😉

toater oven sheet

http://www.amazon.com/Nordic-Ware-Toaster-Pizza-Crisping/dp/B0000CFSPV/ref=sr_1_15?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1403312917&sr=1-15&keywords=toaster+oven+pan

And yes, I am pretty sure I keep Amazon in business.

 

 Recipe Located At: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/09/18/skinny-peanut-butter-banana-muffins/

 

PB Banana Muffins 

  Ingredients

  • 2 ripe large bananas, mashed with no chunks
  • 1/4 cup honey (or pure maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup lowfat plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or cow’s milk, soy milk, rice milk)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (or an even mix of whole wheat + all-purpose)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter, melted (optional glaze)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, honey, brown sugar, yogurt, egg, and milk together until combined.  Whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla extract until smooth and thick. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips together (if using).  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and lightly whisk until combined.  Try not to overstir the muffin batter or your muffins will have a tough (not soft) texture. Stir as little as possible until no flour pockets remain.
  4. Fill the muffin cups practically all the way to the top. Between 3/4 full and all the way full. See photo above for a visual.  Bake for 5 minutes at 425F degrees. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350F and continue to bake for 12 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Drizzle muffins with melted peanut butter if desired.
  6. Muffins stay fresh at room temperature for 3 days (I popped mine in the fridge after day 2—it’s been so humid here lately). Muffins without peanut butter on top freeze well, up to 3 months.
 

Plated- Subscription Review June 18, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 12:49 am

I’m doing something a little different than my typical recipe posts and reviewing a subscription meal service called Plated.  I did not receive anything in exchange for this review and the thoughts are 100% my own.  You’ll probably see similar posts in the future as I decided to try out a few different types of subscriptions.

What is it?  Plated has a different menu with 7 meals each week.  You choose which meals you’d like delivered, and also choose whether you’d like it to serve 2 or 4 people.  The meals are delivered in a box that has large ice packs in it, and the meat/fish were vacuum sealed.  For my area, I could opt for a Wednesday or Saturday delivery day.  I chose Saturday, and happened to be home when it was delivered.  I can’t vouch for how the box would hold up to sitting outside in the sun for a number of hours.  My items were all in great shape and conveniently packaged so that the ingredients for each meal were together.

How much does it cost?  Meals are approximately $15 per plate (per person), less with membership ($10/month).  It seemed a little pricey to me vs. going to the store and buying ingredients myself for a recipe.  However, like most subscription services, they offer great discounts when you first join.  So there was little risk.  If I decide to keep it, I’ll think of the cost as opposed to a meal or activity out—a “date night” idea if you will, as opposed to comparing the price to making a typical meal on my own.  Having everything on hand is so convenient and I like the fact that it can push you outside of your box.  I purposely picked red meat and salmon.  I rarely cook either.  I also don’t use as many fresh herbs in recipes as I’d like.  Each of the meals I tried out came with fresh herbs, which was really nice.  I was concerned they may not be as fresh as they should, but they were all great.

How easy is it to make?  As far as ease of preparation, the recipes are rated in terms of how difficult they are to prepare.  Having the ingredients all in one place makes things quicker and less stressful.  No last-minute dash to the grocery store because you get halfway into making something and find that you’re missing a key ingredient!  They come with easy-to-follow recipe cards with step-by-step instructions and photographs.  There are also videos on YouTube if you like that method of learning.  The steak meal included fingerling potatoes that I had to cut a bunch of tiny slices into.  While the end result was lovely, it made me realize my knife work needs some refining.  It took a while and the end result was definitely not perfect.  Still, fun to give something different a whirl.

What could be better?  A couple of things I would have liked: 1) Suggestions on what type of pan to use.  My steak didn’t sear as well as I would have liked.  I don’t cook steak often at all.  I used a nonstick pan and I think a heavier pan/cast iron pan would have worked better.  I learned and used one for the salmon the next night!  2) Exact measurements for spice blends so if you want to recreate the recipe, you know.  The salmon came with a spice rub and it says what type of spices are in it, but not the amounts.  3) If the regular price was a little lower.  The ingredients were top notch, and I know shipping isn’t cheap, but I’m not sure how frequently I’ll buy if there isn’t some type of promotion going on.  I think I’ll still use it, just occasionally.

Overall review?  Definitely worth a try!  It’s fun, and good for foodies and novices alike (my husband would like having everything on hand and the user-friendly recipe card).  

If you do feel like trying Plated out, you can use my referral link to save 1/2 off your first order.  No pressure here! https://www.plated.com/invites/b804f5

Now for the photos:

 Recipe #1: Butter Basted Steak with Hasselback Potatoes

https://www.plated.com/recipes/butter-basted-steak

“Before” Picture of the Ingredients–notice the oyster mushrooms?  Never cooked with them before!  

Plated "Before"

“After” Picture

Butter Basted Steak

Pan Seared Salmon and Avocado Tacos

Salmon Avocado Tacos

Seriously, how gorgeous are these?!  Totally worthy of a dinner party and a nice glass of sangria!

 

 

One Bowl “Bruschetta” Tilapia June 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 2:49 am

If you don’t own a chopping device that makes life easier for you–I’ll go ahead and recommend the one I got and use all the time. I’m not being reimbursed by them or anything, I just happen to really like it.  Sometimes putting together a soup can be time consuming because of all of the onions, carrots, celery, etc. you have to dice first.  The food processor doesn’t always get the right consistency.  Some pieces wind up too large, others turn into mush. This thing takes care of that issue, and it comes with swappable blades so you can dice, slice, and cube.  I used it the other night to throw together a topping for grilled tilapia. Originally I thought of it as a spin on insalata caprese, the Italian salad with basil, tomato and mozzarella. The final product was actually more reminiscent of a bruschetta topping, though. Use it however you like!  The fish did fall apart a bit when I took it out of the foil.  I still think it was pretty enough to eat.

 Here’s the link to the chopper on Amazon (but I actually got it on Zulily for a bit cheaper): http://www.amazon.com/Prepworks-Progressive-GPC-3681-Slice-Chopper/dp/B00F67TJSQ/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1402801890&sr=8-2&keywords=progressive+chopper

Bruschetta Tilapia 

  Ingredients

  • 2 ripe tomatoes (3 plum tomatoes), diced large (I used the cube setting on my chopper)
  • 1/2 red onion (finely diced)
  • Handful of basil, minced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 oz feta cheese
  • 3 pieces of tilapia (or chicken)

Directions

1.  Toss all ingredients together.

2.  Place fish in separate pieces of tin foil.  Top with tomato mixture.  Fold foil packets to seal.  Place on grill approximately 10-12 minutes until cooked.