Chilled Banana Chocolate Muffins

I love banana muffins! Especially cold banana muffins with a tall glass of full-fat milk. That’s right full-fat not skim! Especially not with any type of treats.

Chilled Banana Chocolate Muffins – about 12 muffins
4 mashed riped bananas
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick) melted
1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick baking spray.

In a large bowl combine mashed bananas, sugars, butter, milk, and egg.

In another bowl sift together flour, insant espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add wet ingredients to dry and stir to mix, repeat this process until everything is combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Don’t over mix!!

Using a 1/2 cup scoop, fill each cup, and bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

When the muffins are done, remove from the pan and cool in pan for 15 minutes. After the muffins are cool, move to a cooling rack, and allow them to finish cooling.

Once they are cool, move the muffins to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Serve with a chilled glass of milk and enjoy!

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Chocolate Minty Mallow Cups

Bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate combined to together to hold precious marshmello-ee goodness in a shell. The real star here is the marshmallow! If you’ve ever had homemade marshmallow you know what I’m talking about – and if you haven’t…you must make this recipe!

These are perfect to serve with tea and coffee after dinner, or just to snack on! Also unfortunately I only had mini aluminum cups which worked fine, except that I accidentally brushed chocolate all the way up to the top – which you don’t want to do, because it’s a pain to remove the chocolate cups from the foil. So either find 1 inch in diameter baking/candy cups, or use mini foil cups (muffins).

Chocolate Minty Mallow Cups – makes 28-35 cups
For chocolate cups:
16 ounces bittersweet (60%) chocolate chips
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

For mallow filling:
1 envelope unflavored gelatin ( about 2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

To make the cups:
Set out 1 baking tray and place cups all along, also have a good pastry brush on the side for brushing the chocolate. Set aside to melt chocolate.

In a non-reactive heat proof bowl (metal) combine both chocolates. Bring a saucepan with 1 inch of water to a boil, lower heat and place heat proof bowl with chocolate on top (double boiler). Using a spatula and heat proof gloves, hold the bowl in place and move chocolate around to melt evenly. Once the chocolate is smooth remove from heat, turn off the burner.

Place 1 teaspoon melted chocolate into a few cups, and brush chocolate around the cup, as evenly as possible (including the base). (Think Reese’s cups) Continue this process until you have brushed all 28 cups with chocolate, place in the refrigerator while you make mint mallow.

To prepare minty mallow:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, pour gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water, let stand.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and 1/4 cup water – place a candy thermometer in the saucepan and set to 235 degrees F, this will alert you when the mixture has reached the temperature. (Oh or 113 degrees C for my metric friends)
Do not stir!

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly stream into the gelatin. Whisk on 8-10 for 30 seconds, to remove excess heat. Lower speed to 6 for 5 minutes, be sure to time this you don’t want to over whip or under whip. Turn off mixer, use a spatula to make sure and get all the gelatin off the bottom of the bowl so it gets incorporated in the last spin. Add peppermint, vanilla and salt, and whip for 2 more minutes on speed 6. It will have soft peaks, that don’t really stay around.

Assembling cups:
Remove cups from refrigerator, divide about 1 tablespoon of marshmallow into each cup, until all are filled. If your chocolate has hardened, place over boiling water, and whisk until smooth. Top each cup with a teaspoon of chocolate, and help chocolate spread over mallow using the back of a spoon, if necessary.

Place in the refrigerator for one hour to firm/chill. Serve from the fridge or chocolate will melt and soften. Can be stored in a closed container for 4 to 5 days!

NOTE: If your taking this to a party, a veggie tray with a lid is perfect, bring a bag of ice, fill lid with ice and place the veggie tray over and serve!

Enjoy mes amies!

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Merry Christmas from John and I!

Light and Fast Angel Hair Pasta

Sometimes we’re just so busy, we forget about the fact that we didn’t do the groceries, and it’s 8pm…so we’re starving.  I won’t lie, it happens often.

So one night John raided the fridge, and I raided the pantry – we came up with capers, red onion, garlic, tomatoes, angel hair pasta, and turkey stock…typically I’d use chicken, but whatever.  Oh and white wine to give it a little oumph! We enjoyed it so much, we now enjoy forgetting to do the groceries.

Light and Fast Angel Hair Pasta – 2 servings
1/4 pound angel hair pasta
Olive oil
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
6 roma tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons capers, rinced, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
Low sodium turkey or chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and onions, cook until softened. Add the diced tomatoes and parsley, cook until juices from tomatoes are cooked down. Add the capers, white wine, and enough stock to cover veggies.

Meanwhile prepare pasta according to the package directions. Once the liquid has mostly cooked down, add cooked pasta to the pan, toss to coat and season with salt and pepper.

Serve pasta in two bowls, pour remaining sauce and vegetables over the pasta. Enjoy with a glass of white wine!

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Leek and Bean Cassoulet with the Perfect Biscuits

I love cassoulet, it’s the perfect comfort food on a cold day.

It’s winter vegetables, topped with biscuits baked right on top.  I recommend you prepare this for loved ones – it’s a wonderful meal to have ready and waiting for them.

Leek and Bean Cassoulet with Biscuits – 6 servings
For the Cassoulet:
3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled, and diced
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Olive oil
2 leeks, washed and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 15-ounce can navy beans, drained and rinsed

For the Biscuits:
3/4 cups non-fat milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated vegan shortening (such as Earth Balance)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the potatoes in a small saucepan, cover with water and a lid, and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, cook for 10 minutes, or until tender. Drain immediately so that they don’t overcook, and set aside.

Start to prepare the biscuits – in a measuring cup combine milk and apple cider vinegar to curdle, set aside. In a large bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

Mix the cornstarch into the chicken stock until dissolved, set aside.

In a large oven safe saute pan, over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add leeks, onions, and carrots and cook until soft – about 10 minutes. Keep the heat on medium to medium low, so that nothing burns.
Once softened add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, cook for about a minute. Add the cooked potatoes, peas, and pour in the chicken stock mixture. Raise the heat a bit, bring liquid to simmering, lower heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat.

Add shortening to flour mixture, by using a fork to press shortening into flour. Continue to do this until all the shortening is mixed in, large crumbs will form. Drizzle in some milk mixture a bit at a time, using your fork to stir flour and milk together, continue to do this until all the milk is used, and dough is formed. Lightly flour your hands, and form dough into 6 balls.

Add the beans to the leek mixture. Top leek and bean with the biscuits and flatten a bit. Place in the oven and bake for 18 minutes.
The biscuits should be browned and firm.

Remove from the oven and use a large spoon to serve the cassoulet into a bowl, with a biscuit in each shallow bowl.

Serve hot! It’s best to use your spoon to break the biscuit up in your bowl.

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Charitable Christmas Gifts!

So a quick post – Each year John and I pick out a few different charities to add to our normal list, this year we chose OXFAM.  Although the site is about giving the donation as a gift to family and friends – you are not required to do so.

OXFAM is an awesome organization that is all about working together to end poverty and injustice…and it has some unique gifts/donations for this season.

You can purchase crabs for $18.00 to help restore a coastal ecosystem, and teach how to raise crabs using sustainable methods.  You can also donate honey bees, so that a rural farmer can sell Fair Trade honey.  Or even soap – for $12.00 you will provide a whole community with 20 pounds of multipurpose soap. 

There are so many amazing contributions you can make, and if you plan to do so this holiday season – OXFAM will help you make sure it’s unique.

Oh and this sheep is a measly $50.00!

Click on the photo of the sheep above to be directed to OXFAM unwrapped, and have a look at what you can offer.

What I love about OXFAM is that they are working to help poor people learn to provide for themselves using tools we can provide. So I hope you will join me in picking OXFAM for all your cheritable donations/gifts this year.

Red Velvet Cake? Cookie?

When I first moved to the states everyone was introducing me to new foods that I hadn’t grown up with in Canada….for instance one of my favorite desserts…Red Velvet Cake, which is a delicious fluffy cake with cocoa powder, buttermilk to lend a tang, and covered in cream cheese frosting topped with walnuts.

It’s heaven. I wanted to try and recreate something more portable, and thought of trying a whoopie cookie recipe I had found but with a red velvet cake concepts…now I’m sure there might be other versions of this out there..doesn’t take a genius…but indulge me by making a batch and trying not to devour too many.

Quick note: For this recipe you must use gel food coloring, it can be found at specialty baking stores or online.

Red Velvet Whoopie Cookies
– Makes 16 small whoppie cookies.
For the Cookies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons dark unsweeted cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon red gel food coloring

For the Filling:
3 cups confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

For the Cookies:
Prepare two baking sheets with silpats.

In a large bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, set aside. In another small bowl whisk together canola oil and buttermilk, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and shortening until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and add te sugars, beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, beat until combined. Scrape down sides of the bowl and add the red gel food coloring, mix on low speed to incorporate. Keep mixer on low speed, add flour mixture, alternating between flour and buttermilk mixture – start and end with flour – until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, give a quick mix. Remove from machine cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the batter from the fridge, and using a 1 tablespoon scoop, drop a tablespoon of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving 1-inch space. Bake for 14 minutes, or until tooth pick comes out clean. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet, and prepare the filling.

For the Filling:
Sift the confectioners sugar into a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the butter until completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Add confectioners sugar, vanilla and salt and continue to beat until smooth. DON’T OVERBEAT!

To assemble the Whoopie cookies, spread the walnuts on a plate. Turn the cookies flat side up and using a 1 tablespoon scoop drop filling onto the flat side of the cookie. Place another cookie flat side down on top of the filling. Turn the whoopie cookie on its side and roll in walnuts. Repeat this process until all cookies are used, and keep refrigerated.

They will hold for 3-4 days in a refrigerated closed container.

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Enjoy!  Oh we also got our first snow – extremely early, but all gone now, and I captured it!