Healthy Carrot and Raisin Cake Muffins

Carrot Cake Muffins 2

What’s that? Healthy? I know most my baked goodies aren’t considered healthy. But surprise! I am actually sharing a healthy recipe with you. Well, mostly healthy.  I used  all purpose flour since I did not have whole wheat flour in my pantry.  Be sure to fill your muffin tins to the top as these muffins do not rise very much. You can see how squat mine are. Oh well. It’s always good to learn something new.  This recipe yields 12 muffins.  (Or 16, if you didn’t fill your muffin tins all the way like I did. Oops.)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 carrots shredded or grated
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (all purpose flour works too)
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup raisins

FROSTING INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  Prepare muffin/cupcake tin by greasing with baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl whisk eggs until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and whisk again until mixture is smooth.
  4. Pour in the maple syrup, milk and vanilla extract. Beat the mixture again until smooth.
  5. Add the shredded/grated carrots, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and raisins over the wet batter. Using a rubber spatula to fold the wet and dry ingredients together just until combined.
  6. Portion the batter evenly into your prepared 12 cup muffin tin.
  7. Bake for 18-20 minutes until the muffins have risen and set.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

  1. Beat the cream cheese in a small bowl until smooth.
  2. Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract and lemon juice and beat again until the mixture is well combined.
  3. Once the muffins have cooled add a dollop of frosting on top of muffins.
  4. Optional: garnish with grated carrots.

Carrot Cake Muffins 1

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Slow Cooker Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Crockpot Lentil and Vegetable Soup

What’s that? I’m posting a vegetarian dish? Yes, believe it or not, I actually like a lot of vegetarian dishes. It’s just hard to find a vegetarian dish that my picky “meat and potatoes” son will enjoy as well. So I have to take baby steps with him and made a vegetarian soup. And slow cooker recipes are the best. Just prep your ingredients, put into your slow cooker and let it do all the work! Hopefully, my friend, Sue T. will approve. This recipe makes 6-8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups lentils (green or red)
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bag (5 ounces) baby spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place all ingredients but the baby spinach, in your slow cooker. And pour in the vegetable stock.
  2. Cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 hours.
  3. Stir a few times throughout the cooking.
  4. Add the baby spinach during the last 10 minutes of cooking cycle.
  5. If you like a more brothy soup, add in 1-2 cups additional stock.
  6. If you like a more creamy soup, carefully ladle out 1/3 of the soup into your blender and puree. Add back blended soup to slow cooker and mix well.
  7. Salt to taste and garnish with chopped parsley.

Crockpot Lentil and Vegetable Soup 2

Japanese Curry Beef

Japanese Curry Beef (1)

Tired of the same old beef stew recipe? Then change it up by making Japanese curry beef instead. It’s basically a beef stew with a curry kick. I stuck with the medium hot S&B Golden Curry brand. If I had brought home the “hot” level one, my son would have protested. Japanese curry roux is not all that spicy compared to the Indian curry powders I have used in my chicken curry.  For my vegetarian friends like Sue T., skip the beef and just add more potatoes, carrots and onions to make a hearty vegetable curry. Serve with a side of rice and your tummy will be thanking you.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound beef (cut for stew)
  • 2 white or yellow onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 box curry roux (4 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon apricot jam
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon lite soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder (optional)

Japanese Curry Beef 3

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cut vegetables into bite size pieces. (About the same size as your beef stew meat.)
  2. Heat oil and brown meat in a Dutch Oven or large lidded pot over high heat. Take meat out when the sides of the beef are seared, but not cooked through.
  3. In the same pot, lower heat to medium high and fry the onions for 5 minutes. Add carrots and potatoes, then the beef.
  4. Add water to the pot. After the water boils, skim the fat and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 45-50 minutes until the meat becomes tender.
  5. Now add the curry roux blocks into the pot. Stir well so the pieces of the roux dissolves.
  6. Once the roux has dissolved, stir in apricot jam, ketchup, soy sauce, Worcestershire  sauce and optional curry powder.
  7. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Serve with a side of rice.

This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.

Japanese Curry Beef 2

 

Lemon Butter Cookies

Lemon Butter Cookies plated

Spring is here, but you wouldn’t know it by the dark and gloomy days we’ve been having around here. Cheer up. I have a cookie that will brighten your day. They are flakey on the outside and chewy on the inside. And the tangy lemon flavor combined with the sweet butter cookie is like a bite of sunshine.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  •  1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 drops yellow food coloring
  • 3/4 cups powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter, cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. 1-2 minutes.
  3. Beat in eggs, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and food coloring.
  4. Beat in dry ingredients until just combined.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight for best results.
  6. Preheat oven to 325 F degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  7. Roll dough into 2 inch balls then roll in powdered sugar and place on baking sheets. Let sit for 2 minutes until sugar is absorbed, then reroll in powdered sugar.
  8. Place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets and bake until cookies crackle and set but still slightly soft in center, 17-19 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a cooling rack  and let cool completely.
  10. This recipe yields 24-30 cookies depending on how evenly you roll your cookie dough. One day I am going to invest in a dough scoop so I can have uniform cookies. I  sprinkled a little extra powdered sugar on the cookies when cooled, but that is not necessary.

Lemon Butter Cookies

Mongolian Chicken Wings

Mongolian Wings 7

Yes, it’s another chicken wing recipe from me. I can’t help myself. I just love trying out all different flavors of chicken wings. This recipe is fairly simple and for a change I had all the ingredients so, why not? If you like sweet and spicy, then you are going to love these wings. Best of all the spice level is up to you.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken wings (about 20 pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha ( or more if you like it really spicy, less if you can’t handle too much spice)
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • green onions for garnish
  • sesame seeds for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F degrees and place metal rack on top of large baking pan. Be sure to use cooking spray on the rack so the chicken skin does not stick.
  2. In a large bowl or Ziploc bag, toss chicken wings with oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place wings on wire rack and cook 45-50 minutes, until crispy and golden. Mongolian Wings 1
  3. While chicken is baking, add honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha, garlic and ginger into a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer until the flavors meld and the sauce reduces slightly for about 10 minutes. Mongolian Wings 2
  4. Transfer baked wings to a large bowl and toss with glaze. Mongolian Wings 4
  5. Return to rack and broil for 2-3 minutes until glaze is caramelized. Mongolian Wings 5
  6. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Mongolian Wings 6

Asparagus Beef in Black Bean Garlic Sauce

Asparagus beef in black bean and garlic sauce

It’s asparagus season here in California. I find myself buying asparagus every shopping trip now. But instead of  making my usual grilled asparagus as a side dish, I wanted to add it into the main dish. If you love making quick dinners like I do then you are going to love this.  Also, this recipe only requires a few ingredients which makes this even simpler.  I have another variation of this dish ( Asparagus Beef ) where you make your own sauce, however this one is using a premade black bean garlic sauce which cuts the time in half and does the work for you.  This serves 2-4 depending on your portions.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 12 ounce sirloin or flank steak, sliced into thin strips
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for cooking, separated into 2 tablespoons and 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 pound of asparagus, sliced into thirds
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons black bean and garlic sauce (found at local grocery stores in your international aisle or Asian markets)  Black bean and garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (this offsets the sharpness of the black bean sauce)
  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add beef strips to a bowl. Then add cornstarch, grated garlic and ginger. Mix well and set aside. Asparagus beef in black bean sauce 1
  2. Heat up wok or skillet on high heat.  Swirl in 2 tablespoons vegetable oil to coat wok or skillet.
  3. Quickly spread the beef slices around the pan in an even layer. Let it sear for 15-30 seconds without stirring. Then give it a quick stir to sear the other side. The meat should be browned and no sticking should happen if you got the pan hot enough. Take the meat out of the pan and set aside.
  4. Keep the wok/skillet on high heat and add one tablespoon oil.
  5. Add in asparagus and onions.
  6. Stir for about 10 seconds and cover, leaving the heat on high. Let it cook for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove the cover. Add the beef back to the pan.
  7. Add the black bean and garlic sauce paste, sugar and beef stock. Stir to mix well.
  8. Let beef and vegetables continue to cook with the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until asparagus is cooked tender. Asparagus beef in black bean sauce 10
  9. Plate with jasmine rice and serve immediately.

Asparagus beef in black bean sauce

 

 

Mexican Vegetable Soup

Mexican Vegetable Soup 1

If you took a quick glance at my most recent posts, you might think I’m all about sweets and chicken. While I’m not going to confirm or deny that may be true, I do make other recipes as well. You might even say somewhat healthy ones every once in a while too.  So for my vegetarian friends out there, I have not forsaken you. (Yes, I’m looking at you Sue T.!)

This soup recipe can be altered to whichever vegetables you have or that are in season. It is called vegetable soup afterall. I used what I had on hand. The flavor of the soup was reminiscent of a chicken tortilla soup without the chicken or tortillas. And be forewarned, this recipe makes a lot of servings (6-8) for you to share on a cold winter’s day.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 bell peppers, diced (I used 1/2  each of an orange, red and yellow bell peppers)
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons  ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups diced roma tomatoes
  • 2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen or 1 can of corn)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can (4 ounce) diced green chile peppers
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1-2 zucchinis,  sliced

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:

  • avocado slices
  • cilantro
  • lime wedges or lime juice
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • tortilla chips

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.
  2. Add bell peppers, carrots and onions to pot. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally.
  3. Add in minced garlic, cumin and cayenne. Stir and cook for a minute.
  4. Add in tomatoes, corn, black beans, diced green chiles and vegetable stock.
  5. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil.
  6. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Add in zucchini.
  8. Re-cover and simmer for another 10 more minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.
  9. Serve immediately with optional toppings. Mexican Vegetable Soup 2