Banana Bread Muffins

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If your looking for a fabulous quick bite in the mornings as your heading out the door, these mini muffins are the ideal breakfast you’ll love. Banana bread is one of my favorite things to nibble on here and there especially a few slices for breakfast. My Greek yogurt banana bread was a great hit and for as much as I enjoy the loaf version I wanted to try a different approach with making individual bite size portions to pair with my coffee on my commute into work every morning. I switched up the recipe a bit from the original by making this a friendly gluten free recipe and free of refined sugars. My use of Almond flour gives these little guys an awesome nut taste without the use of actual nuts!

If you like cake, I assure that you will enjoy these muffins. Although they don’t rise well, the muffins are super moist!

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Active Time: 15 Minutes

Total Time: 35 Minutes

Mise en Place:

-3 Large Lightly Browned Bananas

-1/2 Cup Honey

-1 Egg

-1/3 Cup Melted Butter

-1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

-1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

-1/2 Teaspoon Salt

-1 1/2 Cups Almond Flour (See below)

Additional Tools:

-Muffin Pan

-Mixer

-Vitamix or food processor

Method Of Prep:

-Set oven to 350 degrees.

-In a large mixing bowl, blend together the egg, melted butter, honey, and bananas until smooth.

-Add in your almond flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Continue to mix until well incorporated.

-Pour batter into muffin tin filling to the top. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until a butter knife is inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.

Enjoy!

**Note: To make almond flour, measure out 2 cups of blanched whole almonds and blend in food processor or vita mix until a fine powder forms.

Cider Brined Pork

If you’re reading this, I want to first wish you and your family a Merry Christmas! Brandon and I celebrated our Christmas on Christmas eve together in our quiet south Florida apartment. Although we didn’t have a white Christmas,  the tree was lit with presents underneath and a fabulous dinner was being served at the table. Most folks have traditions during the holidays of what protein to serve commonly turkey or ham. For two chefs living under the same roof we like to get a little insane.

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Our menu that I prepared consisted of: Truffle butter broccoli, seared brussels sprouts, garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes, spiced cranberry sauce, and cider brined pork which is why I’m writing this post. It is probably too late to include in your holiday menu, however this pork is great to make for future holiday gatherings or just for dinner one night with your family. Make the cranberry sauce (which I have a lack of pictures for) to add on top of the pork. The spice of the cranberry sauce matches well with the vinegar taste of the pork.

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For the Pork:

Active Time: 10 Minutes

Total Time: 4 Hours

 

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Mise En Place:

-4 Each Pork Chops (Bone in) Feel free to use pork loin!

-3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

-3 Garlic Cloves

-1/3 Cup Cider Vinegar

-3 Sprigs Rosemary

-3 Cups Water

-Salt & Pepper, TT

Other Tools:

-Large Bowl

-Food Processor

-Plastic Wrap

-Sheet Tray

-Roasting Rack

Method Of Preparation:

-Add garlic and rosemary into food processor and pulse 10 times so garlic and rosemary are chopped well.

-In a large bowl, mix together brown sugar, water, and rosemary/garlic mixture.

-Season each chop on both sides with salt and pepper.

-Place chops in bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.

-After a few hours, turn oven to 325 degrees. Place chops on roasting rack on top of sheet tray and roast in the oven for 6 minutes.

-Check to see if meat is done to your liking, if not place back in the oven and continue to cook until ready.

-Pull from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. You can serve as is or cut in slices around the bone as we did.

Enjoy!

For the Spiced Cranberry Sauce:

-12 Ounces Cranberries

-14 Ounces Granulated Sugar

-2 Oranges

-2 Cinnamon Sticks

-1 Star Anise

Other Tools:

-Sauce Pot

Method Of Preparation:

-Place cranberries, sugar cinnamon sticks, and anise in pot. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

-Squeeze both oranges into pot. Place orange peels into pot to cook with sauce.

-Stir frequently and cook over medium low heat until reduced and cranberries are soft (cooked).

-Season if needed. Scoop on top of pork.

Enjoy!

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My Hot Toddy

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I only know a small handful of women who enjoy whiskey and I’m one of them. Most ladies I know go for the flavored vodkas and California wine. There’s nothing wrong with that, personally I’d choose whiskey over vodka tonics any day.

With colder weather floating around in the air, a lot of folks are starting to come down with the flu and other uncomfortable throat and sinus infections that can keep us from having a good day and getting a much needed good nights rest. I’ve given up on taking cough syrups because lets be honest they are disgusting. I usually turn to hot tea and showers along with lots of good rest to try to fight away colds. When things begin to worsen for example my nose gets stuffed up, and I have a terrible cough, I turn to hot toddies to make me feel better. These are a common drink that many people recommend to help fight a cold. The whiskey will help you sleep while the lemon and honey help to soothe the throat. With my addition of a cinnamon stick and star anise, it adds a wonderful fall flavor and gives this drink a lot more character. I feel it also takes the attention off the whiskey a little bit making this hot beverage easier to drink. Drink one cup of this just before your bedtime (whether your sick or not) and you will sleep well and wake up feeling a little better.

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Active Time: 5 Minutes

Total Time: 10 Minutes

Mise En Place:

-2 Ounces Jack Daniels (or Whiskey of choice)

-1/2 Lemon, cut in slices

-1 Tablespoon Honey

-1 Small Cinnamon Stick

-1 Star Anise

-4 Ounces Hot water

Other Tools:

-Tea Pot

-Tea cup (Coffee mug)

-Spoon

Method Of Preparation:

-Make this the same way you make tea:

-Bring a pot of water to a boil.

-While waiting for water to boil, Place honey, cinnamon stick, anise, whiskey, and one lemon slice in your tea cup.

-Pour hot water into cup, stir with spoon and squeeze a little more lemon juice into the cup to your liking.

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Blossoms

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Cookies are as a rule, off limits for me. The holidays are always the hardest for me and well pretty much everyone else on a strict diet. Seeing all the yummy posts on other blogs and via internet of the trillions of different cookies to bake and other fun winter treats to get crazy with, makes it real tough not to give in to temptation of fresh baked goodies.

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Of all the delicious confections and holidays treats that everyone is sharing this season, my absolute favorite would have to be peanut butter blossoms. You may have had this cookie before using a different cookie dough (ie: sugar). This recipe is flawless and I can guarantee you everyone will enjoy them. You don’t need to wait for a holiday to bake them either! Add this into your cookie baking for Christmas. Just do it.

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Active Time: 15 Minutes

Total Time: 40 Minutes

Mise En Place:

-1 Cup Shortening

-1 1/2 Cups Peanut Butter

-2/3 Cup Sugar + 1/3 Cup

-2/3 Cup Brown Sugar

-2 Eggs

-1/4 Cup Milk

-2 Teaspoons Vanilla

-3 Cups AP Flour

-2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

-1 Teaspoon Salt

-1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

-1 Bag Hershey Kisses (Any kind will work)

Other Tools:

-Sheet Trays

-Mixer

-Small Cookie Scoop

-Spatula

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Method of Preparation:

-Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

-In a large mixing bowl combine Shortening, peanut butter, brown sugar and 2/3 cup sugar. Mix on medium speed until combined. Approximately 3 minutes.

-Add in one egg at a time then pour in milk and vanilla. Mix for another 3 minutes.

-Add in baking soda, salt and flour (pouring in 1 cup at a time). Continue mixing until well incorporated.

-In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/3 Cup of sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

-Using a cookie scoop, scoop dough (making sure each scoop is level). Scoop into your hand and roll into a nice ball formation. Drop ball into cinnamon/sugar mixture and coat evenly on all sides. Place on a sheet tray keeping some space in between each ball.

-Place tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

-Remove tray from the oven and place a Hershey kiss in the center of each one.

-Let cool for 10 minutes before eating.

Enjoy!

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**Quick Tip: While waiting for cookies to bake, unwrap kisses into a small bowl that way when  cookies are pulled from the oven you can quickly and efficiently place kisses on them!

Lentil Bobotie

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I have no idea what I just made. My house smells fantastic and this dish tastes excellent, good enough for me. I had a bag of lentils I was looking to get rid of so I hopped on the internet to do some recipe searching. I don’t cook with lentils often which is a shame because I love them. I came across the original version for Bobotie which is actually a meat dish from South Africa. This recipe is most commonly made with beef and lamb. I have ground beef but was looking to do something with lentils so I decided to make this a vegetarian dish and replace the meat with green lentils. This recipe is so yummy that I kinda want to go back and make it the real way and see the difference. If you decide to go with the meat version of this recipe, just substitute the lentils for 1 pound of ground beef.

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This recipe also has a curry fare to it which makes it all the more wonderful. I think that’s why I enjoy this recipe so much. It’s very versatile and you can incorporate so many alternatives into the recipe to suit your taste or diet. (I don’t understand the mushy bread or egg topping relation to this recipe but I did it anyways.) I happened to have some cornmeal cake batter leftover from yesterdays lunch that I made areapas with. I cooked off a few more (this time plain, no cheese or eggs) and placed a spoonful of the lentil mix on top…it was awesome.

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Active Time: 20 MInutes

Total Time: 50 Minutes

MIse en Place:

-1 Cup Uncooked Lentils (I used green)

-3 Slices Bread, crusts removed

-1/2 Cup Soy MIlk

-1 Onion, small dice

-2 Garlic cloves, minced

-3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

-3 Teaspoons Yellow Curry Powder

-1 Teaspoon Turmeric

-1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander

-1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

-3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

-4 Tablespoons Chutney (See end note)

-1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

-4 Tablespoons Raisins (Golden work fine)

-1/4 Cup Slivered Almonds

-S&P, TT

Bobotie Topping:

-1 Egg

-1/2 Cup Soy Milk

Other Tools:

-Frying pan

-Sauce Pot

-Baking dish

Method of Prep:

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray or grease baking dish.

-Place lentils in a pot with enough water to cover them. Add a pinch of salt and boil the lentils until they are soft. Be careful not to overcook them, they will become mushy. Once cooked, drain and rinse lentils and place in a large bowl.

-While lentils are cooking, soak the bread slices in milk. Mash it up with your hands or fork.

-Saute the chopped onions and garlic in the oil until they are soft. Add in curry powder, turmeric, ground coriander and ground cumin. Cook for about one minute over medium heat, stirring constantly.

-Add the remaining ingredients, the vinegar, chutney, Worcestershire, almonds, raisins salt and pepper. Stir them together until warmed through no more than 2 minutes.

-Add the mashed bread and curry mixture to the lentils and stir everything until it is well mixed.

-Pour the mixture into the baking dish.

-Make the topping by beating the egg and milk together. Pour over Bobotie mix.

-Place dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Make certain the egg and milk mixture has set and it looks great with a few golden tinges here and there.

Enjoy!

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***Notes: I used the chutney that I had made a while back which worked great. You can also find chutneys at international markets or in the international cooking isle of the grocery stores. I also find that pine nuts work great instead of almonds in this recipe. If your GF you can omit the soggy bread or just substitute a GF bread! If vegan You can go without the topping. This dish is still fantastic without a top!

Serving Suggestions:

This dish is great on its own, however I really enjoyed it with areapas (Venezuelan corn meal cakes). Traditionally when I made arepas I add cheese, jalapenos, scrambled eggs, and black beans with them. I just wanted something to serve with the Bobotie and  plain cornmeal cakes worked great!