Spiffed-Up Blueberry Muffins

Hi dear readers, it’s my last blueberry post.

Whole-Grain Blueberry Muffins~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Spiffed-up blueberry muffins! So, what’s spiffed up about them?

Spiffed-Up Blueberry Muffins~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Well, the addition of whole grain flour of course. Why that? Read on friends.

My mom would crank out classic blueberry muffins every summer after we went picking. I always got excited about them, but didn’t love them (sorry mom).  I could not put my finger on the exact reason why I didn’t enjoy the muffins as much as I should have until I read a recipe from Nigel Slater. He pointed out that some muffins have a metallic taste which is due to the leavening agent. He recommended spelt flour to get rid of that flavor.

Whole-Grain Blueberry Muffins ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

I didn’t have any spelt on hand, so I improvised, natch. Whole wheat worked just as well, and yielded delicious, moist and chewy muffins. The whole wheat provides a nutty flavor that masks the leavening but compliments the gentle sweetness of the blueberries.

Spiffed-Up Blueberry Muffins ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Spiffed-Up Blueberry Muffins (adapted from Nigel Slater)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbl soft butter
  • scant 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • scant 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 375°.  Line a muffin tin with 12 baking cups. Mix together the flours, baking powder and soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, mix to combine, then the vanilla extract. Alternate adding in the flour mixture and the milk, until the ingredients are gently combined. Fold in blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cups. Slater suggests sprinkling with oats and demerara sugar for visual effect, but I skipped it. 🙂

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until skewers come out mostly clean when muffins are pricked. Remove from baking tins and let cool on a rack.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Muchi Curry-Spiced Chickpeas

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Hi dear readers. I moved! Yes, three weeks ago I moved to a new apartment ( I should specify the husband came too), and we really like the new place. The space is smaller overall, but more useful, if that makes sense? It currently smells like curry… nom nom.

I’ve been thinking about healthy DIY snack foods lately. We really like Trader Joe’s crunchy wasabi peas for a snack, but it is so easy to blow through a whole bag and they are really salty. Making my own crunchy snackypoos allows the sodium usage to be much reduced, happily.

Curry Spiced Chickpeas

Curry Spiced Chickpeas

These little chickpeas are toasty from being oven roasted, spiced with muchi curry and have the addictive crunch many of us look for in a snack food. These are really easy too, it is three ingredients: 1 can chickpeas, oil and spices.

Curry Spiced Chickpea Snack

Ta-Da! A snack you can feel good about. 🙂 In order to get these nice and crunchy, please be sure to wash and dry the chickpeas well. Rub them with a folded paper towel to help release the skins (pick these out) and remove extra moisture. See below.

IMG_3678

Once the surface moisture is removed, you’ve won half the battle. The oven needs to be really hot for the first part of the roasting, then you’ll turn it down and continue to roast for over an hour to get out the remaining moisture so these stay crunchy after they’ve cooled.

It does take some time, but it isn’t active time, you can watch TV, clean the house or unpack moving boxes while the oven works its magic!

Curry-Spiced Chickpeas (serves two)

  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil*
  • 1/2 heaping tsp muchi curry (this is a savory based powder, heavy on cumin and fenugreek)
  • 1/4 heaping tsp cajun seasoning (I used McCormick)
  • Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 425°.  Drain and wash the chickpeas. Lay out onto a paper towel to drain, and rub with another paper towel. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to dry off. Remove the transparent skins that come loose from some of the chickpeas.

In a small bowl, combine the chickpeas, oil, spices and salt. Toss gently to coat.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminium foil and spread the chickpeas out in a single layer. This is important, these must be in a single layer in order to toast properly. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. The  chickpeas should become very fragrant, but not smell like burning!  Next, turn the heat down to 350° and continue to roast for 20 more minutes, stirring often. Turn off the oven, but leave the chickpeas in for another hour while the oven cools down.

Remove and serve warm, or let cool before storing in an airtight container to nosh on later.

*Note: Don’t use olive oil, it doesn’t have a high smoke point and will start burning to soon, these chickpeas need to cook for a long time to get all the moisture out. Vegetable oil has a much higher smoke point and it will not impact taste.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Southwestern Chicken Burgers

Summer-time is burger season. Let’s stop being slaves to 80/20 ground chuck and get excited about a new kind of burger.

A juicy, fresh, flavorful party-in-your-mouth tasting burger, sans the fat (evil! evil!).

Enter the chicken burger.

Fresh cilantro and lime mayo set this burger up to be fabulous

Don’t be afraid of ground chicken, yes I know it is lean and therefore has a reputation for being dry and tasting like paper towel. It doesn’t have to be like that if you use my fool proof cooking technique.

It all starts with the shape of your patties. Loosely form them into rounds; do not pack! Do not squeeze! This will create a dense hockey puck, ew!

Liberally salt and pepper the patties.

When the meat hits the sizzling griddle, it will form a crispy crust that seals in the flavor and juiciness of the burger.

DO NOT PRESS DOWN on the patties with the spatula. This forces all the juice out of the burger and leaves you with dry nasty chicken.

Cook for six minutes per side and then you’ve got a perfectly juicy taste of the southwest- that fits in your hand. 😀

Southwestern Chicken Burgers

  • 2 tbl mayonnaise (plus 4 tbl for topping)
  • 1/4 cup finely crushed corn tortilla chips
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3 large tbl minced sweet green pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lime (reserve other half for topping)
  • 1 oz package cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 4 slices cheese of your choice, I used a monterey/cheddar blend
  • salt and pepper

Combine the first six ingredients in a medium bowl, mix well. Add in the ground chicken and stir until the mixture is fully incorporated into the meat.  Form into four patties, loosely pressing the mixture together into rounded patties; use your thumb to make a slight well in the center of the patties.

Preheat a flat griddle over medium high heat. Coat one side of the patties with salt and ground pepper. This step is important because it helps form a crispy crust when the burger cooks and seals in juiciness.

Once the griddle is heated through, pour four small circles of vegetable oil onto the griddle and put the patties on top, salt and pepper side face-down.  Salt and pepper the side facing up.

Cook the patties on the medium-hot griddle for 6 minutes per side. Don’t try to flip them to soon or you’ll ruin the crust. During the last two minutes of cooking, add the cheese to the burgers.

Want a tip on how to perfectly melt the cheese? Pour a dash of water onto the griddle and quickly cover the griddle with a large lid or tin foil. The steam from the water will melt the cheese perfectly!

For the lime-mayonnaise: mix together 4 tbl mayo and the juice of the other half of lime. You may zest some lime into the mayo too. Mix well, then top your toasty burger buns with the mayo!

Top the burgers with avocado slices and enjoy!

– Erin

Blueberry Cashew Granola Bars

I eat a lot of granola bars because they are the perfect portable snack and help me recharge after workouts.

Yes, I do workout. You see how often I make dessert, I would be a complete tub of lard if I didn’t do something in the gym!

Toasty cashews and tart blueberries make the perfect combo in these DIY granola bars.

Plus the use of all natural sweeteners like honey and brown sugar (i.e. no corn syrup) is a healthy bonus.

These babies are chewy and yum-tastic.  (I’ve been really into making up words lately, sorry)

Slice into bars or bites, it’s up to you!

Blueberry Cashew Granola Bars

  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 3 tbl pepita and sunflower seed mix
  • 1 cup chopped cashews
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 3 tbl butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey*

Heat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and spread the oats, seeds and cashews onto it in an even layer.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring a couple times, until the mixture becomes toasty and fragrant. Remove and let cool.

In a small saucepan, melt the honey, brown sugar and butter together.  Cook at a low boil and stir until sugar is dissolved, about 2-3 minutes.

In a medium bowl, toss together the oat mixture, honey mixture and dried blueberries, tossing until the mixture is well coated. Grease a 9×9 inch square baking pan with butter and press the mixture into the pan. While in the pan, slice into 8 bars, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Once the granola has set, remove the bars from the pan and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. You may wish to individually wrap in plastic wrap for a grab-and-go snack!

*Note: I used this amount of honey, but found the bars to be a little sweet for my liking. I would recommend cutting the honey down to 1/4 cup and see what happens.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Daily Question: How do you like to refuel after a workout?

My Post Workout Fuel!