Chocolate Peanut Butter Microwave Cake

This is one of my favorite quick desserts and we’ve taught our older two boys how to make it so it’s one of their favorites now too. I first found this several years ago and I go through phases where I want one every night for a few days and then won’t return to it for months. But it is always there, lovingly waiting for me to return to its chocolate peanut buttery goodness. I make it in an oversized capuccino mug which lends itself perfectly to having a scoop of ice cream on top and the saucer underneath helps with the hotness of the mug straight out of the microwave.

We only make one alteration to the original recipe. I use wholemeal self raising flour for the plain flour and the baking powder. 1 ingredient for 2 and a healthier choice! Sounds like a no brainer to me. Go on…2 minutes is all it takes to create this indulgent dessert…

German chocolate fudge bites

I’ve been kicking it up a notch as far as vegan eating goes and this week I wanted a sweet treat that would go nicely with an afternoon soy chai latte. This is definitely that!

I first discovered this recipe on Chocolate Covered Katie in 2011 and I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve made them since. They are almost like a nutty brownie in texture and flavor and they perfectly satisfy that sweet craving, only using dates as a sweetener. And they take maybe 10-15 minutes in total to throw together. I swear I do want to try some of her other bite recipes but every time I go to do so, I somehow cannot seem to bypass this one. They are definitely worth a try!

Creamy Peanut Butter Fruit Dip

Lately my eldest son has been so busy with school activities that when he gets home in the afternoon he’s absolutely famished. I buy Greek yogurt in the huge Costco size tubs and we haven’t been finishing them off before it goes bad so I’ve been menu planning this week around using it all up. That’s when I remembered the first ever online recipe that I tried that really, isn’t much of a recipe at all. And it takes care of both the above problems.

I love PopSugar’s website and I especially love their fitness and food sections. This creamy peanut butter fruit dip has been in our lives for 5 years now and every time I make it the kids are fighting over who gets to lick the bowl clean. And it is stupidly simple. All that you need to do is mix together some Greek yogurt, peanut butter, sweetener (I swap the maple syrup for honey cos peanut butter and honey belong together, hello!)¬† and a pinch of cinnamon. Then you just get dipping with whatever fruit you want, today we had apples, bananas and mandarins, but really any fruit goes well with this dip.

And the best part of this is – it’s a healthy, protein packed, low fat, low sugar snack that isn’t processed prepackaged salty junk food that doesn’t fill you up but keeps you craving more. I can’t believe I’d forgotten this great recipe!

 

Golden: Burekas and book review

It was really hard to decide what our third bake from Golden would be. Sweet? Savory? Pastry, cake, bread, or jam? Then I saw these bad boys, realized they were vegetarian and similar to a sausage roll and knew that these would definitely make the cut!

Bureka dough is a weird concoction which includes your normal butter, flour, salt, baking powder with the addition of cream and cream cheese and egg. This is mixed in a stand mixer or food processor until it forms a ball, then shaped into a disc and refrigerated for an hour. It makes twice the amount you need for any of the filling recipes, but since we were having it for dinner we made the full amount and tried two different fillings.

For the fillings we made the burnt eggplant filling (which contains cooked eggplant, garlic, parsley, feta, Parmesan and egg) and potato and oregano (which contains baked potato, oregano, sour cream, Parmesan, feta and egg). You roll the dough into a rectangle and the cut the dough into 6 inch squares, 8 for each filling. You divide the filling onto the squares and then fold them into triangles for the eggplant and rectangles for the potato. You pinch the ends together, brush with eggwash and then put sesame seeds on the eggplant version and poppy seeds on the potato version. Bake for 25 minutes and get ready to experience one of the most comforting foods on the planet!

Seriously, these are like cheesy buttery pockets of deliciousness. I bought a BBQ chicken in case there wasn’t enough food to qualify as dinner but we were plenty full from eating one of each of these. My older two are looking forward to having some more for lunch tomorrow, and the younger two, well they ate some BBQ chicken.

Golden has been a delightful book to explore – the cheesecake was divine, I’ve been itching for an opportunity to make the vegan date & ginger loaf again and I’m seeing so many people try the various jam recipes in the Facebook group that it’s making me super jealous that it’s the middle of winter here. I’m looking forward to trying some of the more sophisticated looking desserts in the book such as the tahini sandwich cookies and the bleeding hearts. I predict that this book is going to quickly become one of my absolute favorites and will be featured on here again and again as I work my way through it. Definitely one to add to your bookshelf!

To see the other two recipes I’ve tried from Golden this month, click on the links below:

The Moosewood Restaurant Table: Pasta with Spinach and Apricots and Cheesy Garlic Toast and book review

I have several more recipes from The Moosewood Restaurant Table I want to try, even featured on our menu this week, but due to the tragic passing of Anthony Bourdain, the Food52 Cookbook Club has decided to add two of his cookbooks to our lineup for the month and I really want to pay homage to him by cooking from his book Appetites for the rest of the month. That being said, I do have one more meal to share for now from Moosewood and a short book review today.

Spinach and Apricot Pasta – the thought of it had me immediately skeptical and intrigued. I love a good quick vegetarian pasta dish (see my creamy sun dried tomato pasta) and when I looked at the very basic ingredients that we already had on hand, I knew it was going to be a dish to make.

The funny thing about trying a recipe you know could be quick and easy is that the first time, you always stuff that up. And I well and truly turned a meal that should’ve only taken 30 minutes into over an hour and used probably 3 times the number of dishes that I should’ve. It’s all part of the challenge of a new recipe.

The first thing to do is chop up some dried apricots and leave them to soak in boiled water and toast some pine nuts. Put a box of pasta on to cook and get started on the rest of the sauce. Saute some minced garlic in olive oil, add spinach and let it wilt.

Drain the pasta reserving some of the pasta water and return the pasta to the saucepan. Add some more olive oil and some crumbled feta and the pasta water and stir it through to make it saucy. Then add this pasta to the big saute pan with the spinach and then drain and add the apricots and add the pinenuts. Season with salt and pepper and you’re done!

I couldn’t help myself when I saw a cheesy garlic toast recipe. I had to make it and we had to have it with this pasta. And it was so easy to throw together!

You cook a whole head of peeled garlic in olive oil over low heat until it’s nice and soft then you add some parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, lemon zest and red pepper flakes and wizz it all together with a stick blender. Spread this mixture onto a baguette that’s been sliced lengthwise and put it in the oven until it’s nice and melted. Then you just chop it into smaller pieces and serve.

This bread was the perfect complement to our vegetarian pasta dinner. What a feast!

The Moosewood Restaurant Table cookbook was not one I was very excited about to be honest. However, when I finally got a hold of it and flipped through it, there were a list of recipes a mile long I wanted to try. Each recipe we’ve had so far has been successful and I love that there are some recipes that are vegan in there too. I’m really looking forward to having the Butternut Latkes with the Fennel Apple Slaw (taste testing the slaw to see if it would be good to have on pulled pork burgers for Aaron’s birthday dinner). I’m also interested in the Cheesy Grape Risotto and for sweets there are definitely a few still – the scones and the vegan apple blueberry crumble come to mind.

This book makes vegetarian cooking feel approachable and the results are so comforting you forget you aren’t eating meat. I like that you don’t have to purchase weird ingredients to enjoy the meals in this book yet I love how elegant it all is. You feel like you’re eating something in a nice restaurant indeed.

To look back at the other recipes we’ve cooked from Moosewood, click on the links below:

Walnut Cheddar “Meatballs” from The Moosewood Restaurant Table

It’s a new month which means we have new cookbooks to explore! This month, the Food52 Cookbook Club is working through a vegetarian cookbook called The Moosewood Restaurant Table and I couldn’t be more excited to be adding more vegetarian meals into our repertoire. So this month I’ll be cooking from it for Meatless Mondays as well as for the normal club posts.

For our first recipe, Aaron, who is the meatball master, tackled their vegetarian meatball recipe and served it up as we would normally for our spaghetti and meatballs. The look and smell certainly would have fooled anyone into thinking these contained meat.

The balls contain some ingredients you would normally expect – onions, garlic, herbs, bread crumbs, eggs – but what bulks them up is shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheeses and coarsely ground walnuts. Unfortunately, it was the walnuts that gave these away as meatless. The recipe says coarsely ground which left too much crunch that you normally wouldn’t get in a meatball. Other than that though, we were super pleased with this recipe and cannot wait to make them again. Next time we’ll just make sure to grind the walnuts finely, which Aaron reckons will make them easier to shape and keep them ball shaped anyway.

Can’t wait to see how our next meal turns out!

 

King Arthur Flour’s Whole Grain Banana Bread

One of the very first things I can remember helping with in the kitchen¬† is making banana bread with my Aunt Cindy. We’d wait until the bananas were almost black and load them into the mixer to make the moistest batter on the planet. We’d bake a huge batch in little loaf pans, medium loaf pans and a few bigger ones as well and it was the best banana bread in my humble opinion. I’ve since made her recipe a few times and have not had the same success rate with it. Wonder if it was the magic of the moment spent together that made it so great?!

This year King Arthur Flour’s recipe of the year is their Whole Grain Banana Bread. This immediately appealed to me as we try to eat whole grains rather than white most of the time, not only for the health factor, but the hearty factor – I’ve got 4 boys (if you include Aaron) who are big eaters and my daughter can put the food away as well. So a while back I gave it a go when I also tried Tartine’s Zucchini & Orange Marmalade Tea Cake.

My thoughts…this was definitely the moistest WHOLEMEAL banana bread that I’ve had. I used to make one that incorporated oats that was pretty good as well, but this was better, especially with the addition of walnuts (seriously, good banana bread must have walnuts). I didn’t really care for the sugar topping and so this week when I make it again I’ll be leaving that off for sure. I’m going to adjust the temperature and timings a bit too and hopefully get it to cook without the top cracking this time around. I fear that it has to do with our dodgy oven, but making a few adjustments on my end can sometimes yield better results.

I guess you could say that if I’m trying again it is a good recipe. I’m going to have a nice thorough read of it beforehand as I’d like to have something gluten free for a get together at the end of the week, so maybe I’ll make two versions if it can be adapted. (If not, I may try that clementine cake from Jerusalem again.) But for now, it’s time to go bananas!

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Update: I made the banana bread again today, ditched the cinnamon sugar topping and used choc chips instead of walnuts to make it more appealing to Little Miss 6 1/2. I baked it in my taller thinner ceramic loaf pan and in a lower oven for longer and it turned out amazing!

I could only manage about 30 minutes of cooling before cutting it and having a slice with some coffee. Mmm mmm….

And by the end of the day, there was nothing left!

Butterflake Herb Loaf

This butterflake herb loaf which was the King Arthur Flour Bakealong challenge in March 2017 is one of our very favorite dinner breads. It is ultra comforting and perfect to accompany a bowl of soup or pasta.

You make an enriched dough that has butter, eggs and milk and let it rise until doubled. Then you roll the dough out and cut out discs before spreading with a buttery herb and garlic filling and folding the discs into half moons. Then you just lay them in a row in two small loaf pans and leave to rise until the fill the pan. Half an hour in the oven and you are indulging in one of the greatest things since sliced bread!

Look at the golden buttery layered goodness…

And the glamour shot of the inside…break me off another piece!

Pane Bianco

Well, I did make bread over the weekend but we’re still working on reviving that sourdough starter. Aaron made a big batch of his pumpkin soup last week, and this is my favorite bread to accompany it and just so happens to be the first ever King Arthur Flour bakealong challenge: Pane Bianco.

The dough part is very straightforward, so if you’re interested, simply check out the provided links but what is unique about this bread is the shaping.

First though, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to get my bread to proof quicker now that it is cold in Canberra (we don’t get over 19C inside atm without a heater on) and since our oven is still on the fritz (the landlord is having trouble finding someone who repairs our particular oven) the oven light trick won’t work. Out of the blue I thought maybe I could use my microwave by putting a cup of boiling water inside next to my bread dough. And wouldn’t you know it worked in the prescribed amount of time on the recipe?!!

While it was rising, I made the filling by combining some sundried tomatoes, chopped basil, pizza cheese and garlic.

Then I rolled out the dough into a long rectangular-ish shape…

Spread the filling out over the top…

Rolled it up…

Pinched the ends closed then took a pair of kitchen shears and cut all the way down and shaped it into a figure 8…

Left it to rise while our dying oven preheated and baked it for 30 minutes.

(I didn’t bother with tenting it because opening the oven would have dropped the temperature too much, so this does look like I burnt the exposed filling a little. It still tasted amazing though.)

Look at that yummy filling! And the bread itself was cooked perfectly. =)

Aaron’s Green(ish) Breakfast Smoothie

We thought since the theme for this April’s Meatless Monday posts has accidentally¬†become breakfast focused, what better way to end the month than with one last breakfast recipe, and it’s an Aaron specialty.

This is a pretty straightforward recipe – nothing too fancy, and pretty easy to make. I make it in a blender, so that has the added bonus of waking everyone in the house up, so they’re ready for their smoothies.

(I say green(ISH), because, well, it doesn’t look that green…)

Aaron’s Green Smoothie

Aaron's Green Smoothie

(Serves 2)
Ingredients:

Handful of baby spinach (about 1 cup)

1 large banana

3/4 cup frozen blueberries

3/4 cup frozen raspberries

1 cup cold water (or more if needed)

Add the first four ingredients, plus about half of the water, to a blender and pulse until combined (should be the consistency of a thick shake) or the blade isn’t doing anything. If the blade isn’t doing anything, add a little more water to loosen the frozen berries up. Only add as much water as you need to get things moving until the smoothie reaches the consistency of a thick shake. Pour into glasses and enjoy!