Monday, April 28, 2014

BroCoconut Energy Muffins #MuffinMonday

BroCoconut Energy Muffins are high protein, filled with nuts, seeds, steel cut oats, coconut, yogurt and dried apricots. Good for you and also delicious!

These muffins are made with extra energy in mind, for the jocks among you or indeed anyone who needs to up their protein intake and be a better bro. 

As I was writing my friend, Marilyn, who kindly shares my muffin link on her wonderful blog, Communicating Across Boundaries, most Mondays, there is nothing that makes me happier than when my daughters share links to articles or websites that they find touching or inspirational or amusing. Early last week, my younger daughter sent me the link to this comic strip. And suggested that I might use it for inspiration for an upcoming Muffin Monday.

I replied that coconut would be a fabulous idea.  To which she added: “but also, if it's possible to capture the spirit of the comic in the muffin, that would be superb.”

What else could I reply but, “Obviously.” Challenge accepted!

So, I started researching Bro recipes and turned up lots of energy bars and smoothies and things baked with protein powder for weightlifters. Which, yuck. Not the weightlifters, because I'm sure they are lovely people, but the protein powders. I figured there had to be a way to add more protein to muffins naturally with tasty ingredients rather than powders.

So, I changed out my normal white flour for spelt, added a nut/fruit combination called Energy Mix from my local supermarket along with some extra dried apricots, switched coconut oil for canola, included some steel-cut oats, sweetened the batter with unrefined brown sugar and, of course, there had to be coconut. Freshly grated.

And, you know what? You won’t care that these are healthy and bro-friendly. They are delicious. (Anybody know where I can go for the bro stamp of approval though? That would be cool.)

1/4 cup or 45g steel cut oats
1/2 cup or 120ml milk, divided
1 cup or 150g energy mix (Mine had pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and golden raisins.)
5 dried apricots (about 40g)
1 cup or 145g spelt flour
1/2 cup or 100g brown sugar
1 cup or 70g freshly grated coconut, unsweetened
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup or 125g plain yogurt
1/4 cup or 60ml coconut oil

Heat 1/4 cup or 60ml of the milk up to almost boiling and pour it over the steel cut oats in a heatproof bowl. Set aside to soak until cool.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your muffin tin by greasing it or lining it with paper muffin cups.

Chop your energy mix and dried apricots roughly and separate out a handful or two for topping the batter before baking.

In a large bowl, mix together the spelt flour, brown sugar, grated coconut, baking powder and salt.  Mash the brown sugar lumps out with a fork.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, the balance of the milk, coconut oil, yogurt and the soaked oats, along with their milk.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.

Fold in the bigger pile of chopped energy mix/apricots.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Top with the reserved energy mix/apricots.

Bake in the preheated oven about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for a few minutes and then remove the muffins to a rack to cool completely.


Now call and invite your mom to bro down with you today. She might bring these muffins.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Beef Short Rib Bourguignon

Beef slow braised in red wine is a classic dish needing just a little hands-on work and then a lot of hands-free oven time, resulting in meat that falls off the bones and gravy that you’ll want to slurp up with a spoon.

This week my Sunday Supper family, along with our host, the fabulous Alice from Hip Foodie Mom, is bringing you recipes that require five ingredients or less. The powers that be decided that water, oil, salt and pepper would be “freebies” and don’t need to be included in our count, thank goodness! I decided to adapt a recipe for beef Bourguignon that normally has way more ingredients because I thought it would still be possible to make something rich and flavorful if I chose my ingredients with care and thought.

Each item had to add to the flavor spectrum and bring multiple hues to the finished dish. The beef must contain bones and a goodly helping of fatty meat to add rich beefiness so I chose short ribs over a leaner cut. The red wine would contribute tang and depth as well as help to tenderize the meat as it cooks. The bacon would be honey- or brown sugar-smoked, adding sweetness and smokiness to counterbalance the acidity of the wine. The wild mushrooms would add an earthy undertone to the finished dish which often includes fresh mushrooms. And finally, the shallots would bring sweetness and body to the broth and the braising beef ribs. Using shallots instead of normal onions also allowed me to set aside the smallest ones to add in near the end of the cooking time to mimic the pearl onions that are often included in traditional Bourguignon recipes. I would have dearly loved to add a sprinkle of chopped parsley right at the end, but that would be breaking the rules, and I must admit, I didn’t really miss it for flavor. The color just would have been pretty.

3 1/4 lbs or about 1.475kg beef short ribs
1/2 oz by weight or 14g dried assorted wild mushrooms (I used half the bag pictured.)
1.1 lbs or 500g shallots
5 slices - thick cut or 175g brown sugar or honey smoked bacon (or some other sweet smoked version – maple would probably work too.)
2 cups or 475ml full-bodied red wine
Sea salt – I use Maldon’s flakey salt.
Freshly ground black pepper

Season the short ribs on all sides with a good sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover with cling film and set aside.

Meanwhile, start prepping the rest of your items.

Put your dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and cover them with about a cup or 240ml boiling water. Set aside to soak.

Peel and slice your shallots very finely, setting aside all the little bitty ones and leaving them whole.

All the bottom ones were sliced, The little ones up top were saved for the last hour of cooking time.

Slice the bacon into small strips and panfry them until they are crispy, stirring often to make sure the pieces don’t burn.

Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and put in on a saucer.

Use the bacon grease to fry the short ribs, a few at a time, until they are browned and golden on both sides. Don’t crowd the pan or they’ll just steam instead of browning.

When all the meat is browned, pile the sliced shallots into the pan and cover it with a tightly fitting lid.

Preheat your oven to 275°F or 130°C.

Cook the shallots over a medium heat, lifting the cover and stirring occasionally to loosen all the lovely sticky bits off the bottom and sides of the pan.

Meanwhile, scoop the mushrooms out of their soaking water with a slotted spoon and chopping them up a little if the pieces are bigger than bite-sized.

Pour the mushroom water through a very fine mesh sieve, being careful to stop just before you get to the sediment at the bottom.

When the shallots are soft, add in the red wine and cook down until about half the liquid has evaporated away.

Now add the mushrooms and the strained mushroom soaking water. Stir well.

Nestle the ribs in the shallot-y, mushroom-y broth and top with the crispy bacon, making sure to add any juice that accumulated in the bottom of the rib or bacon plates. We can’t let any of that goodness go to waste.

Cover the meat with a piece of heavy-duty foil and then put on the cover.

Slow roast in your preheated oven and set a timer for two hours.

After two hours, take the pan out of the oven and tuck the reserved small shallots in the juice around the ribs.

Put the foil back on and replace the lid.  Cook for a further hour.

When the ribs are done, use a spoon to skim off as much of the oil as you can.  The gravy is fabulous just like this, or you can add a bit more water or wine to thin it. I added just a little water and stirred it around.

Serve this short rib Bourguignon with something capable of soaking up some of that lovely gravy. I highly recommend a mash of mixed root vegetables, yams, potatoes and parsnips. Or perhaps just a green vegetable and a crusty loaf of bread.


Do you need more “five ingredients or less” recipes to simplify your time in the kitchen? Look no farther than this list of wonderful links!

Appetizers, Salads and Starters

Chicken and Spring Greens Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette from Crazy Foodie Stunts
Fennel Citrus Salad from An Appealing Plan
Guacamole Deviled Eggs from Ruffles and Truffles
Kale-Had-a-Hard-Day Salad from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Latkes with Smoked Salmon and Caviar from Confessions of a Culinary Diva
Salmon and Cucumber “Noodle” Salad from girlichef
Tomato Soup from Run DMT
Tomato, Avocado, and Cucumber Summer Salad from My Healthy Eating Habits
Tuna, Burrata and Black Olive Salad from The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Wasabi Cream Cheese Ham Salad from Neighborfood
Yogurt Dill Vegetable Dip from Melanie Makes

Side and Accompaniments

3-Ingredient Beer Bread from Take A Bite Out of Boca
Candied Apple Jelly from What Smells So Good?
Homemade Ricotta from Seduction in the Kitchen
Indian-style Roasted Cauliflower from kimchi MOM

Main Dishes
Baked Asparagus and Eggs from Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
BBQ Foiled Chicken from Meal Diva
Beans and Egg Sandwich from Basic N Delicious
Beef Short Rib Bourguignon from Food Lust People Love
Chicken and Potato Bake with Meyer Lemons from Cravings of a Lunatic
Chicken Asparagus Roll-ups from The Dinner-Mom
Chicken with Olives from Noshing With The Nolands
Crock Pot Beer Chicken from Our Table for Seven
Easy Crock Pot Pulled Chicken from Flour On My Face
Garlic Butter Shrimp from Savvy Eats
Greek Chicken Burgers from Country Girl In The Village
Grilled Caprese Salad Sandwich from Rants From My Crazy Kitchen
Grilled Steak with Garlic Cumin Rub from Cooking Chat
Honey Almond Salmon from Family Foodie
Lemon Basil Carbonara from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Potato Pancakes (Reibekuchen) from The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
Salmon with Tiger Dill Sauce from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas from Supper for a Steal
Slow Cooker Turkey Breast from Nosh My Way
Smothered Pork Chop Cups from Having Fun Saving
Spaghetti Squash with Simple Red Sauce from Momma’s Meals
Strawberry Red Wine Glazed Salmon from Cupcakes & Kale Chips

Dessert and Beverages

3-Ingredient Nutella Truffles from URBAN BAKES
4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cherry Chip Cookies from Ninja Baking
4-Ingredient Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Sweets from Shockingly Delicious
5-Minute Strawberry Sherbet from The Wimpy Vegetarian
Baked Custard Cups from Soni’s Food
Best Ever Coconut Macaroons from Hip Foodie Mom
Chocolate & Peanut Butter Squares from Killer Bunnies, Inc
Chocolate Orange Ice Cream from Gluten Free Crumbley
Coconut Cream Mango Mousse from Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
Coconut Crusted Chocolate Ganache Pie from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Flourless Chocolate Cake from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Golden Oreo Rice Krispies Treats from Pies and Plots
Orchid Panna Cotta from Manu’s Menu
Oreo Cookies and Cream Fudge from Alida’s Kitchen
Peanut Butter Buckeyes from Peanut Butter and Peppers
Raspberry Pina Colada Ice Cream from Try Anything Once Culinary
Sopapilla Cheesecake Bites from The Weekend Gourmet
The Ginger Sass Cocktail from Nik Snacks
Vanilla Bean Honey Ice Cream from The Foodie Army Wife
Vanilla Pudding from Magnolia Days

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Mexican Chocolate Wedding Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

Mexican chocolate has cinnamon in it and so do these cookies, hence the name. Traditional Mexican wedding cookies don’t have either, but that doesn’t stop these from being light and delicious, if not authentic.

I adapted this chocolate version from the traditional recipe at Mexico in My Kitchen.

The month our Creative Cookie Exchange group is planning ahead for Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that celebrates Mexican heritage and culture with food, drink and dancing, in short, with fiestas. I decided to take a favorite cookie for weddings in Mexico and mix it up a bit, adding chocolate and tossing it in powdered sugar and cocoa. Turns out chocolate wedding cookies weren’t my idea first but that’s okay. I felt creative for a little while till I found out.

Note to future self: When big, bright idea strikes, stop researching. 

Ingredients for 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on how big you roll them
For the cookie dough:
3/4 cup or 170g butter, softened
1/3 cup or 40g powdered or confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups or 220g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup 225g ground pecans
1/2 cup or 100g semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch salt

For the coating:
1/2 cup or 65g powdered or confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup or 20g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Blitz your chocolate chips in a food processor until they are ground into little bits.

With electric beaters or in a stand mixer, cream the butter and the powdered sugar together until the butter turns pale and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add in the vanilla and then beat again.

In another bowl, mix together the other (dry) dough ingredients.

Add the dry mixture to the fluffy butter one cup at a time, beating well in between, until it’s all mixed in and you have a nice stiff dough.

Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for an hour in the refrigerator or 30 minutes in the freezer.

It's lovely and speckled!

Meanwhile, combine your coating ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

I gave them a solid whisking to mix them together and break up any lumps. 

When you are ready to start baking, preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Cut off small pieces of the dough and roll them into balls about an inch or 2 1/2cm wide.

Put them on a ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Cool for a couple of minutes and then, very carefully, transfer the cookies to a wire rack. If you squeeze too hard, the cookies might crumble, as you can see.

While the cookies are still warm, roll them in the coating.


If you would like to join the fun and bake with the Creative Cookie Exchange, just contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links.

You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Facebook page, our Pinterest Board, and our monthly posts which are published the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! 

If you are looking for Cinco de Mayo inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made this month:

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Passover Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These delicious cookie bars are so simple to make – just four ingredients - and are perfect as a snack or sweet treat during Passover when wheat flour and leavening agents are on the prohibited list. Or anytime of the year! 

This week Sunday Supper is celebrating with recipes for Passover and Easter. Since I already posted two Easter treats last week, I decided to step out of my comfort zone, do a little research and find a recipe that would be welcome at a Passover feast. The restrictions seem to be the same as keeping kosher, with the added prohibition of wheat, barley, rye, oats, and spelt flours. Almond flour, on the other hand, is just fine, not to mention nutty and delicious. I found this recipe on, a great resource for kosher recipes and general advice. I wasn't about to start substituting or adapting in case I unwittingly messed up its Passover-friendly status!

2 cups or 200g ground almonds
1 cup, well-packed, or 200g dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup or about 190g semi sweet chocolate chips, plus about 1/8 cup or 30g extra for topping

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and grease your pan (9x9in or 23x23cm) or line it with parchment paper.  I almost always choose the parchment paper option because the cookie bars lift out so easily which makes cutting them a breeze.

Mix all of the ingredients together until they form a thick dough. You can do this by hand but it takes some arm power to get them to a good dough stage, so I used my stand mixer and just let that baby run on medium speed for a couple of minutes.

Spread the dough out in your prepared pan, making sure to fill in the corners.

It's a pretty stiff dough. 
Sprinkle the top with the extra chocolate chips.

Bake in your preheated oven for 23-28 minutes or until the edges and top are a light golden color. I was amazed by how tender and chewy these turned out. The original recipe called them miracle bars and I have to agree! They are absolutely wonderful not just for Passover, but any time of the year.

Let the cookie bars cool for a few minutes and then cut them into squares.


If you are looking for Easter and Passover meal inspiration, check out these great links from my fellow Sunday Supper friends. This week our host is the lovely Alaiyo of Pescetarian Journal.

Savory and Sweet Breads:
Sides and Salads:
Main Dishes: