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December 2018

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I hope everyone had a good weekend! I had the most productive weekend – in addition to laundry and cleaning, I was able to test drive a couple of new recipes that I will be featuring on the blog this week.

First up is this recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins. I don’t know about you guys, but weekday mornings for me are a whirlwind of activity, especially if my husband is working too and I’m responsible for daycare drop off. On these days, I get up at 6AM to get ready for work. By the time I’m done, it’s about 6:45AM, and my toddler is stirring (she usually wakes up between 6:45AM-7AM). I head downstairs to get her breakfast ready (it’s just milk and an Eggo, because she gets a proper breakfast at daycare at 8:30AM), then I go upstairs to greet her, change her diaper and change her clothes. Then we head back downstairs and while she drinks her milk, eats her Eggo and watches Baby Shark on Youtube, I do her hair. Then, we rush out the door and into the van and off to daycare we go. I drop her off at daycare around 7:30AM, and then I rush off to work and try to make it there relatively on time. Every weekday morning at work, we have a daily 8:15AM meeting. And it’s usually AFTER that meeting that I’ll have to time to grab myself breakfast from my lunch bag (which is usually instant oatmeal and fruit, or a bagel with cream cheese).

Let me tell you, not having breakfast for more than two hours after waking up is not good for me. I get hangry and lightheaded, and I know it’s not good for the pregnancy. I wanted to make a relatively healthy muffin recipe, so that I can pack a couple in my lunch bag for these crazy weekday mornings. These muffins are easy to eat with one hand while driving to daycare or into work, so that I at least have something in my belly first thing in the morning!

Also, I had a few ripe bananas on my counter this weekend and two Paw Patrol vanilla yogourt cups that were about to expire in a couple days, so this recipe worked out perfectly in using up these ingredients! I hate hate hate food waste, so I’m glad I was able to salvage the bananas and yogourt without having to toss them in the trash!

There’s only one thing I would change in this recipe….I think next time I would add more chocolate chips. I had half of a little bag of chocolate chips left in my pantry and I tossed them all into the batter (just short of 1 cup). As you can see, the tops of some of my muffins look pretty bare. Next time, I’ll add another 1/2 cup maybe, and make sure I sprinkle some on the top of the batter in the muffin tins so that they turn out prettier.

Despite their anemic-lack-of-chocolate-chips look, they are absolutely delicious and I’ve already had two this Monday morning. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Print Recipe
Serves: 12-15 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking power
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp salted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup yogourt (I used regular vanilla, but you can use plain regular yogourt, plain Greek, or vanilla Greek)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 almond extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (feel free to use more!)

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line regular-sized muffin tins with baking cups.

2

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and baking powder.

3

In a larger bowl, cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar. (I just used my hand mixer). Add mashed bananas, yogourt, eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract, and mix well.

4

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until combined. (I switched to using a spatula at this point). Stir in chocolate chips if desired.

5

Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into each muffin cup. I was able to make 15 muffins. Bake for 20 minutes until tops are lightly golden. Let cool in the muffin tins.

6

Enjoy them warm and store in an airtight container.

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta

Broccoli and Cheddar pasta

Does anyone else have a super picky toddler? I swear, all my daughter wants to eat is scrambled eggs, toast with peanut butter and jam, pears, nectarines, yogourt and pasta. And not just any yogourt, but the Paw Patrol yogourt.  And not just any pasta – it has to be the tubed ones like rigatoni or penne. I try to sneak in veggies wherever I can – I scramble her eggs with chopped up spinach and I try to sneak in some veggies in her pasta dishes, but she usually just picks around them and just eats the pasta. Her daycare teacher tells me that she eats very well at daycare, but I find that hard to believe. Or maybe she enjoys eating with the other little kids, who knows. All I know is that dinnertime is such a hassle with her. My husband and I certainly don’t want to eat pasta every day, so what I end up doing is making a big pasta dish for her every other day, so that on the day that she’s eating leftovers, my  husband and I can actually eat something else for dinner!

This broccoli and cheddar pasta is her absolute favourite and she would eat it every day if I let her. When she sees me plating it up, she is grabbing at my leg, pointing, yelling “pasta, pasta!” , and can’t wait to sit down at the table to devour it. I don’t mind making this for her often because it is easy to make and takes only about 20-30 minutes. I sneak the broccoli in there but she just picks around it. I don’t mind though, because I like to eat all the broccoli out of it while she eats all the pasta. Win-win! I also like that you don’t have to cook your broccoli separately. I just cut it up into small florets, rinse them and leave them in the strainer. Then, when my pasta is done cooking, I drain my pasta through that same strainer. The boiling water from the cooked pasta will cook the broccoli just enough to turn them bright green but still retain some crunch.
Broccoli

I like to use Bothwell medium cheddar cheese for this recipe, but feel free to use marbled, mild or strong cheddar. I find that the medium adds just enough bite and flavour without being too bland or too overwhelming. I grate the cheese using the biggest holes on my grater – it just helps the cheese melt faster and more evenly. I use up the entire 170g block of cheese and you can often find these on sale at Safeway for about $4.99 for a small block.

Bothwell cheddar cheese

I highly recommend this recipe for picky eaters. Give it a try and let me know what you think. I’ll be making this again in the next few days so follow me on Instagram if you want to see the play by play on my Instagram stories!

Broccoli and Cheddar Pasta

Print Recipe
Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 20

Ingredients

  • Approx 500 grams of pasta (I buy the 454 gram boxes or packages of penne or rigatoni)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of half and half cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 small head of broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • 170 grams of medium cheddar cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1

Chop your broccoli into small florets, rinse and leave in the strainer.

2

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook your pasta according to the package instructions; drain with the same strainer that the broccoli is in

3

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and shallot and cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes.

4

Add in the flour and whisk for about 1 minute until lightly browned. Gradually whisk in milk, cream and Dijon mustard until it thickens, about 5 minutes. If you feel it is too thick, add in a little bit more milk. Season with salt and pepper.

5

Stir in pasta, broccoli and grated cheese until well combined, about 5 more minutes.

6

Enjoy!

Canadian Recipes/ Featured

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Well, cold and flu season is upon us and we are feeling it hard in our household. My toddler has been sick off and on for weeks. She has a runny nose and a cough that will come and go every other week. I kind of expected her to be sick more often after starting daycare in the fall, but not this much! I’ve had a cold a couple times over the past couple months, but sometimes I don’t know if it’s a cold or just the typical congestion that comes with being pregnant. But this weekend, my husband really went down for the count. He’s congested and has completely lost his voice. He was working 14 hour days for a few days there and didn’t see our daughter for awhile. The first night when he came home in time to see her before bedtime, he tried talking to her and she lost her mind! She was so scared of his raspy voice!

I wanted to make a really healthy soup to help the whole family feel better. My toddler is still napping 2-3 hours in the middle of the day, so that gave me plenty of time to make this to enjoy for lunch and dinner that same day. There was a lot leftover so I also took some for lunch today, and I’m sure my husband will be eating some for lunch at home today as well since he’s still off sick.

If you watched my Instagram stories yesterday, I did document how I made this. One of the things I talked about was cleaning my chicken breasts. My mom does this with all of her meat, especially if she’s using it in a stew, soup or braised dish. Have you ever noticed that when you boil meat, you get impurities that rise to the top in the form of scum or foam that you have to skim off? If you clean your meat before cooking it, you won’t have as much (or any) of these impurities to skim off. What I did with my chicken breasts was give them a healthy sprinkle of salt on both sides. I have a cheap box of Windsor table salt that I use purely for this purpose. Then using my hands, I scrub the salt well into the chicken. It’s like you’re exfoliating the chicken! Then rinse the chicken well under cold water to get rid of all the salt. After doing this step, I did not have any impurities to skim off my broth at all. The chicken boiled nice and cleanly. My mom does this all the time with pork, chicken, beef, fish, etc. I must admit, that I don’t do it all the time, but I will now that I see how nice and clean and pure my broth was!

There’s also a step in this recipe to make a roux with butter, flour and a little bit of cream to make it into a creamy chicken noodle soup. I love all types of creamy soups, so I added this step. If you’re just a broth-soup type of person, just omit this step!

Give this recipe a try to kick any of your winter colds and flus!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Print Recipe
Serves: 6-8 Cooking Time: 45 mins

Ingredients

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 small chicken breasts (you can also use boneless chicken thighs)
  • 6 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots: 2 grated and 1 sliced into half circles
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups of rotini
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1

Clean your chicken breasts by giving them a healthy sprinkle of household table salt on both sides and scrubbing with your hands. Rinse in cold water and set aside.

2

In a large soup pot, combine 6 cups chicken broth, 5 cups water, and 1/2 tbsp of salt. Bring to a boil and add your chicken breasts. Boil uncovered for 20 minutes. Skim off any impurities that rise to the top (you shouldn't have anything thing to skim off if you've cleaned your chicken well).

3

While chicken is cooking, place a large pan over medium heat and add 2 tbsp butter. Add chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add grated carrots and chopped celery and saute for another 5 minutes.

4

Remove chicken from the pot. Add the sauteed vegetables to the pot and continue to let boil gently.

5

Using two forks, shred the chicken and return to the pot.

6

Add 2 cups of dried rotini, sliced carrot, and the frozen corn to the soup pot and continue cooking at a low boil for 15 minutes.

7

(You can skip this step if you just want a broth soup, instead of a creamy soup). In a medium sauce pan over medium heat, melt 4 tbsp butter. Whisk in 1/3 cup of flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add in 1 cup of the hot broth from the soup pot into the flour mixture and whisk until well blended. Add in 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and whisk until well blended. Transfer to soup pot and stir until well blended.

8

Add in 2 tbsp of dill and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook at a low boil for another 5 minutes.

9

Enjoy!!!