Perfect blueberry muffins

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Berries are a perfect way to start off a sunny morning -even a weekday one! Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries….I just love them all!

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I hope you have had the opportunity to try my raspberry scones! They are divine. Although I debated another scone recipe this morning, I went for buttery streusel topped blueberry muffin instead. This recipe is adapted from the original at the Café Sucre Farine. The recipe called for the blissful combination of lemon and blueberries! Heavenly!

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This recipe is so easy – I mean it. Even though the original recipe calls for creaming the butter and sugar, I decided to skip that step, mainly because I have made several batches of muffins before and I felt confident the muffins will turn out just fine without this additional step.

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So, grab yourself the basic ingredients I am sure you already have in your pantry and whip up this recipe in time for a great grab n’ go breakfast.

Perfect Blueberry Muffins

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients

Crumb topping

3 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup demerara sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup oatmeal
¼ cup finely chopped almonds

Muffins
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup oil
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
¼ cup light sour cream
¼ cup milk mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice (set aside for 5 min)
Grated lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups frozen wild blueberries
Glaze (Optional)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar

Preparation
1. Heat the oven to 375F. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. You can also use muffin liners.
2. Prepare the streusel topping by combining all ingredients till crumbly. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.
4. In a smaller bowl, lightly whisk the eggs. Whisk in the sour cream, curdled milk, oil, melted butter, lemon zest and vanilla.
5. Gently stir in the wet ingredients into the dry mixture just until moistened.
6. Fold in the frozen berries taking care to avoid breaking too many berries. I say this because it is inevitable your batter is going have bluish tint running through it no matter how careful you are! 
7. Spoon the batter into the muffin pan. Don’t level the batter. Top with a generous amount of the streusel topping.
8. Bake the muffins for 5 minutes at 375F. Decrease heat to 350F and continue baking for another 20-25 minutes till the tops are golden and the muffin is cooked through.
9. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the muffins from the tin and let cool on a wire rack till completely cool.
10. While the muffins are cooling, prepare the glaze (optional) by vigorously stirring together the lemon juice and powdered sugar to a “drippable” consistency (say, like honey).
11. Lightly drizzle over the muffins. Let set.
12. Store muffins tightly covered for up to 5 days.

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Easy Weeknight Vegetarian Supper

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Have you had one of those days when you are trying to do many things simultaneously when you suddenly realize, “yikes, it’s time for dinner!” If you said “yes,” then I don’t feel like the odd one out! 🙂

I had one of those days last week when I tried to bake couple of types of cookies and lost track of time. I realized I had no leftovers and had to quickly throw together something while one batch of cookies were baking with remaining dough chilling in the refrigerator.

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My conditions – our dinner had to be something nutritious, quick and vegetarian! A quick inventory of what I had on hand resulted in me laying out an eggplant, a red pepper, can of chickpeas (see, I didn’t lie when I said I try to have cans of beans around), red onion, couple of Roma tomatoes, non-fat plain Greek yogurt and a small can of tomato paste.

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Since I had some leftover dill rice, I thought of making a one-pot Greek-style sautéed veggies and beans. It was amazingly simple, quick, delicious and filling that I think I might actually plan on making this again.

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Try it topped with extra plain Greek yogurt for a nice touch!

  • Servings: ”4″
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Ingredients
1 small eggplant, sliced thin
1 large red pepper, cut into long thin strips
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt to taste
optional, dash of cayenne
1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

OPTIONAL: Additional Greek yogurt, lemon juice, feta cheese

Preparation
1. Begin by preparing the vegetables.
2. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil.
3. Add eggplant, red pepper and onions and sauté till lightly browned. Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.
4. Now add the tomato paste and ground cumin and cook for about 3 minutes.
5. Add the chickpeas and Greek yogurt and stir to heat through. Remove from heat and serve with warmed pita or rice.

You can “dress up” your meal with a small dollop of Greek yogurt, light spritz of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of feta cheese.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

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Here is a yummy recipe just in time for your weekend breakfast, although this could be whipped up for a weekday starter as well.

Orange-Ricotta Pancakes

Orange-Ricotta Pancakes

 

Pancakes are simple yet delicious, especially when you mix in various add-ins like nuts, chocolate chips, diced fruits etc. One of my favorite type of pancake is the one using ricotta cheese. Ricotta goes incredibly well with citrus, specifically orange or lemon – either combination is irresistible. I have made these pancakes with both orange and lemon and I must say each had its own nuances when it came to taste and flavor and I enjoyed both types.

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This recipe is a spinoff from the original found on Williams-Sonoma website. I made couple of changes including using a combination of all-purpose flour plus cornstarch instead of cake flour and replacing some of the flour with ground flax. I also used 2 extra large eggs and juice from only 1/2 the lemon – although next time around I will try a whole lemon. Lastly, you can certainly add in some chocolate chips to these pancakes – who can resist the combination of citrus and chocolate?!

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These pancake are already slightly sweet, so they just need a light drizzle of maple syrup or honey – or as suggested in the original recipe, raspberry sauce! Yum!

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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

  • Servings: 12-14 pancakes
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Ingredients
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup 1% milk
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (could use up to a full lemon)
1 1/4 cups MINUS 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup ground flax
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt, divided
Chocolate chips, optional

Preparation
1. Mix ricotta, milk, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium bowl.
2. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, ground flax, baking powder and 1/8 tsp salt.
3. Stir in dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined.
4. Whisk egg whites till frothy. Add remaining 1/8 tsp salt (I used kosher) and continue whisking until soft peaks form.
5. Slowly fold in about 1/2 the egg whites into the pancake batter and follow with the rest.
6. Heat a griddle over medium heat. Lightly grease and prepare the pancakes as usual.
7. Serve immediately with your favorite syrup or raspberry sauce.

Chicken thighs in lemon garlic sauce

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Chicken is so versatile, yet there are times when I simply am not sure what I want to do with it. That’s how this recipe came about! I had a package of chicken thighs and had less than an hour to get dinner on the table. What do I do with it?

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After bit of pondering, I remembered I had fresh lemons, garlic and parsley on hand. I imagined that to be a rather straightforward “Chopped” basket and quickly thought of a way to incorporate them into a dish that had some sauce/gravy to it. It’s almost like I was working backwards. I had a freshly baked bread from earlier in the day and I wanted something to go with the bread… 🙂

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This dish with a wonderful citrus and garlic notes with just the right amount of a light sauce was amazing with a slice of a crusty bread. Since I had incorporated some green beans right into the chicken dish, it really was a wholesome meal. I would certainly like to prepare it again, but this time cook in the oven. If any of you try this in the oven (I would say 375F for about 45minutes or so – check for doneness), do drop a note below to say how it turned out.

Chicken Thighs in Lemon-Garlic Sauce

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients
4 medium chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onions or shallots
1 cup water or chicken broth
1/2 lb fresh green beans, end trimmed
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon butter or heavy cream, optional

Preparation
1. Cut chicken thighs into 2-3 pieces and season with salt and pepper.
2. Slice half the lemon into thin slices.
3. Heat olive oil over medium heat and lightly caramelize the lemon slices. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
4. To the pan, add the chicken pieces and brown them on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
5. Add a teaspoon of additional oil if needed and sauté the onions and garlic till onion turns translucent and starts to turn golden.
6. Add back the chicken pieces and a cup of water or chicken broth, making sure to scrape off all bits from the pan.
7. Cover and let cook for 30 – 35 minutes till the chicken is cooked through.
8. Add the trimmed green beans, lemon slices and juice from remaining half lemon. Adjust salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in parsley.
9. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

NOTE: If sauce is too thin, remove chicken and vegetables to a serving platter and continue to cook the sauce with a tablespoon of butter and/or cream for a few additional minutes till it thickens a bit.