Cottage cheese breakfast muffins

Hurricane Harvey is officially on its way to the Texas coast. We’re stocked up on food and water, and have moved everything inside off of our balcony. So what’s left for me to do? Bake, of course!

As much as I love cake (and I mean, really really love cake), I have a thing for savory breakfast food. Muffins are one of those wonderful things that you can make sweet or savory, and mix up with whatever flavors take your fancy. So, muffins seemed like the way to go. Since I’ve been trying to mature sure we have plenty of protein sources, I wanted to add some cottage cheese. Plus, I also really really love cheese! I modified a great looking recipe, mostly so that I could add more vegetables. I think this stems from when I was unemployed, and I found that I could stretch my budget by bulking up recipes with extra veggies, since they cost so much less than proteins. It also has the added bonus of hiding them in my husband’s food!

As muffins go, this is a pretty simple recipe: mix the wet ingredients, add the dry ingredients, add veggies, bake. I started with 2 slices of bacon, 1/2 a diced red onion, 1/2 a diced red bell pepper and around 1/2 cup of frozen corn. Cook the bacon for a few minutes to start rendering the fat, then add the onions and continue to cook until softened. Add the pepper and corn, and cook until the corn has thawed and heated through. Allow to cool.

For the muffin mixture, start with 1 cup cottage cheese, 2 eggs and 2 egg whites (you can use 4 whole eggs, I just happened to need 2 yolks for something else), 1/2 cup of your preferred shredded cheese and 1/4 cup water. Mix until combined, then add the dry ingredients. I used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 3/4 cup almond meal, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Whisk until there are no clumps of flour, then add in the bacon and veggies and mix until evenly distributed. Divide into 18 muffin cups, either greased or lined (I love my silicone baking cups for this kind of recipe), and bake at 400F for 30 minutes.

Now I just need to hide some zucchini in some chocolate cupcakes and we’ll be all set for the storm!

Makes 18 muffins

 

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Grease or line 18 muffin tin holes
  3. Cook bacon over medium heat for around 5 minutes
  4. Add onion to bacon and cook until soft
  5. Add pepper and corn, and cook until corn has thawed and heated through. Leave to cool
  6. Mix cottage cheese, shredded cheese, eggs, egg whites and water
  7. Add flours, baking powder and spices, and mix until no flour clumps remain
  8. Add cooked bacon and veggies
  9. Distribute mixture between prepared muffin tins
  10. Bake for around minutes

Lemon lavender shortbread (gluten free!)

First of all, happy Easter!

This recipe is something that I first made for an Easter brunch last year.  My best friend offered to host, and so of course my first thought was to bake.  Actually, that’s usually my first thought, regardless of occasion!  She has a pretty serious gluten allergy, and I love that this challenges me to find new things to bake.  I’ve been baking with regular wheat flour since I was a child, but I’m still relatively new to the world of gluten free baking.

While searching for gluten free shortbread I found this beautiful and simple recipe from King Arthur flour.  The base shortbread recipe is only 4 ingredients: almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract and butter.  Throw everything together in a mixer, chill, slice and bake.  Even with a small monkey at home I can get that done.  Since I was making this for an Easter brunch, I wanted to go in a more “springy” direction with the flavor, so I opted for lemon and lavender.  I would suggest you don’t overdo it with the lavender – it’s a pretty strong flavor and can either end up a little bitter or smelling like Grandma’s soap, neither of which is overly appealing.  This is an incredibly versatile recipe that lends itself well to a variety of flavor combinations, and it’s so easy to make that you’d be able to whip up a batch for any event, whatever the season.

The add-ins for this recipe don’t require any additional steps in terms of the actual baking.  Just throw them into the mixer with everything else.  I added the zest of 1 lemon and 1/2 tbsp of food grade lavender which I had pulsed in a magic mix to grind it slightly, but you could put it in whole if you wanted.  Once everything starts to come together, turn it out onto a piece of plastic wrap and squeeze it into a log.  Chill for at least an hour to let the butter re-harden, slice into rounds approximately 1/4 inch thick and bake at 350 F for 12-14 minutes, until just starting to brown at the edges.  They’ll firm up as they cool, so don’t overbake them thinking that they’re still soft so they’re not done yet.  Been there, done that.

Of course, being me, this wasn’t enough work yet.  I so love to make things more complicated for myself, just in case everybody else doesn’t think they’re fancy enough.  So, once the shortbread had completely cooled, I half-dipped them in melted semi-sweet chocolate.  If you choose to melt your chocolate in the microwave, do it in small increments so that you don’t burn it.  Let the chocolate harden, and there you have it.  The most Easter-y thing I could come up with, completely gluten free, and totally melt in the mouth.  OK, so my chocolate isn’t going to be winning any awards any time soon, but unlike many gluten free baked things, these don’t have a weird cardboard-type texture and you won’t find yourself looking for the “real”  thing later on to make up for it.  So I consider that a win!

Gluten free lemon lavender shortbread

Base recipe: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbsp softened butter
  • 3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp food-grade lavender, ground or whole, as desired
  • Optional – semi-sweet chocolate for coating

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in mixer with paddle attachment until a dough starts to form.
  2. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and shape into a log
  3. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  5. Slice chilled dough into rounds 1/4 inch thick
  6. Place on lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes
  7. Cool for 10 minutes on tray to allow cookies to firm up before transferring to wire rack
  8. Once completely cool, half dip the cookies into melted chocolate, if using.

 

Chocolate walnut couronnes

This is not the post I had planned for this week.  I was hoping to get my next baby project posted, but sadly it’s taking more time to finish than I anticipated.  So, instead, I baked.

My husband and I have recently starting binge watching the Great British Bake Off, and it makes me want to bake.  A lot.  I shouldn’t be surprised by this given my affinity for baked goods.  Apparently, at the age of 3, when asked what I wanted for Christmas, I responded with “some cake”, and at the age of 5 or 6 I asked my Mum to teach me to bake without a mixer, in case at some point in my life I didn’t have one and still felt a compulsion to bake.  So what I wanted to bake first was some kind of sweet bread.  I would have loved to start with a traditional Cornish saffron cake, but my husband isn’t a big fan, and he tends to get mad when I bake for people who aren’t him!  So instead, I was planning to make a Croatian povitica.  That is, until I looked at the recipe and saw that the dough would need to be stretched out to 1m in length, and that just isn’t going to happen in my mournfully small kitchen.  So, option 2 was a couronne.  This is a twisted sweet bread named for it’s crown-like shape.  The one on the show was filled with apricots and marzipan, which sounds delicious to me, but my husband wasn’t loving that idea.  I’m not much of a traditionalist with much food – I’m all for changing things up to suit different purposes.  In this vein, I switched out the filling for something closer to that of a povitica, although I’ll say now that I didn’t really follow a recipe so much as look at a list of ingredients and make something up.  I also decided to make 6 small ones instead of 1 large one.

I made a couple of substitutions to the dough itself.  I didn’t have any bread flour, and with a 5 month old I’m not dealing with the hassle of the grocery store for 1 ingredient.  So I used regular all purpose flour instead.  I also didn’t have instant yeast in my pantry, but I did have a jar of active yeast in the fridge, so I used that instead and just converted the quantity.  The rest of the ingredients and instructions for the dough were following Paul Hollywood’s recipe, which you can find here.  OK, one other substitution I should admit to – I made it in my mixer and just finished the kneading by hand.  Tired Mommy arms and all that…

Once the dough was made and rising, I started on the filling.  I creamed 1/4 cup butter with 1/3 cup sugar until pale and, well, creamy.  I then beat in 1 egg yolk, followed by 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa and finally 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts.  The walnuts could have been finer, but I wanted there to be a bit of texture instead of the filling just being paste.

To assemble the couronnes, I basically followed the instructions in the original recipe except that after rolling the dough I cut it into 6.  I spread the filling onto each in a fairly thin layer and rolled them tightly from one of the long sides.  I did find it helpful to pinch the seams closed before cutting the rolls in half lengthwise, and then twisting the pieces around each other.  Once twisted, I curled the ends around to make circles and transferred the couronnes to a baking sheet.  Next time, I’ll probably reduce the width of the initial rectangle so that the 6 pieces aren’t as long and either have them be wider or a little thicker to make the rolls smaller but thicker.

The recipe stated to glaze with apricot jam, but since I didn’t have any, and I’d already separated an egg to put the yolk into the filling, I used the beaten egg white to glaze them.  I did this once they’d been in a 400 F oven for 20 minutes, and then put them back in for another 5.  The final step is the icing, which has to be done once they’ve cooled.  For this I used the icing that I put on my scones when I bake them.  It’s very simple, just powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract.  The exact quantities aren’t overly critical, it depends on what consistency you’re going for.  All I would suggest is to add the liquid very very gradually – it doesn’t take much to make it too runny.  You can use water instead of milk, and switch the vanilla extract for something else or leave it out altogether if you prefer.  I didn’t want the hassle of cleaning a piping bag for something so small, so I used a snack sized zip top bag with one corner cut off.  Put the icing into the bag, squeeze out the remaining air and seal the top.  Cut one of the bottom corners off (the amount you cut will determine how fine your piping is) and squeeze.  Then just throw it out when you’re done!

OK, they might not win me any baking championships any time soon.  But that’s not going to stop me eating them all before my husband gets home fighting my husband for them when he gets home from work!

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Chocolate Walnut Couronnes

For the dough:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 packet instant yeast or 2 1/4 tsp active dried yeast

1/4 cup butter, softened

3 1/2 oz milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

For the filling:

1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg yolk

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

For finishing:

1 egg white, lightly beaten

1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1-2 drops vanilla extract

1/2 – 1 tsp milk or water

 

To make the dough:

Put the flour into the bowl of a mixer, add the salt to one side and the yeast to the other.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until a soft dough has formed.  Knead until the dough is soft and smooth.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise for an hour, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling:

Cream the butter and sugar until pale.  Beat in the egg yolk.  Stir in the cocoa and walnuts.

Then, assemble the couronnes:

Pre-heat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Roll the dough out into a large rectangle and cut width-wise into 6 even pieces.  Spread the filling on each piece, leaving a gap around the edge.  Roll each piece tightly from the long edge, and then cut in half lengthwise, leaving a small piece attached at one end to make the twisting easier.  Twist the 2 pieces together like a rope and join the ends to form a circle.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.  Glaze with the egg white and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.  Once cool, finish with a drizzle of icing.