Monday, May 25, 2015

Mini Pesto Muffins with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Summer is approaching and as every year, one should not neglect the preparations for a successful BBQ or picnic season. The days are getting longer and the nights shorter; in other words perfect conditions to spend endless evenings on the terrace with a good glass of wine. This is why I thought it was about time I share with you my lovely mini muffins. Their size is perfect for appetizers or little buffets. 
I love hearty cakes because in small bites you can experience wonderful savory combinations. When choosing the recipe for picnics I always prefer to bake them in my mini loaves or normal muffins molds. When opting for the picnic variation, I can only recommend having them with colorful salads.

When it comes to savory cakes one always has to be very careful. A lot of recipes are too dry or overloaded with too many ingredients. From experience I can say that there should never be more than three specific flavors in one savory cake in order to keep it simple yet rich in taste. This recipe is very moist, no matter what size you opt for. The only thing changing is the baking time, but no matter what the consistence of the cake remains the same. 
A good thing to know is definitely also that you can bake the cakes in advance and freeze them. If you are throwing larger parties and you don't have enough time to prepare all dishes the same day this is clearly a great option. The quality of the cake does not really change. Once defrosted, you should bake it for about two thirds of the initial baking time. 

For around 50 mini muffins you need:

160g flour
2 tsp baking powder
150ml milk
100 ml olive oil
3 eggs
110g parmesan 
120g pesto
110g sun-dried tomatoes
60g pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 180°

Pour the flour into a large bowl and mound it like a volcano. Add the baking powder and the eggs and start beating. While beating continuously add the milk and oil, then the rest of the ingredients. 

Pour the dough into the little muffin molds and bake for 12 minutes.

Optional: If you choose to use usual muffin molds the baking time takes 15 minutes. When opting for a large loaf, double the time and bake for 30 minutes.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Banana Berry Smoothie Bowl

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but unfortunately there are days where you just don't have enough time to prepare a balanced and nutritious breakfast. I investigated a lot on what I can do to save time in the mornings without neglecting any component of a decent meal. When browsing through the recipes, I realized that over the last months I didn't eat enough fruits at all. This is something I really want, but also really need to change in the future. Having an office job where you are glued to your chair at least 10 hours a day, needs a lot of counterbalance to still live a healthy lifestyle. I am aware that this is something I need to really work on for the future because otherwise it will have serious consequences on my health.

Over the last month, I took the time to try out many combinations and find out what ingredients suit me best and keep me full during the whole morning.  I have become a huge fan of smoothie bowls because next to their extremely nice taste the berries have a lot of well-known health benefits, notably to help increase your antioxidant levels to aid in neutralizing damaging free radicals and to support the immune system. In other words, the creaminess of the berry-banana mix topped with nuts and super foods provides you with the vitamins you need and boosts you with loads of energy. I think of all the smoothies I tried, this is my very favorite. And to be honest, most of ingredients are in our fridge anyways. There is no need to buy tons of rare foods with complicated names and very exotic backgrounds. 

For one bowl you need:

2 bananas
100g blueberries
100g raspberries
1 tbsp blackberries
1 tbsp goji berries
1 tbsp almonds
1 tsp grated coconut flakes

Place 1 1/2 bananas with the blueberries and raspberries into a blender or food processor and mix until you get a thick smoothie. Pour into a bowl. Top the smoothie with 1/2 of a banana, blackberries, goji berries and almonds. Sprinkle with the grated coconut flakes.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Avocado Lime Toast topped with fried Egg

A lovely stay in London has inspired this blog post. End of November I flew over to visit one of my London-based friends. On Saturday around lunchtime we went to the Broadway market. As you may have read previously on this blog; I love food markets. It's my favorite place in every city. Every food market has its own atmosphere. Artisans sell their best products, which they put all their love and lifeblood in. Curious customers are strolling in the streets, most of them far from being stressed. And they are ready to enjoy what the stands have to offer. The smell of different foods, ranging from spices  through delicatessen to fruits, is just amazing. On our way through Broadway Market we stopped at a super nice play to have brunch. My friend opted for a savory dish, notably an avocado toast topped with a fried egg. I don't remember all the ingredients of her dish, but what stayed in my mind was the avocado and fried egg combination. So let me share with you my version of this.

If there is one kind of carbs I really cannot do without, it is bread. I love bread. For breakfast, lunch or dinner; never mind. I also love sandwiches. Not the boring kind of sandwiches that you can buy in supermarkets or the canteen of your company. But those that are packed with multiple flavors. I found the avocado lime combination topped with a fried egg really interesting. This is also the reason why I want to share it with you. I mean, you only need four ingredients and get a really tasty toast without big effort. In addition, the ingredients are super healthy. Most of the times, people who try to eat clean, are very reluctant to sandwiches. However, the body needs a certain amount of carbs, and why not top them with health foods to have a complete healthy yet comforting meal.  

For two toasts you'll need:

2 slices of sourdough bread
2 avocados
juice of one lime
2 eggs

Toast the two slices of bread. Core the avocados then peel them. Dice the vegetables then add put them in a bowl. Add the limejuice, a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix until the avocados are coated well coated. Spread the avocado lime mix on the toast. Fry the egg and lay it gently on the toast. Cut the chives and sprinkle the fried egg with them.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Sun-dried Tomato Mushroom Fettuccine

Almost three years of blogging and I just realized that this is only the second pasta recipe I publish. I guess this pretty much reflects my gastronomic personality. 'But first dessert' seems to be more than just a motto. It's not that I don't like pasta, but it's just not that often on my culinary agenda. I think this is mostly due to the simplicity of many sauces. You may have noticed that my savory recipes are more like an explosion of different tastes. Whether herb cheeses with fruity notes or juicy fish with a nutty crust, I usually prefer sweet and spicy combinations. They usually combine the unusual. Pasta sauces most often have these common tastes, which are not very entertaining to my taste buds. It seems that I'm not the only one. I am always wondering why people throw so much cheese over their pasta if the sauce is that amazing. 

I don't exactly remember where it was, but I once ate pasta with sun-dried tomatoes in town. They have always stayed on my mind. According to the here above statements you can imagine how delicious they were, otherwise I wouldn't consider mentioning them. Yesterday I thought about trying my own version of the creamy sun-dried tomato pasta. I added mushrooms and garlic. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of mushrooms and I eat them rather rarely. But yesterday I thought - come on - give it a go. I combined the sweet sun-dried tomatoes with the mushrooms and added some garlic to round up the taste. I really recommend using fresh pasta. I know it's not the cheapest solution but every once in a while they are really worth the extra money spent. 

For 4 servings you need:

500g pasta
400g fresh mushrooms
250g sun dried-tomatoes
500ml heavy cream
4 tbsp olive oil
6 garlic cloves


Chop the sun dried tomatoes, the mushrooms and the garlic cloves separately. Heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the garlic. Wait until golden and then add the mushrooms. Cook them for a little while then add the sun-dried tomatoes. When the tomatoes look slightly roasted pour in the heavy cream and boil just for a short moment. Add some salt and pepper and stir  for a couple of minutes. Be careful that your sauce does not reduce or thicken too much. 

Cook the fettuccine al dente. If you use fresh pasta, be very careful not to cook it for too long. Add the pasta to the sauce and continue to cook them in the sauce for a few minutes. Stir constantly for a couple of minutes until the pasta is well coated. Now you can serve the fettuccine.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Caprese Chicken

December is over and so are the numerous year-end festivities. Caprese Chicken is my suggestion to get back in shape in January. Chicken, tomatoes and Mozzarella are a great flavour combination and relatively low fat. If you are trying to keep carbs low as well, this dish provides a complete meal and doesn't make you crave carbs afterwards. Chicken Caprese does not take much of your time for its preparation and is therefore perfect for weeknight dinners. I opted for cherry tomatoes because they add a little sweetness to the creamy Mozzarella and the hearty chicken. 

This hot meal is a little twist on the traditional caprese summer salad. Culinary speaking, I have to admit that I am not always a seasonal eater. I am totally convinced that summer is a state of mind and I do not mind having melon and ham for dinner in winter or Raclette in summer. Chicken and cheese are all-season anyways; meaning only the taste of the tomatoes might not be as rich. Anyhow, summer foods are much healthier and if you want to eat cleaner after the holidays, going with the season is not an option because this would mean having a hearty fondue or meat with gratin dauphinois.

For 4 servings you need:

4 boneless chicken breasts
6 tbsp olive oil
400g cherry tomatoes
240 g Mozzarella
fresh basil 

Preheat the oven to 160°

Drizzle the olive oil over the bottom of the roasting tin. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts and place them into the roasting tin. Cut the Mozzarella into thin slices and lay them on the chicken breasts. Cut the tomatoes in halves and add them to the tin. Finely chop the basil and sprinkle over the dish. 

Bake for 30 minutes. 

Rise the temperature to 200° and bake for another 15 minutes. Check if chicken has reached its desired doneness, then take it out of the oven.



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