Chocolate & Blueberry Spelt Muffins + Electrolux Ideas Lab

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I am very excited to be part of Electrolux Ideas Lab. They have a new project where they are looking for revolutionary ideas that inspire people around the world to enjoy tastier, healthier and more sustainable home cooking in the future. And they are offering a pretty good incentive if your idea wins. Keep reading to find out more.

They asked me why home cooked meals are important to me. My answer is very simple. Basic cooking is such an essential skill in life. From then on, you can experiment as you wish. When you cook your meals yourself, you know what you are putting into your body. It is better for your wallet and most often healthier for you too.

And healthy home cooked meals don’t have to be complicated or take long to cook. The only thing it takes is some planning. What I find easiest is to prepare a menu for the week, leaving 2 days free for impromptu dinners, going out with friends or to do clean-up the fridge/freezer meals. Proper planning will not only save you time spent going to the stores too often, but it will also minimize waste and in the end save you money. Just make sure to check your pantry/fridge/freezer while making your grocery list.

Another way to ensure that I always have healthy ingredients/food at home is having a well-stocked freezer. My freezer is not very big but I use it to the fullest. I have one compartment full of frozen fruit for smoothies, quick compotes to add to porridge or for baking. Another compartment filled with veggies, like spinach cubes which are great for smoothies, soups or pasta sauces. And the last compartment I have is for leftover food or anything that I cooked extra to eat on very busy days.

Most food will keep for months in the freezer, if you have packed them well. If you freeze fruits or veggies, make sure that they are dry (or pat them dry). Use freezer bags to pack them and make sure to let all the air out of the bag. Label them with the dates you froze them. Another thing that helps prevent waste (and this also applies to your fridge/pantry) is using the FIFO method. It is something I learned in school and simply means First In, First Out. So it basically means to store your food in a way that you use the oldest product that you bought first. It is the same way supermarkets organize their products on the shelves. If you’ve ever checked the milk isle for example, you will find the milk cartons in the front are the ones that expire the soonest (oldest). And the ones in the back will have a later expiration date.

Here are some ideas:

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When you make a smoothie, you can also make a larger batch and freeze some of it into popsicle molds to have as a healthy snack. The picture above is a smoothie I made with frozen mango, Greek yogurt, a bit of honey and a pinch of turmeric. I topped it with frozen blueberries, fresh figs slices and popped quinoa. The picture below shows the popsicles I made with the leftover smoothie.

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For the carrot & butternut squash soup below, I used frozen butternut squash and fresh carrots. Since both veggies already have great consistency, there is no need to add any cream to the soup. I bought the carrots with the tops and instead of discarding them; I used the tops to make a pesto to add it as a topping to the soup. For the pesto, I used one bunch of carrot tops, half a bunch of basil, about ¼ of a bunch of chives, 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, a pinch of garlic powder, a pinch of celery salt, a few drops of lime juice, extra virgin olive oil (just enough so you can blend it) and salt to taste.

Besides a good spoonful of this pesto, I also topped the soup with roasted pumpkin seeds and a few slices of Parmesan. You can freeze the leftover pesto in small portions for another meal. Besides adding it to any pasta, you can use the pesto as part of the dressing for a quinoa caprese salad. Or add it to avocado toast for a quick breakfast.

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Muffins also freeze pretty well and are great to take on the go or for packed lunches.

And here is where you come in. Do you have a revolutionary idea? A smartphone app, a life hack, a food sharing program or a complete business idea? Anything that will inspire or help others to enjoy more sustainable and healthy home cooked meals? Electrolux will award the winning idea with a €10,000 cash prize and a week in Stockholm filled great culinary experiences. And you will also be able to meet mentors who can help you further develop your idea. A pretty good incentive if you ask me! You can submit your idea via www.electroluxideaslab.com . Happy thinking!

Going back to the muffins, they don’t have to be on the guilty side. I made these chocolate-blueberry muffins with a mixture of spelt and all-purpose flour. They are sweetened with apple sauce and honey, and they only have 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per batch. The recipe is as follows:

Chocolate & Blueberry Spelt Muffins

This recipe makes 8 small muffins.

Ingredients:

¾ cup of spelt flour

½ cup of all-purpose flour

¼ cup of honey

1/3 cup of unsweetened apple sauce

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of salt

½ cup of milk

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

2 teaspoons of baking powder

Zest of 2 mandarins

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of cacao powder

2 eggs

1 ½ cups of frozen blueberries

Extras:

8 muffin liners

2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil for greasing the muffin liners

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

In a large bowl whisk the flours, salt, baking powder, mandarin zest and cacao powder until well combined.

In another bowl, add the eggs, honey, apple sauce, olive oil, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk until everything is combined.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until everything is combined (don’t over mix). Finally add the frozen blueberries and fold them in.

Line the muffin pan with the muffin liners. Brush the liners with melted coconut oil. Fill the muffin liners, leaving only 1cm of space (these muffins rise a bit, but not too much). Bake them for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let them cool down completely before eating (it’s easier to remove the liners then). Once they are cold, you can place them in freezer bags (make sure to remove all the air). They will keep for about 2 months. You can let them thaw at room temperature.

For more foodie inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook. For behind the scenes, more of Amsterdam and a peek of press events, you can follow my Instagram stories and my Snapchat: cravingsinams.

Blueberry & Greek Yogurt Breakfast Cake

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I’ve been blueberry crazy lately. I made this cake with some beautiful blueberries I got at the market and had it for breakfast. It has fruit, Greek yogurt, nuts and oatmeal. It pretty much has breakfast written all over it, so why not? I really loved it. It is very easy to make. It’s moist and doesn’t feel heavy.

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This recipe is for a 21cm cake mold.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

2 cups of all-purpose flour

113gr of butter

2 eggs

1 cup of Greek yogurt

½ cup of granulated sugar

½ cup of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 tablespoon of vanilla essence

Pinch of salt

1 cup of blueberries

For the Oatmeal & nut mixture:

1 cup of blueberries

100gr of cold butter, chopped

¼ cup of oatmeal

¼ cup of almonds

¼ cup of pistachios

¼ cup of sugar

¼ cup of flour

 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line the bottom of the cake mold with parchment paper. Lightly grease and flour the edges of the mold.

Cream the butter with the granulated sugar and brown sugar. Add the Greek yogurt, eggs and vanilla.  Then add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well and then fold in the blueberries.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake mold.

Then start making the oatmeal and nut mixture.  Place the oatmeal, almonds and pistachios in the food processor and pulse for a few seconds until it’s coarsely chopped. Then transfer it to a bowl. Add the chopped cold butter, flour and sugar. Mix with your hands trying to make a crumble.  Evenly distribute the mixture over the cake batter.  Sprinkle with the last cup of blueberries.  This mixture will sink to the bottom while baking and that’s ok. It still gives it a nice texture.

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Bake for 50 minutes.  Allow it to cool down before slicing it.  You can serve it with extra blueberries.

Blueberry Cheesecake Brownies + Chocolate Giveaway

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My favorite desserts usually involve chocolate and I was lucky enough to get to try this limited edition Australian Snapper 110% cocoa chocolate bar before it hit the stores. At first, I was a bit puzzled. How can it be 110%, but after I opened the package I realized how! It’s a 200gr package, which is composed of two 55% chocolate bars of 100grs each. Two chocolate bars with caramel sea salt & almond nougat. It’s a rich chocolate bar with a crunch. The sea salt enhances the chocolate flavor and makes it an addictive combination. I decided to incorporate this chocolate bar into this dessert. You can find out more about this chocolate bar by clicking here.

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By now, you guys know how much I love to make swirl brownies. I chose to add blueberries this time, to take advantage of the season before they are gone. Besides great flavor, they add such a bright color and really make these cheesecake brownies pop.

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I have a cool Instagram giveaway for you guys; unfortunately it’s only for people living in the Netherlands. In collaboration with Australian Homemade, I am giving away 2 Snapper 110% chocolate bars to 5 lucky chocoholics. Since in those 2 bars, you get a total of 4 bars; you can choose to share it with your friends or family. Here is what you have to do:

  1. Follow Australian Homemade on Instagram.
  2. Follow Cravings in Amsterdam on Instagram.
  3. Leave a comment under the Instagram post of this giveaway saying that you want to win, and tag a friend who you think would enjoy some chocolate as well. You can find the post by clicking here.

This giveaway ends Thursday (20/Aug/2015) at midnight. On Friday morning, I’ll pick 5 winners at random.

This recipe makes 16 small squares.

Ingredients:

For the blueberry compote:

½ cup of blueberries

1/3 cup of sugar

¼ cup of water

1 teaspoon of corn starch

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the brownie:

57gr butter

110gr of Australian Snapper Dark 55% chocolate, chopped

½ cup of sugar

2 eggs

½ teaspoon of vanilla extract

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

For the cheesecake:

300gr of cream cheese at room temperature

1 egg

1/3 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

 

First make the blueberry compote:

In a small bowl, mix the water with the corn starch. Place the blueberries, sugar and vanilla in a medium pan. Add the corn starch mixture. Let it cook for 3 minutes on medium heat. Stir from time to time. Transfer to a bowl, and set aside to cool down.

To make the cheesecake:

Place the cream cheese in a bowl and whisk it until smooth. Then add the egg, sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth and everything is combined. Set aside.

To make the brownie:

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a small square baking dish (22cm) with parchment paper.

Melt the butter with the chocolate over a water bath. Once it has completely melted, set aside and allow to cool down a bit.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar and vanilla. Then add the chocolate and mix. Finally add the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Mix until it is all combined. Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Carefully spread the cheesecake mixture over the brownie. Then spoon the blueberry compote over the cheesecake mixture. Use a toothpick or a knife to make the swirls. Make sure you only touch the cheesecake part, not the brownie part.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cheesecake starts to get golden.

Leave it at room temperature until it cools down. Once it has cooled down, place in the fridge for 2 hours. After the 2 hours are up, slice it into squares. You can keep them in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 

 

Lime & Blueberry Lattice Pie


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Growing up my favorite pie was lime merengue pie. My mom would make it often and we would just devour it. The lime filling in this this recipe is the same as my mom used to make, and one that is very popular as it is so simple. It’s just a mixture of condensed milk, lime juice and egg yolks. To upgrade it a bit; instead of making a crushed cookie crust, I made a buttery pastry dough with a lattice top. And because it is summer and blueberries are in full swing, I added them too. I saw them at the market and had to get some.

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I made this pie on Thursday for a dessert night I hosted for some friends the next day. I made it in between running errands, making a cake for a friend’s birthday and going to her party. She rented a boat and we cruised through the Amsterdam canals with some nice bites and drinks.

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I finally finished baking the pie at 11 pm and went to bed with the apartment smelling like pie.

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This recipe is for a 23cm pie mold.

Ingredients:

For the pie crust:

2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

1 ½ tablespoons of sugar

½ teaspoon of salt

226gr of butter, cold and cut into cubes

6 tablespoons of cold water

For the filling:

1 can of condensed milk, 400ml

1/3 of a cup of lime juice

3 egg yolks

2 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries

Extras:

Egg wash

Granulated sugar for sprinkling on the lattice top

 

You can make the pie crust in the food processor, by hand or in the stand mixer.  I used my stand mixer fitted with the flat beater. Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer. Add the cold butter pieces, mix it with a spatula. Then mix on low speed for about 2 minutes. Then add the cold water and mix on low speed for a couple of minutes until you have an even dough.

Divide the dough into 2 parts. Pat it down with your hands, forming a circle with each piece. Keep one piece on a floured working area. Wrap the remaining piece with plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for 1 hour.

Roll out the piece of dough that you left on your working area. Dust with enough flour so it doesn’t stick. Roll it big enough to cover the bottom of the pie mold. Place the dough on the bottom of the pie mold, press with your fingers so the sides stick and trim the edges. Refrigerate until the time for the one that you placed in the freezer is up.

Once the hour is up for the dough in the freezer, take the pie mold from the fridge and start making the filling. In a bowl, whisk together the condensed milk, lime juice and egg yolks. Pour the lime filling into the pie. Then arrange the blueberries on top of the lime filling.

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Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.  Line a baking tray with parchment paper. This will make cleaning easier, since the blueberries ooze a bit of liquid.

Take out the remaining dough from the freezer; roll it out into a big rectangle. Cut it into strips of about 2cm thick. You’ll need 12 strips for the lattice top and 2 strips for the edges of the pie. If you don’t know how to arrange the lattice top, you can click here to see instructions with pictures from The Kitchn on how to arrange it. Once the lattice top is set, add the 2 remaining strips to cover the edges of the pie.

Brush the dough with some of the egg wash and sprinkle some granulated sugar. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the dough is golden.

Allow the pie to cool down completely before slicing it with a bread knife.