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.

Chocolate, Espresso & Raspberry Cake

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Port is one of those things that I always have in my pantry. I love to cook with it because I love the wonderful richness it adds to a dish. But this time I did something different. I’ve partnered with Offley to create a recipe that you can pair with their Ruby port. ‘

Their Ruby is a young port with red fruit tones. I paired it with a rich chocolate dessert to balance out the sweetness of the port. This cake has a layer of fresh raspberries at the bottom, followed by a rich espresso brownie layer and it is finished with a dark chocolate ganache with a hint of espresso.

I invited Eliane from Instagram blogger to come taste my dessert. We had a lovely afternoon enjoying this dessert with the port.

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For all the Dutchies, Offley is organizing a cooking workshop where you can make dishes to pair with their port. And you can win tickets to attend the event with a +1. The workshop takes place on Saturday 24th September at the Smulweb Kookcollege in Amersfoort. If you get a bottle of their port, you will get a code with it to participate. But I have a code especially for you guys! You can participate by filling in this code: OVABLG01C in the Offley website.

This dessert is best eaten cold, so keep it in the fridge.

This recipe is for a 21cm round cake mold with a detachable bottom.

Ingredients:

For the brownie:

140grs of fresh raspberries, broken into pieces

120gr of dark chocolate, chopped (I used 63% cacao, but you can use a higher percentage. Especially if you want to pair it with port)

57grs of butter

125grs sugar (1/2 a cup)

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

½ a teaspoon of vanilla essence

50grs of self-rising flour (1/3 cup)

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

1 shot of espresso, cooled

For the ganache top:

200grs of dark chocolate, chopped

250ml of whipping cream

1 full teaspoon of instant espresso powder

20grs of butter

1 tablespoon of sugar

Extra:

A handful of red currants for decoration

 

Start by preheating your oven to 180C/350F. Line the bottom and sides of your cake mold with parchment paper.

First make the brownie layer. Place the chopped chocolate with the butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it in 30 seconds intervals, stirring in between until it has completely melted. Set it aside to cool down a bit. If it is too hot, it will curdle the eggs.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Then slowly whisk in the melted chocolate. Then add the shot of espresso, flour, cocoa powder and salt. Mix until everything is well combined.

Spread the broken raspberries over the bottom of your prepared baking mold. Carefully pour over the brownie batter. Tap it gently a few times to get rid of any air bubbles.

Bake it for 20 minutes.

When the brownie has cooled down to room temperature, start to make the ganache.

Place the cream, sugar and espresso powder in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk it until the sugar and espresso have completely dissolved into the cream, and the cream has come to a simmer. Then add the chopped chocolate and butter. Lower the heat to low and stir until everything has melted.

Then pass it through a fine mesh sieve to make sure that there are no lumps.

Carefully pour the ganache over the brownie. Let it set in the fridge overnight.

The next day, carefully remove the cake from the mold and carefully remove the parchment paper. To make a clean cut, use a sharp knife and rinse it under hot water before slicing the cake. Serve it with some fresh red currants.

Enjoy it with a glass of Offley Ruby port!

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 me on Snapchat: cravingsinams.

My Festival Burger (Coconut Crusted Chicken Burger with Spicy Coriander Sauce & Caramelized Pineapple)

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Summer is around the corner and that also means that festival season has started. When I first moved to the Netherlands, outdoors festivals were one thing I was very eager to experience. My husband had already talked non-stop on how good they were here. Good music, dancing in the sun with my love and of course great food. I was sold! So when Hellmann’s asked me to create my own festival burger and share it with you, of course I said yes!

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I have not been shy about my love for burgers, veggie and meat alike. With festivals lasting about half a day, we would always end up satisfying our hunger with burgers. The smell of the grill would just draw us in. And what better topping to a burger than a creamy and tangy sauce that will get your taste buds going with every bite? That’s why I created this crunchy and juicy coconut crusted chicken burger served with caramelized pineapple and a tangy & spicy coriander sauce, which I made with Hellmann’s. It is summer on a bun!

Now to the fun part, you can win 2 tickets to De Parade (You can choose the location). The only thing you have to do, is write a comment under the Instagram post of this blog post telling me what your favorite festival burger with Hellmann’s would be. It can also be vegetarian. You have until next Friday July 1st to participate. I will then choose a winner and make her or his favorite festival burger into a recipe! The contest is now closed, winner was chosen on Instagram.

This recipe makes 4 burgers.

Ingredients:

For the chicken marinade:
400gr of chicken breast (about 2 pieces of chicken breast)
500ml of buttermilk
½ a teaspoon of salt
½ a teaspoon of onion powder
½ a teaspoon of garlic powder
½ a teaspoon of paprika powder

For the chicken coating:
55grs of shredded coconut, unsweetened (1 cup)
60grs of panko breadcrumbs (1 cup)
½ a teaspoon of garlic powder
½ a teaspoon of onion powder
½ a teaspoon of salt
4 eggs, beaten
115grs of all-purpose flour (1 cup)

For the caramelized pineapple:
250grs of ripe pineapple, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of sugar

For the spicy coriander sauce:
300grs of Hellmann’s
½ bunch of coriander
1 ½ tablespoons of sriracha sauce, or more to taste
Juice of ½ a lime

Extras:
300ml of vegetable oil to cook the chicken
40grs of wasabi arugula or any lettuce of your choice
4 buns of your choice
Garden cress for decoration (optional)

For this recipe, I marinated the chicken in buttermilk overnight. This is a step that you can skip but I do advise you to do it. It requires minimal effort. It will take you about 5 minutes and it is worth it. The buttermilk will help tenderize the meat and the result is a very flavorsome and moist chicken.

So the night before, I placed one piece of chicken breast in between parchment paper and flattened it with a rolling pin, especially on the thicker parts. You want the whole piece to have the same thickness so that it will cook evenly.

You can also use a meat tenderizer. Repeat for the other piece of chicken. Then slice each peace into 2 even pieces, so that you have a total of 4 patties.

Make the marinade. Place the buttermilk in a medium container or bowl. Add the salt, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika powder. Mix well and add the pieces of chicken. Cover it and let it rest overnight in the fridge.

The next day, start by making the spicy coriander sauce. Blend 300grs of Hellmann’s with the coriander, sriracha sauce and lime juice. You can also put it in the food processor. Transfer it to a small bowl and keep it in the fridge covered until ready to use.

To make the caramelized pineapple, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Then add the sugar, mix it for a minute and then add the pineapple. Swirl the pan from time to time until the pineapple caramelizes. This will take about 7 minutes. Set it aside.

Then prepare the coating for the chicken. Have one bowl ready with the beaten eggs. In another bowl, mix the dried coconut with the panko, onion powder, garlic powder and salt. Have another bowl ready with the flour.

Remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade. First coat the chicken in the flour, then in the beaten eggs and finally in the coconut/panko mixture. Because I like it extra crispy, I did this twice per piece of chicken. Repeat until all 4 pieces of chicken are well coated.

Pour the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the chicken. It is important that the oil is not super hot; otherwise the crust will get dark before the chicken is completely cooked through. This will take about 5-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your chicken.

Once the chicken is fried, start to assemble each burger. Place a handful of wasabi arugula or lettuce of your choice on the bottom of your bun and then place the fried chicken on top. Top it with the spicy coriander sauce, caramelized pineapple and if you want also add some garden cress. Enjoy!

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 me on Snapchat: cravingsinams.

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.