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Sunday
Aug242014

Banana Nut Muffins and a Product Review

If you been baking for as long as I have, you have seen how throughout the years more and more improvements are being made with methods and equipments.  One of those have been the slowly and steady move from the traditional baking pans to baking with silicone made pans.

I have used silicone baking pans before and have mixed feeling about them.  Some worked, while others were complete flops.  I do have to be honest the flops were on the cheap end of the spectrum. But, my main concern was their general flimsiness and my visions of overflowing batter as the pan/cups folding unto itself creating a giant mess.  Can you imagine cleaning an oven full of spilled batter? No bueno.

So when Rizzi from The New York Baking Company approach me and asked me to review their silicone baking cups I was slightly reluctant.

But, my love for testing baking equipment won and I responded that I was in.

This happen a couple of weeks ago and it has taken me this long to do this. First because my first attempt – a Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake recipe was a total fail – not the equipment, but the recipe.  The cups worked like a charm. 

I had to schedule a redo, except that thinking of what to do in order to use the baking cups was a challenge in itself – I mean, I was totally drawing a blank as to what to bake, cook or use them for.  Which told me two things:

  1. I do not bake that many recipes that required a cup and
  2. I have taken a lazy approach to baking as of late

I was really going out of mind thinking about this since I had a deadline to meet and nowhere in sight was inspiration knocking on my kitchen door.  My husband finally told me to “quit” over thinking it.  The opportunity would present itself when I least expected.

My husband was right.  (psst, don’t tell him that I wrote this here)

“THE” opportunity happened in an early Sunday morning.  Walking into the kitchen, I spotted some bananas and thought to myself, these are ready to make banana bread, and then the idea turned into banana muffins! And of course the light bulb moment struck and voila, banana muffins using the silicone baking cups.

The next dilemma, was do I use the silicone cups as “liners” to my traditional 12-cup cupcakes pan? Or do I daredevil it?

I choose to daredevil it… See, I take testing equipment very seriously, so I figure if the cups were going to stand up to their promise, they were going to go into the oven as is, filled with batter, and not as liner to my traditional cupcakes pans, they were in all by their lonesome self on a sheet pan.

To grease or not to grease the cups was the next question and I opted for ‘not’ trusting the silicone would work its releasing magic.  (on my failed attempt at the cupcakes, I choose to go “dry” and some of my cupcakes did not easily release).

BANANA NUT MUFFINS
makes 12 muffins 

  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 3 medium ripe bananas (about ¾ cup mashed)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of chopped nuts (I use walnuts, but you can use anything you like)

Turn oven to 400°F, grease twelve 2½-inch muffin cups, in my case I prepare 12 silicone cups – I did grease mine, the last time (on the fail episode) I left them dry, and some of my cupcakes did not easily come out – so this time I grease them up.

In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredient – flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside

In another bowl combine your wet ingredients – mashed your bananas; add the milk, egg, oil and vanilla extract.

Stir your wet into the dry ingredients just until moistened. (Batter should be lumpy).  Spoon batter into prepare cups, filling each two-thirds full.

Bake in oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool in cups for 5 minutes, and then remove from cups and serve warm.

Unlike before, the muffins popped out of the mold in a snap. – So greasing them up was the way to go.

My final though: I like them, I was a bit skeptical before, because when they arrived they were very thin and small and thought, oh, oh.. They are not going to stand up to the test of time.

But, it was not the case, they worked as intended.  Would I get rid of my old trusting 12-cup cupcake pan? Hmmm, not yet, since I’m going to continue to put these to the test. And once they meet my expectations, then and only then the traditional pan will put out to pasture.

The good: 

  • Better for the Earth – silicone baking dishes can be reused a couple thousand times before they need to be replaced
  • Better for the Earth (part 2) – the silicone can be recycled when you’re ready for a new set
  • Cups heat quickly and bake evenly with no burnt or dark edges or bottom.
  • Removal from pans is super easy - a slight twist or gently pulling on the sides and roll out your baking.
  • They’re freezer, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher and oven safe.
  • Bake, store, freeze and reheat right in the pans.
  • No rusting or staining.
  • No need to alter your batter or temperature - bake as usual.
  • Lightweight and storing is easy-peasy

The bad: 

  • A Challenge to clean –I put them in the dishwasher and some of the crevices still had batter on them, so I had to wash them by hand – not very convenient for some.
  • Not disposable – Finally, if you want to make cupcakes, it is much easier to handle and frost the cakes if there is a wrapper on the cupcakes (the silicone needs to be removed before serving unless you want to risk losing them when they are set randomly around the room after serving).
  • Second, they don’t come with directions, and maybe if they did, all of these tips can be included in them. 

The tips: 

  • Coat the liners with a thin layer of vegetable oil or non-stick spray. The method of “seasoning” the liners will only be needed for the first few uses.
  • Do not use knives or sharp objects - they could damage your cups
  • Never use on an open flame or on stovetop burners. 
Monday
Aug112014

Cauliflower Fritters

I’m back!

With and easy peasy recipe which evolved out of necessity. This past weekend I was alone, hungry and too lazy to go out in the rain to hunt for food.  

So in the spirit of maintaining my laziness, I went on the hunt in the refrigerator and came up with leftover roasted cauliflower in a plastic container … as I was trying to remember what I has roasted the cauliflowr for, and idea struck me.  What can I do with this that was fast and easy and bang! it hit me…

Fritters!

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Tuesday
Apr292014

Frittata and Girlfriends

If you had been reading Sweetbites for a while, you know that I host a monthly brunch event with my girlfriends and I call it “Chica Brunch”.  We get together one Sunday of the month, everyone brings a dish and then we sit around and play catch up with everything that is happening in our lives.

6 to 10 (depending who makes it that month) interesting, accomplished and attractive women, who are flying solo for the afternoon - We’ve left homes, children, husbands/significant others behind to  share an lazy afternoon to celebrate another aspect of ourselves that I now value more deeply: our friendship.

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Sunday
Apr272014

Snugg as a bug in a rug

I have since upgrade my beloved iPad and traded it in for a slimmer and lighter white iPad Air.  I’m in love!

The only issue I had? I was back in the hut to find a cover to keep it all nice and clean and protected.

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Saturday
Mar292014

One bowl Chocolate Cake

I have been reading David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria since I found the great world of food blogging - about 6 year now.  I follow and read a lot of food bloggers and everyone has their own style - funny, serious, informative.  But David writing is just magical, his way with words is pure storytelling – when you read his post, which usually have a recipe in there, you loose yourself in it, forgetting – oh yeah, he is writing about biscuits here… he just has that ultimate ability of transporting you, his words are like a blanket that you wrap around youself for comfort. I had the pleasure of meeting him when I attended this event.

He was part of the speaker lineup and his topic was How to write Bigger, Better, More Badass Food Post.  If I’m truly honest with myself, the whole trip centered in meeting this man and soaking up as much information as I could from him.  And since then I have tried to follow everything he taught us that day, I can honestly say that my writing has improved.

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Monday
Feb172014

Caprese Salad Bowl

Simple.  

Life should be made up of simple pleasures and simple tasks. 

Unfortunately, for most of us its not.

So we have to compensate and try to find simplicity in some of the things we do.

For me its in the food.

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Saturday
Feb152014

Grilled King Crab

 

It started with our Saturday errands run…to the supermarket… the conversation at the seafood station was short and to the point:

Me: Why don’t we buy some and treat ourselves? They are on sale.

Tom: I fire up the grilled, you melt some butter and we called it a belated Valentine’s dinner.

Me: Deal

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Sunday
Feb022014

Banana Bread

For the past month I have been craving bananas – like A LOT! It has become my morning breakfast and afternoon snack. I put them on my cereal, ice cream even smothered them with sweeten condense milk as a late night snack.

Don’t you judge now….

But, before we go any further with my love affair with the banana

Lets get one thing out of the way…

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Sunday
Jan192014

Sweet Corn and Shrimp Chowder Soup

The last week I have been sick at home with the mother of all flu.  I have sustain myself on HUGE amounts of liquids, grilled cheese sandwiches and can soup.  Anything else was too much effort and frankly I could not find anything else remotely appetizing.

I been so weak and tired that I could not bring myself to do anything else but stay in bed, read and hope that this nasty thing will just go away once and for all.

During my time in bed, besides reading huge amounts of trashy romantic novels, watching the whole season of Orange of the new Black and House of cards, I Pinterest myself to death.  Since I was not cooking in real life, I let pinterest cook for me virtually by browsing hundreds of pins about all the food I wanted to eat by was to lazy to get up and cook.

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Sunday
Dec082013

Wild Rice and Butternut Squash Salad

This past thanksgiving among the turkey, sweet potato soufflé, gravy, stuffing and all the other stuff that was on the table I manage to serve a vegetarian dish for some of my guest.

Now a day, there should not be an entertainment menu without a vegetarian dish.  I would not even call this a vegetarian dish, but an awesome wild rice salad with some pretty fall ingredients in the mix.

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