Category: Snacks

Tahini Banana Bread

Tahini Banana Bread
My husband and son are regulars at the coffee shop. It’s part of their weekend routine to stop by for a cappuccino and a banana nut muffin. Our little one will pick the walnuts out of the muffin and devour the rest himself. Even sharing a bite can be a challenge, but I can’t blame him for being so possessive. They are really good muffins, and it’s hard not to like banana baked goods.

Since the habit began, I’ve tried to bake banana bread at home, but my three-year-old hasn’t been interested. I still haven’t figured out why, but I finally had success when I baked a loaf of tahini banana bread. Maybe it was the bittersweet chocolate flecks dotting each slice that did it for him. With white whole-wheat flour and yogurt, this was a somewhat lightened version of the usual banana loaf.
Tahini Banana Bread
Tahini Banana Bread

Adapted from Cooking Light May 2017

Makes 1 loaf

Non-stick cooking spray
6 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 1-1/2 cups)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 bananas)
1/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup tahini, well stirred
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat together the bananas, yogurt, tahini, butter, vanilla extract and eggs. Beat in both sugars until combined. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and transfer to the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.

Bake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Spicy Tomato Salsa

Spicy Tomato Salsa
Salsa is my pantry security blanket. I always have a jar at home because it makes me feel safe and secure knowing that even a spoonful can transform something that’s lacking in the flavor department. I use it in eggs and grain bowls. It doesn’t matter if the dish is Mexican, Tex-Mex or fits in another ethnic category. Salsa adds a spicy, acidic boost that’s good for just about all savory food.

I usually buy my salsa at the grocery. I have my go-to brands and varieties, but with Cinco de Mayo this week, I thought I should put in a little extra effort and whip it up from scratch. I found some locally greenhouse-grown vine-ripened tomatoes to make this spicy tomato salsa that had a kick thanks to jalapeno and dried chile de arbol. Of course I paired it with chips, but this salsa will end up in another dish.
Spicy Tomato Salsa
Spicy Tomato Salsa
Adapted from Epicurious

Makes about 2 cups

5-6 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (about 1-1/4 pounds)
2 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno, stemmed and deseeded
1 dried chile de arbol, stemmed and crushed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Score an x in to the bottom of each tomato and carefully lower into the boiling water along with the garlic. Boil for 2 minutes before removing from the water and transferring to a bowl of cold water. Peel and core the tomatoes and peel the garlic.

Place the tomatoes, garlic, jalapeño, chile de arbol, lime juice, salt and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Puree the mixture until almost smooth, but still a bit chunky. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in the cilantro and red onions. Taste the salsa and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Note: If you want thicker salsa, you can drain the excess liquid by placing it in a fine mesh strainer.

Pizza Rolls

Pizza Rolls
I will never get sick of eating pizza. It is definitely in my top 10 and maybe even my top 5 favorite foods. If I could dissect a piece of pizza, I like the crust most followed by sauce and then cheese. I am not a fan of pies loaded with cheese to the point that it dominates each bite. Skip the cheese all together? I’m not sure I would really miss it. Just pile that crust high with other toppings, and I would be happy.

A few weeks ago I used leftover pizza dough to make cinnamon rolls, but this time I went savory making pizza rolls filled with tomato sauce, pesto and a sprinkling cheese. They rose tall in the oven turning into chewy, puffy pinwheels. I ended up eating one along with a big green salad for dinner. My 3-year-old wasn’t convinced since what I was calling pizza wasn’t in the shape of a triangle.
Pizza Rolls
Pizza Rolls
Makes about 12 rolls

2/3 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil plus more for bowl and brushing pizza
1 cup bread flour plus more for work surface
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cups tomato sauce
1/3 cup pesto
1/4 cup shredded Italian cheese blend

In a small bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar and olive oil. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flours and salt. Add the yeast mixture and process until a ball of dough forms. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 2 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F Line a sheet pan with parchment.

Roll the dough into a 10-inch by 16-inch rectangle on a lightly floured work surface. Spread the tomato sauce leaving an 1/8-inch border followed by the pesto. Sprinkle all over with cheese. Using a pizza wheel, cut the dough into strips about 1-1/2 inches wide. Roll up each strip and place on the prepared sheet pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed up and golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Whole-Wheat Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins

Whole-Wheat Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins
I am feeling the March blues in the kitchen, or maybe I should call it cook’s block. The streak of unusually warm weather has been kind of a tease. I’ve hung up my puffy coat in favor of my light jacket, but everything outside is still brown. All the lush greens of spring veggies have not sprung, so I’m at a bit of a loss about what to make.

Lately I’ve been more inspired to bake. Feeling the need to take a break from dessert, I baked these whole-wheat cranberry orange pistachio muffins. With fall and winter flavors, these muffins were perfectly timed for the current state of seasonal limbo. The brightness of the citrus added just enough zip to keep me going until spring.
Whole-Wheat Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins
Whole-Wheat Cranberry Orange Pistachio Muffins

Adapted from Cooking Light March 2017

Makes 12 muffins

1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium ripe banana mashed (about 1/2 cup)
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter until it turns golden, gently swirling the pan, about 90 seconds. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, yogurt, brown sugar, vanilla extract, banana, egg, orange zest and orange juice. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients followed by the cranberries and pistachios.

Bake for 20-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffins comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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