Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fruity Honey Bran Muffins - PPM 150 Compliant!

I have found lately that I have not been eating enough fiber, and as my friend Andrew would say, fiber is your friend.  I recall stumbling across this recipe when I was living up North, it is quite moist and has a nice fruit flavor from the addition of the banana, apple and raisins.

The thing I love about making muffins and quick breads is the fact that they are extremely fast to make.  I looked up the recipe at about 12:00 and I took them out of the oven at 12:55.  Another thing that I love about these is that the cleanup is easy.  I think I used 2 bowls and a few tools, so it's nice and easy to clean up!

Soooo, lets get started!

- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups bran cereal ( I have used all Bran Flakes and All Bran Original)
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 apple, shredded or chopped
- 1 ripe banana, mashed
- 1/2 cup honey


Okay, before we get started I want to point something out. This is one of those things that I never thought about too much in the past, but I came to this realization not long ago.  You see how we have Baking Soda in the recipe?  Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) is something we use as a rising agent in baking, but is also a base (alkaline). In order for the baking soda to become activated and do it's thing, it has to come in contact with an acid.  In this case, it is the apple.  The juices from the apple are acidic and react with the baking soda to produce Carbon Dioxide (don't worry, bakeries aren't destroying the ozone through muffins) which causes your product to rise.  If you DON'T have an acid in your recipe, you are going to use baking powder instead.  Baking Powder is a combination of baking soda and an acid salt, sometimes cream of tartar. So if you ever decide to eliminate something from your recipe, you may have to think about how it affects the overall balance.

Anywho, now that that's outta the way...Set your oven to 400F!

1. Pour the Milk into a large measuring bowl, and stir in the egg.  Add the 1.5 cups of Bran Cereal and let it soak in the milk until it is nice and moist.

2. In a Big bowl, add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon.  Mix them together with a whisk to make sure that the ingredients are well mixed.  The last think you want is a chunk of baking soda :p

3. Here is a trick I learned while working in Chinese food.  In a half cup measuring cup, add your 2 tbsp of oil. Swirl the oil around the edge to coat the whole cup.  Add the oil to the Big bowl, but leave a little in the cup.  Now measure out your half cup of honey and add it to the big bowl.  This makes it much easier to get the honey out of the measuring cup! 

4. Add the banana, apple and raisins to the Big bowl along with the milk/egg/cereal mixture.  Mix everything together and make sure ALL of the flour is mixed in.

5. You are going to need 1 muffin tin.  If you are using paper cups, you can add the batter in no problem.  If you are not using cups, use spray oil such as PAM to coat each cup, and then sprinkle with flour.  Scoop out the batter and spread it evenly among 12 muffins cups.

6. Bake the muffins at 400F for 15-20 minutes.

7.  Cool and enjoy!

Nutritional Information:

As usual, leave your questions, concerns of suggestions in the comment section below ↓

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Peach Almond Pie - Updated

As we approach the Fall season we start to lend ourselves to some of our more rustic favorites.  Fall for me, means that it's time for pie!  A lot of people have asked me how I make a nice flaky pie crust.  Today we're going to learn how to do it :)

I have also made a couple of youtube videos to help illustrate this lesson.  I found our new(er) webcam so the quality is much better than the last video.

Part 1 - Making the Crust

- 2 1/2 Cups  All Purpose Flour
- 1 Cup  butter -- cut up into chunks
- 1 Tablespoon  Sugar
- 3 Tablespoons  Sour Cream
- 1/4 Teaspoon  Salt
- 1/4 cup + 1-3 Tablespoons Ice Water

When making this recipe your are going to break up your butter into small pieces.  These pieces are the key to making a flaky crust.  The reasoning behind this is that when you roll the dough out, the small pieces will flatten and be spread out throughout the dough.  When you bake the crust, the small disks of butter start to puff up and make the crust flaky.


1. In a large bowl, mix the Flour Sugar and Salt together to make sure everything is evenly mixed together.  You don't want to have any 'blobs' of salt in there.

2. Add your butter to the flour mixture.  By hand, start to break up the chunks of butter into small pea sized pieces.

3. Add the Sour Cream and 1/4 cup of Ice Water to the mixture. Mix everything together until all the ingredients start to come together. Add more water if necessary, you don't want things to be too dry or too wet.

4. When everything comes together, put it back in your bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.  All it to rest at least 30 minutes, but ideally 1-2 hours to let the gluten relax.

To see my tutorial, click HERE!

Part 2 - Making the Filling and Filling the Pie!


- 11-12 Ripe Peaches (Skinless), and cut into slices.
- 1/2 Cup Vanilla Yogurt
- 1-2 tsp Almond Extract (optional)
- 1-2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 Cup Flour
- 100ml 35% Cream
- 1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds


Just in case if you don't know how to get the skin off of your peaches, lets start there.  You will need 3 things.  A pot of water at a rolling boil, a bowl of ice water, and a slotted spoon.

1. Cut a cross onto the bottom of each peach

2. Put the peached 3-4 at a time into to boiling water for 45 seconds.  You are trying to loosen the skin, not cook the peaches

3. Use your slotted spoon to put the peaches into your bowl of ice water.

4. One they have cooled down, transfer them to a bowl and let them rest for at least 10 minutes.

5. The skin should peel right off.  If it doesn't just use a paring knife to loosen or peel the skin off.

Now lets make that Filling!

1. Put your slices peaches into a large bowl and add the yogurt, cinnamon, flour and cream.

2. Add the almond extract if you are making an almond peach pie.  Mix all the ingredients together.

3. Once everything is mixed thoroughly, fold in the sliced almonds, being careful not to break them up too much.

Now that you have made the filling, you're pie dough is probably ready to roll out.

1. Make sure you thoroughly flour your work surface and rolling pin.  You DON'T want your dough to stick to the counter since it is a huge pain to get it off in one piece.

2. Roll out your dough to about 1/8" thickness.  Fit the dough into your pie plate and make sure the dough is touching the bottom edge.

3. Trim around the edge of the dough, but leave about a 1/2" over the rim of the plate so that it will still fit after the gluten relaxes.  I usually use a pair is scissors to do this.

4. Add the filling to your empty crust.

5. If you are going to put a crust on the top, roll out another piece that will fit on top.  You can brush water or egg wash on the edge of the bottom crust before you put the top piece on if you really want to seal the edges.

6. Cut a vent in the top and put it in the oven at 400F for 45-60 minutes.

**If you want to do a Crumble Topping instead of a top crust, this is what I would recommend:


- 1/2 Cup Butter
- 1 Cup Oats
- 1/2 Cup Flour
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1/4 Cup Ground Almonds

1. Add all the ingredients to a medium to large bowl.

2. Mix everything by hand until it is all thoroughly mixed together.  You want to have chunks that are made of all the various ingredients.

3. Just add this to the top of your pie instead of a top crust and bake at 400F for 45-60 minutes.

To see the second part of my tutorial click HERE!

*Bake the pies until they are golden Brown and let them cool for 2-3 hours.

Nutritional Information:

Pie Crust: Based on 2 Pies with 8 pieces each.

Filling: Based on 2 Pies with 8 pieces each.

Crumble Topping: Based on 1 Pie with 8 pieces.

As always, leave and questions, concerns or ideas in the comment section below ↓

Friday, September 7, 2012

Zucchini Bread!

I always try and use whatever produce is locally available in the area.  The reason for this is that it is generally very fresh, and also that it is very cheap!  The best possible combination out there :) Anywho, as we approach late summer, it is time for all the squash to come into season.  I should mention that I actually do not like zucchini very much, in fact I avoid eating it in stir fry, ratatouille, or anything else.  Zucchini bread is a very different matter though.  I discovered when I was quite young, that my mothers zucchini bread was going to be the only way I was going to eat this vegetable.  That recipe was delicious, however, it was also a bit oily.  We have since modified it to make it healthier, but it loses a bit of its rustic charm.  This recipe is one I made while in culinary school.  I have omitted some of the ingredients, but you can certainly add them if you would like.


230ml Vegetable Oil
3 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla

1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
425g White Sugar (about 1 3/4 to 2 cups)
485g All Purpose Flour (about 2 3/4 cups to 3 cups)

335g Grated Zucchini (about 1 1/2 to 2 normal sized zucchini)

150g raisins (about 1 1/2 cups) - Optional
200g Walnuts (about 1 1/2 cups) - Optional


1: Grate the zucchini and put it in a bowl

2. Combine the oil, eggs and vanilla in a bowl

3. Combine the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, and flour in a large bowl.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

5. Stir in the zucchini and the raisins and walnuts if you want to add them.

6. Use spray oil to coat two bread pans.

7. Pour the batter into the two bread pans and bake at 350F for 60-75minutes.

The bread should be nicely browned on the surface when it is done.  If you think it is done, insert a knife into the center of the loaf.  If it comes out clean you are good to go.  If there is still some batter attached to it, put it back in for another 5 minutes.  Repeat as necessary.

Let it cool down and enjoy!

Nutritional Information.

When I made this recipe I used 200g of Walnuts and no raisins.  This nutritional information is based on you dividing the bread into 15 pieces (which is what we did)

It's rather high in fat, although the fat coming from walnuts is a good one.  If you are concerned and wish to leave the nuts out, you will decrease the calories by 43.7 and the fat by 4.4g so that each serving has 172.5 cal and 7.5g of fat.  for some reason this program is showing trans fat (which it is reading from the oil, even though most vegetable oils are trans fat free now).

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lemon Raspberry Muffins - PPM 150 Compliant!

Today we're going to go with a low fat low(er) sugar muffin.  After going to Tim Hortons (not by choice, it was was the only place to eat), I was inspired to make some different kinds of muffins, but actually healthy instead of what they make.

Not only is this recipe easy, the muffins are very moist and quite tasty.  In addition, this recipe is also PPM 150 compliant! woot!


  • 1/2 cup Vanilla Yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1-2 tbsp milk
  • 1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Grated Lemon Zest
  • 1 cup Raspberries


1. Set your oven to 400 F

2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest together in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the yogurt, vegetable oil, lemon juice, egg whites and honey together.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix only until it comes together.  If it seems a bit dry, add 1-2 tbsp milk to moisten it up.

5. Add the raspberries and fold them into the mixture.  Try not to break them up too much.

6. Put muffins wrappers of silicon wrappers in a muffin tin and add the batter. It should make 12 muffins.

7. Bake your muffins at 400F for 15-18 minutes.

8. Cool and Enjoy!

Nutritional Information

Again, this is what I like to call a template recipe.  The Raspberries and the Lemon ingredients are just for flavoring.  You can add whatever you would like to them, apples and cinnamon, blueberries and walnuts...etc.  It will change the nutritional information a bit, but as long as you're putting healthy ingredients in, you have nothing to fear!