The Half-Crunchy Mama

Trying to live a natural life with balance


1 Comment

Cheesy Broccoli Egg Muffins

I love to eat breakfast any time of the day. And by breakfast, I mean eggs. I could eat eggs three times a day and never get bored. There are so many ways to eat them! I even have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to recipe ideas that involve eggs; Breakfast Anytime. Most of them are frittatas (my favorite things to create) and muffin things like this one, but there are some others on there that I make quite often, like this Kale and Feta Egg Bake recipe. You should check it out. But you won’t find any other kinds of breakfast recipes, like the carbtastic ones, because we don’t really eat food like that in our house. I have never been a pancake/waffle/french toast kind of person, except maybe a few times when I was pregnant. I blame my Sugar Bee for that.

Speaking of Sugar Bee, she’s a broccoli fiend. This kid goes through phases of obsessions (like all toddlers), but the broccoli one seems to be pretty consistent. The odd part to me is that her preferred way to eat it is raw with hummus, which completely thrills me as eating raw foods retains their nutrients. Steaming is the next best option, but raw broccoli maintains its high levels of vitamins A ,C, and K, and none of the other bonuses (calcium, iron, fiber, and the cancer-fighting sulforaphane) have a chance to deteriorate like they do when cooked. Of course in this recipe, the broccoli is steamed before a quick bake in the eggs, but I couldn’t help rambling on about the reasons for my broccoli love. Now on to the recipe!

Everyone complains about egg muffins sticking to the pan, but I haven’t found using liners to be a much better solution. This time, I decided to spray the liners with cooking spray (yes, I use PAM – gasp! – and Trader Joe’s makes a good coconut oil one but coconut and eggs don’t go together) to see if that would make a difference. It did help make the paper a lot easier to remove from the muffins…no little pieces left behind after removing the liner…especially in the ridges along the sides where little pieces would hide. I don’t care much for paper in my food.

Cheesy broccoli muffins

After setting up the liners, preheat the oven to 375ºF and get a pot of water heating up to steam the broccoli. I use a stainless pot with a steam insert similar to this one, but it’s a lot nicer than mine. (That’s why there’s no picture. I really need a new one.) Chop up about 2 cups of broccoli into small pieces and steam for a few minutes, just until you can poke a fork through and there is a bright green mess looking at you when you lift the lid.

Cheesy broccoli muffins

In a large bowl, crack in 8 eggs and whisk together. I like to add a little water to make it fluffy. Add about 1 Tablespoon dried chives. I didn’t have any fresh on hand, but if you do, always go with fresh herbs. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, a few circles around the bowl of sriracha (or other hot sauce), and shredded cheese. I used a cheddar/Mexican blend, but any flavor will do. Add the steamed broccoli and stir to combine.

Cheesy broccoli muffins

Spoon into the muffin liners so they are almost full and top with more cheese. You can never have too much cheese. Unless you can’t eat cheese. And that thought just makes me sad.

Cheesy broccoli muffins

 I had some left in the bowl after filling the 12 muffin liners, so I grabbed one of these little ramekins and poured the rest in. (If you don’t have a small ovenproof baker or two to use, you might want to omit an egg or some of the broccoli or cheese from the recipe.) This made a nice portion for the Russian when he got home from school that night.

Cheesy broccoli muffins

Bake for 12-15 minutes. The magic number for me was 14, but my oven is so old, just check on it and use your judgement. They should fluff up and be pretty when they are done, with a slight golden sheen.Cheesy broccoli muffins

  So yummy! I couldn’t stop eating them. I think I had three for dinner that night. Sugar Bee enjoyed hers, too!

Cheesy broccoli muffins


Cheese Broccoli Egg Muffins

Breakfast can be any time and any place with these portable, protein-filled muffins. Broccoli is high in vitamins, fiber, protein, and cancer-fighting nutrients. This is a tasty way to get more broccoli into your diet. Superfood!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 8 eggs
  • Splash of water
  • 1 Tbsp chives (dried)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • A few circles of sriracha, or hot sauce of your choice
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1.5 cups shredded cheese, divided
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Add cupcake liners to 12-muffin baking tin. Spray liners with cooking spray.
  2. Steam broccoli for 2-5 minutes, until can be pierced with a fork and are still bright green. Remove from heat.
  3. In large bowl, whisk together eggs and water. Add chives, garlic powder, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of cheese. Stir to combine.
  4. Spoon mixture into muffin liners and top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake 12-15 minutes. Muffins will fluff up and have a few golden spots on them when done. Enjoy!

 


5 Comments

Creamy Zucchini Noodles

This recipe is a huge favorite with the Russian and I. After I made it once to try it out, I added it into my regular rotation of dishes. It’s fast, cheap, and easy, all very important characteristics with everything I’m juggling these days, and his eyes light up whenever I mention making it again. There is little doubt that once Sugar Bee* gets over her “it has skins” phase about everything put in front of her that she will be chowing down on this one, too. She still loves avocado (her first food) and is a total veggie-head. Don’t be fooled by the word “creamy” in the title. This dish is non-dairy, gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo-friendly, you name it and it probably fits, like nearly every recipe I will ever post.

The recipe originates from the blog of Empowered Sustenance. Her original recipe can be found here. She is an amazing resource and I have really enjoyed her posts. You should follow her blog, too!

First, I have to mention (brag) that the zucchini used for this blog was successfully grown in my own container garden. This is only my second year taking a crack at growing my own food and I’m quite impressed with myself. If I actually had time, I would research a lot about how to successfully grow each individual crop and spend a lot more time tending to the plants. I’m sure I would probably have actual garden beds, a greenhouse, and compost everything, but containers are about all I can handle at this point in my life. Just take a look at this beauty!!

2014-07-06 17.29.57

Now let me focus your attention on one of the best things ever invented, next to the Kitchen Aid  stand mixer. I LOVE this thing! You can spiral fruits and vegetables into noodles or chips in minutes. It’s so easy to use and clean. If you don’t have one, go buy it. Now. Amazon usually has the best price. Look, I’ve even given you a place to click and get one here. If you are a clean eater, paleo, or GFer and you still don’t have one, I’m not sure we can talk anymore. You should have had this yesterday. But if you don’t have one, you can use a julienne peeler like this one to make the noodles.

Creamy zucchini noodles

Another nifty item to have is an avocado saver. There are those rare occasions where we actually have half an avocado left in our house and this thing actually works. You do have to pull it real tight to make sure air can’t get to the flesh, and there might still be a little discoloration when you get to it, but it’s a very thin layer that scrapes off very easily.

Creamy zucchini noodles

This was after two days in the saver in the fridge. I think that’s pretty darn good! The lighting  in this picture stinks, but as you will see in the picture down below in this post after it’s been scraped into the bowl, it was still nice and green. The only thing was that those little stripes appeared. TWO DAYS. Here it is on Amazon, but I bought mine in Publix. My mom found one for herself up in NY at Stop N Shop, so I’m sure you can get one anywhere. Do it.

Creamy zucchini noodles

To make the zucchini noodles, trim the ends off the zucchini, position it in the slicer, and turn the handle. Yep, this is really hard stuff here.

2014-07-06 17.34.54

I like to make my noodles on the short side. When I first started making this, I would make them too long, making cooking, mixing, and even eating them a little difficult. I break them off after a few turns and drop them in the bowl. Then I turn and make some more. One of the easiest things going on in my world of cooking prep.

Creamy zucchini noodles

When you are done making the zucchini noodles, it’s time to cook them. Heat the EVOO in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini noodles, some Italian seasoning and garlic powder, and turn the noodles around in the pan to coat them in the oil and spices.

Creamy zucchini noodles

While the zucchini is cooking, get the sauce ready. Scoop the avocado into a medium-sized bowl with juice from half a lemon, a giant tablespoon of mayo (you could use yogurt, if tolerable), salt, and fresh ground pepper to taste.

2014-07-06 18.24.06-1

Mash the ingredients together with a fork until it looks like a creamy guacamole.

2014-07-06 18.26.57

When the zucchini has finished cooking, it should still have a nice green color and be soft, but not mushy. Remove it from the heat and let it stand a minute or two. Don’t let it cool too long as the warmth from the zucchini helps the creamy avocado sauce to coat the noodles.

Creamy zucchini noodles

 After it has cooled for a few minutes, add it to the bowl of creamy sauce and stir to combine. I try to drain some of the oil off of the noodles before placing them in the bowl or the sauce can get too runny. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Creamy zucchini noodles

* Sugar Bee is what I call my three-year-old daughter. I actually call her My Sweet Sugar Bee, but this shortened version will work fine for my blog.


Creamy Zucchini Noodles

These quantities make two servings if made as a side dish, one if you eat it all by yourself as a meal…which you might want to do after the first time you make it. This is easily doubled and since I have found that it does last until the next day, I usually make a double batch. I have also sauteed fresh garlic in the oil before adding the zucchini for extra flavor (then omitting the garlic powder). We love garlic! Happy cooking!

INGREDIENTS
  • 1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (or the oil/fat of your choice)
  • 1 medium zucchini, made into noodles with a spiral slicer or  julienne peeler
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2-1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • Juice of half a lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 1 heaping Tbsp of mayonnaise (or yogurt)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder, tossing to coat. Saute for 3-5 minutes until noodles have softened, but not mushy and are still bright green.
  2. While noodles are cooking, mash avocado with the remaining ingredients in a bowl with a fork until it has the consistency of a creamy guacamole.
  3. When zucchini is finished cooking, remove from heat and let cool for 1-3 minutes. Add to the bowl with the avocado mixture, allowing some of the oil to drain off. Stir to coat noodles and serve. Enjoy!


5 Comments

The Half-Crunchy Mama’s Baba Ghanoush

Yay! A recipe post! I’m glad you’re back. Food always brings people back.

The Russian* and I are obsessed with eggplant. Seriously obsessed. My daughter, now almost three, has eaten eggplant since she could eat food that only needed to be mashed a little before swallowing. Her favorite recipe is what I call “Eggplant Ragu” and I will surely post that one as soon as I make it again so  I can write it down. When they are 10 for $10 at Kroger, we are eating eggplant in a variety of ways. I like to slice and grill it, marinate with other veggies for a variety of dishes (one of several ratatouille recipes, eggplant parm, eggplant lasagna, eggplant salads…all future postings), and of course, baba ghanoush. If I could figure out how to freeze eggplants, we would be set! Hmmm….might have to start researching and experimenting.

They way I like to cook is kind of like how I get my news. I read a few different sources and make my own decisions on how to move forward. My recipes are usually a little from this recipe, a little from another, and some other piece or two from yet a different one, all mixed together with my own knowledge of cooking and what tastes good and works together. After reading several different recipes, I decided that I had enough information to make my own. I must say the first batch was pretty damn fantastic. After half a dozen or so batches, they seem to only get better.

One “mistake” I apparently made was cutting the eggplant before roasting it. Sometimes I read a little too fast and miss an important item. Kind of like when I’m supposed to read directions or instructions for putting something together. Well, after my maiden batch, I was pretty sure that this is the best way to do it and that everyone else made the mistake by keeping the eggplant whole.

First, slice the eggplant in half lengthwise.

The Half-Crunchy Mama's Baba Ghanoush

Then oil up the cut side with some EVOO.

The Half-Crunchy Mama's Baba Ghanoush

Place it cut side down on a nonstick baking sheet.

The Half-Crunchy Mama's Baba Ghanoush

Bake it for about 25 minutes or so, depending upon how big it is (or they are if you are making a double batch). You want the eggplants to have some give when you push on the skins…usually anywhere between 20-30 minutes. They should look nice and golden and be pretty smushy. Perfect for going into the food processor.

The Half-Crunchy Mama's Baba Ghanoush

 Now you will want to let them cool off before scooping out the insides, unless you’re impatient (I don’t know anyone like that). In that case, you will need a towel or something to protect your hand. However, I suggest giving them at least a few minutes. That will give you time to set everything else up.

Get out your food processor. I have a small one and large one, but it’s almost easier to make it in two batches than drag the huge one out. And clean it.

You will also need EVOO, that’s extra-virgin olive oil for those of you that have never watched any of Rachael Ray‘s shows. Sadly, much to the disappointment of all of my chef friends, she’s the one that actually got me cooking and helped me to realize how much I love to cook. In addition to the olive oil, grab a lemon, a few cloves of garlic, tahini (I like this one and you can get it in most stores), pepper (preferably fresh ground), and Kosher or sea salt. Yep, that’s all that’s in it. Gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, whatever your eating preferences or restrictions are, you can eat this! Unless you’re just picky and are afraid to try delicious things to put in your belly.

The Half-Crunchy Mama's Baba Ghanoush

 Now for the fun part.

Hopefully the eggplant(s) are cooled off now. Scoop out the insides into the food processor with a spoon. Now, I’m not really one for measuring anything. I go with how I feel, so sometimes my measurements are estimates. Taste as you go, stick your finger in and taste, and then adjust accordingly. Salt is the biggest thing I have a hard time with and I often under salt my food. It’s better than putting too much in.

For a single eggplant batch, I usually add two cloves of garlic run through the press (even though it’s going to get blended, it helps to distribute better), a heaping tablespoon of tahini, 1/2 of a fresh squeezed lemon, 1-2 tablespoons of EVOO, 1/2-1 teaspoon of sea salt, and a few circles of the pepper grinder around the heap of ingredients waiting to be blended.

The Half-Crunchy Mama's Baba Ghanoush

 You don’t want to process it too much or it will get really runny. I like it to be thick enough to pick up a bunch on the end of a baby carrot, not having to scoop it up with a spoon because it slides off.

The Half-Crunchy Mama's Baba Ghanoush

 Hopefully you will get something that looks as beautiful as this when you are finished and have plated it…or put it in a plastic or glass container that can be sealed up. Store it in the refrigerator and enjoy for several days to come!

The Half-Crunchy Mama's Baba Ghanoush

 Remember, there are no preservatives, so enjoy it sooner rather than later. Clean and fresh food is best!

* This is the endearing term for my Moscow-born husband that will be regularly used when discussing anything to do with him in my posts.

The Half-Crunchy Mama’s Baba Ghanoush

These quantities are for a single batch. I usually double everything, so multiplying ingredients does not affect the taste as happens sometimes with recipes. For two or twenty, Baba away!

 INGREDIENTS:

1 Eggplant (FYI, to pick a proper eggplant, it should feel heavy for its size and give a little when you squeeze it)
2 Cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp tahini
1/2 Fresh-squeezed lemon
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for oiling the eggplant before roasting
1/2-1 tsp kosher or sea salt, to taste (I have used both at different times, so this one is your choice)
Several turns of fresh ground pepper, to taste

 DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise. Coat cut side with olive oil. Place cut-side down onto baking sheet and bake in oven for about 25 minutes. Total time could be anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes, depending upon size. The  eggplant is ready to be removed when there is lots of give when pressing on the skin with your finger. Allow to cool.
3. Once cooled, scoop insides of eggplant into food processor bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until combined and the preferred consistency has been reached. (Be careful not to over-process or it will be like soup.)
4. Store in airtight container for up to a week in the refrigerator. Enjoy!