Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Zucchini Nut Mini Bundts- Crazy Ingredient Challenge

The winning ingredients for this month's Crazy Ingredient Challenge were peanuts and zucchini. Simple enough. I thought of making some sort of salad since I told a friend that I'd try to have a raw meal one day soon. But eating cake always sounds better than eating a salad so I baked a cake instead.

There are people out there who will add zucchini to your desserts and then say, "You would never be able to tell that there's zucchini in here!" Those people are not telling the truth. Now I'll admit that I was not trying to hide the zucchini so I didn't grate it particularly fine. So you will definitely see lots of green in my cake. Even then, when you bite in, you can immediately tell that there's a little something green in there. It's not an overwhelming vegetable taste and you would not immediately go, "Is this zucchini? I taste zucchini!" But you would definitely say, "There's something in here. It tastes...hmm.... What is it?" It's far from unpleasant and since this is, at its base, a spice cake, there are lots of other flavours to tease out. Maybe if tiny shreds of zucchini are hidden in chocolate cake, those people might be telling the truth.

I don't know if I've ever mentioned Picky Nephew in a CIC post. Summary: Picky Nephew only willingly eats eggs and bread.  Everything else is a fight. And don't you dare try to get him to eat while he's watching TV or playing a game. He walked into the kitchen when I was baking, asked a few questions, and complained that I was baking with the peanuts instead of giving him them to eat. I guess he likes peanuts? One can never tell. When the cakes were finished, I offered cake to everyone except him. I hadn't frosted them yet and he will tell you that he likes cake but he will only eat the frosting. I wasn't going to waste my time. He actually looked up from his game and insisted on tasting it too. He knew about the zucchini and didn't mind.

Zucchini isn't easy to find here in Jamaica. It was quite the treasure hunt to find the one man in the market who grows zucchini. I can't wait to get my hands on some more so that I can jump on the zucchini bandwagon that rolls around every summer.

Zucchini Mini Bundt Cakes
Yield: 6 mini Bundt cakes or 12 cupcakes
adapted from Martha Stewart

180 grams flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
56 grams chopped peanuts
200 grams light brown sugar
88 millilitres oil
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
280 grams grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 6 one cup capacity mini Bundt pans or line a cupcake pan with liners.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nutmeg. Stir in the chopped peanuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, egg, and almond extract until thoroughly combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until almost combined. Next, stir in the grated zucchini.

Divide into prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Coconut Raisin Muffins - #MuffinMonday

I've been meaning to make these coconut raisin muffins for a few months now but something would always happen. The stars all aligned for May's Muffin Monday. But when I went to the kitchen to start baking, I found myself making mango muffins instead. Two Julie mangoes were sacrificed for those muffins. The flavour was amazing, the texture was horrible. They were heavy, dense, doughy - not good at all. Unfortunately, I was out of mangoes so I had to revert to the original plan.

These coconut raisin muffins involved a tad more work than I like to do in the kitchen. First, I decided to make fresh coconut milk. Making coconut milk is a labour of love and not something I do very often. Getting the coconuts out of the husk is hard enough. I used to happily wield a machete or chopper when I was in my teens but now, I keep picturing me chopping a finger off. My brain is weird. After you get it out the husk, it's time to get the coconut meat out the shell. I still have not perfected that step. After cutting into an eye and draining the coconut water, I typically wrap the coconut in a some paper, place it in a bag, and then hurl it at a concrete surface until it's broken up enough for me. Next, I grab a table knife and try to pry the meat out. A knife with a sharp tip would definitely make the work easier but I have stabbed myself enough times to stick exclusively to the butter knife. The edges of the coconut shell are also extremely sharp. I've read tips about freezing and baking the coconut to make prying it from the shell easier. I've tried freezing. Didn't work. After you've applied bandages to all your cuts, the next step is to blend the coconut with hot water to get your coconut milk. Blend, strain, squeeze, enjoy. I also grated some of the coconut for the muffins.

All of that for really great muffins. I ate one, snapped some pics and walked away to go take care of something. When I returned, all the muffins were gone. There was just a solitary raisin left. I had packed away some for a friend and I really wished that I hadn't told him about them because I had none left for myself. I still have some coconut milk and meat left so I think I will make another batch later today. The process will be much faster since I won't be starting with coconuts still in the husk.

I'm not the only one sharing muffins this Monday. Scroll down for links to more!

Coconut Raisin Muffins
(Yield: 12 muffins)

100 grams raisins, soaked in liquid of choice (rum, water, rum, coconut water, rum)
240 grams flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
100 grams brown sugar
100 grams fresh coconut, grated (or processed)
180 millilitres coconut milk, room temperature
80 millilitres oil (I used melted coconut oil)
1 egg, room temperature


Strain the raisins and leave to drain while you prepare everything else.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line a muffin tin.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger powder, and salt. Stir in the brown sugar and the grated coconut.
In a separate container, mix together the coconut milk, oil, and the egg. Your coconut oil will solidify if your ingredients are below 76 degrees.

Stir the wet ingredients gently into the dry ingredients. Stop before it is completely mixed - just after about 5 or so stirs. There should still be lots of flour still showing. Add the raisins and stir gently until everything is just combined.

Scoop into the prepared muffin pan and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

Hide a couple for yourself to enjoy.

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Spicy Potato Chips Crusted Chicken Strips - CIC

The moment that I saw that potato chips and soy sauce were the winners for this month's Crazy Ingredient Challenge, I made myself a promise. I would NOT make chicken with a dip. No way. Yeah. So what happened? As usual, the 20th snuck up on me. I already had the ingredients for my other dish - onion rings - but I honestly didn't know what date it was all week until I checked and realised it was the night of the 17th. How on earth did that happen?

It was a bit of a crazy week here. We had really heavy rains starting last Saturday night and spent the next few days waiting to be flooded out. It did not happen! Yaay! While we waited for the flood, our internet decided it didn't want to wait with us. Our ISP said they'd send someone out but the roads were impassable and much of the island was on standstill on Tuesday. I had an important meeting that Tuesday morning but since I don't own a boat, going was not an option. We were lucky but several persons weren't. The river closest to us rose approximately 30 feet and washed away a bridge or two. Sigh. It's not even hurricane season yet and this was the second instance of severe flooding in 3 weeks. And it's still raining right now. Oh and with this bad weather comes power cuts. I've lost count of the number of times we lost power yesterday.

So that's the story all about how it was CIC time again and I almost hadn't made anything. But not to worry! I knew that I wanted onion rings. I made them Thursday morning. They were absolutely delicious. And I ate all but 3 before I remembered to take a picture. I could have made more rings but why tempt fate? So I decided to batter and bake some chicken instead.

Look what the other bloggers made this month!

Spicy Potato Chips Crusted Chicken Strips

8 - 10 oz chicken breast, cut into strips
salt & pepper
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of salt
4 oz barbecue flavoured potato chips
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
cayenne pepper and salt to taste


Preheat oven to 375F.
Season the chicken strips with salt and pepper.
Mix the batter ingredients until just combined. Don't overmix.
Process the potato chips into crumbs and place in a shallow dish along with the cayenne pepper.
Dip the chicken strips in the batter, shake off excess and then dredge in the potato chips. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden and cooked through.

While the chicken is baking, heat the sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and water over medium heat stirring occasionally. Heat until sugar is dissolved. Mix the cornstarch in the 2 tablespoons of water and then add to the mixture on the stove. Cook until thickened. Taste and add cayenne pepper and salt to taste.

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