Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Chocolate for breakfast is the most terrible kind of wonderful there is. I had made the original version of these muffins from Dorie Greenspan’s incredible “Baking: From My Home to Yours” many years ago, but I think I prefer this ‘healthier’ version from one of the most beautiful blogs out there. It subs out the butter for oil, adds in a hefty amount of yogurt and uses whole wheat flour as well. To make the batter looser and the chocolate flavor deeper I also added a little coffee to the mix. The resulting muffin is one that has a soft chocolaty crumb that is still substantial enough to keep you feeling full.

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Chocolate Chunk Muffins
Makes 12

80 ml canola oil
4 oz chocolate coarsely chopped divided – I used a mix of dark and milk
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup yogurt
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup coffee
Coarse Sugar for Sprinkling (Optional)

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 cup muffin tray with cups. Melt half the chocolate and let it cool. Then whisk the dry ingredients together.

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In a separate bowl whisk all the ‘wet’ ingredients to combine and pour into the dry mix. Mix in with a spatula until almost combined – some streaks are okay and then add in the chips/chunks and fold those in. DO NOT OVER MIX. Divvy up the mix between the muffin cups and sprinkle with coarse sugar (if using).

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Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the top springs back when gently pressed.

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Three Things Thursday – IX

Time for Three Things Thursday! To learn more about Three Things Thursday click here. If you want to just live in the moment then read on 🙂

Thing One: Made By Nano (Grandma)

Warmer weather signals the start of dress season for the girls. I gave up last summer on getting my older one to wear shorts so it is dresses and skirts all the way. Apparently all dresses must ‘spin’ and to that end Nano-made dresses are hot favorites.

IMAG1410 My mother stitched dresses for the girls during the tail end of our Karachi trip. Although I feel really bad about how hard my mother had to work to get them done it gives me great joy when I see the girls wearing and enjoying these handmade dresses. It is like they have a little bit of a Nano at all times.

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Thing Two: French Toast Rollups

This recipe is alllll over the internet so I am not going to post it per se, but just offer three tips that I found very helpful. The first is use fresh never refrigerated bread, the second is to dab some cream cheese/nutella/peanut butter at the edge of the seam to help ‘glue’ it together and the third is to start seam side down when frying or baking. Some recipes suggest rolling in cinnamon sugar before baking and while that it gives it a yummy crunchy crust it makes a huge mess. I am equally happy just rolling it in the egg mix, frying/baking, and dusting it with cinnamon sugar while still warm.

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Bonus benefit of this recipe: You can make it for as many or as few people as you like.

Thing Three: RIP Maya Angelou

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

                         – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

 

Check out my other Three Things Thursday buddies over at any of the host blogger sites i.e. The Write Balance, Pink Chai Living, and Love Laugh Mirch.

Lemon White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love lemon so much so that I will cram it into both my savory and sweet dishes as often as humanly possible. Even in situations where it ought to not be possible, but what is a girl to do – sometimes the temptation is just way too strong.

With these cookies it not only belongs, but is such a welcome variation on the ‘usual’ cookie. To be honest I was not sure if I would like the lemon+brown sugar+white chocolate combination. However, the flavorful zest adds a brightness to the depth of the brown sugar and white chocolate adds the perfect amount of sweetness to offset the tanginess of the zest.

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The original recipe is from the delicious looking Pretty.Simple.Sweet. I have to thank Shiran for the genius addition of cornstarch. It definitely helped extend the cookies ‘life’ i.e. the cookies stayed softer for far longer than most. Also, check it out, she seems to have found the prettiest white chocolate chips ever. 

These cookies would be the perfect topper for a summer time picnic, but are equally lovely as an afternoon snack with some cold milk. In short, they’re yummy all the time 😉

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Party Invite and Awards!

Check it out – I just found a way to make Mondays more cheery!

Ayesha at Cooking with Ayesha very kindly nominated me for the Liebster and Quintet of Radiance awards and my blogger  buddy Ninja Naan and I are teaming up to put together an Eid Party. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Eid you can read more here. Eid ul Fitr is my favourite of the two Eids and I am so excited to be putting together this blog party with Henna. The idea is simple – post a recipe that you would make on Eid – it could be something traditional or something new. Henna and I will post the round up a few days before Eid and voila! Won’t it be fun to have a bunch of Eid /entertaining friendly recipes on hand before Eid?

(Yes, as some of you may have guessed I am hoping to host an Eid related event and totally could use some menu ideas heheh)

If you are interested then leave a message in the comments section or reach out to me at flourandspiceblog@gmail.com. Some of you will also be getting emails from us over the course of the next few weeks.

Now on to the Awards! Actually pause for a second; before I go into the awards you should go check out Ayesha’s blog. She cracks me up. And makes delicious looking food. I kinda want to be her friend, but that sounds a little creepy doesn’t it?

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Okay back to less creepy things, the Liebster which I was nominated for once before celebrates newer bloggers and the Quintet of Radiance award is the following 5 awards rolled in to one. Pretty cool huh?

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Both awards usually require some longer questions and answers, but Ayesha has graciously given us a bit of a pass on those and instead asked that her nominees share a few facts. Since I am aim to please, I will provide the 5+ she suggested. Actually, since my younger sister Maria is here I have asked her to help out. Here she goes:-

  1. Sarah always laughs at her own jokes halfway through them.
  2. She can eat more raita  than anyone on this planet
  3. Her nicknames for her children are usually food items (yummy ones)
  4. She has three children (me, Maria, included)
  5. Sarah has tons of purses and she is good at sharing them. Lol.

Thank you Maria for your help 😛

I’d like to pass both these awards on to the following 5 with the same ‘rules’ as Ayesha i.e. share a few facts about yourself, link back to this post, pass it on to whomever you please, and participation is optional.

1. I’ll Cook You Wash

2. Driving Ms. Desi

3. Sadafs Culinary Adventures

4. The Vanilla Bean Dream

5. Ocean View Kitchen

Happy Monday all you beautiful people!

Three Things Thursday – VIII

Is it weird how I look forward to Thursdays now? What can I say, Three Things Thursday hosted by the talented bloggers at The Write Balance, Pink Chai Living, and Love Laugh Mirch is just too much fun for words. Now if only I could find a way to make Mondays so appealing…

Thing One: Outed

Okay so this is going to sound super strange to most of you, but I haven’t actually made a big deal about blogging to most people I know. I think in my head I felt like I had to be really good at this before I started publicizing it more. The photography aspect of it has been a real struggle for me and as glad as I am that I am improving I still feel like I have a long way to go.

Well, there goes that because recently my sister posted the link on a facebook post and since then a lot of my friends have started asking about it and I have gotten such enthusiastic support that it makes me feel warm and fuzzy and a little giggly 🙂

Thank you to all you lovely lovely people for your kind words and support. I cannot adequately explain how much they have meant to me! A little extra love for Sanober of Driving Ms. Desi, she has been very positive about my efforts and shared a post last night on her facebook page after trying my Fish Kadhai.

Thing Two: Tulip Festival

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Last weekend my husband, kids, sister and I met up with some friends in Ottawa for the Tulip Festival. It was my first time attending it and if it was not for the mayhem of travelling with two kids including one under slept 3 year old, it would have been awesome. In other words, the festival is well done and very interesting with things happening that appeal to all ages. However, if you have a cranky 3 year old best to take a nap before you get there ;p

The picture below is from the start of our day. Can I just say I don’t know how I survived without a baby carrier with my first?

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Highlights for us: Fireworks, the carnival rides, and the beautiful mini fields of tulips.

Thing Three: My Summer Wishlist

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So here is what I hope to have done this summer: a trip to the beach, berry picking, a visit to the water feature at Celebration Square, numerous splash pad trips, picnics at Coronation Park, boating around Harbor Front, a few days at a cottage, a trip to Centre Island, and a visit to the CNE. Oh and family pictures.

And yes, I am a Frozen fan, In Summer is a really fun song and I may or may not have found myself at a traffic light recently windows down singing it out loud much to the amusement of the cop in the car next to me.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to go check out the other Three Things Thursday contributors at any of the host blogger’s sites.

 

Fish Kadhai/Karahi or Fish in Tomato Sauce

Is it Karahi or Kadhai? I get really confused by that.

Fortunately for all concerned I find it infinitely less confusing to make it. My biggest challenge with this dish was extricating pieces of spice laden tomato-y fish from the remarkably strong grip of my 6 month old as she tried to stuff it into her mouth.

Yes, folks, she has her mother’s natural (or is it unnatural?) enthusiasm for food. I just thought that this may not be an appropriate first food for her, best to stick to oatmeal and purees for now.

Anyway, I make my kadhais slightly differently now according to the meat I have. In a traditional chicken or beef karhai the meat gets put in first and I add more spices, but since fish cooks and breaks so easily I put it in last and hold back on garam masala etc. You are welcome to try this version with chicken as well, just add the chicken in right after the garlic, stir fry, then add spices and resume cooking according to directions.

Fish Kadhai
Serves 4

Boneless white fish fillets, 400g-500g
½ tsp turmeric powder
Juice of half a lemon
½ tsp salt for marinade
1 tbsp heaped kasuri methi i.e dried fenugreek leaves
½ tsp kalonji/nigella seeds
½ tsp cumin seed
8 tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp heaped red chilli flakes
5-6 cloves crushed garlic – or  1 tbsp garlic paste
Sprig curry leaves (optional)
2-4 green chillies finely sliced
Handful of chopped cilantro (optional)
A few lugs of vegetable/canola oil for your karhai/wok/saucepan

Cut your fish into fairly large chunks – mine were about 2*2 inches. Too small and they disintegrate fast. Sprinkle them with the turmeric powder, salt, and juice of one lemon and set aside. If you have a ‘fishy’ smelling fish then rinse the spices off and dry before cooking. If not then go ahead and leave them on.

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Warm oil in your pan and roughly chop your tomatoes. When the oil is hot add the seeds i.e. fenugreek, cumin, and kalonji.

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When the cumin darkens and the aroma of kalonji starts wafting through the air then add in the minced garlic and stir fry for a minute. Now it is time for the red chilli flakes and salt. Cook for a minute and then add your diced tomatoes

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Cook the tomatoes on high heat, stirring constantly until they get dark red and caramelly looking. This takes me about 10 minutes in a large wok.

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If you are up for it then taste your spice mix, adjust seasoning if necessary, then place your fish pieces in the pan and gently stir to coat.

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Drop the heat and add in your curry leaves and let it cook until your fish is just done. It is very easy to overcook fish so just be careful. Top with chopped green chillies, cilantro and serve alongside your bread of choice. I like mine with plain ol’ chapatti, but you could always use naan or pita bread.

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Lime Cumin Quinoa

You know that feeling you get when you read a recipe, just know that it will be delicious, and are totally pumped because you have everything to make it? In my case that was recently quite short lived as I proceeded to start making Indira’s Foolproof Lime Cumin Quinoa only to realize that I had used up my can of black beans the day before. Sigh.

But I really wanted Quinoa you know? In my head it was going to make up for all the ice creams and cookies I’d been having. So I did the only logical thing and powered on and boy am I glad I did. This was easy, quick and extremely flavorful. I resisted my very Pakistani urge to add green chilies and/or chili powder to this, but I imagine that those would make this dish even yummier.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, apparently quinoa’s magic powers do not include erasing the after effects of consuming my Milk Chocolate Toffee Crunch Ice Cream. Oh well.

My omission of black beans aside the only other change I made in this recipe was to throw in a handful of roasted cherry tomatoes. I love the sweet caramelly taste of roasted tomatoes and when cherry tomatoes start to come into season I tend to buy them, roast them and keep them handy. They are great as a side at brunch and a wonderful way to add more depth into light summer dishes like this one.

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Three Things Thursday – VII

Hello my peeps – it is Thursday again and that means its time for the weekly round up of random things that constitute Three Things Thursday hosted by Salma at the Write Balance, Raj at Pink Chai Living, and Nisha at Love Laugh Mirch. Hope you enjoy this weeks edition and don’t forget to check out the other far more awesome contributors!

Thing One: Caps and Gowns 

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My baby sister graduated from college/university this past weekend. I went in having no real emotion around the event to finding myself choking up at numerous points during graduation. I am very proud of my not so little baby. She even managed to do something none of her siblings could – learn a language and that even a tough one i.e. Mandarin. Rumor has it she speaks it fluently, but what do I know 😉

Thing Two: A Decade

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It has been ten years since I graduated. Ten years in which I moved back to Pakistan, worked as an Economic Analyst at a mutual fund, met my husband, got married, moved to Toronto, worked as a Financial Adviser, and had two beautiful girls. The version of me that threw her cap in the air at the end of the ceremony could have never imagined that adult me would a.) move to Toronto – I thought Virginia was cold! and b.) choose to be a stay at home mom. Although I am happy with my choices I now find myself wondering what the next ten years would bring and wondering if it is time to be more proactive and have more concrete aims and goals. Ten year plan anyone?

Thing Three: Happy Mama

My sister who in many ways was like a first child to me graduated on Mothers Day making it a doubly happy day for me. The sweetest part of my day though was getting this little handpicked bouquet from my sweet little girl.

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I suspect Abba (Daddy) helped. 🙂

 

 

 

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Toffee Crunch

Have an ice cream machine? Good. Have The Perfect Scoop? No? Get it. Really.

Don’t have an ice cream machine? Then buy this book for a friend who does and visit often.

I marked about a bajillion recipes from this book and so far have tried the Chocolate Gelato and the Frozen Yogurt  and they were both home runs. Back in the day I would not consider trying a Milk Chocolate ice cream largely because I considered Milk Chocolate to be the lesser chocolate. Now, however, with a milk chocolate loving husband it made perfect sense to give this a shot and I am SO glad I did. I am also glad that I took his suggestion of mixing in chopped Skor/Heath bars. The chocolate covered toffee chunks make this chocolate ice cream extra fun to eat especially when you top it off with some luscious warm chocolate fudge… MmMm..!

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David Lebovitz suggests making this with the best quality milk chocolate you can find with at least 30% cocoa solids. I am not sure where it ranks, but I cheapo-ed out and used Presidents Choice brand Milk Chocolate and I am quite pleased with the results. Also even if you are not a milk chocolate fan I suggest you give this a try, it is very different from the mildly flavored cloyingly sweet commercial milk chocolate ice creams.

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Pakistani Style Spicy Baked Eggs

On my recent trip to Karachi I realized that I have turned into one of those people – you know the kind of person who goes out for brunch and orders the Pakistani Omelette – an eggy creation choc-a-bloc with onions, tomatoes, and green chilies with the occasional cilantro thrown in for good measure.

My younger self would consider me a  little lame, my older self knows that when I go out to eat in Toronto The Pakistani is hardly an egg menu staple. Here I am an Eggs Florentine kinda girl.

Anyway, with Mothers Day and all things brunch around the corner I began to have a hankering for those flavors, but I wanted a cleaner version – i.e less oil and certainly no paratha.

This riff on the classic French baked eggs hit the spot. It is both light and deliciously spicy at the same time. The fresh oregano although optional adds a savory note that rounds out the flavors of this dish. I highly recommend it, use dried oregano if fresh is unavailable.

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Adjust the green/red chilies to your liking, the best part about this dish is that it is infinitely customizable. Continue reading