Dairy Free and Egg Free Morning Glory Muffins – Recipe Review

It has been an absolutely manic couple of weeks.  Between a few video shoots and travel for work, I haven’t had the energy or willpower to get into my kitchen to test any recipes (hello Menulog).  But hey, life happens right?  Time to get back on the band wagon!

One of my bad habits, which mind you I am trying to break, is not eating enough fruits and veggies (I mean…wine counts as fruit juice right?).  It’s always more convenient to grab a a chicken roll from the barbecue chicken shop or nuke some marinara sauce that you have tucked away in the freezer.

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So when I saw the large bag of carrots in the fridge I figure I should take advantage and use them up plus other ingredients I had lying around in the pantry. That’s when I found Baker by Nature’s Morning Glory muffin recipe on my Pinterest board.

Watch my video on this recipe!

Here’s Baker by Nature’s recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 apple, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrot (about 3 medium)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions

  1. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F) [200 degrees C].
  2. In large bowl add the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt; whisk well to combine. Add in the applesauce, oil, apple and vanilla; whisk just until combined. Fold in the carrot, raisins, coconut and walnuts; stir until ingredients are combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees (180 degrees C) and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs attached). Cool muffins in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

The Good, the Bad, the Inedible

If you watch my video, this recipe proves why I do two tests for each recipe.  In the first test, the dough is really dry and the finished product is almost doesn’t resemble a muffin.  The second test came out much better than the first.

Overall, these muffins aren’t too bad.  They’re incredibly moist and there’s a lot of different textures with the carrot, coconut and little bursts of sweetness from the raisins (or sultanas, whatever you want to call them).

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The one thing that might deter you from using this recipe is the amount of spices.  You get this wash of cinnamon and ginger at the very end that can be pretty over powering for some, which is why I tried these bad boys out with only half the spice and it really made all the difference.  All in all, I would give this recipe 4 out of 5 muffin tops.

So if you like cinnamony things, this recipe is a keeper.  If you’re not a huge fan, try my amended version below.  It’s just as tasty!

Morning Glory Muffins – Amended Version

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 apple, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrot (about 3 medium)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Instructions

  1. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside. Preheat oven to 400F degrees, or 200C degrees.
  2. In large bowl add the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt; whisk well to combine. Add in the applesauce, oil, apple and vanilla; whisk just until combined. Fold in the carrot, raisins, coconut and walnuts; stir until ingredients are combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F degrees, or 180C degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs attached). Cool muffins in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. 

 

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Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad

If  Julia Child is the amazing queen of home cooks, then Ina Garten is our fairy god mother. The one who always has a fantastic, elegant recipe for parties, lunches, and family dinners.

I’ve been a huge Ina Garten fan for quite a while.  I binge when I can on her shows on The Food Network.  Her recipes are pretty simple, yet the end product at times looks too elegant to eat.

I lied.  Usually I stuff my face as soon as I can with Ina’s recipes!

One of her most popular recipes is her Curried Chicken Salad.  It’s a staple at her delicatessen shop, The Barefoot Contessa, which also just so happens to be the main title of several of her cookbooks.  This recipe in particular is in her Family Style cookbook.  I’ve got this book and her Barefoot in Paris book, and I could certainly make any excuse to get a few more!

While this is one her most popular recipes, I’ll admit it that I’ve never actually made it.  But hey, there’s first for everything!

Here’s my YouTube video of this test.  I’m trying out a shorter version of these.  Let me know what you think!  Follow my channel to get notified when I upload another video.

 

Ina Garten’s Curried Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chutney (recommended: Major Grey’s)
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 cup medium-diced celery (2 large stalks)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions (AKA shallots) , white and green parts (2 scallions)
  • 1/4 cup raisins (AKA sultanas)
  • 1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and dice the chicken into large bite-size pieces.
  3. For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth.
  4. Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well. Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Add the cashews and serve at room temperature.

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The good, the bad, the inedible

You know how Nigella Lawson always had a closing shot on her show where she’s having a midnight snack with whatever she cooked? Yeah.  That was me with Ina’s chicken salad once amended.  It’s freaking addictive.  Perfect crunch with the celery and cashews, just enough sweetness with the sultanas and nice spicy depth of flavour with the curry.

Just a couple of downsides though.

First of all, I don’t exactly have the time to roast 3 whole chicken breasts.  Plus, those type of bird boobs would cost about $15, maybe even over $20 if you’re going free range or at a specialty butcher.  Coles Supermarkets here making a really decent roast chook (Aussie speak for chicken), and it’s only $8 a pop. BOOM. Money and time saved!

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The other downside is this is actually pretty salty.  You’re more than likely going to buy pre-roasted and salted cashews, am I right? They’re already pretty salty, and if you add 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt in your dressing, it’s incredibly salty.  I ended up cutting the salt by half and that seemed to make a world of difference.

This recipe would be, as Ina usually says, “fabulous” for school or office lunches.  Even make it a ritzy twist as finger sandwiches for high tea or a lunch party, or make cups using endive leaves.

So, below is my only slightly improved version.  Enjoy!  And please let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments.

Curried Chicken Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 roasted chickens, meat shredded (4-4/12 cups)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups good mayonnaise (recommended: Hellman’s)
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chutney (recommended: Major Grey’s)
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 cup medium-diced celery (2 large stalks)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions (AKA shallots) , white and green parts (2 scallions)
  • 1/4 cup raisins (AKA sultanas)
  • 1 cup whole roasted, salted cashews

Directions

  1. For the dressing, combine the mayonnaise, wine, chutney, curry powder, and 3/4  teaspoons salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until smooth.-
  2. Combine the chicken with enough dressing to moisten well. Add the celery, scallions, and raisins, and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours to allow the flavors to blend. Add the cashews and serve at room temperature

Handy Tip: keep some dressing in the fridge and redress the salad if you have some leftover in a day or two.  Like any salad, it dries out just a tad after a couple of days.  Adding a bit more dressing give it an added moisture boost.

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When Life gives you Lemons…

Make some cupcakes!

I have a bit of a sweet tooth and was craving cupcakes last week.  These mini cakes can be a party in your mouth, or a heavy tasteless mess.  For me, cupcakes are always best when homemade.  I’ve never had a bakery cupcake that could top the fluffy goodness of a homemade cupcake. I already had my chocolate fix as Easter had just past, so something a bit refreshing but still sweet would do just the trick.  That’s when I stumbled upon Cooking Classy’s lemon cupcakes with lemon buttercream.

I never thought would say this, but these are sheer perfection.

I’m serious.  Screw the lemonade and make Cooking Classy’s lemon cupcakes with those lemons life gave you.

The Good, the Bad, the Inedible

Man, these do not disappoint! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these cupcakes.  Five stars (or lemons) all around! There’s just the perfect amount of lemon and sweetness in the cake and frosting.  The batter is a beautiful light, fluffy, lemony goodness.

If you’re like me and are a bit of a lemonhead, there is one additional thing you could do with these bad boys.  If you can find it, use a corer to core the middle of the cupcake out. Wilton makes one of these corers, and you can find them at most cake decorating shops.  They shouldn’t set you back more than a few bucks.

Once you’ve cored the middle out, fill it to the top of the cupcake with lemon curd, jam, or whatever you want…even lollies!

Once they’re filled, then top with the delicious frosting…..and then eat them to your heart’s content!

Without further adue, here’s Cooking Classy’s perfect recipe!

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting from Cooking Classy

Ingredients

    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup cake flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/8 tsp baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
    • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (zest of 2 medium lemons)
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 large egg whites
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup + 3 Tbsp buttermilk
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • Simple Syrup
    • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 Tbsp sugar
Lemon Buttercream Frosting
  • 3/4 cup butter, nearly at room temperature (I used 1/2 cup unsalted and 1/4 cup salted)
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp lemon extract
  • Lemon slices or lemon drop candies and mint leaves for decorating (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift all-purpose flour and cake flour into a mixing bowl. Add baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk 20 seconds, set aside.
  • In a food processor, pulse together 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar with lemon zest until finely ground, about 1 minute. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip together butter with lemon sugar mixture until pale and fluffy (if you don’t have the paddle attachment that constantly scrapes bowl, then occasionally throughout entire mixing process, stop mixer and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl). Mix in egg, then mix in egg whites one at a time, adding in vanilla with second egg white.
  • In the liquid measuring cup used to measure buttermilk, whisk together buttermilk with lemon juice. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture, then mix just until combined. Then add 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture to the butter/egg mixture and mix just until combined. Repeat process with flour and buttermilk mixture once more then finish by mixing in last 1/3 of the flour mixture. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.
  • Divide batter among 12 paper lined muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into center of cupcake comes out clean, about 18 – 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool several minutes in muffin tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Meanwhile prepare simple syrup.
  • For the simple syrup:
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1 Tbsp lemon juice with 1 Tbsp granulated sugar until sugar has dissolved. Brush mixture over warm cupcakes (use all of it, about 2 light coats over each cupcake). Allow cupcakes to cool completely.
  • For the Lemon Buttercream Frosting:
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter with lemon zest on medium-high speed until very pale and fluffy (it should be nearly white. If using a paddle attachment that doesn’t constantly scrape bowl while mixing, then stop mixer occasionally throughout entire mixing process and scrape down bottom and sides of bowl). Mix in 1 cup powdered sugar, then blend in lemon juice, cream, vanilla extract and lemon extract. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, then whip mixture until very fluffy, about 4 – 5 minutes longer. Pipe or spread frosting over cupcakes. Decorate with lemon slices or lemon drop candies and mint leaves if desired. Store in an airtight container.