Ever since the first time I heard of a green monster smoothie I was intrigued. How could a smoothie with this much spinach in it not taste like, well, spinach? I see variations of these green smoothies all the time on food blogs and healthy living blogs and everyone swears you cannot taste the spinach. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the taste of spinach; it’s just not something I would have thought would be good in a smoothie.
But after making these delicious green monster smoothies, I can say that it’s true- aside from the pretty green color it imparts, you really cannot tell that there is spinach in these smoothies. But it’s there (and lots of it too- 3 cups!). It’s a great addition because it bumps up the nutrition factor, providing lots of calcium, vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, and potassium. This smoothie is so refreshing. I love the flavors of pineapple, pear, citrus, and bananas, and the honey adds a touch of sweetness. The next time you are looking for a healthy snack or breakfast treat, try this smoothie recipe!
Green Monster Smoothie
- 1 banana (frozen or not), cut into chunks
- 1 cup chopped frozen pineapple
- 1 pear, coarsely chopped
- 1½ cups orange juice
- 3 cups baby spinach leaves, rinsed and dried
- 1-2 tbsp. honey
- 3 tbsp. ground flaxseed (optional)
- Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until completely smooth.
- Taste and adjust sweetness with additional honey, if desired. Serve immediately.
Yield: 2-3 servings
Source: Annie’s Eats
One Year Ago: Italian Sausage Ragu
A few days ago my fruit bowl was full of overly ripe bananas. I don’t like to eat over-ripe bananas by themselves – I only like plain bananas that are yellow or even have a slight hint of green to them. So whenever my bananas get brown spots on them, I try to find another use for them. Usually I put them into smoothies (click here for my favorite smoothie recipe!) But this time I was in the mood for something different. So I did a quick recipe search and found this recipe for banana cinnamon muffins that I recently bookmarked in Google Reader.
These muffins were so moist and flavorful, and I love that they are healthy too. There is hardly any sugar or butter in them, and if you do the math, you’ll notice that each muffin has a whole 1/3 of a banana in it. I really like the cinnamon flavor in these muffins, though I think they could use even more cinnamon, so next time I make them I am going to use 1 ½ to 2 teaspoons of cinnamon instead of one. The recipe makes 12 muffins, and I stored the extra muffins in the freezer so that they stay super fresh. Pair one of these muffins with a glass of calcium-fortified orange juice for a healthy and delicious breakfast!
Banana Cinnamon Muffins
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 4 over-ripe bananas, mashed
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a muffin tin or line with baking cups.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat. Mix in the mashed banana. Stir in the milk and vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just blended.
- Spoon the batter evenly between the muffin cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 12 standard size muffins
Source: The Pastry Affair
One Year Ago: Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil Tart
Whenever I get a craving for cinnamon rolls, this is my go-to recipe. I’ve tried several cinnamon roll recipes over the years, and the Pioneer Woman’s recipe is by far my favorite. This may surprise you, but they are actually really easy to make! You don’t even need a mixer. The dough for these rolls is so soft and fluffy and the filling is sweet, buttery and deliciously cinnamon flavored. I always make two pans and freeze one of them (unglazed of course). You can just re-warm them in the oven straight from the freezer and they taste (almost) as good as the totally fresh batch, even after being frozen for a month or two. These cinnamon rolls are the perfect thing to make for a special brunch or a weekend breakfast. I have even been known to make them for dessert. Any time of day is a good time for cinnamon rolls. :) Enjoy!
For the Cinnamon Rolls:
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) Active Dry Yeast
- 4 cups (Plus ½ cup extra, separated) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (scant) baking soda
- ½ tablespoon (heaping) salt
- Melted butter (approximately ½ cup = 1 stick)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (approximately… sometimes I only use ½ cup)
- Generous sprinkling of cinnamon
For the Glaze:
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 3-5 tablespoons milk
- To make the cinnamon rolls: Mix the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point—approx. 170 degrees F). Turn off the heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to an hour. (The mixture should be cooled to approximately 110-120 degrees F). When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in the package of yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 4 cups of all-purpose flour and stir the mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.
- After rising for at least an hour, add ½ cup more of flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the mixture together. (At this point you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or 2, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down.)
- When you are ready to prepare the rolls, sprinkle a rolling surface generously with flour. Take the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1/3 to ½ cup of melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle ½- ¾ cup of granulated sugar over the butter, followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
- Starting at the end opposite you, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Then pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.
- Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in 2 round cake or pie pans, making sure to also butter the sides of each pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾-1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans. (You should fill 2 pans).
- Let the rolls rise for 20-30 minutes. Then bake them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until light golden brown, about 18-22 minutes.
- To make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, maple syrup, and milk until smooth. (If the mixture is too thick, add a little more milk to thin it out. If it is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar to thicken it). The mixture should be thick but still pourable. Generously drizzle the glaze over the warm cinnamon rolls. (Note – if you are planning to freeze one of the pans of cinnamon rolls, do not glaze them at this time. To reheat a frozen pan of rolls, just place it in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F until the cinnamon rolls are warmed through – this will probably take 10-15 minutes. Then glaze them.)
Yield: approximately 16-18 cinnamon rolls (depending on size)
Source: Adapted from the Pioneer Woman
This is my favorite blueberry muffin recipe. These muffins are so easy to make, and there is a good chance you already have all of the ingredients to make them on hand. Except for maybe the blueberries… but I always keep frozen blueberries in my freezer to throw into smoothies, so when I decided to make these late last night, I didn’t have to make a trip to the store – so convenient! FYI – my frozen blueberries are from Costco. A month ago, I purchased a giant bag of plump organic frozen blueberries, and if I remember correctly, they were only $4.99 or so – what a deal!
I have made these muffins twice now – the first time I used whole milk and the second time I used 1% milk. I couldn’t tell a difference between the two, so I recommend just using whatever milk you have on hand. (And if you use 1% or non-fat, at least they will be a little bit healthier!) You could also make these muffins healthier by omitting the streusel topping, but honestly that is my favorite part, so I would never skip that! :) These muffins are the perfect treat to make for breakfast, a special brunch, or just make them for dessert, as I did last night. Enjoy!
For the streusel topping:
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. firmly packed light brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the muffins:
- 7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups fresh blueberries, or frozen unsweetened blueberries, unthawed
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 12-16 standard muffin cups with butter or line with paper liners.
- To make the topping, in a small bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub the butter into the flour mixture just until coarse crumbs form. Alternately, combine the flour mixture and the butter in a food processor and pulse just until coarse crumbs form.
- To make the muffins, in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition until blended into the butter mixture.
- In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 additions, alternating with the milk and vanilla extract. Stir just until evenly moistened. (The batter will be slightly lumpy.) Using a large silicone spatula, gently fold in the blueberries just until evenly distributed, no more than a few strokes. Take care not to break up the fruit, and do not over-mix.
- Spoon the batter into each muffin cup. Sprinkle each muffin with some of the streusel topping.
- Bake the muffins until golden, dry, and springy to the touch, 20-25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 12-16 muffins, depending on size (I like to make my muffins a little smaller, so I was able to get 16)
Source: Slightly adapted from The Williams Sonoma Baking Book
I received a copy of “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook” for Christmas this year. I have wanted this cookbook for a long time, and it’s such a great addition to my cookbook collection. I adore cookbooks and sometimes even sit down and read them as if they were actual novels (can anyone relate?) This book is filled with so many delicious-looking recipes that I cannot wait to try! I know I’m going to have so much fun baking my way through this book.
I decided to try this Cinnamon-Raisin Bread first. I had all the ingredients on hand (thanks to those little packets of raisins I keep in the pantry for snacks!), and knew it would make a great Saturday morning breakfast, so I made it last night. Like most yeast breads, it does take some time to make (about 3 ½ to 4 hours from start to finish). The bread has to rise 3 different times and then requires 45 minutes to bake. I like to use this inactive prep time to multitask and get other things accomplished. During the first rise, I went for a run on the treadmill (nothing beats the feeling of a good workout, and it also helps balance out the extra calories!) During the second rise I cleaned the kitchen and took a shower, and while the bread was rising for the third time, I had dinner. As tempting as it was to slice into it last night, I followed the directions and let it cool completely (it was still pretty warm when I went to sleep.)
I leapt out of bed this morning because I couldn’t wait to try this bread. The verdict? As I hoped, it was delicious! Each slice was cinnamony and sweet and had nice plump raisins throughout, as well as the characteristic cinnamon-sugar swirl. The crust was golden brown and slightly crispy. It was so much better than any store-bought cinnamon raisin bread I’ve ever had. I highly recommend this recipe if you like cinnamon-raisin bread!
For the dough:
- 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm milk (about 110 degrees F)
- 2 pounds, 2 ounces (about 6 ½ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces, plus more for pans
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Vegetable oil, for bowl and plastic wrap
For the filling:
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- Make the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk. Whisk to combine. Add the flour, butter, sugar, 2 eggs, and salt. Attach the bowl to mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on low speed until all the ingredients are well combined, about 3 minutes. Raise the speed to medium-low, and continue to mix until the dough is uniformly smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 3 minutes more.
- Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat out dough into a 9-inch round, about 1 ¼ inches thick. Sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon, and knead until they are just incorporated. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with oiled plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat into a round. Fold in the following manner: Fold the bottom third of the dough up, the top third down, and the right and left sides over, tapping the dough after each fold to release excess flour, and pressing down to seal. Return the dough to the bowl, seam side down, and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 40 minutes.
- Make the filling: Combine the sugar and cinnamon with 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and divide the dough in half. Roll out one half into a 12×10 inch rectangle. Brush it with beaten egg, and sprinkle with half of the cinnamon-sugar filling. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
- Generously butter two 9×5-inch loaf pans and set them aside. With a short end of the rectangle facing you, fold in both long sides of the dough, about 1 inch. Then roll the dough toward you, gently pressing as you go to form a tight log. Gently roll the log back and forth to seal the seam. Place the loaf in a prepared pan, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining rectangle. Cover the pans loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rest in a warm place until the dough rises just above the rim of the pan, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Brush the tops of the loaves with beaten egg, and transfer the pans to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the loaves are golden brown, about 45 minutes. (If the tops begin to brown too quickly, tent with foil. I had to tent mine halfway through baking, when I rotated the pans, to prevent it from getting too brown.) Turn out the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. The bread can be kept, wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Yield: Makes two 9×5 inch loaves (I halved the recipe and just made 1 loaf)
Source: Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook
This is what the bread looks like during the first rise.
This is the filling for the cinnamon-sugar swirl
Golden brown crust
What do you get when you take fluffy balls of dough, dunk them in butter, coat them in cinnamon sugar, and bake them in a Bundt pan? You get one of the yummiest breakfasts I’ve ever made. This bread tastes like a cinnamon roll, only better, because it’s extra gooey, extra buttery, and extra delicious. This bread was fun to assemble, and even more fun to eat. A word of warning: I don’t recommend making this bread unless there are lots of people around to help you eat it. I made it over the weekend for just Eric and me, and before I knew it, it was almost half gone. (Oops!) It is so addicting! (It was definitely worth the extra miles I’m going to have to run to burn off all those calories :) ).
I think this monkey bread would be the perfect thing to serve at a special brunch or Holiday breakfast. And if you do have leftovers, just re-warm them in the microwave for about 30 seconds and they will be soft and gooey again just like after coming out of the oven. Enjoy!
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, 2 tablespoons softened and 2 tablespoons melted
- 1 cup milk, warm (about 110 degrees F)
- 1/3 cup water, warm (about 110 degrees F)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 package instant yeast
- 3¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
- 2 teaspoons salt
Brown Sugar Coating:
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Butter Bundt pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.
- In a large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar and yeast. Mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball. Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with cooking spray. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free area until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.
- For the sugar coating: While the dough is rising, mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Place melted butter in second bowl. Set aside.
- To form the bread: Gently remove the dough from the bowl, and pat into a rough 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces.
- Roll each dough piece into a ball. Working one at a time, dip the balls into the melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into the bowl. Roll in the brown sugar mixture, then layer balls in the Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.
- Cover the Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in draft-free area until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap the pan and bake until the top is deep brown and caramel begins to bubble around the edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
- For the glaze: While the bread cools, whisk the confectioners’ sugar and milk in a small bowl until the lumps are gone. Using a whisk, drizzle the glaze over the monkey bread, letting it run over top and down the sides of the bread. Serve warm.
Note: To make without a stand mixer: In step 2, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour, then add the milk mixture to the well. Using a wooden spoon, stir the dough until it becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating the shaggy scraps back into the dough. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Shape into a taut ball and proceed as directed.
Yield: 1 loaf, serves 6 to 8
Source: Brown Eyed Baker Blog; Originally from Cook’s Illustrated
Published March 31, 2010
Breakfast , Muffins
Tags: banana, blueberry, easy, muffin
Blueberry Banana Muffins
These muffins were so yummy! I love the combination of blueberries, bananas, and orange juice. This is the perfect recipe if you have ripe bananas that need to be used. I think these muffins would also be really good with raspberries in them. Enjoy!
Recipe from: The Dainty Vegetarian Blog
Blueberry Banana Muffins
- 2 ½ cups sifted flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ cup orange juice
- 2 Tbsp. butter, room temp.
- 1 ½ cups (or more) fresh blueberries (if they are large, slice them in half)
- ½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- 3 ripe bananas, mashed
- Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt) together. Then add the sugar, egg, orange juice, and butter. Whisk together. Fold in the bananas and blueberries.
- Pour into a 9”X5” greased loaf pan or a lined muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 ¼ hours (for loaf) or 20 minutes (for muffins), or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan when done and cool on rack. These are amazing served warm with some butter.