Healthy spinach meets earthy cheese in 12 tasty muffins
Spinach muffins will be your new breakfast, lunch and dinner. They are super easy and quick to prepare and soooo ridiculously tasty. I love muffins, they are just such a smart food. Not in the way we typically tend to thing now when we talk about smart food – as in hyper healthy. Though I would indeed classify it as a healthy eating option. I mean ‘smart’ as in handy. You bake it, it already comes in a perfect serving size for one and you can just carry it around with you without any fuss. Magic.
This muffin combines the healthy aspects of spinach in all its richness in iron, calcium and vitamin K with the earthiness of Swiss mountain cheese. Also, did you know that spinach is an edible remedy for high blood pressure? The potassium, folate, and magnesium in spinach have the power to help you lower your blood pressure.
Another super tasty spinach focused meal is ricotta zucchini and spinach dumplings. So make sure to check out the recipe and cook it on one of those nights, when you look for a new vegetarian recipe to try out.
Step 1: Add the eggs, creamed spinach, vegetable oil, and milk to a bowl and whisk them until well combined. Next, mix in the grated Swiss cheese of your choice. If you have larger cheese chunks, the cheese will come out more prominent in the final muffin. If you use fine grated cheese, it will dissolve more into the dough throughout the baking process in the oven.
Step 2: In a next step, add the flour, baking powder, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Use a mixer to combine everything well. Don’t overdo it. Mix it for approximately one minute, that should do the trick.
Step 3: Afterwards, prepare a muffin pan with 12 molds by either buttering the molds or using a baking spray.
Step 4: Use a spoon to distribute the spinach muffin dough to the 12 muffin molds. Fill them to about 2/3.
Step 5: Bake the spinach muffins for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit/180 degrees Celsius. Luckily, muffins – just like cupcakes – only take a few minutes to cool down. Besides, there is something extremely homely in eating freshly baked, warm muffins – to me anyways.
With the super bowl LV aka the 55th super bowl right around the corner, it’s time to get serious about game snacks and tasty food to have alongside. We snack, they play. That kinda labor distribution sounds good to me.
This super bowl, my favorite football treats are grilled cheeseburger sandwiches. They are essentially an amazing fusion between grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers. In other words: a savory win win situation. The whole nine yards of tasty soul food. It’s like your stomach will score a touch down. Essentially, this dish is a deconstructed cheeseburger. I love it as it gives you this nice blend of all the different flavors with every bite. Besides being a great soul food option alongside watching a game, grilled cheeseburger sandwiches are also a wonderful option for a comfort food dinner with the family.
I am also fully aware that technically every burger is a type of sandwich, but this recipe makes them even more sandwich-y since you use a sandwich maker to prepare them. Have you notice what a super sporty fella this grilled cheeseburger sandwich is, since technically you could say that it is super ripped like it loves working out. So I’d say, it is indeed a perfect fit for the super bowl.
It’s kick-off time for your grilled cheeseburger sandwiches…
Step 1: First of all, start by chopping the onion, the tomato and the pickles into tiny a.k.a. smallish dices and then cut your washed salad leaves into thin slices.
Step 2: Add the vegetable oil to a pan and bring it to high heat, then cook the ground beef. Now, you might have stumbled over the word “high” with regards to the cooking temperature as normally you should only ever cook meat on medium heat. In this case, I advocate for high temperature as it gives the meat that slight crunch and caramlization effect to the beef.
Cook the ground beef until it’s almost well done. Almost, because any kind of protein will continue to process even when you take it off the heat and also because you don’t want to dry out the meat, by leaving it exposed to high heat for too long. How medium or well done you cook it, should depend on your personal preference. I actually do it well done, even though I have my classic burgers cooked medium.
Step 3: Add the pickles, onions, tomato, lettuce and ground beef to a bowl and toss it up until it’s well mixed. Then, add the burger sauce as well as salt and pepper to taste. Now your filling for your grilled cheeseburger sandwiches is ready for the next step.
Step 4: Place the brioche bread sliced in front of you and add a slice of cheddar to half of them. Another option here would be to go fully cheesy and add cheese to the other half and essentially have cheese back to back. Adding more cheese to the grilled cheeseburger sandwiches.
Step 5: Scoop your filling on top of the cheddar and spread it out on the bread. Make sure though to not let it get to the edge of the bread, otherwise it just squeezes out of the bread slices as soon as you close the top cover of your sandwich maker. Close the sandwich, by placing the second bread slice on top.
Step 6: Bring your sandwich maker up to temperature. Once that is the case, place the grilled cheeseburger sandwiches in the sandwich maker, close the top and let it sit on the grill for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your bread slices.
Step 7: Once they are done and the sandwiches earned their stripes, place them on a plate and cut them in half.
Loved the grilled cheeseburger sandwiches and long for more tasty soul food. Look no further…
Goat cheese focaccia with sundried tomatoes and olives incorporates the full flavors of what we think about when we hear mediterranean food.
Italian focaccia is essentially a flat-bread that goes back to the Etruscans. The Etruscans date back to about 900 BC and their territory covered large parts of what is Italy today. They slowly assimilated with Rome, eventually became Roman citizens and were finally incorporated into the Roman empire around 27 BC. While their civilisation might have disappeared, they left us delicious food that we still enjoy today, like focaccia.
Focaccia is a bit like a thicker version of pizza bread and just like pizza, you can add all sorts of tasty toppings to it. This recipe for goat cheese focaccia bread uses sundried tomatoes and olives, which gives it a nice mediterranean flavor. So it’s essentially a little bit like going on a culinary short-trip to Italy.
I know, goat cheese to many is a bit of a love it or leave it kinda deal. You rarely see anyone saying they are neutral towards it. This is partially due to the unfortunate habit of some (cheaper) goat cheeses to have a very distinct goat-y flavor. Something I am not too fond of either. Good quality goat cheese is however simply devine and lifts up the deliciousness of any dish you add it to, like with my goat cheese galettes. This is why I made them the star ingredient of this simple goat cheese focaccia recipe.
At a glance
Yield: 1 bread
Servings: 10 thick slices
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Rest time for the dough: 90 minutes/1 hour 30 min
Oven time: 20 min
Time from start to finish: 2 hours
Ingredients for the foccacia dough
10.5 ounces (300 grams) of bread flour
¾ cups (7 ounces/200 ml) of lukewarm water
¾ of an ounce (21 grams) of fresh yeast
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon of salt
Ingredients for the goat cheese foccacia topping
5 ounces (140 grams) of goat cream cheese
½ cup of diced-up black olives
½ cup of diced-up sundried tomatoes
1 generous tablespoon of (acacia) honey
½ teaspoon of dried thyme
¼ teaspoon of rosemary
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt
How to prepare goat cheese focaccia
Step 1: Let the yeast dissolve in lukewarm water a large bowl. Then drizzle in the flour, olive oil and salt and thenknead everything thoroughly until you have a smooth dough.
Step 2: Place the bowl in a warm-ish spot in your kitchen and let the yeast work its special growth magic for about one hour. During this time frame, the bread for your goat cheese focaccia should at least double in size.
Step 3: When the 60 minutes are up, form a flatbread out of the dough and let it rest for another 30 minutes. Don’t let it rest too long though, as the yeast will continue to let the dough rise and allow too much air being capitured in it. This would result in too many and too big holes in the dough, which is not desirable.
Step 4: Afterwards, poke little holes into the dough with your fingers and sprinkle it with a bit of olive oil. Add the chopped up olives and sundried tomatoes to the moulds you poked with your finger. Next, spread out the goat cheese and drizzle the thyme, rosemary, salt and honey on top.
Step 5: Bake the goat cheese focaccia for 20 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius) in the oven.
I love eating the goat cheese focaccia when it’s still a bit oven-warm and only with butter, as the goat cheese, honey, sundried tomatoes and olives provide all the flavors needed to make this a well rounded snack or bread on the side. Hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Baking is chemistry performed in a kitchen instead of a lab. Every step matters, the order matters, the temperature matters, the timing matters. To make your baking experience a joyful occasion and help you take your baking skills to the next level, check out this cheat sheet with eleven hacks and guiding principles.
After all, baking is a very meditative exercise; you focus on the tasks at hand and can lose yourself a little in the process. It’s a worry-free state of mind, as you need to be in the now and can forget about all the other stuff that goes on in your life for a while. Therefore, I am convinced that baking should be fully recognized as a viable mindfulness activity.
Baking Hack No. 1: The temperature of your butter makes all the difference
You might think that butter is butter and that is the end of it. Nope, it’s not. The temperature of the butter makes or breaks your baked creations. The eternal butter rules command the following: Use melted butter if your aim is to get chewy results (for instance, if you aim for the perfect chocolate chip cookies.
Room-temperature butter is ideal for cakes and cupcakes, as it allows for a little spreading while also giving your sweet treat a fluffy texture. Cold butter (cold, not frozen) is your butter of choice for doughs that should retain their structure and not spread out or rise, like quiche dough or galettes, or like these veggies boats.
Baking Hack No. 2: Make your own protein flour, i.e., gluten-free flour
Are you dedicated to your workout goals and want to increase the share of protein in your diet, but still be able to say a whole-hearted “Yes!” to that tasty-looking slice of cake? Do you have a gluten intolerance, but crave a sweet treat? Do you want to eat healthy, but acknowledge that healthy includes mental health, which means also treating yourself to something good? If you want to try to go gluten-free, check out this Article by Harvard Medical School.
The reasons for not wanting to use standard wheat flour can be as complex and numerous as the types of cake in this world. Oats however, these unassuming and rather boring-looking flakes, present a simple solution that does not make you compromise on taste and are therefore baking hack number 2. You can swap oats for flour at a 1:1 ratio. If your recipe requires 7 ounces/200 grams of flour, simply weigh the exact same amount of oats and put them through a blender. Shred the flakes for about a minute or two tops and tata… you just created oat flour.
Baking Hack No. 3: How to keep brown sugar soft
Unlike their white brothers and sisters, brown sugar crystals have the annoying tendency to harden in their storage containers. You can avoid that with this simple baking hack: add one or two marshmallows to the jar and the sugar will stay soft.
Baking Hack No. 4: How to test if your eggs are still good
Place the egg in question in a bowl of water. If the egg sinks, it’s fresh. If it stands on one end, use it right away. If the egg floats, however, toss it as it’s no longer good for use. Not only a niffty baking hack, but also extremely helpful for scrambled eggs.
Baking Hack No. 5: How to quickly bring a refrigerated egg to room temperature
Your recipe asks for room-temperature eggs, but you accidently overlooked that part and need a quick solution? Try my baking hack number 5. Don’t worry, you got this. Simply fill a bowl with luke-warm water and let the egg sit in it for 15 minutes.
Baking Hack No. 6: Save time and energy by using parchment paper instead of cooking spray or butter
Forget about baking spray or buttering a cake mold, and most importantly, those lengthy post-baking clean-up sessions. Use parchment paper for your brownie pans and cake molds. It makes everything hassle-free and is therefore a very cherished baking hack of mine. Not only does it drastically reduce cleaning time but it also makes it much easier to get brownies or cakes out of their molds without accidently breaking them or making things difficult.
Baking Hack No. 7: When to use baking soda vs. baking powder
People often ask if they can simply replace baking soda with baking powder or vice versa. The sad truth is: no, you can’t. They are not substitutes.
The chemical reason behind this is that baking powder contains an acid that can create a rising reaction in the dough, whereas baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and does not have that acid. This means that the baking soda needs the acid and a liquid to be activated and thus induce the dough to rise. Baking powder only requires a liquid to work its magic.
Acids that work with baking soda include buttermilk, brown sugar, yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, molasses, applesauce, cocoa powder, or honey. Thus, while soda as a base (chemically-speaking) needs the acid to work, it is also three to four times more powerful in its effect than baking powder and thus enables fluffier, lighter dough textures to be achieved. It also means that you need significantly less product in comparison.
Baking powder is your go-to solution if your recipe otherwise does not require any acid. Some recipes require soda AND powder, as the acid in the recipe is not enough to achieve the desired rising effect. A good example of this is buttermilk pancakes or my cottage cheese protein pancakes.
Baking Hack No. 8: How much baking soda and/or baking powder do I need?
Your ratio should be ¼ teaspoon of baking soda per cup of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder per cup of flour. Because baking soda and baking powder create an instant chemical reaction, keep in mind that any recipe that requires either of them is not suitable to make in advance. When you combine your ingredients into the dough, both the baking soda and the powder will become activated right away, even though you will only see the effect take place in front of your eyes once the cake/cookie/cupcake is in the oven.
Baking Hack No. 9: What kind of chocolate for which kinds of results?
There are essentially three main options to choose from that all have very different effects: Chocolate chips, baking chocolate, and cacao powder. Here a quick baking hack overview on when to use what.
If you want to have little visible chunks of chocolate in your baked goods, always opt for chocolate chips, as they do not melt when exposed to heat, which is thanks to stabilizers and preservatives. This is what makes them perfect for chocolate chip cookies.
Baking chocolate, however, does melt and is perfect for creating a chocolate ganache or a frosting. It’s also usually JUST chocolate, which means it tastes a little bitter and does not contain any added sugar. That being said, if your recipe requires you to add baking chocolate, use baking chocolate and not just any given chocolate bar you found in the candy aisle, as it will drastically change the outcome and probably make the result way sweeter than you desire. This also means that a recipe tends to refer to dark chocolate, a.k.a., bittersweet chocolate.
Only use white baking chocolate when it is explicitly noted, as it’s technically not chocolate since it only contains chocolate butter but lacks the chocolate liquor of dark and milk chocolate. If you want a sweeter substitute for dark chocolate, use semi-sweet. Milk chocolate for baking is the sweetest of the bunch, as it only contains 10% cacao, although that kind of sweetness is just the right solution sometimes.
Last but not least, a few words on cacao. It’s actually a really funny one, as cacao powder is the result of a fermentation and roasting process of cacao beans during which most of the cacao butter is removed, leaving essentially just the chocolate liquor. This liquor is then dried and ground into what we use as cacao powder.
Baking Hack No. 10: Timing is everything
That also means that you do not want to sit there and do high level math calculating how much more time you should give your cookies, now that you decided to slide them into the oven before it reached the desired temperature. While it’s all nice to nibble on raw cookie dough, don’t diminish your cookie eating fun by having mushy, half-baked treats.
This also includes not leaving cookies on the baking tray after taking them out of the oven, as the heat of the tray will essentially mean you prolong the baking process. You would thereby risk burning them or making them needlessly hard. Simply let them slide onto a cooling rack or a clean fabric kitchen towel.
Baking Hack No. 11: Choose the right kind of cookie storage
Nothing is more saddening than investing a lot of time and effort into baking the perfect cookies, only for them to become super hard or extremely soft rather quickly. Cookies are like strawberries – delicate little entities that want to be handled with tender love and care. If you have cookies or ginger bread that tends to harden up easily, lay a piece of apple in the cookie jar. The moisture from the fruit will keep the baked treats soft. Alternatively, use a couple of marshmallows; it sounds crazy, but it DOES work.
Cookies that have a chocolate or icing cover should be stored using parchment paper as a separator, otherwise they will become glued together and you’ll end up with one gigantic cookie rather than multiple small ones.
Ideally, opt for a metal or glass cookie jar, and do not use a plastic box, as the plastic will make your cookies go soft. If your goal is to keep the cookies very soft (like chocolate chip cookies), then yes, use plastic. In any case, do not store them in the fridge.
Frikadelle, Bulette, Fleischpflanzerl, Bratklops or Fleischküchle. All these German words mean the same thing: meat ball. Every region has their own term for it. German-style meat balls are a total crowd pleaser and not only the ultimate comfort food, they are also a very common sight as a party finger food, picnic staple, travel snacks or kid-friendly dinner option, in short: it fits (almost) every occasion.
I cannot help but wonder whether there are as many different German words for meat balls as there are occasions to which they would be just the perfect addition. I once read somewhere that meat balls originated in France and then made their way to Germany with the Huguenots, when they fled eastwards in the 17th century. Still, to me, meat balls are as German as beer and sausages.
With ultimate soul food like German-style meat balls, there always tends to be the same catch: everyone has his or her very own personal recipe for it, alternatively a recipe that has been in their family since generations. They all seem roughly similar, but differ in the details (“my great grandmother always used X as her secret ingredient” kinda style). Same, same, but different. This much is true for dishes like mac and cheese, lasagna or chili con carne. German-style meat balls are no different.
My meat balls are on the smaller side and round, think of them as tasty edible golf balls.
At a glance
Calories per serving: 402 kcal (4)/268 kcal (6)
Preparation time: 15 min
Cooking time: 10 min
Total time from start to finish: 25 min
Ingredients for German-style meat balls
1 lbs (480 grams) of ground beef
1/2 cup (1.9 ounces/55 grams) of breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon of mustard
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of paprika
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper
How to prepare German-style meat balls
Raise your hands, if you meat balls are one of your happy childhood memories as far as food is concerned. Great, now that we all have our hands up in the air, let’s roll our sleeves up and start cooking:
Place the meat in a bowl and add the egg, breadcrumbs, mustard, tomato paste, paprika, salt and pepper. Next you have to make a choice: mix everything using your hands or using a spatula. I know, quite a few people shiver at the idea of touching raw meat with their hands, much less kneating it. It however creates the best results in terms of combining the meat ball ingredients. You will however also manage ok, using a spatula.
Once everything is combined, start forming golf ball sized meat ball. Then, place a pan on your stove and bring it to medium heat, add butter to your pan and cook the meat balls in it, turning it every other minute until they are evenly browned on each side. Since they are rather small this should take you between 7-8 minutes until they are completely done.