Sunday, 22 January 2012

Be Inspired To Cook At Home

NOTE....Proud to say that my Carrot Walnut Muffin recipe was the featured recipe, you can find it featured here at 

Week 3 ~ Cook At  Home
Food Network's Healthy Eats

Week 3 comes to a close and I look back and wonder how I did with this last weeks challenge, not too shabby.  I tried a few new things, ate a few standards and cooked my first steak in a pan in over a decade.  It was awesome : ) I was nervous the whole time though, I wanted them rare, not dead : )  How did you do with the Cook At Home challenge this last week?

I think that when we think of cooking at home it pretty much starts the same for everyone, it's an idea that inspires us.  We wonder, what do we want for dinner and off our minds wonder until an idea pops in and lights us up like a bulb in a dark room.  Sometimes we're inspired by our taste buds...our cravings.  Sometimes it's an ingredient we know we have in the house we want to use and we work out our menu from there.  Whatever it is that inspires you to cook at home is a great thing.  It not only saves us money, but we know the food is made with love, it's clean, fresh and made with our own hands.

My inspiration for my latest creation came from the knowledge that we had walnuts in the shell still hanging around from Christmas.  So...I spent a few minutes cracking shells while thinking of all the different items in the house that would pair up nicely with them.

I Love Fresh Walnuts, Don't You?

Wanting to play with the first few weeks of the challenge, I decided to make something that incorporated each week's challenge.  Eat more breakfast~Eat more whole grains~Cook at home.

I decided on a healthy muffin...who said muffins were only for breakfast? This can be a breakfast item, a quick snack, a lunch item paired with a nice salad, or even a side bread for dinner, pairing nicely with a hearty beef stew or beef roast.  Now all I had to do was make sure it was healthy muffin : )

Following the basic blueberry muffin recipe from an earlier post, I completely changed things up while matching measurements.  You are gonna really like these babies, they were soft, fluffy, light, moist and so delicious all the while leaving me feeling mostly guilt free : )

Carrot Walnut Muffins

**1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
**1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
**1/2 cup slightly crushed walnuts
**3/4 cup white sugar
**1/2 teaspoon salt (I used kosher, it's all I have right now)
**2 teaspoons baking powder

Whisk all the dry ingredients together. 

**1 large egg beaten
**1/3 cup milk (I used 2%)

Pour oil into a 1 cup measuring cup, add the 1 beaten egg and fill to the 1 cup mark with the milk, adding more milk if needed to reach the 1 cup measurement.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry and mix only until combined.  Don't over mix.

**1/2 cup shredded carrot (or one shredded carrot)

Fold in your shredded carrot~only until combined.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Spray muffin tin with cooking spray, including the top of the tin.
Fill muffin pan with batter till it reaches the top.
Fill any empty muffin tins with a little water to prevent them from burning while empty during baking.
Makes 6-8 muffins
Bake 20-25 minutes

Inspiration can come from anything, having bacon in the house along with some spinach I decided on a nice spinach salad, one of my favorites.  Without checking after crisping up the bacon I found the hard boiled egg in fact was not hard boiled and we were out of mushrooms, I quickly changed tactics and decided on a tasty raspberry feta salad.

I added the crisp bacon pieces and drizzled a good brand of raspberry vinaigrette on top.

Sometimes our meal plan ideas don't work out and we have to wing it.  It can be tricky at times to switch gears, but possible : )  I bought beef stew cubes planning to make a dish called city chicken, after talking with my mom I found it was veal and pork, whoopsie.  What the heck to do with the beef now? (and the pork...)  I guess beef stew...on line I found a wonderful recipe I did not at all follow : ) Only the basic idea.  It all starts with carmelizing onions, count me in!
The end result is a delicious and different twist on beef stew...

Japanese Beef Curry (Curry Rice)
Original recipe can be found here
It is a wonderful mix of onion, garlic, tomato, ginger, bay leaf, garam masala, curry, carrots, apples, potatoes, peas...and beef stew cubes : )
I didn't have star anise-apples-ginger...and left out the peas only because I forgot at the end : )
I will definitely be making this again, as it was so delicious and very different from the traditional East Indian and Thai curries I normally make.  It was sweeter for one...and there was no heat as I used a mild curry powder for the Roux. 

Cooking at home can be personally rewarding and a healthy choice to make.  It doesn't have to be gourmet all the time, and neither does it have to be pulled from a box out of the freezer. 
Let the little things inspire you and wing it : )

Check out these great bloggers who were involved in week 2 of the January Healthy Every Week Challenge for great ideas on whole grains and what the heck to do with them : )  Till next time! Happy Cooking...

Whole-Grain Goodness from Our Community:
An Uneducated Palate: Popcorn With a French Flair
Picky Eater Blog: Blueberry-Banana Oat Bread
Carlene’s Figments: Top 5 Ways to Eat More Whole Grains
Writer’s Flow: Week Two: Epic Fail
Hungry Jenny: Having Your Whole-Grain Cake, and Eating it, Too
Healthy Eating Starts at Home: Eat MORE Whole Grains
You Don’t Look Sick: Living With Rhumatoid Arthritis: Week 2 Wrap-Up
Olive Tomato: 3 Tips for Easy and Healthy Home Cooking, Greek Style
From My Corner of Saratoga: Polenta With a Mexican Twist
Nutritious Daily: Eat More Whole Grains
Adventures in My Kitchen: Healthy Minestrone Soup 
Don’t Be Too Timid and Squeamish: Homemade Corn Tortillas and Tamales, Too
City Life Eats: Whole-Grain Affinity
Chick Bike: Healthy Every Week Challenge, Week 2
Essentials of Nutrition: Understanding Whole-Grain versus Multi-Grain
Cookin’ In My Kitchen: Let’s Get Poppin’

NOTE:  After speaking to the friendly folks who distribute the Robin Hood Whole Wheat All Purpose cannot be considered a whole grain as they remove the germ in the processing.  Thank you to Molly at Smuckers Foods for doing the research and getting back to me : )
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