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Pumpkin Muffins

Ingredients

4 eggs, separated
3 cups finely ground whole wheat flour
1 cup regular whole wheat flour or more of the finely ground
1 tsp baking powder
3 tsp baking soda
2 cups light brown sugar OR white sugar
½-1 tsp nutmeg
1 & ½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (when you’re not making it for Rosh HaShanah)
1 cup any color raisins
1 cup canola oil
2 cups fresh pumpkin, mashed and drained
2/3 cup soy or rice milk (you can use water if you don’t have this on hand)
3-4 Tbls maple syrup

Method

Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Separate the eggs, placing the whites into the mixer. Beat the whites until they are snowy and white; DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR MIXER. You will NOT have to use two bowls, I guarantee it!
While the mixer is still running, turn it down a bit to medium. Add the yolks, oil, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Turn the mixer down a tad more, just a tad, and add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, soy milk/water and syrup. Turn off the mixer and raise the beater so it can drip off into your bowl. Quickly toss the raisins in a small bowl with another 2 Tbls of any kind of flour. This is a great tip to remember for yourself; tossing raisins into flour prevents it from sinking to the bottom of whatever muffin, cake or baked item you are making. Anyhow, after you’ve done this, add it to the batter in the bowl, along with the pumpkin and the optional nuts.

Topping

Put about ½ cup dark or light brown sugar in a bowl, along with 2-3 Tbls more cinnamon. Toss together with a spoon and sprinkle over muffin batter right before they go into the oven.

Spoon batter into muffin trays lined with muffin liners (in Israel I used size 4 for large muffins, size 2 for mini ones) about ¾ of the way full, a bit more if you like large tops on them. Bake for 25-30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes to see if a sharp knife or toothpick inserted into one muffin’s center comes out clean. Remove from oven immediately after it tests clean so they will not dry out. Cool in the tray for five minutes, then on wire racks until cold. These are so good straight out of the oven. If you don’t ruin your secret of whole wheat, none of your kids, or even your teenagers, will ever know the difference. These freeze great as well.

Soft Fruit- What to Do with It All?

This is part 2 of a two-part series. Find part 1 here.

I bought such beautiful fruits, but a good portion of them became too soft to enjoy before we could finish eating them. I am loathe to throw them out; however, there is not enough for me to make a fruit soup out of them. Any ideas about what else I can do with it all?

Another idea I find works very well for soft puréed fruit is to simply make healthful muffins out of them. Here’s a muffin
ratio I use all the time, and whatever choice of fruits I use to bake these with, they’re always appreciated:

Fruity Whole-Wheat Muffins

Ingredients

3 eggs
1 ½ cups light brown sugar
3 cups light whole-wheat flour
1 cup oil
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups puréed fruit

Method

Beat the eggs in your mixer, no need to separate them. Add in everything else in the order listed, except the fruit. You should have a nice thick batter that is still pourable.

Pour in the puréed fruit and swirl it in by hand with a spatula. Line a muffin tray with paper muffin cups, and fill each one with batter until nearly the top. If you like, you can sprinkle some cinnamon and sugar on top of each one. Bake for 18–20 minutes until they test done. Remove from the oven immediately. These freeze well, and they make a very nice, easy lunch, together with some fresh vegetables and cottage cheese.

The muffins also make a great, nutritious lunchbox treat, just in time for the back-to-school season!

Healthy and Refreshing Milkshakes

It’s that time of year again when it gets very hot outside and everyone constantly wants something refreshing to sip on. Buying milkshakes or ice coffee in the stores can be very pricey, especially if you are treating a large crowd of your children or grandchildren. Besides, the amount of sugar added in many cases really racks up the calories. Here’s another question I get from readers:

I want to make some kind of milkshakes for my kids but haven’t figured out how to make them that great consistency like the store does. Is there another way to do this, besides having to buy large tubs of ice cream and adding them to my blender with milk?
Do you also have a suggestion for making these healthier, if possible?

Over ten years ago I came up with this “milkshake” idea, mostly because here in Israel, the children are sent home from school between 1-2 pm, the hottest time of day. Couple that with the fact that they have to walk home most often, and are shlepping heavy backpacks on their backs and you get tired, hot, cranky and very thirsty kids coming in your house midday. Mine, especially, were in no mood for a heavy meal then and really appreciated something cold and refreshing.

I never use ice cream. It is expensive, doesn’t work that well for a thick shake, and adds a lot of sugar. I simply use frozen, ripe bananas.

When bananas are cheap, I buy a whole lot of them. I let them ripen to the point that they are delicious and soft, but not totally browned. Then I peel every one of them and freeze them in cheap bags, two at a time. If you freeze them in their peels, it is very difficult to get the peel off easily later on, which is why I freeze them unpeeled. Just one word of caution: bananas have all sorts of things clinging to their outside peels so watch your fingers as you peel them. Check them over briefly to make sure that your unpeeled bananas did not inadvertently become dirty in the process. After that, all I do is place them, bagged and tied, all in one of my freezer drawers, ready for use.

To make my shakes, I then put 2-3 frozen bananas in my blender and add 2 cups of milk. I let it sit for five minutes to soften the bananas somewhat, but not all the way. I cut through the chunks with a knife. If it cuts easily, it can then be blended. Cover the blender, turn it on high and poof—a creamy, delicious, and healthy shake is ready in seconds.

I even keep a steady stash of straws always on hand. Nothing like a tall glass of ‘milkshake’ with a straw to enjoy it with!

This also tends to be very filling and everyone, no matter their age, enjoys it. You can change the colors and tastes by adding in other pieces of softened, ripe fruit. Mangoes, strawberries, blueberries. You only need a small amount of the second fruit for flavor and color, the thickness comes from the bananas.

To make the shake thicker, add less milk per banana. To make it thinner, add more milk. You do not need to add any sugar at all nor any vanilla pudding powder to thicken this nor to flavor it. The sweetness of the ripened bananas is more than enough to make it sweet enough for all! And this milk version has the added plus of calcium.

I have a child who is allergic to milk. What else do you suggest?

You can certainly substitute almond milk, which is also very tasty. Or you can make it entirely from fruit juice and a bit of water. Add in the bananas and maybe 1/4 cup frozen blueberries. Pour 2 cups of orange juice and blend as above. It’s delicious.

I find this is a great way to enjoy a milkshake any time of day, no matter how many people are around and it really saves money too.

Enjoy your shakes!

Flax ‘n Fruit Milkshakes

The best way to prepare for these, is to keep a constant stock in your freezer of frozen bananas, strawberries, and other fresh fruit. When strawberries go on sales, I buy lots of them and then wash and freeze them. They keep for literally months this way, and then when I want to add a few to milkshakes or smoothies, I just reach into my freezer and take some out. Same goes for bananas. When they are very ripe, peel them, put them into individual bags, tie a knot on it and then leave them in a pile in the freezer. Then they are ready for use. If you freeze them with the peels on, it is difficult to remove the peels properly when they’re frozen and often turns out to be more work than it’s worth.

Ingredients

For about four hot and grumpy kids, place into your blender:

2-3 medium sized frozen bananas
6-8 frozen strawberries
1-2 tsp. GROUND flaxseed
3 cups of milk
Note: flax can only be digested when it’s ground. But it’s very hard to grind it in an ordinary food processor, so it’s best to buy it freshly ground or vacuum packed. Once you have it, make sure to store it in your freezer. It can go rancid very quickly in your cabinet. Flaxseed has important Omega-3’s in it and is very helpful to the digestive system as well. Just be careful not to overdo it; otherwise it can be bitter and be ‘too much’ of a good thing for the digestion!

Method

Layer in the bananas, then strawberries, ground flaxseed, then pour in the milk until the blender in 3/4 of the way full. Don’t fill it to the top because it will foam and rise and you don’t want it to leak out of the blender. Turn the blender on high, let the whole thing liquidize and serve. Thick, cool, refreshing, healthy and fun!

Mini Carrot Muffins

Yield: about 50 mini- muffins
Or, if you want the easier way out, make it as a 9×3 “kugel” and cut it into squares…

Ingredients

4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup hot water
3 cups flour, whole wheat, white, or a combo **
1 & ½ tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 – 4 large carrots, peeled

** if you use only white flour, it will come out light and fluffy. I’ve made it many times using whole wheat, a version that is very finely ground, and it comes out excellent that way as well. Plus, any leftovers, IF you have any, come in handy as a great healthy snack on the way to school for any kids in your house…

Method

Grate the carrots through a food processor. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.

Place the ingredients in the mixer bowl in the order listed. Mix until you have a thick and smooth batter. Add in the grated carrots and mix again until just incorporated.

Line the muffin tray with paper liners or spray the tray well with baking spray. Fill the muffin cups until almost full. Bake for 8-12 minutes until they are golden brown or a cake tester or sharp knife inserted into a muffin’s center tests clean. If you took ‘the easy way out’, and made it into a flat “kugel” (a.k.a. religious word for cake!), then bake it for 30-35 minutes, until the ‘kugel’s’ center tests clean. Remove from tray promptly and allow to cool. These freeze great. I know – they even eat great straight from the freezer with only a few minutes of defrost time…!!

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