Maple Cornbread with Cranberries and Pecans

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Cranberries often take a backseat to the more popular fall flavors of pumpkins and apples. This is an extreme injustice in my opinion. I bought a bag of cranberries a few weeks ago and all but forgot about them so I needed to act fast, and this is what I came up with.  I love the combination of tartness with the slightly sweetened cornbread. We had it for breakfast and it was fabulous.

Maple Cornbread with Cranberries and Pecans

wet ingredients:

2 Tbsp. ground flax seed

6 Tbsp. hot water

1 large banana, mashed (or applesauce would work instead)

1/2 cup almond or other non-dairy milk

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

3 Tbsp. non-dairy margarine (I use Earth Balance)

dry ingredients:

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

3 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

fold in:

1 cup fresh cranberries, roughly chopped

1/2 cup pecans, raw or roasted and roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and add the margarine to your cast iron skillet (or 9-in. baking dish), place the skillet in the oven while it preheats to melt the margarine. Combine the flax and water in a medium mixing bowl and whisk for about 30 seconds then set aside. This is a good time to chop your cranberries and pecans.

Add the remaining wet ingredients to the flax mixture including all but about 1 Tbsp. of the melted Earth Balance. Leave the remaining 1 Tbsp. in the skillet and swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan. Whisk this mixture well then add the cornmeal, again whisking until well combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients mixing only until the flour is fully incorporated. Fold in the cranberries and pecans.

Pour the mixture into the skillet and bake for about 25 minutes or until the cornbread just begins to turn golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before cutting and removing from the pan.

Fruit and Nut Energy Bars

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I have a hunger. Yes, a hunger for adventure, a hunger for knowledge, and a hunger for justice. But really I’m mostly just hungry for food, like at 10:00 every morning. Now that I am stuck behind a desk at this time most days and not free to roam into the kitchen at my leisure this is posing a bit of a problem for me. Enter the fruit and nut energy bar. I almost didn’t post this recipe because, frankly, these aren’t the most beautiful things, but what they lack in good looks they make up for in taste. Perfect mid-morning snack!

Fruit and Nut Energy Bars

(adapted from here)

1 cup quinoa flakes (or kamut flakes, or oats would probably work too)

1 cup pecans

1/2 cup cashews

1/2 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup nut butter

10 pitted dates, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. ground flax seed

1 Tbsp. canola oil

finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1 cup dried blueberries (or other dried fruit)

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

In a food processor combine quinoa flakes, pecans, cashews, agave nectar, nut butter, dates, flax, oil and zest. Pulse mixture until coarsely chopped. Add the dried fruit and coconut and pulse until just combined.

Form dough into desired shape (bars, squares, rounds) and place on a prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes in a 325 degree oven or until edges just begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. Store your bars in an airtight container for up to a week.

 

Pumpkin Skillet Cake

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Let me tell you about a few things I have noticed this week. I had to put a sweater on when I left the house yesterday, I slept with the ceiling fan off last night for the first time since May, my children are again fighting over the blanket on the couch in the TV room, my coconut oil is in solid form and after a very windy day yesterday the sidewalks are covered with  leaves. Do you see where I’m going with this? Yep, it’s Fall. Our calender has said so for a few weeks but the weather here in Portland has had it’s own ideas about what season it is. We still haven’t seen a drop of rain in months but I know it will come, it always does. So with the official arrival of Fall it’s now pumpkin time…

Pumpkin Skillet Cake

dry ingredients:

2 cups flour (whole wheat pastry, spelt, all-purpose or a combo)

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. allspice

wet ingredients:

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp. ground flax seed whisked with 3 Tbsp. warm water)

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

2/3 cup sugar (I used half brown sugar and half regular)

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

fold in:

1/2 cup pecans, toasted or raw

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, set aside.

Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl, whisking until well combined.

Add wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until just combined.

Fold in the nuts and chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to a well oiled cast iron skillet (or a 9 in. cake pan) and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Allow cake to cool in pan for about 15-20 minutes before cutting.

Carrot Bran Muffins

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Hey remember me, the crazy muffin lady? It’s been awhile because I did something called “getting a job” and it has really cut into my leisure baking time. I am still baking up a storm I’m just a little more focused on getting the job done and moving on to the next thing. I had the day off today so I thought I would share (yet another) muffin recipe with you. These are delicious…lightly maple sweetened, packed with whole grains, and a little toothsome crunch from the pecans…pure muffin perfection.

Carrot Bran Muffins

dry ingredients:

1-1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup wheat bran

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/2 tsp. salt

wet ingredients:

1 Tbsp. chia seeds

2/3 cup orange juice

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1/3 cup vegetable oil (or sub applesauce)

1/4 cup coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk)

fold in:

1-1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 good sized ones)

1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans

Combine dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl, set aside.

Combine wet ingredients in a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisking until well combined.

Add the wet to the dry mixing until just combined. Fold in the carrots and pecans.

Divide batter evenly among a prepared 12 cup muffin pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 22-26 minutes. Transfer muffins to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Pistachio Chai Muffins

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I really wanted to share a non-muffin recipe this week but these were just so good I felt I would be remiss if I didn’t pass it on. I was so into the pistachios in the last muffins, I really wanted to try something else with pistachios. Well, this recipe caught my eye seeing as I have recently rekindled my love affair with black tea. Recap: I love pistachios, I love chai tea, I love these muffins.

Pistachio Chai Muffins

(adapted from Cooking Light)

dry ingredients:

1-3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 chai tea bags, cut bags open and remove tea

wet ingredients:

1 cup non-dairy milk

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp. ground flax seed whisked with 3 Tbsp. warm water)

top with:

1/3 cup shelled dry roasted pistachios

optional icing drizzle:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1-2 tsp. water or non-dairy milk

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl.

In another small bowl or large measuring cup combine the milk and vinegar, stir well until mixture begins to thicken. Add remaining wet ingredients and mix until well combined.

Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among a prepared 12 cup muffin pan. Top muffins with pistachios and bake in a 375 degree oven for 15-18 minutes. Allow the muffins to remain in the pan and cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

If using the optional drizzle, once muffins have cooled combine ingredients and divide evenly among cooled muffins.

Nectarine Blueberry Pistachio Muffins

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Clearly I’m on a muffin kick again. Penny made this cake the other day and I was so enamored with the combination of nectarines, blueberries and pistachios that I had to make some muffins. I decided to go with oat flour so if your oats are gluten free your muffins will be too.

Nectarine Blueberry Pistachio Muffins (vegan and gluten-free)

dry ingredients:

2-1/4 cup oat flour

3 Tbsp. ground flax seed

1 Tbsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar

wet ingredients:

2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I have been using an almond/coconut mixture)

1/2 cup applesauce

1/2 non-dairy yogurt (sweetened, or not…your call)

2 tsp. vanilla extract

fold in:

3/4 cup nectarine, finely diced and peeled (about 1 large nectarine)

3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

1/2 cup pistachios, roughly chopped (I used roasted and unsalted)

Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl.

Add the wet ingredients then gently stir until combined.

Fold in the fruit and nuts.

Transfer batter to a prepared 12 cup muffin pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick. Let the muffins cool slightly in the pan before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Blast from the past: Jr. High Notes

I have a confession, I very frequently spend large amounts of time typing up posts that have nothing to do with food, and then I delete them. Why would I engage in such a time wasting activity you ask. No idea. So just for fun today I decided to actually post such a rambling.

For some reason a random sampling of a few hundred notes from my Junior High days has survived about 25 years and 8 moves and is basically the only thing I have left of that period in my life. Why I have held onto them I’m not really sure. Junior High for me was really the best and worst time of my life and I look at these notes as a sort of connection to the past.  I feel like I became who I am during those years and I love to revisit those days every so often by pulling out some of these notes. Junior High was when I learned about boys, alcohol, cutting school, sneaking out, lying, loyalty, betrayal and most importantly friendship. In fact my very best friends that are still a huge part of my life today, I met in Junior High. I’m glad I came of age in the 80’s before technology had taken over. Back then you were hot stuff (and probably a drug dealer) if you had a pager and cell phones just didn’t exist. Writing notes was the 80’s equivalent of texting and the total number of notes that passed through my hands in those years would be in the thousands. I pulled one out at random to share, I have transcribed it below with added commentary. While she took great care to include the time and class period that the note was written I have no clue the year, probably 1987.

Hello Niki,

I know what ya mean, yent sounds pretty dumb. (I have no clue what yent is, but I agree it sounds pretty dumb) I was going to tell ya but ya know me, I forgot.

I almost went to the game yet I had a soccer game the next day. (If there is one thing I remember about Courtney it is she always had a soccer game the next day)

Jenny’s a little fucking liar. (Notice the abrupt change in tone, classic junior high behavior) In Sachi’s slam book (please tell me I’m not the only one who knows what a slam book is, please) Jenny said she was born on Feb. 13, 1974. She was born in 1975 but she’s so embarrassed that she’s so young and immature. (I bet Jenny is damn glad to to be “so young” now) Jennifer and I changed the 4 into a 5. Then when it asked who her buddys are she had erased me, Becky and Jennifer. So, I crossed her out in bright red pen on my list of buddys so that she would notice.

Who is Micheal Hughes? (Oh, where to begin…this is hilarious)

I went to Beckys party and saw Pretty in Pink and American Anthem, they were ok. (I love that Pretty in Pink was “ok”)

I’m going to see Stand By Me not this weekend but the one after that cause I’m at my dads that weekend. (I thought Courtney was super cool because her parents were divorced. A lot of my friends parents were divorced but she was the only one I knew that regularly went back and forth between two different houses which in my 13 year old mind was nothing short of world travel)

Well gotta go

Courtney

Lemon Berry Muffins

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I made these muffins yesterday in an attempt to console myself after doing the hardest thing I have done in a while. I took my first-born son to middle school… there I said it. In a way it was harder than when he started kindergarten, back then it was exciting and everything was new. Now he’s just growing up too fast and it feels like his childhood is just slipping away. Luckily we have muffins to help us through. So let’s recap here: Taking your kid to middle school…hard. Making these muffins…easy.

Lemon Berry Muffins

(adapted from Eating Well)

1 lemon

1/2 cup organic sugar

1 cup non-dairy milk

1/3 cup canola oil

1 flax egg (whisk 1 Tbsp. flax meal with 3 Tbsp. warm water, let sit for 5 minutes)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups spelt flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries or a combo of both)

Peel the lemon using a vegetable peeler, you should end up with about 6 1/2 inch wide strips. Squeeze the juice from half of the lemon into a large measuring cup with the non-dairy milk, stir and set aside while it thickens.

Add the lemon peel and sugar to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until peel is finely chopped. Add the soured milk, oil, flax egg, and vanilla and process until well blended.

In a medium mixing bowl combine the spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Add the wet ingredients from the food processor to the dry and mix until just combined. Fold in the berries. Divide batter evenly among a prepared 12 cup muffin pan and bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes and gently transfer them to a cooling rack.

Toasted Panzanella Salad

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Here is another wonderful late summer salad and a great way to use up all those tomatoes you may have sitting around. This is a very nice and filling dinner salad and gets better the longer it sits around, so put it together in the morning and there you have an absolutely no fuss dinner ready when you are.

Toasted Panzanella (makes 5-6 main dish servings)

(adapted from Vegetarian Times)

5 cups of cubed ciabatta bread (1 -1/2 inch cubes)

5 Tbsp. olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3 cups tomato, chopped

1 english cucumber, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup green olives, roughly chopped (I used garlic stuffed)

3 Tbsp. capers

1 can canellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup fresh herbs (I used parsley and basil)

3 cups salad greens (torn if using large leaves)

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Begin by toasting the bread in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, they should be just beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a pan, add garlic and stir over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, do not let garlic begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl add the bread cubes and pour in the garlic oil tossing the bread to coat. Add remaining ingredients adding more oil and vinegar if desired. Toss the salad well and eat immediately or allow to sit for several hours.

Chocolate Cherry Cookies

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We got Color Me Vegan from the library a few weeks ago and I’m having a hard time bringing it back. We saw these and knew they were going to have to be made eventually. Time has slipped away so me and Penny made them this morning and they are fantastic. Definitely junk food but I’m down with that every now and again.

Chocolate Cherry Cookies

(adapted from Color Me Vegan)

wet ingredients:

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp. ground flax seed whisked with 3 Tbsp. hot water, left to sit for 5 minutes)

1/2 cup vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance)

3/4 cup vegan sugar

1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

dry ingredients:

1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

top with:

24 small maraschino cherries (or 12 large ones cut in half)

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/4 cup non-dairy milk

1 Tbsp. cherry juice

In a medium mixing bowl mix the flax egg, margarine and sugar with a electric mixer on medium speed until well combined. Add the vanilla and mix again until vanilla is mixed in.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet and combine either with the mixer or by hand (you will have a very thick dough).

Roll the dough into 24 equal balls and place them on 2 baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Make an indentation in them using your thumb and insert a cherry pressing gently.

In a small saucepan over low heat melt the chocolate chips with the milk, whisking constantly until fully melted and smooth, add the Tbsp. of juice from the cherries. Cover each cookie with a tsp. or so of the chocolate mixture.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

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