Category Archives: Breakfasty

Triple Apple Muffins

Welcome to apple season. Yes, we have been here for a while, but last week’s windstorm that brought down all those high, out-of-reach apples has brought urgency to the situation.  That, and the King Arthur Flour Mother Ship has deemed it Apple Week so , let’s join in.

I’m not a huge muffin person. I like muffins enough, but most muffins are a thinly disguised excuse to eat cake in the morning. Nothing against cake, but I don’t need more reasons to eat it for breakfast. These muffins, however, are pretty healthy on the muffin meter. First, they’re packing  apple overload–in grated, chopped, and sauce form. They’re made with whole wheat flour, olive oil for the fat and maple syrup for the sweetener. They’re also easy to make, though they  do require chopping and grating, plus a little more effort if you channel your inner Laura Ingalls and make your own applesauce (I had to do it. See windstorm, above).

This recipe is good to have in your arsenal for apple season, and as advertised, do indeed get better after hanging out for a bit,

Triple Apple Muffins
From Cookie and Kate

From thought to table in half an hour. Maple syrup and a triple dose of apple makes these healthy muffins a bite of New England.

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grated apple
  • 1 cup apple diced into ¼” cubes
  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup maple syrup (or honey*)
  • 2 eggs, preferably at room temperature (or 6 tbsp aquafaba**)
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt (or non dairy yogurt of choice**)
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (also called raw sugar), for sprinkling on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or line all 12 cups on your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Blend well with a whisk. Add the grated apple (if it is dripping wet, gently squeeze it over the sink to release some extra moisture) and chopped apple. Stir to combine.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oil and maple syrup and beat together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then add the yogurt, applesauce and vanilla and mix well. (If the coconut oil solidifies in contact with cold ingredients, gently warm the mixture in the microwave in 30 second bursts.)
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a big spoon, just until combined (a few lumps are ok). The batter will be thick, but don’t worry! Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with turbinado sugar. Bake muffins for 13 to 16 minutes, or until the muffins are golden on top and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
  5. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. If you have leftover muffins, store them, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Freeze leftover muffins for up to 3 months.

Notes

*If you are baking with honey: Honey tends to brown quickly, so to avoid overdone muffins, bake muffins at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 23 to 25 minutes.

**Veganize these by using flax eggs or aquafaba, and non dairy yogurt

 

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Game of Scones: The Iron Scone

You knew it was coming: the crowning glory of all the build-up, the driving force of this obsession—the Iron Scone. Until last week, I thought this culminating creation might need to be something with dragon fruit. But after Dani Girl’s  Ring of Fire joyride, methinks there will be no dragons or dragon queens ruling the Seven Kingdoms.

I’m betting on tradition and some sense of justice to win out, so I went with a classic currant scone. Currants happen to be an excellent source of iron, and to bring the theme home I made these scones in a cast iron pan. Instead of making familiar wedges, I made these as a more British version of scones, by cutting them in circles and nestling them together in the pan.

To find the perfect starter recipe for this grand finale, I deferred to royalty, and consulted with King Arthur Flour’s legendary baker and blogger PJ Hamel. She pointed me to her go-to basic scone recipe that lives on the KAF website. The recipe itself is excellent, and is essential scone reading. In addition to the many tips at the end of the recipe, PJ added this bit of scone wisdom:

“Don’t overbake. You want them just barely light brown. Otherwise they’ll be dry. And they’re like biscuits: the more you handle the dough, the more you risk making the scones tough. So, once you bring the dough together (after adding the liquid), don’t keep stirring; turn it out of the bowl, shaggy mess that it may be, divide it in half (a scale helps), and gently pat the two pieces into 3/4″ to 1″-thick rounds. And do refrigerate (or place in the freezer) for 30 minutes before baking; this helps their texture.”

So there you have it. The beauty of this scone is that it can be adapted to any flavors and ingredients, to accommodate whomever lands in that throne: White Hot Jon Snow; Sassy Sansa; Bittersweet Tyrion; and even the ghosts of the Loving Lannisters. Indeed, we could have started this whole Game of Scones journey with this master recipe and tweaked it accordingly, but what would be the fun in that?

The Iron Throne, which, quite honestly, does not look very comfy.

The Iron Scone

From King Arthur Flour’s Basic Scone Recipe

I pared down the recipe to the necessities, and included my own adaptation for the cast iron pan version (in bold), but I highly recommend going to the KAF site for their Baker’s tips at the end of the recipe. Another very cool feature of the recipes on the KAF site it being able to toggle between measuring by volume, ounces or grams. I like to weigh my flour and but not necessarily the rest of the ingredients. So, go King Arthur…way to support the new ruler!

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour or Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup to 2 cups dried currants (or add ins of choice)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extractor the flavoring of your choice
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup half-and-half or milk. (see tips in KAF recipe, but basically you’ll need more liquid in cold dry weather and less in hot humid weather.

Topping

  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 tablespoon sugar, turbinado sugar or cinnamon sugar, optional

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  2. Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it’s OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.
  3. Stir in the fruit, nuts and/or other mix-ins if using.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla or other flavor, and half and half or milk.
  5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don’t have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan. If using a cast iron pan or skillet, line it with parchment paper. Wing it or check out this slick trick.
  7. Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Round each half into a 5″ circle (if you haven’t incorporated any add-ins); or a 6″ circle (if you’ve added fruit, nuts, etc.). The circles should be about 3/4″ thick. (If using a cast iron pan or other skillet, use a biscuit cutter or the top of a can or drinking glass to cut each circle into rounds of whatever size makes you happy. Arrange them in the lined pan so there is about ½” of space in between them. Mush scraps into scone-like shapes. They too will be delicious.

    Unbaked, lightly frozen scone pucks in their iron home

  8. Brush each circle with milk, and sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired.
  9. If making wedge shaped scones: slice each circle into 6 wedges, using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water. Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.
  10. For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones (on just the parchment if that is easier to fit) in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. Chilling the scones relaxes the gluten in the flour, which makes the scones more tender and allows them to rise higher. It also chills the fat, which will make the scones a bit flakier. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  11. Bake the scones for 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown (mine were smaller, and done in 20). When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the way through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.
  12. Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. They’re delicious as is, but add butter and/or jam, if you like.
  13. When the scones are completely cool, wrap them in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days. To reheat room-temperature scones, place on a baking sheet, tent lightly with foil, and warm in a preheated 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.

Make ahead: This is straight from the KAF Bakers Tips, but I had to include it here too because it was a revelation: “Want to make scones well ahead of time? Simple. After the unbaked scones’ 30 minutes in the freezer (or whenever they’re frozen solid), place them in a zip-top plastic bag. Return to the freezer, and store for up to a month. Bake as directed (without thawing), adding a couple of extra minutes if needed.”

To bake up just a few scones at a time, any size oven-proof skillet will do.

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Game of Scones: The Loving Lannisters Gluten Free Apricot Almond Scone

OnSome things just should not go together, like siblings and sex. Similarly, the terms gluten free and scones really do not belong in the same sentence. And yet, just as Jaime and Cersei somehow seem to work as the couple you love to hate, it turns out that gluten free scones are darned tasty.

As we come in to Episode 5, let’s review our cast. We have the White Hot Jalapeno Cheddar Jon Snow (AKA, the true hot king) Scone, the Sassy Sansa Lemon Ginger Scone and the Bittersweet Tyrion Whole Wheat Mini Scone. But now, just in time for Mother’s Day we head south to warmer climes and the Mad Queen, Mother of the Year, evil twin Cersei

For these scones I used Pamela’s gluten free baking mix, as recommended by Santa Cruz Susan. Susan is kind of an angel on earth, which is to say, the opposite of Cersei. Susan apologized that using a mix is sort of cheating, which happens to be appropriate for this particular scone, because nobody cheats more than Cersei, and gets away with it.

The Loving Lannister scone features apricots, prunes and almonds, all members of the prunus family. Not coincidentally, prunus siblings have a bitter cyanide compound in the seed that makes them poisonous (kind of like kisses from Spain). Toxic combos that are related to each other? Could there be a more perfect scone to honor the first family of King’s Landing? And sure, you don’t expect to get black-hearted prunes and golden apricots in one bite, but social norms never stopped a Lannister. And who doesn’t like a little plot twist?

Cooking notes: For this scone, I defied the recipe and tried to make them into the traditional round mound, cut into wedges. It required a lot of back alley repair, which nobody needs to see or repeat. Give yourself a pardon and make them as drop scones, as directed. They are unexpectedly delicious!

Oh beHAVE you two!

Gluten Free Apricot Almond Scones

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-1/3 cups Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix
  • 1/3 cup sugar (preferably coconut or demerera sugar), plus 1 Tbsp for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots and dried prunes (in any proportion), roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup almonds, roughly chopped or painfully slivered
  • 4 tbsp butter (as cold as Cersei’s heart, which is to say frozen if possible)
  • 1 egg, beaten (ruthlessly)
  • 2/3 cup milk or cream

DIRECTIONS:

For scone newbies, see Queen Bee’s Kitchen’s short course in sconeology here for some excellent guidance. Feel free to substitute any dried fruit or nuts of choice, even if they are “just friends” and unrelated to each other.

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix the dry ingredients (through almonds) together. Cut in the butter using two knives (or make it easy on yourself and grate it in). Add the milk and beaten egg. Mix together with a fork. Dough will be thick. Drop large, tall dollops of dough (scones will spread when baking) onto lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with remaining coconut sugar. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until they look dangerously irresistible.

 

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Game of Scones: Bittersweet Tyrion Chocolate Chip Mini Scone


Let’s talk about Tyrion. He’s been on the sidelines so far this season, but I trust his day is coming.  We love that little guy. He’s quite rugged and harbors his share of bitterness (about the whole ‘least favored bastard’ thing among other issues). He’s also soft and quite sweet on the inside. (Dude, we saw you looking at Sansa in the crypt!)

With all that in mind, it’s time for Tyrion — like White Hot Jon Snow and Sassy Sansa to have his very own scone. For Tyrion we have a mini scone made with whole wheat flour for some grit, and studded with bittersweet chocolate chips. The original recipe from Baker By Nature  calls for semi sweet mini chocolate chips, but there is nothing small about the chips Tyrion bears on his shoulders, so I opted for bigger, more bitter chips.    

Just as Tyrion has become my favorite character, this might be my favorite scone so far. Scones can feel like such a commitment, but mini scones feel much more doable. Plus, whole wheat flour gives them a wholesome heft that eases the guilt factor of eating so much butter in each bite.

As emphasized in this scone tutorial, make sure your butter is cold, even frozen if you are going to grate it. Making mini scones is just a matter of dividing the dough and making two mounds instead of one, and then cutting each into eight wedges. I pegged the slacker meter by shaping the scone mounds directly on the baking sheet.  And yes, they turned out just fine. They may not look perfect, but as with Tyrion, the beauty of these scones lies in their imperfections.

He’s little, gritty, and a little bitter, but sweet on the inside.

Bittersweet Tyrion Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Mini Scones

Prep 10 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 30 mins
Yield 16 scones

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (preferably white whole wheat).
  • 1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, VERY cold and cut into tiny pieces, or grated on a box grater
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

For the egg wash:

  • 1 large egg, beaten1 teaspoon milk or water
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (or regular sugar if that’s all you’ve got), for sprinkling.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°(F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl mix together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar.
  2. Cut the butter into small cubes (or, even better, grate it on a box grater) then quickly work it into the mixture (using your fingers, or just two forks if you grated the butter) until it resembles a coarse meal.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, sour cream, and milk, then add to flour and butter mixture. Use a fork to stir everything together until just moistened.
  4. Add in the chocolate chips and gently fold them into dough with a spatula.
  5. Pour the shaggy dough out onto a clean, floured work surface. Divide it into two equal portions  and shape the dough into a 6ish-inch circle. Cut the dough into 8 wedges and carefully transfer to the prepared sheet. (alternatively, dump the whole shebang directly onto the parchment lined sheet and form into two mounds
  6. Lightly brush each scones with the egg wash, then sprinkle the top of each scone with sugar. This is key. White sugar is ok if it is all you’ve got. Turbinado, demerera or coconut sugar gets you bonus points.
  7. Bake for 16-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown.
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Feel Good Zucchini Bread (and muffins)

It’s that time of year—time to figure out what to do with the zucchinis that have grown into something with the heft (and taste) of a Duraflame log. Enter zucchini bread, a brilliant use of the bounty. The only downside of zucchini bread and their muffin progeny, is that most of them also seem like a ploy to get rid of all the oil and white sugar in your house. Eat a piece of your standard zuke bread and your fingers look like you’ve just wrangled a basket of French fries. And the sugar that’s involved…oy!  

Quick breads and muffins exist on a taste/texture profile continuum from dirt to donuts.  Ever since hearing about the 800 calorie Costo muffin I’ve gravitated towards the dirt end of the spectrum. In fact I have a stalker-like attraction to the Earth Muffin at our local bakery, Lou’s. Upon studying the insanely lengthy and small fonted ingredient list I learned they are full of ground nuts, chopped nuts, seeds, dried fruit, maple syrup, grains, meals and every Vegan trick in the book. Even when Lou’s tries to pawn their day old Earth Muffins off as fresh (as if we dirt lovers can’t detect nuance), something about all that texture, heft and granular mystery still satisfies my need for weirdness. These muffins do feel like treats, but not irresponsibly so.

Feel Good Zucchini Muffins, with a whole lot of goodness

Perhaps you’re not up for the true grit experience in the morning, but you probably don’t fully enjoy walking away from breakfast knowing you’ve already used up your daily dessert quota. That’s where this recipe strikes the perfect balance, erring on the nutritious side of the muffin spectrum, but with enough sweetness and light to start your day with a smile. The recipe features white whole wheat flour, not a ton of sugar, a LOT of zucchini, and olive oil to make every heart beat a little faster. It’s a muffin/bread you can eat in the morning and feel good knowing that today, there’s still room for ice cream!

Feel Good Zucchini Bread

Poached with utmost respect from Food52, where there is also an excellent discussion on this topic.
Makes: 1 loaf or about 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup olive oil (143 grams), plus more for the pan
  • 1 1/3 cups white whole-wheat flour (170 grams), plus more for the pa
  • 2 1/3 cups grated zucchini (from about 11 ounces zucchini)*
  • 1/3 cup sugar (67 grams)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (71 grams)
  • 2 large eggs (Vegans, grab your flax meal or aquafaba)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup walnuts (75 grams)
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins (53 grams)
  • 1/3 cup oats (33 grams), plus more for topping

*If you’re scant on the zukes, or just feel like a little more color, you can add in some grated carrot.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch loaf pan (muffin pans if using) )with some oil. Add some flour and tap around to distribute evenly. Gather the zucchini in a kitchen linen or paper towel and squeeze over the sink to get rid of any excess moisture. This step is KEY!
  2. Combine the sugars, eggs, and oil in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the zucchini to the bowl and use a rubber spatula to combine. Add the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir to combine. Add the flour, walnuts, raisins, and oats. Stir to combine.
  3. Pour the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle oats on top. Bake for about 1 hour until a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If making muffins, start checking them at 15 minutes and take them out when they are set and slightly browned.
  4. Let cool in the pan for 15 or so minutes before turning onto a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

The zucchini army at rest

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No Guilt Nutella: Chocolate for Breakfast Goes Legit

You say Nutella, I say…ain’t happening for breakfast in this house.

I grew up in a pre Nutella-For-Breakfast world. We had plenty of heinously unhealthy food, like pop tarts and cocoa puffs. But putting frosting on toast and calling it breakfast wasn’t a thing. Even if it happened (looking at you, chocolate Easter bunnies), it wasn’t sanctioned, let alone encouraged.

My kids grew up in a post NFB world, thanks to brilliant marketing from the Italians, who needed a real game-changer to dress up their melba toast and give their people a reason to get up for breakfast. Still, I did not serve Nutella to my kids. That may help explain why they so easily, dare I say eagerly, transitioned to sleepovers, camp and really any opportunity to leave home. There’s no need to get into my reasoning unless you really want a buzz-kill. I think we can all agree that commercial Nutella is not a solid foundation for the most important meal of the day.

But WHAT IF Nutella was made with no added sweeteners, fat or scary ingredients? What if it was made with the holy trinity of healthy treat ingredients—dates, nuts and cocoa—and nothing much else? Now that would be something I could get behind. And don’tcha know, I have. It’s not just for breakfast of course—it’s for any time you damn well please.

No Guilt Nutella soars past the teenage boy test, the teenage girl test, the man test and the “gimme that spoon I just need a chocolate fix ” test. If you are a Nutella connoisseur you will not be fooled by this, but the concept of a chocolate spread you can eat by the spoonful without a shred of guilt or secrecy may win you over nonetheless. Vegans, Paleos and Gluten-free peeps? Yeah, this is your jive too.

As with last week’s treats, your food processor earns its keep making these. It’s pretty foolproof though, as long as you make an honest attempt to skin the hazelnuts* and then process those babies until they really turn to butter. Be patient. It will happen.

No Guilt Nutella

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnuts (or a mix of hazelnuts and almonds)
  • 1 packed cup medjool dates, pitted (or more, see notes)
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp flavorless oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup almond milk

Method:

  1. Roast hazelnuts at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Transfer onto a kitchen towel and roll with your hands to remove skins. (no need to remove skins on almonds, if using)
  2. Puree hazelnuts in a food processor for 8 to 10 minutes until a butter forms. Take the time to do it right! You’ll know when you’ve crossed from ground nuts to butter.
  3. Remove hazelnut butter, and scrape out food processor as best you can. Add dates and water. Puree until smooth and creamy.
  4. Add hazelnuts to date paste and pulse a few times.
  5. Add cocoa, vanilla, oil, and salt and blend. 
  6. With food processor running, slowly pour in almond milk. Scrape down the sides and pulse a few times to blend into creamy goodness.
  7.  

Notes

*To completely remove hazelnut skins (for the smoothest possible spread), boil nuts in a pot of water with few tablespoons of baking soda for 4 minutes. Immediately strain and place nuts in ice water for a minute or so, until the skins peel off easily. You still need to roast the nuts to loosen up all the oils and bring out the flavor. Google will not corroborate this, but I find this process takes a little mojo out of the nuts. I prefer the less perfect/more flavorful roasting and rolling technique. You will stain the dishtowel, but such are the sacrifices we make. See here for a THOROUGH demo.

If your dates are hard, or you are using Deglet dates, soak them in warm water for an hour or two before pureeing.

…and furthermore, depending on the sweetness of your dates and the strength of your cocoa, you may need to add more dates at the end to find your sweet spot. 

I swear the notes are done.

Store leftovers in the fridge, and put your guilt in the rear view mirror!

Breakfast in America, reimagined.

The real thing, at the breakfast table, on the dreaded melba toast, in its homeland.

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Seed Bark Granola

Nutty, grainy, and way better tasting than bark. I promise!

January is not for sissies. In looking back on January posts just for this blog, there are some common themes: soups, breads…and a lot of complaining about the general bleakness all around. I’m not going to entirely break with tradition—I’ve had a perpetual pot of soup (any variation of Sugar and Spice Squash Soup is my fave) and have ditched all pretense of gluten-free living because, a girl’s gottta dunk something! But, I’ll skip the bellyaching this time.

This year’s January challenges come with an ongoing healthy eating quest, fueled by eating advice that ranges from confusing to Draconian. As discussed in November, when trying to eat for maximum brain and heart health there is a lot of conflicting info to navigate. As part of this mission, I’ve made things that look like dirt and some that taste like dirt. I’ve crammed way more vegetables into every meal but also “jumped the shark,” by putting kale in dishes where it has no business, thereby ruining my kale cred. I brought a peanut dip to a party that was pretty delicious but looked like baby poop, which turns out to be a significant enough deterrent.

At a certain point, you have to do the best you can, in a way that will be sustainable. As I forge though January I’ll post the best of what I find. Every recipe won’t meet everyone’s standards of “healthy” or “clean” eating. But my promise to you is that they will all be good enough to bring outside your home, and give with pride.

This granola/topping/snack comes straight from Engine 2 cookbook, which is a fantastic resource to have around. The Esselstyn tribe are Vegan, oil-free wizards. This granola reminds me of my beloved Bread of Life “Dirt” Bread, as well as the PITA lifechanging crackers. The good news here is that it’s a whole lot easier to make than either of them, and with no grains whatsoever it comes close to satisfying all versions of clean eating. The only debatable ingredient is maple syrup, but it doesn’t call for much and c’mon people—live a little!

Seed Bark Granola

From The Engine 2 Cookbook, with some pro tips

Ingredients

1 ½ c raw pumpkin seeds
½ cup raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup raw sesame seeds
¼ cup flaxseed meal
2 Tbsp chia seeds
2-3 Tbsp maple syrup (2 Tbsp was perfect for me)

Method:

Preheat 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, ending with the syrup. Mix it up well. Pour it all on the baking sheet and press it out to 1/4 -1/3 inch thick (no thicker than an almond). Pro tip: To make this easier and more uniform lay another sheet of parchment paper on top of the mixture and press down hard on it with another baking sheet.

Bake 18 minutes until fragrant and lightly browned on top. Rotate the pan halfway through if you are inspired and watch to be sure it does not burn.

Remove from oven and leave it to cool. As it cools, it will speak to you by crackling. It’s saying, “Leave me alone–I’m getting crispy, baby!” After at least 20 minutes, you can be dramatic and lift the cookie sheet a few inches then drop it. Or, break it up it yourself into whatever sized bits you want.

When completely cool, store it in an airtight container. It lasts 10 days or so they say. I would not know. I do know it is delicious, and is a healthy gift to anyone you love.

Bark, ready to bite

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Drunken Fig Jam: Where fresh figs go to party

Fig Jamming New England style, with cheddar of course

How did I make it through life this far without ever canning? Why did I start now? Two fine questions. My two fine answers are fresh figs and fresh corn. They’re only around for a bit and they are so darned good.

Let’s start with figs. This recipe come from Treas, out in Cali, head chef at Granite Chief Command Central. Her recipe, which she shared with me after two years of my passive yet unremitting coersion, says that fig season is only in August. This handy guide to all things fig, gives us a larger window. According to google, there is a short season in early summer and then a longer season in late summer/fall. Either way, fresh figs are not around forever, and once you buy them you’ve got to use them fast. We should have a few more weeks at least, and cognac is always in season, so we’re good there. 

A little heads up to you non-canners out there. You need a big pot, you need to know that when you fill it too full with water and then put your jars in, your stove may have a hazardous overflow situation. You can only use canning lids once, which is why that whole mysterious section of parts in the grocery store exists. I guess that’s about it. I was going to get into racks for the bottom of your pot, but this recipe doesn’t call for one, so let’s run with the “ignorance is bliss” theory.

Another small cautionary note: When you are heading out to book group for three hours it’s best to turn the burner under your boiling fig jam OFF.  Next up? Corn relish to give Stonewall Kitchen a run for their money…and a new stockpot.

Fancying up a fall salad

Drunken Fig Jam

Recipe and action shots from Treas Manning
Makes 6 1/2 pint jars

Ingredients

• 2 lemons
• 4 pounds ripe fresh figs (preferably black), stemmed,
cut into 1/2-inch pieces (use food scale for accuracy)
• 4 cups sugar
• 3/4 cup brandy or Cognac
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Method:

Using a vegetable peeler, slice peel from lemons (try to avoid as much as the white part as possible) in long strips. Cut peel into matchstick-size strips. Combine lemon peel, figs, sugar, brandy, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in heavy large deep saucepan; let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Bring fig mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; continue to boil until jam thickens (30 to 35 minutes), and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring frequently and occasionally use a hand blender to puree the mixture. It’s fine if there are small bits of lemon peel and fig, but I do like the bits to be minimal. Remove from heat.

Ladle mixture into 6 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.

Notes: At high altitude over 5500 feet, process the jars for 15 minutes.

Drunken Fig Jam is yummy:

  • on a toasted baguette with a slice of melted Irish Cheddar, and a walnut on top.
  • on crusty bread with fresh burratta or mozzarella
  • on a grilled bone in pork chop, or on slices of pork tenderloin
  • on whole wheat toast topped with a strip of bacon for breakfast.
  • with cheese, sliced pears and walnuts on a groovy pizza

Bringing It and Giving It:

Makes a darned nice Christmas gift, especially canned in a Ball and Mason squatty wide mouth jar

 

 

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Mochanut Granola

For all those times when you wish you could chew your coffee.

When I first ran across a recipe for mocha granola, it was an a-ha moment. Coffee, chocolate and breakfast all in one bite? Brilliant! It sounded like the perfect offering for a weekend away, a camping trip, a hike, etc. And so, the experimenting and recipe sampling began.

Granola making is neither rocket science nor an exact science. It involves mixing oats with all your favorite tastes and textures, lubing it up some fat and sweetener, and baking it in the oven until it is crisp but not burnt. How much fat and sweetener is where granola can go from pretty healthy to totally decadent. One swishy LA café’s mocha granola recipe involves two sticks of butter. Well, duh. Of course it tastes good. So does a cheesecake, but it doesn’t really get your day off to a healthy start. Some recipes call for only ground coffee, which can get gritty and  others for only brewed coffee which can be kind of wimpy. I needed to slay this beast.

In my excitement I misread the first recipe, and by measuring ground coffee vs brewed coffee ended up using a solid 8 times the intended amount of coffee. That first batch could have been named “True Grit.” Still, I didn’t want to back off that much on the coffee flavor, which happens if you use only brewed coffee. The extra liquid also means your granola takes longer to bake and crisp. I settled on using a combo of finely ground coffee, in the dry ingredients, along with brewed coffee mixed in with the oil and maple syrup.

The flavor profile of this reminded me of my youth, when Jamocha Almond Fudge ice cream turned my world upside down. I am pretty sure that in 6th grade I worked the flu for an extra day to stay home with this particular flavor. This recipe bridges the territory of breakfast and treat. It’s got a double dose of coffee— liquid and ground—which is balanced by

Roasty and toasty, straight from the oven.

a fair yet not indecent amount of sweetener, mostly in the form of maple syrup. I also added unsweetened flaked coconut, because when coconut rolls around and gets toasty with maple syrup it assumes bacon-like decadence.

You can sub butter or another oil for the coconut oil, and mess around with the type and quantity of sweetener you like (or have). Play around with it, and when you walk back inside your house and it smells like coffee, chocolate and roasted nuts…you’re welcome!

Mochanut Granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup almonds (or nut of choice)
  • 1 cup unsweetened flakes coconut (this is the addict dose. Use your judgment)
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1 Tbsp finely ground coffee
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp or more vanilla (optional, but why not?)
  • 6 oz strong brewed coffee

Method:

Preheat oven to 325. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. (It will cook up and crisp faster in two.)

In a large bowl combine oats, almonds, coconut, cocoa and ground coffee.

In a small saucepan melt oil and stir it together with syrup and brewed coffee until combined.

Pour liquid mixture over oats and combine well. Spread granola evenly in pan(s).  

Bake, stirring and checking every 10 minutes, for 30-40 minutes, until desired dryness. Don’t skip the stirring, especially if it’s all on one pan. The granola will crisp up more as it cools. Cool completely before storing.

Bringing it:

Curl up that parchment paper and funnel this goodness straight into a mason jar. Bring it anywhere you want to be a morning hero.

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Blueberry Dutch Bunny

Blueberry Durch Bunny

Fresh from the field and hot from the oven.

Sometimes you just get lucky. Friday was my day. I took a flyer and called Super Acres in Lyme to see if they were open for blueberry picking and learned it was opening day. Hallelujah! If you’ve never been to this PYO paradise it’s an Upper Valley rite of summer, and well worth a trip up River Rd.

Blueberry pints

The fruits of your labors

I coerced a friend— Super Acres newbie— to make the trek and he was suitably impressed.  This is not tedious, back-breaking work in a scorching field (I’m looking at you, strawberries). These are grassy rows of high bushes laden with so much ripe fruit that you can pick them like grapes. Somehow you can always seem to find a shady spot. Sheer brilliance! In about a half hour we easily picked four lbs each, without even taking a rest in the Adirondack chairs. Berry picking is about digging deep.

Super Acres provides picking buckets and pint baskets, though the pros bring their own giant Tupperware to make their pies and fill their freezers at home. Despite my aspirations, the allure of fresh berries is too much to resist in our house, and I have yet to freeze a single blueberry.

As for what to make, I had been angling for an excuse to make a blueberry version of Dutch Bunny, inspired by a recipe in Yankee magazine. Dutch Bunny (known outside my household as Dutch Baby, Sunday Pancake and Swedish Pancake) is my go-to weekend breakfast when I’m aiming to win friends. (Lifelong friends have been made over the magical emergence of Dutch Bunny on a vacation morning. True story) It’s hard to imagine a dish that is easier, more impressive or more appreciated by a houseful of guests.  Baking fresh blueberries into the whole shebang takes it over the top.

This is simply my standard Dutch Bunny recipe with fresh blueberries added to the mix. I linked you up but this saves you the trouble of hunting. You need your strength for blueberry picking.

Yield: Serves 4, or one hungry teenager.

 Ingredients

  • 3  Tbsp butter
  • 3  large eggs
  • 3/4  cup  milk
  • 1/2  tsp vanilla
  • 1/2  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  Tbsp sugar
  • 1/8  tsp salt
  • 1/2-3/4 cup fresh blueberries
  • Powdered sugar and fresh lemon wedge for topping
  • Whipped cream for topping, optional

 Method

  1. Melt butter in a 10-inch ovenproof frying pan over low heat. Remove from heat.
  2. In a large bowl or blender, beat or whirl eggs until light and pale. Beat or blend in milk, vanilla, flour, sugar, and salt.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle blueberries on top (they will plop and sink—it’s all good).
  4. Bake in a 425° oven until pancake is puffed and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Dust with powdered sugar and squeeze fresh lemon on top. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Top with more berries, and whipped cream is you’re feeling it.

If you’re in the Upper Valley and want to visit Super Acres, it is located at 722 River Rd, north of Lyme. For more info call the hotline at (603) 353-9807. Unsprayed and awesome blueberries are $3/lb at the self-serve slot. Do the right thing and round up if you’re belly hurts from all the sampling. Oh, and it wouldn’t be a crime to save some room for a little detour to Whippi Dip in Fairlee on your way home.

Thanks to Olivia the great for her awesome pictures!

Super acres-kisk

Weighin’ and payin’ on the honor system.

 

 

 

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