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Posts Tagged ‘muffins’

Chocolate beet muffin made with hazelnuts, hemp hearts and avocado instead of oil/butterSometimes recipes I work out in my head turn out beautifully. This chocolate beet muffin recipe is one of them!

I’ve wanted to try a chocolate beet recipe for a while. I used my Banana Carrot Muffin recipe as a starting point, swapping the beets for the carrots, adding cacao, and tweaking other ingredients to complement the chocolate and beet flavours. Instead of ground flax seed, I used ground hemp hearts. In place of ground almonds, I used ground toasted hazelnuts. I replaced the dates with prunes.

I’ve also been reading about using avocados in baking to substitute some or all of the fat in a recipe. The ripe avocado I had on hand made its way into the muffins too.

These chocolate beet muffins are healthful and satisfying, gently sweetened (read: may not satisfy a sweet tooth). The flavours of all ingredients come through, including the earthiness of the beets, without it being off-putting.

Recipe: Chocolate Beet Muffins

I made a combination of mini and regular size muffins; the recipe made 24 mini muffins and 9 regular-size muffins. These muffins are dense and moist, and taste better the day after baking. I suggest refrigerating or freezing them for longer storage. 

Dry:
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
2/3 cup ground toasted hazelnuts
1/4 cup ground hemp hearts
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup cacao
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pitted prunes
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Wet:
3 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 medium-large ripe avocado, mashed
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
2 medium-small beets, finely grated

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line/grease 12 regular size muffin cups (or combination of mini and regular-size muffin cups).

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Combine all wet ingredients in a second bowl. The chopped prunes will tend to stick together. With your fingers separate them once they are in the flour mixture; coating each piece with the flour mixture will prevent them from sticking together.

Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Bake 35-40 minutes or until tester comes out clean. (Mini muffins will be done sooner, in approx. 30-35 minutes.)

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Toddler peeling onions.

Bee focusing on peeling onions. She managed to remove the outer skins.

I always knew I would enjoy motherhood. I felt it would give me the opportunity to do more of some of the things I love, cooking and baking in particular. While it’s taken 18+ months to get to this point — I didn’t necessarily expect to get there sooner — I’m totally loving it: cooking a fresh, interesting and tasty dinner on most nights; trying out new recipes; transforming ideas onto the plate; eating good food! I’m in a real sweet spot, and Bee is playing along.

A good part of our afternoons are spent cooking, and some mornings we bake together. She may spend some time with me at the counter, helping me or playing with food scraps or, her favourite, water. Or she may cook in her own mini kitchen, where I see her imitate what she sees me doing. Or she may simply occupy herself otherwise, checking in with me every so often. The process takes longer, with frequent pauses for various reasons, but the food gets on the table.

Although I sometimes feel guilty that I’m not spending the time playing with Bee, I figure she is seeing a good example of home cooking and learning some valuable skills. Over time, I should be able to involve her more and more.

Toddler making muffins.

Bee stirring (and tasting, of course) the wet ingredients for muffins.

Just the other day we tried a new muffin recipe together. It’s been a long time since I got excited about a muffin recipe (probably not since I came up with the date and cranberry muffins with oatmeal streusel topping), but these banana carrot muffins are stellar!

I’m always searching for recipes with low/no sugar or tweaking them to reduce the amount of sugar. Too often recipes have too much sugar, which is not only bad for us but also, in my opinion, masks the other flavours. This recipe gets just the right amount of sweetness from bananas, dates and a touch of maple syrup, and includes a lot of healthy ingredients. I can’t get enough of them, and Bee is a fan too. Another sweet spot!

Banana carrot muffins.

Recipe: Banana Carrot Muffins

This recipe is adapted from Dr. Weil’s Carrot-Banana Muffin recipe. I made a combination of mini and regular size muffins; the recipe made 24 mini muffins and 9 regular-size muffins. 

Dry:
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
2/3 cup ground almonds/almond meal
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp each cinnamon, cardamom, ginger
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pitted dates
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Wet:
3 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
2 medium carrots, finely grated

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line/grease 12 regular size muffin cups (or combination of mini and regular-size muffin cups).

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Combine all wet ingredients in a second bowl. The chopped dates will tend to stick together. With your fingers separate them once they are in the flour mixture; coating each piece with the flour mixture will prevent them from sticking together.

Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean. (Mini muffins will be done sooner, in approx. 25 minutes.)

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Date and Cranberry Muffin with Oatmeal Streusel ToppingI’m a fan of date squares, but often I find them too sweet. When I tried the cranberry-date squares from 3 Tarts, a bakery in my neighbourhood, I thought “what a smart combination!”

Those squares became the inspiration for these muffins. The dates give them a rich flavour (and minimize the sugar required) while the cranberries offer a pleasantly tart contrast to the dates’ natural sweetness. The oatmeal streusel topping provides some nice crunchy texture.

My mouth is watering as I write this. Time for a muffin!

Recipe: Date and Cranberry Muffins with Oatmeal Streusel Topping

Dry:
1 1/2 cups flour (I use 3/4 cup regular spelt flour and 3/4 cup whole spelt flour)
1/2 cup oatmeal (large flake/old-fashioned kind)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup diced dates (raisin-sized dice)
1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen)

Wet:
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup brown sugar (loosely packed)
1/2 cup date puree (see ingredients below)
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Date Puree:
1 cup whole pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup water

Oatmeal Streusel Topping:
1 cup oatmeal (large flake/old-fashioned kind)
1/4 brown sugar
1/4 flour
2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line/grease 12 muffin cups.

Date Puree: Combine chopped dates and water in a saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat until dates are softened. Puree with an immersion blender, a food processor or food mill. Should yield 1/2 cup (no worries if it’s a little more or a little less).

Oatmeal Streusel Topping: Mix oatmeal, brown sugar and flour in a bowl. Add butter and, with your hands, rub all ingredients together until combined. Set aside.

Muffins: In a bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Combine all dry ingredients (except for cranberries) in a second bowl. The chopped dates will tend to stick together. With your fingers separate them once they are in the flour mixture; coating each piece with the flour mixture will prevent them from sticking together.  Add cranberries and toss to combine and coat the cranberries with flour.

Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Cover each muffin with some of the streusel topping, pressing it lightly into the batter. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

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I never knew my husband was such a fan of Halloween. Maybe it’s because we spent several years living abroad where there was no Halloween. Since we moved to Ottawa though, the collection of Halloween decorations has grown slowly and David gets quite excited about handing out treats to the neighbourhood kids. He’s also the official pumpkin carver.

Happy pumpkin

One of David's pumpkin creations!

This year he carved four pumpkins, one big one and three small ones. The small pumpkins were actually pie pumpkins and we still had two whole ones left. I steamed them, then pureed and froze the flesh, save for a 1/2 cup which I used to make these pleasantly warming and delicately flavourful muffins. Perfect for this time of year!

Recipe: Spiced Pumpkin-Date Muffins

Adapted from a recipe in A Taste of Canada: A Culinary Journey.

Wet:
1 egg
½ cup milk
1/3 cup yoghurt
¼ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup pureed pumpkin

Dry:
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ cup ground flax seed*
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cardamom
2/3 cup chopped dates (12 dates) + 2 dates sliced lengthwise into 5 pieces each (for “pretty”  topping)
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10 muffin cups.

In a bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Combine all dry ingredients in a second bowl. The chopped dates will tend to stick together. With your fingers separate them once they are in the flour mixture; coating each piece with the flour mixture will prevent them from sticking together.  Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Decorate with a piece of date. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

*If you leave out the ground flax seed, then reduce the yoghurt to a ¼ cup.

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Early morning fall colours along the Ottawa RiverAlthough the exuberance of fall with its bright colours and crunchy leaves has already passed, the colourful fall harvest is still readily available. I like this time of year. The flavours become somewhat “heavier,” more concentrated, yet they’re still fresh and crisp. Apples and cranberries are among the iconic fall produce.

Apple crates at Dupont Circle market in Washington D.C.

Apple crates at Dupont Circle market in Washington D.C..

Cranberries

Sea of red… cranberries!

Apples and cranberries are also a classic seasonal combination. Here they are in a muffin, which combines fresh and dried cranberries, and also incorporates healthy hemp hearts.

Recipe: I ♥ Fall Muffins (aka Apple-Cranberry Muffins)

Apple-cranberry muffinHemp hearts have a delicate nutty flavour and are a good source of Omega 3 and 6 essential fats. Health food stores are most likely to stock hemp hearts; a popular brand is Manitoba Harvest.

Wet:
1 egg
¼ cup milk
½ cup yoghurt
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups apple, coarsely grated (2 medium apples)

Dry:
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ cup hemp hearts
½ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup fresh cranberries
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

In a bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Combine all dry ingredients in a second bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Apple picking sign in Rougemont, Quebec

U-pick apples in Rougemont, Québec.

Cranberry bogs in Richmond, B.C.

Bird’s eye view of cranberry bogs in Richmond, B.C..

Fall colours in the neighbourhood

Fall colours in my neighbourhood.

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Purple polka-dot (grape-walnut) muffinsRecently a friend asked what she should do with the grapes she bought at the market. Those small, juicy, sweet-tart ones—Concord or Coronation—that have somewhat thick skins, but no seeds. After trying one, her little girl decided she wasn’t too keen on them. I suggested muffins, knowing that they’re quick and easy to prepare, but didn’t have a recipe to share. A couple of days later, I also bought some of those grapes. It was the perfect opportunity to do some experimentation.

I was visually inspired by pictures I’d seen of Italian bread with grapes (schiacciata con uve). But I wanted muffins with more than just grapes though. The result: a moist, flavourful, fun and a little decadent muffin made with grapes, walnuts, apple and chocolate. Once baked, the grapes have a delightful sweetness and the skins are tender.

Although it’s still summer, this muffin recipe makes me think of fall.

Recipe: Purple Polka-Dot Muffins (aka Grape-Walnut Muffins)

Wet:
1 egg
¼ cup milk
½ cup yoghurt
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ an apple, coarsely grated (approx. ½- 2/3 cup)

Dry:
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ cup ground walnuts
½ cup chopped walnuts
50 g dark chocolate, finely grated
pinch salt

Other:
Approx. 1 cup Concord/Coronation grapes, washed, dried and removed from their stems

Purple polka-dot (grape-walnut) muffins before baking.

Purple polka-dot (grape-walnut) muffins prior to baking, just push the grapes lightly into the batter.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

In a bowl, combine all wet ingredients. Combine all dry ingredients in a second bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Press 8-10 grapes into the top of each muffin. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

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Ontario peaches are ripe, sweet and juicy! They’re perfect eaten out of hand, peach nectar trickling down your arm. Luscious.

I couldn’t help but be inspired for this week’s muffin though, and put together a classic combo: peaches and raspberries.

Recipe: Crunchy-Top Peach Melba Muffins

Crunchy-top peach melba muffins

These crunchy-top peach melba muffins are David's favourite ones yet!

Wet:
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup cubed peaches
½ cup raspberries (make it a generous ½ cup!) – frozen raspberries are fine

Dry:
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
pinch salt

Topping:
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

Prepare topping by mixing flour and sugar in a bowl. Add butter and rub ingredients together with fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Place in refrigerator until needed.

Combine all wet ingredients, except for raspberries. Combine dry ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened. Gently fold in raspberries.

Fill muffin cups. Sprinkle topping mixture on top of each muffin. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Recipe Variation: Crunchy-Top Peach and Blueberry Muffins

Contrary to David, I think this recipe actually works better with blueberries… Replace the raspberries with 3/4 cup of blueberries.

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