Dairy Free Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar

Bluberry Muffins 1

I cannot believe that summer is almost over, and I feel like I have hardly had time to smell the roses.  Between visitors, swim meets, and a ridiculous amount of work – it’s no wonder.  The girls on the other hand have had quite a different experience, they have had the summer of their life.  Enjoying every day of summer that they can.  So – today’s post is from my daughter – she decided to help me out…I am still smiling.

We spend most of our summer at the pool, one day when we were walking down, we saw that the pool was closed and wouldn’t be open until later in the afternoon. So we started trudging home having no idea what we were going to do. We got home and looked in the fridge and remembered that we had these giant blueberries that we got from the farmers market. We called to our mom and asked her if we could bake something and we both had the same idea of what to bake- blueberry muffins. We got this recipe from the Kitchen for Kids cookbook. The recipe called for milk but we substituted that for coconut milk that way our dad could have some. These muffins are light, airy, and almost cake like. We also added a pinch more cinnamon because who doesn’t love more cinnamon. I love these muffins because they are super easy and tasty. I hope you like these as much as I do!

So there you have it – if a 12 and 8 year old could make these all by themselves (no help AT ALL from mom, not even clean up!), there is no excuse for you.  Thanks to my wonderful daughters for helping with the blog, and providing us a lovely breakfast this morning – I got to have my cake, and eat it too (for breakfast!)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 9 muffin tins, or use papers.

Mix the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.

In a small bowl or cup, mix the 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon.  Set Aside.

In another bowl, use a whisk to stir the egg, coconut milk, oil and lemon juice until smooth.  Switch to a baking spatula and scrape into the flour mixture.  Stir to form a stiff batter.  Don’t over-mix.  Stir in the blueberries.  (Be especially careful not to over-mix frozen blueberries because the juice will make the batter green.)

Green a teaspoon to scoop the stiff batter into 9 muffin tins (or use an ice cream scoop) to about half-full.  Use a clean teaspoon to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top.

Bake about 20 minutes, or until the muffins are puffed and golden.  Cool slightly.  Eat while warm.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Dairy Free Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar

Italian Bietole Chard Tart

Italian Bietole Chard Tart

I am starting to think that I need to go back to school to learn about my greens.  I actually considered myself an expert when it came to food, until I realized how little I knew about the leafy green vegetable.  Just take kale for instance, I had no idea how many variations there were of just kale!  My new market basket has really humbled me…

So each week we get at least 4 or 5 different leafy green vegetables, and usually there is one or two recipes in the box on how to use them.  My problem is that I can’t even tell the difference between the greens to know which ones to use!  So – the other week I got a recipe card for the Italian Bietole Chard Tart.  It sounded amazing, and I thought it would be a great way for the girls to eat these nutrient rich vegetables.  My favorite part about this tart was there was no crust to make.  You basically make a crust out of the bread crumbs and the cheese.  Yum.

So, I looked over the greens in the box that week, but I had no idea which one was the chard – we even brought them over to our neighbors (who I really consider to be an expert), and even he wasn’t sure what they were.  So, after staring at them for about 30 minutes, I just closed my eyes and chose one.  I couldn’t let this go on any further – and seriously, what is the worst thing that can happen, that we eat a different green?  I take this cooking thing way too seriously.

Whatever green I ended up using – it was perfect in the tart.  I don’t actually think it was the chard because I didn’t have to cook it nearly as long as the recipe said, but it was perfect anyway.  The girls even liked it, score!  The next morning, I warmed it up for breakfast – what a treat – nutritious and delicious.  It doesn’t get any better than this – leafy greens roulette – I can’t wait to play again this week…

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Swiss chard, washed and dried
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°. Bring 8 quarts water to a rolling boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Roughly chop the Swiss chard, discarding the rough stems. Add the Swiss chard to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain thoroughly and set aside.

In a 12-inch saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over a medium flame until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic, and cook until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and the parsley. Let cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Meanwhile, break the eggs into a small bowl. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of Parmigiano and, using a whisk, mix until the ingredients are well-blended. Add the egg mixture to the cooled Swiss chard and toss to combine.

Using the remaining olive oil to lightly grease a shallow 9-inch round or oval baking dish. Dust the bottom of the baking dish with 1/2 cup bread crumbs. Carefully place the Swiss chard and egg mixture into the pan. Dust with the remaining Parmigiano and then the remaining bread crumbs. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 1 hour. Serve hot or room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Italian Bietole Chard Tart

Blueberry Coffeecake with Streusel

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Everyone needs a break now and then.  I am not just talking about a small 15-minute walk around the block brake, I am talking about a break from life. Ok, yes, those 15-minute walks are important – after what I experienced this week, sometimes you just need to get a little air.  The problem is that you have to come to that conclusion yourself – no one can tell you that it has to be done.  But believe me, it is amazing what it can do for you…

To say that things are hectic right now is an understatement.  Thursday was the last day of school for the year, although this year it was a little bittersweet.  For my younger daughter, it was a big party – but for my older daughter it was not the usual feeling.  Unfortunately I had an all-day meeting, and was extremely preoccupied – all my brain cells were focused at the time.  That was until I got the text.  The last day was fun, except for the end – everyone was crying, even the boys.  Getting that text was heart breaking.  Later I found out the teachers were crying too.  All because the school board decided to split these kids up.  I won’t get into it again, because I can no longer dwell on this horrible decision.  This summer I am working on an attitude adjustment – I am going to have a positive outlook on my daughter’s new school – and so will she.  We agreed to it.

So as I sat there in that meeting, thinking about my daughter – it hit me, I was not the only one with a life outside that room.  Life is hard – and most of the time, you really have no idea how hard it is – particularly for everyone else.  Fortunately for me, I can always turn to food – and that’s exactly what I did this weekend.  I didn’t just dabble – I was hard core – I was on a power cooking/baking frenzy, trying to get all my stress out in the kitchen.  I actually think it worked…or I am just utterly exhausted.

This was just one of the many things going on in my kitchen – a good old fashioned blueberry coffeecake.  Now, I have a favorite recipe from my mother – that just happens to be dairy-free.  I just had to see though if this dairy version from Cooking Light was better – and you know what, it wasn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, this was absolutely moist and delicious – but I actually like my mother’s recipe better – ok, who is really surprised by that?  Yes, my mother tests her recipes more than anyone else I know.  And Mom, you win again.

So I hope that I was not the only one that was able to take a break this weekend – in whatever form that is.  Even if you just took a few deep breaths…I know it will help.  Monday, I am ready for you – bring it on.

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Weigh or lightly spoon 9 ounces flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 9 ounces flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt), stirring with a whisk. Remove 2 tablespoons flour mixture; sprinkle over blueberries, tossing to coat.

Combine brown sugar and next 4 ingredients (through cinnamon) in a medium bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons melted butter; toss to combine.

Place granulated sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and oil in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended (about 2 minutes). Add egg; beat well. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix after each addition. Stir in rind and juice.

Spoon half of batter into a 9-inch square light-colored metal baking pan coated with cooking spray (do not use a dark or nonstick pan). Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup blueberry mixture. Spoon remaining batter over blueberries. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 cup blueberry mixture. Sprinkle with brown sugar mixture. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Blueberry Coffeecake with Streusel

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

I know it is Sunday, but I am already looking forward to Thursday.  That market basket that my husband got me for Mother’s Day is quite something.  It is like Christmas morning every Thursday night – as we unpack the beautiful wooden box with all sorts of goodies.  This week’s basket came with this wonderful box of pistachio apricot granola.  I can’t wait to put some on my yogurt in the morning.  It’s the little things that get me through this end-of-the-year chaos.

Since I was set for breakfast this week, I thought it was only fair if I made some treats for the girls.  They do love granola – but I know they love scones even more.  I have gone through many ways of saving recipes over the years.  I started by keeping every single food magazine and marking the pages where I liked a recipe.  That worked for a little while, but after I had over 20 magazines, I couldn’t remember what was in each issue.  Then I started cutting out the indexes, and had a binder of them – with the highlighted recipes that I liked.  Again, not very practical as I had to look through hundreds of pages to find what I was looking for.  The next plan was to cut out the recipe and put it in a photo album, where I had dividers of the different types of recipes.  After I filled up two binders, I was done with that method.  At that point I decided I needed to use technology, and that’s when I started my blog.  I tell you, I love being able to Bing a recipe from my blog and get to it instantly.  Technology can be quite awesome.

Instead of going to my usual stack for a scone recipe (knowing that I didn’t have any lingering around that I wanted to make), I went to one of the binders I created – and flipped to the “Breakfast” tab.  I found this recipe that I probably cut out ages ago from either Gourmet or Bon Appetit and decided to see if it had stood the test of time.  Boy did it ever – these scones were crunchy on the outside, soft and pillowy on the inside, with a touch of oat flavor, but nicely sweetened.  I could have scarfed a couple of them down, except that I reminded myself they were for the girls – I already had my treat waiting.  So, we will all be eating well this week, and we need to – if we are going to get through these last 5 weeks.  Ugh!

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
  • Finely grated zest from 1 large navel orange
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk plus additional for brushing
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Special equipment: a 2 1/4-inch round cookie cutter

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt into a food processor, then add oats and pulse 15 times. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with small (pea-size) lumps, then transfer to a bowl.

Stir together zest and buttermilk. Toss chocolate chips with oat mixture, then add buttermilk, stirring with a fork just until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface  and gently knead 6 times.

Pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round, dusting surface with more flour if necessary. Cut out as many scones as possible with cutter, dipping it in flour before each cut, and transfer scones to a lightly buttered large baking sheet. Gather scraps into a ball, then pat into a round and cut out more scones in same manner.

Brush tops of scones with buttermilk and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake in middle of oven until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, and transfer to a rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Scones

Peanut Butter Granola Crunch Parfaits

Peanut Butter Granola Crunch Parfairs

Why is it that every year I forget about the end of the year chaos that begins around May – or as my close friend describes it “the thousand days of May.”  Every year it hits me over the head like a load of bricks.  Maybe it is because swim team starts and we don’t end up eating until 8pm every night, or because of the concerts and recitals and end of year activities.  Don’t get me wrong, I love every one of them, but it is exhausting.  Then add that to my already CRAZY work schedule – somehow without me realizing it the words “Super Hero” ended up in my job description.  I come home every night with my head pounding because of all the walls I had to move during the day.  Sometimes they come crashing into me, then I have to get myself up and figure out how to put everything back together again.  Fun times.

It’s the little things that I try to focus on – like the market basket I get on Thursdays with the piles of fresh vegetables, the video that my girls created this weekend when my husband and I went out on a date, the drinks I make for my friends on the weekends (more on that in another post) – and this granola recipe.  When I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – I thought it looked good – but I had no idea what I was stepping into.  What a simple recipe made the most incredible granola I have ever had.  We could not stop eating it – and seriously squealing with delight.  It was crunchy, just sweet enough, and oh so flavorful – with that peanut butter and maple – I am telling you (and I haven’t told you this in a while) – go directly to the grocery store, pick up these ingredients – and RUN home to make this.  You will not be sorry.

I am still not sure how I am going to get these blog posts in during these crazy times – but I will try.  In the meantime, if you don’t hear from me, I have probably been swallowed up by the inner vortex of the earth.  I might even have my hands cuffed together – but don’t fret, I will figure out a way to get free (I have a super awesome team), just so I can watch more of those videos and make this granola.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-fat creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups vanilla frozen Greek yogurt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Heat syrup, peanut butter, oil, and vanilla in a saucepan over high heat, stirring until smooth. Add to oat mixture; toss to coat.

Spread oat mixture on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 9 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. Divide yogurt among 6 parfait glasses; top each serving with 1/3 cup granola.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Peanut Butter Granola Crunch Parfaits

Cream Cheese Danish Braid

Cream Cheese Danish Bread

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there!  I hope everyone had a wonderful day, and as my mother told me to do, indulge just a little.  Speaking of indulging…in going with the theme of over the top that I started last weekend, I decided to continue that trend just a bit…particularly in honor of mother’s day.

I don’t make bread very often anymore – it was something I was fascinated in when I lived in Denver – mostly because of the high altitude.  Bread would rise much faster, and it was just exciting to watch.  For the past 18 years, I can count how many times I have attempted a yeast dough on one hand – just because I don’t want to spend a day waiting for it to rise.  A couple of years ago, I noticed that my oven had a proof setting – and all of a sudden I realized that I had my own little proofing oven right in my house.  But even that added incentive was not enough.

The other month in Cooking Light they had a section on cooking and baking like the professionals.  Basically they tried to tell you that you didn’t have to be an expert to make different things.  I know better than that, and didn’t fall for it for a minute.  But here I was cutting out this delicious cream cheese Danish braid and sticking it in my recipe pile.  Note to self – if you don’t want to make something, do not put it in that pile.  Of course placing anything in that pile means that it is visible for my daughters to see – and when my older one saw that it was an option, that’s all she talked about.

So – I attempted the Danish braid.  I was not expecting much, but that dough was heavenly.  Figuring out exactly how to make the braid just by reading the instructions was a little tricky – but it turned out beautifully.  I was a hero.  My daughter was completely amazed.  The filling was a little sweet for us – but the bread was out of this world.  Just amazing, and I can’t wait to try the dough on cinnamon buns.

Here’s to all you heroes out there – but especially the moms today – even the little things you do go a long way…it is your day to celebrate.

Ingredients

Sponge:

  • 6 tablespoons very warm 1% low-fat milk (120° to 130°)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 package quick-rise yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

Dough:

  • 7.9 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour, divided (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 2.25 ounces whole-wheat pastry flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Dash of salt

Remaining ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Preparation

To prepare sponge, combine first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let stand 15 minutes.

To prepare dough, weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour and pastry flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, sour cream, butter, salt, vanilla, 1 egg, and sponge in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 1 minute or until well combined. Add flours; beat at low speed 3 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 4 minutes), adding remaining 1.15 ounces all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indention remains, dough has risen enough.)

To prepare filling, combine cream cheese and the next 4 ingredients (through dash of salt) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

Punch dough down; roll dough into a 12 x 15-inch rectangle on lightly floured parchment paper. Spread cream cheese mixture down center of dough, leaving about a 5-inch border on each side and a 1-inch border at top and bottom of rectangle. Make 5-inch cuts about 1 inch apart on both sides of dough to meet filling using a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Remove 4 outer corner strips of dough from rectangle; discard. Fold top and bottom 1-inch portions of dough over filling. Fold strips over filling, alternating strips diagonally over filling. Press ends to seal. Transfer braid and parchment paper to a baking sheet. Cover and let rise 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine 1 teaspoon water and 1 egg; stir with a whisk. Brush braid with egg mixture. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes.

Combine powdered sugar and 2 teaspoons milk in a bowl, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over braid; sprinkle with nuts.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cream Cheese Danish Braid

Fruit-Filled Scuffins

Scuffins

I am not even sure what this are called, but I love taking two baked goods and combining them.  Not that I have done it often, but I am dying to create my own.  Ever since I posted these, I have been racking my brain for what other fusions I could make.  For some reason I have been in this complete brain lock.  I can’t think of anything!  I know when I least expect it, something will come to me. I would like to know how someone thought of the cronut — just brilliant.  Come on, who wouldn’t love a croissant that ran into a donut.

So needless to say, I was super excited when my good friend emailed me about the Scuffins that she found in the New York Times.  For some reason I keep wanting to call them Scruffins, but they are a combination of scones and muffins – so there you have it. These sounded amazing, but seriously, these were really made for me.  As I stood in the pantry trying to decide which type of jam I would use, I suddenly felt like this is what I had been waiting for.  I ended up using some Damson Plum Jam and Strawberry Vanilla Jam.  Both excellent choices.

They came out wonderfully – they were slightly heavier than muffins, though slightly lighter than scones.  My daughter was super excited about having breakfast treats, and rationed them out.  She warmed them up for a few seconds in the microwave each morning, and she said they were great.  So, there goes another one – there must be more – what about a cookcake? A cookie meets a cupcake?  Or maybe it should be called a cakie?

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 ounces), plus 2 tablespoons for buttering muffin cups
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (4 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal or wheat germ (1 ounce)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown or raw sugar (2 ounces), plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup fruit jam, conserves, preserves or fruit butter (do not use jelly or marmalade)

Preparation

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a microwave or over very gentle heat. Using a pastry brush, butter the cups of a standard-size (3 1/2-ounce-capacity) 12-cup muffin tin. Let each coat of butter cool, then apply another coat; continue until the 2 tablespoons are all used.

In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. Meanwhile, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter, add to dry ingredients and mix with a fork until just combined.
In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk and cream. Add to dry ingredients and mix to combine (the dough will be quite sticky).

Reserving about a quarter of the dough for topping, scoop 2 tablespoons dough into each cup. Using the back of a spoon, press dough gently down into the cups. The dough will move up the sides, and there should be a shallow well in each dough cup. Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t come all the way up to the top; there should be about 1/2 inch of space between the top of the dough and the rim of the cup.

Spoon about 1 tablespoon jam into each well. Using your fingers, pinch remaining dough into small clumps and scatter evenly over the jam in each cup, making a bumpy topping. Sprinkle sugar over the tops.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned. Let cool in the pan on a rack; run a blade around the sides of each scuffin before turning out.
Yield 12 scuffins

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Fruit-Filled Scuffins