morning glory muffins

Thank goodness I made these muffins on Monday or else you wouldn’t have a post to read today! We’re still making progress on our projects. I’ll have the ‘after’ photos for you next Monday!

__________

On Sunday I realized I had 2 very ripe bananas hanging on our cooking wall and 7 frozen in the freezer. It was about time to start using them.

Banana bread is one of my favorite snacks but I wanted to change it up and find a different recipe. I searched my cookbooks and came up empty so I went to my trusty Cookinglight.com and searched ‘bananas’. I found a recipe called Morning Glory Muffins with over 50 positive reviews. By substituting some of the ingredients I didn’t have to go to the grocery store first therefore it was a winner.

I went a little overboard with the substitutions but hey, I can’t not. Experimenting is fun! If you’re wondering about the Peach Yoplait, Al hates that flavor so I wanted to use it up and of course I didn’t have regular yogurt on hand.

To explain it all, I put my changes in parenthesis after the original ingredients in the recipe below.

__________

Morning Glory Muffins
(source)

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (about 4 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 ounces) (White Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (Cane Sugar)
  • 1 tablespoon wheat bran (Chia seeds)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt $ (Peach Yogurt)
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2)
  • 1 large egg $
  • 1 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (Pecans)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried pineapple $ (Dried Cherries)
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseed (about 2 tablespoons whole (Raw Buckwheat Groat)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Place 18 muffin cups liners in muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray.
  3. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flours and next 5 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine yogurt, banana, and egg; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in dates, walnuts, and pineapple. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle evenly with flaxseed. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; cool on a wire rack.

__________

So I guess I created a variation of the original recipe. My ‘substitutes’ aren’t all similar to the original ingredients! It’s almost like I knew what I was doing.

Fresh out of the oven with a little butter or earth balance. These muffins were amazing. I thought all the dried fruit and crazy yogurt would make the muffins way too sweet so I cut back a little on the dried fruit when I made them. I think this helped because the sweetness was definitely there but it didn’t overpower the pecans or oats. The oats, raw buckwheats, and pecans gave the muffins an awesome chew which contrasted with the gooey fruit.

It’s ridiculous how good these muffins are! No wonder so many people on Cooking Light felt the need to give there two cents.

I’ve taken two with me to work each day this week. I could have probably eaten one for my morning snack and one for the afternoon but once I start one I can’t leave the other all by itself. 🙂

Do you have a yummy muffin recipe?

Advertisements

pecan and wild rice-stuffed squash

This dish might have the longest cooking time out of all the recipes I’ve posted on this blog. I only post my absolute favorites so that just shows you how marvelous it is! Relative to a lot of recipes out there, it’s still super quick. There’s just a good amount of time in the oven so you have to find other things to do  like laundry, clean… or watch TV and read blogs like I did. 🙂

The recipe comes from the same cookbook that I used for the Turmeric Brown Rice Con Pollo.

Since I don’t think the recipe is online, I went ahead and typed it up for you.

__________

Pecan and Wild Rice-Stuffed Squash

2 small acorn squash (I used one giant one instead)
1/2 cup wild rice
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons fresh sage
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 stalks celery, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil 2 baking sheets. Cut each squashes in half from the stem to the tip. Scoop out the seeds and place cut-side down on the baking sheets. Bake from 20 to 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a paring knife. Let cool. Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, cook the wild rice in the water, simmering until it is tender and starting to split. If there is any excess water, drain the rice in a strainer. Finely chop the sage and parsley. In a small saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the celery, onion, and sage over medium heat until just softened. Stir in the parsley, marjoram, pepper, nutmeg, and salt, and take the pan off the heat.

When the squash halves are cool, use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, leaving a bit behind to keep the skins from tearing. In a large bowl, mash the flesh coarsely and reserve. Select 16 intact pecan halves for garnish, then use a food processor to grind the remaining pecans to powder (I just finely chop them). Add the ground pecans, the sauteed mixture, and the wild rice to the squash in the bowl and mix thoroughly. Stuff the mixture into the squash shells and top with the reserved pecan halves. Place in a casserole or baking dish large enough to hold all of the squash halves. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the tops feel firm to the touch.

__________

Fresh sage! I don’t have any herbs in my garden but I do have a couple in pots on the patio. I most often sub dried for fresh when a recipe calls for it (use half of the fresh amount) but this time I had something on hand!

While prepping my ingredients I got a little sidetracked -> I saw this idea on YoungHouseLove a while back. If you have a party where crudités are involved, you could use these celery flowers to decorate the plate!

Along with the blog reading and TV watching, when the squash is initially roasted I was able to get my rice cooked and saute mixture ready.

Every time my dad uses the toaster oven he removes whatever he has cooked with his bare hands. It doesn’t matter if he yells or makes pain noises every time, he does this without fail. I do the same thing and have also added not waiting until hot squash cools before hollowing it out. This acorn squash didn’t disappoint. It had me yelling up a storm.

My dad went to Cornell so that must make me a genius too. Please don’t try to be smarties like us and have patience!

I love the presentation of this dish! You could totally wow some friends with your celery flowers and squash bowls. 🙂

There’s so much flavor in this recipe. The spicy and nutty flavors are a great contrast to the sweet meat of the acorn squash. There’s lots of crunch and chewiness in there too. Mmm mmm good.

As soon as the temps in your State start to drop, you have to make this! It’s got great fall ingredients, a comfort food feel, and it’s healthy to boot!

Are you about to go pumpkin/squash recipe crazy? I sure am.

an end to the summer season

The end of the summer means a lot of different things to me but right now I’m thinking about my garden. My summer crop is growing crazy still because I planted everything late but I’m already supposed to have my winter crop in! I don’t think it matters much as long as I get it in soon, like next weekend soon.

I learned a ton from my first summer season. Even will all the mistakes learning experiences, I had a pretty great crop. I’m hoping that means my winter garden will be just as good if not better!

If you haven’t read any of the garden posts yet, here a recap. -> I started off with most of my plants in the greenhouse where they struggled from the lack of light. I then moved the dying plants to a spot on the side of my house. I knew they still wouldn’t get the 8 hours or more of sun that they needed but I was hopeful!  And finally when I realized they weren’t dying (!), I spiffed up the outdoor garden with supports, mulch, and a drip system.

With all that progress, I got a lot in return.

I have 5 tomatoes plants which have given me well over 100 little tomatoes and counting. At one point I got over 50 in one week! I’ve used this recipe three times now. I’ve even experimented! I love a sweet sauce so I skipped the garlic, added two green peppers from the garden, and two tablespoons of sugar. It’s so good!

A couple days ago I found a behemoth. Look at this giant zucchini! You would have thought I won the lottery by the way I was dancing around with my ‘trophy’.

I’d only seen one other rotted zucchini before this one so I didn’t think I’d be getting anything edible. I was collecting tomatoes for sauce when I spotted it.

I’ve heard that they can get too tough and ‘seedy’ when they get too big but I sliced up half of it and made zucchini crisps. Cheesy and delicious.

With all this great crop, I still have some issues that I need to figure out. My peppers have a bug problem. I’ve been able to rescue some but the plants look pretty sad. I haven’t done anything to prevent bugs so I need to do a little research for my winter crop.

You can see in the photo below that some of the leaves are eaten away. Meh, I don’t like bugs!

I also still have that lack of sunlight problem. Look at what this tomato plant did! It grew up and over the fence all the way to the ground on the other side looking for sun. Poor thing.

I know the winter vegetables don’t need as much sunlight so hopefully it won’t be a problem this time around.

As you can see from the photos above and below even though they’re still producing, the tomato and bean plants are ready to go. I was hesitant a month ago to rip them up because they were still going strong but now that they’re a bit weathered so I know it’s time for new, winter vegetables.

This coming weekend I’m hoping to add in some broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens.

Tending to my garden is so fun to me. I’m learning a lot which I love and I get food in return! Such a great hobby. I’m excited to try new recipes with the crop too! I’m thinking soup and more soup. 🙂

What are you growing in your winter garden?

crispy blackened tofu

I know. That title may sound scary to some of you. Tofu is mushy, slimy, and gross. Or is it?

Meat and I are still on the rocks so I wanted to attempt a new tofu recipe. The first time I tried to cook it it turned out too soggy, the second time was pretty good, and this third time was freakin’ spectacular thanks to Emily over at the Daily Garnish.

To start out I took a block of extra firm tofu, covered it in paper towels, and then stacked a couple of books on top to press out the water. The longer you let it sit, the less mushy it’ll be. I started mine at about noon and cooked the dish at 5.

You can’t see the tofu in this photo but it’s under the cookie sheet! To prevent a soaked countertop, I placed the tofu on top of my cutting board that has a little moat around the edge so that it’d collect any excess water.

Next, I lost my mind for a bit and couldn’t understand how to cut the tofu block properly per Emily’s instructions. This is why I have multiple slabs instead of a couple thin ‘steaks’. Course I got the concept after I did my cutting. Classic.

Then I marinated the pieces in a little bit of soy sauce.

There are lots of spices to this dish but it’s a snap to put together!

Did I mention that Al, my husband, doesn’t enjoy change and/or funky textures in food? I’ve only forced him to eat tofu one other time (the second ‘pretty good’ time I made it) and he didn’t like it. Even with the cards stacked against me I still had hope. I thought, there’s no way he can’t like this! It’s too good! as I shoved another crispy piece in my mouth when I was done.

Whenever I have to make a rub or a coating for a recipe I always end up with extra stuff that I have to throw away. With this recipe, I had absolutely none! The perfect amount of spices for the tofu. A pleasant surprise.

The spices create a great outing coating of what’d I’d call Spicy Asian BBQ. So tasty. You could totally use this as a rub on chicken or beef if you’d like. Or shrimp! That’d be super good. But that’s not really the point, the point is that it’s amazing on tofu, a meat alternative!

Just look at that color.

__________

Crispy Blackened Tofu
(source)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients (2 servings)

    For the Tofu

    • 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu (drained and pressed)
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (or other cooking oil)

    For the Spice Blend

    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon corn starch
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
    • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    Instructions

    • Start by pressing a block of tofu to drain out the excess water.
    • While the tofu drains, go ahead and make your spice mix. Add all spices to a shallow bowl, and stir to thoroughly combine.
    • Once the tofu has drained, slice the block into four even rectangles – once through the width, and then cutting in half through the top (did that make sense?).
    • Place tofu in a shallow dish and add soy sauce or liquid aminos – it doesn’t need to be much. Just enough to let it soak into the bottom a bit. After a few minutes, flip each piece to coat the other side.
    • In a saute pan, heat sesame oil (or other oil of your choice) over medium high heat – you want your pan to really get hot! I prefer to use my non-stick pans for this, but you can try it in stainless as well.
    • Take each piece of tofu and press it into the spice blend, ensuring to coat the whole bottom in a thick crust of spice. Flip it over and repeat on the other side.
    • Then carefully place each piece into the hot pan – it should sizzle and pop, and you’ll see immediate color forming around the base of the tofu.
    • Add all four pieces to the pan and continue to cook over medium high heat. After only a minute or two, the bottom should be pretty dark in color – flip to the other side!
    • Cook for another minute or two on the other side, until both are crispy and blackened to perfection.
    • Slice and serve on a bed of rice with a side of roasted greens!

    __________

    I served it over brown rice, split peas, tomatoes, and a little soy sauce. Super random but we needed to use up the tomatoes from the garden and I wanted more veggies so I added the peas. It worked out really well!

    Al even admitted that the dish was ‘pretty good’. He said that he wouldn’t eat the tofu alone (he’s crazy) but he’d eat it like I served it. I’ll take what I can get! Thank you Emily for your recipe! I’m so glad it was successful.

    I don’t care if you think you hate tofu. You’ve got to make this dish!

    Do you eat tofu? How to do prepare it?

    zucchini chocolate chip muffins

    This marathon training is making me eat carbs. It’s either making me because I’m craving them all the time or I’m just using the training as a super good excuse to scarf down anything with flour in it. Case in point: 12 mile run on Sunday = one stack of sweet potato pancakes. 🙂 Yum.

    I’ve even been told from my Sports Backers coaches that you really are supposed to eat pasta-like dishes before your long runs so really, it’s a requirement.

    Because of this, I went on a carb recipe hunt on Monday. I wanted a quick snack that I could take with me when I’m out and about. That way I won’t be tempted to buy unhealthy eats when I’m grocery shopping and whatnot.

    I searched my regular food blogs and found Mama’s Peas recipe for Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins. Muffins with chocolate and hidden veggies sounded awesome to me!

    To make you’re life easier, I thought I’d post the recipe here instead of just the link like I usually do. I’ll try and do this from now on.

    Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins
    (source)

    Ingredients

    • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
    • 1/2 t. salt
    • 1/2 t. baking powder
    • 1/2 t. baking soda
    • 1 1/2 t. cinnamon
    • 1/4 c. canola oil
    • 1/4 c. applesauce
    • 2/3 c. organic sugar (I used half Nu Naturals Stevia Baking Blend)
    • 1 t. vanilla extract
    • 1 c. grated zucchini
    • 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with muffin papers.
    • Combine zucchini, oil, applesauce and sugar in a medium bowl.
    • Combine remaining dry ingredients in a large bowl.
    • Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just mixed.
    • Spoon batter into muffin cups until they are about 2/3rds of the way full.
    • Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

    I’m shocked to say that we still have some left!  It helps that I put them on top of the fridge where we don’t usually keep snacks.

    Also, it’s Thursday and they’re still super gooey and delicious! Mama Pea never steers me wrong.

    I’ve already eaten these babies for breakfast, lunch, and dessert. I plan on making two batches next time! I was also thinking of substituting some of the zucchini for carrots just to try something new. That sounds like a tolerable substitute, right Elisa?? 🙂

    What are you baking this week? A snack or maybe an awesome dessert?

    penne with homemade marinara sauce

    Here goes nothin’.

    This is what I thought to myself when I started cooking on Monday.  If Chef Sam and Lauren can wing it, so can I!  I was super inspired by them after this past weekend.

    I didn’t really ‘wing’ it though, I just attempted something I’ve never done before.  This is BIG for me since I’ve been sticking to leftovers and the same simple recipes for over a month.

    So listen to this.

    Instead of buying a jar of pasta sauce… I made my own.  I didn’t buy a can of tomatoes and then add spices, I used fresh tomatoes and made the whole dang thing.  Everything from scratch!

    First I found these instructions and learned how to blanch my tomatoes for the sauce.

    Blanching and braising are words I had heard on the Food Network but never really knew what they were.  This is sad yet true but now I’ve done one! I’m a little proud.

    I had one big tomato leftover from the SOJ Chef Demo and a ton of cherry (?) tomatoes leftover from our CSA box.

    I began the process by slicing an X on the top of each of the tomatoes.  This makes it easier to peel the skin off once they’ve been blanched.

    Then I cooked them in boiling water for about 1 minute.

    After that I immediately removed them from the pot and dumped them into a bowl filled with ice cold water to stop the cooking process.  Does anyone know why you need to stop the cooking?  Just wondering.

    Then I peeled off the skin which took forever but I didn’t mind.  I find cooking to be quite relaxing!  And I know that next time when I use big tomatoes it won’t take me much time at all.

    Once they were all peeled and very slimy, I roughly chopped them into bit size pieces.

    Time to start the sauce.  I found this super simple recipe from Cooking Light.

    I only had basil and garlic left to prep once the tomatoes were done.  I’m a dried herbs kinda gal but this fresh basil really made a difference!

    Hi Roary!

    Everything went into the pot (per the recipe) to cook for 25 minutes.  When it had about 10 minutes left, I cooked up the penne pasta for about 8 minutes.

    After I was done, I ran off to yoga while Al came home to eat the dish by himself.  I came back to a positive review!  Often times he tells me a dish is good when really it’s not that great but this sauce was very tasty.  I added extra garlic and spices because we like it that way so there was a great kick to it.

    So tasty, so healthy, so fresh.

    Do you have a specialty that you make from scratch?

    P.S. If you’re like my mom and don’t like chunky sauce, just use an immersion or regular blender to smooth it out!

    SOJ chef demo

    Good morning!

    This past Saturday I got the chance to assist Chef Sam Baker at the South of the James Market. Lauren, the blogger over at Vegology, gave me the chance to be her substitute that day. Free food and education? Um, yes!

    Chef Sam created four delicious dishes using lots of summery fruits and tomatoes. All the recipes were super quick and easy which I love. I wrote about my adventure over at her blog. Feel free to check it out! -> Guest Post! SOJ Chef Demo 07.28.12

    I hope you have a lovely start to the week! Look out for a new recipe post on Wednesday.