Thursday, March 9, 2017

Healthy One-Bowl Morning Glory Muffins

Have you heard of Morning Glory muffins? They're like a cross between carrot cake and apple muffins. Many of you know that I don't do a lot of baking because BAKED GOODS ARE MY WEAKNESS, and I don't want the ability to make them all the time. But, I've been learning a lot from the blog Sally's Baking Addition and I was inspired by this recipe to try to make a simplified, healthier version. This is the sort of thing I don't feel guilty about making for myself. They are made with all whole wheat flour, and I crammed in the maximum amount of fruits and veggies I possibly could (there is more produce than flour)! Still, they are fluffy and just the right amount of moist.

They're also very versatile, so you can use whatever nuts and dried fruits you have in your pantry. Have a banana that's about to go bad? Throw it in!

Healthy One-Bowl Morning Glory Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 t baking soda
1 heaping T pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1/3 cup ground flax or chia seeds (optional)
1 cup sweetener of choice (I do 1/2 cup Splenda and 1/2 cup brown sugar)
1/3 cup oil (I use coconut or olive. Tempting as it may be to leave out the oil, I don't recommend it. You need a bit of oil to avoid a gummy texture. Just pick a healthy oil!)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple and juice OR 1/3 cup milk or juice of choice
3 large eggs (you can omit if you'd like to go vegan. They may not rise quite as much. Be sure to use the flax or chia seeds listed above and add 1/4 cup more liquid)
1 t vanilla extract
4 medium carrots (about 14oz), shredded*
1 medium apple, shredded (no need to peel)*
2/3-3/4 cup nuts or seeds, optional (I like pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup dried fruit, optional (I like craisins)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a 12-count muffin pan** with cupcake liners. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients. Fold everything together just until no dry pockets remain. The batter will be very thick, like cookie dough. Don't worry, when the carrots and apples cook, they will release moisture and make it plenty moist. In the unlikely event that the batter is too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water or other liquid. Spoon the batter into liners, filling them heaping full. (It will look like you have too much batter, but it will all fit if you heap it. The muffins will rise a little, but they will not spread, so don't worry about making a mess.
Before (see how full they are?)
Bake for 5 minutes at 425. Then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. (This initial temperature burst helps it to rise.) Bake for an additional 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

*Note: Using the shredding feature on a food processor to do the carrots and apples makes this recipe super easy.
** I've made this in a bundt pan before and it turned out well. It took about an hour to cook.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Cajun black-eyed peas and greens stew (Instant Pot and stovetop instructions)

I was a bad Southerner--I never liked black-eyed peas growing up. But when I found myself with a lot of leftover kale in my fridge last week at the same time I ran across this recipe on one of my favorite food sites, Serious Eats, I decided to cook them for the first time. Because I always have to tweak things, I added my own spin using my Cajun intuition. Honestly, I was not expecting that much from this recipe--it was just a way to use up some ingredients on the cheap. But this turned out amazing! Like my new favorite Cajun-ish dish AMAZING! For me, what makes this so delicious is cooking the beans until they are creamy, then getting a fresh pop from the greens and vinegar. This dish really is greater than the sum of its parts, and such a healthy staple to have on hand in the freezer. Eat it on New Years Day and Southern tradition says that it will bring you money and luck!

Cajun Black-Eyed Peas and Greens Stew
4 ounces bacon (about 4 or 5 strips), cut into small pieces
12 ounces andouille sausage, cut into bite-sized slices
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced (optional)
Image result for tony chachere's1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 T minced garlic
2 t Tony Chachere's seasoning (This is the Cajun seasoning salt blend that almost everyone in Louisiana uses. You can find it at grocery stores nationwide, and you will not regret your $3 purchase! You'll use it on everything.)
1 t Worcestershire sauce
15 oz can tomatoes with green chilies
1 pound dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight
1 quart chicken stock, plus 1-2 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 bunch kale, chard, or collard greens, about 10-12 oz, stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
3 T apple cider vinegar
Tabasco sauce (optional)

Stovetop instructions
Cook bacon until crisp. Set aside, and pour away all but 2 T of grease. Saute sausage until nearly blackened, then set aside. Lightly caramelize onion, celery (if using), pepper, and garlic. Add remaining ingredients except greens, vinegar, and Tabasco. Simmer, partially covered, until beans start to fall apart and become creamy, 1.5 to 2 hours. If using collard greens, add at the start of cooking. If using chard or kale, add immediately after finishing cooking. These greens are delicate enough that they will wilt just the right amount while still retaining a bit of fresh flavor and texture. Add vinegar and Tabasco sauce if using.

Instant Pot or pressure cooker instructions:
Using the saute feature to saute meat and veggies as per stovetop instructions. Add remaining ingredients except vinegar and Tabasco. If using collard greens, add them now, but if using chard or kale, reserve until the end. Set the Instant Pot to Beans/Chili for 50 minutes. Use quick release. If using chard or kale, add immediately after finishing cooking. Add vinegar and Tabasco sauce if using.