Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blueberry Pecan Muffins with Toasted Millet

I can't even begin to tell you how surprisingly happy I am with these muffins. They are really, really good.

I've had several of you ask me if I've tried Pamela's Products Artisan Flour Blend and until recently, I hadn't tried it - nor was I that anxious to try it. However, I've been doing a lot with sourdough these days (I'll share about that at a later date), and making actual bread loaves with the starter has been posing a challenge for me with the flours I'm trying to combine, as well as blends that I normally purchase for use in other baking. I started thinking this particular blend might work a bit better, but I haven't tried it with the sourdough yet. Seeing it available as a single bag purchase through Amazon's subscribe and save program, however, gave me the incentive to go ahead and purchase a bag.

The first thing I tried with this flour blend was pancakes. I mostly followed the instructions on the bag, with a few of my own tweaks. I have to beg of you in the name of all that is good to NOT make pancakes with this flour blend. My daughters found them edible, but not as tasty as other pancakes. I, on the other hand, could barely gag them down. The texture was terrible. Very gummy and heavy. The batter was thick and slimy. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

So it was with much trepidation that I made muffins out of it, following the basic recipe on the bag but making my own adjustments that I felt would give the batter a better chance of turning out something edible. I wasn't disappointed, and am looking forward to making them again this week. The toasted millet adds a lovely crunch and flavor you don't want to skip out on!

I feel better about trying it with the bread soon. I'll let you know how that goes.

Blueberry Pecan Muffins with Toasted Millet
(Printable Recipe)

Projected Prep Time: 15 min; Projected Bake Time: 15-18 min; Makes 14-19 muffins (regular size)

2 cups Pamela's Products Artisan Flour Blend
1/2 cup almond flour
1 Tbsp. gluten-free baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
8 Tbsp. melted butter, unsalted
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup toasted hulled millet (see directions)
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2/3 cups pecan pieces

Place 1/3 cup hulled millet in dry pan and cover with lid. Heat at low-medium heat for a few minutes, shaking pan often, until millet is hot and toasted. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tin with baking cups.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl with a fork.

Whisk together melted butter and milk (room temperature will keep butter from getting firm again), then whisk in eggs and vanilla.

Pour liquids directly into dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Mix in toasted millet. Fold in pecans and then blueberries.

Drop evenly into muffin cups (the batter made 19 muffins in my regular size tins).

Place in oven (top rack if gas oven) and drop temperature to 375 degrees. Bake 15-18 minutes or until done. Cool on wire racks. Store leftovers in airtight container in refrigerator, bringing to room temperature or warming back up just a little to eat.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Comforting, Simple ... Pumpkin Pie Snack Cake

Dear readers ... Is it over? Are you still here, reading once in a while? Did 2013 end? Did it really end with my last post on another pumpkin recipe more than two months ago? I'm not sure I even have enough good recipes from 2013 to do my annual "top 10" list!

Was 2013 a good year for you? Oh, how I pray it was! If not, would you like to join me in a toast to 2014 with high hopes of a much, much better year?

I've started to type out a post or a recipe for you on several occasions, but I have to admit my heart wasn't much in it. My blog's biggest fan no longer here, and all I've been doing trying to juggle my work schedule around a first-time home school schedule and just LIFE these days ... it's been hard some days to do anything but *not* feed (again) my family grits and eggs, or eggs and toast, or cereal, or pancakes, or a casserole that lasts several days - so the times when I have made a meal or a treat worth sharing and then actually remembered to take a photo of it or write the recipe down have been limited.

My youngest sustained a traumatic injury the day after Thanksgiving and spent three days in the hospital, as well as a few hours in surgery. The weeks following were a blur of little to no sleep, going between shaking my fist at heaven and being so incredibly thankful that it wasn't worse, and just generally trying to keep my head above water. We are so thankful that she is okay. She will need a little more work done, but she is OKAY. She is healthy and happy. We are blessed.

But ... I'm SO TIRED of saying, "This too shall pass," secretly wondering in the moment if it really will, while at the same time feeling guilty because I know so many have it worse. So. Many. Have. It. Worse.


It's too much.

I'm ready for unending moments of saying, "I don't want this to pass." Moments I want to sit in and savor. I know life doesn't work that way with those moments unending, but I wish it did. And I guess if I'm honest with myself, I realize it's up to me to acknowledge the little daily blessings that I can make into little moments worth savoring for a while, even if it's just a minute or two here and there.

(What do you do to help with your daily perspective on this? I'd love to hear.)

I'm hoping I will this year gain inspiration once again to list my blessings and to deliberately find beauty, whether it's in the form of pen or photo, or both. It's not something I need inspiration for, I guess. I just need to do it.

Baby steps.

I find beauty in my family. The small hands that draw sweet pictures and make messes and sneak snacks.

There is much to be thankful for. And I've needed simple lately to keep it in perspective.

This cake is simple. It's wonderfully easy and delicious enough for this entire huge pan to not last a full day. (I've made it more than once.) Yes, it's pumpkin and yes, it could be used as a holiday treat. But who cares? It's still cold outside and it's yummy. And would be equally yummy on a hot summer day. Maybe topped with ice cream.

It's not that "healthy" for your body, but it is comforting for your soul. It was born out of a need one morning to find "comfort food" out of ingredients I had on hand without working too hard for it. One of those experiments thrown together with nothing else but a thought that it might work. A little of this, a dash of that and a lot of expecting to open the oven door to a gooey disaster. It was anything but.

Easy Pumpkin Pie Snack Cake
(Printable recipe)

2 large eggs
15 oz. pureed pumpkin
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped (if you have a stand mixer, let the mixer break them up for you - see below)
1 1/2 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Dash of allspice
Small pinch of cardamom

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 9x13 baking pan.

Into small mixing bowl, sift together baking mix and spices. Set aside.

Into large mixing bowl, add eggs, pumpkin, condensed milk and brown sugar. If you are using a stand mixer, also add pecans if they are whole and use the paddle attachment to mix everything together at low speed and let the paddle break up the pecans. If you have pecans already chopped, leave them out for now.

Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and mix well until all combined. If you haven't added your pecans yet, do it now.

Pour into baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Cool in pan on wire rack. Enjoy warm or room temperature.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

The weather was glorious this morning - fog covering the mountains and descending into the streets, a wet drizzle soaking into the ground and nourishing plants for the winter ahead. I'm wearing a sweater, and smelling the delicious candle lit in front of me. And enjoying pumpkin bread pudding for breakfast, with a cup of black coffee (no sweetener, thank you). Perfection. 

What could make this even better? The fact that this bread pudding was left over from last night's supper. Yes, I did say supper. Or dinner, your preference. It was one of those days yesterday, and I was dead-tired. Didn't want to fix anything for supper, but wanted comfort food at the same time. My experimental food often turns out best when I'm in these moods.

When it was the last thing I needed to be doing, I cleaned and cooked and pureed a couple of pie pumpkins on Sunday. I have more pumpkin than I need for a pie.

And another package of some gluten-free rolls that I was disappointed in recently because they were so stale.
(Ignore the lack of rotation here - I uploaded this one form the phone and can't figure out how to rotate it now)

Pumpkin bread pudding? It sounds good. Did I see a recipe for that recently? Oh yes, I pinned it. And so it was with inspiration from Martha Stewart's recipe combined with a bread pudding recipe from my beloved Cooking Down East that this one was born, giving us not-so-healthy-but-quite-comforting sustenance last night with a side of eggs.

And it is good.

I (finally) had another post planned for you this week, but felt I needed to share this one. Because it does good things for the mind, and if your mind is like mine these days, you might just want that extra comfort!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

15 ounces pureed pumpkin (fresh or canned)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup organic pure cane sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Few small dashes of ground ginger
Few small dashes of ground cloves
Couple of small dashes of ground nutmeg
Package of Schar classic white rolls, cubed into 1 to 1 1/2- inch pieces (let sit out to dry a couple of hours if they aren't already kind of dry) - or a gluten-free bread of similar consistency
1/2 cup chopped pecans
(Optional) Cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease a 2-quart baking dish.

Place bread in baking dish and set aside.

Mix together pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugars, salt, vanilla paste or extract, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg.

Pour over bread and gently stir until all is covered. Let sit for a few minutes.

Sprinkle pecans over the top, and shake cinnamon and sugar lightly over it all if desired.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45-50 minutes.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Friday, September 6, 2013

Epic Whole Foods Bars

There's a new snack bar in Gluten-Free Town that can sustain you as an unbelievably healthy quick meal, and it lives up to some amazing claims. If you eat meat, listen up, because these bars are good.

EPIC Bars are: Paleo, gluten-free, low-glycemic, soy-free, dairy-free, nitrate-free AND have a one-year shelf life. On top of that, EPIC bars use meat from animals that are vegetarian-fed and grass-fed, antibiotic-free, hormone-free and humanely treated. They don't claim to be egg-free, but I don't see eggs on the ingredients of any of the bars.

According to EPIC's philosophy, these bars "are loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3's, muscle-building conjugated linoleic acid, and antioxidant rich vitamins A and E." Touting a decent amount of iron, and between 11 and 14 grams of protein per bar, that's all pretty good stuff.

But the best part? These bars are really, really tasty.

It's been a long time since my husband has had a good gluten-free bar that is high in protein that he loved, so when he texted me a photo of the wrapper of a Bison Bacon-Cranberry Epic Bar someone at work had given him to sample, and expressed his love for it, I knew I'd better get on that. I contacted Taylor Collins, one of EPIC's founders, and he kindly sent samples of all three flavors as well as some information and a cute bison sticker. Needless to say, my husband was pretty thrilled.

I think my favorite flavor is the Beef Habanero Cherry, but the Turkey Almond Cranberry was a really close second. My husband's favorite is the Bison Bacon Cranberry, but he really did love all three flavors. I wish I could vouch for the bison flavor, but I'm not able to eat pork so wasn't able to try that flavor since it contains bacon. I have no doubts it's equally good. My oldest daughter loved all three flavors, and she said they were so good, she wanted one for dessert! The youngest has a more sensitive tongue when it comes to spices, so she said they were a little spicy for her.

The only thing that took a few bites to get used to was the texture, but it wasn't a huge hurdle. It's kind of a cross between a Larabar and softer jerky. Not quite what you are expecting, but it wasn't an issue for anyone in this family and once I was used to it, didn't mind it all.

Bottom line is, these bars are GOOD. Good for you, good tasting and a good "meal" to have on hand in your emergency supply kit, for trips or for your next outdoor adventure. My husband is bringing some on his desert biathlon coming up.

For more information on EPIC bars or to order or find a location near you that sells them, you can check out their site at: http://epicbar.com/

(Disclosure: EPIC provided these products for me to sample free of charge. The opinions on the bars are completely my own.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Stuffed Summer Squash

This. Is. Amazing. (If you like summer squash.)

Once again, forgive the phone photos, but I had to share this yummy dish - made once as an experiment recently and a couple of times since - before I have a chance to make it again and take "real" photos.

This is the way I intended for the recipe to be made, and it was soooo good, but a little more work. The smaller dishes were the rest of the filling poured into the dishes after I'd filled the squash halves.

The second and third time I made this, I cut the squash into strips and put them flat in the pan and just poured the filling over them, rather than try to fill squash halves.

We were recently blessed with a bounty of squash from someone (our garden hasn't been so great, or big, this year) and I was wondering how in the world to fix SO MUCH before it went bad - and make an entire meal of it. Experiments abound in my mind, so this was one of them and we are all glad it was.

Stuffed Summer Squash
Total time, start to finish: Under 1 hour

1 large and 3 smaller (or the equivalent in volume) round summer squash (I think this is globe squash?) or the something similar (just make sure you've got the volume - summer squash is all good!)
1 large white onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups prepared polenta (I used this gluten-free kind from Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup shredded mozzarella, plus more for sprinkling
3 large eggs
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cayenne pepper, a dash or two

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash squash and grease large 13x9 baking dish. 

Slice off stems and ends of squash, then cut in half. Place squash cut side down onto baking dish and bake about 15 minutes, just until squash insides are getting softer.

Bring water for polenta to a boil and prepare polenta according to package directions, then set aside.

While squash is baking and polenta is cooking, melt a tablespoon or so of butter over low heat in a large pan. Add chopped onion and saute over medium-low heat.

Remove squash from oven and scrape squash with a spoon, leaving a little bit on the skin. (At this point you can either slice the squash skin into thick strips to place back in pan, skin side down, or leave the halves to fill in the pan.) 

Place the squash pieces that were scraped off into pan with onion and raise heat to medium-high, breaking up squash into smaller pieces as it cooks and softens for several minutes.

After squash is cooked down some more and softened, remove from heat. Add polenta and season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.

Add shredded mozzarella and stir to combine. Whisk eggs and slowly add to filling mixture, stirring quickly to prevent eggs from cooking too fast while incorporating throughout filling.

Pour filling into squash halves (in which case you will need a couple of greased ramekins to use up the rest of the filling), or over squash strips. Sprinkle a little more mozzarella over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees approximately 25-30 minutes or until filling is cooked throughout and squash halves or strips are completely softened.

I hope you enjoy! (And I hope this recipe is more clear than mud!)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Gluten-Free Awareness Tour Hits Detroit Soon!

Are you near Detroit? If so, check it out! This is a great chance to learn more about the gluten-free lifestyle and sample some products! Click on the flyer below to zoom in and read the details about the Detroit event on September 7-8!


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