Toddler-Friendly Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

Eureka! I have stumbled upon a vegan pumpkin muffin recipe that’s crumb-resistant, dairy-free, low-sugar and toddler-approved. It’s the unicorn that will make serving up healthy breakfast on weekday mornings that much easier.

I say resistant because just like sunscreen, there’s no truly crumb-proof muffin; however, even my spirited toddler couldn’t take these down in a crumbly blaze of glory. I attribute the “glue” that binds these together to my food processor. I’d imagine a blender would produce the same result.

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Combine the following in a food processor or blender:

  • 2 1/4 cups oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar (equals about 8g coconut sugar per muffin, so I might half this next time around)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice

While blending, add the following:

Bake at 350 degrees until a fork comes out clean from the middle of each muffin.

Makes 12 muffins.

Note: I started with the foundational elements of Healthy Helper’s Vegan Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes (who adapted the original recipe from the Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook – as featured on Blissful Basil) and subbed out or modified some of the ingredients to make low-sugar muffins for breakfast.

Thyme-Saving Turkey Meatballs

With a limited window of time to make dinner and workout, I whipped together this super quick meal: oven-roasted squash and zucchini paired with homemade turkey meatballs.

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Preheat oven to about 400 degrees and then prep the veggies:

Toss two sliced summer squash and two zucchini with olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme in an oven-safe casserole dish.

Next, prep the meatballs:

Mix 1 lb ground turkey with a generous scoop of almond meal, a scoop of unsweetened and shredded coconut, 1 egg, salt, pepper, olive oil and thyme. Scoop 1/4-cup or smaller spoonfuls into a buttered casserole dish.

Bake both dishes for about 30 minutes, or until veggies are tender and meatballs are cooked through.

More thyme for you!

Final Fling: End of Summer Bites

There’s still time to enjoy the best of summer, without resorting to “it’s complicated.” With flavors at their peak, keeping things simple is the best way to go.

For starters, heirloom tomatoes are worth every penny. So splurge one last time! Simply season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Or slice and serve with fresh avocado (a winter crop in summer’s clothing) or goat milk yogurt and basil.

Peaches are best undressed. While I love a good cobbler or pie, the best way to enjoy them for dessert on warm summer nights is au naturel.

For a refreshing hors d’oeuvre that takes no time, slice a cucumber and top with smoked salmon. Party bonus: The colors will pop on a buffet table.

Mixed company? The options above will make it easy for all dietary persuasions to partake!

Garlic Gnocchi with Avocado Mash, Peas & Tomatoes

Mashed avocado has become a popular topping for toast, so I was inspired to try it as a creamy coating for pasta – specifically garlic gnocchi, along with tomatoes, peas, and olive oil.

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It’s quick too. Simply boil the water for the gnocchi, while dicing tomatoes, scooping out avocado halves prior to mashing and seasoning with salt, and prepping the peas (I used frozen). After cooking the gnocchi for a minute or less to tenderness, drain water from the pot, and stir in the avocado mash and a little olive oil with the pasta, followed by the other ingredients. Top with Parmesan.

Beg, Borrow & Meal: Cucumber Salad

This weekend we enjoyed the summer-like weather, by noshing on a refreshing cucumber & dill salad at local watering hole, Low Brau.

Cucumber Dill Salad @ LOW BRAU

At home, I recreated a version of my own using goat milk yogurt, tomato and green onions.

Mix two large spoonfuls of yogurt with one peeled and sliced cucumber, one sliced tomato, and 3 chopped green onions. Season with salt and pepper. As easy to prepare as it sounds!

Corned Pork & Colcannon in the Crock Pot

I love a good Irish meal, but don’t love picking over the leftover processed and packaged corned beef in the grocery aisle. So I decided to try seasoning pork tenderloin with the same flavors as the traditional St. Patty’s meal. With potatoes, carrots and broccoli near expiration, I was in a decent position to emulate Colcannon to round out the meal.

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Here’s how:

Use a peppercorn grinder to coat all sides of each loin in the crock pot.

Make a paste of about 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and garlic cloves (I used 2 cloves, but feel free to go big). Spread the paste on all sides of each loin. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Shred the pork in the crock pot. Then, add a layer of peeled potatoes, baby carrots and broccoli florets. Cook for 2+ hours on low (at 2 hours in, the potatoes and carrots were still somewhat firm). Separate and mash the potatoes, carrots and broccoli with 1 cube of melted butter and 1 cup of heated almond milk. Salt as desired.

This Irish girl was happy with the flavors of the dish, but my non-Irish husband added BBQ sauce. Slainte!

Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice Crock Pot Pulled Pork

The Sunday crock pot chronicles continued with a pulled pork that was heavy on the cinnamon, but easy on the kitchen.

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Inspired by this pin, I combined 1-1/3 cup brown sugar, 3 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tsp cinnamon in a bowl. Meanwhile, I diced the remaining half of an onion from dinner last week. I also coated the bottom of the crock pot with a thin layer of olive oil, which turns out the aforementioned 3 tbsp was for (but you can’t really OD on olive oil, so no worries). Then I placed the two pieces of a pork tenderloin in the crockpot, sprinkled the onions around the sides and poured the mixture over the top. I cooked it on low for 6 hours, then shredded the extremely tender meat, and stirred it around to sit in its gooey goodness on the warm setting until I was ready to serve.

David not only went back for seconds, but definitely thirds and potentially even fourths. If you have a sweet tooth like he does, it’s a winner! For more savory-leaning palates like mine, I recommend serving it with plain rice to cut the sweet.

Lesson learned: beaucoup de olive oil equals ridiculously tender pulled pork.

Down with BLP

The prospect of a BLT without the tomato is tragic news at dinner hour. Sadly we had run out of heirlooms, so I improvised with sliced peaches. The sweet and salty contrast was tasty (and something I had experimented with in the past with a BLTAP featuring apples cooked in bacon fat and provolone). Are you down with BLP?

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Where did you go?

So it’s been awhile. I lived out of a suitcase for the better part of April, May and June. But I’ve settled into my new neighborhood (and new kitchen), and I’m ready to get back to business.

Lets start with some Midtown Farmer’s Market inspired meals. This chèvre from Jollity Farms is creamy and mild, unlike its tangier counterparts. It made a delicious topping for peaches and basil, and provided a fresher take on your average cheese and cracker combo.

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Then there’s the Pasta Queen. She ruled July in my house. I served up “Goat Cheese & Garlic in Roasted Garlic Pasta Ravioli” on my porch (Mom’s idea) with pear tomatoes. And then this week, David and I dined on a divine truffle and mushroom ravioli served with heirloom tomatoes and mixed greens.

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The Pasta Queen reigns! But in case you don’t come across her majesty, a simple angel hair with pear tomatoes and fresh basil is also delightful. Or fettuccine with rosemary/olive oil-tossed heirloom tomatoes and Parmesan. Buon appetito!
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A Little Pizza My Heart

I embraced cheesiness on Valentine’s Day with a homemade, heart-shaped pizza for two. Shape the pepperoni into hearts by cutting a small triangle at the edge (easier to do in a stack), and cut the two opposite sides on a diagonal. For the bell peppers, cut narrow slices and make sure to leave the curvy ends at the top of the pepper. Then cut the slices in half and shape into a heart.

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