November 3, 2015

Banana-Pecan Muffins

I hope everyone had a fabulous Halloween! We tried the "Switch Witch" thing for the first time this year. My daughter was able to go out and trick-or-treat like everyone else, but at the end of the night she left her candy out for Switch Witch, who swooped in while she was sleeping, took her garbage candy ("to feed to her naughty cat") and left, in it's place, good quality candy that I don't have to worry about her eating. No dyes, no preservatives, etc. It worked like a charm and my kiddo didn't have to feel left out of the Halloween festivities! The junk candy went to work with my husband who left it out in the breakroom for his co-workers. 

The morning after Halloween I made these fantastic muffins because I wanted to use the tons of pecans falling from the tree in my front yard right now! I seriously have three buckets full of pecans and at least three or four dozen more pecans fall from the tree every day. I love pecans, so I'm in heaven! I can't wait to make pies. If you don't have pecans, or they are too expensive, any nut will do. Or you can replace the nuts in the streusel topping with oatmeal, which is super cheap. Feel free to be creative!

Also, my daughter (who is a really picky eater) absolutely LOVED these! She ate two for breakfast, then came home after school and ate four more. If you have kids, you might want to make a double batch.

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 2/3 cups flour (I used white whole-wheat)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup vegan butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar (organic preferred)
1/4 cup vegan yogurt (I used unsweetened coconut yogurt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large overripe bananas, mashed
1 cup pecan pieces
1/2 cup brown sugar (organic preferred)
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 12-muffin tin or place paper liners in it.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the milk and vinegar together and set aside to allow it to curdle.
  • Beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about two minutes or so. 
  • Add yogurt, milk and vinegar mixture, and vanilla. Mix well. 
  • Add bananas and mix again.
  • On top of your soft mix, dump the dry ingredients. Flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Then stir with a spoon or beat gently until well-incorporated, but take care not to overmix or your muffins will be tough.
  • Spoon the batter into your muffin tin, filling each cup almost to the top. I did two scoops into each cup with a large cookie scoop, and that worked perfectly. 
  • In a separate bowl, mix your nuts or oats with the brown sugar and spoon it onto the tops of your muffins. 
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  • Enjoy!

October 12, 2015

Fresh No-Cook Spaghetti Sauce

In the mood for something fresh, light, easy and breezy? You have to try this amazing, no-cook spaghetti sauce! A few days ago, a friend of a friend on Facebook posted a video from Food & Wine magazine that I saved immediately because I just knew I had to try it. You just use a box grater to grate tomatoes into a bowl, add a few other ingredients, mix it with cooked pasta and you're good to go. I thought it must be too good to be true, but I tried it for dinner tonight and I'll be danged if it isn't delicious! Here's the video:

And here's my take on it:

16 ounces spaghetti noodles, cooked
6 to 8 large, ripe beefsteak tomatoes, cut in half
3 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder, to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped

  • Grate the tomatoes into a large bowl with a box grater.
  • Add remaining ingredients, to taste, and stir. 
  • Toss with your spaghetti and serve.
  • Seriously, it's that freakin' easy.
  • Enjoy!

October 11, 2015

Portobello Sloppy Joe's

Hey friends! It's been a long time since I posted on this blog, but that's all about to change. If you followed my summer adventures on the blog, The Thinking Spoon, you will know that I had surgery to remove a rare and fast-growing 4.5x5cm tumor from my left breast. The surgery wasn't too bad at all, but I suffered severe bronchitis and a disgusting staph infection on my leg afterward. So, it's not been the greatest summer. I'm still weak and I've put on a lot of weight from all my time spent convalescing, but I'm finally starting to perk up. And I'm ready to reclaim my health! The recipes that I will feature from here on out will focus on maximizing nutritional benefits. I need to lose weight, get strong, and make darn sure I don't wind up with another cancer scare. I hope you'll come along with me and offer your support and suggestions along the way. I love hearing from you guys! So, let's get started with a new recipe in a new year from a new gonna-get-healthy Jen. 

In the South we like our Sloppy Joe's kind of sweet, with a maple-y BBQ flavor. If you prefer them more on the savory side, leave out the sugar and ketchup, and just add an extra tablespoon or so of tomato paste, along with some savory spices of your choosing. You can't mess this one up. Just taste as you go and you'll end up with something fun, yummy, and really, really messy on your plate, which is why they have the word "sloppy" right there in the title.
I topped mine with homemade pico de gallo, but I think pickled jalapenos or just straight-up lettuce and tomato would be nice too. My husband likes to spritz his with classic hot sauce and my daughter likes to eat hers on tortilla chips. You seriously can't go wrong. I hope you enjoy these!
<1 pound portobello mushroom caps, coarsely chopped 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 large sweet onion, small dice 1 large red bell pepper, small dice 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cheap beer, divided
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional, depending on your budget)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon sugar
A few drops of liquid smoke
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 hamburger buns
Toppings of your choice (homemade pico de gallo is pictured)

  • Whirl the mushrooms in batches in a food processor until very finely chopped, scraping the sides as needed to incorporate larger chunks. Don't pulse them so long that they liquify.
  • Drizzle oil into a hot cast iron skillet. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add 1 tablespoon of the beer and continue to cook for a few minutes more.
  • Add walnuts and red bell pepper to the pan, along with an additional tablespoon of beer, and cook until the pepper pieces are tender.
  • Add the mushrooms and cook until soft and well-incorporated.
  • Add all remaining ingredients, except buns and toppings (d'uh). Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a taste and consistency that you like. Feel free to fiddle with the flavors, add some other spices, or jazz it up any way you like it. 
  • When you get it where you want it, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to rest a few minutes. It will thicken a bit as it rests.
  • Spoon onto toasted buns and top with your favorite stuff. 
  • Enjoy!