Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

Continuing my obsession with the Flourless cookbook, I did a variation of the Banana-Cocoa Muffins this morning. Since it’s Friday and I actually slept past 6—a big feat given what an early riser I have—I thought it was a good day for a morning treat. I added peanut butter to the original recipe for a bit more protein, cut the amount of sweetener in half, used butter instead of oil, and used almond flour instead of ground hazelnuts. They needed to bake a bit longer than the recipe mentioned and I only got 10 muffins from my batch, but otherwise, these were delicious. These are definitely going into regular rotation—and I am betting that I will frost them one day soon and serve them up as cupcakes!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
Adapted from Flourless
Makes 10 muffins

2 very ripe bananas, mashed
2 large eggs
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup melted butter, slightly cooled
1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a muffin tin.
2. Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until well combined and the batter is smooth. Fill 10 muffin cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 30-32 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then cool on a rack.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Bread

I’ve been trying out a lot of gluten-free recipes lately and I’ve found a few that are definitely keepers. The first is this recipe for Flourless Banana Muffins, that when I made them for the first time, my family of three ate half of the batch of 12 in one sitting. They are pretty amazing. (I skipped the sugar and the chocolate since my girl has plenty of energy all on her own first thing in the morning, but do what you will.)

The second recipe is the one you see here, which is a variation on this Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread. I did the coconut flour variation with almond butter and used roasted and pureed butternut squash since that seems to be much more plentiful at our farmers market than baking pumpkins. I also used 1/4 cup honey instead of the maple syrup that was called for since that’s what I had on hand. I figured that since I’ve swapped in squash for pumpkin in pie, then doing so in bread would work just as well.

I’m pretty amazed that this loaf baked up with such a nice shape and that it holds together when sliced. I haven’t been on a strict gluten-free diet since before my daughter was born and I’m delighted to find that the recipes have improved even since then!

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Brownie Cookies

I have sometimes been known to complicate matters when it comes to food, but after almost 2 and a half years of being a mama, I’m learning that often, the simpler the better. And such is the case with these crazy easy cookies. Without the need of an electric mixer or any other special equipment, these chocolatey cookies come together in one bowl (okay, two since you need one to melt the butter). You can make the batter ahead of time and stick it into the fridge until you are ready to bake and they even taste great when not super fresh.

Basically, they are the best of both a brownie and a cookie and when I recently made a batch for a party, all but one cookie was gone before dinner had even started. That to me is a total success. (I was relieved that the kids who ate them all spent the party running around playing soccer and jumping rope, which made me pretty sure that they weren’t still hopped up on sugar when they got home that night!) And since almost every dinner or party that we’re invited to is a potluck, I’m considering these my go-to for all events until further notice.

Click on over to recipe.com for the full recipe!

 

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Hash-Brown Crusted Veggie Pizza

We have harvested a load of homegrown potatoes—and for once I am not exaggerating. You know those boxes that reams of copy paper come in? We have three of them piled full of potatoes and there’s still more harvesting to do. I am hoping that we donate or share the rest of them because even with the cool storage in our basement, I’m not sure that it would be possible for us to eat them all.

Volume aside, these are some of the most delicious potatoes that I’ve ever tasted. There are a few different kinds but the German Pink and Yukon Gold are my favorite. They are creamy, buttery, and amazing when roasted whole in foil and topped with butter, salt, and sour cream. And they made a really delicious and crunchy base for this pizza-quiche dish shown here.

Click over to Recipe.com to learn more about this recipe and to try it out for yourself. It’s a great option for a simple end of summer dinner, or even brunch with the family.

 

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Cornmeal Muffins with Yellow Squash and Raisins

We’ve been trying to soak up the last bit of summer before school starts up again, which means that we’ve been enjoying lots of dinners on the porch with friends. Since those dinners tend to involve a lot of playtime with the kids, I always try to prepare the food ahead of time so that I’m not scrambling in the kitchen while also trying to jump rope or kick a soccer ball. At times this has meant classic potato salad with green beans and cucumbers with grilled brats, or a very simple pasta salad made with tomatoes marinated in olive oil and basil alongside muffins.

These muffins were a total surprise hit. I thought we had gotten zucchini in our CSA share but only found yellow squash when I looked in the fridge. I figured that it would probably work just as well, so I grated enough to make a cup when drained and packed.

This recipe is pretty basic, though the combination of all purpose flour and cornmeal lends a nice flavor and a surprising texture that will remind you of cornbread. They were moist, and just slightly sweet—and no one could tell that there was a vegetable inside. The kids all gobbled theirs up drizzled with honey (so did the adults!). You could use chopped walnuts or even chocolate chips instead of raisins and increase the sugar if you like a sweeter type of muffin. Just be sure to mix the batter gently to keep the final result light and airy.

Cornmeal Muffins with Yellow Squash and Raisins
Makes 12

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup grated yellow squash, squeezed well and packed
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Coat a muffin tin with oil or nonstick spray. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix the wet ingredients and grate the squash. Squeeze it with your hands to release as much water as possible.
2. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, then gently stir in the squash and raisins. Fill muffin cups evenly, about to the rim of each cup. Bake for 22-26 minutes or until lightly browned. Let sit in tin for 5 minutes then cool on a baking rack. Serve slightly warm if possible.

 

 

 

 

 

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Roasted Vegetable and Tomato Salad

 

This salad is a perfect example of how I like to cook in the summer. It makes use of a load of vegetables, is fresh, flavorful, and simple. And it’s more of a method than a recipe since it can follow the lead of whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand.

Basically you:
1. Roast a sheet pan full of chopped vegetables coated in olive oil, salt, and pepper at 400 F for 20-25 minutes or until soft and starting to brown. I used zucchini, yellow squash, onions, and eggplant. Let cool slightly.
2. Toss with as many chopped ripe tomatoes as you like. Add a handful of shredded basil and stir to combine. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
3. Serve as is or top with crumbled feta, goat cheese, aged cheddar, nuts, white beans, or chopped cooked chicken as you like.

The juices from roasting and from the tomatoes combine to form a sort of a dressing, so you don’t need anything else drizzled on top. You might also want to consider serving with crusty bread so you can sop up all of the juices!

 

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Summer Sewing

I recently was gifted with a bag filled with little girl patterns for dresses, bags, and coats, along with some sweet fabric remnants. I haven’t been sewing very much this summer since I’ve been trying to enjoy more time on the porch reading, but this Simple Servant Frock Dress from Sugar City was a joy to make.

I actually sewed it by hand because it was so straight forward and I wound up making the little pleats on the neckline—and adding buttons—because it was a little too big all over for my girl. I loved that there were no closures or zippers to worry about and that the roomy style is very forgiving. I think that it will fit her nicely come fall and I’m already hoping that she’ll agree to wear it for her first day of nursery school.

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Potato Salad with Green Beans, Zucchini, and Herb Vinaigrette

We’ve hit the point in the summer where we’re starting to get a surplus of specific produce items, both from our garden and our CSA. I’m doing my best to stay on top of the chard and beet greens by blanching, food processing, and freezing in ice cube trays (then transferring to freezer bags) to use through the winter in soups and stews. But we’re getting about a gallon of green beans from our garden alone each week and I don’t love them when cooked from frozen, so I’ve been coming up with new ways to use them. And since potatoes are just starting to be harvested in our area, it seemed like a fine time to combine the two—and to throw in some zucchini for good measure.

This super simple potato salad uses the vinaigrette that I so profusely talked about in my last post. It’s still holding steady as my favorite dressing of the season and it’s a great fit for this potato salad. The method for this recipe is so straight forward that I’m not sure it’s even a recipe:

Wash and chop 1/2-1 pound potatoes, 1 quart green beans and 1 medium zucchini.

Add potatoes to a large pot of salted boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. Add green beans. Cook until potatoes are just starting to become tender; add zucchini.

Strain and let cool in the strainer.

Toss with the Herb Vinaigrette, Parmesan, and roasted sunflower seeds, if you’re like me and can’t have a salad without some form of seed or nut.

Eat at room temperature, preferably outside.

We brought this salad to a potluck last night and it was delicious. And after eating the leftovers with our dinner tonight, I can definitively say that this will be a summer staple in my house.

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White Balsamic Vinaigrette with Herbs

I was in a little bit of a salad dressing rut last week, so while at Trader Joe’s, I picked up a bottle of white balsamic vinegar. It’s been years since I used it in my kitchen but it inspired me to make a new dressing for all of the greens growing in our yard right now—and it might be my favorite dressing of all time. It’s easy to vary according to what you have, it goes really well with simple salads topped with strong cheeses such as feta or aged cheddar, and even makes a nice dipping sauce for snap peas and carrots. I’ve been making large jars full every few days so that it’s ready and waiting.

White Balsamic Vinaigrette with Herbs
Makes about 1 cup

2/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 T – 1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, and thyme
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp roughly chopped shallot
pinch salt
freshly cracked black pepper

1. Put all ingredients into a blender, food processor, or the plastic measuring cup that your immersion blender came with. Blend until smooth. Use right away or refrigerate between uses.

Variations:
Use 1 clove garlic, grated, instead of shallot.
Change up the herbs or leave them out if you don’t have any on hand.
Try maple syrup instead of the honey.

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Lemony Garlic Scape Pesto with Almonds

In addition to the bunch of garlic scapes that came in our CSA box last week, we had about 40 outside in our garden, so I took it as a sign to make pesto. Some of this went onto pizza and some was slathered onto toast and topped with shredded mozzarella and then broiled briefly. And the rest I froze in ice cube trays (which makes convenient portions) to use at a later date, likely on pasta. I love the simplicity of this pesto recipe, which would work just as well with basil if you don’t have a pile of scapes to use up.

Lemony Garlic Scape Pesto
12-15 garlic scapes (or 3 cups basil, packed)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup slivered or whole roasted almonds
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil

1. Pulse the garlic scapes, cheese, and almonds in a food processor until broken down. Add lemon juice and olive oil and let machine run until smooth, adding more olive oil if necessary to create a spreadable consistency. Use immediately, store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze in ice cube trays or freezer bags for later use.

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