Thursday, February 23

Banana oat muffins

Today it's National Banana Bread Day.  I could tell you that I had this post planned out on purpose, but I'm totally not a liar.  We'll call it kismet instead.

Tara finished the Pumpkin Cranberry muffins from last week and I wanted to make another healthy muffin.   I wanted to try something a little different and since we had bananas on the counter that were getting past their prime, banana bread muffins were a no-brainer.

I've recently discovered how wonderful bananas and cloves are together.  There's only a touch of it, so you don't actually taste it (as in, it doesn't taste like Christmas).  Feel free to up the amount if you want the flavor a bit more aggressive or present.  Don't skimp on the cloves if you have some. Also, you can add cinnamon, nutmeg, or ground ginger if you'd like, but I found just the pinch of cloves and touch of vanilla were more than enough of an accent to the banana flavor.

These muffins are surprisingly light and tender.  I think it's because of the 2 eggs (the original recipe only had 1).  They're also very buttery, which is odd because there is no butter, whatsoever.  I've had this happen before with other banana breads, but I'm still curious about it.  Has anyone else noticed buttery banana bread when there was no butter?

Banana Oat Muffins
Adapted from allrecipes

Yield 14 muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose, whole wheat)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8+ teaspoon (generous pinch) cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil (or other non-flavored oil like grapeseed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Heaping 1 cup mashed bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional, but highly recommended)


Preheat oven to 400.  Grease muffin cups or line with liners.

Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, and cloves.

In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Pour the flour mixture into the banana mixture and stir a few times, until most of the powder is mixed. Fold in your nuts, if using, until everything is just combined.

Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 15 to 18 minutes.  Let cool in the muffin pan (although, I dare you not to be seduced by the amazing smell and eat one while warm).  Use a butter knife around each muffin to remove, if needed.

Friday, February 17

Cranberry orange clafoutis

We don't fuss too much over Valentine's Day.  Rather, I should say that I don't fuss too much over V-Day.  I'm a minimal kind of gal when it comes to most holidays.  Tara, on the other hand, is sort of a holiday maniac.  (It has taken us years to find a happy medium.  Compromise is the key to a healthy and long-term relationship folks.) 

Anyway, because of my holiday mentality,  I usually suck at gift-giving, particularly with romantical events.   So, I tend to fall back on the tried-and-true fancied-up homemade dinner and dessert to make it more gift-appropriate.  Dinner was an easy choice of Penne a la Vodka, which is Tara's favorite meal that I make.  For dessert, I had originally thought about doing something strawberry (you know, because it was V-Day), but as soon as I saw the recipe for Cranberry Orange Clafoutis over at BowlLicking, I knew I had to make it. 

I'm so happy that I went with this dessert. Cranberry-orange is one of Tara's favorite flavor combos.  Plus, the preparation was simple and quick (prep was 5 minutes, tops), but it looked elegant in a rustic sort of way.

So often, it's hard to find a high-impact dessert that's easy to make for two.  Inevitably, there's always one ingredient that refuses to be broken down further (I'm talking to you, "one large egg".) or there's an odd fraction of an ingredient (1/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon?).  This recipe, however, was pretty reasonable; it was easily halved (or scaled up) and, if you're using an egg replacer, you could break it down even more.

Despite the heavy cream, egg, and sugar, the dish was rather light.  I'd call it a mix of a souffle and a custard (like creme brulee).  Don't skimp on the butter and sugar coating on the dish; it adds a nice caramelized crunch to the edge.

This recipe is extremely flexible, based on the multiple variations I saw when I did a super-quick Google search.  Check below the recipe for gluten-free and dairy-free variations.

Cranberry Orange Clafoutis
Barely adapted from BowlLicking, who adapted it from Martha Stewart

Yield: 4 small servings


  • 1/4 tablespoon unsalted butter (or nondairy alternative), melted, for ramekins
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon+ granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or gluten free alternative)
  • heaping 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch ground ginger (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3/8 cup) heavy cream (or non-dairy cream alternative)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3/8 cup) whole milk (or non-dairy alternative)
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange oil (or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract or 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest)
  • 3/4 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
  • Powdered sugar, to dust


Preheat oven to 400°F.  Brush melted butter all over the bottom and sides of 4 small ramekins; sprinkle 1 tablespoon (or more as needed) sugar all over.

Whisk together 1/4 cup sugar, flour, salt, and ground ginger (if using) in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together egg, cream, milk and oil (or extract or zest) in a small mixing bowl. In two additions, whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins. Scatter cranberries evenly on top. Bake on top of a baking sheet (to catch any overflow) for 15-20 minutes, until puffed, barely set in the center, and light brown around the edges. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes or so. As you can tell from the pictures above, the mixture will rise pretty high while cooking and then fall while cooling.

Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Options

Gluten-free:  Use an appropriate flour substitute such as pre-made GF flour or a nut flour.

Dairy-free:   Use whatever non-dairy milk you prefer to replace the milk.  To keep with the richness in this particular recipe, I would substitute the cream with the separated coconut milk from the can (the white-stuff on top after it separates).  Finally, you can use a non-flavored oil or non-dairy, soy-free butter substitute in place of the butter to coat the ramekins (like this Organic Coconut Spread that I talked about in my last post on Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins).

Monday, February 13

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

It's been a little while since I've posted over here. But what's over a year break to you and I? We're just (hopefully) gonna pick right up and keep going like nothing ever happened.

I will, however, give y'all a brief update on how things have been with us. I recently started another blog. It's a dessert blog with a focus on ice cream. Go check it out over at Scoops of Sunshine.  Tara has been focusing on her jewelry business, Flipside Creations, and has recently started a part time job as a tour guide down in Miami.  Tara has wanted to be a tour guide for ever and it totally suits her.  Unfortunately, she has to be in the sun for over 9 hours a day and she only gets quick snack breaks throughout the day, so she has been having some problems with her AIP.

We've been a little lax about our food choices and eating right, especially for Tara and her Porphyria.  For example, Tara has been eating things like Pop Tarts, chips, and cookies for her snacks for work.  She rarely eats a "real" breakfast, choosing to normally drink a glass of rice milk and maybe grab a banana for the road.  So, I've taken it upon myself to start making better treats for her.

These cranberry pumpkin muffins are perfect snacks because they're portable, quick to eat, and don't need refrigeration. 

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 1997

Makes about 16 muffins

I made a few changes to the original recipe, mostly based on what I had on hand, but also personal preference.  See the notes below for my verdict and possible substitutions.


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup orange juice, fresh-squeezed if possible
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup chopped (halved or quartered) cranberries (dried is OK, just make sure they're sulfur free)
  • butter or oil to grease the pan
  • Optional topping: 2 tablespoons chopped pecans or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • Other optional ingredients: ground ginger, crystallized ginger, orange zest or extract/oil


Preheat oven to 350.  Grease muffin cups or line with liners.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, OJ, and butter.  Add the orange zest or extract/oil, if using.

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir a few times, until most of the powder is mixed.  (Don't worry, we'll get it all in there.)  Fold in your cranberries and crystallized ginger, if using. 

Spoon batter into muffin cups.  Fill to the top for nice, domed muffins.  Sprinkle with chopped nuts or seeds, if using.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a few muffins comes out clean.  Make sure to check about halfway through to see if you need to rotate the pan(s) around.  Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Verdict and notes

I liked the bread well enough, but I would definitely make some changes if I were to make it again.  The flavor was a little flat and I think some ginger would improve the taste dramatically.  Also, I bet throwing in some crystallized ginger would be awesome.  I'm not normally a fan, but it would amp up the complexity a bit.  Finally, I think a little (not too much) orange extract or oil would have been good.  If you're squeezing the orange juice from an orange, zest the orange and throw zest in the batter with the liquids.

As for substitutions, quick breads are usually very forgiving, so don't fear:
(1) Feel free to use any squash or sweet potatoes in place of the pumpkin.
(2) We use whole eggs in the house, but the original recipe used an egg substitute.  Also, I bet egg whites would work, too.  1 egg equals 1/4 cup of substitute. 
(3) I'm a firm believer in butter is better, but I think coconut oil would have been really tasty.  Also, Earth Balance makes an Organic Coconut Spread (flash site) that is vegan and is soy free.  It does, however, have canola oil in it.  The coconut flavor is mild and only initially noticeable.
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