Thursday, November 3, 2016

Mixed Berry Muffins

Mmmm....fresh baked muffins with blueberries, marion berries, and raspberries.






Growing your own berries is a lot of fun. Kids can pick berries off the vines while playing outside, you can grab a couple in the morning for your cereal or pancakes, or you can collect them and use them in a favorite muffin, pie, fruit crisp, or jam recipe.




















 You might wonder what I mean by collecting them. Here's the deal.... as you may know when you have new plants they don't produce many berries at first. What I did, and still do for jam and pie, is pick the ripe berries every day and put them in the freezer until I have enough for the recipe.  I remember how excited I was when I could make a pie from our own berries!

 We have a row of boysenberries, marion berries, raspberries, and blueberries. One day when I was going to make blueberry muffins and didn't have quite enough berries, my husband asked why we couldn't put some of the other kinds in.  That's how we came up with these muffins.  (and our  multi-berry pie)


They don't have to be perfect and you don't have to have an even amount of each kind. Just use whatever you can find that is ripe.

Add the berries to the muffin batter, your favorite recipe or mine here. I usually end up adding about 2 cups. The more the better!




Bake as usual.
And enjoy!


Mixed Berry Muffins                     Makes 12 muffins

1 3/4 cup flour   (gluten free if needed)
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar  (may use sugar substitute if desire)
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (or egg replacer)
3/4 cup milk (or milk substitute)
1/4 cup melted butter (or dairy free option like Earth Balance)
2 cups fresh berries (any kind)
Note: if using a gluten free flour add 1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum. Check the label, some gluten free blends include xanthin gum in the mix.

Preheat oven to 400
Prepare muffin tins with a non-stick cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl combine flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine eggs (or egg replacer), milk (or milk substitute), and melted butter (or Earth Balance).
Add liquid mixture to dry and stir until just mixed. Fold in berries.
Spoon into muffin tin 3/4 full. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Baking times may vary.

Remove from muffin tins and cool on wire rack or wrap in a clean dish towel to keep warm until ready to serve.

Enjoy delicious bites of berries in these tender muffins.



 Weight watcher points are 4 points for each muffin.

Note: If using a sugar substitute the muffins will have a chewier texture. I use to make these with Stevia all the time for my daughter when she couldn't have sugar while on the Yeast Free Diet.

Sugar free versions have 3.5 points plus.




Friday, October 28, 2016

Butterscotch-Nutella Swirl Brownies





If you are like me and like the taste of butterscotch chips in your cookies, then you will love these brownies. And when you take a bite, part of it is crunchy, part is chewy, and part of it just melts in your mouth. My only disappointment was that I didn't make myself a batch that was gluten free! (I have yet to try that)

They are delicious refrigerated or at room temperature.  You will get that chewy texture at a colder temperature and more of a melt in your mouth texture at room temperature. Yummy with ice cream too.
Each brownie has 8 weight watcher points.

Butterscotch-Nutella Swirl Brownies                    Serves 24
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour or a gluten free flour baking blend.
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup Nutella
Preheat oven to 375. Line a 9"x13" pan with foil leaving some foil hanging over the ends to lift out brownies later. Spray lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium size pan combine sugar and butter and cook over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar has dissolved, stirring often.  They will still be separate, not a combined mixture.
Remove from heat and let sit to cool slightly.
Add 2 eggs and vanilla, whisk mixture well.
In a small mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add to sugar mixture mixing until smooth. Fold in butterscotch chips. Spread into prepared pan.

In a small mixing bowl beat cream cheese with egg yolk, add Nutella. Mix well into a smooth, creamy mixture. Drop by spoonfuls over batter in pan. Swirl together using a non-sharp knife or kitchen tool. Be careful not to scrape the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Brownies will be just set and a toothpick inserted should come out clean.
Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours. Lift out of pan holding edges of foil, and cut into squares. Serve chilled or at room temperature.




Spoonfuls of chocolate mixture will look something like this before you swirl it.


Now use a non-sharp knife or kitchen tool to swirl in chocolate mixture.


Ready for the oven.


Brownies baked and cooling before refrigerating.


Remove foil and cut in desired size of squares.  




Eat and enjoy every bite!





Tuesday, September 20, 2016

GF Magic Fudge Brownies



Gluten free, egg free, dairy free, in fact…you might be surprised at exactly what is in them.






They are sweetened with dates, xylitol and stevia.  Mine have some dairy free, allergy friendly chocolate chips on top because I haven't found any without sugar cane that are also gluten free. These are really delicious even if you skipped those mini chocolate chips on top.





I like to keep mine refrigerated or even better, frozen. That way I don't feel like I have to eat them all at once…besides, they are amazing frozen!  I'm having some tonight with Allergy Friendly Vanilla Soft Serve!

I actually got this recipe at my doctors office from a lady I was visiting with in the waiting room. She was also celiac and dairy free. She reached in her purse and pulled out this recipe. She insisted I try this recipe, and promised that I would love it…she was right!!

So naturally it is only right to continue sharing! I wasn't given a name for these brownies, so I decided to call them, GF Magic Fudge Brownies.

GF Magic Fudge Brownies                      Makes a 8"x 8" pan.
1/4 cup pureed dates. Soak about 8 dates in 3/4 cup water and let sit for an hour or so. Drain excess water and puree the dates.
1/4 cup frozen mashed banana. Pre-freeze one banana, then slightly defrost in microwave and mash.
1 cup sunflower butter  *see note below on how I prepare my sunflower butter with less sweeteners.
2 Tbsp ground chia seeds, mixed with 3 Tbsp water and allowed to thicken.
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil.
2 Tbsp honey, brown rice syrup, or agave syrup. (vegans use brown rice syrup or agave)
1/4 cup xylitol
10 drops liquid stevia concentrate
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup allergy friendly semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray or additional coconut oil.
Everything is mixed in a food processor. First add mashed banana, sunflower butter and chia seed gel mixture. Process well, mixture should be smooth. Then add coconut oil, honey or syrup, pureed dates, xylitol, stevia and vanilla. Process again until smooth. Add cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Process one last time until smooth. Transfer to prepared pan and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

If you are like me you won't be able to wait... and will try some while they are cooling!!
Cut into serving sizes of your choice and enjoy this chocolatey treat!!



And don't forget to try some frozen too.  Please continue to share this recipe with family and friends!

Weight watcher points plus followers may want to enjoy these with those extra weekly points, at 4.5 points each. Without chocolate chips 4.2 each. Worth every bite!!

* I purchase two sunflower seed butters at a time. One that is sweetened and one that is unsweetened. I open them both and combined them in a mixing bowl. Then I return this new mixture to the original sunflower seed containers. Now my sunflower butter has half the sweetener.  


Enjoy!!




Saturday, September 10, 2016

GF Trail Mix Krispie Treat Treasures





Here is a fun new twist on krispie rice treats.

I've seen a lot of variations to the original recipe, but this one really grabbed my attention since I love dried cranberries and chocolate!  I found this recipe on the back of the Ocean Spray Craisins bag, they called it, Trail Mix Treasures. But I made some changes for my gluten free friends (and myself). 


GF Trail Mix Krispie Treat Treasures               Makes a 9"x13" pan of treats
1/4 cup butter or butter substitute
40 regular or 5 cups miniature marshmallows,  Vegans use Dandies Brand
5 cups crispy rice cereal (regular if GF isn't necessary)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Prepare 9"x13" pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large saucepan melt butter or butter substitute. Add marshmallows and stir until melted.
Remove from heat and stir in krispie rice cereal, cranberries, and pumpkin seeds. Add 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips, stir to just mix in.
Press into prepared 9"x13" baking dish.
Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips  over top and press them in slightly.
Let cool. Cut into whatever size treats you like!
Store in an air tight container for several days.





Enjoy!





Sunday, September 4, 2016

Four ways to make blueberry muffins so everyone can enjoy them.





















My family loves blueberry muffins. I have been making variations of this recipe since my children were little. I have made them gluten free, sugar-free, low-fat and just the regular way. I want to share with you one of the absolute best blueberry muffin recipes I have ever tasted. I am going to share the original recipe for those without any health restrictions, the gluten free version, and a low-fat recipe that can also be made gluten free.

Note: If you are following a sugar restricted program you can simply replace the sugar with your favorite sugar substitute. I have used Stevia as well as Splenda and Splenda Blend as sugar substitutes and all have been successful. Follow the directions on the sugar substitute package for amounts, they will vary.
















































Original Blueberry Muffin:     Makes 12 muffins
1 3/4 cup flour (I always used unbleached) or gluten free blend
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for gluten free muffins.
2 eggs, or egg replacer
3/4 cup milk, or non-dairy substitute
1/4 cup melted butter, or non-dairy substitute
1-1/2 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 400.  Spray muffin tin with pam or use liners.
In a large mixing bowl add the following:
1 3/4 cup flour (I always use unbleached)
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder.
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for gluten free only.
Mix well.

In a small mixing bowl add the following:
2 eggs, or egg replacer.
3/4 cup milk, or non-dairy substitute.
1/4 cup melted butter (I do not use unsalted) or non-dairy substitute
Mix well.

Stir liquid mixture into flour mixture and with a large spoon. Fold in 1 heaping cup of fresh or frozen blueberries. Here's my tip for super great muffins.....have another 1/4-1/2 cup of berries on the side ready to add as the batter gets near the end, that ensures every muffin has plenty of berries.

Put in oven for 23-25 min. and be sure to test for doneness by lightly touching the top of a couple muffins and watch for it to spring back. Because of the large amount of berries in these muffins the toothpick test is not as effective. When muffins are done let sit them for a couple minutes and then go around the edge of the muffins with a knife to help remove from the tins. If there are any leftovers you can put them in a freezer bag and have them handy for a snack or breakfast in a matter of seconds by popping them in the microwave.


Vegan:   Makes 12
Substitute eggs with ENER G Egg Replacer or ground Chia Seeds. Use 1 tsp ground chia seeds and 2 Tbl water for each egg. Mix in a small custard dish and let sit until gels. Substitute milk with, Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Rice Milk or any of your favortie milk substitutes. Substitute butter with  Earth Balance.


Gluten free:
Replace the flour with any gluten free flour baking blend. Try one of my mixes, homemade gluten free flour combinations .   Your baking powder should also be gluten free which should say on the label. I replace the chicken eggs with duck eggs because my daughter and I are allergic to chicken eggs. You can also use an egg replacer. I also use soy milk or rice milk (both unsweetened) to replace the milk, as we are also allergic to dairy.  No other variations are needed and they are delicious.

If you count weight watcher points,  each muffin has 4 points using regular or gluten free flour, an egg and a low-fat milk or soy product.


 Low-fat Blueberry Muffin:     makes 12
1 3/4 cup unbleached flour (or gluten free)
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for gluten free only.
1 cup fat-free milk or non-dairy substitute
1 egg or 2 whites for an even lower fat version, or egg substitute
4 tsp melted butter or non-dairy substitute
1 1/4 cups blueberries

Preheat oven to 400. Spray or line muffin tin.
In a large mixing bowl:
1 3/4 cup unbleached flour (or gluten free)
4 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum for gluten free muffins.
Mix.

In a small mixing bowl:
1 cup fat-free milk (or milk substitute)
1 egg (or 2 whites for an even lower fat version)
4 teaspoons melted butter (or a dairy free butter)
Mix.

Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir. Fold in 1-1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries. Spoon into muffin tins and bake 20-25 min depending on oven. Let sit for a couple minutes and remove from muffin tin. You will love them!! No one needs to feel like they can't enjoy good food.





 Enjoy!



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Delicious Way To Dry Plums



















I'm just not a big prune fan…but I do like plums. We have two plum trees that provided us with more plums than we could eat and share.  Being fans of dried fruit, we decided to try drying the plums sliced like many other fruits.  

We learned a couple things from this…they take twice as long to dry, and they are wonderful!!


Just place sliced plums on dryer racks and set the temp at 135. Let dry least 6-8 hours but depending on thickness of slices it could take longer. Using your oven is an option too. Set oven temp at 12-140 degrees. Place cut fruit on baking sheets lined with wax paper or parchment paper.






When they are dry there should be no juicy or squishy parts on the fruit. As you can see in the photo below.







 Place in freezer bag or other air tight containers and store in a cool part of the house for 6-12 months.




















We like to add cut up dried fruit to our green salad, cereal, trail mix, or just eat alone as a snack.
Weight watchers count 3 points for 1/4 cup of dried fruit.

Enjoy!



Sunday, August 7, 2016

Slow-Cooker Refried Beans - insanely delicious





















These are absolutely the best homemade refried beans I have ever made! It took a few tries, but this recipe is a keeper!

What do I love even more about this recipe? It makes the best slow cooked pinto beans I have ever had too! I can make three different meals from just this one batch of beans.

The traditional refried beans of course perfect for dips, burritos, or a side dish.

Or this...

Serve them whole in a burrito with chunks of roasted sweet potato, rice, fresh mango salsa, and guac. It's amazing!!




Or maybe this...

Ladle some into a bowl with the juice from the slow cooker, add some leftover rice and stir. This makes a delicious, hearty bean soup. Perfect for lunches too.





My recipe is for a double batch because when I make these I like to divide them up...leave half of the batch whole, and mash (refried) the other half. I freeze them into 2 cup containers and heat them up for quick lunches or dinners.  This recipe will require a large slow cooker, or divide the recipe in half for a smaller size slow cooker.


Some say beans don't have to be presoaked. We eat beans daily, and I haven't been pleased with the results when I skip the presoak step. So I will suggest it, but it's entirely up to you.

To count weight watcher points, a 1/2 cup of refried beans is 4 points and 1 cup of whole beans is 6 points.

*Presoak quick method: Rinse the beans in a colander. Discard any stones or debris. Place beans in a pot and cover with about 2 inches of water. Bring water to a boil on high. Cook for 1 minute, remove from heat and cover. Let sit 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans and they are ready for your recipes.













Slow-Cooker Refried Beans 
2 lbs (about 5 cups) dried pinto beans - presoaked and drained.  *I use the quick method.
10 cloves of garlic or 5 tsp minced.
2 medium yellow onions, chopped.
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped.
1/2 each - green and red bell pepper. Seeded and chopped. (or both whole peppers)
1/2 tsp black pepper.
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (I use 1/2)
7 cups water
4 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth for plant-based diets.

In a skillet use a little broth to sauté garlic, onions, and all of the peppers. Add seasonings and continue cooking a few minutes more.
Add sautéed vegetables and presoaked beans to your slow cooker with water and broth. Mix well. Cover and cook on low 12 hours, or on high for about 8 hours. Don't ask me why...but I prefer low for 12 hours.

For traditional refried beans, drain the beans reserving about 3 cups of the liquid. Use a potato masher or a hand mixer to mash beans to desired consistency adding liquid as needed. You may find you like your refried beans left coarser, or maybe you prefer a smoother consistency. It's completely up to you how much liquid you add while mashing.

Serve them up or place in freezer containers to use at a later time, like on a busy week night.




 


Drain and mash beans, adding liquid for desired consistency.





A coarser consistency of refried beans.




A smoother consistency of refried beans.




Leave beans whole for burritos or a side dish.



One of our favorite Meatless Monday meals!



Or store in freezer safe containers.


Enjoy!