Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Mmmm crunchy top, fluffy middle!

I’m not going to lie: vegan baking is tricky. Due to the kids food allergies I have experimented with a variety of baked goods being made vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, etc. By far the hardest thing to substitute for is the egg! Hopefully the youngest will pass the baked egg challenge in February! Anyway, after making two vegan birthday cakes in December that were just okay, I wanted to fiddle around and find something truly delicious to make for the kids (and mommy and daddy, let’s be honest!) Although blueberries disappear pretty quickly around here, we still had some a few days after the grocery store trip and I decided to make some blueberry muffins. My mom made these great muffins fairly often when we were growing up, so I was hoping for the best as I “veganized” her recipe. This was the first baked good recipe I EVER made that my husband said “You would never know these weren’t regular muffins.” Of course, he meant regular as in made with milk and eggs, they weren’t regular in taste! Fluffy inside with a crunchy top and, as my four-year old said: “Blueberry jelly inside.” The ingredients are simple and they are so easy. If you are in need of a first attempt at vegan baking due to allergies, lack of ingredients (who hasn’t run out of eggs!?) or trying out a new lifestyle choice, I guarantee you can’t go easier than this!

SEE HOW FLUFFY!

 

Vegan Blueberry Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup soymilk/almondmilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • Turbinado/raw sugar for topping (about 1/4 cup)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Gently stir in blueberries. (If frozen, you do NOT have to thaw them as long as they aren't stuck together.)
  3. In another smaller bowl, whisk together the milk of your choice, oil, and applesauce.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour-berry mixture. Pour in the wet mixture all at once and stir quickly just until the ingredients are moistened. DO NOT OVERMIX. A lumpy batter will give you light and fluffy muffins!
  5. Use 1/4 cup measuring scoop to spoon batter into greased or lined muffin pan. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the raw sugar.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool 3 minutes before removing from pan to cool the rest of the way. Enjoy!
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Homemade Croutons

I sent my sister a text a few weeks ago: “Bought two loaves of bread at the grocery store yesterday #momlife”. (Pre-children we barely finished one loaf of bread.) Well, last week my husband bought two loaves again and we ended up with over half a loaf that was beginning to go stale. As we were having my in-laws for dinner this week for grilled chicken with salad, I decided to be ambitious and make croutons! (Not ambitious because making croutons is hard, but because making anything is hard with three little boys in the house!) The boys graced me with simultaneous naptimes this week, so I was able to make them! Here is how it went down:

Cut whatever bread you are using into cubes. Fancy bread is better, obviously, but boring sliced bread still makes better croutons than store-bought. I cut about 8 slices of bread.

Place in a Ziploc bag. Season with 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Drizzle about 2 tblsp of olive oil into the bag. Close the bag and shake it all around. Make sure that most sides of the bread cubes have a bit of sheen from the oil and that they have enough seasoning. If needed add more spices and/or olive oil.

Spread them out onto a sheet pan lined with foil and bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Check after 15 minutes if you have a mean nasty old oven that enjoys burning things. Enjoy these crunchy delights on your salad or plain like my kids!

 

Homemade Croutons

Ingredients

  • Bread: slightly stale leftovers or fresher hard breads like sourdough/French
  • 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash pepper
  • 2 tblsp olive oil

Instructions

  1. Cut desired amount of bread into cubes with a serrated knife.
  2. Place cubes in a Ziploc bag. Add seasonings to the bread in the bag and drizzle with the olive oil. Shake to coat the bread on all sides.
  3. Spread onto a sheet pan covered with foil and bake about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  4. Pull them out and enjoy the crunch!
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Easy Chocolate Truffles

Ack! It’s been a whole month since I have posted! I can only say it’s been busy around here as we went on vacation, had a fantasy football draft party, and I’ve started watching my niece for a few weeks until her daycare spot opens up. Cue getting back on track as summer winds down!

SO: you need something chocolate, but all you have is chocolate chips, peanut butter, yogurt, and a little cocoa powder. That is all you need to make these special treats! I originally found this recipe from a weight watchers website a few years ago. It’s changed as I don’t care for the plain yogurt it originally called for and it needed more peanut butter!  Now I make two versions, one regular, and one dairy free for my son. I even use this recipe to make a filling for those delightful candy holidays (Halloween and Easter) when chocolate treats abound in grocery stores and my little guy can’t have any of them! I will post about that in a few weeks when I am making Halloween candy for him.

Let’s make something yummy! Start by melting 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. (For dairy-free, I prefer Pascha brand.) I use the microwave and zap it at 30 second intervals.

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Once they are melted, stir in about 3 tablespoons of peanut butter (any nut butter will do, though.)

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Once the peanut butter is incorporated and the mixture is warm but not hot, fold in 1/2 cup of yogurt. I use Greek vanilla or plain coconut milk yogurt for dairy-free. Fold the yogurt in gently at first, then use a little more whipping power to make it smooth. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

 

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Pull out of the refrigerator and use a teaspoon to scoop out some of the mixture. Roll gently to form a ball, then roll in cocoa powder and set into storage container. These should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or the freezer.

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You can eat them right after you roll them, or you can wait for them to firm up a bit more in the refrigerator. They are a great little treat and it is an easily adaptable recipe!

Easy Chocolate Truffles

Yield: 24 truffles

Easy Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt or plain coconut milk yogurt
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions

  1. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave at 30 second intervals until melted.
  2. Stir in peanut butter until well incorporated.
  3. Carefully fold in the yogurt, mix well, and refrigerate about 15 minutes.
  4. Working with one teaspoon at a time, roll into balls, roll in cocoa powder and set into airtight container. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.
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Summer Corn Soup

The struggle is real when you want some soup to eat and it is SUFFOCATING outside. I have the solution to your struggle! This soup is all about fresh summer corn. I love corn on the cob. One of the few memories I have of my paternal grandparents is eating corn on the cob at their house in the summertime. When I lost my two front teeth, I remember my grandpa cutting his off the cob, too, and eating it together that way in big chunks. I started making this soup according to some healthy recipe a few years ago. It is still fairly healthy….. but I’ve added a few ingredients to it that add flavor (and some fat.) So, if you need some soup even though it is boiling outside and you like corn and bacon, you should give this recipe a try!

First, you need some fresh corn on the cob! You can use some that was cooked the day or two before if you have some leftover. This time I did not have leftovers, so I boiled a big pot of water, threw a little salt in and cooked the corn about 12 minutes. Then I let it sit until it was ready to be handled.

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Next, chop a package of thick cut bacon into small pieces (about 1/2inch wide.) Cook over medium heat in a large stock pot. Enjoy the smell!

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While the bacon is sizzling, dice 1 red bell pepper, 1 green bell pepper, and 2 small sweet onions.

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When the bacon is cooked thoroughly (mostly darker and getting crunchy), remove the bacon from the stock pot and add the peppers and onions to saute in the bacon fat.

 

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Cook three or four large potatoes in the fashion of your liking. I have a fancy sensor cook on my microwave, so I stab them with a fork and let the microwave do the work. While the potatoes cook and the peppers and onions are softening in the bacon grease, chop 2 green onions and about 1/4 cup of cilantro. (Side note: These green onions are from our vegetable garden! If you like green onions, they are seriously the EASIEST thing to grow.)

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While the potatoes cool, cut the corn off the cob! Then, scoop the inside of the potato out and mash it with a fork.

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Once the onions and peppers are soft, remove most of the bacon grease (I carefully use tongs and a paper towel to mop it up.) Add about 6 cups of liquid. Chicken broth, vegetable broth, tomato juice, or corn cooking water would all be great. I used 4 cups of corn water and 2 cups of chicken broth. (If you want to have milk in the soup, only add about 4 cups liquid now, and add 2 cups of milk at the end.) Taste the broth and add salt and pepper to your liking. Finally, add the corn, potatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Stir to let the potatoes thicken the broth. To help the bacon remain crunchier, just add it to each individual serving as you ladle it out. I make this soup dairy-free for my son, but it is great with a dollop of sour cream on top! Please let me know what you think if you try it out!

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Summer Corn Soup

Summer Corn Soup

Ingredients

  • 8 ears of corn, cooked and cut off the cob
  • 2 small, sweet onions, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 16 oz package thick-cut bacon
  • 2 cups (1 can) chicken broth
  • 4 large potatoes, cooked
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Reserve 4 cups of the cooking water from the corn on the cob. (If using leftover corn, you may use water, chicken/vegetable broth, or milk.)
  2. Chop the bacon into pieces about 1/2 inch wide. Toss the bacon pieces into a large stock pot over medium heat. Stir the pieces around frequently and allow them to cook until they are browned and crunchy.
  3. When the bacon is finished cooking, carefully remove it from the pot and add the diced onions and peppers into the bacon grease to soften over medium heat. Once they are softened, remove most of the bacon grease.
  4. Add the corn cooking water and chicken broth. Allow for it to cook for a few minutes, then taste and add salt and pepper.
  5. Scoop the inside of the potatoes out and smash them all with a fork. Add to the soup and mix to thicken the broth. Add the corn, green onions, and cilantro. Check seasoning again.
  6. Finally add bacon to each serving as you ladle it out to help it remain crispy.
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Grandma’s Sloppy Joes

A few months ago, I had a hankering for some sloppy joes. I called up my sister to ask if she knew how my grandma made them when we were younger. She did, because she has a way better memory than I do and I think they were a more favored dish of hers. She also told me a couple of things that she does differently than my grandma. This recipe is a combination of my sister’s additions and the way my grandma always makes it. If you feel ambivalent about sloppy joes, but you have some ground beef in the freezer, and you are wondering what’s for dinner, give this a try!

Grandma’s Sloppy Joes

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 sandwiches

Grandma’s Sloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground beef (any fat content is okay)
  • 1 onion (white or yellow)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • hamburger buns

Instructions

  1. First, finely dice the onion and red bell pepper.
  2. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan. (A pan that is large enough for the 2 lbs of ground beef to brown evenly and has a lid)
  3. Add the onion and red pepper, and cook for a few minutes until the onions turn translucent.
  4. Add the ground beef, and use some sort of utensil to break up the ground beef into very small pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Once the beef is browned, drain as much fat as you can, then add the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You'll know it's ready when you taste it and the ground beef is tender.
  6. Spoon onto your favorite buns and enjoy a messy dinner!

Notes

Other additions from my sister: a little chili powder or half a jalapeño. Direct quote from her: "Also, serve on Potato Rolls if you're awesome because they are best that way."

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Now for some interesting facts about sloppy joes for your dinner conversation:

  • You may already know a few aliases for sloppy joes like beef barbecue and steamers, but I never heard of these names: dynamites, gulash (I think of ground beef, tomatoes, and noodles, right? And spelled goulash? Anyone?), sloppy janes, slushburgers, wimpies, yum-yums, yip yips, hot tamales, taverns, and spoonburgers.
  • The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink can’t pinpoint the exact birth of the sloppy joe, but traces it to about 1935.
  • Apparently there is an unrelated sandwich also called Sloppy Joe running around northern New Jersey that consists of deli meat with cole slaw, Russian dressing, and Swiss cheese on three slices of rye bread.
  • In the 1940’s inexpensive eateries and lunch counters were commonly called sloppy joes.

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Who knew? (Well someone knew, I found this information on the world wide web, after all.)

Best Banana Muffins (so easy, a toddler can make them)

Yes, you read that right, a toddler can make them. Except for the measuring and the putting them in the hot oven part, but still, they are very easy. I have been making this recipe since I was about 16. My mom sometimes worked in the evenings so I was learning how to cook. My mom gave me a cookbook called Clueless in the Kitchen: A Cookbook for Teens by Evelyn Raab. It is still my favorite cookbook. The recipes are simple but delicious. The author is entertaining. She even includes menu plans, information for shopping at the grocery store, and diagrams for cutting produce. (I still open this book to check the ratio of milk to egg every time I make french toast for my husband.) Anyway, it is still available on Amazon. I bought it a few Christmas’s ago for my brother after he moved out of my parents’ house, but I don’t think he has cracked it open yet. Maybe someday when pigs fly!

This is my adaptation of the banana bread recipe in the book. If you have some bananas lying around, waiting to die a terrible death, give them new life as yummy banana muffins! Really, you’ll feel better about yourself for saving them from such a sad ending.

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I use the foil cupcake wrappers because the muffins just come out of them so much better than the paper ones. If you are using wrappers, put them in the muffin/cupcake pan. (Or have your toddler do it!) If not, you can grease the pan with spray or Crisco, whichever you prefer.

In a large bowl, mix together 3/4 cup white flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, dash of nutmeg, 1 cup sugar, and 1 tsp baking soda. (I measure each ingredient out and let my toddler dump it in.)

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My cute little guy likes to stir the dry ingredients.

Next, I use a 2 cup glass measuring cup to smash two ripe bananas with a fork. Once they are smashed enough that I can stir it up, I scrape into a small bowl. Then, I use the measuring cup to pour 1/2 cup of vegetable oil. I put that into the small bowl with the bananas. Finally, I crack two eggs into the small bowl, tossing the eggshells into the measuring cup.

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Vent your frustration over that time your car got a flat tire/died/started billowing smoke.

 

Now, I mix the eggs, bananas, and vegetable oil with the fork until it is mostly smooth, with a few banana chunks hanging around.

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This was the first time he mixed enough to break the egg yolks himself!

Finally, I pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk them together. At this point I sometimes add about 1 cup of chocolate chips. (The reason my 2 yr old likes to cook with mommy.) I use dairy free chocolate chips, but whatever kind is safe for your family will be great.

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Don’t over-mix! Some lumps are okay!

I use a 1/4 cup measuring spoon to put the batter into the muffin cups. I even let my 2 yr old do it, but today he was more interested in eating chocolate chips.

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Mmmmm chocolate chips

I fill the cups about 3/4 of the way.

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So even! Mad skillz, yo

My oven is from the 1950’s, so I bake them for 15 minutes, then check them and they are usually done. Sometimes they need another minute, but 15 is the norm in my (extra hot) oven. If you want to make banana bread, you can bake this in a greased loaf pan for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees as well.

Mmmm, can you smell them?

I use a cake tester to make sure they are done.

Go ahead, you know you want to make them!

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Hello, cute little muffin

 

 

 

Best Banana Muffins (so easy, a toddler can make them)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 12 ish muffins

Best Banana Muffins (so easy, a toddler can make them)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 very ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin pan with foil liners, or grease well with Pam or Crisco.
  3. In a large bowl, mix both flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. Peel the bananas and mash them with a fork until they are smashed enough that you can stir them. Add the vegetable oil and eggs and beat with fork until well incorporated. (It is okay to have some banana lumps.)
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. If you want chocolate chips, stir them in now.
  6. Use a 1/4 cup measuring scoop to put the batter into the muffin pan. Fill each cup about 3/4 of the way.
  7. Bake about 15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Enjoy!
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Simply Delicious Turkey Burgers

A few summers ago, my husband’s workplace offered a free Weight Watchers program. Even though I thought he was perfectly handsome, he decided to lose some weight by consciously making healthier choices. He usually isn’t the one who does the cooking, though, so we worked together to find some lighter recipes to cook! We discovered that we enjoyed cooking with lean ground turkey. It isn’t expensive and it is quick and easy. One of the first things we tried was turkey burgers. I found a recipe that sounded good and tried it out. It was wonderful and we have made it many times since then, with some modifications. I love making these because there isn’t much clean-up since they are made on the grill, they are fast to put together, and the ingredients are items I typically have on hand. Those are the usual requirements for food made by this mother of two little boys! Additionally, it is dairy free (unless, of course, you want to top yours with some cheese.)

First assemble your ingredients. You’ll need 1 lb of ground turkey for 4 burgers. You’ll also need one small onion (any kind is fine, my favorite is a sweet yellow onion), 2 cloves of garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper.

I usually get started by mincing about half the onion and the 2 cloves of garlic. Then I put the turkey into a bowl and toss the onion and garlic on top. My husband isn’t a number 1 fan of onion like I am, so I try to keep them to a minimum! If you look at the onion and garlic and think you need some more, go for it! Then I put in salt and pepper, and finally the olive oil and Worcestershire sauce. (If you really like Worcestershire sauce, add a few more dashes like I do! It is wonderful in this recipe.)

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After I holler at my husband to turn on the grill, I mix everything together with my hands and form the patties, making a bit of a divot in the middle. This keeps them from getting too round! For 1 lb of ground beef, I make a big ball with it all, then use my hands to cut it into quarters. In this picture I happened to use more than a pound so I got five burgers.

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Then my husband grills them for us, about 6 minutes each side and an additional minute or two, depending on how hot the grill was.

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Here are my favorite toppings: lettuce, tomato, cheese and pickle. Even my picky two-year old eats these! I hope your family loves them, too!

 

Simply Delicious Turkey Burgers

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 burgers

1 1/4 lb burger

Simply Delicious Turkey Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 small onion minced (whatever kind you prefer-I use sweet yellow)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. First, mince the onion and garlic as finely as you can.
  2. Take the ground turkey out of the fridge and place it in a big bowl. Add the minced onion and garlic, then the olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Get a big plate, then mix the ingredients together with your hands and form the patties. They will seem more wet than a hamburger-that's okay because nobody likes a dry turkey burger!
  4. Grill over medium-high about 6 minutes each side (until firm with no pink.)
  5. Serve on a bun piled with all your favorite burger fixings!
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