Category Archives: Breads

Mini Apple Pie Bites

 

These little gems were inspired while searching for healthy options to make for Pi Day (March 14 = 3.14) to take to work and share. While I do love pie, I don’t love butter, preservatives, saturated fat, mountains of sugar, etc. But I also don’t want to eat a bland, tasteless pile of cardboard and call it “pie”.  So what’s a health-conscious dessert lover to do?

Make these!

Mini Apple Pie Bites

They are like a mix between apple pie and apple crisp, in a bite-sized muffin-like package! And with about 50 calories per mini muffin, you can easily have 2 or 3 and not even feel bad. They are very easy to customize too. Add raisins, mash in a banana, change the spices if you don’t like nutmeg. If you add some protein to the recipe these would make a great pre- or post-workout snack.

This recipe makes about 24 mini muffins, or you could make a dozen normal sized muffins. If I had known how delicious they would be, I’d double or triple the recipe! This will become a staple in my house I’m sure. Better stock up on applesauce…

Apple Pie Bites Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 whole apple, diced small
  • 2 tbsp syrup or sugar
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

mini apple pie bites mixed ready to bake

Step 1: Wash your apple, and dice very finely. Once baked this gives your pies a sweet, chewy texture. If you don’t want any chunks at all, just replace with another 1/2 cup applesauce.

Step 2: In a bowl, mix all the ingredients well. If too dry, add a bit of water or apple juice. If too moist, sprinkle in more oats until you get the consistency you desire.

mini apple pie bites in tin

Step 3: Spray a mini muffin tin, and add 1 tbsp of the mixture. Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes on the bottom shelf of the oven, until pies are solid and turning brown on top. Let cool, then pop out onto a plate.

Mini Apple Pie Bites

Mini Apple Pie Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 whole apple, diced small
  • 2 tbsp syrup or sugar
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Wash your apple, and dice very finely. Once baked this gives your pies a sweet, chewy texture. If you don't want any chunks at all, just replace with another 1/2 cup applesauce.
  2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients well. If too dry, add a bit of water or apple juice. If too moist, sprinkle in more oats until you get the consistency you desire.
  3. Spray a mini muffin tin, and add 1 tbsp of the mixture. Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes on the bottom shelf of the oven, until pies are solid and turning brown on top. Let cool, then pop out onto a plate.
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I can’t wait to share these at our Pi Day party!

 

Easy homemade corn tortillas

 

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017, and all the adventures that await! I hope you will take some chances, try new things, and enjoy this year even more than the last one. To start off, let’s try something that sounds more intimidating that it really is, making your own homemade corn tortillas.

So, remember how I said that I had bought this thing called Maseca to make my Chorizo Tamale Pie? I read on the bag that it can make hundreds of tortillas, and of course I had to try it! The recipe is so crazy simple, I almost didn’t believe it would work. Just the flour, water, and oil? No way!

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Maseca is a kind of dehydrated corn flour, so that all you do is add water. That must be how you need a very tiny amount of it to make a very large amount of tortillas!

I would recommend trying this with a small batch at first, until you get the hang of how much water or oil you need to create the tortilla texture you want. You can make your tortillas larger, to make big ol burritos, or tiny to make hand tacos. That is the beauty of making your own.

Well, that and eating every other one hot off the griddle cause they’re so darn tasty!

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Ingredients (makes about a dozen small tortillas, or 4-5 large):

  • 1 cup maseca
  • ~1 cup warm water
  • 1 big tablespoon shortening

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Step 1: In a large bowl, mix the maseca and half the water. Mix well, using your hands is the best way. Add the shortening and mix it throughout. Add water until it reaches a doughy consistency, where it is not crumbly nor sticky.

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Step 2: Pinch off a ball about the size of a golf ball, and roll it flat using your hands or a rolling pin. Spray a pan with cooking oil, and fry over medium heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

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Step 3: Flip to make sure both sides are cooked, and remove to a plate to keep warm. You can use a wet paper towel or cloth over the tortillas to keep them soft.

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These are delicious as is, right off the hot pan. Or you can store them up to a week in the refrigerator, for use as delicious tacos or tostadas! I made some chicken tacos, and ate the rest plain right off the stove. You can add a sprinkle of salt to the dough if it is too plain for your liking.

 

 

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Mediterranean Breakfast Sandwich

Though this sandwich does involve eggs, I hesitate to call it a “breakfast sandwich” because it would taste amazing any time of day.  Like my other recipes with Mediterranean in the title (such as my Mediterranean Meatloaf Muffins, Stuffed Mushroom Caps, Cashew Chicken, Vegetable Panini, or Chicken & Couscous), this recipe uses lots of healthy veggies, mostly bell peppers and avocado.  You could easily substitute or add in eggplants, zucchini, any type of olives, greens, or caramelized onions too.

Recipe makes 2 large sandwiches.  You can also turn these into wraps, or serve in a lettuce leaf, if you are avoiding carbs.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 jar roasted red bell peppers
  • 1 fresh avocado
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 slices wheat bread
  • 2 slices cheese
Step 1: In a frying pan, heat the olive oil to sizzling.  Crack the eggs in, and fry 2-3 minutes, until whites are cooked.

Step 2: Flip the egg once all the whites have cooked.  Take the roasted peppers and add those to the pan.  The longer you cook the egg, the more solid and less runny the yolks become.

Step 3: Once the eggs are cooked and peppers are heated through, place one egg and 1-2 pieces of pepper onto each of 2 slices of bread.

Step 4: On two other slices of bread, add the cheese slice and half of the avocado.  Press the two halves of each sandwich together.

Step 5: If you need to, add 1 more tbsp olive oil.  Put the sandwiches into the pan, and cook for 4-5 minutes on both sides, until nice and browned and the cheese is melty.

 Slice the sandwiches in half, and enjoy!

Clam & Garlic Pizza

 

One of my favorite parts about living in New England is the abundance of seafood.  I wrote Tuesday about seafood linguini, and today is all about clam pizza (don’t worry, I actually made and ate them on separate weeks.  Unless seafood every day is appealing to you, in which case rock on).

Seafood is pretty darn healthy for you on the whole, be it lobster, clams, shrimp, crab, or any other shelled ocean dweller.  Clams are a good source of several nutrients and minerals, including magnesium and manganese, phosphorus, potassium, copper and selenium, and a very good source of Vitamin B12.  Read More Here.  They are also naturally low in fat and high in protein.

Bakers Dozen Clams

These clams were from a local farmers market (if you’re local to New Haven, check out the City Seed network of markets).  I met the woman who captains the boat that harvested these guys, from the river and bay less than an hour from my house.  She showed me photos of the boat, the other deck hands, and a typical day’s haul.

She also explained the difference between several different types of clams, mostly size and thus what types of recipes they are best for.  Of course I don’t remember most of it, but the point is it was super cool to meet the actual person who obtained the food I was planning to eat.  I got this baker’s dozen of clams for only $5 too.

Once I saw the clams, I knew I had to have them.  And once I had them, I knew that clam pizza was gonna happen.  If you’ve ever been to New Haven, or even if you haven’t, chances are you’ve heard about Pepe’s Pizzeria, and their famous White Clam pie.  It was named the best in the country!  I am not arrogant enough to claim that I can make it just like Pepe or better, but I wanted to at least give it a shot.

Bowl of open clams

This woman also gave me some good advice on how to open and cook them, since this was my first time cooking with fresh clams.  A nice trick is to freeze them for an hour or so, then thaw them in a pan over medium low heat.  This makes them pop open really easily.  Or you can thaw them on the counter, just make sure to use a container to catch all the flavorful juice they release!  That’s good stuff.

The next step of this pizza was making the dough.  I could have bought it pre-made at the store, but I wanted to be all Suzy Homemaker and do it all from scratch.  Turns out, pizza dough isn’t even that hard to make!  And you can make a double batch, and keep half in the refrigerator or freezer to use again later.  This may become a regular weekend project now.

Ingredients for Pizza Dough:

  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 3 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tsp sea salt

Step 1: Put the yeast, water, and sugar in a bowl and mix to dissolve.  The water needs to be just warm, not too hot to kill the yeast.  This is called “activating” the yeast.  It wakes up and starts eating the sugar.  Let it sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature.

Activating Yeast

Step 2: In a large bowl, or stand mixer, mix the yeast with the flour, rest of the water, oil, and salt.  Mix until the dough is sticky yet pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Let it sit at room temperature 1 hour, so go do laundry or watch a TV show or run errands.

Pizza dough rising on pizza pan

Step 3: Punch the risen dough down, mix for a few minutes.  Let it rest again for 1 hour.  (This is kind of an all-day project, but with very little hands-on time.  Plenty of breaks to get stuff done, and you don’t have to babysit the dough in between.)  Either cut the dough in half for two smaller pizzas, or spread it out on a pizza pan (for round) or cookie sheet (for rectangle).  Heat the oven to 400 F.

Pre-cooked pizza crust

Step 4: Spread your dough, and poke a few holes in it with a fork to prevent big bubbles.  Bake the dough for 5-7 minutes, until lightly browned.  Then top with whatever you like, and bake another 5-7 minutes, until toppings are warm, browned, and/or gooey.

 

For my topping, I mixed clams, garlic, and olive oil for a pungent dose of flavor.  While the oven was heating, I took an entire head of garlic and cut off the tops.  I drizzled a tbsp or 2 of olive oil over it, wrapped it in tin foil, and baked it at 400 for about 15 minutes.  This cooks the cloves, turning them soft and brown and mellowing the garlic flavor.  Mix this with oil and chopped up clam, and you have heaven in the making.

Clams and Garlic

Ingredients for White Clam Pizza Topping:

  • Dozen clams, chopped, with juice
  • 1 head of garlic, baked, mushed with a fork
  • 2 tbsp olive oil + 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp lemon juice
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • Dash of Italian seasoning
  • Optional: 1/2 cup Parmesan or mozzarella

Pizza with clam and garlic topping

Step 1: Cut the top off the garlic, drizzle with oil, & wrap in tin foil.  Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes.  Squeeze the cooked garlic into a bowl, and mash with a fork.  Add clams, clam juice, oil, lemon, salt, and seasoning and mix well.

Baked Clam Pizza

Step 2: Take your dough, and spread the toppings all over it.  Sprinkle again with salt or seasonings, or a squirt of lemon if desired.

Clam Pizza with Cheese

Step 3: Optionally, sprinkle on a handful of shredded parmesan or mozzarella cheese.  Bake in a 400 oven for 7-10 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted.

Clam pizza and lemon juice

You can serve with extra lemon wedges for sprinkling over the slices.  This is garlic and seafood heaven!  It smells amazing, and tastes even better.

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Oh, and I had only used half the dough on the clam pizza, so I took what vegetables were hanging out in the refrigerator and also made an awesome Brussels sprouts, beet, mushroom, and onion pizza!

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Pizza dough you make yourself is delicious, and far more healthy than a packaged box full of leaveners, preservatives, flavorants, and who knows what other chemicals.  When you make things at home, you know exactly what goes into them, save yourself some cashola (because it is almost always cheaper to make things from base ingredients than pay the convenience fee of someone else making it) and can add a little love too. 😉 That’s what my grandma always said, and I think she’s right.

 

 

How about you?  Ever made pizza dough at home?  What’s your favorite pizza topping?

Cranberry Orange Muffins

 

One of the best things about fall is all the wonderful scents and flavors that come into season.  Of course the powerhouse is Pumpkin Spice, undisputed king of the fall flavors.  But I’m more of a fan of the littler-known seasonal delights, like nutmeg, fall squash, citrus, and cranberries.

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And of course, cranberries & oranges go together like peanut butter and jelly in the fall. Cranberry & orange tastes great on chicken, pork, or fish, they go together in relish for your Thanksgiving turkey, or baked into bread, cookies, and of course muffins!

These muffins are light and moist, with a lovely sweet tang from the juice and the berries. Perfect for snacking, quick breakfasts, or midday snacks. These muffins can also be frozen in single layers and popped into baggies for an on-the-go treat later. Simply microwave or pop in a toaster oven for a warm fluffy breakfast.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large orange
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh, dried, or frozen cranberries
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

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Step 1: In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder & soda, ) and in another bowl mix all the wet ingredients (egg, oil, juice). You can juice an actual orange for the juice if you have the ability.

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Step 2: Grate the peel of one orange, and mix it into the wet ingredients. Mix the wet into the dry ingredients, and fold together until moist. Add in the cranberries. If you’re using frozen cranberries, thaw and drain them first so your batter doesn’t get too watery.

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Step 3: Either spray muffin tins with cooking oil or line them with muffin papers. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter into each opening. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, until the muffins are browning on the top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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Remove your lovely muffins and let them cool enough to take out of the pan. Then enjoy at least one (or three, I won’t tell!) while they’re still warm.  MMMM MMM! So delicious with coffee, hot tea, or some fresh hot chocolate.

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Cranberry Orange Muffins

Cranberry Orange Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 large orange
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh, dried, or frozen cranberries
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder & soda, ) and in another bowl mix all the wet ingredients (egg, oil, juice). You can juice an actual orange for the juice if you have the ability.
  2. Grate the peel of one orange, and mix it into the wet ingredients. Mix the wet into the dry ingredients, and fold together until moist. Add in the cranberries. If you're using frozen cranberries, thaw and drain them first so your batter doesn't get too watery.
  3. Either spray muffin tins with cooking oil or line them with muffin papers. Pour about 1/3 cup of batter into each opening. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, until the muffins are browning on the top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
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Tomato Zucchini Panzanella

 

As summer hits full speed, most people with gardens find themselves overwhelmed with tomatoes and/or zucchini. Prolific producers, these two are classic markers of the height of summer. This is also when tomatoes and zucchini are on sale at the grocery, and can be bought at the lowest price at farmer’s markets.

Once you have had your fill of eating tomatoes plain or with salt (the very best way, in my opinion), zucchini diced up in stir fry, and tomatoes on your salad, you may ask yourself, what else can I do with the twenty pounds I still have?

A good answer is: make this healthy, refreshing panzanella!

Panzanella, pronounced pan-za-nay-ya, is a Tuscan dish traditionally based on onions and stale bread. Some time in the 20th century tomatoes came into the picture and took center stage. Now most panzanella recipes are based on stale bread moistened with olive oil and vinegar, and tomatoes, with other ingredients like onion, basil, and garlic commonly added.

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This salad is a fantastic side dish or snack, and can even be a light main meal in the summer heat. It can take advantage of old bread which might otherwise be thrown away, or you can toast fresh bread to get the same texture.

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Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 4 slices bread, toasted
  •  3-4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

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Step 1: Toast your bread, or use a few days’ old bread. I smeared a bit of butter and Italian seasonings on mine. You can use whatever type of bread you like.

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Step 2: Slice or shred your zucchini. I used my mandoline to make thin ribbons so they would take the marinade easier. Dice your tomatoes into cubes and chop the garlic. Mix in a bowl with the lemon juice, oil & vinegar.

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Step 3: Cut the bread into cubes, and mix everything together. You can leave this in the refrigerator for an hour or two to mix and meld the flavors, but don’t leave it too much longer than 1-2 hours or the bread goes from crisp but moist, to soggy.

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Add salt & pepper to taste, and enjoy!

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Tomato & Zucchini Panzanella

Ingredients

  • 3-4 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 4 slices bread, toasted
  • 3-4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Toast your bread, or use a few days' old bread. I smeared a bit of butter and Italian seasonings on mine. You can use whatever type of bread you like.
  2. Slice or shred your zucchini. I used my mandoline to make thin ribbons so they would take the marinade easier. Dice your tomatoes into cubes and chop the garlic. Mix in a bowl with the lemon juice, oil & vinegar.
  3. Cut the bread into cubes, and mix everything together. You can leave this in the refrigerator for an hour or two to mix and meld the flavors, but don't leave it too much longer than 1-2 hours or the bread goes from crisp but moist, to soggy.
  4. Add salt & pepper to taste, and enjoy!
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Mascarpone Stuffed Cinnamon Rolls

 

With Mother’s Day just around the corner, you may be asking yourself what is a good way to show your mom just how special she is. You could buy a Hallmark card, but that’s just an over-priced poem someone else wrote. You could take her out to brunch, that’s always nice. But how about you one-up that and make something special for her yourself!?

I know, you may not think you have the time. But why not ask if she’d like to be included in the baking? We all know no one cooks just the way mom does. And baking is a great way to bring family together. “So Much Good Happens When We Bake.”

This post is part of the Culinary Content Network’s “Celebrating Mom” series, sponsored by Shedd’s Spread Country Crock.

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This recipe became a fast favorite in our house since mom saw a recipe from Pillsbury online last Christmas.

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Now we make it our own with a variety of fillings and toppings. Feel free to experiment yourself. Try ricotta, cream cheese, cottage cheese, or goat cheese. Use any dried fruits, jams, honey, or maple syrup. As long as there are biscuits, sugar, Country Crock, and love, they are sure to delight!

Ingredients:

Step 1: Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a round pan or 8×8 square pan. Mix any nuts and/or fruits you are using in a small bowl.

Step 2: Lay out two shallow bowls or plates, one with the melted Country Crock and one with the cinnamon & sugar.

Step 3: Put about 1/2 tbsp of mascarpone cheese in the center of one biscuit round, sprinkle in a pinch of nuts & dried fruit, and pinch the sides up all around it. Roll it into a ball, making sure the cheese is completely covered.

Step 4: Roll each biscuit ball in the melted Country Crock, and then in the cinnamon & sugar. Place seam-side down in the greased pan. Once all biscuits are stuffed, spread the remaining Country Crock over them and sprinkle with remaining walnuts & cranberries.


Step 5: Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, until biscuits are nice and brown. Mix 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk into a thick glaze. Drizzle over warm rolls right as you take them out of the oven.

 
These things are simply incredible. Warm, gooey, sweet, and irresistible.
Who wouldn’t want to wake up to these?? Make them anytime really. Maybe every day, if you’re also a marathon runner…

What will you do for Mother’s Day?

Mascarpone Stuffed Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz can biscuit mix or boxed dough mix
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Country Crock
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white or brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease a round pan or 8x8 square pan. Mix any nuts and/or fruits you are using in a small bowl.
  2. Lay out two shallow bowls or plates, one with the melted Country Crock and one with the cinnamon & sugar.
  3. Put about 1/2 tbsp of mascarpone cheese in the center of one biscuit round, sprinkle in a pinch of nuts & dried fruit, and pinch the sides up all around it. Roll it into a ball, making sure the cheese is completely covered.
  4. Roll each biscuit ball in the melted Country Crock, and then in the cinnamon & sugar. Place seam-side down in the greased pan. Once all biscuits are stuffed, spread the remaining Country Crock over them and sprinkle with remaining walnuts & cranberries.
  5. Bake at 350 for 25-35 minutes, until biscuits are nice and brown. Mix 1 cup powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk into a thick glaze. Drizzle over warm rolls right as you take them out of the oven.
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Banana muffin bites

 

Banana bread and banana muffins are my favorite way to use up leftover past-prime fruit. (The second-best way is to freeze bananas and add them to smoothies!) These little banana bites are a great portion-controlled breakfast, treat, or on the go snack.

If you don’t have mini muffin tins, feel free to portion it into regular sized muffins, or even a bread pan.

Ingredients:

  • 3 bananas (best if slightly over-ripe)
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

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Step 1: Mash up the bananas, and mix all wet ingredients in one bowl. Milk, butter, egg, vanilla, and banana.

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Step 2: Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl – flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. If you have a stand mixer, use that. Otherwise mix with a spoon. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Don’t over-mix but make sure to break up any lumps.

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Step 3: Spray 2 muffin tins, and add about 2 tbsp muffin mix. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until muffins are brown on top and fluffy. Let cool on a wire rack.

These are delicious, relatively healthy, and also freeze well. Use ratios of wheat flour, almond flour, or ground flax for extra nutrition.

Apple Mango Muffins

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Muffins are an awesome breakfast and snack food, when you make them yourself. The problem with most store-bought muffins is that they add in preservatives to keep them fresh far longer than is normal, tons of sugar to make them tasty and your body crave it, and other crappy additives and chemicals to fool your brain and tongue into loving them and wanting more.
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As I wrote in my vegetable scraps article and all about juicing, fruit and vegetables peels and scraps can sometimes be worked into muffin recipes to make them more nutritious and fiber-full, as well as help reduce food waste. This does depend on the type of scraps you have, so use common sense. If you juice a cucumber, grapefruit, tomato, and celery, that would likely make some weird-tasting muffins. But if you juice all fruit, save that pulp for this recipe.
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Ingredients:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla flavor
  • 1/2 stick butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup fruit pulp – (in this case apple and mangoes which I juiced)

Step 1: In a large bowl, combine the wet ingredients (milk, eggs, vanilla, butter, fruit) and mix. In another bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder). Pour the wet into the dry and mix well.

Step 2: Line 2 muffin pans with paper or spray with cooking oil. Pour about 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup. You can see I also sprinkled a little extra brown sugar on top.
Step 3: Bake in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until fully fluffed and golden brown.
Step 4: Remove and let cool.
Now you have fresh baked muffins to enjoy! You can freeze these for easy on-the-go breakfasts and snacks throughout the week. The flavor can be whatever you want to add, get creative and try different combinations of fruits, vegetables, or nuts.

Homemade Cinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels

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I’ve had a love affair with everything you can make homemade for quite some time now. From homemade oven-baked bread (that didn’t work very well… I need to try that again), to perfect pancakes, applesauce muffins, and even infused liquor, I love when I can take a few simple ingredients and make a whole lot of something I otherwise would have to buy at the store. Someday soon I will foray into making my own yogurt, bagels, kombucha, and sauerkraut too. 
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One thing I’ve had in the back of my mind to try was soft pretzels. They seemed like an easy enough task, though I wasn’t sure. History claims that a very long time ago, AD 610 according to TLC Cooking, a monk was frustrated with his class and had some leftover bread dough. He rolled the dough out into rolls and made the iconic pretzel shape to resemble hands crossed in prayer. Originally called “pretiola”, Latin for “little reward”, they were quickly re-named “brachiola” which means “little arms”. They reached Germany, where they became a huge hit and were known as bretzels. This translated in America to pretzels, and so the famous street/fair/and sports event food took its place in our history.
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So when I found on Sally’s Baking Addiction a 30 Minute Pretzel recipe, I knew I had to try it. However, my favorite soft pretzel is the Auntie Anne’s cinnamon raisin with glaze, so rather than a plain salt that’s what I was after. With a few tweaks, I was sure I could re-create that $6 treat for far less. This recipe ended up making 8 medium-sized pretzels. I’m sure you could cut it in half for one, or make smaller ones for young-uns. You can also omit the cinnamon and use less sugar and just roll in sea salt for regular soft pretzels and dip in mustard or cheese. In fact, I think I’ll need to make another batch of plain this weekend…
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Ingredients:
1.5 cups water
1 packet yeast
1 cup sugar or brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 cup raisins
4 cups flour plus extra
2 eggs, beaten
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Step 1: Pour the yeast into 1 1/2 cups warm-ish water and stir. You don’t have to wait for anything to rise, just mix it well.
Step 2: Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl. (Flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and raisins). Add in the yeasty water and mix with your hands. Add more flour if needed. Once you have a fairly rubbery dough, break off a fist-sized chunk and place on a floured surface.

Step 3: Roll the dough out into a long strand, then cross it over into the pretzel shape. I’m actually going to try making letters and other shapes next time.

The next step is optional. Rumor has it boiling in baking soda water gives pretzels that chewy texture and browned color. Boil 1 cup baking soda in 9-10 cups water. Dunk the pretzels, and let boil for 5 minutes, then dry on a rack before baking. **Oh wait… it said 30 seconds. That could explain a lot. Only leave them in the boiling soda water for 30 seconds if you do this step**

A little hint: putting a wooden spoon across the top of a pot keeps it from boiling over. At least up to a certain point.

My post-baking conclusion was that while the boiling did cause a different color and taste, I like the pretzels without the baking soda step better, so I won’t be doing that in the future. However feel free to experiment yourself, maybe the altitude has something to do with it… #ColoradoBakingProblems

Step 4: Beat the eggs in a flat bowl/plate and coat the pretzels fully.

Step 5: Brush on some butter and cinnamon/sugar if you want extra sweetness. Bake the pretzels at 425 for 10-15 minutes, until nicely browned. Make sure to watch for burning.

Step 6: To make the glaze, take 1 cup powdered sugar and mix in 2 tbsp melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla flavoring, and 1-3 tbsp milk (depending on the consistency you want).

Drizzle the glaze over your pretzels and enjoy!

Warm and chewy right out of the oven, these pretzels were fantastic! Just as good, if not better, than anything I’ve had from a mall or baseball field. Will definitely be making these regularly, they are so easy and take less than a half hour total time.
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National Pretzel Day is April 26, so you have plenty of time to practice and perfect your favorite recipe!
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80% of all pretzels in the United States are made in Pennsylvania, where the hard pretzel originated. Unfortunately the Pretzel Museum in Philadelphia has closed, but they leave behind some fun facts:
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bullet Pretzels without salt are called baldies.

bullet An 1859 parade in New Orleans featured a float carrying a pretzel-baking machine.
bullet An average pretzel has 3.5 grams of fat and 260 calories.
bullet German kids wear pretzels around their neck for good luck on New Year’s. 
bullet Pretzels top some Christmas trees in Austria.
bulletA page in the prayer book used by Catharine of Cleves depicts St. Bartholomew surrounded by pretzels which were thought to bring good luck, prosperity and spiritual wholeness.
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For lots more fun facts on pretzels check out the TLC website.


What’s your favorite type of pretzel or topping?