Camping Desserts – Campfire Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

campfire pineapple upsidedown cake

When I found this recipe for campfire pineapple upsidedown cake I was in heaven! Growing up pineapple upsidedown cake was always a treat in our house, my Oma being famous for making it.

My Dad absolutely loved it and every time my Oma came to visit she would make one for him (that and crumb cake, also delicious). So when I discovered this recipe we could make over the fire I knew that we had to try it. Plus I was excited to find a new camping dessert recipe, cause though I love banana boats and cinnamon apples I also like variety on the menu.

campfire pineapple upsidedown cakeWe made this recipe on our first camping trip this year on July long weekend. We actually made it in the afternoon on one of our days away, before we had supper. One of the things I find when camping is that because there is no schedule meals often run later than usual. Often we are not finishing supper til 7 or 8 and by that point not only am I full but I don’t feel like creating more food. So we decided – in the words of my father – that we would ‘eat dessert first’. Then worry about supper later.

I had made the pound cake at home and brought it with us which was easy enough to do. You can also buy a pound cake if you prefer but I needed a sugar free version. Plus honestly, regardless of if I was looking for sugar free or not, I usually bake cake from scratch no matter what it is. I am not one to buy cake from the store in general.

I had also experimented with the pound cake recipe using honey for the first time as the sweetener. Oh my it turned out well. Nice and moist. Yum! We had a hard time not eating just the cake before we made the rest of our dessert.

The recipe for campfire pineapple upsidedown cake is simple – pound cake, pineapple, coconut sugar (great natural alternative to brown sugar), Earth Balance and cinnamon and/or nutmeg. Baked in foil over the fire until the sugar melts and you get that nice googey syrupy liquid. You do need to be careful not to over cook it as it can burn, especially if you are doing it over the grate on the fire. Alternatively, you could burn your fire down to coals and bake it, but that would take longer!

Campfire Pineapple Upsidedown Cake (sugar free & dairy free)

pound cake, cut into chunks *recipe for pound cake belowcampfire pineapple upsidedown cake

fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

dash of cinnamon, nutmeg

coconut sugar

coconut cream for topping

1 healthy spoonful of Earth Balance Vegan Spread, plus a little bit to grease your foil so the dessert doesn’t stick

heavy duty tinfoil

Tear off piece of heavy duty tinfoil (about 12×12″) and place on table (or flat surface). Use a small amount of Earth Balance and spread evenly over the foil. Slice and cut pineapple and place on foil. Slice pound cake and cut into squares about 1 inch thick and place on top of pineapple. Put a healthy spoonful of both Earth Balance and coconut sugar over pineapple and cake, sprinkle with cinnamon and/or nutmeg.

campfire pineapple upsidedown cakeClose up the foil by brining two ends together and folding over then rolling down til tight. Then fold over and roll on each end. This creates a nice tight packet that keeps everything in and is easy to open when done.

Place foil packet on the grill over fire. (Also works well by putting into coals of fire, but no flame or BBQ). Cook for about 5 minutes and then check it (takes a little longer on the BBQ). It is ready when the butter and brown sugar have melted and formed that yummy syrupy liquid over pineapple cake mixture. Put a dollop of coconut cream on top if desired. Enjoy! It will be hot so be careful.

We loved these. Everyone inhaled theirs and then wanted more. And I loved how simple it was. The kids could make and put together their own (so making it as little or as big as they wanted) and it didn’t take long to cook as you are basically just melting the Earth Balance and coconut sugar. Then voila! it is ready at any time of day, whether you choose to have it before supper or not.

This is the recipe for the pound cake I made. It was also quick and easy and I really liked using honey as the sweetener. Make sure you sift the flour as though it takes a few extra minutes to do so, it makes the cake lighter and fluffier.

Honey Pound Cake

1 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 1/2 c. flour, siftedcampfire pineapple upsidedown cake

1 c. honey

1 tsp. vanilla

5 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Lightly grease a 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch loaf pan. In a large bowl beat Earth Balance and honey together until light and fluffy.

Add vanilla and then gradually add eggs, beating well. With mixer on low, add salt and the flour. Beat well to combine.

Transfer batter into loaf pan and bake at 350F for about 65 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let pan cool on wire rack for 1 hour. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely on rack before slicing.

Cake may be stored in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 weeks.

 

Gluten Free Bran Muffins with Raisins & Hemps Seeds

gluten free bran muffinsI have always been a fan of muffins. They are a great grab and go snack that will fill your tummy and give you some good nutrition. They are also a fantastic make ahead and freeze for later option as well – something you can quickly grab out of the freezer to add to lunches, road trips or just a quick snack.

I have been dabbling more and more with gluten free recipes as I have noticed that my body does not seem to tolerate it like it used to. Often feeling tired after bread, muffins or anything wheat based, I have been slowly expanding and experimenting with my recipes. I was a little worried about changing my muffins though, as I had found many gluten free muffins to taste grainy or gritty and certainly not to my liking. But I knew that they couldn’t all be that way and that if it was the difference between energy boost and energy drain then I had to give it a whirl. So I started experimenting…

I am a big fan of bran muffins and have been since I was little. I know most people don’t care for bran muffins, more like a love it or hate it relationship, but for whatever reason I really enjoyed them. And it wasn’t just because of the benefits of bran! They were yummy. So it was only natural that one of the first muffin recipes I converted would be a bran one.

I found the original gluten free bran muffins recipe online and loved the addition of hemp seeds for the added nutrition. I also liked that I could create my own gluten free flour as all brands are not created equal, and this way I could choose what went into my mix. A quick modification for the sugar and the dairy I had the perfect recipe, which my boyfriend at the time, loved and he was not a gluten free guy. In fact to this day they are still his favorite muffin that I make.

The kids love them to, though they tend to like banana more, but they will eat them without complaint and I love the hemp seeds and flax added in there.

Gluten Free Bran Muffins with Raisins & Hemp Seeds

1/2 c. ground flax seedgluten free bran muffins

1/2 c. rice bran

1 c. almond milk (unsweetened coconut milk or other non dairy milk of choice)

1/3 c. olive oil

1 large egg

2/3 c. coconut sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour (*easy to make your own gluten free flour mix)

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tsp. baking sodagluten free bran muffins

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 tbsp. hemp seeds

1/2 c. raisins (I like lots of raisins so I add another 1/4 c. but you don’t have to)

In a medium bowl mix together flax seed, rice bran and almond milk. Let sit for 10 minutes while you get everything else ready.

Next, in a large bowl combine gluten free flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt and hemp seeds.

In a different medium bowl, beat together the oil, egg, coconut sugar and vanilla. Add the ingredients from the first medium bowl (almond milk/ flax seed mixture) to the egg mixture and stir well.

Stir the almond milk mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended. Fold in the raisins.

Spoon batter by the teaspoon into greased muffin tin or line with cupcake liners. Bake at 375 F for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes then remove muffins from muffin tin to allow cool completely.

Store in an airtight container or freeze for easy quick grab and go healthy snacks.

* I found this combination for your own gluten free flour mix online. I make a batch and store in an airtight container so it’s on hand when I need it.

Gluten Free Flour Mix

4 c. superfine brown rice flour

1 1/3 c. potato starch (not flour, they are different)

2/3 c. tapioca starchgluten free bran muffins

Kids Healthy Cooking – Healthy Chocolate with Natural Sweeteners

healthy chocolateKids and chocolate. They go together well. All the memories of chocolate covered faces, whether from ice cream or pudding or just a good old fashioned chocolate bar. Yes they say too much chocolate is not good for you, but honestly there is such a thing as healthy chocolate.

A lot of the trouble with chocolate is the amount of sugar in it, but chocolate without sugar and natural sweeteners instead, is a different story. Chocolate itself is rich in antioxidants and is actually very good for us. It is the sugar that is the problem.

When I learned to make my own healthy chocolate, I was surprised at how quick and easy it was. It was so easy that I came home and made it with my oldest son, who at the time was only 6. Four simple ingredients gave us our base chocolate, and then we could create whatever we wanted. He loved it! and wanted to make more. Now my twins who are also 6, love making it as well. It is so easy to make with kids.

So when it came to our last class of Mini Chefs, making healthy chocolate was really a no brainer. I wanted a nice sweet, fun, but healthy treat, so this was perfect. In class, we made the plain chocolate and kept it in liquid form for fondue, dipping a variety of fruit into it; such as apples, oranges and bananas. All of the kids loved it! And yes ended up with chocolate faces 🙂

Raw Organic Chocolate

Ingredients:

Cacao butterhealthy chocolate

Cacao powder

1 vanilla bean

pure maple syrup or honey

*amounts depend on how much chocolate you want to make

Boil water in kettle. Pour boiled water into a large metal bowl, place second smaller metal bowl on top of large bowl so that it sits on top. Place cacao butter into top bowl. Cacao butter will start to melt. While cacao butter is melting slice vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the inside seeds with a spoon. Put seeds into melted cacao, it is ok if cacao butter is not completely melted yet. Stir.

*Be very careful not to get any water into your chocolate as it will not work if you do. If your second bowl sits nicely on top, this should not be an issue as you do not need to lift the second bowl off the one with the water in it until you are done making your chocolate. 

Sift cacao powder into a separate bowl. Once cacao butter is completely melted add 2-4 tablespoons of cacao powder. Taste for desired level of chocolatey-ness. If you’d like it richer add more cacao powder. Once satisfied with amount of cacao powder add natural sweetener of choice. Start with 3 teaspoons and mix. Taste, if desired level of sweetness has not been reached, add 1-2 more tablespoons and taste again. Once level of desired sweetness has been reached you have your base chocolate. This can now be kept liquid and used as a fondue, or can be poured into chocolate molds to form chocolates.

Another option at this point is to add additional ingredients such as nuts, dried fruit, coconut, essential oils (ensure that the essential oils you are using are safe to ingest), etc and pour onto a cookie sheet to let set. Chocolate is best set in freezer but may also be set in fridge.healthy chocolate

I had also been promising the kids we would make ice cream for a number of classes and many of them kept asking when we were going to make it. Since it was the last class we did make peanut butter ice cream as well. Sugar free, dairy free and super easy to make with kids. Look for the peanut butter ice cream recipe in the next kids healthy cooking post.

Sweet Butter Tarts

IMG_6483I received a little inspiration the other day from my sister. She was making pies and butter tarts asking for advice and how to’s as it had been a while since she had made them. Of course I helped her and gave her lots of tips.

She sent me photos of her and the girls (my nieces) creations and it made me a little jealous. I love butter tarts, they are definitely one of my favorites and I hadn’t had one in years! They are so sweet and delectable, nice flaky pastry and yummy sugary sweetness as it melts in your mouth.

Why though hadn’t I made these in so long? I mean pastry challenges aside (I never enjoyed rolling them out and cutting small circles, found it finicky), there was really no reason why I could not make these things. Yes we have chosen to eliminate dairy and sugar from our diets but why had I not adjusted this recipe? I hadn’t even looked at the recipe to see if it could be!

IMG_6471With mouth watering I decided to least attempt it. I mean what was the worst that could happen, I’d end up with a batch that didn’t taste so good and might have to put in the garbage? But if it meant I might be successful and enjoy butter tarts once again 🙂

So I pulled out the recipe and took a peek. I balked at myself for having left this for so long. This transformation was going to be super easy! It was a simple substitution of Earth Balance, coconut sugar and coconut milk and voila! it was done.

I waited in anticipation as they baked, hoping that I was right and they would turn out. Once they were out I did my best to let them cool at least a little, before I tasted one. Omg! it was absolutely delicious and honestly I could not tell the difference between this one and  the original recipe. Perfect!

I then shared the butter tarts with the kids who loved them and gobbled them up, quickly asking for more. Of course I love these so much I could easily gobble two or three at once, but I resisted, knowing perhaps I could have one for breakfast tomorrow…

And now I am going to share them with you. This is a dairy free sugar free butter tart recipe that you can enjoy without the guilt and really will not notice the difference or compromise on taste.

Butter Tarts

1/3 c. Earth Balance Vegan Spread, meltedIMG_6485

1 c. coconut sugar

2 tbsp. coconut milk (full fat canned coconut milk is best)

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 c. currants

Make pastry as per directions. (I use Tenderflake and follow their recipe on the back) Roll out pastry to desired thickness (usually between 1/4 to 1/8 inch depending on preference) and cut into 4″ circles. Place pastry circles in prepared muffin tin. (*If tin is not non stick I would highly recommend greasing each opening lightly with Earth Balance. There is nothing more annoying then being unable to get your tart out of the pan without it breaking!)

Combine all filling ingredients in a medium bowl. Fill each pastry circle about 2/3 full. Do not over fill as filling bubbles up when baking and can overflow. Bake at 450F for 8 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350F and bake until pastry is lightly browned, no longer than 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

*Tip – if you’re filling did overflow while baking it is a good idea to gently run a knife around the edge of the tart before it completely cools. This prevents the filling from hardening and sticking, making it difficult to get the tarts out of the pan once completely cooled.

Makes 12 medium sized tarts

Enjoy! (Now I’m going to make some more… writing this post has definitely started my mouth watering)

To Drink Gingerbread

IMG_4491I know Christmas is over. And New Year’s is done too. And this is really something more suited to the Christmas season. But I couldn’t resist posting this martini I created over the holidays. Yes I created it!

I was on a gingerbread kick over Christmas, looking for different ways to enjoy this delectable Christmas flavor. I had already discovered and tested gingerbread waffles, gingerbread muffins and of course gingerbread cookies (classic). Earlier this Fall I was delving into the martini world, trying some Halloween ones, pumpkin one, and a few others. I thought there must be a gingerbread one I can make.

So I hopped on Pinterest, my new favorite go to for recipes and looked it up. I found a number of recipes but most of them had Baileys in it and I wanted to avoid the dairy. There were some that were almost but not quite. So I decided to experiment, I took parts that I liked from different recipes and combined and adjusted them, creating my own version of the gingerbread martini. Dairy free, not quite sugar free, there’s just a teensy bit in it, I tried to get it completely sugar free but couldn’t quite do it (maybe down the road I’ll figure it out get it completely sugar free). Though honestly you would never know, this is a very sweet martini and extremely delicious.

Once I got all the components right and tried it, I phoned my Mum to share. She immediately wanted the recipe and went to try it herself. 20 minutes later she phoned back with one word, “Yum”.

Now I realize it is not the Christmas season when gingerbread is most popular but I could not sit on this delectable recipe for an entire year! Besides isn’t gingerbread good any time of year? Valentine’s? or Christmas in July.

Give it a try. If you like gingerbread you’ll love this. Enjoy!IMG_4493

Gingerbread Martini

1 1/2 ounces (3 tbsp.) vodka

1 ounce (2 tbsp.) gingerbread syrup*

1/2 ounce (1 tbsp.) Creme de cacao

1/2 ounce (1 tbsp.) unsweetened coconut milk (I used Silk unsweetened coconut milk)

Put all ingredients in a martini shaker filled with ice. Shake to mix. Pour into martini glass. May adorn glass with mini gingerbread cookie if desired.

*Gingerbread Syrup

IMG_4497

Gingerbread Syrup

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. coconut sugar

4 tbsp. barley malt

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a small saucepan, mix together water, coconut sugar, barley malt, ginger and cinnamon. Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves. Let syrup cool before using in drink. May be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 

Festive Ham and Dairy Free Scallop Potatoes

IMG_4425Years ago we were away over Christmas for the first time ever, well not including university years or when we went somewhere else to visit. This was the first time we were not somewhere spending Christmas with other family or friends. We were in Australia, part of our 3 month stint back in 2007, and the beginning of a love affair with the Aussies (cause as you know we’ve been back since to Australia and there’s talk of going again).

This was the first time that we as a family were in a place where they was no family or friends to visit or stay with. We had no traditions that we had to uphold (not that there is anything wrong with traditions, everyone calls me a very traditional gal. I love them and uphold many, but there are times to break from or form new traditions) and no particular place that we needed to be. We were in Tasmania, the only island state in Australia, staying in Launceston at a lovely place called the Penny Royal Apartments (which are refurbished historical buildings turned into apartment accommodations). It was a lovely place.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (244)

Penny Royal Apartments

For Christmas, we kept it low key, enjoying a nice dinner on Christmas Eve and preparations for Santa Claus, with our paper tree and actual socks hung up for stockings. Christmas morning was even simpler with a present from Santa, some goodies in our stockings and a nice breakfast of french toast. Matthew was 4, and was super happy with his little Tonka trucks from Santa Claus and his few small gifts from us.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (246)We went to the beach for the day, we came back and went to a Christmas buffet at another local hotel. No one had to cook the big meal, no fuss, no muss, relaxing, easy. Simple. It was so nice because we got to spend time with each other, it was not about the toys and gifts, or the big Christmas dinner. There was no stress to have things perfect or a timeline to abide by. It was cool, it was authentic and was one of the best Christmases I have ever enjoyed.

Bris Tas and Melbourne (247)When we returned from Australia we decided to shift our focus, and make Christmas about the things we really want, which we had identified as being together, enjoying each other’s company, it didn’t matter what we were going to do. So we simplified things, we ordered pizza on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas Day we had turkey crepes (a fabulous dish made with leftover turkey, that is not only delicious but simple and can be made ahead of time, reducing time in the kitchen on Christmas Day). We still had a nice meal and used the nice dishes, we still exchanged gifts, but now no one was stuck in the kitchen all day making dinner. Which for was usually just us anyway and was all over in about 20 minutes. Now I make the big meal 2-3 weeks earlier, chop and freeze the turkey and toss the crepes together on Christmas day, takes maybe 30 minutes.

That being said I do love the spread at Christmas and I still love all the traditional items on the menu, like turkey and stuffing, ham and potatoes, with all the dressings. So I usually do a bigger meal a little bit before Christmas, when I have more time, less things competing for my time and can afford a day in the kitchen.

The beach Christmas Day 2007

The beach Christmas Day 2007

In fact just this past weekend I decided to make a ham and scallop potatoes, often a favorite on many Christmas dinner tables. I was so excited because this was the first time that I was making the scallop potatoes dairy free. I love scallop potatoes but for some reason since going dairy free I thought I couldn’t make them, that adjusting the recipe would be too complicated. I have no idea why I thought this, but for some reason the other day this ‘block’ lifted and I decided I could do it and what I would do. I knew exactly what I was going to do and what substitutes I was going to try.

Oh my goodness! The potatoes turned out so well. They were absolutely fabulous and I couldn’t believe that I had waited so long to adjust this recipe, or that I thought I couldn’t! It was really quite simple and easy (and in case you haven’t noticed I like simple and easy).

The ham was fabulous as well, I use my own mix to glaze and flavour the ham, though I have discovered that it is near impossible to find a ham that is not cured with sugar of some kind (at the moment anyway, I believe that will come). I ended up buying one from the local butcher, no hormones, no steriods, grain fed, but still cured in a brine that did contain a little bit of sugar, though the butcher assured me that it was much less than what you would find in the local grocery store. Rounded out with a nice green salad it was a fabulous meal and one that we all enjoyed. It was the first time the twins had scallop potatoes and though Luke rejected them because they looked different, once he tasted them, he gobbled them up.

So if you’re doing the Christmas spread this year and want to try a dairy free scallop potato recipe (you may have a lactose intolerant aunt who you can finally make a dish for) or have decided to keep it more simple (you could make the slow cooker version of these potatoes), enjoy yourselves, remember what is most important to you and make that your focus, when you do Christmas day will be perfect no matter what.

Glazed Ham

dry mustardIMG_4424

coconut sugar

water

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together to make a smooth paste. Be careful not to add too much water as you do not want it runny. Amounts of mustard and coconut sugar depend on preference for sweetness and tart, as well as size of ham. Spread mixture over ham. Place in covered roaster and roast for 2 hours at 350F for a 3.5 kg ham (increase or decrease cooking time according to size).

Scallop Potatoes

4 tbsp. Earth Balance vegan spread

4 tbsp. flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

2 c. coconut milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage, slightly thinner than regular coconut milk)

6 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly slicedIMG_4430

1 large onion, thinly sliced in rings

*optional 1/2 c. Daiya dairy free cheddar

In a medium saucepan melt Earth Balance. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Add coconut milk and stir. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture thickens. Remove from heat. If adding cheese stir into sauce.

Layer half of prepared potatoes and onions in large (2.5 quart) casserole dish, alternating a layer of potatoes, a layer of onion. Pour half the sauce over potatoes and onion. Layer the rest of the potatoes and onions the same way, then pour the rest of the sauce over top.

Bake covered at 350 F for 50 minutes. Remove cover and bake 15 minutes more to brown slightly. Potatoes should be tender, sauce warm and bubbling.

Serves 6

Gingerbread Delights

IMG_4387You know I love flavors and that I tend to go a little crazy when I find one I love! Making everything possible out of it. Like pumpkin, I love pumpkin (and actually this fall inherited a lot of pumpkin) so was making muffins, pies, ice cream, etc. Experimenting with all different kinds of recipes.

My recent obsession is gingerbread. Always fabulous this time of year and something I really enjoy. I love ginger in general and am often making fresh ginger tea and drinking it daily. (Ginger also has a lot of health benefits, like aiding with colds and flu, as well as prevent and eliminating nausea).

IMG_4334But I had never really thought you could do much more with gingerbread than cookies. I had tunnel vision and could not see out of the box. Cookies are the only thing right? Then last month I discovered a recipe for gingerbread waffles. Of course I knew right away that we had to try it. They were fabulous! and everyone gobbled them up. Which got me to thinking there must be other variations of gingerbread something out there. So I started looking – I had so far, cookies, waffles… what about muffins? Gingerbread muffins would surely be delicious.

IMG_0750I did a quick Google search and a number of recipes popped up. I looked at a few, picked the one I liked the best and whipped them up yesterday! Ok I tried to whip them up, I had a bit of a baking travesty. I checked on my ingredients and thought I had everything I needed but as I went along I first discovered I was almost out of barley malt, then ginger, both I had just enough. Phew! Nope, didn’t have enough Earth Balance – shoot! So I mixed it all together and set it aside until after I could run to the store.

Once I had my final ingredient, I finished mixing them up and put them in the oven to bake. I was curious and of course so were the kids (they always want muffins!) They poofed up beautifully and smelled delicious. That lovely gingerbread smell wafting through the house afterschool…Yum!

They were finally done, and after waiting a few minutes for them to cool, we dove in. They were delicious, super moist with just a subtle gingerbread taste, not too overpowering. Now I prefer a little more of a gingerbread flavoring kick, so I am going to play with the spices in this recipe a little to amp up the flavor. Once I do that, I’ll report back to you 🙂 But since I have 36 muffins at the moment to enjoy I won’t be experimenting with that one for a little bit.

You can easily half the recipe if you want to, 36 muffins is a lot, or you can bake them all and freeze them for later (if you remember they are in the freezer, personally I often forget that they are there and end up baking new ones anyway).

I also think these muffins would be fabulous with some kind of icing, which I am also going to experiment with and get back to you. For some reason I am thinking a nice cream cheese option would work…

Now that you are drooling, anticipating that warm moist gingerbread muffin in your mouth, here is the recipe. Completely sugar free and dairy free, it will be a hit at your house too!

Gingerbread Muffins

3 eggsIMG_4385

1 c. barley malt

1 c. coconut sugar

3 1/2 c. flour

1 tbsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. ground cloves

1 tbsp. ginger

1 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 c. hot water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Lightly grease muffin tins with Earth Balance. Spoon batter into muffin tin about 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 36 muffinsIMG_4392

What is your favorite gingerbread recipe?

Something to add to your Christmas Brunch Gingerbread Waffles

IMG_4336I don’t know about you but I get a lot of newsletters. I like to try new things, so if I come across something I try it out and before I know it I have been automatically signed up for their newsletter (though I realize the new anti-spam laws are meant to prevent this).

From time to time I go through and weed out the ones I don’t really read or pay attention to and unsubscribe. Others I scan periodically looking for those little gems and remember why I signed up for it in the first place; then keep it in my inbox. Those gems are what keep me hooked, keep me reading the newsletters and staying on.

The ones that keep me hooked the most are the ones with yummy recipes that I discover and want to try, something I may not have thought of or come across otherwise. These are my favorite discoveries, some delectable dish just waiting to grace my plate and win my approval.

IMG_4329I found one of those gems earlier this week, when scanning the most recent Sobeys flyer. Luke and Chloe were with me, sitting on my lap, when I discovered these gingerbread waffles. I love gingerbread and I love waffles, so I was sure gingerbread waffles would definitley be a fabulous combination and treat. I ooed and awed and quickly clicked on the link, spreading my excitement to Luke and Chloe, as we waited in anticipation to see what was on the ingredient list. Looked easy enough, so we planned to try them.

It was so cute this morning as we came downstairs to make them for breakfast. Luke and Chloe got their chairs and wanted to help make them. Luke kept chatting away about trying them and we’ll see if they turn out and it was ok if they didn’t. Quite interesting chatter for a 4 year old. They were definitely excited.

IMG_4330Making all the appropriate adjustments (dairy and sugar), these waffles turned out fabulously! Perfectly golden brown, fluffy, with a subtle (not overwhelming) taste of gingerbread, they are not only delicious but very filling! After only having 2 waffles I was quite full.

The kids loved them of course and were also quite happy with how they turned out. We even broke out the Christmas dishes to enjoy them! Now I have another fantastic waffle recipe to add to my reperatoire of delectable waffles (plain, chocolate, orange) and new options for breakfasts and brunches, especially Christmas morning breakfast. Who wouldn’t love to have gingerbread for breakfast on Christmas?

I would like to try this recipe using coconut milk instead of almond milk (though really the almond milk version turned out very well), just to see what the difference is and if we like it even more. You never know til you try! So next time I make them we’ll give it a go.

In the meantime, enjoy these yummy dairy free, sugar free, gingerbread waffles, topped with pure maple syrup they are sure to be a hit this holiday season!

Gingerbread Waffles

1 1/4 c. whole wheat flourIMG_4334

1c. all purpose flour

2 tbsp. coconut sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 1/2 c. almond milk

3 eggs

1/4 c. barley malt

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread, melted

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices).

In a small bowl, whisk together almond milk, eggs, barley malt and melted Earth Balance. Add barley malt mixture to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Fill a greased waffle iron with approx. 1/2 cup (125 mL) of batter per waffle. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 3 min. per waffle. Repeat until all batter is used. Serve with Pure Maple Syrup.

Makes approximately 12 waffles

Yummy Pumpkin Muffins

IMG_4234There’s nothing better than a warm pumpkin muffin, fresh out of the oven, with a nice bit of butter on it, melting as the muffin melts in your mouth with that first delectable bite. I love pumpkin and that is one of the many reasons I love this time of year. In the Fall, pumpkins and pumpkin recipes and dishes abound.

Whether it be preparing for the Thanksgiving feast or the events at Halloween there are pumpkins everywhere. And I am quite happy to take advantage of this and enjoy as much pumpkin as I can. There is so much you can do with pumpkin from soups to pies, cheesecakes, even drinks like martinis and lattes! (Who else can’t wait for Fall so we can experience once again the delectable flavors of a pumpkin spice latte)?

IMG_4224Muffins are one of the quickest and easiest ways to use pumpkin. They are great for snacks, to put in lunches and easy to freeze, if they last that long. My kids love muffins of any kind and will gladly gobble up the pumpkin ones just as quick as the strawberry rhubarb, apple, blueberry, etc. Of course I tend to make my favorites (or honestly what is in abundance at our house, for instance earlier in the Fall we had all the apples from our apple tree).

Over the past couple of years I have adjusted my pumpkin muffin recipe, passed down from my Mom to make it sugar free and dairy free, meeting our new dietary choices. I have IMG_4237also been experimenting with gluten free recipes as well and therefore have found some good gluten free pumpkin muffins as well. (Usually I still need to do a little adjusting with the sugar, but it has become second nature now and is a quick and easy substitution).

So I make both at times, as my kids will eat either, though I am finding I am moving more towards gluten free only because I am noticing how my body is feeling after gluten sometimes (which is not so good). And today I am sharing both recipes with you. Both are equally easy and delicious, so it is simply your preference or dietary needs to decide which one to try (You could, like me, make both).

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

1/2 c. tapioca flour

1/2 c. garbanzo flourIMG_4225

1/2 c. brown rice flour

1 c. coconut sugar

3 tbsp. flaxseed

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. nutmeg

2 tsp. cinnamonIMG_4220

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 c. pumpkin puree

1/2 c. safflower oil

2 eggs

1/2 c. dates or raisins

In a medium mixing bowl, mix dry ingredients thoroughly (flours, coconut sugar, flaxseed, baking soda, salt and spices). In another bowl, mix wet ingredients together (pumpkin puree, safflower oil, eggs). Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and add wet ingredients to dry. Stir until just combined, then mix in dates or raisins.

Line muffin tin with muffins cups or grease with coconut oil. Fill each cup. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

1 3/4c. all purpose flourIMG_4223

1/2 c. coconut sugar

3 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cloves

pinch ginger

2/3 c. almond milkIMG_4233

1/2 c. pumpkin

1/3 c. olive oil

1 egg

1/2 c. dates or raisins

In a medium sized bowl, beat together egg, pumpkin and oil. Add almond milk. Sift together dry ingredients and add to mixture. Mix in dates or raisins.

Line muffin tin with muffin cup or grease with coconut oil. Fill muffin cup and bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins

Do you have a favorite pumpkin muffin recipe?

Sugar Free Apple Crunch Muffins

IMG_0565Last week I was telling you about my discovery of apple butter and how delicious it is; and that I was going to explore making my own. With the amount of apples that we have been reaping off our tree I thought that this would be a quick and easy way to use them up. I have been looking at a large bowl full of apples for a week now and knew I had another crisper drawer full in the fridge. Some of them were starting to go soft and I knew that the time was now or never to use these babies up, or they would go to waste.

So last night I Googled an apple butter recipe, and finding one that I Iiked, went to work. This is when I realized that the recipe called for 9 quarts of applesauce. 9 quarts! I quickly converted this to cups and discovered it meant 36 cups of applesauce. Now I have a lot of apples but honestly I didn’t have enough to make 36 cups.

apple-butter-13b_thumbI knew I needed to use up these apples, and though pies and crumbles are yummy and being gobbled up, they were not using up the amount of apples I needed to fast enough. I had to do something with these apples fast or I was going to have a nice pile of brown mush for the compost. I decided to make applesauce regardless as it would use up the rest of the apples quickly. The twins love eating applesauce at breakfast, sometimes sprinkled with cinnamon and I had an apple muffin recipe in mind that required applesauce I was hoping to make.

So I did. I cored and cut them and put them in a pot to cook. Now I make applesauce all the time, but in my recent search for an apple butter recipe I discovered that there was a better way to make applesauce then what I had been doing previously.

baked-applesauceI used to cut and core the apples and put them in a pot, cover them with water and boil them til soft. Then I would drain the water and puree them in the blender. I found that though this was good, the applesauce tended to be a little watery. On this website it suggested a slightly different way. First of all they said to use only an inch of water in the bottom of your pot, as apples are 99% water and they will cook down making their own juices as they cook and soften. The second thing they recommended was that you mush the apples through a sieve, this way you get a nice thick, yet smooth applesauce. This was the method I tried.

I used only an inch of water and let them cook and soften. Then I drained whatever water was left, which wasn’t much, and strained and mushed it through a colander, leaving the peels (which I had left on) on top in the sieve and a nice thick applesauce in the container underneath. I was really impressed with how this turned out and will use this method to make applesauce going forward.

Luke and Chloe really like it too as they gobbled it up at breakfast asking for second and third helpings. I had to hide the rest in order to have enough left to make my muffins.

IMG_4146The recipe I had in mind using applesauce was for Apple Crunch muffins; one that my sister made in her home ec class in junior high. It became a favorite in our house, I think because of the yummy sweet topping, and one that was made often. I have since modified it to meet our dairy free and sugar free needs, but find it just as yummy and delicious. In fact I do not notice a difference between the original and the sugar free version.

When the muffins came out of the oven this morning, everyone was quickly asking for a taste. No one was disappointed when they took that first bite and enjoyed the sweet topping, yummy moist applesauce and fresh warm muffin. I really did find that the homemade applesauce did make them taste that much better. But isn’t that always the case with homemade? 🙂

So if you can, when you make these muffins I would recommend homemade applesauce if you have it. If not you can buy an unsweetened natural organic applesauce at Superstore, or your local natural food store.

Now I hope that this is finally the end of our apples (I don’t see anymore on the tree, but you never know…) So there will be no mad rush to use them up or create new recipes. Well… until next year that is…

Enjoy these delicious muffins and maybe double the batch, as they won’t last long. Ours certainly did not!

Apple Crunch Muffins

Topping:

3/4 c. coconut sugarIMG_4134

1/3 c. all purpose flour

2 tbsp. Earth Balance vegan spread

Muffin:

1 c. all purpose flour

1/2 c. whole wheat flour

4 tbsp. coconut sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 egg

3/4 c. almond milk

3 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp. applesauce

Make topping by mixing coconut sugar, flour and Earth Balance; set aside. In a medium bowl, mix flour, coconut sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, almond milk and olive oil. Add to dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Drop cupcake liners into muffin tin, or grease tin with Earth Balance. Fill each 2/3 full, then top with applesauce and topping.

Bake at 375 F for approximately 20 minutes. When toothpick comes out clean muffins are done. Place on a cooling rack, let cool 5 minutes in pan. After 5 minutes, remove muffins from tin and let completely cool. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container.

Makes 12 muffins

What are some yummy recipes you have that use applesauce? Share them in the comments below.