Homemade Energy Bars – Blueberry Muffin

Homemade Blueberry Muffin Larabar
When I started back to work in late February, I’d awake at 6:00 a.m., make myself a frothy cappuccino, warm a homemade muffin and spend the next 45 minutes leisurely reading the news while curled up on the couch, sipping coffee and nibbling baked goods.

Alas, that morning tranquility didn’t last.

These days, you’ll find me dragging myself from bed closer to 6:45 a.m., gulping down an espresso with a splash of milk, racing to work, and grabbing a prepackaged Lärabar for breakfast.

Lärabars are my energy bars of choice because they’re made with real, simple, non GMO ingredients. Sure, they may have a few more calories that some “thin” bars and less protein than others with 20 grams of whey, but they’re real food – made with a handful of familiar ingredients.

This weekend, I realized that real ingredients meant I could make them myself – and choose my own flavors, my own handful of ingredients; make my own breakfast again – even if it isn’t a warm, baked muffin.

Commercial Blueberry Muffin Lärabars aren’t made with lemon zest or cinnamon – those are my addition, just like my real blueberry muffin recipe.

Homemade Energy Bars– Blueberry Muffin

Homemade energy bars packed full of flavors and simple, healthy ingredients.


Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 cup packed dried blueberries
  • 1 cup packed dried apples
  • ½ cup packed pitted whole dates
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Line an 8×8” cake pan with wax paper including an overhang. Place the cashews in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped and resembling breadcrumbs. Add blueberries, apples, dates, zest, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Process until the fruit is finely chopped and the mixture begins to clump together.
  2. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Place additional wax paper atop the mixture and use it to flatten evenly in the pan. Leave the wax paper in place and refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.
  3. Flip the pan over onto a cutting board, remove the pan and the wax paper. Cut into eight 4”x2” bars. Tightly wrap each bar in plastic wrap. The bars will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

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Carrot Apple Oat Muffins

Moist Carrot Apple Muffins

It’s 9:00 p.m. on a quiet Wednesday night. The dishes are drying in the sink, the floors have been swept and there’s nothing but re-runs on television. My mind begins pondering other things…naughty things. I switch on my iPad and begin surfing Google images. After a few attempts, I hit the jackpot. My iPad and I make our way into the other room. I adjust the lights, setting the mood, slip into something more comfortable and then…

I preheat the oven to 350 degrees, un-nest my mixing bowls and get right to it. Carrot Apple Oat Muffins – oh yes, baby, YES!   What did you think I was talking about?


Carrot Apple Oat Muffins

  • Servings: 10-12 muffins
  • Print
At the point I added cream cheese frosting, I think these stopped being muffins and moved into cupcake territory.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Quaker oats
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples, grated
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • ½ cup currants, softened in boiling water
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a muffin tin or use papers. Combine flour, oats, , sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a large bowl. Add apples, carrots and currants and stir until they are coated in flour. Beat together eggs, buttermilk, oil, molasses and vanilla in a small bowl. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and combine thoroughly. Do not over-mix.
  2. Fill each muffin cup ¾ full. Baked for 15-20 minutes and until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack until cooled completely.
  3. To gild the lily: Frost cooled muffins with cream cheese frosting.

Originally posted July 2015

Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding

Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding
My first office job was an entry-level marketing position in mortgage banking. This savory bread pudding recipe was inspired by one I received in the 1980’s from our receptionist at the time, Dottie. I’ve upgraded the ingredients of sandwich bread, Kraft cheese and Jimmy Dean sausage into something modern, refined and packed with flavor – sophisticated enough for brunch entertaining.

Full confession – I’ve eaten this as many times for dinner as breakfast. After a long day in the office (I miss those early days of entry-level work), it warms up in the microwave quite nicely.


Savory Breakfast Bread Pudding

Updated and inspired by a 30-year-old recipe for “Breakfast Quiche.” Quiche was a big thing in the 1980’s.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups country white bread, cubed
  • 1 cup cooked baby potatoes, sliced ½ inch thick
  • 1 cup frozen roasted peppers and onions (I used Trader Joe’s version)
  • ¾ cup Spanish chorizo, sliced ½ inch thick
  • ½ cup Gruyere cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8” square pan. Sprinkle bread cubes on the bottom of the pan, followed by potatoes, sausage, frozen veggies and, finally, cheese. In a small bowl, beat together eggs, milk, Dijon, salt and pepper. Pour over ingredients in the pan and let sit at least 30 minutes until bread absorbs egg mixture.  Lightly press down on bread to fully submerge, if needed (can be covered and refrigerated overnight).
  2. Bake 45-50 minutes until center is firm and cooked through. Slice and serve. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers. Warm up in the microwave.

Ultimate Crumb Cake

A slice of crumb cake
I’ve been thinking about things that have nothing to do with my recipe again; about whether alcohol lowers nascent inhibitions – or merely lowers our overall standards. Umm…nevermind.

As I said, nothing to do with this quintessential crumb cake or the reason for baking it. I’m four weeks into my new job and, one thing I’ve discovered is that these people relish feeding each other as much as I do. I’ve found my food tribe. In one short month, I’ve had home-fried catfish, freshly made salsa, street tacos, Vietnamese coffee (twice), Porto’s pastries, and some warm and fluffy add-your-own-frosting cinnamon rolls from a local bakery. My pounds, which I was hoping would melt right off once I began working again, are staying firmly planted around my middle.

This crumb cake was my first contribution to the food-is-love fest at my new office. It has the ideal 50/50 ratio of crumb to cake that every crumb cake should have – and the cake portion is so light, rather than eat the crumb topping and throw away the cake – it begs you to eat the whole thing…and perhaps even go for another slice. No health–redeeming qualities – this is pure morning indulgence.


Ultimate Crumb Cake

Slightly adapted from this Bon Appetit version.

Ingredients

    Crumb topping
  • ½ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • Cake
  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon (rounded) baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 2/3 cups full-fat plain yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Make crumb topping: Mix both sugars, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir to blend. Add flour and toss until moist clumps form. Set aside.
  2. Make Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9” spring-form pan. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat until well combined. Add yogurt, lemon zest and vanilla and beat just until blended. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, beating just until incorporated.
  3. Transfer ½ of cake batter to prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Squeeze small handfuls of topping together to form small clumps. Drop ⅓ of topping clumps in a ring  over cake batter (topping will migrate towards the middle while baking). Cover topping with remaining cake batter, smooth as evenly as possible. Cover with remaining topping clumps.
  4. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and topping is deep golden brown and slightly crisp, about 45 minutes. Cool cake and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Crumb Cake Flat Lay

Carrot Raspberry Breakfast Muffins

Healthy Carrot Muffins
Mornings and I are frenemies, at best, and it’s been a difficult transition shifting my schedule from going to sleep at 5 a.m. to waking up around that same time. It’s necessitated a nightly cocktail of melatonin and warm milk and a carefully devised morning ritual. My ritual isn’t for empowerment, productivity, or getting my blood pumping; it’s mainly about gentle pampering and self-care that tells my soul, “See, pre-dawn mornings aren’t so bad.” Softly, softly, the morning and I meet.

I sleep in a freezing-cold bedroom with windows open wide to the night air – perfect for a sound sleep, not ideal for throwing the covers off each morning. The chilly temperature makes me covet a deeper snuggle under the duvet, not put my feet on chilly wood floors, so I make sure the heater in the rest of the house kicks on about 15 minutes before my alarm. Knowing there’s warm coziness on the other side of the bedroom door helps get me moving (not to mention two cats impatiently crying behind the locked door).

Once I’m padding around the kitchen, I feed the beasts, brew a cappuccino (Nespresso, I love you. You have no idea the crap I used to drink each morning), warm a homemade baked good-o-the-week, and snuggle onto the couch. For half an hour, I simultaneously read the news and play fetch with kitty Mochi and the often elusive “Mr. Mousy,” an eviscerated blob of plastic and fur that, at one time, resembled a mouse. During this contented couch time, the sun slowly peeps in the window and I willingly greet another day.

I don’t wait until the very last moment to spring from bed to shower. I don’t scroll through work emails and stress about my day. I don’t red-line the latest contract while absentmindedly gulping down a cup of brown liquid that barely resembles coffee. Instead, I pause…and enjoy.

My morning pause would be incomplete without a home-baked treat to accompany my cappuccino. These past two weeks (and probably next week as well), it’s been muffins. I’ve cracked the perfect morning muffin code – not too big, not too sweet, packed with good stuff, with a tender crumb and loaded with flavor. I thought I couldn’t outdo last week’s banana-cherry muffins, but I’ve done just that with this carrot-raspberry version.


Carrot Raspberry Breakfast Muffins

The perfect morning muffin – not too big, not too sweet, packed with good stuff, with a tender crumb and loaded with flavor.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 large carrot, shredded

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, yogurt, vinegar, vanilla, egg, and yolk. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just blended. Fold in walnuts, raspberries and carrot.
  2. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Top with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts. Bake 25-30 minutes until muffins are brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool slightly and enjoy.