Cranberry lovin’

I love sour fruits, and cranberries may be my favorite. Growing up, our Thanksgiving table included two or three cranberry dishes as part of the main course, and often cranberries in a pie, too! This Thanksgiving, I’m excited to introduce my girlfriend’s family to my dad’s family recipe for cranberry-orange relish, a mix of shredded cranberries, oranges, and sugar that explodes with sweet-tartness after the flavors have blended for a day.

If you’re not a huge fan of the tartness of cranberries but still want to include them in your Thanksgiving dinner, these muffins are coming to your rescue! They showcase both corn and cranberries, two foods native to North America. The muffins are savory and would be lovely with a pat of vegan margarine on top.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Cranberry Cornbread Muffins

Makes 12 muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c (175 g) cornmeal
  • ½ c almond milk
  • 1 c (140 g) white whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp (3 g) baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 c orange juice
  • ¼ c vegan margarine, melted
  • ½ c sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins), chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

Mix cornmeal and almond milk in a medium bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and allspice.

After the cornmeal has soaked, combine the cornmeal mixture with the orange juice and melted margarine. Stir well so there are no lumps of cornmeal remaining.

Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix gently, just until all ingredients are combined. Add the cranberries and mix gently to distribute them through the batter.

Scoop the batter into the wells of the muffin tin. Bake the muffins for about 18 minutes or until the tops are firm and slightly golden.

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Peanut butter and banana energy boost!

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I grew up doing a lot of hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, mostly with my brother and my dad. If you’re not familiar with this part of the U.S., the White Mountains are relatively small–only seven peaks are over 5000 feet–but they are rocky, rugged, and a challenge to climb! Long ago, we figured out that lots of good snacks, a silly attitude (bring on the fart jokes!), and loud, off-key singing are excellent ways to fuel a grueling hike. GORP is a must-pack snack, but if you’re climbing hard, sometimes those raisins and peanuts sit in your stomach like a rock. I find that muffins are a great alternative in those situations, as well as for fueling more mundane exercise like going for a run around town. The first iteration of today’s muffin recipe fueled my brother and me as we hiked 6288-foot Mount Washington with my dad a couple summers ago. The banana and peanut butter flavor is a classic energy-rich combination, supplying carbohydrates, protein, and fat, and these muffins save you from the gooey mess you’d get in your backpack if you tried to pack a fresh banana and peanut butter! 😛

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PB & B Muffins

Makes 12 muffins.

  • 1 c mashed banana (2 – 3 ripe bananas, depending on their size)
  • ½ c honey (not for strict vegans) or maple syrup
  • ½ c crunchy salted peanut butter
  • ¾ c (105g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c (105g) traditional whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • optional add-ins: chocolate chips, chopped peanuts, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line the cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana, honey or maple syrup, and peanut butter. Stir well.

Combine the flours, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. If you want to add in chocolate chips or chopped peanuts, stir those into the flour mixture as well. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir gently until just combined.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden-brown and springy. You can also test for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center of a muffin; when you take the toothpick out, it should not have batter on it.

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Do giant zucchini haunt your garden?

Once when I was young, my dad, my brother, and I participated in a canoe race at my dad’s annual work picnic. The paddling skills of two elementary schoolers were no match for having a second able-bodied adult in the boat, and when our team puttered in dead last, the race organizers handed us our consolation prize: a baseball bat-sized zucchini. I thought the zucchini was just fabulous. We had won a prize, after all, and a big one! With a productive garden at home, my parents were probably not so thrilled.

If you are buried in giant zucchini yourself from end-of-summer harvesting, here is a recipe for you!

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Ginger in the Garden Muffins

Makes 16 muffins.

Ingredients:

  • 2 c grated zucchini
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c (75g) minced crystallized ginger
  • 1 c (150g) traditional whole wheat flour
  • 1 c (150g) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ c canola oil
  • ¼ c + 3 Tbsp lightly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • zest of 2 lemons

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare muffin tins by spraying the wells lightly with oil or by inserting cupcake liners into the wells.

Spread the zucchini in a strainer placed over a bowl, and sprinkle with salt. Set aside and let the zucchini drain off some liquid while you prepare other ingredients, about 10 min.100_7784

In a large bowl, combine crystallized ginger, flours, ground ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix well.

In a small bowl, combine oil, brown sugar, applesauce, vanilla, and lemon zest. Discard the liquid that has drained out of the zucchini by this point (about ¼ c), and stir the drained, grated zucchini into the applesauce mixture. Continue to stir until the wet-ingredients are well-mixed.

Pour the zucchini mixture into the dry ingredients in the large bowl, and gently fold all ingredients together until just combined.

Scoop about ¼ c batter into each muffin cup and bake for 20-22 min until the tops of the muffins are springy and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

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