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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Maple-frosted pumpkin cookies to spice up your (vegan) Halloween

Happy (almost) Halloween! For your entertainment this week, my dad supplied photos of some of my brother’s and my old costumes:

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Weren’t we cute?!
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My mom made us these cowboy and cowgirl costumes. Check out those sweet sewing skills!
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Maybe Drew Bledsoe would enjoy a BIG bag of jelly beans after a tough game with the Pats!
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I guess we were done with the cutesy costumes by this point 😉

Do you have a costume picked out for Halloween? More importantly, what are you excited to eat on Saturday?? Most Halloween candy isn’t vegan, but with this week’s cookie recipe, you won’t miss the candy! These pumpkin cookies are light, not-too-sweet shortbread cookies if you eat them plain. If you prefer a richer treat, frost with the maple buttercream frosting once the cookies are cool. You can even turn them into sandwich cookies by topping one frosted cookie with a second cookie.

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Pumpkin Cut-out Cookies

Makes 2 ½ – 3 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ c (55g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ c (55g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 c shortening (I recommend Spectrum non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening)
  • ½ c (120g) canned pumpkin
  • 1 c (140g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 c (140g) whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine sugars and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Beat with the stand mixer or a hand mixer for 4-5 minutes, until the sugar-shortening mixture is light and fluffy. Add the pumpkin and mix until well-combined. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl. Mix on the lowest mixer setting or by hand to combine the dry ingredients with the pumpkin mixture. You should end up with a somewhat stiff dough.

Gather the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper or a light coating of oil. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit for 5 minutes or so to soften slightly. In the meantime, lightly flour a work surface. Divide the dough into two pieces. Put one piece in the middle of the floured work surface, lightly flour the top of the dough, and then begin to flatten out the dough with your hands. Continue to flatten and roll out the dough with a rolling pin, flipping the dough over a couple of times in the process and adding small amounts of flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to either the work surface or the rolling pin. Roll out the dough until it has reached ¼” thickness.

Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes out of the dough. Place the shapes on the baking sheets and gather together the leftover scraps of dough. Set the scraps aside and take the second piece of dough from earlier. Repeat the process of rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes. Gather the leftover dough into a ball with the first collection of scraps, and roll this dough out again. Use only as much flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Cut out shapes one more time and transfer them to the baking sheets. Discard any remaining scraps; continuing to roll out the scraps will incorporate too much flour and the cookies will no longer be tender.

Bake the cookies for 7-9 minutes, or until the edges are firm and the tops are slightly golden. Let the cookies cool on the pans for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: The brown sugar in the cookies will gradually absorb moisture from the atmosphere as the cookies sit, causing them to soften and taste stale. If you are making these cookies in advance, particularly if you are serving them unfrosted, they are best stored in a plastic bag with most of the air squeezed out to minimize the cookies’ exposure to the atmosphere.

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Maple Buttercream Frosting

Makes about 2 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c vegan margarine
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp natural maple flavor
  • ½ tsp light-flavored molasses

Place the margarine in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl. Beat on high speed using the stand mixer or a hand mixer until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add the powdered sugar in 1-cup increments, beating the margarine and sugar together after each addition. When all the powdered sugar has been added and the frosting is smooth, add the maple flavor and the molasses. Beat the frosting again until all ingredients are well-incorporated. Store frosting in the fridge until ready to use, then allow it to soften slightly before spreading.

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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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