Monday, October 11, 2010

Healthy Carrot Muffins

I recently had a lovely, overdue breakfast with my Nana. We chatted for hours sipping coffee, nibbling fruit, and munching on these muffins. It was so good to have some time with her. Breakfast with Nana is like coming home for me. When I was little, I went to her house every morning before school, and she always made me breakfast. (She had the best toaster.) Carrot cake is Nana's favorite, and so I wanted to bake her some deliciously nutritious carrot muffins. They turned out fantastic. We both loved them, and I will definitely be making these a regular in our house. They're hearty and not too sweet, so they are a great breakfast treat. The nuts are optional, but if it's up to Nana, the more the better! Also, the original recipe calls for wheat germ, but I substituted wheat bran because that's what I had in the pantry. Germ has more protein, and bran more fiber. Choose your own adventure. Speaking of adventures...
Healthy Carrot Muffins
makes 12

3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. wheat bran
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch fine salt
2 large eggs
1/3 c. canola oil
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
3-4 medium carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup grated apple
1/3 c. chopped walnuts, plus a few whole ones for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line twelve 1/2-cup muffin cups with paper muffin liners.
2. Whisk the flours with the brown sugar, wheat bran, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl lightly whisk the egg, then whisk in the vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.
3. Quickly and lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Stir in the carrots and pineapple just until evenly moist; the batter will be very thick. Stir in nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, and top each with a whole walnut.
4. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Turn muffins out of the tins and cool on a rack. Serve warm.

P.S.  Don't tell Dan, but I think I like these better than my banana bread.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gluten-Free Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

I love The Cupcake Station. L-O-V-E, love. Their buttercream is a-maz-ing. To celebrate the Grand Openning of their new Plymouth-far too close for my own good-location, Dan and I got ourselves a little treat. I chose one of my favorites: "Lemon Lust"-lemon cake with lemon white chocolate cream cheese frosting. My gluten-free sister happend to stop by that night, and, with puppy dog eyes, asked if she could just try a bit of the frosting. She too was in love and immediately wanted to make a gluten-free version. Here's what we came up with:

Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes
cake adapted from joy of baking
makes 18

1 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. granulated white sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 large lemon (outer yellow skin of lemon)
2 c. Bob's Red Mill gluten gree all purpose baking flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line muffin pan with paper baking cups.
2. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and pale in color (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
3. Sift together (we didn't) the flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the batter along with the lemon juice. Mix only until incorporated.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cups, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool, then gently remove from pan.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1-8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. (1/2 a stick) butter, softened
juice of half a lemon
finely chopped lemon zest
3-4 c. powdered sugar

1. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until incorporated. Mix in zest and juice.
2. Add sugar in batches, mixing thouroughly after each cup or so.
3. Refrigerate or freeze frosting for 15-20 minutes before piping.

The yellow topping is just a few drops of food coloring whisked into some granulated sugar and sprinkled on top.
These are not exactly light and fluffy. The cake ended up more dense and rich, but still delicious. I think that is due, in part, to the gluten-free flour, and the recipe itself. With 4 eggs, I think the original is leaning more toward a pound cake anyway.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

We went down to Eastern Market last Saturday and had an awesome lunch with some awesome friends at Russel Street Deli. It was a bit expensive, but my Avocado Melt was worth it.( "It is so choice." ) After lunch, we strolled through the various sheds perusing the produce. I was primarily looking for Michigan grown veggies, but came across a couple of vendors selling bananas at 3 pounds for a $1. Two words. banana. bread. This is my version-with wheat flour and far less sugar-of Mom's old recipes that she got from who knows where. To mash the bananas, I put them in a flat-bottom bowl and use a potato masher just like I do with avocados to make guacamole. It's much easier. And when I don't have an abundance of fresh bananas, I use over-ripened ones that I store in the freezer. Just take them out 30 min to an hour before you plan on mashing them.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread 

1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. mashed banana
1/3 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. AP flour
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease bottom of loaf pan(s).
2. Mix sugar and butter in a large bowl. Stir in eggs until blended, and add water and bananas.
3. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts, and mix well. Stir in nuts and pour into baking pan. Or, pour into pan, and sprinkle nuts on top.
4. Bake until toothpick comes out clean and top is golden brown.
     1 hr. 15 min. for 8" pan
     55-60 min. for 9" pan
     40-45 min. for 3 small 6" pans