Posts Tagged 'walnut'

Vegan Banana-Raisin-Nut Bread

Emily and I sometimes go a little dessert-crazy when we’re together. You saw the pretzel-M&M blondies. But what you didn’t see was the coffee-chocolate chip blondies, the coffee ice cream, and the brownies that we also made during the week she was here. And as much as I love baking stuff like that, I realize it’s probably best not to do it all the time.

Yesterday I told Mike I wanted to make chocolate chip banana bread but he gently suggested that it might be a tiny bit more reasonable to bake something healthy after our gluttonous weekend. So he suggested whole wheat banana bread with raisins and walnuts. I thought it sounded weird to put raisins in banana bread, but we made the deal that if it was good I would give him mad props on the blog. So here they are… GREAT IDEA MIKE!!!

I pretty much made this up as I went along, using a flax egg, sweetening with maple syrup, and using whole wheat pastry flour. Even with baking powder and baking soda the loaf is pretty dense and hearty, which I appreciate.

I haven’t talked too much about working out lately because last week I realized I might be done with the gym. Two days in a row, I got pretty dizzy and started having some mild contractions (which my doctor isn’t too concerned about, I may have just been a little dehydrated) on the elliptical, and switching to the bike didn’t make me feel any better.

BUT I’ve been doing way more yoga and it makes me feel awesome. Plus I can do it right here in the living room.  I want to try and do at least 20 minutes of yoga a day until the baby is born. I have no idea if that’s realistic, but I’m going to try. I have a few DVDs and podcasts, and nothing but time, so as long as I’m still feeling decent it should be doable.

And my last piece of baby news… we finally have a crib! As far as the nursery goes, that’s pretty much all we have – there’s still nothing on the walls (kind of like the rest of our house. We’re lame.) – but at least she’ll have a place to sleep!

Recipe:

1 tbsp ground flax seeds
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp coconut oil
4 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup Grade B maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Start by greasing a loaf pan and preheating the oven to 350 F.

Stir the ground flax and water together in a small bowl and set aside for a few minutes.

Beat the coconut oil in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed. Add the bananas, maple syrup, vanilla, and water-flax mixture and mix for about a minute.

Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and add to the banana mixture. Mix on low until just combined.

Fold in the raisins and walnuts.

Pour into the loaf pan and bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Spinach and Barley Salad

Spinach has pretty much always been a staple in my refrigerator, but ever since I started blending it into my morning smoothie, I’ve been going through about 5 large bunches a week. I am usually so careful about making sure I have some left for breakfast that I kind of stopped cooking dinner with it.

But then on a run I started thinking about spinach, and barley, and red onions, and cilantro (which we now have growing in pots in our kitchen), and I immediately came home and put together this salad. It’s full of good stuff – healthy fats from avocado and walnuts, and a nice summery flavor from the lemon cilantro dressing. This makes a LOT, and the leftovers are great for lunch. I might have to start picking up a few extra bunches of spinach at the farmers market every week, because I think salads like this one are going to be in heavy rotation all summer!

Recipe:
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups pearled barley

1 medium zucchini, diced
4 cups (or more) spinach leaves, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 avocado, cubed
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper

Bring the water to a boil and add the barley. Simmer until tender, 30-40 minutes, then drain the excess water. Let cool.

Combine the diced zucchini, spinach, walnuts, avocado, red onion, and green onion in a large bowl. Add the barley and mix well.

To make the dressing, mash the garlic and salt with a mortar and pestle to make a smooth paste. Transfer to a blender and add the lemon juice, cilantro, olive oil, and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, then add as much as desired to the salad, tossing to mix.

Baklava Muffins

Growing up with parents who both had a pretty major sweet tooth, I got dessert for breakfast more than a lot of other kids I knew. Leftover pumpkin pie? Perfectly acceptable post-Thanksgiving breakfast. Beginning of strawberry season? Breakfast made the most of fresh berries with strawberry shortcake.

These muffins aren’t exactly like eating baklava for breakfast, but they do feel a little indulgent. They’re not overly sweet, but the cinnamon-walnut filling and honey brushed over the top are reminiscent of the flavors in baklava. Mike wasn’t sold – he thought there was something missing (maybe I should have added a little rosewater to the filling), but I loved these and their subtle sweetness.

Recipe:
(adapted from How To Be a Domestic Goddess)

makes 12

filling
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp melted butter

muffins
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
3 tbsp melted butter
1 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk

1/4 cup honey

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Mix the filling ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Mix the buttermilk, melted butter, and egg together in a medium bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into it. Mix gently with a fork.

Line a 12-muffin tin with paper liners. Fill each 1/3 of the way with batter, top with a spoonful of filling, then top with more batter. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. As soon as the muffins come out of the oven, brush each with about 1 tsp of honey, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Molasses Muffins

There’s a lot of advice that you just shouldn’t take, and these muffins are a prime example. On my long run the other day I realized that I hardly ever bake muffins anymore, and I’m not sure why that is, because there’s really no better way to start your day. (Unless you’re eating one of those giant ones with 80 grams of fat…then I can think of a lot of better ways to start your day.)

I knew we had carrots, apples, and walnuts, which all seemed like reasonable things to include in a muffin recipe. We also had a jar of molasses, which I wanted to try and use in place of white sugar (because it’s slightly healthier – there’s some iron and calcium in it). A little googling told me that you shouldn’t replace more than half the sugar in a recipe with molasses, but I refused to take that advice. I was fully prepared for these muffins to be a disaster, but they’re not! They’re soft and sweet, and remind me of gingerbread, but with apple, carrot, and whole wheat flour, they’re a lot healthier.

Recipe:
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/3 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1 apple, peeled and grated
1 carrot, grated
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup oil

Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners, and preheat the oven to 350 F.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix with a wire whisk.

Stir the eggs, molasses, apple, carrot, walnuts, and oil together in a medium bowl, then pour into the flour mixture.
Stir gently with a wooden spoon until mixed, then divide among muffin tins and bake for about 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack.

Asian Pear Salad

asian pear salad1

This year concluded my decade-plus run of not touching Asian pears. It’s not like there is anything particularly wrong with them, but on my exceedingly scientific hierarchy of fruits I wish to consume, they don’t rank terribly highly.

When my grandparents moved into their new house (well, new about 14 years ago), they happened to have an Asian pear tree in the backyard. After tasting one of the crunchy, juicy, delicately flavored fruits for the first time, I hoped this tree would mean and endless supply of fruit for a few solid months. And that’s exactly what it meant. That tree produced pounds and pounds of Asian pears – more than we could possibly eat. By the end of the season, most members of my family decided they never needed to eat another Asian pear again, and thus my unplanned abstinence from Asian pears began.

Lately the produce trucks (with which I have a love-hate relationship – I LOVE that they bring cheap, fresh produce to my street but I HATE that they blast a recorded spiel about they’re selling at 7:00 AM) have been full of Asian pears roughly the size of my head. They’re sweet and crisp and divine, and Mike is head over heels for them. So we buy them by the bag and keep a steady supply in the fridge.

While it’s rare that they aren’t devoured within hours of purchase, the other day, one wayward pear remained on a shelf. I pulled some lettuce out of the crisper, toasted some walnuts, and whisked together a honey balsamic vinaigrette. The acid in the vinegar played well off the sweet pear, and are toasted nuts ever a bad choice in a salad? (Okay, yes, but it’s rare). I think Asian pears may now be moving up in the ranks of my favorite fruits.

Recipe
Lettuce
Asian pear, thinly sliced
Walnuts

Dressing:
1 part balsamic vinegar
1 part honey
1 part olive oil

Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet, shaking occasionally, until fragrant.
Wash and dry the lettuce, and tear into bite sized pieces. Place in a large bowl.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients, add as much as desired to the lettuce, and toss well.
Place the lettuce on individual plates, then top with a few slices of pear and a sprinkling of walnuts.

Brown Rice Salad with Spinach and Balsamic Chicken

IMG_7550

I read a LOT of food blogs on a regular basis, and I’m starting to see a trend: I gravitate towards blogs with a) fantastic, beautiful pictures and b) original recipes. This is because my blog usually has c) none of the above (but I’m working on it! I really am) and I’m hoping that I’ll learn a thing or two from the blogs that inspire me so much.

A few months ago my husband challenged me to come up with one (or more) new, original recipe each week. Because we were traveling the last 5 months, I couldn’t stick with it, but now that I’m back to cooking daily, I’m taking up the challenge once again.

IMG_7482

Today’s recipe was inspired by the bag of brown rice I recently purchased, and the beautiful bunches of spinach at the market. Since I pack my lunch every day, I knew I wanted to make something filling and nutritions, that could be eaten straight from the container without needing a spin in the microwave. I marinated some chicken in a little balsamic vinegar, cooked it up with some browned onions, and tossed that with citrus-scented brown rice, some raw spinach, and toasted walnuts. I know that sounds like a jumbled mess of flavors, but they come together really well.

1 cup brown rice
1 1/4 cups orange juice
1 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup walnuts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups washed spinach leaves, roughly chopped

Combine the brown rice, water, and orange juice and cook (on the stove top or in a rice cooker).
Toss the chicken with the balsamic vinegar and set aside.
While the rice is cooking, toast the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat (shake the pan to keep the nuts from burning) and remove when fragrant.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet and add the onion. Over low heat, cook the onion, stirring minimally, until translucent. Add the sugar, give the onions one good stir, and continue cooking until onions are browned (about 15 minutes).
Add the chicken to the onions and turn the heat up. Cook, stirring, until the chicken pieces are cooked through.
Put the chicken and walnuts in a serving bowl and top with the spinach.
Put the cooked rice on top of the spinach and let sit for a few minutes so the spinach wilts slightly.
Toss, then serve warm or at room temperature.

Banana Nut Muffins


Three bananas sat on the kitchen counter for far too long.  Actually I bought an extra large bunch on purpose so I would be “forced” to make banana bread.  But as I started to peel them, I realized I didn’t want to make banana bread again (I mean there’s nothing wrong with it, but sometimes you have to mix things up), I wanted to make muffins.  Banana-walnut muffins, to be precise.

Thanks to Joy of Cooking (where would I be without this tome?), I had these muffins in and out of the oven in about 30 minutes.  I dusted them with powdered sugar because they were looking a little plain, and they are quite tasty.  The addition of whole wheat flour makes them a little heartier than your average muffin.  I can’t wait to warm one up for breakfast in the morning!
(from Joy of Cooking)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 large egg
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cup mashed bananas (2 or 3)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or applesauce, if you prefer)
1 tsp vanilla
powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 375 and line a 12-muffin pan with paper liners.
Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, bananas, oil, and vanilla.
Gently stir in the dry ingredients and walnuts, mixing just until combined.
Bake for 14-16 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack, and dust with powdered sugar.


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