Cranberry Almond Chocolate Chip Muffins

I love dessert for breakfast.  When I bake muffins I make them as healthy as I can so I don’t feel guilty eating them for breakfast.  Oil and butter can be swapped for apple sauce, mashed banana or Greek yogurt (or some combination thereof).  Sugar can be reduced, especially if using banana as it has naturally occurring sugars.  Nuts and/or seeds are added for an extra protein boost.  White flour is swapped for a combination of whole wheat and Red Fife.  Oats or other grains are added.  Fruit is increased.
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Sunday Baking: Granola x 3

We’ve stopped buying cereal in exchange for making home-made granola.  It’s an easy breakfast or snack, stirred into Greek yogurt or with milk poured onto it like cereal.  And these recipes make your house smell amazing while they cook!  It’s worth making a batch just for the smell alone.

I used some fabulous local honey, maple syrup and vanilla to make these batches of granola.  I bought raw honey at the Westboro Farmer’s Market.  The seller, A Country Garden, had several different types of honey with varied tastes, as they were harvested at different times of year when different flowers were in bloom!  I sampled each one and you could really taste the difference.  The vanilla I use is from Really Horrible Enterprises and it’s made with rum!  It’s delicious and I don’t want to ever buy store bought vanilla again.  I found him at Urban Craft, but you can also order from the website.

Here are three variations to try, but each time I make it I use a different combination of ingredients.  I love the use of apple sauce in the second and third variations as this eliminates a lot of the oil that is often used.  However, they didn’t get as clumpy as you’d expect granola to be.  They had more of a cereal texture – still delicious though!

Honey Almond

3 cups oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup Honey
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

Apple Walnut Cinnamon

3 cups oats
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup applesauce (about 1 individual size cup)
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped dried apples

Cranberry Maple Pumpkin Seed

3 cups oats
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup applesauce (about 1 individual size cup)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup dried cranberries

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300.

2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

3. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients.

4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet.

5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring every ten minutes, until the granola is golden brown. (NOTE: Make sure you stir up all the bits around the edges and in the corners – these are the parts that will burn first.)  Remove from oven, and stir in dried fruit. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container (I use mason jars).

This recipe easily doubles and keeps for quite a while in the cupboard.

Cranberrie Pumpkin Seed Granola

Recipes adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod and Simply Scratch.

What to Eat Now: Apples!

I’ve posted a couple of desserts with apples recently (Groundcherry-Apple Pie with Red Fife Crust and Strawberry Apple Crisp) but apples can be used for so much more than dessert.  For last night’s dinner, we incorporated apples into sauce for pork chops as well as in the salad.  I love fruit in salads!

Fall is a great time of year to make salads heartier and play with unexpected ingredients – this one I topped with walnuts, dried cranberries and some amazing local cheese from Back Forty Artisan Cheese.  Their cheese is made by hand using heritage cheese making methods.  The one I used for this salad was called Bonnechere (love how they even used Ottawa Valley history to name the cheese!).  It has a colourful rind, creamy texture and sightly smoky taste that I thought worked perfectly in this salad.  Another trick I use for Fall salads is to mix different varieties of greens, including heartier greens generally reserved for cooking.  Adding a couple of leaves of rainbow chard helps the body of the salad stand up to the more rugged toppings.

Pork Chops with Apples and Onions

1 tbsp butter
1 small onion
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
1/4 cup white wine (I used Trumpour’s Mill Pinot Gris – the flavour was perfect)
2 pork chops, bone-in (about 1 inch thick)
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Directions

1. Heat broiler to high; set rack 4 inches from heat. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium-high. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Cover pan; reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking until onions are soft, about 5 minutes more.

2. Add apples and wine; cover, and cook until apples are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Uncover; cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated and apples are tender, 2 to 4 minutes more. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

3. While apples are cooking, season pork chops generously with salt and pepper; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until cooked through, 5-6 minutes per side (less if your chops are thinner).


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Harvest Salad

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
Freshly ground salt and pepper
6 large romaine lettuce leaves
2 large leaves of chard, spinach or other hearty green
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Macintosh apple, diced
chopped walnuts
dried cranberries
small amount of local cheese

Directions

1. Whisk olive oil, cider vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

2. Tear lettuce and chard into bite size pieces in large bowl.  Add tomatoes, apple, onions. Pour in dressing and toss to combine.

Dressing from Martha Stewart

To serve:

Pile salad on serving plates and top with walnuts, cranberries and crumbled/sliced local cheese.  Spoon apple-onion mixture over pork chops.

Serves 2.