Almond Butter Stuffed Banana Muffins

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While working on the post for preserving nuts (see here), I made a lot of chocolate almond butter. I mean, really, a LOT. So I started looking for creative ways to use some of it in recipes (stuffed pancakes, anyone?). Earlier in the summer, we posted a recipe for Whole Wheat Linzer Muffins (almond muffins stuffed with raspberry jam) and that got me thinking–would using almond butter as stuffing work? Turns out, the answer is a delicious YES!

These muffins are satisfying and filling. I used a regular banana muffin recipe and filled the muffin cups with a tablespoon of batter. I topped that bit of batter with a small ball of chocolate almond butter, then filled the muffin cups the rest of the way. Very easy and, if you have a small helper with you, they could make the little balls of almond butter for you and get some real world application for their budding play dough skills!

Almond Butter Stuffed Banana Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
  • 3/4 cup organic coconut sugar (or organic cane sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 1 large farm egg
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup chocolate almond butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line the cups of a muffin pan with paper liners or oil. Set aside.
  3. Make 12-1″ balls from the almond butter and set aside.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well.
  5. In a larger bowl, wisk together the bananas, sugar, egg and butter. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, fold in the dry ingredients and mix just until all the flour is moistened.
  6. Drop a tablespoon or so of batter into each muffin cup. Place one ball of almond butter into each muffin cup.
  7. Fill the cups with batter and bake for 15-18 minutes. Check for doneness using a toothpick. Tops should be browned and the toothpick should come out clean.
  8. Let cool in muffin cups for 10 minutes. Remove muffins to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
  9. Muffins can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen in individual freezer bags for up to 6 months.

Peach Cobbler

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Ohhhhhhhh, this peach cobbler. When Tom sees me coming home with a basket of peaches, he is one happy man. This cobbler is one of our favorite summer desserts. You could substitute another fruit for the peaches, but peach is by far the best. There are probably a million cobbler recipes out there–cobblers take different form in different parts of the U.S. We agree though, that this is the version for us. It is moist and a bit gooey, with a lightly crunchy crust. My version uses unbleached flour and sugar, making it a bit browner and rustic looking, but the taste is all awesomeness! I also use almond milk in place of cow milk, but either work well.

Ice cream? Absolutely! Pass me some more cobbler…

Peach Cobbler (makes 6-8 servings)

1 stick of organic butter
1 quart fresh, ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
1 cup self-rising, whole wheat flour
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 cup almond milk (or real milk)
2 tablespoons turbinado or brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Ice cream or whipped cream (optional? Not for me)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt the butter and pour into an 11 x 13 baking dish.
Add the peach slices on top of the butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and milk. Pour over the peaches.
Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon on top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until crust is lightly browned and the cobbler is hot and bubbly.
Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes.
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Berry Buttermilk Cake

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Cake for breakfast. You’re welcome.

The story of making this cake begins with a mystery.

This cake is easy, light and delicious. My colleague Terra brought a lovely version of this cake to work and was nice enough to share the recipe. When I went to make it, however, I noticed that all…ALL…of my cake pans had disappeared. Poof! Gone! Now, if you were to see my small house, you would understand that there are only so many places to hide things (“so many” being four). They are just flat-out gone. I would blame the cat, but his lack of opposable thumbs rules him out. So, I relied instead on my Kings Pottery baking dish, which is apparently not 9″ as noted in the recipe. But we all make do, right?

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With the still-unsolved mystery on my mind, I adjusted this recipe to my kitchen, using whole wheat pastry flour, organic, unbleached sugar and the blackberries and raspberries I had from our Produce Box. The end result is a bit more “rustic” and browner than the original, but we all liked it very much. I tried making an artful display of berries on top, but as you can see from the photo, the batter rises up and swallows the berries anyway, so if you are not feeling “artful”, that is okay. This would be a terrific summer dessert on those nights that you serve a rich meal and just want something light. It would also be a wonderful coffee cake for breakfast or brunch.

Yes, cake for breakfast. Yum.

If you happen to find three random cake pans wandering around, send them home, please. They are missed. I still suspect the cat.

Berry Buttermilk Cake (makes one 9″ cake)

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup organic, unbleached cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 pint fresh, pesticide free berries
  • 1 tablespoon turbinado or other course sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a 9″ cake pan (or the closest you can find!)
  3. In a small mixing bowl, blend the first four ingredients. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat well, until the butter is light and fluffy.
  5. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and egg to the butter and mix until blended.
  6. With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour and buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just blended.
  7. Add the batter to the pie pan, spreading evenly. Top with the berries and the remaining sugar.
  8. Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool in the pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes more.
  10. Serve warm.

Mixed Berry Ice Pops

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I can’t tell you how much fun we have had making our own ice pops this summer! This mixed berry version is definitely my favorite so far. The berries are nice and tart–very refreshing on a hot day. The yogurt and almond milk mellow out the tartness and keep the ice pops just a bit creamy. We used a mix of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and cherries since that is what we have at the markets now. You can use whatever is available to you locally or buy a bag of frozen berries. Maybe I’ll sneak some of these into the deep freeze for a winter treat 🙂

Mixed Berry Ice Pops (makes 10, 3 ounce ice pops)

  • 4 cups fresh berries (preferably pesticide-free)
  • 4 ounces vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups organic almond milk
  1. Put all ingredients into a Vitamix or good quality blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into ice pop molds.
  3. Add sticks, if needed, and freeze 4 hours or overnight.

Raspberry Vanilla Chia Pudding

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I am “of a generation” that grew up realizing Christmas was just around the corner when that magical info-mercial took to the television airwaves. Cha-cha-cha-Chia! Yes, Chia-pets, those crazy terra cotta animal head shapes that, once planted with chia seeds, sprouted hair-like grass. Available only during the holidays, so that you could be “that guy” who brought a grassy head to the office Secret Santa party. The 70s were a strange and bewildering time. Maybe it was the drugs. Or the fringe. It never occurred to us to eat those seeds, but now those same ancient seeds are the hottest superfood around.

I have to be honest with you. I was pretty skeptical about chia seeds. Not their nutritional value–they are definitely in the Super Food category, with tons of fiber, protein and omega-3s. As a matter of fact, they have the highest level of omega-3 fatty acids of any known plant source. These little seeds are nutritional powerhouses, I tell you.

So it wasn’t their content that bothered me. I just couldn’t get past their…well…texture. Chia seeds have the ability to soak up 10 times their weight in liquid, forming a bulky gel. This makes them a terrific natural thickener and their high fiber content keeps you full a long time. But, like tapioca, they also have a definite texture, and I wasn’t sure I could get beyond that. But this journey is all about learning, right? So we got ourselves some pesticide-free chia seeds and dove into the realm of all things chia, starting with what looked like the slimiest of all recipes–chia puddings.

Our first attempt at a chia pudding was okay, but not great–we made a mocha pudding with soy milk, raw cacao, some powdered coffee and a bit of maple syrup. Tom’s reaction? It didn’t have enough chocolate flavor, but he thought he might be able to get used to it after having it a few more times. Hmmmm. Not the enthusiastic endorsement I like to have! If I’m going to post a recipe, it has to be great, not so-so.

So I tried again with some fresh raspberries from the farmers market and some vanilla flavored yogurt and soy milk. The result? A hit! This no-cook pudding was creamy, rich with vanilla flavor and studded with lovely, tart raspberries. A keeper, for sure! Yes, the texture has a tapioca pudding-like thing going on, but it isn’t bad, and the seeds are actually smaller than blackberry seeds, so they aren’t SO noticeable.

One of the beauties of this recipe is that you mix everything together the night before and can take it to work for lunch. Or have it for a quick breakfast on the run! This lovely pudding was my lunch for the day and I was surprisingly full all afternoon. While it is genuinely no-cook, it does take time (several hours) for the chia seeds to do their thing, so you do need to plan a bit ahead.

I used a vanilla-flavored yogurt for our pudding because that is what we had on hand, but you could use plain Greek yogurt and add vanilla bean paste. Or you could go vegan and just use a vegan milk, leaving the yogurt out altogether. The yogurt did have some sugar in it, so our version was not sugar-free, but you can adjust that as you like.

What about you? Do you make chia recipes? What works best for you?

Raspberry Vanilla Chia Pudding (makes 2 half-cup dessert servings or one meal-sized serving)

  • 2 ounces vanilla flavored Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (any milk will work here)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon pesticide-free chia seeds
  • 6-8 fresh raspberries, washed
  1. Combine all ingredients except berries in a small bowl and blend with a whisk until smooth.
  2. Carefully stir in berries.
  3. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Stir well before eating.

Pineapple Whip Ice Pops

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I love going to Disney World. I know it’s all manufactured happiness, but sometimes I really need that. Walking mascots to hug? I’m in. Lunch with princesses? Absolutely. Fake safari rides? Save me a seat.

Two of my favorite treats at Disney are the chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream pops in the shape of Mickey’s head and a frozen pineapple sorbet-ish treat called a Dole Whip. The ingredients in a Dole Whip are not very nutritious, but I’ve made my own ice pops to taste just like them–but without the sugar overload and preservatives. Now I can try to recreate the happiest place on earth in my own kitchen.

It’s a small world, after all…

Pineapple Whip Ice Pops (makes 10, 3 ounce popsicles)          One ice pop has 49 calories, 0.3 grams of fat and 39% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C.

  • 1 lb. fresh, chopped pineapple (or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla or honey flavored organic Greek yogurt
  • 1-2 cups soy milk (exact amount will depend on how juicy your pineapple is)
  1. Put pineapple, yogurt and 1 cup of soy milk in a high powered blender. Blend until very smooth. Add more soy milk if needed to thin the mixture enough to blend.
  2. Pour mixture into ice pop molds. Freeze 4-6 hours or overnight.
  3. Unmold and create your own happy place.

Mango Cardamom Jam

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I love homemade jam on my Ezekiel Bread for breakfast, but I also love to bake, grill and roast with jam or just dump it all over a hunk of cream cheese and eat it with crackers. YUM. All our jams are low-sugar (not sugar substitute) and they have lovely, intense flavors that pair well with meat, fish, cakes, muffins, etc. I’m even experimenting with using them in popsicles!

This Mango Cardamom Jam is really, really special. It is simultaneously sweet, tart and savory, if you can believe it. I used the basic “build your own jam” guidelines from THIS website from Pomona’s Universal Pectin and added fragrant ground cardamom to the mango jam (kind of like our Mango Lassi Ice Pops). It is delicious and would be great spooned over vanilla ice cream. Highlighting it’s savory characteristics, we are planning to use it on a grilled pork tenderloin this next week. Or, maybe I’ll just buy some goat cheese…or glaze some vegetables…or…

Mango Cardamom Jam (makes about 6 half pint jars)

  • 8 cups peeled, pitted and cubed fresh (or frozen) organic mango
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice**
  • 1 1/2 cups organic sugar
  • 6 teaspoons Pomona’s Universal Pectin
  • 8 teaspoons calcium water (comes with the pectin)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  1. Fill a canning pot with water, insert the rack and add 6 half pint canning jars. Heat over high to boiling, then turn off heat and let sit until you are ready.
  2. In a bowl, combine the sugar and pectin. Set aside.
  3. Make the calcium water, if you aren’t using some that is already prepared. Set aside.
  4. Put peeled, pitted and chopped mango into a non-reactive stock pot along with a splash or two of water. Heat over medium, stirring often to prevent sticking.
  5. When mango has cooked about 3-4 minutes, use a potato masher to mash the mango (I also use a stick blender to really get all the larger pieces mashed).
  6. Add the calcium water, lemon juice and cardamom to the pot. Stir well.
  7. Add the sugar/pectin mixture slowly to the pot. Stir well until sugar is dissolved. Bring mixture to a low boil.
  8. Stir pot and pull pot off the heat. Let mixture sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove jars from the canning pot (carefully!) and set them on a clean tea towel. Put the jar lids into a bowl and pour some of the hot water over them to cover.
  10. Carefully ladle jam into the hot jars, leaving 1/4″ of headspace. Add lids and bands, just tighten bands to finger tightness.
  11. Return the filled jars to the canning pot, cover pot, and heat over high to boiling. Boil for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.
  12. Remove jars from the hot water bath and let sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check seals and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.

**You can use fresh lemon juice, but because bottled juice is more consistent in its acid content, the bottled stuff may be more reliable.

Mango Lassi Ice Pops

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Hello, Bollywood? You need to roll out the red carpet for these Mango Lassi Ice Pops. They are big stars, I tell you.

Have you ever had a mango lassi? Mango lassi is an incredibly refreshing Indian beverage, very similar to an American milk shake or smoothie, but without the heavy dairy fat and sugar. When Ellie was little, the owner of a local Indian restaurant we frequented usually offered her a mango lassi. She could never finish it, so I finished them for her (you know, a mother’s sacrifices are endless). Mango lassis use fresh mango, yogurt and cardamom, resulting in a sweet and spicy combination that is delicious, especially in the heat of summer. Why they aren’t a popular drink in North Carolina–where it gets about as hot as India–is beyond me.

These Mango Lassi Ice Pops are cool, creamy and delicious. They are also gluten-free and sugar free. Spiced with cardamom, they are just a teensy bit spicy in that lovely floral way that cardamom infuses everything. You can leave the cardamom out, but I encourage you to give it a try–it really makes something good, extraordinary.

A word about mango: I use frozen organic mango from Trader Joes, but you could also use fresh mango if you have ripe mangoes available. If you have an Indian grocery nearby, buy your mangoes there–they will have a greater variety of mangoes than the typical American grocery store.

This recipe makes about 1/2 cup more than you need for the ice pops, so the chef gets a treat at the end 🙂

I am listing this recipe under “breakfast as well because if you serve what comes from the blender, it would be a nice lassi smoothie!

Mango Lassi Ice Pops (makes 10, 3 ounce ice pops)
Each ice pop has 51 calories and .9 grams of fat and 2.6 grams of protein

* 4 cups peeled and chopped ripe mango or organic frozen mango
* 6 ounces organic Greek yogurt
* 2 cups organic almond milk or soy milk
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Put all ingredients in a good quality blender (I use my trusty Vitamix). Blend until smooth.
2. Fill your ice pop mold and freeze several hours or overnight.
3. Unmold ice pops and enjoy!

Chunky Monkey Ice Pops

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Well, my experiments with vegan, dairy-free ice cream were ok, but I have found greater success making creamy ice pops in interesting flavors! These pops are sugar-free, gluten-free, raw and vegan. And magically tasty! Like a fudgesicle that actually has loads of flavor instead of just sugar. I also like that we have individual servings all ready to go–no scooping needed, although I do need to tap the mold on the counter a few times to get rid of those pesky air pockets 🙂

The real secret to these ice pops is bananas. They give the popsicles a lovely, creamy, thick texture without any dairy (I’ve also used soaked and drained cashews–this works well, too). You do need to freeze the bananas ahead of time, but we always seem to have bananas on the brink of disaster, so freezing them before they turn too mushy is a regular habit. I take ripe bananas, peel them, cut them into slices and freeze them on a parchment lined baking sheet. When they are frozen, I pop the slices into storage bags and keep them in the freezer until I need them. They are terrific in smoothies!

Since ripe bananas are pretty sweet on their own, I didn’t add any sweetener, but you could add some raw honey if you wanted to (this would change the nutritional profile). As is, these are cool, creamy, and have a great banana/peanut butter/chocolate flavor.

Many thanks to fellow blogger, The Midnight Baker for sharing her success with the Norpro Ice Pop Maker. Check out her recipes–they look amazing. The Norpro mold makes 10, 3 ounce ice pops, is BPA free and is very affordable. Click HERE for more information.

Chunky Monkey Ice Pops (makes 10, 3 ounce ice pops)
Each ice pop has 100 calories, 5 grams of fat and 3 grams of protein

  • 2 organic bananas, peeled, cut up and frozen
  • 1/4 cup raw, unsalted peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup organic almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Put all ingredients into a Vitamix or Magic Bullet blender and blend until very smooth.
  2. Pour mixture into the ice pop molds. Tap the mold on the counter a few times to release air bubbles.
  3. Freeze several hours or overnight.
  4. Unmold the pops and enjoy!

Stuffed Crust Blueberry Lemon Pie

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Blueberry and lemon are definitely fruity BFFs. I love blueberries, but sometimes they are too sweet for me. Lemon is the perfect balance to that sweetness. Like all good best friends, these fruits compliment and bring out the best in each other, and the praline stuffed crust adds a lovely, crunchy surprise! Served chilled, this pie is the perfect, refreshing antidote for the hot days of early summer.

We use fresh berries for this, but you can substitute frozen berries, just add a few minutes to the cooking time–no need to defrost them. I like turbinado (raw) sugar for the crust filling–it’s richer flavor is terrific with the pecans. But, if you have regular, granulated sugar, you can use that instead.

Enjoy berry season! It is short and sweet, but always very tasty!

Stuffed Crust Blueberry Lemon Pie

  • 2 pie crusts from your favorite recipe
  • 1/4 cup organic, raw turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup organic butter, melted
  • 1 cup toasted pecan halves
  • 3 cups organic or pesticide-free blueberries
  • Lemon juice and zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 2 teaspoons quick cooking tapioca
  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • 8 ounces lemon curd
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Add turbinado sugar, pecans, and cinnamon to the bowl of a food processor. Blend until finely textured, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
  3. Roll first pie crust into a 9″ pie pan, making sure crust connects with the sides. Brush entire crust with the melted butter.
  4. Add remaining melted butter to the sugar mixture and blend well. Cover bottom of the crust with the cinnamon/pecan mixture.
  5. Top with the second crust, pressing crust down to make contact with the cinnamon/pecan mixture and the sides of the first crust. Crimp edges and trim extra crust.
  6. Use a paring knife, cut small slits in the crust (this will allow steam to escape when baking).
  7. Bake crust for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour.
  8. When crust is cool, combine 1 cup of the berries, lemon zest, juice, tapioca and cane sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium. Mash berries well and bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Add remaining blueberries, stir well and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Spread lemon curd over cooled crust. Spread blueberry mixture over the lemon curd.
  11. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 5 days (if the pie lasts that long!),
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