Pumpkin Muffins with Pepita Streusel Topping

Pumpkin Muffins

It’s almost Halloween, therefore it’s time to make Pumpkin muffins! I just served these to my adult ed computer class for our graduation party and they gave me their enthusiastic approval. The muffins are filled with nuts and chocolate chips for an extra treat. The first time I made these I put the pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) in the dough, but they came out a bit dry. I got the idea for the streusel from Aida Mollenkamp‘s recipe at http://saltandwind.com/recipes/407-apple-cinnamon-pumpkin-muffins-pepita-streusel-recipe although I added pumpkin pie spice to mine. Thanks Aida! The streusel made a good muffin great! These muffins are low in fat, using just 1 TB olive oil in the dough, and also fairly low in sugar. There is a nice taste of honey in it. I used the same method as my banana nut muffins recipe.

Ingredients

¼ cup 1% milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup unbleached white flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flax seed

2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I use Trader Joe’s brand)

2 eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 Tb olive oil

¼ cup honey

14 ounce can pumpkin puree

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (I use the little packets that come in a package of 4)

1/3 semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

½ cup walnut and/or pecan pieces

For the streusel: 

3 TB  brown sugar

2 TB white flour

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

a couple shakes sea salt

1/3 cup pepitas

2 TB  softened butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F

Add vinegar to milk in a small cup. Let it sit while you are mixing the other ingredients. The milk should curdle.

Make the streusel:

Sift together the dry ingredients and whisk well in a small bowl. Mix in pepitas. Add softened butter and mix with your fingers until it comes together when squeezed. Cover it and freeze until ready to use.

Make the dough:

Sift both flours, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice into a medium bowl. Add flax seed and whisk ingredients well.

Whip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy. This is called making a ribbon. Pour 1 TB oil into a ¼ cup measure and coat it well, then add the oil to the egg mixture. Now pour the honey into the same measuring cup and it will slide right out into the mixer! Add the vanilla, applesauce and  pumpkin puree and mix well.

With the mixer on low, add 1/3 the milk and 1/3 the flour mixture, and then repeat twice. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips until they are just combined.

Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups. Because of the low fat content of the ingredients, you should spray them with non-stick spray so they won’t stick to the muffins. Otherwise, spray the muffin tins directly. If you choose to make a pumpkin bread loaf, line it with parchment paper and spray it with non-stick spray.

Putting the streusel on:

Remove the streusel mix from the freezer. crumble it up with your fingers. Sprinkle a little bit on each muffin top so it comes out evenly. Press it down just a tap onto the muffin.

Place on the middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake loaf 45 minutes, muffins for 35 minutes, just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Let cool on a rack a few minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

4 Bananas Low-fat Banana Bread or Muffins

strawberry banana bread

Strawberry banana bread

banana nut bread  banana muffins in basket

I used four soft, speckled bananas to add natural sweetness and rich banana flavor to this delicious bread with minimal oil and sugar. The bananas and just one tablespoon of olive oil make this bread moist.  Add strawberries for a taste of strawberry jam or blueberries. Add chocolate chips for a nice gooey sweetness.

muffMakes one loaf or 12 muffins.

speckled bananas

Ingredients

1/3 cup 1% or skim milk

1 tsp lemon juice

1 cup unbleached white flour

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup finely ground whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground flax seed

A dash each of nutmeg and cinnamon.

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar plus 1 Tb for sprinkling on top. I used turbindo sugar for sprinkling.

4 bananas (1 ½ cups mashed)

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

1 Tb olive oil

¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

3/4 cup roughly chopped strawberries (optional)

1/2 cup blueberries (optional) If you are using frozen blueberries, defrost them and drain them before adding

½ cup walnut and/or pecan pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350º F.

???????????????????????????????

Add lemon juice to milk. Let it sit while you are mixing the other ingredients. The milk should curdle, resembling buttermilk. (You can skip this step and use buttermilk instead if you prefer).

Sift both flours, baking soda, salt, and baking powder into a medium bowl. Add nutmeg, cinnamon, and flax seed.  Stir well to combine ingredients.

whipped egg and sugarWhip eggs in mixer until well combined. Add sugar and whip on high speed for 2-3 minutes until creamy.

Mash bananas with a fork or potato masher. You can also whirl them in a food processor. Add them to the egg mixture, along with olive oil and vanilla. Whip for another minute.

With mixer on low, add half the milk and half the flour mixture, and then repeat. Mix only until ingredients are almost combined. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips and/or blueberries (if using) until they are just combined.

Spray a loaf pan or muffin tins with non-stick spray. (because of the low fat content of the ingredients, you should spray paper muffin cups with non-stick spray if you choose to use them.) For extra buttery flavor, wipe a smear of butter at the bottom. Pour in batter. Sprinkle the top with sugar.  Place on the middle shelf of preheated oven. Bake loaf 50 – 55 minutes, muffins for 35-40 minutes,  just until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Remove bread from pan and let cool on a rack a few minutes before slicing.

banana bread with cream cheeseDelicious spread with cream cheese!

Spicy Red Deviled Eggs (low mayo)

These deviled eggs are spicy with cayenne, blushing with red bell pepper, and have only 2 Tb mayonnaise.

Perfect for Easter! or Passover!

I roast the bell pepper ahead of time (450 ‘ for 45 minutes) until it is smooth and, well, slimy.

You can also use jarred red bell peppers. Be sure to remove the skin, seeds, and membrane, or they will clog the tip of the pastry bag.

I based this recipe on 

I dedicate this recipe to Sofia, who loves my deviled eggs so much she even ate them the time I screwed up and added too much salt!

Makes 1 1/2 dozen deviled eggs

9 eggs
1 Tb baking soda
3 Tb  roasted red bell pepper (1/2  pepper), skin, seeds and membrane removed.
2 Tb mayonnaise
1 tsp yellow or Dijon mustard
about 1/8 tsp of cayenne (about 4 dashes or so) to taste
1 1/2  tsp  lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt to taste
4 fresh chives

The important and rather frustrating thing about making deviled eggs is that your eggs must peel  perfectly smooth, or they will look ugly and may fall apart completely. There are several tricks to ensuring that the shell and membrane slide off the egg smoothly:

Buy the eggs at least a week before cooking.

Add 1 Tb baking soda to the cooking water.

Immerse cooked eggs in an ice water bath

Crack the shells of the cooked eggs by tapping on them with the back of a spoon so  the water seeps inside, between the shell membrane and the egg white. 

Peel the eggs carefully under cool running water.

Cooking eggs: Place 9 eggs in a large pot and cover with one inch water and gently stir in 1 Tb baking soda. Cover pot, heat to boiling, then turn off heat. Let eggs sit in the covered pot for 15 minutes. You can test them by spinning on a hard surface. If they spin quickly with no wobbles, they are done. Drain the water, then add cold water and several glasses of ice cubes and let the eggs cool for 15 minutes. Then crack them by tapping the shells with the back of a spoon. Add more ice to keep water cold,  and wait at least 5 minutes before peeling eggs. Peel under running water, starting at the tip where there’s a little pocket, then pull off the shells and membrane together.

Pulse the red bell pepper in a food processor until it becomes a smooth paste.

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Gently pop out the egg yolks into the food processor.  Add the other ingredients except chives, and pulse until yolk mixture is smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Place the egg halves cut end up on a paper towel to dry. Then arrange them on a platter.

Fit a pastry bag with a large star tip and fill it with the yolk mixture. Pipe the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Garnish with the fresh chives.

For this last batch, I made the filling ahead of time and refrigerated the whites and the filling in plastic containers. I filled the eggs the next day right before serving them.

Spanakopita and Tiropetes with phyllo or puff pastry

These Greek spinach and cheese pies have a complex taste: sharp bite of feta, green spinach, explosion of herbs: mint, dill, oregano, basil, garlic, and green onion, wrapped in a crispy filo dough or buttery puff pastry. My recipe was inspired by my Greek-American friend Margret’s delicious version.

You can make these traditionally with flaky phyllo (filo) dough. I use olive oil spray on the phyllo instead of spreading oil or butter with a pastry brush, to cut down on the fat. I also make tiropetes, which are phyllo filled with feta and ricotta cheese. They are great for breakfast.

On the other end of the calorie range, I recently tried these at a Greek restaurant made from puff pastry. They were rich and delicious! So I made them at home. It’s much less fuss than phyllo, although it has quite a few more fat and calories from the buttery pastry.

Makes 3 logs (about 18 triangles) of phyllo wrapped spanakopita or 8 triangles of puff pastry spanakopita

3/4  package defrosted phyllo dough OR 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry (defrost for only 10 minutes at room temperature)

Olive oil spray for phyllo dough

Spinach filling: You can make this a day ahead of time.

2 heads fresh spinach, well washed, stems removed and chopped (use a food processor to chop it) OR 1 lb bag of frozen chopped spinach – about 3 cups.

1 tsp olive oil

2 scallions

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup pine nuts

1 Tb finely chopped mint leaves OR 1 tsp dried mint

½ Tb finely chopped fresh dill weed OR ½ tsp dried dill weed

1 Tb finely chopped fresh oregano leaves OR 1 tsp dried oregano

1 Tb finely chopped fresh basil OR 1 tsp dried basil OR 1 cube frozen basil

Several grinds pepper (about ¼ tsp)

1 egg for filling. Another egg if using puff pastry.

6 oz (about 1 cup) crumbled feta cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375’ for filo, or 400’ for puff pastry

Microwave frozen or fresh spinach in a covered casserole bowl about 2 minutes (longer for frozen spinach) until soft. Drain in fine mesh sieve over a bowl.

I place a bowl with a few cans in it on top of the sieve while preparing the other ingredients. Afterward, press on the spinach with a tablespoon for several minutes to squeeze out the liquid. You should have 1 1/2  cups drained spinach.

While spinach is draining, finely mince white and green parts of scallions, garlic, and mint leaves and other fresh herbs, salt and pepper Sauté onion, garlic and pine nuts in olive oil in a heavy skillet. After a couple of minutes, stir in the herbs and heat for another minute.

Finish squeezing the last liquid from the spinach and discard the liquid. Stir the spinach into the onion and herbs.

Beat the first egg and add feta and Parmesan cheeses. Stir in the spinach mixture until well blended.

Tiropetes

1 cup feta cheese

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1 egg, beaten

2 Tb minced fresh parsley

Mix ingredients together. Spread on puff pastry or phyllo dough as below.

Assembling Puff Pastry (I used Trader Joe’s), cut both sheets in two. Beat the second egg. Using a pastry brush, paint the egg on each piece. Spoon filling o to fill exactly half the pastry, leaving about 1/2 inch border of dough on the edges. Fold the pastry over the filling, then seal the edges with the back of a teaspoon.

Place on a cookie sheet that you have sprayed with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes at 400’ Let cool, then cut in half diagonally, to make triangles.

Phyllo Dough directions:

For phyllo dough pastries: spread one sheet of defrosted dough on a large wooden board or cutting board. Spray olive oil on top. Spread another sheet on top of it and spray and repeat for a 3rd sheet. Spread a 2 inch line of spinach or cheese filling about 3 inches from the edge of the shorter side of the rectangle. Leave a one inch space between the filling and the sides of the phyllo.

Roll the dough up over the filling, then tuck in the sides, and continue rolling until the end. Spray a little of the oil on the edge to seal it. Place the roll seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray a little oil on top of the roll.

Bake at 375’ for 40 minutes until browned.

Let cool, then slice the logs diagonally in each direction into triangle shapes.

Low-fat cornbread and chestnut stuffing

close up of stuffingThis fragrant stuffing uses less bread than traditional stuffing, and uses only  2 Tb olive oil and 1/2 cube butter.

You can make a gluten-free stuffing using my recipe for gluten-free cornbread. You can also make this a vegetarian recipe by using vegetable broth or mushroom broth and either skip the turkey sausage or use a vegetarian sausage.

Stuff your turkey, then bake the rest in a casserole dish. Because I brine my turkey, I only add salt to the stuffing that I bake separately.

produce for stuffing

Ingredients

Half of an  8 × 8 pan of Rosemary-scented cornbread or gluten-free cornbread, cut into cubes to make about 4 cups. (This way you get to nosh on the cornbread before making the stuffing!) cube the cornbread 2 Tb olive oil, divided

½ pound turkey sausage without casings

½ cube (1/4 cup) butter (use only 2 Tb if adding sausage)

2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)

2 cups chopped celery (use the inside stalks, reserving the outside ones to surround the roasting turkey)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, chopped (remove seeds and ribs)

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 Granny Smith apples, chopped

2 tsp rubbed sage

1 tsp minced fresh sage

3 Tb fresh thyme OR 2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp minced fresh rosemary

½ tsp (several grinds) black pepper

1 cup roasted chestnuts (shelled), sliced or crumbled (about 10 large chestnuts)

½  cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup pecan pieces

2 Tb dried cranberries

2 eggs

1 ½ cup turkey or chicken broth

½ to 1 tsp salt to taste (unless used for stuffing a brined turkey)

Make Turkey broth:

1 ½  cups water

turkey neck and giblets

1 onion, finely chopped

several stalks celery with leaves, cut up

1 clove garlic, minced

On Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving, boil turkey neck and giblets in water with celery and chopped onion and  garlic for an hour or more. Strain into a container and use to moisten this stuffing. (Reserve giblets if you like chopped giblets in your gravy.)

Briefly parboil, then roast chestnuts (be sure to cut them first so they don’t burst!) at 425′ for 15 minutes. Let cool, then shell them. I found it’s easier to scoop the meat out with a teaspoon.  (Or buy the precooked, shelled ones at Trader Joe’s if you don’t want to spend all that time peeling them.)

Make cornbread on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. You can also cube and roast the butternut squash on Wednesday:

If using turkey sausage, fry in a pan until browned and crumbly.

Heat another Tb oil and the butter in a large, heavy frying pan. Stir-fry onions, celery, bell pepper, mushrooms, apples, and garlic over medium heat until they soften. Add sausage if using, butternut squash, dried cranberries, pecans, chestnuts, parsley and herbs and heat a few minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the broth until warm. Beat the eggs and add  broth. Gently add to the cubed cornbread and other ingredients.

If not stuffing your turkey, bake in a  9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with olive oil at 350◦ for 45 minutes until the top is toasted. Alternatively, use the microwave since the oven’s got the turkey in it: 15 min should do it. You can finish it off in the oven for a crunchy top.

French Toast with Fresh Fruit

This family favorite is a weekend morning treat after a week of eating muesli. Although French toast made with half-and-half is rich and sublime, this lower fat version, made with 1% milk is really good. Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg and piled high with fresh peaches and strawberries with a hint of maple syrup, it makes a satisfying breakfast.

Serves 3:

3 large eggs
¼ cup 1% milk
1 tsp cinnamon
Several shakes of nutmeg
8 slices of raisin bread
About 1 tsp butter
1 large peach
6 large strawberries
3 Tb maple syrup

 

Whip eggs with milk, cinnamon and nutmeg. Heat a nonstick frying pan and move butter stick across it until it is coated with butter (about 1 tsp). Dip slices of raisin bread into the egg mixture so it begins to saturate the bread but not make it soggy. Place bread in the pan and fry over medium heat a few minutes until it turns light brown, then flip and fry again.

Serve with fresh cut peaches, strawberries or what’s in season. You can heat frozen fruit and serve as well. I like to spread the fruit on a plate and pour about 3 Tb of maple syrup over the fruit, then microwave for a minute. No need to add extra syrup to the French toast.

Did you ever seen a (Mango) Lassi?

This thick and sweet Indian smoothie is a refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day. It’s low in fat and sugar. The yogurt and lime juice give it a nice tang. I sprinkle a little Tajín, (chili powder with dried lime and salt), on top for zing and added complexity. (I buy Tajín at Mexican grocery stores). For a special treat, take a bite of dark chocolate and hold it in your mouth while sipping the lassi.

Right now there are ripe mangoes at a good price at the corner markets and produce stores. When I can’t find them I use frozen mangoes from Trader Joe’s. You can substitute sugar for the agave if you prefer.

I prefer the lassi made with dairy products, but since I’m lactose intolerant, I have to use lactose-free milk. I couldn’t find that at work the other day, so made it from coconut water and coconut milk. It was pretty good. Here are both recipes:

Use 2 ripe, soft (but not mushy) mangoes. Refrigerate ingredients before using, or add ice to cool down the drink.

Dairy Lassi:
2 cups fresh or frozen mango (2 medium or one large mango)
¼ banana (¼ cup)
½ cup 1 % milk
½ cup nonfat plain Greek or Mediterranean yogurt (I buy Karoun brand at Middle Eastern markets)
½ tsp lime juice
2 tsp agave nectar

 Combine ingredients in blender. Pulse until fruit breaks up, and then liquefy Lassi. If using fresh mango, add some ice until desired coldness is reached. If it is too thick, add more milk. Sprinkle a bit of Tajín on top.

Because the coconut water I buy has sugar in it, I don’t add any more sugar to this lassi. Drink the rest of the can for a refreshing treat!

Coconut Mango Lassi (vegan)

2 cups fresh or frozen mango (2 medium or one large mango)
¼ banana (¼ cup)
½ cup coconut water (I use canned coconut water with added pulp)
½ cup coconut milk (use low-fat for fewer calories)
½ tsp lime juice

 Combine ingredients in blender. Pulse until fruit breaks up, and then liquefy lassi. If using fresh mango, add some ice until it reaches desired coldness. If it is too thick, add more coconut water. Sprinkle a bit of Tajín on top.