My dear sister has been baking various renditions of her ever evolving hearty breakfast muffins for as long as I can remember.
Like so many home cooks these days she has been updating and adapting her muffin recipe to accommodate her extended family’s food intolerance issues. Lactose and gluten intolerance are as common these days as is an awareness for reducing fats and sugar in our everyday
There is such an abundance of healthy nutritional ingredients baked into these breakfast muffins to fuel even the busiest of mornings!
Ditty’s Healthy and ever so Hearty Breakfast Muffins
makes 12 muffins
Equipment: 12 muffin baking tin lightly spritzed with cooking spray
preheat oven to 400 f /180 c with oven rack set in the center position.
- 2 ½ cups gluten free flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
- ¾ cup chopped dates, golden raisins, or dried cranberries
- ½ cup broken pecans, walnuts, or slivered almonds, + 12 whole nuts for garnish
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large organic eggs
- 2 cups almond milk
- ½ cup applesauce or Greek yogurt, or a combination of both
- 1cup peeled and diced apples or pears, optional
For the Holidays add the following :
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree to the batter; omitting the of Greek yogurt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- a pinch of clove
- 1 egg white, whisked
- 1 tablespoon each of cinnamon and sugar, combined
- 12 whole nuts for garnish
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and rolled oats all stirred together until well combined. Add the dates, or other dried fruit, and pecans, or other nuts, and the sugar. Using your hands massage all the ingredients together until well incorporated.
In a separate bowl combine the eggs and almond milk and whisk until combined.
Begin adding the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients while stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue adding the liquid mixture and folding it into the batter until well combined.
Add the applesauce and / or the Greek yogurt and fold in until well combined.
Then fold in the diced apples or pears if using.
Using an ice cream scoop, fill the muffin tin until each cup his fully filled with batter and the batter that is mound up slightly in the center of each muffin.
Whisk the egg white and lightly brush the tops of each muffin. Place a whole nut atop each muffin and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
Transfer the muffins into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Test by inserting a skewer into the center of a muffin. If the skewer comes out clean when withdrawn the muffins are done.
Transfer the muffins in the tin to a cooling rack and set aside to cool.
Best to Serve the muffins while they are sill warm!
Za’atar chicken is a paring born out of south eastern Europe and the Middle East. Za’atar is a centuries old seasoning mixture of ground dried hyssop leaves and flowers combined with ground sumac, ground toasted sesame seeds, and sea salt. Za’atar’s flavor is as beguiling as is the regions where the herbs are grown. The distinctly minty flavor of the hyssop combined with the citrus like flavor of the sumac imparts a lovely earthy citrus note to grilled meats as well as vegetables and flat breads that make up the foundation of eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern meals.
Za’atar can be found in Middle Eastern shops and markets and, due to it’s increasing popularity with European and American cooks, Za’tar is more than likely available in your local supermarket as well.
That said many ready made za’atars may include other herbs, spices as well as chile. I much prefer sticking to the basics and mixing up my own za’atar ground and blended at home. Hyssop and sumac are readily available online. Proportions of ingredients when making your own Za’atar vary to suit your own tastes.
As there are so many tasty applications for Za’atar you will find yourself mixing up your own Za’atar at home as well as exploring store bought blends.
Za’atar Lemon Chicken:
- 2 organic chicken breasts, skin on
- 2 organic chicken legs, skin on
- 2 organic chicken thighs, skin on
1 cup full fat fat Greek yogurt
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
- 3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 3 medium shallots, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise and halved
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced into rounds
- 2 tablespoons za’atar
- fresh watercress as a garnish
Choose a mixing bowl that will hold all the chicken and marinade snugly.
In the bowl combine the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper. Stir until well combined. Add the chicken and press into the marinade until submerged. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 F / 220 c
Needed: a shallow roasting pan
Lightly oil the roasting pan pan with a little olive oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off excess marinade, and placing the chicken pieces, skin side up, evenly distributed in the roasting pan.
Scatter the sliced shallots over the chicken and season generously with za’atar.
Place the lemon rounds on top of each piece of chicken and drizzle lightly with olive oil and season the lemon rounds with a light dusting za’atar.
Transfer the chicken to the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Test the chicken using a thermometer with an internal temperature of 165 degrees f. If the chicken is not quite done pop it back in the oven for another 10 minutes or more if needed.
Allow the chicken to rest for five minutes before plating as pictured. Drizzle with pan juices and serve garnished with fresh watercress as pictured.
For more information on sumac and another recipe you may enjoy: Sumac Roaster Chicken (click here)
Nothing compares to the exquisite taste of ripened peaches just plucked from the trees here in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Farm stands that dot the verdant green landscape are laden with an abundance of peaches, sweet corn, green beans, patti-pan squash, zucchini, eggplant, and of course the very best vine ripe tomatoes you will ever taste!
No recipes required!
Ajvar is a traditional roasted red pepper sauce/ puree favored throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, with regional variations across Lebanon, Syria, the Balkans, Turkey, and the Middle East. Ajvar is served with grilled meats, fish, kabobs, mezze plates, or just slathered onto a warmed pita bread.
Ajvar is a simplified Muhammara (see Recipe here),either of which I like to keep on hand to jazz up those meals that beg for a flavor boost.
Ajvar is available in in Greek and Middle Eastern shops and online, through rarely found on supper market shelves. So why not prepare Ajvar at home. The ingredients are all readily available and the recipe that follows will walk you through the process. Preparing the peppers and eggplant may seem a bit tedious, but it is all well worth the effort I assure you. The slightly sweet and smoky aroma wafting throughout the kitchen will be enough to spur you onward with the tasks at hand.
Putting up a jar freshly made Ajvar is one of those cook’s moments, a raison d’etre if you will and, I have to say, what makes cookery so compelling.
So, with that thought in mind let’s get cooking!
makes 1 quart
- olive oil as needed
- 4 ripe red bell peppers
- 1 ripe red jalapeno chile
- 1 medium eggplant
- 5 large garlic cloves, skin on
- 2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sea salt + more to taste
Rub the bell peppers, jalapeno, eggplant, and garlic with olive oil and place on a large baking tray.
Place the tray of vegetables under the preheated broiler and broil until the skins on the peppers, jalapeno, and eggplant blister and are are charred in spots. Turn all the vegetables and continue broiling. Remove the garlic as soon as it is lightly colored and set aside.
Continue broiling the reaming vegetables until all sides are charred and blistered.
Transfer all the broiled vegetables to a large bowl and seal tightly with cling film and set aside to cool.
When the vegetables are cool enough to handle you are going to peel away the charred skins and discard them. As tempting as it may be, do not rinse the vegetables under the tap as you work. Doing so will only wash away the flavor you have created during the broiling process.
Likewise be sure to reserve all the juices from the roasting pan as well as the juices collected as you remove the seeds from the peppers, chile, and eggplant. All these flavorsome juices will be added back into Ajvar later.
Cut the bell peppers and jalapeno in half. Remove all the seeds and membranes and discard them. Tear the bell peppers into strips lengthwise and place them in the work bowl of a food processor along with the peeled eggplant.
In a small bowl combine the jalapeno, peeled garlic, salt, and vinegar and mash together with a wooden spoon to form a paste and set aside.
Begin pulsing the peppers and eggplant in the processor until the mixture looks like a coarse puree.
Stop the machine and spoon the garlic chile mixture on top of the red pepper puree and pulse until the mixture begins to smooth out.
Place a wide nonstick fry pan over medium low heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot add the Ajvar puree to the pan and stir for several minutes. Then add any reserved juices and stir them into the puree continue to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to avoid any scorching.
Taste and add salt if needed.
Transfer the Ajvar to a sterilized jar and cool to room temperature. Add a thin layer of olive oil on top of the Ajvar and seal tightly with a lid and refrigerate.
The Ajvar will keep in the refrigerator for at least a month or more.
Serve as suggested as well as with j sandwiches, pasta, tacos or anything else that comes to mind.