Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins

I’ll be honest and say I had pretty low expectations when I decided to make sweet potato muffins. In terms of baking, sweet potatoes have always seemed to me like pumpkin’s stringy-haired, less charming step-sister. I have no evidence to back up this notion. Maybe it’s just that in this country, in all the months that end in -ber, pumpkin gets all the glory in baked goods, while sweet potatoes dutifully play side dish. Probably there’s a Pumpkin Baking Lobby at work beneath this phenomenon.

At any rate, sometimes it’s good to get out of a rut, even if it’s just a pumpkin baking rut. So when I realized I had a heaping helping of leftover cooked sweet potatoes nobody in my family was chomping at the bit to consume, I went hunting for a recipe to repurpose them as breakfast. Am I glad I did? Well, I’ll just say, Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins, that…

These muffins come out with flavor as bright as their color. A hint of orange zest in the recipe adds just the right counterpoint to the heartier tubers’ taste. And despite the heft of sweet potatoes’ texture, these are light, moist, and even–dare I say–fluffy? With a dusting of cinnamon sugar on top, I’m kind of sad I only made about a dozen.

So there you have it. I’m a sweet potato baking convert. Are you? Next time you have extra cooked sweet potatoes leftover, remember to try out this recipe, and I think you will be in no time!

 


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Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins
These Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins will make you a sweet potato baking convert! They're surprisingly light, not too sweet, and only 150 calories each.
Course breakfast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20-25 minutes
Servings
muffins
Course breakfast
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20-25 minutes
Servings
muffins
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 14 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  3. In a small bowl, combine whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder.
  4. In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, orange extract or zest, oil, and milk. Add the sweet potatoes and mix until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched. Store in an airtight container.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Williams Sonoma.

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Cookbook Review: The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook

For this cookbook review, I could simply post this picture and leave it at that:

Because really, is there any situation for which Muppets can’t offer insightful commentary? I think not. But let’s go into a bit more detail, shall we?

I’d had my eye on America’s Test Kitchen’s Complete Mediterranean Cookbook for quite awhile before my husband gave it to me for my birthday back in September. After all, I’m a big proponent of the Mediterranean Diet as a general eating plan. You’ll discover that before you get very far on this blog…in the form of:

Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

Mediterranean 7-Layer Dip

Chicken Souvlaki

Roasted Chickpea Pitas

Spaghetti with Tuna, Basil, and Lemon

and of course

Building a Mediterranean-Friendly Pantry.

So it’s kind of a no-brainer that a Mediterranean Diet cookbook would go over well around here. This dietary pattern of whole grains, legumes, seafood, fruits and vegetables, and liberal use of olive oil has been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, ward off type 2 diabetes, and quell inflammation. Owning a whole compendium of recipes along these lines sounds like a great idea!

America’s Test Kitchen is famous for their well considered, trustworthy recipes, and this cookbook lives up to that reputation. It starts out with an informational section on what the Mediterranean Diet actually is, a helpful resource for those who may be less familiar with it:

The book continues with several sample Mediterranean meal plans, followed by nicely organized sections by course and type of food. Mediterranean-specific chapters include Meze, Antipasti, Tapas, and Other Small Plates, Beans, and Pasta and Couscous along with more traditional categories like Vegetables, Seafood, Poultry and Meat, etc. Attractive, vibrant photos provide a visual for at least half the recipes.

One of my favorite aspects of this compilation is that recipes hail not just from Italy and Greece, as Americans might imagine when hearing the word “Mediterranean,” but rather from the entire riviera surrounding that body of water. North African grain dishes, Lebanese dips, Turkish soups, and other unexpected choices round out the contents. I’m finding these recipes have exposed me to cuisines and flavors I don’t normally seek out in my day-to-day culinary endeavors.

Thus far, everything I’ve tried from this cookbook has been a success. From a French lentil soup to cilantro roasted carrots to the Bulgur with Grapes and Feta featured here on the blog, each one has been tasty and unique.

My only complaint about this cookbook is that some recipes and ingredients are a tad unrealistic for the average American home cook. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’m not exactly ready for octopus, even in the most authentic Mediterranean restaurant. I’m definitely not hauling one home and cooking it up in my kitchen. (Seeing the word “tentacles” in a recipe just makes me snicker uncomfortably.) And while I applaud the concept of expanding my culinary horizons, I genuinely wouldn’t know where to find ingredients like zaatar, freekeh, or dukkah in Mesa, Arizona. Like, I think I’m being pretty adventurous when I pick up saffron.

Despite this one small gripe, I’m thrilled to own this collection of interesting Mediterranean recipes. If all the research is correct, these dishes are setting my family and me on a path toward better health. I’m all for that!

Check out America’s Test Kitchen’s Complete Mediterranean Cookbook here. This holiday season, it could make a great gift for any enthusiastic home cook, the foodie in your life, or simply for anyone interested in a healthier diet.

Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when it comes to your diet, there’s no such thing as a “detox.” Your liver and kidneys serve as your body’s built-in detoxification system, and there’s not much you can do to make them function better.

That being said, on this day after Thanksgiving, we could probably all use a “detox” in the sense of something light and healthy to get back on track after the inevitable holiday indulgence. A smoothie is my snack of choice after mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie…and pizza. (No, my family Thanksgiving tradition doesn’t involve pizza. It’s just that when you eat dinner at 3:00 PM, you get pretty hungry by about 9:00.) Though I thoroughly enjoyed every bite of all those foods, the key to health is balance, so I’m leaning toward the skinny side of the food spectrum today.

This Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie is inspired by the Chunky Strawberry Bowl at Jamba Juice. Strawberries, banana, peanut butter, and oats may sound like an odd combination, but from the first time I tried the Jamba Juice version, I was hooked. There’s something almost comfort food-like about the sweetness of the fruit blended with wholesome oats and stick-to-your-ribs peanut butter. I’ve been recreating it at home for awhile now.

When it comes to making your own smoothie instead of going to Jamba Juice, there are a couple of distinct advantages: 1.) you won’t pay a whopping $7.15 for it, and 2.) it doesn’t have to set you back 570 calories when all you want is a snack. Plus, on Black Friday, you don’t have to leave your house. That’s my kind of detox. 🙂

Wishing you a delightful remainder of your Thanksgiving weekend!

 


Print Recipe
Strawberry Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie
Fruity and filling, this smoothie is a healthy snack choice!
Course Beverage, snack
Servings
smoothies
Course Beverage, snack
Servings
smoothies
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Recipe Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

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Apple Pie Truffles

How has it been since August that this blog has featured a dessert recipe? I’ll be honest, the gap in blogging about desserts is certainly not for lack of eating them! Halloween and our Stranger Things Party made sure of that. But now that Thanksgiving is upon us, leading (obviously) straight into the Christmas season, I say we can interrupt our regularly scheduled mostly healthy programming to bring you these Apple Pie Truffles.

Why Apple Pie Truffles? Doesn’t regular pie stand on its own as the top choice of discriminating holiday dessert eaters everywhere? Why would you mess with greatness? Well, pie and truffles are like religion and science: they don’t have to be in opposition! There’s room at the table–literally–for both.

These decadent truffles are like individual apple pies in poppable bite form–oh, and did I mention they’re covered in white chocolate? Apple pie + white chocolate is the flavor combination you didn’t know was missing from your life. The use of shortbread cookies to achieve the buttery texture of crust adds to the sensory experience…and of course the taste.

I’m thinking these need to make an appearance at our annual Christmas party…and maybe at a cookie exchange…and heck, let’s throw in Thanksgiving dinner, too. I don’t think anyone will mind.


Print Recipe
Apple Pie Truffles
These decadent truffles are like apple pie in poppable bite form!
Course Dessert
Servings
truffles
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Servings
truffles
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Peel apple and dice fine into ~ 1/4 square cubes. Place in a small saucepan with 1-2 Tbsp. of water, cover, and heat over medium heat about 5 minutes or until apple has just softened. Remove from heat, drain if any water remains, and set aside to cool.
  2. Crush shortbread cookies into crumbs. In a large mixing bowl, combine cookie crumbs, powdered sugar, cream cheese, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and melted white chocolate. Form into a ball as best you can, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Line a flat platter or baking sheet with wax paper. Remove truffle mixture from fridge and form into 12-14 balls, about 1 inch in diameter, placing them on wax paper. Return to the fridge for another 30 minutes to 1 hour of chilling.
  4. In a small bowl, melt white chocolate in the microwave (30 second intervals tends to work well). Carefully dip each ball in the melted chocolate, rolling to cover the exterior and allowing excess chocolate to drip off. Place balls on wax paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon to finish.
  5. Return to the refrigerator for storing.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Kitchen Sanctuary.

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Cajun Chickpea Cakes

For someone raised in the desert Southwest, I have an inexplicably great affinity for Cajun cuisine. Though I’ve never been to Louisiana (or anywhere in the South except Jacksonville, Florida and a brief weekend in Oxford, Mississippi) I harbor rich fantasies about eating crispy beignets in the shade of a cypress tree while jazz music floats through the air. Admittedly, most of this probably stems from visits to New Orleans Square in Disneyland…so my dreams of Cajun culture may not be the most authentic.

Still, I know there’s authenticity to my love of Cajun food. Case in point: recently, a new seafood restaurant opened in our neighborhood. I had no particular interest in trying it, but kept hearing rave reviews. Once my husband and I finally visited, I discovered it was a Cajun seafood restaurant, with some of the best Cajun catfish I’ve ever had. Now it’s our favorite spot for a lunch date. There’s something about the mix of spices with flaky breading and hot fish that is piquant perfection, if you ask me.

Though Cajun food often centers around fish or meat fried in oil, it can also easily be made vegetarian, and it doesn’t have to be a grease-fest. Take these Cajun Chickpea Cakes. They pack the sublime flavor for which Cajun food is famous in a fiber-rich, lower-fat package. After tinkering with this recipe for years, I think it’s finally ready for prime time. Served with dirty rice, these cakes are a unique, flavorful vegetarian meal!

Not only are these Chickpea Cakes quite healthy as is, full of veggies and beans, they’re easily modified for dietary restrictions. Need a gluten-free meal? Sub cornstarch for the flour. Going vegan? Replace the egg with 1 Tablespoon flax seeds + 3 Tablespoons water. You can also feel free to experiment with the spices to achieve whatever level suits your taste.

P.S. Fun trivia: did you know the word “Cajun” is a shortening of the term “Acadian”? Acadians were French immigrants who initially settled in Canada and the Northeastern U.S. (which is why Acadia National Park is in Maine) but eventually migrated south to Louisiana.

Nice of them to bless American culture with their delicious food traditions!


Print Recipe
Cajun Chickpea Cakes
A unique vegetarian main dish with all the flavor you expect from Cajun cuisine!
Cuisine cajun
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
Cuisine cajun
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
Instructions
  1. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add diced celery, onion, and green pepper and saute about 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and reserve skillet.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mash drained chickpeas until only some chunks remain (you don't want them super mushy). Add sautéed vegetables and all remaining ingredients. Mix until the mixture begin to hold together. Add more flour if necessary.
  3. Form mixture into 1/2 thick patties (should make about 8).
  4. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium/medium-high in the same nonstick skillet you used for the veggies. Add patties and cook about 3 minutes per side or until browned and crispy. Serve immediately (especially good with dirty rice)!
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Miratel Solutions.

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