February 22, 2013

Whole Grain Banana Carrot Muffins


I love Saturday mornings. My eyes open early without an alarm and my socked feet carry me out to the kitchen to put on a pot of water, grind the coffee, and take in the morning sunlight that streams through the kitchen windows. Before me stretches a free day full of promise, and I wonder, “What will I get to cook today?”


On a cold February morning such as this, I was inspired by a ripe banana and the desire for something to warm us inside and out. A hearty, barely sweet something with a tender crumb and an oat-y bite, packed with banana and carrot that make it taste at once healthy and indulgent.

It’s somehow not like banana bread or carrot cake but a thing all its own.  Lovely alongside a freshly brewed cup of coffee – served warm, maybe with a bit of butter.

Whole Grain Banana Carrot Muffins
Yield 12 muffins.

2 cups peeled and grated carrots
1 large ripe banana (heaping 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/3 cup grapeseed or other mild oil
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Notes: Melted coconut oil also works great in this recipe. It imparts a faintly detectable coconut flavor. The muffins are quite forgiving and work well with alternative flours. (They’re great with finely ground oats in place of the flour.)
A cup or so of walnuts (broken or roughly chopped) is also a great addition!

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line with muffin papers.

Combine carrots, banana, sugars, oil, and egg in the bowl of a food processor. Process to combine. (Or beat with a mixer, but I already had the food processor out for grating the carrots.)

In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Add dry ingredients to the carrot mixture and process or beat until just combined.

Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups and bake for approximately 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs.

Serve warm – alone or with butter.


February 6, 2013

Whole Wheat Nutella Brownies


I'm a day late on World Nutella Day and about 7 months late on a blog post, but that's okay because I won Valentine's Day, and it's still a week away!  How did I do this? Simple. I made a heart-shaped Nutella brownie.  It was perfectly dense, Nutella-y, and fudgy, and Brian threatened to eat the entire thing in one sitting.


[For the record, I didn’t get around to making these brownies on Nutella Day because we were too full of Nutella and homemade chocolate hazelnut spread (a la David Lebovitz).]

Whole Wheat Nutella Brownies
printable recipe

1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil (or a combo of the two), melted*
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup Nutella, or other chocolate-hazelnut spread, softened slightly
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

*I used 3 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon coconut oil. The hint of coconut in the final product was a nice way to lighten the otherwise very rich flavor just a bit.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prepare an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan (or a heart-shaped pan, if you have it :)) by greasing with butter or coconut oil and coating with flour.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Stir in the Nutella.

In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.  Then combine with the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Spread evenly in prepared baking pan.

Bake for 18-25 minutes, depending on how gooey you like the center.

Cool for about 10 minutes and serve warm, either alone or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Happy (Belated) World Nutella Day and Happy (Early) Valentine's Day!


World Nutella Day Logo - February 5th

Even though the official holiday was yesterday, you can still celebrate by enjoying Nutella on its own or in any of the many recipes you’ll find here:

World Nutella Day
Ms Adventures in Italy
Bleeding Espresso