Pumpkin Cranberry Oat Agave Muffins

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I still enjoy baking with agave instead of cane sugar and I recently found a fabulous recipe for pumpkin agave muffins (I added the cranberry part) on the blog, Hell Yeah It’s Vegan!  (This link will bring you right to the recipe.)  They are moist, not too sweet and full of pumpkin-y goodness.  The only other tweak I made was switching regular flour for whole wheat flour.

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I made them a second time around and reduced the flour to 1 and 1/4 cup to make way for adding 1/3 cup of Coach’s Oats (also interchangeable with Old-Fashioned Oatmeal).  And Pumpkin Cranberry Oat Agave muffins were born!  I brought them to a morning work meeting and they were a hit!

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Tart-alicious Recommendation

Tall Clover Farm is one of my all-time favorite blogs.  Tom lives on Vashon Island in the middle of Puget Sound, near Seattle in a beautiful farmhouse.  Through his garden, orchard and baking recipes using his own fruit, he has inspired me to make quite a few of his recipes.  Apple Berry Custard Crumble Pie was the first recipe that I tried and it has already earned it’s place in my family’s book of favorite pies.  It is requested on birthdays and most recently, Father’s Day, by my husband and father.

When I saw Tom’s most recent post on a Sour Cream Raspberry Tart alongside an open afternoon with the house to myself, I jumped at the chance to create this beautiful, rustic tart.  Instead of raspberries, I used blackberries, which I thought worked very nicely!  This recipe requires a bit of time, but is worth every second.  It is simply amazing.  Click the link above to check out the recipe in Tom’s own words.

The sour cream middle also includes cream cheese, sugar and orange zest.

The sour cream middle also includes cream cheese, sugar and orange zest.

The tart crust baked so evenly and beautifully.  It's delectable!

The tart crust baked so evenly and beautifully. It’s delectable!

DSCN0534Thank you for another winner, Tom!!!

Whole Wheat Peach Banana Agave Muffins

I have a soft spot for banana muffins, especially when the weather is warm and my bananas ripen extra fast.  A few years ago I posted this recipe for whole wheat strawberry banana agave bread.  I essentially used the same recipe today to make muffins, and instead of strawberry banana, they were peach banana.  This fruit pairing turned out to be very complimentary and super useful for my first harvest of peaches from my Red Baron peach tree.

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Preheat oven to 325.

  • 1/2 C Agave nectar
  • 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C mashed extra ripe bananas (about 3 large)
  • 1 large or 3 small peaches, diced
  • 3/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 C chopped nuts (I use walnuts)

In a large bowl whisk agave and oil.  Stir in bananas, peaches and vanilla.  Stir in flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Fold in chopped nuts.  Pour into a greased muffin pan.  Bake 22-25 minutes.  Makes a dozen muffins.

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Beautiful Heirloom Tomato

This is my first year growing heirloom tomatoes and the first-picked of the season is quite the show-stopper.

Cherokee Purple tomato – with their signature green shoulders up top near the stem.

And the other side….amazing!

These tomatoes have just as much character in their flavor as they do on the outside.  They taste rich and sweet, with a smokey flavor all their own.  I pair them sliced with good whole milk mozzarella cheese, fresh basil from the garden and a splash of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt & pepper (aka Caprese Salad).

Oat Flour Peach Cobbler…Gluten-Free

With a family member now on a gluten-free diet, my beloved baking has taken a back seat.  No wheat!!!  Baking only for yourself just isn’t the same thing.  The other day I was tasked to “somehow make a gluten-free pie/cobbler”.  The peach tree in the backyard made the decision for me on what type of pie to make.  This week it has started pumping out big, ripe peaches and we can’t eat them fast enough.

Now I love a challenge, so I started rifling through that many gluten-free recipes with almond flour, millet flour, etc.  Arg.  Not a trip to the store for one ingredient!  (One of my pet-peeves).  I’d rather go to a neighbor or do a logical substitution.  Alas, I stumbled upon the easiest answer.  Oat Flour.  You can make it in your blender, people!  We love our old-fashioned Quaker oatmeal, so we have it in bulk at all times.  Measure out however much the recipe calls for and put it in the blender (don’t use the quick-cooking kind.  It won’t work!).  Mine has a “food processor” button, so that’s what I used for 1 minute until the oats resembled….flour!

Peaches still warm from the afternoon sun, old-fashioned oats and oat flour made right in the blender.

A closer look.  So much heart-healthy fiber!!

The oat flour mixed with traditional cobbler ingredients (sugar, butter, cinnamon, etc.)

And of course the oh so delicious cooking peaches photo.

Yum. The topping was really hearty yet fluffy. The cobbler recipe that I used called for milk and flour in the topping as well, which was unique and fun.

Here’s the moral of the story: There are always new things to explore and learn in baking, some of them easier than you’d imagine!  This was not meant to be a recipe post, as many have their own cobbler/pie recipes…but more of a revelation in alternative flours, whether you’re gluten-free or not.

Apple Berry Custard Crumble Pie

 Recipe: Apple Berry Crumble Pie.

Tall Clover Farm photo.

Tall Clover Farm photo.

Being a lover of all things baked, this recipe piqued my interest from Tom at Tall Clover Farm.  I am a recent follower and can I just say that I’m hooked.  This is the most entertaining, laugh-out-loud, charismatic edible garden blog I’ve ever read.  Tom keeps things so fun and so delicious.  This is the first recipe I’ve tried of his and let me tell you that it IS THE BEST PIE I’ve ever made.  I know some people throw around that phrase, but in this case it is the absolute truth.  I made it last night for my husband, my parents and my daughter and EVERYONE got seconds (even thirds but we won’t get into that).  What makes this pie so outstanding is the ingeniously simple compliment of custard and crumb topping together in one pie.  The custard is creamy and not too sweet.  It intermingles with the blackberries and apples so as to add another dimension of taste.  It is pure heaven.  Plus, it’s super easy.  No mixer or stovetop…just a bowl.  See the recipe and the Tall Clover Farm blog for yourself by clicking on the link at top.

Here's Tom's.

Here's Tom's.

And mine!

Persimmon Apple Strudel

Recently a neighbor of mine kindly brought over a bag of home-grown Fuyu persimmons.  I love their unique flavor and bold color.  Like the pomegranate, the persimmon comes in season in late fall.  Generally I like to eat them like an apple when they are soft to the touch, skin and all.

With a dinner party tonight which I have been assigned dessert, I had the idea to bring a persimmon dish.  I adapted a fabulous and easy apple strudel recipe that uses puff pastry.  Here’s the result!

I’d wanted to photograph the inside of this amazing strudel after I cut into it but the hustle and bustle of the party distracted me.  It was a huge hit!  It looks like fall when you cut into it with the red cranberries, orange persimmons, apples and walnuts.  The persimmon flavor really holds up, unlike some sweet bread and cookie recipes I’ve tasted.

Makes: 8 servings

  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 2 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 of a 17.3 ounce package Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheet (1 sheet), thawed
  • 2 medium ripe 1/2 in. cubed Fuyu persimmons, peeled
  • 1 large apple, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 C cranberries or raisins
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 C chopped walnuts
  • confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Heat the oven to 375°F. Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork. Stir the flour, granulated sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the persimmon, apple, cranberries, lemon zest and walnuts  and toss to coat.

Sprinkle additional flour on the work surface.  Unfold the pastry sheet on the work surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle. With the short side facing you, spoon the apple mixture onto the bottom half of the pastry sheet to within 1 inch of the edge.  Roll up like a jelly roll.  Place seam-side down onto a baking sheet.  Tuck the ends under to seal.  Brush the pastry with the egg mixture. Cut several slits in the top of the pastry.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Let the pastry cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

For best results, make sure to toss the persimmons, apples, cranberries and walnuts until they’re evenly coated with the flour mixture. The flour helps to thicken the juices released by the apples as they cook.