Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spiced Carrot Ginger Soup

It started out yesterday with a slight tickle in the back of my throat. Ugh. No! I popped two Ester-C tablets, hoping that they would keep the cold at bay. No luck. By this morning, my nose had become a leaky faucet. I wanted to snuggle deeper down into the covers and stay in my pajamas all day! Something sounded good...something warm and comforting, but spicy enough to kick this bug out of my system. Spiced Carrot and Ginger Soup. 

Carrots and ginger both contain important properties for boosting your immune system. According to an article on the LiveStrong website, dated December 2, 2010, "Carrots contain vitamin A and vitamin B1, which are two important vitamins for keeping your immune system healthy and able to fight off infection. Adding carrots to your diet while you have a cold may motivate your white cells to work more efficiently at ridding your body of the virus causing your symptoms." Read more here.

"One of the benefits of ginger is its effects on congestion and its abilities to help fight colds. The use of ginger for combatting the common cold has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and was popular even before scientific research began revealing how powerful ginger truly is. For those who are suffering from congestion or a cold, consuming ginger may be extremely advantageous." Click on this link for the entire article.

So, with those two amazing ingredients as the base of this recipe, my cold symptoms should be gone in an.....Ha...haAChooO! Sorry. Let's just get to it...

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/4 cup sliced carrots
1 Tb. vegetarian chicken seasoning mixed with 2 cups water, or 2 cups vegetable stock
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cumin
pinch red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups pureed acorn squash (You could use butternut, too.)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. salt

In a medium pot and over medium heat, sauté onion in olive oil until it begins to clarify. Add minced garlic and ginger and stir to combine. Allow to sauté for a minute, then add sliced carrots. Continue to cook until carrots begin to soften. Add broth and spices, including red pepper flakes, and bring to a boil. Cook until carrots are completely soft.  Add pureed squash, coconut milk, orange juice, and salt during the last few minutes of cooking. Transfer all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour back into pot and bring to a simmer. Check for seasoning and salt if necessary. Serve immediately. This was especially tasty with some hearty croutons!

Enjoy while I nurse my aching joints! :0)
Yield: 3-4 servings

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Walnut Fig Scones with Citrus Glaze

Fall is here, whether I'm ready for it or not. I spent the morning going through my children's clothes and pulling out their shorts and t-shirts to make room for the toasty warm sweaters and fleece pajamas that will fill their dresser drawers now. With the gusty winds and brisk temperatures comes the desire for something warm and comforting. Pumpkin...walnuts...figs...come to mind when I think of Fall.

A friend of ours knows that our family likes unusual foods and graciously gave me the inspiration for these breakfast treats. A jar of Dalmatia Fig Spread. I thought, "What kind of neat experiment can I come up with using fig spread? We love it served with scones. Whole wheat toast makes a pretty good accompaniment, too. What would happen if I mixed fig preserves into a scone dough?"  These emerged as a result. I added grated apples, walnuts, and a hint of molasses.  I also incorporated whole wheat flour up the ante on the fiber content. The top has a nice citrus glaze with a bit more fig preserves to really enhance the flavor. 
We had mixed reviews in our home after the initial taste test. Our toddler ate two of them right away. My small group ladies and I enjoyed them, too. Our 6-year-old, however, took one small bite and put the scone aside. I take it fig isn't her favorite flavor. :0) 


3 cups flour (half white, half wheat or 2 cups white to 1 cup wheat)
1 Tb. baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. allspice
1 cup peeled, grated apple of choice (I used 1 Golden Delicious)
1/2 cup coarsely ground walnuts
3 Tb. Fig preserves
6 Tb. Earth Balance margarine
3/4 cup Almond milk
1 Tb. ground flax seed, mixed with 3 Tb. water


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, and allspice. Cut margarine into flour mixture until it looks like the consistency of small peas. Make a well in the center. In another small bowl, combine grated apple, walnuts, fig preserves, almond milk, and flax seed-water mixture.  

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir well to combine. If the dough appears to be too soft (like muffin batter), add a bit more flour until it's easy to handle. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times to incorporate flour. Shape into a 8 x 8 square about 1-in. thick and cut into to wedges or squares. Place scones about  3/4-in. apart on a large baking sheet and bake for approximately 16-18 minutes or until toasty golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before spooning the citrus glaze over.

Citrus Fig Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 T. fig preserves
1 T. orange juice, or enough until you reach the desired drizzling consistency.

These are really best eaten the same day. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blackberry Scones with Lemon Drizzle - Sunday Bonus

I usually like to make something a bit more special for breakfast on Sundays. I have more time, and Daddy is home to enjoy breakfast with the family. So this morning, I made coconut and citrus scented oatmeal and these blackberry scones. I looked online for a recipe for blackberry scones and found one that I augmented quite a bit. The concept was good, but I like a bit more depth of texture in my scone, so I added cornmeal and whole wheat flour to the white flour it called for. The drizzle on top...Oh, man. It makes the flavors come alive. 

1 1/4 cup frozen blackberries
1 Tb. flour
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tb. cornmeal
3/4 Tb. baking powder
3 Tb. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
6 Tb. Earth Balance margarine
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tb. Earth Balance margarine

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Pour blackberries into a small bowl and toss them in 1 Tb. flour. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Cut in margarine or mix with fingers until the texture of the mix is pebbly. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients. 

In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, stir together canned coconut milk and vanilla.  Add all at once to the dry ingredients. (My daughter enjoyed helping me with this part!) Stir together with a fork until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times until it's somewhat smooth. Add blackberries. I did this by making a small disk shape with my dough and pouring the blackberries into the middle of the dough disk. I then folded one side of the disk over and lightly pressed down, repeating with the other side of the dough. Gently pull and press the dough maybe a total of 4 times before shaping into an 8-in. round circle about 3/4 in. thick.

Cut the dough circle into 8 wedges and place wedges onto ungreased cookie sheet, leaving about 1-in. space between each piece. Cut 1 Tb. of Earth Balance margarine into small pieces. Place a small dab of margarine on each wedge before popping them into the oven to bake. Bake for approximately 21 minutes, or until the tops are beautifully golden brown.

Remove from oven. Drizzle warm scones with the following lemon icing and allow to cool for a few minutes to harden the icing. 

Lemon Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 Tb. lemon juice

Place 1 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add lemon juice, one tablespoon at a time, stirring well, until you get a nice thick drizzling consistency. The icing should cling to the spoon a little bit like honey. 

Enjoy on these blackberry scones or  blueberry cornmeal scones.

Cranberry Walnut Applesauce Muffins

Making good food for my family brings me this sense of satisfaction that nothing else quite can. I felt that satisfaction after making these muffins. They are hearty, moist, and super tasty! And the fact that they have applesauce in them makes me even more happy. The applesauce allows the muffins to retain their moistness, without eggs or a large amount of oil. The recipe does call for oil, but you could experiment with all applesauce (just substitute on a 1 to 1 ratio: 1/2 a cup of applesauce to 1/2 cup oil, etc.).

I originally made these with dried cranberries and fresh pears, and they were delicious. The next time I made them, I added ground English walnuts instead.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tb. ground flax seed mixed with 6 Tbs. water
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups applesauce
1/2 cup cooking oil (or increase the amount of applesauce by 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup ground walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners, or spray lightly with cooking spray. You may not use all the liners, but be prepared just in case.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, cinnamon, soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine flax seed mixture, brown sugar, applesauce and oil (if using). Add wet ingredients to dry, and fold and stir gently to combine well. Mix in cranberries and walnuts.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling about 2/3 full. I used a large ice cream scoop and one scoop was a perfect fit. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown or a toothpick or skewer inserted into a muffin emerges clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from tins and serve warm.

My toddler son has requested these for breakfast the past two mornings in a row.
"Mommy, muffin." "Charlie, would you like a muffin?" "Yes, pease." "Ok, baby, you can have a muffin!" (Smiling on the inside, because I know he's getting the good stuff.)