Breads Breakfast/Brunch Uncategorized

Banana Pecan Oat Bran Muffins

    Banana Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
    Banana Pecan Oat Bran Muffins

    I’m still on an oat bran kick after purchasing a package of oat bran at Trader Joe’s. This recipe provides a scrumptious way to use bananas that have gotten just a little too ripe. This is not a super low-fat recipe, like the previous post, where I substituted applesauce for some of the oil and used minimal amounts of sugar. These are a bit more traditional, but the oat bran, whole wheat flour and bananas definitely make them relatively guilt-free. Yes?

    Banana Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
    Banana Pecan Oat Bran Muffins

    Banana Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
    Makes a dozen muffins


    3/4 cup all-purpose bleached flour
    3/4 cup whole wheat flour
    1 cup oat bran
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 Tbsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    3/4 cup milk
    1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted
    2 egg whites
    1 tsp vanilla
    2 ripe bananas, mashed
    1/2 cup – 1 cup chopped pecans


    1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

    2. In a large bowl, mix together the first 6 ingredients.

    3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, butter, egg whites and vanilla.

    4. Pour milk mixture into dry ingredients and stir to just combine. Stir in bananas and fold in 1/2 cup of pecans.

    5. Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup (optional) pecans on top of the muffins. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool slightly before serving.

    Banana Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
    Banana Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
      Breads Breakfast/Brunch Vegetarian

      Spiced Fig & Pecan Oat Bran Muffins

        Spiced Fig and Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
        Spiced Fig and Pecan Oat Bran Muffins

        Recently, I’ve been enjoying the blueberry bran muffins at Peet’s Coffee I’ve noticed how I don’t have my normal mid-morning hunger pangs as a result. So that set me to thinking it’s time to add bran muffins to my cooking repertoire. I purchased whole wheat flour and oat bran at Trader Joe’s as well as some dried fruits, like apricots, dates and… figs. So today, I tried a fig and oat bran muffin and it came out great.

        I really tried to make this a healthy, low-fat recipe, so instead of my normal “stick of melted butter,” this recipe has a mixture of applesauce and canola oil for the fat. It has a bit of brown sugar, but not too much and no white sugar. And, of course, it has whole wheat flour and oat bran. The orange peel and spices make it a nice holiday (healthy) treat.

        Spiced Fig & Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
        Spiced Fig & Pecan Oat Bran Muffins

        Spiced Fig & Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
        Makes 14 Muffins


        1 cup all-purpose (bleached) flour
        1/2 cup whole wheat flour
        1/2 cup oat bran
        2 tsp ground cinnamon
        1/2 tsp ground allspice
        1/4 tsp ground cloves
        2 tsp baking powder
        1 tsp baking soda
        1/2 tsp salt
        1 cup finely chopped dried Black Mission Figs
        1/2 cup chopped pecans
        1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
        2 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
        3 Tbsp apple sauce
        2 large eggs
        1 cup Stonyfield Farms Oikos Yogurt (or other Greek yogurt)
        1/4 cup 2% milk
        1 Tbsp vanilla extract
        Grated peel of 2 clementines (about 2 tsp)


        1. Preheat oven to 400˚F. Line muffin tins with papers and spray inside of papers lightly with nonstick cooking spray (optional).

        2. Mix together the first 9 ingredients (all dry) in a medium bowl. Stir in figs and pecans. Set aside.

        3. Mix together the brown sugar, oil and applesauce. Whisk in the 2 eggs until well blended. Stir in the yogurt and the milk. Whisk in the vanilla and stir in the grated peel.

        4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until blended. Don’t overmix. Drop batter into paper cups, dividing evenly.

        5. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

        6. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

        Spiced Fig & Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
        Spiced Fig & Pecan Oat Bran Muffins
          Dessert Uncategorized

          Cranberry Kuchen

            Cranberry Kuchen
            Cranberry Kuchen

            With all of these fresh cranberries at the grocery store right now, I’ve been inspired to try out some new recipes. This one comes from an old, out-of-print, Martha Stewart cookbook I have, called Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook: 200 easy and elegant recipes from the author of Entertaining.

            I’ve had this book for almost 20 years and it is still a “go-to” for me. Back then, it was the first cookbook I used when attempting to host elegant dinner parties for my friends (at the ripe old age of 20). The fact that this was her version of a 30-minute meal was lost on me. It all seemed so over-the-top. Menus like: Chicken Paillard, Risotto with Porcini, Hot Salad of Escarole and Pancetta, Italian Flat Breads and Oranges in Red Wine don’t exactly evoke the thought, “quick and easy,” but indeed, while these recipes are very elegant, they’re not sooo time-consuming.

            Like this cranberry kuchen for example. Basically, you make a compote in one pan, whip up a batter in a bowl, pour them both in a cake pan and bake. If you have an oven-proof, decorative, round pan, then definitely bake it in that. Then you’ve got oven-to-table ease. A springform pan would be another way to go. I currently have neither of those, so I ended up cutting the cake into bite-size pieces and serving them on a platter, which would be a good way to present it on a buffet table. It’s definitely best served hot from the oven. That way, the cake part is moist and fluffy and the cranberry compote is warm and comforting. It’s almost like a cobbler in that state. You can also serve it with cream and a sprinkling of sugar.

            Martha’s recipe calls for the juice and zest of an orange. I decided to try it with a grapefruit and compensate with a little extra sugar. It was fine, but an orange might be better. Try it and let me know what you think.

            The other substitution I made was to substitute Oikos Greek Yogurt for the sour cream that is called for in Martha’s version. The nice people at Stonyfield Farms recently sent me a few free sample coupons, so I’ve been using it in recipes that call for sour cream and it’s great. It has absolutely NO fat in it. Amazing.

            Stonyfield Farms Oikos Greek Yogurt
            Stonyfield Farms Oikos Greek Yogurt

            Cranberry Kuchen
            (Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook)
            Makes one 9-inch round cake


            12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
            1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
            1/4 cup water
            Juice of 1 grapefruit

            2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
            2/4 cup sugar
            3 eggs
            2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
            2 1/4 tsp baking powder
            3/4 cups milk
            3 Tbsp Stonyfield Farms™ Oikos yogurt
            Grated rind of 1 grapefruit
            Fresh grated nutmeg to taste


            1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9-inch round baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

            2. In a small saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for the topping. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook until the cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Set aside.

            3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, stirring well to incorporate.

            4. Sift together the flour and the baking powder. Stir the flour into the butter mixture, a little at a time, alternating with the milk and the yogurt. Stir in the grapefruit rind and nutmeg.

            5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and top with the cranberry mixture. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and serve immediately with cream and a sprinkling of sugar.

              Casseroles Pizza and Pasta Sides Uncategorized

              Dungeness Crab Mac-n-Cheese

                Dungeness Crab Mac n Cheese
                Dungeness Crab Mac n Cheese

                The Dungeness Crab season is in full swing here in the Bay Area and while my appreciation for Dungeness Crab is limited by my upbringing on the Eastern Shore of MD (Chesapeake country, blue crabs), I can’t resist this pale imitation once a year, so when I saw the price had dropped to $5.99/lb at Mollie Stone’s, I jumped. I paid $9.50 for a single crab which yielded about 1 cup of crabmeat.

                Last year, I made a crab-picking video which has been playing continuously ever since on my livestream channel. You can check it out here: It’s embarrassing for me to watch and I can’t stand the sound of my own voice, so although I host StreamingGourmet (the blog and video site) I don’t make very many videos. I felt compelled to demonstrate how easy it can be to yank big chunks of crab meat out of the back fin of a crab, though, since it can be a little intimidating. I like to confess that I picked dungeness crab on my very first date with my (now) husband, so if he can fall in love with me with crab juice dripping down my chin and crab meat wedged in my fingernails, then we’ll probably be fine when we’re 65.

                Dungeness Crab
                Dungeness Crab

                Dungeness Crab Mac-n-Cheese
                Serves 3-4

                1/2 lb penne
                Olive oil
                1 cup heavy cream
                1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
                1 cup shredded Gruyére cheese
                1 tsp salt
                freshly ground pepper
                freshly grated nutmeg
                1 Tbsp butter
                1/4 cup chopped onion
                1 large clove of garlic, minced
                1 cup crab meat
                1/2 cup white wine
                1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
                1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
                a few dabs of butter


                1. Prepare penne according to al dente package directions. When drained, toss with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking together while you prepare the other elements of the dish. Set aside.

                2. Preheat oven to 350˚F.

                It’s best if you work on steps 3 and 4 simultaneously. Read them through to see what I mean.

                3. In a medium saucepan, slowly bring the cream to a boil. Allow it to thicken and reduce by half, watching carefully not to scald the cream or let it boil over. Turn off the heat and let it cool for about a minute. Then add the cheddar and Gruyére cheeses in small batches, incorporating each batch before adding the next. Try not to over stir the mixture as this could make it stringy. Halfway through adding the cheese, you can pop the heat back on low, but be careful to keep the heat as low as possible while still promoting the melting process. Heat that is too high will cause the cheese fats to separate from the proteins. If that happens, there’s no going back. After the last batch of shredded cheese is incorporated, add salt, pepper and nutmeg to the sauce. Turn off heat and let sit, stirring occasionally.

                4. While the milk is simmering and reducing, (before you are melting the cheese into it) prepare the other part of the sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sautée until onions are softened, but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer to reduce wine by half, about 15 minutes. Add crab meat and continue to simmer until wine has reduced by half again. Remove from heat.

                5. Stir the wine & crab meat mixture into the cheese sauce until fully combined. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. (You could also prepare this dish in individual serving-sized gratin dishes). Add pasta to the casserole dish and then pour the wine/cheese sauce over the pasta and toss to combine. Top with bread crumbs. Dab with butter and sprinkle Parmesan cheese across the top.

                6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly. If the top is not browned by the end of the baking process, stick it under the broiler for a few minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then enjoy immediately.

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