Tag Archives: Breads

Oatmeal Blueberry Pecan Muffins

10 Mar

When it comes to muffins, if theres a way I can make a couple substitutions to make them healthier, I will. I’ve experimented a lot with healthy cookies made with whole wheat flower, flaxseed, dried fruits and nuts, etc, but in the long run I prefer to keep my desserts desserts. Muffins are a different story. I think of them as being more of a breakfast food, not a dessert.(Although I certainly have never been opposed to smearing some cream cheese frosting over the top of my banana or carrot muffins. Or some powdered sugar. Or some chocolate.)

So when I was doing my weekly browsing of epicurious, adding ideas to my recipe box, and I came upon these, I was thrilled. They’re called “Oatmeal Muffins”, a misleading title because they are so much more than that. They’re really like a bowl of oatmeal in muffin form. They use no butter and very little flour, and considering those are usually the main ingredients in muffins, these are almost a different breed of food altogether. They’re also completely stuffed with blueberries and chopped pecans, both excellent toppings for oatmeal in its traditional form. And, they contain Wheat Germ, one of my favorite power foods. Wheat Germ is basically a concentrated version of essential nutrients: Vitamin E, Fatty acids, Zinc, Magnesium, and our favorite, Folic Acid. I know I’ve talked about folate before but if you need a refresher on all its health benefits you should read the Wiki page.

If you are making these in the summer, feel free to use fresh blueberries. Otherwise, go with frozen. Frozen blueberries will be perfectly ripe, even sized, and easy to deal with. Plus, you can use the leftovers to make Blueberry Acai bowls or smoothies, or just eat them straight out of the pack still frozen (one of my favorite late night snacks). You could also try different variations, and use a mixture of berries instead.

These make a great eat-breakfast-on-your-way-to-work food.

Oatmeal Blueberry Pecan Muffins

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 8 large or 18 standard muffins


Nonstick vegetable oil spray (or butter + flour, or whatever your chosen greasing method is)

2 1/3 cups quick oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons natural oat bran

2 tablespoons wheat germ

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup canola oil

1 large egg

1/2 cup canola oil

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup boiling water

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen wild blueberries

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8 large muffin cups (1-cup capacity) or 18 standard muffin cups (1/3-cup capacity) with nonstick spray. Whisk oats and next 9 ingredients in large bowl. Add buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla; whisk to blend. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and let stand 5 minutes. Fold in blueberries. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups.

Bake muffins until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 28 minutes for large muffins and 20 minutes for standard muffins. Cool 10 minutes. Turn muffins out onto rack; cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Moroccan Chickpea Flatbread

10 Aug

While I was in Vegas this year, I spent a lot of time at the Rio sweating whoever was playing a tournament at the WSOP. Toward the end of the trip, that was Jay, during the Main Event.  They only had an hour and a half break for dinner, so we usually ended up going to the closest and most decent restaurant: which was Gaylord Indian Restaurant.  Usually I am really not up for Indian food-it is definitely low on my list of preferred cuisines (although Amanda tells me that will change once I eat good Indian in London), but one item I did love was these cracker rounds with olive oil and cumin seeds they give you when you sit down.

So, naturally, when I was home and settled back in NY, I wanted to try to make something similar.  Well, these aren’t  THAT similar, but they are better. The flatbread has whole cracked cumin seeds, which gives it that distinctive nutty taste, and chickpeas, which adds some protein and moistens the texture. I found the recipe toward the end of Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef Takes Off. They are so easy to make and this recipe makes a big enough batch to have leftovers for a couple of days! I served these hot with a bunch of dips and tapas (Warm Spinach-feta, olive tapenade, tabbouleh, and curried lentils: Recipes to come!!!)

Moroccan Chickpea Flatbread

From Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef Takes Off


1 oz fresh yeast or 3/4 oz active dried yeast (three 1/4 oz packages)

2 tablespoons honey (or sugar)

just over 2 cups tepid water

just over 2lb bread flour (6 to 8 cups)

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly cracked

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, lightly cracked

one 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained and mashed

some extra flour for dusting

Stage 1

Dissolve the yeast and honey (or sugar) in half the tepid water.

Stage 2

In a large bowl, make a pile of the flour and salt.  Make a well in the center and pour in all the dissolved yeast mixture.  With 4 fingers of one hand, make circular movements from the center moving outward, slowly bringing in more nd more of the flour until all the yeast mixture is soaked up.  Then pour the other half of the tepid water into the center and gradually incorporate all the flour to make a moist dough.  (Some flours need more water, so don’t hesitate to adjust the quantities.)  At this point you should add the cumin, coriander, and chickpeas to the dough.

Stage 3

Kneading! Just rolling, pushing, and folding the dough over and over for 5 minutes.  This will develop the gluten and structure of the dough.  If any dough sticks to your hands, just rub them with a bit of flour.

Stage 4

Flour both your hands well, and lightly flour the top of the dough.  Make it into a roundish shape and place on a baking tray.  Deeply score the dough with a knife–allowing it to relax and rise with ease.  Leave it to rise until it’s doubled in size, preferably in a warm, moist environment for the quickest rise (cover it with plastic wrap to speed things up). This process improves the flavor and texture of the dough and takes around 40 minutes, depending on the conditions.

Stage 5

When the dough has doubled in size you need to punch the air out of it by bashing it around for a minute.  Divide your bath of dough into 10-12 pieces.  Roll  out each of these to 1/4 inch thick and gently pull out into a slightly irregular oval shape. Cook 1 or 2 at a time, depending on the size of your oven, directly on the rack of a preheated oven at 450°. They take about 4 minutes to cook and puff up quite a bit.  Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

Homemade Pitas

6 Mar

Last night, when I wandered into the kitchen trying to figure out what to make for dinner, I was sure I was out of luck.  No chicken, no meats (not even deli meat that I could perhaps use to make fried rice), no tofu, etc.  I didn’t even have pasta, rice, or eggs to make breakfast for dinner. I generally focus most of my meals around the protein, unless I’m making an Italian dish.

But, alas, I DID have protein in the kitchen.  As an omnivore living with a super-omnivore, I tend to forget about those items that are chock-full of protein but weren’t once swimming or walking…LEGUMES.

I had a huge bag of dried French lentils (my favorite kind) in the cupboard, as well as several cans of chickpeas. In the end, I put together these Falafel sandwiches with lentil salad, hummus, and greens.

BUT, here is the best part — Since I didn’t have any pita, I decided I would try to make my own — and I’m so glad that I did!!  I cut out a lot of the waiting time from the recipe, but they still came out great!!! It made what might have been a mediocre meal into an amazing one.  I will never buy pita again, because these babies were DELICIOUS.

Pita Bread
Courtesy of The Bread Bible


3 cups plus a scant 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for a scant 1/4 cup of the flour. With a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until all the flour is moistened. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together.

Sprinkle a little of the reserved flour onto the counter and scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding as little of the reserved flour as possible. Use a bench scraper to scrape the dough and gather it together as you knead it. At this point it will be very sticky. Cover it with the inverted bowl and allow it to rest for 5 to 20 minutes. (This rest will make the dough less sticky and easier to work with.)

Knead the dough for another 5 to 10 minutes or until it is soft and smooth and just a little sticky to the touch. Add a little flour or water if necessary.

2. Let the dough rise: Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2-quart or larger dough-rising container or bowl, lightly greased with cooking spray or oil. Press the dough down and lightly spray or oil the top of it. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough would be. Refrigerate the dough overnight (or up to 3 days), checking every hour for the first 4 hours and pressing it down if it starts to rise. (I only refrigerated it for 1 1/2 hours and it was fine).

3. Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 475°F one hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone, cast-iron skillet, or baking sheet on it before preheating.

4. Shape the dough: Cut the dough into 8 or 12 pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the rest covered with a damp cloth. On a lightly floured counter, with lightly floured hands, shape each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with oiled plastic and allow it to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Roll each disk into a circle a little under 1/4 inch thick. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before baking.

5. Bake the pita: Quickly place 1 piece of dough directly on the stone or in the skillet or on the baking sheet, and bake for 3 minutes. The pita should be completely puffed but not beginning to brown. The dough will not puff well if it is not moist enough. See how the pita puffs, then, if necessary, spray and knead each remaining piece with water until the dough is soft and moist; allow to rest again and reroll as before.