Tag Archives: snack

Carrot…pie? A Recipe Swap and a giveaway!

Perhaps I reacted to this month’s Burwell General Store Recipe Swap recipe a little differently than most people. I was ready to cook up some carrots and bake a pie! Carrot pie sounded like another delicious variation of some of my favorite pies: pumpkin and sweet potato. Could carrot pie be even better because of what it has in common with carrot cake (my absolute favorite)?

I wanted to find out whether another orange vegetable would make a lovely, fall-flavored pie so I decided to stick closely to the original recipe. That turned out to be pretty easy, since the recipe was so vague that I didn’t have a rigid ingredient list to follow. It reads something like an oral history gathered by some culinary folklorist. Can I have that job, please?

I steamed “the carrots”, added them to milk and eggs, sweetened them with sugar, and added cinnamon for spice. That wasn’t all, of course. The full recipe is at the bottom of this post. My take on carrot pie includes ricotta cheese and allspice but no crust. I gave up baking custard pies in crust long ago. All I want is the filling so baking that in little ramekins or muffin cups makes dessert much more enjoyable to me.

Individual custard cups may not be quite as pretty as a whole pie and sometimes it’s nice to have some crunch with your silky-smooth filling. That’s where this bag of granola comes in!

I happened to have a bag of Cherry Berry Granola in my pantry from the NatureBox each blogger received as part of the Foodbuzz Festival gift bag. NatureBox delivers a monthly package of healthy snacks anywhere you need them (in the U.S.). They come in neat little resealable pouches and have already saved me from a snack black hole at least once. I love the dried fruit, nut mix, and Blueberry Almond Bites but I’m especially excited about the granola, since it’s on the light side – just how I like granola – with a good ratio of oats to whole almonds and dried berries.

The crunchy granola was a perfect topping for my carrot custard, which was still warm and gooey when I snacked on it yesterday afternoon. It was reminiscent of pumpkin or sweet potato pie but with more substance, thanks to the ricotta cheese, and plenty of flavor from the vanilla bean and spices. Lee and I did a bike/run brick workout that morning so I snacked for the rest of the day. The rest of my little carrot pies went in the fridge for weeknight desserts.

 

If you’d like to try some healthy, convenient snacks for yourself, NatureBox has generously offered one of their future month’s boxes to one of my lucky readers! All you have to do is comment on this post telling my where and when you most need a snack during the day. The winner will be chosen at random from those comments. One entry per person, please. I will announce the winner in 1 week. At this time, NatureBox can only deliver to U.S. addresses and cannot customize box contents. Be sure to check out the NatureBox Blog for delicious recipes and snack ideas!

You’ll also find inventive recipes inspired by carrot pie from my fellow recipe swappers below.



Little Crustless Carrot Pies

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 half-cup ramekins

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized carrots
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese*
  • 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar, brown sugar, or other sweetener of choice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut carrots into 1 inch chunks and steam until tender.
  3. Puree carrots in a food processor or using a hand blender.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs.
  5. Add ricotta cheese, milk, sugar, spices, salt, and vanilla, stirring with a whisk until well blended.
  6. Add carrots and stir until combined.
  7. Pour batter into ramekins coated with a little oil or silicone muffin liners. Place these on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until the center of each pie is solid and the edges begin to pull away from the dish.
  9. Cool on a wire rack until ready to eat.
  10. Pies may be served warm or chilled, topped with granola, cookie crumbs, or even whipped cream. If using muffin cups, you may remove pies form the cups before serving as long as they are significantly cooled.

Notes

* Yogurt or pureed tofu may be substituted for ricotta.

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Chocolate trail mix muffins

I don’t know what I’d do without snacks. Granola bars, fruit, string cheese, and handfuls of nuts sustain me between meals. There’s nothing wrong with having a snack, as far as I’m concerned, and in a lot of cases it’s absolutely necessary to keep body and brain going!

My morning snacks are usually some kind of granola bar, lately these, a handful of trail mix, or various more complicated things if I’m at home. It’s protein and healthy fat that keeps me going through the rest of the morning.

After weeks of packing the same snacks for all my work days I finally got sick of them last week. Not only was I bored with what I was eating, but I was also tired of spending money on pre-made snacks. The solution: make muffins!

Last weekend was a relatively quiet one – perfect for baking. Lee was invited to race on a boat on Saturday and had to work all day Sunday (ah, startups). I stayed home and relaxed with the dog. That was probably our last weekend at home for a while so I soaked up the leisure time while I could. I thought about projects that need doing but didn’t really accomplish much. Finally planting our backyard herb garden still had me feeling accomplished from the weekend before.

On Sunday I pulled various ingredients out of my ugly pantry cupboards (I swear I’m going to rip those things out one of these days. That’s one of those projects…). I made something new that I hoped would meet my morning snack needs for the coming week. With trail mix as my inspiration and chocolate as my canvas, I chopped, stirred, and sprinkled my way to chocolate trail mix muffins.

Chocolate Trail Mix Muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup hemp protein powder (or your preferred protein powder, or another 1/4 cup flour)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 6 prunes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. If your coconut oil is solid, measure 1/4 cup into a small oven-proof dish and place in the oven to liquify while the oven preheats.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flours, protein powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder, stirring with a whisk or fork until ingredients are completely combined
  4. Separately, lightly beat the egg in a medium-sized bowl. Then add the buttermilk, sugar, and oil (you may want to allow the oil to cool for a couple of minutes after taking it out of the oven).
  5. Thoroughly blend wet ingredients before stirring in almond extract.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently until barely combined.
  7. Add almonds, sunflower seeds, and prunes and fold into batter, being careful not to over stir.
  8. Spoon batter into a prepared muffin tin (lined with paper or silicon muffin cups or coated with oil).
  9. Sprinkle the muffin tops with shredded coconut.
  10. Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes or until muffins are firm and the coconut has just begun to brown.
  11. Remove muffins from oven and cool on a wire rack.
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Naturally sweetened carrot rice pudding bites

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Those look good, don’t they? Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks prickly little hunks of healthy stuff look appetizing. Humor me.

Grab a carrot, pull that bucket of dates off the top shelf in your pantry (What? You don’t have a huge container of dates in your pantry? Well go get some!) Put those cashews you’ve been munching on for days to good use. I know you have leftover rice or some other grain in your fridge.

This isn’t so much a recipe post as it is a post about creativity. I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity over the past couple days. Training for my new museum internship started this week and learning through creative design is the institutions main focus.

Creativity…design…those are two crucial aspects of blogging as well as more aspects of our life than we probably realize. They have always been intimidating words for me. I’ve never considered myself to be an “artsy” person and in certain circumstances I’ve felt uncomfortable pressure to be “creative”. Design? How could I ever design anything?

So far, what I’ve learned about creativity in my internship is more relevant to this blog than I thought it would be. I have fresh motivation and renewed ambition. I cannot wait to see what I can really do with this blog if I let loose and break free of how I think things should be. Let’s just find out where this goes.

What does this have to do with carrot rice pudding bites? Carrot rice pudding bites are what happens when I let myself get creative with food. I have some kind of craving for a particular taste, flavor, shape, or texture. I have certain ingredients at my disposal. I really, really want to use something because it’s been in the fridge for bordering-on too long. I look at some recipes – thumbing through cookbooks and clicking through bookmarks online. In the end, I get pull out some ingredients, mash them together in a bowl, smoosh them into a mini-muffin tin, and bake them.

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How do they taste? Pretty good for being a total experiment in culinary creativity. Did Lee and I eat all of these tasty bites? You betcha – every last sticky-sweet little bite.

Unfortunately, I have not quite mastered the practice of writing down what I’m doing when I’m experimenting in the kitchen. Thus, I don’t have a recipe. That said, I think wads/bites/hunks/balls like this are best made as free-form, creative, recipe-free items. Here are the basic components and a method that seemed to work for me at least once.

Naturally Sweetened Carrot Rice Pudding Bites

dates: 10 small pitted
cashews: 1/2 cup, raw

Chop these up in a food processor. Pour this mix into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.

carrot: 1 medium, grated
cooked brown rice: maybe 1 1/2 – 2 cups
spices: allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger…you know, those yummy ones…as much or as little of them as you like
flour, whatever kind you want (I used millet flour): 2 tablespoons
egg, beaten: 1 (or make it vegan with 2 tbsp flaxseed meal + 1/4 cup water)

scoop “dough” into a lightly oiled mini muffin pan or onto a cookie sheet (also lightly oiled or lined with parchment/Silpat)
Bake at 375 F. for 10-12 minutes, or until muffins/balls are firm and starting to brown.

Munch away! These are surprisingly sweet for containing no processed sugar.

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