I haven’t been around in a while. Oops. It’s more than a lack of posts though– I’ve barely been cooking.
Along with the new year, I set some food goals with the hopes of improving my health and my food budget. I have (more or less) stuck to a menu for the last week, and actually gone into the grocery store with a (somewhat vague) list. If this doesn’t seem like it could possibly be an improvement, check out how much I like to bend the rules in Confession Time: I Hate Recipes.
One of my rules is that I will not buy desserts at the store. This rule was easier to follow when my dairy allergy was in full swing. Now that I can have small amounts of milk products without serious effects, I’ve been cheating. A lot. In fact, I’ve probably bought 5 or 6 desserts since the rule went into effect. Bad Nessa!
But this past week, I decided to be good. My kitchen was clean– a major feat– so I decided to make some muffins. First, I made Orange Cranberry ones (From the Company’s Coming Muffins and More book– they are delicious! And dairy free without any substitutions). My son has a thing against banana and chocolate chips in muffins, so I have to work a little harder to please him. Of course, my second batch was Oatmeal, banana, chocolate chip. I do NOT share my son’s dislike of these ingredients. I needed to make some high protein snacks for my kids’ lunches, and was working on some baked bacon omelette muffins when I got a craving for a savory muffin– a real muffin, not just scrambled eggs that look like muffins.
When I was in high school, the grocery store in my town (Yes, there was only one) made the BEST veggie cheese bread. My mom would buy a loaf and the two of us would sit at the table and devour it in under half an hour. This is a LARGE loaf of bread. I’ve tried to replicate this bread multiple times with no success– it was always mushy and flavourless. No longer. Lately, my husband and I have been oven roasting our veggies. They caramelize a little, get crispy, and are full of flavour. And they would be PERFECT in my veggie bread. So would the bacon I was cooking up for the egg muffins.
I found a base recipe for cheese and bacon muffins (again in the Muffins and More book), and started tweaking to get the flavour and texture I wanted. Sub some of the white flour for whole wheat, use rice milk, cut back on the cheese, and pile on the veggies.
*** A side note on cheese. I can eat cheese again. I shouldn’t, but I can. I understand that a lot of you come here for dairy free recipes. These muffins will still be WONDERFUL without the cheese. Or you can use your favourite dairy free cheese substitute. I’ve heard awesome things about Daiya Cheese but it’s made with coconut oil and I’d rather not risk my life. If you can have coconut, go ahead and try it.***
*** A side note on bacon. Yes, I know that nitrates and nitrites are bad you us and that they cause cancer. Having had cancer already I should stay far away from them. Agreed 100%. And yet, I’m posting a recipe that involves bacon. Again. If you’ve never tried my Dairy Free spinach and bacon pinwheels, you don’t know what you’re missing! While it’s harder to find, uncured bacon is available at many grocery stores. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s. If you have one in your area, I highly recommend it. The uncured bacon is applewood smoked, delicious, and only $2.99 a pound if you buy the ends and pieces. Bacon is bacon, even if it’s not pretty. I just check the package to make sure there are no HUGE chunks. I want bacon, not pork belly.***
Bacon and Veggie Muffins
2 cups of chopped broccoli (about 1/2″ pieces)
3 carrots, peeled and grated or shaved with veggie peeler
2 TBSP oil– olive or melted fat of your choice
2 TSP seasoning salt or favorite seasoning blend.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 TBSP granulated sugar
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 TSP salt
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese or cheese substitute (Optional)
5 slices of cooked and crumbled uncured bacon
1 lightly beaten egg
1 cup milk or milk substitute
1/4 cup fat of your choice– oil, butter or bacon drippings (I use the bacon drippings– they add more flavour)
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Chop and grate veggies. place in a bowl with oil and seasoning and stir to coat. Hands work better than a spoon. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Veggies should be slightly shrunken and lightly browned. Try to resist snacking on the baked veggies (Or just double this part of the recipe– the baked carrots are sweet and crunchy and the broccoli is better than potato chips!)
3. Increase oven temp to 400.
4. Stir together the next seven ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center.
5. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg, and mix in the milk/substitute and oil/fat.
6. Pour the egg mixture into the well in the dry ingredients and stir just enough to form a lumpy batter.
7. Divide the batter into 12 greased or paper lined muffin tins– about 3/4 full.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy warm. Refrigerate any muffins you won’t consume in the next 24 hours.
Or ignore that last bit. They won’t last 24 hours.
This recipe is further customizable. There are three distinct flavours in here: bacon, cheese, and veggies. You need at least two of them, but you could omit any one of the three and still have a really tasty muffin. Without the cheese, they’re dairy free. Without the bacon, they’re vegetarian. Without the veggies, you can’t pretend they’re healthy anymore, but they’re still delicious.
Also, feel free to change up the veggies. The bread my mom and I loved also had onion and cauliflower. Diced and sauteed onion would add extra flavour. Cauliflower can be prepared the same way as the broccoli before adding. Sun dried tomatoes would add sweet, bright notes. Pepper flakes would add a touch of heat. Get creative.
Let me know how this recipe turned out for you, and what your favourite flavour combinations are.