Autumn Fruit Muesli

Wow, it’s November and it’s been a loooong time since I posted. Partly it’s because I have been saving up ideas for Vegan MoFo (woo woo) and partly it’s because I’ve been busy. But I’m really going to try to commit to this MoFo business again this year because it was so fun last year, and I got a lot out of it.

So, I’m kicking it off with my favorite breakfast cereal. Go go, Muesli!

There are a lot of reasons that I (heart) muesli. It’s really versatile, but it has less fat than granola and no added sugar. Oats are the base, which are super high in fiber and nutrients (including iron and thiamin). Best of all, you can customize the flavors of your muesli any way you like. I have listed an autumn version here, but in the spring time I might do berries and almonds and cardamom or in summer I might do pineapple and cashews and lime. You can sub in barley flakes* for some of the oats, use any kind of dried fruit or nut or seed you like. Sometimes I mix it up just because I’m trying to clean out the pantry, rather than go with a seasonal variation. These basic proportions will get you started, but mix it up however you like.

And let me know: what variations did you try?? What was successful? Or NOT??

* If using barley flakes, just note that they are not gluten-free.

Autumn Fruit Musesli

Ingredients

  • 6 cups rolled oats (make sure to look for gluten-free oats if that is a concern to you)
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dried apples
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dried banana
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed kernels
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon (optional)
  • several dashes fresh grated nutmeg (optional)

Method

Preheat oven to 350F.

If your pecan pieces are big, give them a rough chop. Spread oats and pecans over the base of a roasting pan or a few cookie sheets (I have a big tin roasting pan that I bought at the grocery store for about $1, specifically for this purpose). Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring or shaking every 10 min or so. Your nose will tell you when it’s about ready, the oats and the nuts will smell fragrant and…well, nutty. Let the mixture cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mix all remaining ingredients in a large bowl. When oat mixture is cool enough to handle, add to the bowl and toss to combine. I like to use clean hands for this.

Store in an airtight container (I use a two-quart mason jar with a lid). Serve with almond milk, non-dairy yogurt, and some seasonal fresh fruit.

Makes about 10 cups of muesli.

Strawberry Lime Marmalade

Hello world! I’ve been super busy these past few months, but I’m really thrilled that it’s finally farmers’ market  season here in the mid-atlantic. I will be flexing my canning and preserving muscles in the coming months in oreder to try to hang onto some of this wonderful summer flavor well into the winter. Strawberries are still coming into the markets right now, so I’ve been making jam and preserves. I thought I’d try something a little different with one of the batches I was working on so I modified a recipe out of the Ball Blue Book and created a gorgeous strawberry lime marmalade.

Now, I was a little hesitant to call this a marmalade because–for me at least–the word “marmalade” conjures up memories of a bitter orange jam. But the step of boiling the peel before you make the jam draws out all the bitter flavors and you are left with just a pleasant lime taste. Technically, anything with citrus peel in it is considered marmalade. So I went with it.

There are a couple of ways to get the peel you need. The easiest way is to use a vegetable peeler to peel thin slices of the rind and then chop that. But I was very concerned about bitter flavors and wanted to make sure I just got the zest, so I used a zester instead. (There is a picture with my Lime Icebox Cookies post of the tool I used if you are not sure what I’m talking about.) I needed to zest about 3 limes to get the amount that I needed.

If you are new to canning, I highly recommend the book Putting Food By as an excellent primer on all methods of food preservation.

Strawberry Lime Marmalade

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced lime peel
  • Two generous quarts strawberries, washed and hulled, any bad spots trimmed
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 6 cups sugar

Special Equipment

  • 7-8 half-pint jars with lids and rings, sterilized
  • Jar lifter
  • Jar funnel
  • Lid lifter
  • Boiling water canner

Method

Cover lime peel with water and boil 5 minutes. Drain and discard the liquid (trust me, it is too bitter to use for anything).

Meanwhile, place the strawberries in a very large pot (I use an 8 quart pot) and crush with a potato masher until there are no whole pieces and lots of juice has come out; it should measure about 4 cups. Add the drained lime peel, lime juice, and powdered pectin and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and skim the foam. Ladle into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Adjust lids and rings. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.

Leave on the counter untouched for 24 hours before checking seals. Remove rings and label the jam. Store in a cool place. Any jars that did not seal can be stored in the refrigerator.

Luscious Lime Ice Box Cookies

Food-091115-0004Whew! It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Life has been crazy, between work and school and a hard drive crash on my home computer. But I’m easing back into it today with one of my favorite flavors: LIME.

Food-091115-0001I can’t take credit for this recipe, as it is just a minor tweak of the Grapefruit Ice Box Cookies from the book Vegan Cookies Take Over Your Cookie Jar by the amazing Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. The original recipe is here, but I’ve listed it again below with my changes to make it limey.

While I thought the original recipe featuring ruby red grapefruit sounded excellent, my DH has an aversion to anything grapefruit. But after a foolish CostCo run recently where I found myself in possession of 10lbs of limes (why??), I decided to use some of them up on these cookies. And I am *so* glad I did! The sweet lime flavor of these cookies is so bright and citrusy, and the shortbread has just the right balance between tenderness and crispness. I love them!

Food-091115-0002DH loves them too…he walked into the kitchen this morning to announce that they were a hit, as he had eaten several for breakfast; I considered this a victory as he had seemed less than lukewarm about the lime idea when I had originally pitched it to him. Go lime!

Other modifications: I used waxed paper to roll up the cookies instead of parchment, and I baked them on a silicone baking mat. I was able to fit all the cookies on one cookie sheet, because they don’t spread out very much. Also, I really only needed about half of the glaze, so I cut the quantities in half for the recipe below. For the entire recipe, you will probably only need about 3 limes, maybe 4 if they are small. Remember to zest your limes before you juice them!

Luscious Lime Ice Box Cookies

IngredientsFood-091115-0003

For cookies:

  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoons lime zest for sprinkling

Method

In a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the margarine and shortening. Beat in sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla, lime juice, and lime zest. Add flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt, and beat until a soft dough forms. On a piece of parchment paper from the dough into a log about 14 inches long. Roll up in parchment paper and fashion the log into a rectangle by rotating and pressing the dough to square off the sides. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough from fridge and slice rectangle into ¼ inch thick slices and place on cookie sheets. The end slices are going to be wack, that’s ok, just discard them or make 2 weird looking cookies. Bake 15 minutes, edges should be lightly browned. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

Make the glaze and assemble: In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to mix together sugar, juice, and vanilla. It should fall from the fork in thick ribbons, if it seems to thin add a little extra sugar. Too thick, add more juice by the teaspoon. Spoon onto cooled cookies and spread a bit. Sprinkle with a little zest. Let set for at least half an hour. If it’s warm in the kitchen, place cookies in the fridge to set. Store in a container until ready to use.