Salted Caramel Muffins

Happy Tuesday! I’m feeling so refreshed after a relaxing three-day weekend, and I’m excited that the weather is starting to cool off and fall is nearly here. While warmer summer temperatures make me hungry for lighter fare like salads, once the days begin to get chilly my urge to bake returns. I could happily spend all of fall and winter in my kitchen, whipping up yummy treats (although I am usually discouraged from doing so, as most of my baking is NOT healthy!).
On Sunday, I really wanted to make a nice breakfast at home, but was pretty limited on ingredients. Rather than change out of my cozy pajama pants just to run to the store, I whipped up muffins using things that I already had in my kitchen. Although I wasn’t sure how my concoction was going to turn out (when Bill asked me what I was making, I replied honestly, “Probably a big mess”), I’m very pleased with the recipe and got a couple of requests to share it.
One of my favorite things about this particular recipe is that since it is so low in sugar, these muffins are relatively guilt-free while still being tasty. I couldn’t help sampling this one before I snapped a photo of it!
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Salted Caramel Muffins
What You’ll Need¬†
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup Oikos Salted Caramel Greek Yogurt
Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Spray muffin tin with nonstick spray if not using muffin liners
  2. In a large bowl, combine flower, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine; set aside.
  3. In a second large bowl, combine egg, sugar, milk, canola oil, Greek yogurt, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and combined.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring gently until smooth and combined.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup, evenly distribute the batter into the cavities of the prepared muffin tin, filling each to about 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 5 minutes at 425F. This initial baking period with higher heat will help the muffins form their domed tops.
  7. Lower oven temperature to 375F and continue baking for an additional 15-20 minutes, until tops are set and lightly golden and a toothpick insterted into the center comes out clean.

 
 

Summer Blackberries

It is now officially summer, my very favorite season (although fall is a close second). Summers in the Northwest are SO very different from summers in the California desert that I grew up in. Whereas in sunny SoCal, the temperatures rise into the hundreds, here in Washington the climate stays mild and I feel that the state is truly at its best on warm sunny summer afternoons.
Something I was not used to at all when I moved to the Seattle area is that things grow wild and free here, delicious things you can eat, like berries. This was quite unheard of to me, that one could simply step off the road and into a blackberry bramble, and have a snack of freshly picked berries.
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All along the North Creek Trail near my office, blackberries grow wild and are ready for picking unseasonably early this year. After weeks of watching them slowly ripen, I could tell that the blackberries were ready to be eaten. A few of my work buddies and I have taken great pleasure in gathering them up on our walking breaks. Today we filled two big bowls with the delicious blackberries, with plans to turn them into blackberry crisp, or slump, or jam, or all of the above.
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Tomorrow’s forecast predicts rain, but Wednesday is supposed to be sunny, which means we’ll have more blackberries to pick!

Mexican Couscous Salad

While I’ve always loved baking, I hadn’t really spent much time cooking. But in the last year, I have begun to really enjoy trying new healthy recipes, and have been happily surprised to discover that I do have a knack for cooking and that I am capable of putting together dishes that I absolutely love!
I am obsessed with this recipe for a Mexican Couscous Salad. I adapted it from a similar recipe that I found here, substituting couscous for the cauliflower and adding in chicken for some additional protein. I love this meal so much, last month I made it twice in one week!
Mexican Couscous Salad
For the salad:
1 package of Near East couscous
1 cup black beans
1 cup corn
1 cup pico de gallo
1 avocado
6 oz. finely chopped chicken breast
For the dressing:
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tbsp cumin
Preparation
1. Follow instructions on package to prepare couscous (I make mine in the microwave!)
2. In a small saucepan, heat the black beans and corn
3. Place the prepared couscous in a large mixing bowl and top with the black beans, corn, tomatoes, pico de gallo, chicken, and avocado
4. In a separate bowl, prepare the dressing by whisking together the honey, olive oil, lime juice, paprika, and cumin
5. Toss the salad with the dressing and add a pinch of salt to taste
This recipe makes a rather large batch of the salad, which keeps nicely in the fridge for 2-3 days for yummy leftovers!