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Banana blueberry coconut almond muffins, paleo style. Yeah, that’s catchy

20 Jul

It’s been a while since I posted a recipe, hasn’t it?  I don’t bake as much as I used to, or when I do, I remake tried and true favorites like my pumpkin muffins.  I’ve been happy with some of my gluten-free experiments (like these pancakes), but not so happy with most of my muffins. But I tried something new today, and frankly, I mostly made it up myself, so I’m a wee bit proud of how they came out.  Want to see?


  • 2 eggs
  • 2 medium ripe bananas
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup millet flour (to be perfectly paleo, use 1/2 cup coconut flour)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup linseeds and sesame seeds mixed with cinnamon (optional topping)

Mash bananas and egg. Mix until relatively smooth. Add vanilla, maple syrup, and coconut milk.

In separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle, and stir in wet ingredients. Add blueberries last, and fold in gently.

Fill greased muffin tins about half-way.  If using topping, sprinkle over tops of muffins now.

Bake center over for 25-30 minutes at 350F. Cool muffins on rack. If any are left after you test one … and then another … maybe test one more … store airtight on counter or freeze.


They don’t get a huge rise, but they have a soft, moist, tender texture, and hold together well.  My favorite muffins ever have been Moosewood Muffins, which I have made faithfully for years, but which have the disadvantage of being gloriously full of gluten and sugar.  I think I may have finally found an alternative, with these yummy treats!

Pumpkin Smoothie

25 Oct

I had this idea that I would post regular recipes to this blog.  Eh.  Mixed results there, I’d say.  And since I’ve been eating gluten-free (mostly) and dairy-free (often), I’ve been struggling a little in the baking department.  Smoothies to the rescue.  And what could be better for fall than pumpkin?


This is not a mysterious recipe.  Most smoothies are nothing more than: “Stick in a blender.  Blend.  The end.”  But I do like to share when I find something worthwhile.  Make modifications however you like.  Here’s how I like to make what tastes like Thanksgiving pumpkin pie in a cup:

6 ice cubes
Medium banana, cut into inch circles (or thereabouts)
4 oz pumpkin puree
1 tsp maple syrup (the real stuff)
2 tbsp pea protein powder (I like my protein)
cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove to taste
8 oz coconut milk (the creamy kind from a can)

Put everything in the blender in the order above, then blend.  The end.



(Like pumpkin and aren’t worried about gluten?  Try these pumpkin muffins.  Or these Moosewood muffins.)

Oat flour pancakes

18 Jul

Blog name notwithstanding (I love that word), I haven’t posted a recipe in ages.  This has something to do with mud runs and crossfit and paleo diets and being completely disgusted with tapioca flour.  I have been baking.  Of course.  But nothing has been particularly … delicious.

I’ve been on the search for a decent gluten and dairy free pancake batter.  I think I’ve found one.  At least, it tastes good enough to be worth sharing.  You can make this without the egg — but I like eggs, and having the egg in there makes the batter much nicer.


1 cup oat flour (I use Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free oat flour)
1/2 t baking powder
salt, cinnammon, and nutmeg to taste
1 egg
1 large banana (overripe is perfect)
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 t maple syrup (the real kind!)
1 T coconut oil
1 t vanilla extract

Combine the dry ingredients in one bowl, wet in another, then whisk together until smooth.  If the batter seems too thick, add a bit of water (teaspoon at a time) to get it to the desired consistency.   Pour by 1/4 cups into a greased hot griddle and cook like any other pancake.  This recipe makes about a dozen pancakes.

These are easy!  And taste like banana bread!  I’m freezing up a batch so I can pull one or two out in the mornings or for an afternoon snack.  Happy baking.

Snow soup

24 Jan


On a day that probably should be a day off school for the kids (but isn’t) you might find yourself quietly at home with no particular obligations (because you canceled them thinking it would be a snow day) — and the question of what to have for lunch will inevitably arise.  There’s no one at home to make a fuss about whatever strange thing you concoct on the stove (in Britspeak the ‘hob’ — why they think they cook on hobgoblins I don’t know).  You want something that will help you carry on in your quest to embrace these snowy winter days.  For me, the choice is obvious: homemade mushroom soup.

IMG_3779I may be the only person in my family who likes mushrooms.  Such a treat for me to toss handfuls into the pan for a nice saute with some shallots and leeks.

IMG_3783And mmmmm, when they start to look like this I add in some sherry.  (Only today I didn’t have sherry, so I added in brandy.  I love cooking for myself.  I never complain about substitutions.)

IMG_3782Since I had some pretty lentils, I added them in, too.  And since I happened to have one lovely hamburger leftover from the weekend’s grill, I sliced that up to add in as well.

IMG_3792I could have eaten my ‘soup’ just like this out of the saute pan.  But …

IMG_3799I managed to get it into the broth, and eventually in to my bowl.  With a wedge of soft cheese in the middle, of course.  Because when I cook for myself, sky’s the limit.

This soup has the benefit of being dairy-free (if you don’t garnish with cheese), gluten-free, relatively low-carb (lower if you ditch the lentils), and has a good amount of protein if you add in the beef.  I’ve been caring about that sort of thing lately, and have fallen in love with the Recipe Calculator from that lets me add up my ingredients then gives me a nutrition breakdown for home made meals.  Brilliant.


About 2 cups of chopped mushrooms (whatever kind you like)
About 1 cup of sliced shallots
About 1 cup of sliced leeks
About 2 ounces of cooked ground beef
About half a cup of lentils
2 tbsp sherry (or brandy.  or whatever)
1 tsp each of rosemary, tarragon, parsley, sage (adjust to taste or use different herbs)
10-12 whole pepper kernels
2 cups of beef broth  (Or chicken, or vegetable.  Wouldn’t recommend fish.)
1 cup water
salt to taste

Saute shallot and leeks in butter (coconut oil if you are avoiding dairy) until soft, add mushrooms.  Saute everything until it starts to look brown and lovely.  Add herbs, add sherry, wait a moment, then add beef and lentils.  Reduce heat and let everything simmer together for a few minutes.  While this is simmering, bring broth to a boil in a soup pan.  Once the broth is very hot, add everything from your saute pan to the broth and let it return to a boil.  Pour water into the saute pan to get all the juices and flavor from that pan — add this to the broth as well.  Cover, reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer until it looks good.  (Half an hour, if you’re in a hurry.)  Garnish with a soft cheese, a spoonful of greek yogurt, or nothing at all.  Enjoy!

Reindeer oats

24 Dec

Just a tiny bit of our family holiday tradition — making and sprinkling ‘magic’ oats for Santa’s flying reindeer.

IMG_2882Any basic oats will do — the magic comes from the special additions of glitter and cupcake sprinkles.  (If you’re worried about leaving glitter on the road or lawn, cupcake sprinkles alone will do just fine.)

IMG_2868Singing christmas carols while stirring up the treat helps to seal in the magic.

My children first brought this idea home with them from pre-K, and it’s an easy craft tradition to keep up every year.  We sprinkle ours outside before bedtime on Christmas Eve in a glittery path that theoretically will be seen from the sky and appeal to flying reindeer.

IMG_2887All set!  Good night!

Hazelnut-spread muffins

18 Dec

Apparently these are all over Pinterest.  I am not all over Pinterest, because if I go down that rabbit hole, I am never ever coming out.  You might use Nutella to make these, but if you are feeling slightly horrified by the sugar content of Nutella and happen to have a nice natural foods store or Whole Foods nearby, you can find a “healthier” hazelnut-chocolate spread that works well.  (Let’s just pretend it is healthier.  I’m not sure how over 30% hazelnut and 20% cocoa powder can be healthy, but let’s not worry about it.)

I used this recipe:

IMG_2569This stuff is ah-mur-zing.


IMG_2576And after baking.

The only change to the recipe I’d recommend is giving your chocolate-hazelnut spread a good mix with a spoon or fork before adding it to the muffin tins.  It’s much easier to swirl after it’s been whipped up a little bit.  These aren’t really cakes, but are a bit too sweet to be muffins.  I don’t know what they are, exactly, but they feel more like a breakfast or brunch food than an after-dinner treat.  Have fun and enjoy!

Black Friday

23 Nov

I know it is practically the law that all American bloggers write a Thanksgiving Day-related post.  I wish I had something fabulous to say about Thanksgiving in England, but it all feels a bit strange.  How do you explain to your neighbors that you’re celebrating a holiday that is all about escaping them, to be honest, or at least one’s semi-mythical national ancestors escaping their semi-mythical national ancestors.  “Yeah, we cook beautiful turkeys, eat ’till we fall asleep, go shopping, watch football, and thank our personal deities that we escaped England and survived to live elsewhere.  And there’s some complicated history about the people who were there already, and actually it was Lincoln who established the tradition as we know it to help with post-Civil-War healing.  So — Cheers!”

It doesn’t sound any better when you say it out loud.

I don’t even have any special family recipes to share with you.  Apparently through some kind of time warp Jamie Oliver and my mother both learned how to cook turkeys the same way, and passed this information on to me years ago.  (Never will I brine a bird.  I don’t get to go soak in the warm salty ocean at Thanksgiving, neither does my turkey.)  The New York Times makes a perfectly lovely cornbread muffin.  Martha Stewart for the cranberry sauce (I add ginger and cinnamon), and one of the stuffings. (Stove Top for the other — am I right America?)  Every year I come up with another slightly random unique version of a green bean casserole.  Simple salad, to please to kids.  French bread. Macaroni and cheese.  Mashed potatoes.  Chocolate pie  (I won’t lie to you: Jello Pudding), pumpkin pie, apple pie (store-bought crust mix outside, Joy of Cooking goodness on the inside).  And after the last baste of the roasted bird, open the champagne for the chef.  I think I could make Thanksgiving dinner in my sleep.

A bit surreal to do all that for a quick dinner on a school night, and then to send everyone off to school the next morning.

At least we are not newly in our house and surrounded by yet-to-be-unpacked boxes, this year.  And finding a turkey was easy — if expensive — at our new Whole Foods.

That’s it!  Happy Thanksgiving holiday!  Now, did someone mention online shopping … ?

Moroccan One Pot

10 Nov

It isn’t really baking, it isn’t really anything to do with NaNoWriMo, it isn’t anything to do with expat living … but, man, is it delicious.

Here’s my moroccan one-pot chicken recipe, adapted from the October 2012 BBC Good Food magazine.  I simplified the original recipe, because I thought it was a bit too fussy.  So here’s my lazy american version, with measures converted to US.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
olive oil
2 chopped onions
2 medium tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp tumeric
1 tbsp each cumin, cilantro, cinnamon
1 large sweet potato, rough chopped (recipe called for butternut squash, I didn’t have that today)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar (I replaced this with 4 tbsp honey+vinegar)
dried cherries
finely chopped red onion
zest of lemon
mint leaves
feta, crumbled or cubed small
greek yogurt

Quickly saute chicken in olive oil until outside is seared brown (does not need to be cooked through); place into heavy casserole dish.

Saute onion, ginger, tomato, and garlic in the same pan; when that softens, add the herbs; saute another few moments, until all becomes fragrant.  Place this over the chicken in your casserole.

Heat your stock in the same saute pan (to get all the goodness out of the pan), then pour that over the chicken and veg in the dish.  Add the sweet potato and honey/vinegar (or sugar/vinegar).  Give it all a stir, cover, and put in a 350degree oven for 2-3 hours.  No peeking: let it sit.

To serve: put your baking dish on the table surrounded by bowls of onion, mint, cheese, lemon zest, dried cherries, and yogurt.  Everyone adds whatever they like to their individual servings.  Great to serve with warm herbed pita slices and dip.


Almost as exciting as Justin Bieber

6 Nov

What can make grown women jump up and down in a parking lot, squealing for joy?

Whole Foods has come to town.

I wish I could say I got a special tour — because I AM A BLOGGER — but really, I just slouched in with everyone else getting a pre-opening tour.  That’s okay.  I was thrilled to be there.  The rows of empty produce baskets and shelves taunted me.

This man gave me a tiny free cup of delicious coffee, roasted on site, made specially just for me.  I could taste the America.  I’m in love with him.  Just a little bit.

Casks of wine, where you can bring your refillable, reusable, recyclable wine bottle for a fresh pour.  (Not bulk olive oil, as I prematurely imagined, influenced by Martha-Stewart-tinged memories of stateside Whole Food adventures.  Whole Foods, you have so much to teach me.)

Bulk spices!  Piles of glory!  And the countertops are recycled church benches!  Because we are here to worship.

Bulk legumes!  Scoop out some goodness!

What?!  There’s a bar in Whole Foods?  I also love the man who gave me this fine sample of a local beer.

Um … and I also love this man, who gave me super-fine slices of three-year dry-aged ham.  It was like eating the god of bacon.

This man was a little too excited about me taking his photo.  I’m not in love with him.  But I like him just fine.  He has a very large knife.

I … ah … yummy.

I’ve been avoiding breads, lately.  I have a feeling that may change.  At least a little.  At least once.

And this lovely man gave me a sample of braised pork with some kind of honey-chipotle elixir.  I add him to my string of  new loves.

Burp.  Okay, there’s room for one more … buttery salmon …

There’s even an outdoor space with a (very small) play area, tables, and a fire pit.  As the guide said: “Ambiance.

Whole Foods plied me with lovely food samples, and sent me home with all sorts of goodies — but I promise, the goodies had nothing to do with this post.  It probably sounds absurd and shallow, and it’s not like I could afford to shop at Whole Foods back home all the time, but finding a familiar store in a new country — products, ethos, styling — is an almost desperate comfort.  It will be interesting to see how the store does in this already-saturated-with-groceries town. Whole Foods appears to be marketing itself as a destination, a lifestyle experience: come for a morning yoga class, stay for a coffee, pick up some organic/ethically-sourced/lux specialty items, watch a cooking demo, grab a fresh custom pizza from the deli before you go.

Also: yummy.

(Don’t worry, we’ll soon be back to our regularly scheduled castles or ghost stories or cultural adjustments — just as soon as I go grab a cup of coffee at my new favorite cafe … )

Happy Halloween

31 Oct

One of my favorite holidays, and one not much celebrated here in Camelot.  We’re doing our own part, with costumes, decorations, and — of course — some cute cupcakes.

Pumpkins carved at Mary Arden’s Farm, where we had a great time introducing a Tudor living actor in the finer points of American-style pumpkin carving (alas, no power tools were available).  Owl cupcakes made by yours truly and inspired by pictures on the internet, where all winning happens.

Wherever you are, however you celebrate (or not), hope you have a wonderful harvest holiday.  It’s only going to get darker from here on out, so light your candles brightly and hold your loved ones close.


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