Muffin Mondays: Mom’s Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins

This post begins a fall series on that best-loved of breakfast foods: the muffin. In all its varieties, the muffin captures special moments in the guise of the commonplace.

I am honored to present this inaugural guest post by my mother, Sheri Ward, whose solution to one of life’s transitions inspired the idea to devote my Mondays to muffins. I’ve invited some of my favorite bloggers and writers to share their most muffin-esque words and recipes, which I will dutifully post on Mondays throughout the coming weeks.

So if your mornings are lacking luster on these chilly days, check back often for new reasons to mix up a muffin or two.

Hello readers, this is Jen’s Mom writing. As I was thinking of how to begin my first (and hopefully not last!) guest post here on my daughter Jen’s food blog, I thought what better way to begin than this?

With the word “Mom” comes many things … gifts that have been lovingly passed down through generations of mothers before me, gifts that I have endeavored to pass on to my own children. For my love of cooking, and especially baking, comes from my own mother, and hers before that, and hers before that. It seems we all just can’t bake enough! It is almost a sacred thing to the women of our family: the dreaming and planning, then the creation of some warm and wondrous treat. And then of course the best part, the tasting — usually with a mug of freshly brewed coffee. We women have been known to curl up in bed with a favorite cookbook or food magazine, in search of another new recipe.

My husband Don and I recently embarked on a new stage of life: We are now “empty nesters” On the one hand it’s a lovely time of life, with a quieter household and a time of re-discovering each other. But after almost 30 years of baking and cooking for a family of 5, I found myself somewhat lost in this new chapter. Who would I bake for now? Yes, we both still enjoy fresh cookies, but a dozen muffins for two people? It was a real dilemma!

And then it came to me. I would start a muffin club with my Mom and sister Judi, also a recent empty nester. Every Monday morning we’d take turns baking a dozen muffins or scones, and deliver four of them to the others, keeping 4 for ourselves. And so, the “Monday Morning Marvelous Muffin Club” was born.

We are blessed to live within three miles of each other so this has made it somewhat easier. What a delightful treat is has been to open the door into my garage on Monday morning to find a basket of warm muffins waiting. We are all loving it.

Fall always draws me to the fragrant spiciness of all things pumpkin: pie, scones, and of course, muffins. And so it was that the first recipe I baked for our Monday Morning Muffin Club was Pumpkin Quinoa muffins, a new and healthy twist on what is no doubt a favorite with many of you. Quinoa, an ancient grain, is a comlete protein and gives these muffins a nice texture and a slightly nutty taste. The addition of pepitas, or pumpkin seeds, adds just the right amount of crunch.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and that maybe I’ve inspired you to start your own muffin club with one or two close friends. Happy baking!

~Sheri Ward

Sheri and Jen

Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins

makes 12 large muffins

In a large bowl combine:

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup raisins
¾ cup cooked and drained quinoa (best made the day before, the grains fluffed with a fork).

Combine in another bowl:

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
¾ cup buttermilk or kefir
4 Tbsp melted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just incorporated. Spoon into muffin pan lined with paper liners or buttered. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and sugar, and bake at 400 for 25 minutes (until nicely browned and passes the toothpick test). Let rest 5 min, then remove to a rack to cool.

Hi…I’m Jen’s Mom. As I was thinking of how to begin my first (and
hopefully not last!) guest post on my daughter Jen’s food blog,
freshcrackedpepper, I thought what better way to begin than this? For with
the word “Mom” comes many things….gifts that have been lovingly passed
down through generations of mothers before me, gifts that I have endeavored
to pass on to my own children. For my love of cooking, and especially
baking, comes from my own mother, and hers before that… and hers before
that. It seems we all just can’t bake enough! It is almost a sacred thing to
the women of our family…first the dreaming and planning, then the creation
of some warm and wondrous treat, and of course the best part…the
tasting…usually with a steaming mug of freshly brewed coffee. In our
family, we women have all been known to curl up in bed at night with a
favorite cookbook or new food magazine, in search of yet another new
recipe…we enjoy this more than most novels!My husband Don and I recently embarked on a new stage of life…we are now
“empty nesters”! While it is a lovely time of life, with a (much!)quieter
household and a time of re-discovering each other, after almost 30 years of
baking and cooking for a family of 5, I found myself somewhat lost in this
new chapter of life. Who could I bake for now? Yes, we both still enjoy
fresh cookies and baking, but a dozen muffins for 2 people? I was in a real
dilemna! And then one day it came to me….I would start a muffin club with
my Mom and my sister Judi,also a recent empty nester! Early every Monday
morning, we’d each take turns baking a dozen muffins (or scones) and deliver
4 piping hot muffins to each other, keeping 4 for ourselves. We are blessed
to live within 3 miles of each other so this would make it easy. And so the
“Monday Morning Marvelous Muffin Club” was born! And what a delightful
surprise and treat is has been to open the door into my garage early every
Monday morning and find a basket of fresh warm muffins waiting for me on my
freezer! And it is so nice to bake one week, then have a surprise waiting
for me the next 2 weeks. We are all loving it!

 

The season of fall always draws me to the fragrant spiciness of all things
pumpkin….pumpkin pie, pumpkin scones, and of course pumpkin muffins. And
so it was that the first recipe I baked for our Monday morning muffin club
was Pumpkin Quinoa muffins, a new and healthy twist on what is no doubt a
favorite with many of you. Quinoa, an ancient grain, is a comlete protein
and gives these muffins a nice texture and a slightly nutty taste. The
addition of pepitos, which are pumpkin seeds, also adds a nice crunch.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and that you are inspired to start your own
muffin club with one or two close friends…enjoy!!

Happy baking!
Sheri Ward

viking yogurt

Oh how I wish I had that Viking hat right now. The one with the big horns sticking out of a plastic dome crafted to look like metal. The one that’s somewhere in the Ward cottage in the Northern Canadian town of Gimli where I spent my summers as a chunky-thighed child.

Why? Because I’d put it on right now and take a picture of myself eating this yogurt.

While browsing my unfortunately-big-box-but-nonetheless-endearing Wegman’s last week, this little container jumped out at me from the overpriced-but-delicious dairy case. (OK, I promise, no more hyphenated conjunctions.)

Flirting its paper label adorned with whimsical pomegranate and passion fruit, I simply couldn’t say no. I don’t think I even noticed the $1.99 price tag. (Or was it $2.99?) Yogurt-love is a blinding, reckless force.

Started by Siggi Hilmarsson in 2004, this Icelandic-style yogurt has been steadily increasing in popularity. It’s been featured in Gourmet and O magazines, but I’m feeling proud that I found it on a whim. Siggi’s skyr is made with skim milk from pasture-raised cows in Morrisville NY, close enough to Syracuse that I can still call it “local food.”

Because the milk used in this yogurt comes from cows that eat what they’re supposed to, it has more omega 3’s than corn fed cow’s milk. It’s also free of antibiotics, corn starch, pectin, thickeners, and that enemy of real food, high-fructose corn syrup. If that weren’t enough, this yogurt has 120 calories, 0 grams of fat, and, get this, 16 grams of protein per 6 oz serving. As I trudge towards my October half marathon, this just-sweet creamy lusciousness might almost make me surrender my protein shakes.

Until I’m reunited with that Viking hat, this yogurt is going to have to bring out my inner Icelander on its own. And with all its muscle-building properties, it might help me look the Norse conqueror part all the better.

Yeah, that one.

purple protein salad

Now that reading magazines counts as school work, I’m amassing them more quickly than ever. Despite my rather obsessive collection of food magazines, when I saw this salad splashed across the cover of Vegetarian Times, I had no second thoughts about shelling out the five bucks.

Not usually one drawn to potato salads, this one promised something new. As opposed to the dominantly creamy and heavy versions, this one is fresh and light–perfect for the transition from summer to fall.

Another plug for the salad: it got me through at least a week of on-the-go eating that characterizes grad school. It’s delicious at room temperature too, making it an excellent traveler between classes and interviews. Each time I’d open my plastic container and see those amethyst potatoes glistening in olive oil a wave of comfort in the face of mounting stress would wash over me. Cafeteria food just doesn’t have quite the same effect.

I’m not a huge potato lover, but I do love how in this picture you can almost see the growth, as in an oak tree’s rings. Beneath the russet skin, purple flesh tells of nutrient-rich soil. Speckles and veins are revealed by the swift glide of a knife, leaving little chunks ready to be dressed.

Edamame, or young soy beans, are one of the healthiest ways to get your soy. While there is much debate about the health benefits of soy, most researchers agree that soy in it’s “whole food” form is almost indisputably positive.

Miso, tempeh, soy milk, and edamame are considered “traditional” soy foods. Prominent soy researcher Mark Messina recommends no more than two servings of these forms of soy to maintain safe estrogen and phytic acid levels. With soy as with everything, moderation is key.

One thing I do know about these beans is that they’re delicious. They’re meaty and bright green, while being high in good-quality protein. Tossed together with cabbage, garden tomatoes, chickpeas and a simple dressing, they surpass their destiny as mere appetizer to sushi. You can find them in your grocery’s frozen section, conveniently shelled and rearin’ to go.

If you find yourself feeling grey, try this little rainbow feast. Continue reading

gado-gado

While the red cabbage may not get points for being the most superficially alluring vegetable to grace the produce shelves as of late, inside it’s got something else going on. Past the skin of the red (or more accurately, purple) cabbage lies the intricate story of its growth. Past the clean edge of the knife is a cruciferous labyrinth that I wish for a moment I was small enough to walk.

Though usually associated with Eastern European dishes, red cabbage fares well in all sorts of international cuisine. I’ve seen it on Mexican menus, and in Asian concoctions like the Gado-Gado I will share with you today. Gado-Gado is dear to me. It reminds me of a certain roommate who introduced me to it years ago, and also of health. One blustery evening in Winnipeg I returned home from a vigorous workout to find this colorful dish waiting for me by candlelight.

It had everything: protein fiber, and too many vitamins and minerals to name. It nourished me fully, in body and spirit. With crunch, nuttiness, saltiness and sweetness shining through purple, orange, green and white, Gado-Gado is a little world on a plate.

According to various sources, gado-gado means either “fight fight,” “hodgepodge,” or “to mix together.” It’s fascinating how words breed meanings often different from the original; to mix, to argue. But let’s not get too wrapped up in specifics — we’ve got some hodgepodging to do. For Gado-Gado, in all its mystery, is really just salad with peanut dressing.

After the preparation, the layers unfold, starting with a base of Wehani rice and the illustrious cabbage:

Continue reading