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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: scones

How is New Year’s Day Celebrated Around the World?

Celebrating New Year’s Day is one of the oldest customs around the world. Ringing church bells, tooting horns and ear-piercing shrieks echo throughout the world on this holiday. Since this festival marks the beginning of the year, New Year’s Day is thought of as a perfect time for a “clean start”, so people worldwide resolve to act better in the year just beginning than in the year just ended. Many New Year’s traditions are similar, but some are different. Here are some interesting customs, past and present, around the world.

In the United States, New Year’s Day is observed on January 1st and, for many, it is a day of recovery from the New Year’s Eve celebrations the previous night. In some towns and cities, parades are held and special football games are played. The birth of the first baby in the New Year is often celebrated with gifts to his or her parents and appearances in local newspapers and on local news shows. Many people make New Year’s resolutions. These are usually promises to themselves that they will improve something in their own lives. Common New Year’s resolutions are to stop smoking or drinking alcohol, to lose weight, exercise more or to live a healthier lifestyle.

People in China celebrate this holiday for several weeks between January 17th. and February 19th., at the time of the new moon. The Chinese called this time of feasting and celebrations Yuan Tan. Lanterns illuminate the streets as the Chinese use thousands of lanterns “to light the way” for the New Year. The Chinese believe that evil spirits roam the earth at the New Year, so they let off firecrackers to scare off the spirits and seal their windows and doors with paper to keep the evil demons out.

In Scotland, the New Year is called Hogmanay. In many of the villages barrels of tar are set afire and then rolled down the streets. This ritual symbolizes that the old year is” burned up” and the new one is allowed to enter.

In Great Britain the custom of “first footing” is practiced. The first male visitor to the house, after midnight, is supposed to bring good luck. The man brings a gift of money, bread, or coal, to ensure the family will have plenty of these in the year to come. The first person must not be blond, red-haired, or a women, as these are supposed to be bad luck.

New Year’s Day is also the Festival of Saint Basil in Greece. Children leave their shoes by the fireside on New Year’s Day with the hope that Saint Basil, who was famous for his kindness, will come and fill their shoes with gifts.

The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. It is a holy time when Jews recall the things they have done wrong in the past and then promise to do better in the future. Special services are held in the synagogues, children are given new clothes and bread loaves are baked to remind people of harvest time.

The Indian New Year’s Day begins with a festival of lights called Diwali. Cards and gifts are exchanged and people finish off any uncompleted work.

Iran’s New Year’s Day, which is in March, celebrates not only the beginning of the new year according to the solar calendar, but also bahar, “the beginning of spring.”

On New Year’s Day in Japan, everyone gets dressed in their new clothes and homes are decorated with pine branches and bamboo–symbols of long life.

The French New Year is “Jour des Etrennes”, or Day of New Year’s Presents. Dinner parties are held for the entire family, where presents are exchanged.

In other European countries such as Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands, families start the New Year by first attending church services. Afterwards, they visit friends and relatives. In Italy boys and girls receive gifts of money on New Year’s Day. Some very old and popular customs in Italian history include:

Throwing pots, pans, and clothes out of the window to let go of the past and move toward the future.

Light a Christmas log before New Year’s Day to turn away evil spirits (who don’t like fire) and invite the Virgin Mary to warm the newborn Jesus.

Wearing red underwear for good luck.

 

It is fun to entertain your friends and family on New Year’s Day. It is a day of new beginnings, a return to normalcy after the craziness of the holidays, and it holds all of the hope and possibilities for the coming year. To make things as simple as possible, I suggest a New Year’s Day Brunch as a low stress, comfortable way to celebrate with friends and family. Plan a casual and comfortable party filled with delicious breakfast type foods, that can be prepared ahead of time and heated before serving.

The breads can be baked several days ahead or even frozen. The quiches can be baked a day ahead and reheated in a moderate oven. Depending on the number of people you are entertaining, you may need to make double the amount of quiches.The fruit salad can be made a day ahead and chilled.

Brunch Menu:

Bloody Mary

Fresh Fruit Salad

Zucchini, Tomato, and Swiss Cheese Pie

Mushroom Bacon Potato Crust Quiche

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Maple Nut Scones

Pot of Coffee

Christmas Cookies

 

 

Bloody Marys

Serves: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon celery seeds
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh or prepared horseradish
  • 2 quarts tomato juice, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups vodka, chilled in the freezer
  • Celery stalks, for serving
  • Cucumber spears, for serving
  • Handful fresh parsley stalks, for garnish

Directions

Combine the lime juice, celery seed, and horseradish in a pitcher. Stir the mixture with the end of a wooden spoon to blend and break up the celery seeds. Pour in the tomato juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; season with salt and pepper. Stir everything together to combine.

Divide the vodka among 6 tall, chilled glasses filled with ice. Fill the glasses with the bloody mary mix and stir well. Add celery, cucumber and parsley to each glass and serve.

 

Fresh Fruit Salad

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cantaloupe melons cut into chunks
  • 1 honeydew melon cut into chunks
  • 3-4 kiwi, cut into slices
  • 1 bunch grapes, halved
  • 2 pineapple (cut into chunks)
  • 2 quarts strawberries (tops removed)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Combine fruit in large serving bowl. Drizzle in orange juice.

 

Zucchini, Tomato and Swiss Cheese Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 pound grated Swiss or mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375º F. Spread the 1 tablespoon butter on the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate, then sprinkle the bread crumbs all over the sides and bottom. Allow whatever loose crumbs are left to just sit on the bottom.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the onion. Sauté until translucent, then add the garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes.

Stir in the diced tomatoes and sauté another 5 minutes. Raise the heat to high. Mix in the zucchini, fennel seed, salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and cool 5 minutes. (The recipe may be prepared in advance to this point and chilled up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, then mix in the zucchini mixture. Pour half into the prepared pie plate, top with the Swiss cheese, then pour on the remaining vegetable mixture. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese all over the top.

Bake 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.

Mushroom Bacon Potato Crust Quiche

CRUST

  • 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1/4 cup unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled
  • Olive oil for brushing crust

FILLING

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups (1 large) leek, sliced, washed, and drained
  • 4 cups sliced mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated Fontina or Swiss cheese
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 5-6 slices Canadian bacon or ham

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a 9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Set up a strainer over a bowl.

Grate the onions into the strainer and drain for 10 minutes, pressing out the extra liquid.

When the onions are drained, transfer them to a bowl and combine them with the salt, thyme and flour.

Grate the potatoes into the strainer. Press out any extra liquid, then combine with the onion mixture, mixing to combine.

Pat the mixture into the prepared pan bottom and up the sides.

After 25 minutes, brush the potatoes with oil, then bake for 15 minutes more, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature to 350°F.

While the crust is baking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and mushrooms and cook until the leeks are wilted, and the mushrooms give up their liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the baked crust bottom with Canadian bacon. Spread the vegetables over the bacon and sprinkle the cheese evenly on top.

Whisk the eggs, milk and Worcestershire together, and pour slowly over the vegetables. Return the quiche to the oven and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the center is set. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.

 

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup fat-free (skim) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray bottoms only of 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray, or line with paper baking cups.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In medium bowl, beat bananas, egg substitute, oil, milk and vanilla with a fork until smooth. Stir into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Gently stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately remove muffins from pan to cooling rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

maplenutscones

Maple Nut Scones

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet or cover it with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Use a pastry knife to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse and uniform. Stir in the pecans and oats.

Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the syrup, milk, and extract. Stir to combine then remove to a floured counter and knead until uniform. (Do not over-knead. Too much kneading will develop the gluten in the flour and make the scone tough.)

Divide the dough into two pieces and press each into 3/4 inch thick circles. Cut each circle into six wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet.

Mix the 1/4 cup oats and the 1/4 cup brown sugar together. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter and brush on the scone wedges. Drizzle maple syrup over the wedges and sprinkle on the oat and brown sugar mixture. Let bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove to a rack to cool.

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pumpkintreats

The word “pumpkin” arrived in the English language in the 17th century, derived from the French, pompon, which came from the Latin, pepon, denoting a large, ripe melon. Melons were known to the ancients, but not pumpkins, which were New World vegetables. However, such facts did not deter modern writers translating Apocolocyntosis, Seneca’s satire of Claudius, as the “pumpkinification” of the late emperor. In the 19th century, the pumpkin connoted folly and empty-headedness, as gourd and colocynth did in ancient Roman times. Colocynth, the fruit of a trailing vine, is native to the Mediterranean region and Asia and is sometimes referred to as a bitter apple or a bitter cucumber.

Marina di Chioggia

Northern Italian and Sicilian cuisines feature numerous pumpkin dishes. The most highly prized pumpkin is Marina di Chioggia. This heirloom pumpkin from Chioggia, near Venice, weighs around 3-4 pounds and has a grey-green warty ribbed exterior and bright orange flesh.

The Italian word “zucca” is used to describe both pumpkins and gourds and “Fiori di zucca” is what we call zucchini flowers. The varieties of pumpkin grown in Italy are typically the big orange Halloween pumpkins as well as dark green ones. The quality and flavor of the pumpkin depends largely on the quality and nature of the terrain and soil. Two fruits from the same plant can be remarkably dissimilar in taste. Recipes and seasonings vary according to regions. During its winter season, pumpkin is used for the filling of tortelli, a stuffed pasta, and to flavor risotto. Pumpkin gnocchi are also popular.

Some popular Italian dishes made with pumpkin:

Tortelli Mantovani di zucca – fresh pasta pillows filled with roasted pumpkin puree seasoned with diced Mostarda di Cremona (candied fruits in mustard seed oil), crushed amaretti and a touch of nutmeg (or mace or cinnamon), and dressed with sage and butter sauce.

Tortelli

Risotto di zucca, made by gently sautéing tiny cubes of pumpkin with onions before adding the rice, for a quick no-fuss meal. Especially if you use the no-stir method for making risotto!

Zucca al Forno

Zucca alla Veneta , lightly floured pumpkin slices are sautéed in olive oil and then arranged in layers, with a torn basil leaves and raisins scattered over each layer. A dressing made by boiling white wine vinegar with a clove of garlic, salt and pepper is poured over the layered pumpkin slices and left to marinate, covered, overnight.

Sicilian Zucca Agrodolce is made by pan-frying pumpkin slices and marinating them in a sweet and sour sauce. The sauce is made by frying cloves of garlic in olive oil until golden. Sugar is then added to the pan and cooked to a golden caramel. White wine vinegar is then added to the pan and the sauce is boiled until it becomes syrupy. Roughly chopped mentuccia leaves are scattered over the fried pumpkin before pouring the hot syrup over. While this dish can be eaten hot, it is much better left overnight and eaten the following day at room temperature. Note: The term “mentuccia “is usually translated as wild Italian mint.

Zucca al Forno , comprising a slow-roasted whole pumpkin filled with mascarpone, Emmenthal cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, sautéed onions, wild mushrooms and nutmeg, is spectacular both visually and gastronomically. The natural sugars of the pumpkin caramelize and meld with the cheeses as it cooks.

There are numerous Italian regional variations of pumpkin preserves and pumpkins can be used on their own for preserves or in combination with other autumnal fruits, such as figs and quinces.

Italian Spiced Pumpkin Butter                                                                                                

Makes 4-1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • Two 15-oz. cans pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/4 cups pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Chopped hazelnuts (optional)

Directions:

In a 5-quart Dutch oven combine all the ingredients except the nuts. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, 25 minutes or until thick. (If mixture spatters, reduce heat to medium-low). Remove from heat; cool.

Ladle into jars or freezer containers, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Cover; store in the refrigerator up to 1 week or freezer up to 6 months.

To serve, top with chopped nuts.

Pumpkin Cookies

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray.

Whisk together pumpkin, sugar, yogurt, oil and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in cranberries. Stir together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, allspice and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet with a wooden spoon, mixing just until just blended.

Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls onto a prepared baking sheet, spacing cookies about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Scones                                                                                                                                                        

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter or reduced fat butter, such as Smart Balance, cubed 
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • Cinnamon sugar for sprinkling on top of the scones

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the pumpkin, milk, vanilla and one egg until combined. 

In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

Using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingers, quickly work the cold butter cubes into the dry ingredients. Work until the mixture resembles a crumbly, sandy mixture.

Add the wet ingredients to the crumbly mixture using a rubber spatula. Only stir until combined.

Carefully add 1/2 cup of the chopped pecans. Reserve the remaining 1/4 cup chopped pecans to sprinkle on the top of the scones.

Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Quickly knead dough by folding and pressing gently for 10 to 12 strokes or until nearly smooth. Pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut into 12 wedges. Place wedges 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with a fork. Using a pastry brush, brush each scone lightly with the egg. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and the remaining pecans.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. Be careful not to over bake or the scones will dry out. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or store in an airtight. Scones also freeze well.

Pumpkin Cake with Rum Sauce                            

 Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon each ground allspice, cloves, and ginger

 Directions:

Combine the pumpkin, brown sugar, butter, molasses, and egg and beat until light and fluffy in an electric mixer. Add the remaining ingredients and beat slowly just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Pour into a greased 8-inch square baking dish and bake in a preheated 350 degrees F. oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack and serve with rum sauce (recipe below).

Serves 8 to 12.

Rum Sauce

 Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of nutmeg

 Directions:

Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Add the milk and rum. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring constantly.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve warm. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

 


It’s morning, you’re in a rush, and you’re craving carbs but want to eat sensibly. Do you grab toast, a croissant, or a muffin at a coffee shop? Consumer Reports’ experts rated the nutrition of nine breakfast breads and found the winner was whole-wheat bread, which rated very good for nutrition, with 110 calories, a half-gram of fat, and 5 grams of fiber per slice.

Worst of all, with a nutrition rating of poor, was a heavyweight blueberry muffin with 610 calories, 32 grams of fat, and 40 grams of sugar. That’s more than a quarter of a day’s calorie limit for most people, about a half-day’s suggested intake of fat, and the equivalent of about 10 teaspoons of sugar.

You can make your own healthy breakfast breads and package them in individual portions for a quick “grab and go” breakfast.  Healthy breakfast breads are low in fat but utilize whole grains, fruits and nuts to give them taste.

Try some of the recipes below.  The Strawberry Muffins in the first recipe are a big hit in my family and no one ever suspects that they are only 140 calories.

Fruit Muffins

12 Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole-wheat flour or 2 cups Eagle Ultra Grain flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or 1/4 cup light sugar mixed with Stevia)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/4 cup diced strawberries other fruit in season
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds or other nuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray  a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir to mix evenly.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg substitute, oil and orange juice. Add to the flour mixture and blend just until moistened but still lumpy. Stir in the chopped fruit and half of the nuts..

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, filling each cup almost to the top.  Sprinkle remaining nuts onto each muffin and bake until springy to the touch, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cinnamon Yogurt Scones

Hershey and King Arthur make cinnamon chips. If you cannot find cinnamon chips in the baking section of your supermarket, add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and an extra 1/4 cup of nuts in place of the chips.

8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour or Eagle Ultra Gain flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter or Smart Balance Blend, chilled, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1 6 oz. container Light Vanilla Yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl add the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix lightly with a whisk.  Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or your hands to mix in the butter to make a coarse meal.  Add the cinnamon, chips and nuts (if using)  and stir to combine.  Add the yogurt and milk and mix just until the dough begins to come together.  

Turn out onto a lightly floured board or counter.  Pat the mixture together to make an 8 inch circle.  Use a bench scraper or long knife and cut into 8 wedges.  Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake 14-16 minutes or until the scones are lightly browned, crispy and a tester comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

Yogurt-Zucchini Bread with Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (4 ounces)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour or Eagle Ultra Gain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (instead use a light sugar; half regular sugar and half Stevia)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (from about 1 medium zucchini)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°. Coat a 9x5x3-inch metal loaf pan with cooking spray and flour the bottom of the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the eggs, vegetable oil and fat-free yogurt. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients along with the grated zucchini and toasted walnuts and stir until the batter is evenly moistened.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the loaf has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the loaf cool on a rack for 30 minutes before removing from baking pan and serving.

Tips:

To toast the nuts: Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 8-10  minutes

The zucchini loaf can be wrapped tightly in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 4 days, or frozen in plastic and foil for up to 1 month.

Quick and Easy Cinnamon Coffeecake

Serve this cake with fruit salad on the side.

Yield: 12 servings.

Spelt (Triticum spelta) is a grass, one of the ancestors of modern wheat (Triticum aestivum). It originated in southeast Asia and is probably the “wheat” that was used around the Mediterranean 9,000 years ago. It came to Europe with traders from the Middle East and remained a favorite grain there until the 19th. century and the development of modern strains of wheat. It contains more protein, fat and crude fiber than wheat but it is very soluble (i.e. will dissolve easily), and thus is easy to digest. Because of its greater amounts of protein and fat, it is known as a high-quality energy source for athletes or anyone needing long periods of stamina.

It is not a gluten free flour as some people think.

In baking, spelt behaves like whole wheat flour and has a wonderful nutty flavor. It can be used just as you would whole wheat flour and substituted for the same in any of your favorite recipes. It can also be used in combination with other flours or, like the recipe below, it can be used on its own.  Spelt flour should be stored in the refrigerator.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) soft butter or Smart Balance Blend
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 cups spelt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350°F.  Lightly spray a 8- or 9-inch square cake pan with cooking spray.

Cream the butter and sugar together. This is a very important step to keep the cake light.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is fluffy. Stir in the milk.

Combine the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and add to the wet ingredients. Mix until blended.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool before cutting.

Drizzle the top with a powdered sugar glaze if you have a sweet tooth.

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk or whole milk

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle over the top of the cake.

Flaxseed Blueberry Pancakes

Buckwheat flour is Gluten Free, leading people with gluten intolerance to seek it out as a flour alternative. Many grocery stores carry buckwheat flour and buckwheat blends.

Individuals with gluten intolerance should be careful about where they purchase their buckwheat flour. It is often made in facilities which process wheat, and contamination is possible. It may also be blended with wheat as a filler, so be sure the buckwheat flour you buy is clearly labeled as “gluten free.” Plain buckwheat flour can be used in an assortment of foods including pancakes and noodles.

Although buckwheat is treated like a cereal crop, it is actually a plant, not a grass. The fruit of buckwheat is what is harvested and eaten after the hard outer husk has been pulled away.  Two things that have made it a popular choice of crop around the world are that the plants thrive in poor growing conditions and mature quickly. In addition to making buckwheat flour from the buckwheat harvest, it is sold in a cracked form for groats that can be steamed or boiled for puddings and porridge. Buckwheat is also planted as a cover crop for beekeeping, since it produces a high volume of flavorful nectar.

Buckwheat, whole wheat, flax seeds and blueberries combine to form a breakfast that’s high in fiber, protein and B vitamins. Buckwheat’s nutty taste combines with the sweetness of blueberries and honey to make delicious pancakes so good you’ll forget that they are healthy.

Flaxseed is high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals called lignans. Both flaxseed and flaxseed oil have been used to help reduce total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels and, as a result, may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Makes 6 servings.

Note: For gluten free pancakes replace the whole wheat flour with a gluten free alternative flour, such as, potato starch or almond.

  • 3/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour 
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cups blueberries (rinsed and set aside), plus extra to sprinkle on top of the cooked pancakes
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • Maple Syrup

Directions:

In large bowl combine flours, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl mix together buttermilk, skim milk, eggs, oil and honey.
Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients and stir just until batter is lightly mixed together. (If the batter appears too thick, add a bit more skim milk to thin.) Lumps are okay and over mixing makes for tough pancakes. Fold in blueberries.

Preheat large skillet over medium heat. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Use 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes per side on medium-high heat. The pancakes are ready to flip when bubbles start to appear. Turn over only once.
When serving the pancakes, top with extra blueberries and maple syrup

Any leftovers can be refrigerated with waxed paper in between for a mid-week treat. Reheat in the oven or microwave.



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