For me, starting up a new school year wouldn’t be quite complete without a bout of procrastination baking. Baking is definitely my #1 form of procrastination, and has gotten me through many stressful periods of grad school. It is the perfect vice: once I’m done procrastinating, I have a batch of something tasty to stress eat when I realize how little time I have left to finish my homework. I’ll admit it is a pretty messed up system, but it’s worked well for me for the last two years, so it’s only proper that I start off my last semester of grad school the same way.
Since my past three CSA boxes have had peaches in them, I’ve been trying to incorporate them into my baked goods before they all go bad (see my previous post for Peach Blueberry Cobbler). This time I decided to go for something I could easily grab in the morning on my way to the gym at 5:15, or take with me to class for a mid-day pick-me-up (because I obviously need one after waking up at 4:45 😴) . These spiced peach muffins were the perfect fit. They pair sweet peach flavors with warm fall spices, a perfect match for these late summer, early fall September days.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’m making an effort to make recipes with smaller yields and less processed sugar and these muffins fit both of those requirements. This recipe makes six medium-sized muffins and contain no processed sugar (they are sweetened with maple syrup and the peaches themselves). Having a smaller yield recipe not only stops me from eating a dozen muffins by myself, it also cuts down the amount I spend on baking supplies (which is going to be essential if I keep testing out new recipes while putting off my school work).
Instead of using applesauce as my egg replacer, like I normally would for muffins, I switched it up a bit and used fresh pureed peach. This really brought out the peach flavors in the muffins, and worked wonderfully at replicating the moisture, structure and texture of a standard muffin. [Similarly to with applesauce, the polysaccharides in the peaches form a starch gel when baked, allowing them to mimic the protein networks formed when eggs are used in baking]. The peach puree allows for the functional characteristics that eggs normally provide, with some additional sweet peachy taste and none of the cholesterol or animal cruelty.
- 1¼ cup gluten free flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour)
- ½ tbsp baking powder
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp cardamom
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Optional: 2 tbsp chopped walnuts, pecans or crystallized ginger
- ¼ cup cashew milk (or your dairy-free milk of choice)
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup pureed peach (~1/2 a peach)
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- ½ peach, diced
- Preheat oven to 400F
- In a large bowl combine gluten-free flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and salt.
- In a separate bowl stir cashew milk, coconut oil, peach puree, and maple syrup until well mixed.
- Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until smooth
- Fold in diced peach, and any other optional mix-ins (ex. walnuts, pecans, crystallized ginger).
- Evenly distribute batter into a muffin tin (this recipe should make around 6 muffins).
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
- Remove muffins from the muffin tin and allow them to cool on a cooling rack
Back to school season is here, which means a reprieve from the blistering heat (hopefully), my last semester of graduate school, and the promise of pumpkin spice and fresh apple flavored foods in my near future. Unfortunately, it also means exhaustingly long days, hectic schedules and a goodbye to anything resembling free time.
Once September rolls around I am back to leaving my apartment before 6 every morning, and often not getting back until around 10pm. Between classes, getting to the gym, working as a research assistant and getting my homework done, my schedule is pretty much booked solid during the week. Not only does this leave me very little time to cook, it also means I eat almost all of my meals away from home either while sitting through lectures, in my office or while commuting. This means a lot of meal prep over the weekends, and a backpack full of food at all times.
Farm fresh broad beans from my weekly CSA box
For my first week of class I decided to make a simple dish using the produce I had left from my weekly CSA box. I needed something that was easy to make, and that I would be able to easily pack as meals on the go. I paired up my farm fresh potatoes and broad beans with some wild rice, toasted pecans, fresh figs and a sherry vinaigrette inspired by a dish my sister-in-law has made me before. It was a perfect combination of flavors, and lasted well in the fridge all week to help get me through my long first week of classes.
I’ve been kind of obsessed with figs recently, and thought they’d be a perfect sweet addition to this rice salad, but feel free to use dried cranberries or another sliced fruit instead!
This recipe allowed me to mix a bunch of different ingredients I had around the house, and is really very versatile.
- Don’t have pecans? Try roasted walnuts, or slivered almonds, or omit the nuts all together.
- Don’t have broad beans? Try green beans, or snap peas.
- Don’t have figs? Try dried cranberry, or sliced pear, or sliced apple
It’s an easy dish to throw together with delicious results, even during those busy weeks.
Wild Rice Salad
- 1 cup dry wild rice, prepared as instructed on package
- 1 lb flat beans, trimmed and cut into ~3” pieces
- 5 small potatoes, cut into 1” cubes
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 5 figs, chopped
- 1/3 cup pecans
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 small clove garlic, finely minced
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Toss potatoes, beans, garlic and olive oil in a large bowl until evenly covered, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Distribute the vegetables evenly on a baking sheet and cook for around 35 minutes, or until the potatoes start to get crispy.
- While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the dressing by whisking together the sherry vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Remove the baking pan and lower the oven temperature to 350.
- Spread pecans on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and allow to toast for 10 minutes.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked wild rice, roasted vegetables, chopped figs, and toasted pecans.
- Drizzle dressing over the top, and toss until well distributed
- Enjoy! (or in my case, pack up into individual sized portions, and enjoy throughout the week at my desk or during lectures)
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m making an effort to design new recipes using the fresh produce from my weekly CSA box. After using the eggplant to make eggplant bacon, I had my eyes on something a little sweeter and went straight for the peaches. I may have gone a little overboard baking this weekend and I know there are going to be more peaches in my box next week, so expect a few more peach-based recipes in the near future. My first creation was a vegan, gluten-free version of a classic peach cobbler, with a few fresh blueberries mixed in.
Since I’ve been baking a lot, I keep ending up with a surplus of baked goods. While this doesn’t seem like a big problem, it is a little troubling when I find myself with three full batches of peach-based baked goods and a huge sweet tooth.
In order to combat this I’ve been trying to:
- limit the amount of processed sugar in my recipes whenever I can. This way I feel a little less guilty about having these foods as my snacks during the day.
- design recipes with a smaller yield so that I don’t end up with a kitchen (and stomach) completely full of baked goods. Most often when I’m baking I do it as stress relief, or procrastination and I’m not actually in need of a huge supply of sweets. Lately, I’ve been making half, or even quarter portions of recipes that allow me to get the stress relief of baking, the fun of testing out new recipes, and the ability to feed my cravings, without having a excess of food around that I won’t (or shouldn’t) eat all of.
This recipe paired fresh, local peaches and blueberries with a “buttery” biscuit topping, perfect for enjoying on these last (and excessively hot) days of summer. I cut the recipe down to two single-serving portions, but it can easily be doubled or tripled if you have more people to serve. It also contains no processed sugar, and uses only maple syrup as a sweetener, so you can feel a little less guilty when you have cobbler for breakfast (at least that’s what I’m telling myself).
For the fruit filling:
- 1 peach, sliced
- 2 tbsp blueberries
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch
For the biscuit topping:
- 3 tbsp gluten free flour (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour, but any flour will work)
- 3 tbsp oats
- 1 tbsp Earth Balance
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp cashew milk (or your non-dairy milk of choice)
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- Preheat oven to 375F
- Combine sliced peach, blueberries, lemon juice, cinnamon and cornstarch in a bowl and set aside
- In a separate bowl mix flour, oats, baking powder, maple syrup, Earth Balance and cashew milk until it is well combined.
- Evenly distribute the fruit filling between two small ramekins.
- Spoon the biscuit topping over the filling.
- Bake for 35 minutes, or until the cobbler topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.