Cherry rye muffins

Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins

Cherry rye muffins are just healthy enough to feel virtuous without sacrificing flavor or texture. I promise these are worth heating up your kitchen for!

Take me to the muffins, please!

Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins
Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins

It’s been a minute since I posted something to the blog here and I have no excuse except that… I hate July. Don’t get me wrong, there is A LOT to love about summer. Produce, herbs, ice cream, pick-your-own blueberries, swimming, beach days, later nights, more sunlight, BBQs, a slower pace, vacations, etc. But the bugs and sweat and general malaise that overtakes me when that weighted blanket of humidity settles over the northeast, make it nearly impossible for me to stay productive.

However! I’ve soldiered on behind the scenes and heated my kitchen countless times to get these muffins exactly right.

The rye flour, to me, is just enough to taste the nutty flavor without changing the texture or inhibiting the rise on these muffins.

I also added just enough baking powder and soda to get a good amount of leavening without leaving a weird bitter aftertaste from too much rising agent. A note about rising agents: I’ve been adding the rising agent at the end and letting the batter bubble slightly after learning this technique from the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook. Does it make a huge difference in these muffins? I’m not sure. But it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins
Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins
Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins

I’ve also combined fresh, sweet cherries for moisture and seasonality, but added some unsweetened and unsulfured dried cherries for a concentrated cherry flavor. I haven’t tried omitting either from the batter, but in the coming months, I’m sure frozen cherries could be subbed for the fresh.

How to check fruit desserts for doneness: This can be tricky! When there’s a lot of fruit in a batter, checking with a toothpick or cake tester can be misleading because if you stick it into a piece of fruit, the tester may come out looking wet. Instead, I like to push on the tops of the muffins a bit and feel how firm they are. If the top springs back and maintains its shape after gently squished and the body of the muffin feels lightly firm (like a medium rare steak; you don’t want a hocky puck with no give, but you also don’t want to feel at risk of sticking your finger through the muffin), they’re done.

Also, let the muffins cool completely. Like, really let them cool. I’m the queen of eating muffins too soon and I end up losing half of the crust when it sticks to the baking paper and the muffin can be crumbly when still warm. But if you must, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Cherry rye muffins | Me & The Moose. These muffins are just healthy enough without sacrificing flavor or texture and really highlight seasonal produce. #meandthemoose #cherryryemuffins #summerbaking #muffins #cherries #breakfast #healthymuffins

Cherry rye muffins

Active time: 20-25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 40-45 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins


3 Tbsp butter, softened to room temperature for about 1 hour
¾ cup coconut sugar 
2 eggs
¾ cup full fat plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups AP flour
½ cup rye flour
2 Tbsp flax seed meal
¼ tsp salt
1 cup whole cherries, roughly chopped
¼ cup dried, unsweetened cherries, minced
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda

Streusel topping
2 Tbsp butter, softened to room temperature for about hour
½ cup oats
1/8 tsp salt
¼ cup packed brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a large bowl, mix together the softened butter (no need to use a hand mixer, just elbow grease and a wooden or silicone spatula) and the coconut sugar.

Add the eggs and mix until fully combined.

Add the yogurt and vanilla extract and mix again until fully combined.

Add the flours, flax seeds, and salt to the wet mixture and mix until no streaks of flour remain.

Add the fresh and dried cherries and mix in 10 times.

Finally, add the baking powder and baking soda and mix just until combined. Let sit while you make the streusel topping.

In a small bowl, mix together the butter, oats, salt, and brown sugar until well combined. I like to use my hands for this.

In a greased or baking cup-lined muffin tin, fill each opening to the top with batter. Top with about 1 heaping tsp of the streusel mixture (I usually eyeball this bit and try my best to make the topping equal).

Bake at 400 for 16-20 minutes or until the muffins are lightly firm to the touch and golden brown on top.

Pickled veggie pasta salad

Pickled pasta salad | Me & The Moose. This huge pickled pasta salad is perfect for a crowd because it features plenty of salt, fat, and acid and can hang out in the heat for a long time without going bad. Make it for a party or eat it throughout the week. Or just make the quick pickled veggies and snack on those! #meandthemoose #pastasalad #BBQrecipes #batchcooking #vegan #veganrecipes #pickles #pickledveggies

This is my platonic ideal of pasta salad: Tangy, bright, and crunchy, but also a little creamy and, frankly, oily. You can’t help but smell a smoky grill, hear kids laughing, and feel the sun in your face with this salad on your plate.

Just the pasta, please.

Pickled pasta salad | Me & The Moose. This huge pickled pasta salad is perfect for a crowd because it features plenty of salt, fat, and acid and can hang out in the heat for a long time without going bad. Make it for a party or eat it throughout the week. Or just make the quick pickled veggies and snack on those! #meandthemoose #pastasalad #BBQrecipes #batchcooking #vegan #veganrecipes #pickles #pickledveggies
Pickled pasta salad | Me & The Moose. This huge pickled pasta salad is perfect for a crowd because it features plenty of salt, fat, and acid and can hang out in the heat for a long time without going bad. Make it for a party or eat it throughout the week. Or just make the quick pickled veggies and snack on those! #meandthemoose #pastasalad #BBQrecipes #batchcooking #vegan #veganrecipes #pickles #pickledveggies

So, pasta salad is often an underwhelming affair. It feels necessary at BBQs and is easy to produce in huge quantities. And sans eggs or mayo, it keeps in the sun for hours without risking a side of salmonella. But what a waste when it’s totally boring!

This recipe uses a huge quantity of quick-pickled seasonal vegetables and aromatics, which takes a little pre-planning, but is very worth it. My kid also happens to love pickles, which is a pretty good way to get him to eat veggies. And when you do the pickling, you control the salt, sugar, and other junk that enters the mix.

The recipe I’ve developed here is best when left overnight, but the veggies can be eaten after about 3 hours and definitely taste pickled. Leaving them overnight helps the garlic to mellow, which can be considered a kindness to your guests, no? But also feel free to omit the garlic if you must.

And while I haven’t included anything but the pasta, dressing, and veggies in this recipe, you can customize this dish in whatever way suits your family. I make this for the three of us with mozzarella balls or feta. I’ve also thought about searing some salmon and flaking it in there or just opening a can of tuna and dumping that in. Also, the pickled veggies remind me of gardiniera, so I’m sure a salami or other Italian cured meat would be amazing in there. Experiment! Go crazy!

A couple of notes:

  • I opted for scallions here because, though I LOVE a pickled red onion, they turn the pickling liquid (and everything else that’s being soaked) a bit pink.

  • I also used fresh corn because it’s in season and is so sweet and perfect right off of the cob that I can’t imagine not using it. But I’m sure frozen would do the trick too.

  • I give a range of oil and a range of pasta to use here. I used a fancy pasta, which had about 14 oz of dry noodles in the bag, but feel free to use a whole pound. Obviously, the more pasta you use, the less prominent the veggies will be and the more sauce you’ll need and vice versa.

Pickled pasta salad | Me & The Moose. This huge pickled pasta salad is perfect for a crowd because it features plenty of salt, fat, and acid and can hang out in the heat for a long time without going bad. Make it for a party or eat it throughout the week. Or just make the quick pickled veggies and snack on those! #meandthemoose #pastasalad #BBQrecipes #batchcooking #vegan #veganrecipes #pickles #pickledveggies

Pickled veggie pasta salad

Active time: About 30 minutes, mostly spent chopping and mixing
Total time: Anywhere from 3 hours, 15 minutes to 1 week, depending on how much you let the pickles sit
Yield: About 9-10 cups of salad

¾ cup white vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp sugar
¾ tsp salt
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
½ large bunch scallions (about 4-5 large), trimmed and roughly chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved  
½ large orange bell pepper, roughly chopped
2-3 large ears corn, with kernels removed (or about 1½-2 cups)
12-16 oz dried pasta (depending on the ratio of vegetables to pasta that you prefer)
1/2- 3/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp fresh pepper
½ tsp dried or 1 tsp fresh oregano, well minced if using fresh
¼- ½ cup fresh basil leaves, torn

For the pickled vegetables:
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt and stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. (You won’t hear any more crunching on the bottom of the container.)

In a large container with a tight fitting lid, add the smashed garlic, chopped scallions, and chopped vegetables. Pour in the vinegar mixture, seal the container, and shake a few times.

Place in the refrigerator and leave for 3 hours or up to 1 week.

For the salad:
Cook your pasta according to package directions in well salted water.

While your pasta cooks, combine the oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and oregano in a small container.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to a very large bowl. Add half of the olive oil mixture and stir well.

With a large fork or slotted spoon, remove the vegetables from the pickling liquid, transferring as little of the brine as possible (though don’t go crazy). Set aside the garlic cloves and mince the pickled cloves. Add everything to the pasta and stir well.

Add more of the olive oil mixture to taste until you feel that the pasta salad is wet enough.

Mix in and top with the torn basil before serving.

Pickled pasta salad | Me & The Moose. This huge pickled pasta salad is perfect for a crowd because it features plenty of salt, fat, and acid and can hang out in the heat for a long time without going bad. Make it for a party or eat it throughout the week. Or just make the quick pickled veggies and snack on those! #meandthemoose #pastasalad #BBQrecipes #batchcooking #vegan #veganrecipes #pickles #pickledveggies

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian dinner, lunch, appetizer, or side is full of fiber, protein, good fats, and sweet syrupy roasted tomatoes. #meandthemoose #dinner #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #bakedfeta #cheese #roastedtomatoes #tomatoseason #sheetpandinner

Anyone out there who might think that a “meatless” meal wouldn’t satisfy them, hasn’t had giant white beans for dinner. This meal is full of fiber, protein, and delicious sweetness from the roasted tomatoes.

Straight to the recipe, please!

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian dinner, lunch, appetizer, or side is full of fiber, protein, good fats, and sweet syrupy roasted tomatoes. #meandthemoose #dinner #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #bakedfeta #cheese #roastedtomatoes #tomatoseason #sheetpandinner

Gigante beans, lima beans, large white beans, whatever you want to call them, these beans make a meal in a way that other legumes don’t always cut it for me.

I’ve only ever seen these beans in dry form, so while I’m averse to most extra work in the kitchen, I don’t see a way around cooking them yourself if you want to use these big guys.

Which leads us to the age old question: Do you really need to soak dried beans? Some will insist that you do. I say, LAZY COOKS UNITE! I have a preschooler and don’t always have that much foresight.

But here’s one caveat: Sans soaking, the simmering times vary WILDLY for these beans. One batch I made from Brand A were ready after about 90 minutes.. Brand B took almost twice as long. And while everyone advises “look for fresh beans,” if you could seriously show me a bag of beans with an expiration date on it, I would give you a million dollars.

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian dinner, lunch, appetizer, or side is full of fiber, protein, good fats, and sweet syrupy roasted tomatoes. #meandthemoose #dinner #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #bakedfeta #cheese #roastedtomatoes #tomatoseason #sheetpandinner

So, here are some handy tutorials that you can peruse and decide if you’re team soak or team no soak:

If I was the meal prepping type I’d suggest making a whole bag of these beans one weekend and freezing them for easy weeknight meals. Because once you cook the beans, this meal could not be easier or faster.

Roasting makes the tomatoes syrupy sweet, the cheese just a little soft and gooey, and the bean skins crispy in a way that is completely satisfying.

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian dinner, lunch, appetizer, or side is full of fiber, protein, good fats, and sweet syrupy roasted tomatoes. #meandthemoose #dinner #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #bakedfeta #cheese #roastedtomatoes #tomatoseason #sheetpandinner

A few notes:

  • I salt the bean cooking water and then don’t add any more salt until serving the beans. They soak up the sodium during cooking, so it’s very easy to over salt this dish. Also, feta is a salt bomb, so we’ve found that the end product needs no extra seasoning.

  • I’ve billed this as a meatless meal, but it could also serve as a side or appetizer just as easily.

  • Do NOT skip the lemon zest in the end. The citrus brightens up the beans and adds a layer of flavor without which, the beans could taste a bit flat.

  • I prefer to use a combo of both dried and fresh oregano, but use what you have on hand.

Baked gigante beans with feta and tomatoes | Me & The Moose. This vegetarian dinner, lunch, appetizer, or side is full of fiber, protein, good fats, and sweet syrupy roasted tomatoes. #meandthemoose #dinner #meatlessmonday #vegetarian #bakedfeta #cheese #roastedtomatoes #tomatoseason #sheetpandinner

Baked feta with gigante beans and tomatoes


Active time: about 20 minutes, on and off
Total time: 90-150 for the beans, 25-30 for the main dish
Yield: 4 dinner servings,

For the beans:
1½ cups dried giant white beans, rinsed
4 cups vegetable stock
1-2 cups water (as needed)
½ tsp sea salt
1-2 bay leaves
4 medium cloves garlic, peeled, but left whole

Yield: 3 heaping cups of cooked beans

Combine the beans, stock, salt, bay leaf, and garlic cloves in a large pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce flame to low and simmer, covered, for anywhere from 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours (90-150 minutes), stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy and soft, but not falling apart and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Check the beans after 60 minutes and then every 15-30 minutes after that (depending on how your beans are progressing) until the beans are tender throughout. Add more liquid if the water boils off before the beans are fully cooked.

 Drain any remaining liquid from the beans and remove the bay leaves.

For the main dish:
1/2 cup olive oil, divided  
½ tsp Aleppo pepper (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 Tbsp fresh oregano (or a combination of both dried for cooking and fresh for topping)
½ tsp smoked paprika
2-3 cups cherry tomatoes, whole (about 8-12 oz)
Small block Feta cheese (8 oz)
½ tsp lemon zest (zest of one small lemon)

Preheat oven to 400.

In a bowl or the pot you used to simmer the beans, add 1/4 cup of olive oil, Aleppo pepper, oregano, paprika, and tomatoes to the beans and mix well.

In a 9x13 baking pan (or whatever size you have), spread out the bean and tomato mixture. Clear a hole in the middle and add the feta.

Cook for 20-23 minutes, until the feta is soft and the tomatoes have released their juices AND those juices have become a little syrupy.  

Remove from the heat and top with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, lemon zest, fresh oregano (if using), and sprinkling of flaky sea salt (if needed).

Roasted strawberry and rhubarb butter

Roasted strawberry and rhubarb butter | Me & The Moose. This thick, spreadable butter uses minimal effort for maximum flavor and is an easy way to use this seasonal vegetable. #meandthemoose #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #rhubarbbutter #strawberryrhubarb #vegan #vegetarian

Rhubarb season is here! Turn this tart veg into a thick, spreadable butter to use all day, every day.

Take me to the recipe!

If you’ve searched Instagram recently, it’ll come as no surprise that rhubarb is a very photogenic vegetable. The variations in color lend themselves to ombre-ing and chevron-ing to your hipster heart’s content. But today, we’re keeping it simple by doing neither of those things.

Instead, we’re turning frozen strawberries and those giant rhubarb stalks you find in the grocery store (or your garden if you’re lucky enough to grow your own) into a butter in the style of apple or pumpkin. Because why should our fall fruits and vegetables have all the fun?

I used frozen berries in this recipe because it annoys me that strawberry and rhubarb are a perfect combination, but their growing seasons only overlap for a hot minute. Here in New England, rhubarb starts popping up in stores and markets around mid April, but strawberries aren’t ready until June.

Anyhoo, if you do use fresh berries, I’m guessing there will be slightly more juice, but they may cook a little faster. Keep an eye on the berries after about 20 minutes instead of waiting until 30 have passed.

Let the berries and rhubarb cook until the juices start to get a little syrupy. You can test this by sticking a spoon into the hot liquid (DON’T USE YOUR FINGER!!!). If the strawberry juice coats the back of the spoon and doesn’t drip off entirely, you’re about done. Make sure that your berries don’t burn because they can taste bitter.

Stay tuned on Insta for a few ways to use this butter in both sweet and savory ways!

Roasted strawberry and rhubarb butter | Me & The Moose. This thick, spreadable butter uses minimal effort for maximum flavor and is an easy way to use this seasonal vegetable. #meandthemoose #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #rhubarbbutter #strawberryrhubarb #vegan #vegetarian

Roasted strawberry and rhubarb butter | Me & The Moose. This thick, spreadable butter uses minimal effort for maximum flavor and is an easy way to use this seasonal vegetable. #meandthemoose #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #rhubarbbutter #strawberryrhubarb #vegan #vegetarian

Roasted strawberry rhubarb butter

Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: About 1 hour, 45 minutes
Yield: 12 oz (1½ cups)

 
3 heaping cups frozen strawberries
2 heaping cups chopped fresh rhubarb (about 3 extra-large stalks chopped into 1-inch chunks)


Preheat the oven to 350.

Wash and chop the rhubarb. Combine with the frozen strawberries on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking tray.

Cook for 35-40 minutes, until the fruit is soft, the strawberries have released their juices, and the juice has started to become syrupy. Watch the berries closely after about 30 minutes to ensure that they don’t burn.

Let the fruit cool completely, about 1 hour.

Scoop the fruit into your blender. Whatever juice gets onto the spoon is fine, but do NOT add any remaining syrup.

Blend until smooth.

Store in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Roasted strawberry and rhubarb butter | Me & The Moose. This thick, spreadable butter uses minimal effort for maximum flavor and is an easy way to use this seasonal vegetable. #meandthemoose #rhubarb #rhubarbrecipes #rhubarbbutter #strawberryrhubarb #vegan #vegetarian

Kale mac and cheese

Kale mac and cheese | Me & The Moose. This vegged-up pasta sauce looks green and packs a nutritional punch, but tastes like cheese. #meandthemoose #macandcheese #kale #greensauce #kidfood #dinnerrecipes #vegetarianrecipes

Mac and cheese is a perennial favorite for a reason. You can quickly make a huge batch and reheat it as needed. It’s perfect filler for lunchboxes or to whip up for dinner. And you can throw in any old proteins or veggies you have lying around. And it gets eaten. Huzzah!

Take me to the recipe!

Kale mac and cheese | Me & The Moose. This vegged-up pasta sauce looks green and packs a nutritional punch, but tastes like cheese. #meandthemoose #macandcheese #kale #greensauce #kidfood #dinnerrecipes #vegetarianrecipes

So! Easter and Passover just happened/are happening. My kiddo is at the age where he asks a lot of questions about everything, the deeper the subject, the better. The other day he hit me with, “Before I was born, where was I?”

Let me be clear: He was NOT asking where babies come from. He was asking a philosophical question about personhood. He wanted to know where his “self” resided before he had a body. He didn’t put it in those words, but that was the gist.

WHAT? WHY?

As you can imagine, religious holidays are tricky for us because this kid is constantly asking questions and we don’t always have great answers. “Why didn’t the Easter Bunny come to our house” was a little easier to handle than “Am I going to die?” but it was still tough! I stayed away from talking about religion and talked more about traditions, but I know that the questions are going to keep coming and get EVEN MORE complicated as his awareness grows.

Kale mac and cheese | Me & The Moose. This vegged-up pasta sauce looks green and packs a nutritional punch, but tastes like cheese. #meandthemoose #macandcheese #kale #greensauce #kidfood #dinnerrecipes #vegetarianrecipes

Since parenting has required so much mental gymnastics for us lately, I want to keep dinner as simple as possible. So, Mac and Cheese!

As you may or may not know, I prefer a stovetop mac and cheese to the baked kind. I feel like the baking process can dry out the sauce, which is not tasty, IMO.

Kale mac and cheese | Me & The Moose. This vegged-up pasta sauce looks green and packs a nutritional punch, but tastes like cheese. #meandthemoose #macandcheese #kale #greensauce #kidfood #dinnerrecipes #vegetarianrecipes

A couple of notes:

  • Do cook the kale a bit before pureeing. The more you cook the greens, the smoother the sauce will be. I only cook it for a few minutes though because I don’t want to lose too many of the nutrients.

  • Turn down the heat when making the sauce. It takes a bit longer, but will hopefully keep the milk solids from separating, which can make dairy-based sauces look curdled.


Kale mac and cheese

Time: About 25 minutes, mostly active
Yield: About 4 cups or 30 oz

1 lb small, dry pasta
1 bunch Lacinto kale, leaves stripped off of the tough center ribs
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk, divided (I used whole, but you can certainly use a lower fat variety if you like)
½ cup reserved pasta/kale cooking water
6-7 cups shredded cheese (combination of any nutty cheese like cheddar, gruyere, gouda, and Parmesan)
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp sea salt
Several cracks of black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large sauce pan. Add the flour, stir well, and let bubble for 1 minute.

Turn the heat down to medium-low, add 1 and 1/2 cups of milk, and whisk to combine.

Add garlic, salt, and pepper to the milk and stir to combine. Let the milk heat up until there are small bubbles forming along the sides of the pan, about 3-4 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted, allowing the cheese sauce to bubble slowly, but try not to get the sauce too hot, about 4-5 more minutes.

Remove pasta from boiling water and add kale to that same water. Blanch for 2 minutes and remove greens to a blender. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

Add the remaining ½ cup of milk to the green in the blender and puree until smooth, adding the reserved cooking water as necessary to puree the kale.

Add the greens to the cheese sauce and stir well. Allow the mixture to come up to a simmer again.

When both are cooked, combine 2 cups of the sauce with the cooked pasta and stir well. Add any additional toppings you might like.

Kale mac and cheese | Me & The Moose. This vegged-up pasta sauce looks green and packs a nutritional punch, but tastes like cheese. #meandthemoose #macandcheese #kale #greensauce #kidfood #dinnerrecipes #vegetarianrecipes