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.

Chia, cherry, and chocolate cookie bark

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Remember two weeks ago when I talked about the danger of expectations around the holidays and how we were going to be easy on ourselves and M? HA! HAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh, universe. I shouldn't have taunted you like that. (As always, scroll to the next photo for more about food and less about life with a toddler!)

My body, our house, and our toddler's frustration tolerance have all deteriorated at the same time. We moved into the house that "didn't need any work" about four months ago and in that time we've had two floods in the basement; the oven, washer, and now dryer have all broken at different points; we had a leak from the third floor bathroom that traveled all the way to a light fixture on the first floor; and now we have to replace the furnace vent.

And while there are daily magical moments in which I'm stunned by M's hilariousness and creativity, there are also moments where I feel like screaming into the abyss. He's just such a toddler. He'll ask to go outside and we'll say, "Sure. Let's put on your clothes/shoes/whatever," but he seems to hear, "NO! WE'RE NEVER GOING OUTSIDE AND YOU WILL STAY INSIDE EATING GRUEL AND STARING AT THE WALL FOR THE REST OF TIME! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!" Or, at least, that's my interpretation based on the intensity of his reaction sometimes.

And potty training is going nowhere fast.

And my back went out for the 500th time.

I'm just drowning in "shoulds." We should have started potty training sooner. I should read parenting books to figure out a better way to handle tantrums and the lack of listening. I should be more proactive about my back by losing weight and doing more strength training. We should know how to fix stupid things like the dryer.

Mostly, I should stop fretting because it could be worse. Back pain isn't the end of the world. A toddler not listening and tantruming is par for the course. A new house will always come with quirks and there's a learning curve when it's your first time owning one. So on top of feeling bad, I feel bad for feeling bad.

I think part of my problem is that the state of the world and our country has me at an 8.5 most of the time, so little things put me right up to 10. How do you turn off fear and anger about what's happening daily? How do you push forward knowing that so much needs to be fixed and is only getting worse? AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Okay, I'm done.

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So, why isn't cookie bark more of a thing? It's a lot easier than making individual cookies and takes less time to bake than a skillet cookie. I mean, the topping for this crumble I made over the summer is basically a lightly healthified oatmeal cookie. I suppose it has to do with most people liking some crisp bits and some gooey bits, which you don't get in a thin crackable cookie like these. Okay, so maybe I answered my own question, but I still think we can make cookie bark a thing.

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Also, I'm calling these "cookies" but they're really a hybrid. Not quite granola, not quite a cookie, they're not terribly sweet, but are sweet enough to pass convincingly for a dessert. They're also chock full of healthy stuff like toasted coconut, dried cherries, and chia seeds.

In one batch I swapped out the toasted pecans for raw pepitas and they were good, but not great. However, if you wanted these for a lunchbox snack, M still liked them a lot, so I think it's a good way to make them school safe.

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Also, there will be a bit of extra liquid that seeps out of the mixture when you spread it on a baking sheet. Try to get as much of it into the mixture as you can. But, I recommend rotating the baking sheet mid-bake and at that point, the extra liquid will have set a bit and is easy to scoop away and discard.

And a last note about baking: We are trying to find the balance here between drying out the bark and burning the bark. Cook it for as long as you can without scorching the edges to get a dryer, more crackable cookie. 

And a last last note about the chia seeds: If you spill any, you WILL think you have an infestation in your home. Over the past week, I've panicked that we had ants, bedbugs, and ticks. A tiny chia seed in a child's hair looks EXACTLY like a deer tick. Just a heads up.

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Chia, cherry, and chocolate cookie bark

2 eggs
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ tsp salt
½ cup pecan pieces, lightly toasted in the oven
1 cup dried coconut flakes, unsweetened
2/3 cup dried cherries, unsweetened
1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chia seeds

Preheat the oven to 300. On a parchment-lined rimmed cookie sheet, toast the raw pecan pieces until they just begin to smell nutty, about 5 minutes (but keep a close watch). 

In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs to combine the whites and yolks. Add the maple syrup and salt and whisk vigorously until the mixture is a bit frothy on top.

Add the dry ingredients and turn a few times to coat everything.

Dump out onto your parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet and spread evenly in a thin layer, trying your best to trap the liquid inside and not let too much seep out. But, see note above if some does seep out. You'll have the chance to scoop it out later.

Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate the baking sheet to ensure even browning. Cook for 15 more minutes and check the mixture. If the sides haven't begun to brown, keep cooking for 5 more minutes and check again. Once the edges are a nice golden browned, remove from the oven and let the bark cool completely on its original baking pan. This will take about 2 hours, but I've left this uncovered overnight on the counter and the snap is best the next day.

Yield: 20-30 pieces, depending on how big you make them.

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