Sweet potato muffins

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Thanksgiving is here! I love this holiday and the season that follows, but there are definite downsides. I’ve talked about keeping expectations in check with kids and holidays. And while it’s exciting and fun that there’s always something going on: Making cookies, making gifts, buying gifts, wrapping gifts, listening to music, decorating, holiday events, holiday parties, holiday-themed school things, concerts, visiting relatives, etc, it can be…a lot. And for a little one like mine who’s always searching for his equilibrium, it can be.. A WHOLE LOT.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

So, let’s not add even more by completely abandoning our commitment to balanced eating, mkay?

These sweet potato muffins are a fantastic “sweet” to have around. They feel festive and would certainly make a fitting Thanksgiving breakfast to watch in front of the parade or DOG SHOW (!!!!!!!), but are just sweet enough thanks to the applesauce, a few Tbsp of brown sugar divided between the batter and the muffin tops, a handful of golden raisins, and sweet potatoes.

And did I mention that they only require one bowl? You’ll have enough dishes this week.

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A couple of notes:
- Chop the sweet potatoes into 1/3-1/2 inch chunks. Any bigger and they may not soften enough during baking, but if you shred them, they disappear and make the batter a bit too wet.
- This is a thick batter, almost dough-like in consistency. Don’t worry. It always puffs up well in the oven and results in an airy, light muffin.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Sweet potato muffins

4 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, partially melted
½ cup applesauce
1 egg 
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided  
3/4 cup yogurt 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup wheat flour 
1 cup white flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt 
1 medium sweet potato, cut into tiny squares (about 1.5 cups)
¼ cup golden raisins

Move your oven rack to the bottom or lower middle portion of the oven. Preheat to 375.

In a large bowl, partially melt the butter or coconut oil. Microwave it for a few seconds until it just begins to liquify, but is still partially solid.

Mix in the applesauce, egg, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined and no streaks of flour remain.

Add the chopped sweet potatoes and raisins and stir again to combine.

Spoon the batter into the cups of a muffin tin, filling about 3/4 of the way. Top each muffin with a large pinch or two of brown sugar.

Bake for 18-22 minutes until firm to the touch and a tester in the middle comes out clean. Check after 12-15 minutes and cover if the sugar browns too fast.

Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Turkey and kale spanakopita

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Aack! Monday! (I am a Kathy comic, in case you were wondering.)

Monday, you're a bummer. What should be a fresh start is always an uphill climb for me. Weekends with a toddler are exhausting and getting back on schedule is tough after two days of loosening the reigns. Enter, spanakopita: An easy, healthy, and totally customizable way to keep your food making and eating on track.

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Spanakopita is a traditional Greek dish that usually employs spinach and a lot of spices (dill, oregano, etc). However, while I love spinach, M does not. And dill is my MORTAL ENEMY. So, this is my version, which uses kale, turkey, feta, oregano, and Aleppo pepper and wraps everything up in a freeform galette.

The beauty of this dish is in its adaptability. Skip the meat for a veggie version or use ground lamb, ground beef, or shredded rotisserie chicken. If you can't find frozen kale, any frozen greens will do. But, definitely use frozen veggies that you thaw and squeeze dry instead of anything fresh.

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Don't be intimidated by filo dough. While it can dry out and crack relatively fast, we're talking about a few minutes, not a few seconds. Some people recommend covering the dough with a lightly damp towel while others recommend brushing butter or olive oil on each layer. I say, if you organize your ingredients and work fast, you don't need to do any of those things. At least, not for this recipe.

*One quick note: I completely forgot to add the eggs when I made this dish for the photos! See also: "Aack! Monday!" So, yours will be considerably less crumbly than these photos imply. However, if you happen to forget the eggs in yours, it will still be delicious.

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Turkey and kale spanakopita

1 lb frozen kale (or spinach or collard greens or mixed greens, whatever you like), thawed and squeezed
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 lb ground turkey
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp aleppo pepper or ¼ tsp smoked paprika + 1/8 tsp cayenne
½ tsp oregano
6 oz crumbled feta (or about 1½ cup)
3 eggs
6-8 sheets of filo dough

Preheat oven to 350.

If the kale is straight from the freezer, empty the bag into a large bowl and microwave for 2-3 minutes, just until the ice has melted. Squeeze well with a cloth or paper towel to get out as much moisture as possible. Set aside.

Saute the turkey just until no pink remains, breaking into tiny pieces with the back of a spoon while cooking. Add the garlic, Aleppo pepper, oregano, and salt and cook for one more minute, or until fragrant. Add to the bowl with the squeezed kale.

Add feta to the large bowl and mix well. Taste for seasoning before adding the eggs and adjust accordingly. Add all three eggs and mix well.

Prep your workspace before opening your filo package. Cut a piece of parchment and place on a baking sheet. Have your bowl of fillings and a small bowl and brush or spray can of olive oil ready.

Next, unwrap and unroll the package of filo and, working quickly, lay out one sheet of the dough. Then, take the next sheet and rotate it slightly so that the points of the sheet underneath stick out. Repeat, rotating the third sheet of filo in the other direction. Repeat the first three steps again exactly until you have six sheets of filo in a rough star shape. (See photos to better illustrate what I mean.)

Dump the filling mixture into the middle of the six filo sheets and spray or brush the filling and the filo with olive oil. Then, wrap the sides of the filo over the filling. If there is a very large gap in the center revealing a lot of the filling, crinkle up one or two more sheets of filo and stick them on the top. Spray or brush the whole packet with olive oil.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Yield: 4-6 servings

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Carrot flatbread pizza

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How is it Passover and Easter again? I've been thinking a lot about the passage of time lately. Having a sick parent has made me feel more like an adult than any other milestone has, while simultaneously making me feel like a helpless kid. How am I old enough to sleep next to a hospital bed and interact with doctors who seem to think I know what I'm doing? And also, isn't someone else supposed to take care of this stuff? Like, the mom who's in the hospital bed?

Last week was also M's 3rd birthday and while I felt the obligatory, "How is this kid 3 already?" I also felt a little bit like, "How is he only 3?" In the best way possible, it feels like he's always been here.

So yeah, time. It flies and crawls.

M also starts school on Monday. Real school where I drop him off every day and he makes friends and has relationships with teachers and learns things that I don't know. We flirted with this type of setting before we moved last summer, but then we relocated and decided to get on a waiting list for a school we liked instead of jumping right in as soon as we got to Connecticut.

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So! This means I'll be actually posting lunchbox meals over on instagram instead of talking about them theoretically. This carrot pizza is a good place to start! First, it's "pizza" which is appealing to lots of kids. Carrots are also a good gateway vegetable because they're sweet, especially when roasted.

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A few notes about the pesto: We're lucky that M's classroom isn't nut-free, but if your school is, swap in pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds for the cashews. Also, the carrot tops lend a fresh, green taste to this pesto. Use 2 packed cups of carrot tops and basil, in whatever ratio you want. My carrot tops usually measure between 1 and 1.5 cups, so I fill up the remaining cup with basil. And be sure to pack it tightly.

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Carrot flatbread pizza

Carrot top pesto
1-2 cups leafy carrot tops (see note above)
1/4-1 cup basil
¼ cup raw cashews, toasted
1 large clove garlic
½ cup olive oil
splash of lemon juice
½ tsp salt, to taste
pepper

Yield: about 9 oz, or 1.5 cups sauce

For the flatbreads
2 lb carrots
2 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt
4 flatbreads
6 Tbsp ricotta
6 Tbsp carrot top pesto
4 Tbsp parmesan
1-1.5 cups shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 400. Peel the carrots and arrange in roasting pan. Add oil and salt and roast for 35-40 minutes, until thickest part of the carrot is fork tender.

To arrange the flatbreads: Mix together the ricotta and pesto. Spread 2 Tbsp of the cheese and pesto mixture on top of the flatbreads. Top with about 1/4 – 1/3 cup of mozzarella. Arrange carrots in whatever pattern you like and top with 1 Tbsp parmesan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese has begun to brown and the breads are crispy.

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Meatless Mondays: Spinach pasta

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After consuming roughly 10 lbs of sugar while making M's 3rd birthday sushi cake last week (in case you missed it), it was time for a reset. Feels like the 100th reset of the year already, no? Anyway, BALANCE.

So, I don't just like creamed spinach, I like, like creamed spinach. And I won't try to convince you that creamed spinach made without cream is the same thing. Hence, why I'm not calling this "creamed spinach pasta." But when I had the urge to make creamed spinach and mix in some pasta for a hearty and meatless dinner, I thought, maybe I can go one further and skip the cream altogether. Because, you know, the 10 lbs of sugar.

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I started out with the Food52 Cauliflower Carbonara that surfaced a few months ago. This sauce is also delicious in its own right, but I would not compare it to high octane carbonara (though it's an excellent way to get loads of vegetables into your child if you're into that sort of thing). I thought that the cauliflower flavor would be too strong to conceivably substitute for cream and I was right.

Then I gave this Bean-Creamed Spinach recipe on Epicurious a shot. A few tweaks later and we have a lively sauce that uses minimal dairy and even less meat. I used chicken broth because that's what we usually have on hand, but subbing in a vegetable broth would be perfectly fine.

I'm not sure you can really omit the cheese entirely because, to me, it rounds out the flavor. But if you use vegan cheese or nutritional yeast regularly, feel free to sub in some of those for the Asiago and Parmesan.

A note about pre-cooking the spinach: I find that when I cook spinach in whatever sauce it will eventually be covered with, I get a strange spinach-y film on my teeth that is wholly unappetizing. For whatever reason, wilting the spinach first and pressing out the excess water avoids the film and makes the dish taste much better. In my opinion, entirely worth the extra 10 minutes.

Sadly, this post was not sponsored by Whole Foods. I should really get on that.

Sadly, this post was not sponsored by Whole Foods. I should really get on that.

Creamed spinach pasta

1 lb baby spinach
2 large cloves garlic
½ large onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 can/box of white beans
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp Aleppo pepper or paprika
½ tsp mustard powder
1 tsp lemon juice (or the juice of ½ small lemon)
1 lb dry pasta
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
¼ cup Asiago cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

If needed, give your spinach a quick rinse. Place all of the spinach in a second large pot and start to wilt over medium heat. Give the spinach a few stirs to make sure it wilts evenly. This usually takes me about 10 minutes.

While wilting your spinach, give the onions and garlic a rough chop. You’ll puree these later, so don’t worry about mincing. Open, rinse, and drain your can of beans and measure out your stock.

When all of the spinach is wilted, turn the greens out onto a dishtowel or a few paper towels. This spinach is hot and we want this meal to be done quickly, so I like to add another dishtowel or a few more paper towels on top of the spinach and then weigh it down with a kettle or heavy pot. While you cook everything else, the spinach drains.

Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to your now empty large pot. Over medium heat, sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the beans and give a few stirs. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper. Turn the flame to medium high and bring the stock to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.

While the liquid is reducing, give your drained spinach a rough chop. Set aside. If you haven't already, start cooking your pasta.

When the stock has reduced by half, add the Aleppo pepper (or paprika) and the mustard powder. Puree the stock and white bean mixture with either a very strong immersion blender or in a regular blender. Return to the pan. Mix in the cooked spinach. Add the cooked and drained pasta and the cheeses and stir well to combine. Taste for seasoning.

Yield: 9 cups

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Veggie waffles

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Who resolved to eat more vegetables a few weeks ago? Who's still doing it? I'm going to be optimistic and say, "Good for you!"

I, for one, didn't make any resolutions this year, so I haven't broken any. However, I did make a list of cooking goals. For someone who cooks a lot, there are still many things I want to learn and master. Like bread. I've never made bread! How that possible?

Until then, these savory waffles are delicious for breakfast, but even better for lunch as a swap for sandwich bread. The veggies are held together with gluten-free garbanzo flour, eggs, and a few tablespoons of potato starch. The waffles are sort of latka-adjacent and as such, the potato starch makes them a bit crispier when they're first cooked. (In case you didn't know, potato starch is the secret to crispy latkes) However, once they cool, they get softer and more bread-like, so the starch isn't strictly necessary.

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After giving all of the veggies a rough chop, you want to pulverize them in the food processor. This keeps the final product from being too chunky. Also, releasing some of the veggie liquid makes the batter more batter-y, so don't worry if the blended vegetables look too wet.

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Veggie waffles

¾ lb potatoes (about 1 large or 3 small potatoes)
½ medium onion
½ cup cauliflower (heaping)
½ cup broccoli (heaping)
1 medium carrot
1 large garlic clove
¾ cup garbanzo flour
2 Tbsp potato starch (optional)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 eggs
1 Tbsp olive oil

Heat your waffle iron.

Roughly chop all of the vegetables and place in a food processor. Process until all large chunks have been emulsified. Dump out into a large mixing bowl.

Add the garbanzo flour, potato starch (if using), salt, pepper, eggs, and olive oil and stir well to combine.

Grease your waffle iron with olive oil or avocado oil (spray is the easiest) and spoon about ¼ cup of batter into each opening of your waffle maker (ours makes two medium-sized waffles at a time). Cook until done according to your machine.

Top with fried eggs, cheese, ham, turkey, avocado, etc.

Yield: 9 waffles

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