Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Muffins

Yesterday, someone told me I gotta stop hating on pumpkin and pumpkin spice. I guess I have got to set something straight. I don’t hate pumpkin or pumpkin spice. In fact, I love pumpkin and pumpkin spice. I just love cranberries more.

I think its sad that craberries don’t get a fraction of the attention pumpkin and pumpkin spice get this time of year. In my very small way I am trying to change that. I want everyone to know cranberries aren’t just for sauce at Thanksgiving anymore.

To prove that pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and cranberries can live together in peaceful harmony, here is a recipe for a muffin that uses all three.

Pumpkin Spice Cranberry Muffins

Adapted From Aberdeen Kitchen

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

3/4 cup fresh cranberries

1 egg

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

2 TBS canola oil

1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 6 cup muffin tin; set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice until well combined.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, pumpkin, oil and vanilla until throughly combined.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full. Bake on a center rack for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the pan for 5 minutes then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool.

Cranberry Almond Energy Balls

It must be September. It seems like overnight the pumpkin and pumpkin spice stuff has overtaken the shelves. Seriously, the whole pumpkin spice thing is getting out of hand. Last year I saw pumpkin spice flavored dental floss. Whats next pumpkin spice flavored tooth paste?

I am going to do my best to combat the pumpkin spice craziness by posting as many cranberry recipes as possible between now and Thanksgiving.

I am going to start the cranberry recipes with a simple recipe for energy balls. I made this recipe because I wanted something snacky but didn’t want to make too effort to get it. I wasn’t expecting much from them but they were surprisingly satisfying.

Cranberry Almond Energy Balls

From Cupcakes and Kale Chips

1/2 cup pitted dates

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup oats

1/2 cup almonds

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until a thick paste forms. Use 1 teaspoon of the mixture form into balls. Store in an airtight container.

Fruit Shrub

This summer I really became interested in vinegars, how they taste, how to cook with them, the health benefits of vinegar and so on. One of my friends suggested I try a shrub.

Don’t worry if you have never heard of a shrub before, neither had I. Originally, shrubs syrups were a way to preserve fruit through the hot summers with no refrigeration and a way to hydrate those working in the hot sun. Now shrubs are used to flavor drinks, alcoholic and non alcoholic, make marinades and salad dressings and, probably, a lot of other things I haven’t even thought of yet. Basically, you can use your shrub syrups anywhere you would use vinegar.

Personally, I like to use my shrub syrup to flavor my water and unsweetened ice tea. When you first start experimenting with adding shrub syrups to your recipe, go a teaspoon or two at a time and taste as you go. Shrub syrups are really strong. You can always add more but you can’t take it away once its there.

Fruit Shrub

2 cups cut up fruit, any kind

2 cups white sugar

2 cups vinegar, any kind

Peel the fruit and cut the fruit into chunks. Place the fruit in a bowl and add the sugar. Stir well to combine. At this point, the sugar will not dissolve, it will just coat the fruit. Put the bowl in the fridge. Let the fruit sit for 2 days, giving it a good stir whenever you think about it.

After two days, strain the fruit pulp out of the juice. Add the vinegar and stir well. The syrup is very strong at this point but it is ready to use. I prefer to let the syrup sit for a few days to mellow the vinegar before I use it. I store the syrup in a glass jar in the fridge.

To use your shrub: Add the shrub syrup to taste to your beverage of choice. You can also use your shrub wherever vinegar is called for.

Broccoli Salad (Whole 30)

“Something magical happens when food is cooking — the rest of the world melts away, and nothing exists except what’s in the skillet in front of you–and it talks, it breathes, and lives. The sounds, aromas, textures, flavors and the heat of the kitchen–even the occasional searing burn– feel good.” David Link

People ask me all the time why I like cooking. I never really had a good answer. Its just something I really enjoy doing. This quote from David Link comes as close to explaining it as I can get.

Broccoli Salad

From The Frugal Paleo Cookbook

1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets

1/2 cup craisins

1/4 cup almonds, slivered or chopped

1/4 cup finely minced red onion

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, or more almonds slivered or chopped

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup red wine vinegar.

5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Salt and pepper

In a large bowl, mix together the broccoli, craisins, sunflower seeds, onions and almonds.

In a seperate small bowl, combine mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar.

Pour the dressing over the broccoli and mix in the bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Beef With Broccoli (Whole 30)

Hey Guys, I am back. Did you miss me? I always miss you when I take my blogging vactions but I need those vacations to recharge my creative culinary batteries.

I didn’t get nearly as far in my blog redesign as I hoped because somehow, while was redoing my index , I managed to delete my index entirely. Now I have to organize, type and link 536 recipes. Thats going to take a while to fix. Sigh.

While on my blogging vacation, I did a lot of experimenting with a bunch of small batch spice blends I found in a cookbook called the Frugal Paleo Cookbook. Each blend makes 1 tablespoon of spice blend which is enough to season 8-12 oz of meat and a bunch of vegetables. I am creating as many recipes as I can come up with using these spice blends.

The best thing I did over my blogging vacation was cook a lot out of ChiYu Smith’s amazing Asian Paleo cookbook. This recipe is so good, I ate the majority of it with my fingers while standing standing in front of the fridge. You know thats some seriously good stuff.

Beef With Broccoli

From the Asian Paleo Cookbook


1 lb skirt steak

2 TBS coconut aminos

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 to 3 tsp toasted sesame oil

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp arrowroot

1/2 tsp baking soda

Stir Fry Sauce:

2 TBS coconut aminos

1 TBS fish sauce

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Additional Ingredients:

1 to 2 heads broccoli, broken into florets

1 1/2 ghee

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 TBS finely minced ginger

Thinly slice the beef about 1/4 inch thick. Place on a bowl and add the rest of the beef ingredients and mix well. Set aside in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Combine the the coconut aminos, fish sauce, toasted sesame oil and black pepper in a small bowl; set aside.

Melt the ghee in a saute pan over medium-high heat then lower the heat to medium. Add the ginger, garlic and a small pinch of salt. Stir- fry 8 to 10 seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic and ginger.

Increase the heat to medium-high. Spread the beef over the bottom of the skillet in a single layer and cook until the edges of the beef are slightly crispy. Flip and do the same thing for the other side, cooking the meat until its 3/4 done.

Add the sauce and the broccoli. Cook until the broccoli reaches the desired doneness and the beef is cooked through.