Strawberry Apple Rhubarb Muffins (Vegan!)

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Do you ever have those moments when you finally realize something that should have been obvious to you for a long time, and you say to yourself, “I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this before?”

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That is exactly how I feel about strawberries, green apples, and rhubarb. In this in-between season, why not bring the best of the fall and the best of the spring together, in one delicious “tweasonal” snack? One day it’s fifty degrees and the next day it’s eighty – why not embrace the seasonal identity crisis in your kitchen as well? Strawberry and rhubarb is a tried and true pairing, but apple and rhubarb? That is a little less common. However I feel that the vibrant green stalk of the rhubarb has been trying to tell me something for years.

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Plays well with others. . . particularly with strawberries and Granny Smith apples. Because cramming three flavors into one muffin wasn’t enough of a challenge, I opted to make these vegan as well. I have made vegan cookies and breads before, but I believe these are my first vegan muffins. Non-dairy milk and a flax egg work wonders.

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If you have never made a flax egg before, do not be intimidated.

First, grind whole flax seeds into a fine powder. I use my coffee grinder for this step. The oils in flax are very temperamental and ground flax meal can go rancid quickly, so I always keep the seeds whole then grind them immediately before using in a recipe.

Second, mix 1 part flax seed meal to 3 parts water. Stir with a fork or whisk to combine. This recipe calls for two flax eggs (2 Tbsp flax + 6 Tbsp water).

Third, refrigerate for 15 minutes to achieve the consistency displayed below. This ingredient is a binder, so it needs to stick. When it has set up enough, you can turn a container of flax eggs on its side and the contents don’t spill out.

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Another unexpected part of these delicious muffins is the whole strawberry hiding in the middle of each one. I folded chopped apples and rhubarb into the muffin batter, then I sliced the tops off of twelve strawberries.

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After filling the muffin tins halfway, I shoved a whole strawberry into the middle of each tin, then topped off with some batter. As the muffins bake, the strawberry juice starts to leak out into the muffins, and when you bite into one, the whole strawberry center is like a fresh jam filling. I really should try this with peanut butter muffins, right?

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Some of the strawberries couldn’t stay hidden, and they chose to leak sweet strawberry lava out of the tops of the muffins. They look exactly how they are: irresistibly delicious.

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Vegan Strawberry Apple Rhubarb Muffins

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh ground flax meal
  • 3 ounces water
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used soy milk)
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of peeled, chopped apple (I used Granny Smith)
  • 1/2 cup chopped rhubarb
  • 12 small strawberries, tops removed

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine flax meal and water, refrigerate for 15 minutes. The result is a “flax egg.”
  3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients: flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly mixed.
  4. In a smaller bowl, combine wet ingredients: flax egg, oil, applesauce, vanilla, non-dairy milk, and vinegar. Stir until mixed.
  5. Add wet ingredients to large bowl and stir to combine with dry ingredients, until just moistened. Make sure all flour is incorporated.
  6. Fold in apple and rhubarb.
  7. Grease or line a muffin tin with paper liners. Fill each cavity halfway with batter. Place one strawberry inside each cavity, then top with more batter until filled.
  8. Bake muffins in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the largest muffin comes out clean.

Note: if vegan isn’t your thing, you may substitute 2 eggs, beaten, for the flax eggs, and 1 cup buttermilk for the non-dairy milk and vinegar.

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Is it Spring time yet?!

Farmers’ Market 04.21.12 and Strawberry Snacks

Last week I saw local asparagus in the grocery store for the first time this year. When strawberries followed a few days later, I knew what I had to do. The farmers’ market was calling my name. On our first free Saturday in Richmond in a very long time, Kyle and I made it out to the South of the James Winter Market. Here’s the haul!

  • Romaine lettuce (Broadfork Farm)
  • Green onions (Broadfork Farm)
  • Radishes (Walnut Hill)
  • Strawberries (Walnut Hill)
  • Asparagus (Walnut Hill)
  • Kale (Walnut Hill) – for juicing!
  • Olive and Herb Bread  (Norwood Cottage Bakery)

It was a beautiful warm morning and we enjoyed walking the short distance to the farmers’ market for the first time since moving into our new home. Unfortunately I was battling a migraine for most of the day so I didn’t do much else on Saturday until about 4:00 PM. I couldn’t figure out if it was exhaustion, stress, or my pollen allergies that had sidelined me until the late afternoon. Then when the torrential downpour hit late Saturday evening and the temperature dropped thirty degrees overnight, I figured it out. Usually when the weather takes a dramatic turn like this, I get terrible headaches. I am so glad that I was able to make it out into the sunshine for a few hours to grab a coffee with Kyle and peruse the market tables. We had such a wonderful, relaxing morning before I had to crawl into bed and pull the covers up over my eyes!

I rallied and went out for dinner and drinks with friends on Saturday night, and woke up to cold, pouring rain on Sunday morning. It was such a stark contrast to the nice warm weather of the day before. To remind me of the bright sun-warmed stalls filled with fresh local produce, I pulled out the strawberries and made this easy spring dessert.

These tasty little morsels contain just three ingredients and they are really easy to make. I brought them to brunch with some friends this afternoon and they went over really well, so I decided to share them here. When the main ingredient is dark chocolate peanut butter, what could go wrong?

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Filled Strawberries

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  1. Slice the top off of each strawberry.
  2. Using a paring knife, strawberry huller, or serrated grapefruit spoon (it works!), hollow out the center of each strawberry, being careful not to poke a hole through the bottom or sides of the berry. You are making a little strawberry cup. Adorable.
  3. Optional: slice off the very tip of each strawberry so that the treats will stand upright.
  4. Using a pastry bag, pipe the chocolate peanut butter into the center of each strawberry. Alternatively, use  a small spoon or spatula to the fill berries with the peanut butter.
  5. Sprinkle a few grains of sea salt over the top of each one.
  6. Freeze in a covered plastic tub for 20 minutes to set, then store in refrigerator.