Recipes: Gnocchi and Muffins

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been cooking and baking up a storm since the moment I arrived home last weekend. It’s been absolutely wonderful to be back at it and enjoying some good homemade food again. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE eating out and I very much enjoyed doing a TON of it this last month… First while my aunt and uncle visited my cousin/roommate and I in Victoria, then while I was trying to clear out my fridge/freezer in Victoria for the move, and finally while my mom and sister visited me in BC for a week before we came home to TO. But not being able to cook or bake has been torturous, so I am tremendously happy to be doing a lot of it again!

I whipped up a batch of gnocchi – Purple Yam Whole Wheat Cream Cheese Chive Gnocchi! – the other day. Gnocchi is my absolutely favourite thing to make and I pretty much always keep some frozen for a quick-fix meal. I don’t know where I got the idea for these little guys; I guess it just kinda popped into my head when I took a look in the fridge and figured I’d make use of what we had lying around. Anyways, they turned out to be super tasty. The purple yams (which were disappointingly not purple, but in fact actually white under their deceptively purple skin), added a surprisingly nice hint of sweetness. Along with the slight nuttiness from the whole wheat flour, the combination of flavours turned out to be a winner! These would even be great if you were to make them with the traditional yukon gold potatoes instead, and the flavours of the cheese and chives would likely shine through a bit more.

Whole Wheat Purple Yam Cream Cheese Chive Gnocchi

Ingredients:
1 1/2 – 2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
2 heaping Tbsp cream cheese
1 – 2 Tbsp finely chopped chives
4 – 6 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
about 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cube the potatoes. Toss in a bowl with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until mashable. Using a fork or potato ricer, mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the cream cheese, chives, remaining 2-4 Tbsp of olive oil (depending on how moist the potatoes are) and salt. Mix to combine.

Add the flour about 1/3 cup at a time, until a slightly moist dough ball forms.

Pinching off small balls of dough at a time, roll into a thin log and cut into bite size pillows.

Using a fork or a gnocchi paddle, you may roll them to form the traditional ridges. It’s a lot of trouble to go to though, and they’re delicious as-is anyways!

At this point, you can freeze them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking dish until solid, then transfer into a ziploc bag, seel and store in the freezer. OR you can boil them fresh and serve however you like!

The other night, we ate them boiled with fresh tomato sauce and wilted spinach. It was phenomenal.

Next time, I think I’ll boil them, then saute them in butter with garlic and pine nuts. Mmmmmmm, makes my tummy grumble just thinking about it!

Anyways, on to the muffins! These are seriously some of the most moist, crumbly, fluffy and flavourful muffins I’ve ever eaten. And the recipe was entirely and proudly created from scratch by my sister Sara and I. It all started with the need to use up a half empty can of leftover coconut milk. We made them entirely out of spelt flour, and with no eggs or dairy. You’d never guess in a million years that they’re vegan – they’d fool anyone!

Spelt Berry Lemon Coconut Muffins

Makes 6 large or 12 regular muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla or maple extract
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1/2 cup fresh/frozen blueberries
1/2 cup fresh/frozen cranberries
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut + more for topping

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and zest. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, maple syrup, coconut milk, oil, extract and vinegar. Add dry mix to wet mix and stir until just combined. Fold in the berries and shredded coconut. Divide mixture evenly between 6 large or 12 regular prepared muffin tins. Top each one with a generous sprinkling of shredded coconut. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Enjoy!

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