Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


A Muffin to Love

Before we get down to these scrumptious muffins with the craggy tops, filled with whole grains, fruits and nuts, I have a few flower pictures from around our neighborhood.

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We love muffins at our house, and these are one of our favorites {we have too many favorites to choose just one!}.  My recipe is adapted from the Apple-Cranberry Muffins recipe found in Once Upon a Tart {Mentesana and Audureau}, which is one of my favorite cookbooks.  Once Upon a Tart is “New York City’s favorite bakeshop and cafe.”  I have never been there, but if I ever make it back to New York City, I will be sure to drop in for lunch and dessert.  Karen Dennis posted the original muffin recipe on her blog, and you can find it here.  I haven’t met many recipes I didn’t want to play around with in some way, so today I will share my spin on this tasty muffin.  It is a delicious muffin, particularly when you top it with a smear of good butter.  Speaking for myself, it is important to remember the butter, salted or unsalted, when you enjoy a muffin or slice of quick bread {or any bread for that matter}.  Butter offers up a delicious creamy contrast to the fruit and nut goodness that are these muffins, making them even more delicious than when au natural.  So, without further adieu. . .


Muffin with egg and asparagus

I love muffins with eggs {fried eggs in particular} and a fresh spring vegetable.  This was a tasty and healthy breakfast, I might add!


Apple Cranberry Apricot Muffin

Look how craggy the tops are, with tender morsels of Granny Smith apples, tart-sweet cranberries, chewy apricots & crunchy walnuts.  There is no shortage of nooks and crannies for butter to hide.  Delicious!


Apple Cranberry Apricot Muffin Split with Butter


It just looks like a lot of butter, but isn’t really!


Apple, Cranberry & Apricot Muffins
adapted from Once Upon a Tart’s Apple-Cranberry Muffins

We still have a bag of cranberries in the freezer, which are totally fine, but I’m sure blueberries would also be awesome in these muffins, if  you don’t have cranberries.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup medium grind cornmeal
1/4 cup dark rye {light rye would be fine}
1 tbsp flax seed meal
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup neutral flavor oil {I used organic canola oil}
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup broken walnuts
1 medium size tart apple, such as Granny Smith, cored but not peeled, and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup whole frozen {or fresh} cranberries
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots {preferably California apricots, as they are tastier and less sweet than Turkish apricots}

Grease 12 muffin cups with butter or pan spray.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium size bowl until well mixed.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs to break up the yolks.  Add sugar and continue to whisk for a few minutes, until the mixture begins to pale in color.  Whisk in the oil and vanilla.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring with a wooden spoon until just a little flour is visible.  Add the walnuts, apples, cranberries and apricots.  Stir gently until there is no trace of flour visible.

Divide the batter evenly into your muffin cups, filling them almost to the top.

Place the muffin tin onto the center rack of the oven, and bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.  Do not over-bake.  Remove the muffins to a cooling rack and cool completely, except those that you will enjoy warm {with a swipe of good butter!}.


  • I leave the apple unpeeled; we like the chewiness that the peel adds {and fiber too!}.
  • We get our dried apricots from Trader Joe’s.  This is one of the items we ask people to bring to Maui when they ask, “Do you want anything from Trader Joe’s?”  The answer, of course, is a resounding “YES!”  We like the California Slab Apricots Blenheim Variety.
  • I think I have established elsewhere on this blog that I prefer large pieces of nuts in baked goods, so the walnuts are broken.  There are a few exceptions to this rule, but not many.
  • Muffins freeze well, wrapped in a zipper lock bag {squeeze out as much air as you can}.

Bon appétit!



Cranberries for Breakfast

A few tidbits about cranberries. . .
~ The cranberry is native to North America.
~ Cranberries bounce because of air pockets inside the fruit.  They are also called bounceberries.
~ If you were to string all of the cranberries harvested in North America last year, it would reach from Boston to Los Angeles more than 565 times!

Source of information:

Some time ago, I posted a few ways that we like to eat plain yogurt.  Cranberry season is here, which means we can swirl some raw cranberry orange relish into creamy plain yogurt for a delicious breakfast treat.  Topped with walnuts & a sprinkling of raw cacao nibs, it makes a great breakfast with a piece of toast and some tea.  As I mentioned in a previous post, our favorite yogurt is Nancy’s.

Nancy's Plain Yogurt

Nancy’s Plain Yogurt

When you open up a new yogurt, stir it well until all the lumps are out and it is super creamy.  Add whatever you like to make a healthy and delicious breakfast.

Plain Yogurt with Cranberry Orange Relish & Broken Walnuts

Plain Yogurt with Cranberry Orange Relish & Broken Walnuts

You could stop with the cranberry orange relish {recipe here} and walnuts, or do as I did and sprinkle a few raw cacao nibs over the top.  In one fell swoop, you can boost the taste & the nutrition of your creamy bowl of yogurt.  What a deal!

Try some raw cacao nibs on your bowl of yogurt!

Try some raw cacao nibs on your bowl of yogurt!

I enjoy having some toast with my yogurt.  It adds somewhat of a “savory” bite to counter the yogurt’s sweetness, even though this yogurt isn’t super sweet, since it only contains a bare minimum of sugar.  I wrote about this bread before, but it’s worth revisiting.  It is simple to make & tasty to eat.

Date Walnut Cinnamon Bread

Date Walnut Cinnamon Bread with Star fruit

Better eat it quickly, because the butter is almost melted!  I prefer my butter sitting on top in cold, thin slices.  Mmmmmm!  This bread is just about as good as cinnamon rolls, but a lot easier and quicker to make.  With the cranberry orange relish, more fruit isn’t really required, but the star fruit makes a pretty addition to the plate.  Aren’t they cute?  Star fruit is a tropical fruit whose season runs from July-February in the U.S.  It is a good source of Vitamin C, potassium and fiber.  According to Food Chemistry, star fruit is a good source of antioxidants, particularly the kind found in green tea and red wine.

Date Walnut Cinnamon Bread
adapted from Easy Little Bread

1 1/4 cups / 300 ml warm water (105-115F) 2 teaspoons active dry yeast (one packet)
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 cup/140 grams whole wheat flour
1 cup/100 grams oats
1 cup/125 grams unbleached white flour
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
5 dates, snipped into small pieces
1 cup broken walnuts
2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing {you probably won’t need it all}

In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, salt, cinnamon, dates and walnuts in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Brush a 9” x 5” loaf pan {8 cup} generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. I finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat – to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm with butter.

Makes 1 loaf.

Bon appetit!


If you’re busy, never cook for one meal; always cook for two or three.  Put it in the freezer, but it doesn’t have to encore in the same form.” Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Kula Black Raspberries

Kula Black Raspberries

Who knew?  Not me.  I had no idea that some nice farmer is growing black raspberries, on Maui, for our eating pleasure {in November!!!}.  My husband purchased these beauties at the Upcountry Farmers Market.  What a pleasant surprise!

Luscious Fresh Berries

Luscious Fresh Berries

Black Raspberries with Cream & Powdered Sugar

Black Raspberries with Cream & Powdered Sugar

We love fresh berries with a dribble of heavy organic cream and a flurry of powdered
sugar. . .pure bliss. 

Unlike other easier to eat berries, cranberries elicit strong opinions from those who either love them or loathe them.  We happen to enjoy cranberries, and have a few favorite ways to use them.  I should say that I am talking about fresh cranberries, not the dried ones.  We do like dried cranberries, but they are not the same healthy powerhouse as the fresh variety.

Fresh Cranberries

Fresh Cranberries

Once the berries are dried, the sugar and calorie content skyrocket.  Fresh berries are only available a few months of the year, so if you want them year round, you will need to buy them now and squirrel them away for another day.  We like to rinse fresh cranberries in a colander, blot them dry and then put them on a parchment-lined sheet pan for a short stint in the freezer; this will prevent them from freezing into a solid block of cranberries, which will not be user friendly.  If you do not have parchment paper, a flexible cutting board works well, but I do not recommend using waxed paper, as it tears easily from being wet and it will be harder to remove the frozen berries.  Once the berries are frozen, pop them into a freezer bag and enjoy them whenever you like, in breads, cookies, hot cereal, smoothies or relish.

Ready for the freezer!

Ready for the freezer!

One of our favorite cranberry recipes is for fresh cranberry orange relish.  We also like cooked cranberry relish, but this is what we make most often.  We have significantly reduced the sugar for our tastes, but you can certainly adjust it for yours.  I enjoy this relish the most on plain yogurt {yum!} with big pieces of walnuts.  It is also good to have a spoonful on a green salad, or with any traditional cranberry-friendly foods.

Cranberry Orange Relish

Cranberry Orange Relish

Fresh Cranberry Orange Relish
adapted from Superfoods Rx.:  Fourteen Foods that will Change Your Life  {Steven Pratt, M.D. and Kathy Matthews}
12 ounces fresh or *frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 unpeeled orange {preferably organic}, washed, cut into eighths and seeded
1/3 cup sugar {the original recipe calls for 3/4 cup}

Put the cranberries, orange slices and sugar into a food processor.  Process until everything is evenly chopped.  Chill until ready to eat.  *If you use frozen cranberries, partially thaw them before processing, or you will end up with a big cranberry orange ice ball.

The relish gets better as it sits and the flavors mingle.

Makes about 3 cups

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette

We enjoyed several kale salads last week, all of them with cranberry vinaigrette.  The tart-sweet of the vinaigrette pairs perfectly with kale’s bitterness and the creaminess of fresh goat cheese.  A few other ingredients make this salad a winner.  Not to mention the fact that the dressing is a gorgeous hue of creamy cranberry pink.  It looks kind of like raspberry gelato.  I apologize for the lack of photo-we ate all the dressing.

Kale Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette
I made several versions of this salad recently, this being the most elaborate with the addition of canned tuna.  You can put in whatever you like, but I think the most important additions are the goat cheese {for creaminess} & the toasted walnuts {pair excellently with the goat cheese and cranberries, and for a toasty CRUNCH}.

Kale, enough for 2 salads, washed, dried well & torn into bite-size pieces
Thinly sliced sweet onion {or red}
1 avocado
1 can tuna {we use Wild Planet}; optional
Fuyu persimmon, washed and thinly sliced {I don’t peel them, but you can if you like.}
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
Toasted walnuts
Fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Cranberry Vinaigrette {recipe below}

Put the kale into 2 bowls and dribble with enough dressing to moisten.  Top with onion, avocado, tuna {if using}, tomatoes, crumbled goat cheese and walnuts.  Put a ring of persimmon slices around the edge of the bowl.  Add a grind of salt & pepper then top with dressing.

2 servings

Cranberry Vinaigrette
2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or tangerine juice)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Combine cranberries, sugar, and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook about 5-10 minutes, or until the cranberries pop.  Remove from the heat and let cool.  Pour cooled cranberry mixture into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add the mustard and orange juice and blend.  With the motor running, stream in the olive oil.  Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Makes about 2 cups dressing

Did you know that. . .
Fresh cranberries:
* are low in calories {44/cup}
* are high in fiber
* are low in sugar
* aid in the prevention of urinary tract infections {UTIs} by preventing bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract lining
* are high in phenols which are plant chemicals known to be highly protective against many health problems {i.e. toxic to cancer tumor cells}
* helps to prevent bacterial adhesion to teeth and the stomach lining, preventing dental plaque and ulcers, respectively

Information from:  The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth {Jonny Bowden, Ph. D., C.N.S.}

Happy Thanksgiving & Bon Appetit!