Dragonfly Home Recipes

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Apple Cider Muffins

Capture the feeling and flavor of fall with these rich, moist apple cider muffins.  Full of good ingredients, like chopped apples, cinnamon, ground rolled oats, and apple cider, these muffins are as nourishing as they are delicious!  They taste kind of like a healthier version of those delicious apple cider doughnuts you can get at your favorite cider mill.  Grab one for breakfast or pack one in your lunch and enjoy! And don’t forget how good your kitchen will smell as they are baking!

apple cider muffinsI adapted this recipe from a blueberry muffin recipe I found years ago in Real Simple Magazine.  Over the years I have changed and substituted things, as our tastes and choices have evolved.  The original recipe calls for orange juice and blueberries, but since we are currently in the midst of a beautiful fall, I wanted to reflect the season.  Adding chopped apples instead of blueberries and the apple cider instead of the orange juice takes these muffins to a new level of deliciousness.  And what are baked apples without cinnamon?  Of course I had to add cinnamon.

apple cider muffinsThe fall color around here is so beautiful, and I’m not sure we have even reached the peak of the color yet, since there is still quite a bit of green out there.  I hope you all have a great weekend, and hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy the glorious colors.  My son has two soccer games and we have out-of-town friends and my ex-pat cousin and her sons coming into town, so we will have lots of chances to savor the season.  I am so looking forward to all of it!  But now I must clean my neglected house! At least it smells really good in here, like apples and cinnamon.  These muffins are wonderful.  I hope you give them a try! I am sharing a plate over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Elaine @ foodbod and Michelle @ O Blog Off.apple cider muffinsapples and ciderfall walnuts

Apple Cider Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins
  • Time: about 20 minutes of prep time and about 22 minutes of baking time
  • Print


  • 1 and 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon of  salt
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt (if you don’t have plain, flavored Greek yogurt works too!)
  • 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup of fresh apple cider
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of apple, peeled and finely chopped (about 2 medium apples)


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin or line it with paper baking cups.

In a blender or food processor, combine the flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Pulse until the oats are finely ground and everything is combined.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, brown sugar, melted butter, apple cider, and egg.  Stir until well combined.  Gradually add the flour/oat mixture to the wet ingredients.  Stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated and a batter forms (do not overmix).  Fold in the chopped apples.

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups.  Bake in your 375 degree oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin.  Enjoy!



Black Bean-Mango Salsa

Black beans, mango, and corn make up the main part of this colorful salsa.  Cilantro, red onion, mint, lime juice, and honey add irresistible flavor.  Packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, this salsa is a beautiful, healthy, and tasty addition to any table.  Top a salad with it to add nutrition and flavor, or spoon it onto tortilla chips, or as in my photos, try it with crispy polenta discs. Or just take a spoon and eat it straight!  Either way, it is delicious!

black bean-mango salsaIf left to my own devices, I would probably eat way too much bread and cheese.  So it’s really nice when I can find a super-healthy, clean eating recipe that I love, a dish that can energize my body and help me work hard and stand strong.  The balance of flavors in this salsa is wonderful.  A bit of sweetness from the mangoes and honey is mixed with a bit of zing from the lime juice and cilantro.  It is a great snack, salad topper, or side dish.

black bean-mango salsaI adapted this recipe from my husband’s beloved “Thrive Energy Cookbook” by Brendan Brazier.  I was drawn to it because my grocery store has had mangoes on sale for the past couple of weeks, so we have had mangoes in our fruit bowl waiting to be used.  Now that I have found this salsa, I expect it will become a regular in our rotation, because it is so delicious, easy, and versatile.  I used thawed frozen corn instead of fresh, and substituted honey and olive oil instead of the agave nectar and hemp oil called for in the Thrive recipe.

The days and evenings of this month have been very full.  I have not posted as often as I would like to.  It’s not that I haven’t been in the kitchen–quite the contrary!  I just haven’t gotten the photos or the recipes organized.  But that is about to change.  I am about to get back on track.  Recently, I started playing the piano again, after almost three years away from it.  Since my dad died, I have been unable to touch the piano.  I think it has something to do with the emotions released when playing the piano.

black bean-mango salsaIn any case, although I am very rusty, it feels good to have that part of my life back again, and I know my dad would be glad about it too.  I stumbled across a really pretty song that I am now working on, called The Dance, written by Tony Arata.  Apparently, Garth Brooks also is known for singing it.  I am not usually a country music aficionado, but this song really caught me.  The melody is so beautiful, and the words….they are a good reminder.  We don’t always know how things are gong to turn out.  Sometimes it’s better that way, otherwise we may not take risks or go for our dreams.  If we try to avoid heartbreak, disappointment, or failure, we might miss out on the things that make life worth living.  “Our lives are better left to chance….I could have missed the pain…but I’d have had to miss the dance.”  It’s not like we haven’t heard this message or something similar to it before, but when it is put to music in a beautiful song, sometimes it’s like hearing the message for the first time again.

I hope you all have a great weekend, and enjoy the beautiful fall colors if you live in an area like mine, where the leaves are just starting to turn beautiful shades of red and gold.  And if you try this salsa, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do here!  I’m sharing this recipe at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Julianna @ Foodie on Board and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.black bean-mango salsablack bean-mango salsa

Black Bean-Mango Salsa

  • Servings: about 3 cups
  • Time: about 15 minutes
  • Print


  • 1 cup of cooked or rinsed canned black beans
  • 1 cup of mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup of sweet corn kernels, fresh or thawed from frozen
  • 1/4 cup of red onion, finely diced
  • a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, torn and stems removed
  • 3 or 4 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • salt and pepper to taste


Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir gently and thoroughly.  Best served immediately, but can also be kept tightly sealed in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Use on top of salads, with tortilla chips or polenta discs, or however you like. Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from the Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier.


Oatmeal-Apple Cookies

These moist oatmeal-apple cookies are the perfect dessert to pack for lunch or enjoy as a snack.  They taste sweet and comforting, plus have nutritional benefits from the oats and baked apple.

When it comes to packing lunches, I like to feel like I am including foods that fortify and energize my family, to help them get through the day.  With 3 cups of whole grain rolled oats in this recipe, we can all benefit from the fiber, protein, and extra vitamins and minerals the oats add.  The chopped baked apple adds flavor and even more nutrients.  I like this recipe because it makes me feel like I am  walking that fine line between healthy and indulgent.  In fact, I am going to take a big container of these cookies to my kids’ cross country meet today as a post-race treat.  They are nutritious enough to pass as healthy, yet delicious enough that kids actually really want to eat them!

oatmeal-apple cookiesIt seems that fine lines are a bit of a theme for me this week.  In my most recent yoga class, the instructor talked about finding that space between control and letting go.  We have to have some measure of control in our lives, in order to keep the train on the tracks (for the most part!).  But we also need to not grip too tightly. We need to surrender to larger forces, too, and be open to outcomes we cannot imagine.  It is a tricky balance.  Things come up continually to help teach us to find balance–car problems, scheduling dilemmas, decisions about budgets and resources, to name a few!

oatmeal-apple cookiesIn light of all the challenges and teaching moments, I’m not sure how well I did with the whole balance thing this week, except for with these cookies!  With these cookies, I feel like I found it. The recipe is adapted from the inner lid of my Quaker old fashioned rolled oats container, though I used chopped apples instead of raisins.

Maybe it is because of the autumnal equinox this week that I am thinking about lines and balance.  We are poised in the middle, between summer and winter, between sunlight and darkness. It is a beautiful time. I hope you all have a very lovely weekend! Happy beginning of autumn! “You will never be alone, you hear so deep / a sound when autumn comes.” –from the poem “Assurance” by William Stafford

I am sharing this recipe over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by two great bloggers, Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Johanne @ French Gardener Dishes.oatmeal-apple cookiesoatmeal-apple cookiesoatmeal-apple cookies

Oatmeal-Apple Cookies

  • Servings: about 48 cookies
  • Time: about 1 hour total
  • Print


  • 1 and 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup of packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 3 cups of raw oats
  • 1 cup of apple, peeled and finely chopped


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  In a large mixing bowl, vigorously stir together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar (you may use an electric mixer if you wish–I like to use a wooden spoon and get an arm workout).  Add the eggs and vanilla and stir/beat again, thoroughly combining.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir/beat well.  Then add the oats and chopped apple.  Mix well until everything is combined.  Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in your 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.  Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the cookie sheets, then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.  Store tightly covered to preserve freshness. Enjoy!

Tomato-Pesto Couscous Bowls

This quick and easy couscous mixture is a definite crowd-pleaser.  The flavors of toasted pine nuts, fresh tomatoes, pesto, and Parmesan cheese all combine to make a delicious dish that tastes great warm, room temperature, and cold, so you can refrigerate any that is left over, and easily have it the next day.

dsc_0578-001Sometimes a cook needs a really easy, really quick, yet really delicious recipe to fall back on during busy times.  I won’t list to you my family’s schedule these days (it would take too long, and would most likely be boring to anyone but me!) but let’s just say that on many evenings, there isn’t a lot of time to make a complicated meal.  This couscous dish has been in a regular rotation with us lately, because it takes under ten minutes to prepare, yet it tastes like it took much longer, and it incorporates great flavor with good nutrients.

The Near East company makes all kinds of flavors of couscous mixtures, and I have tried many of them.  For this dish, I like to use the toasted pine nut couscous mix, and then add my own tomatoes, pesto, and cheese.  (I am not getting paid to promote this company’s couscous mix, though maybe I should look into that….)

couscous with tomatoesThough couscous is not gluten-free (it is made from semolina, so it is actually considered a form of pasta), it does have some health benefits, such as vitamins B and E, and a relatively high amount of the mineral selenium.  I am kind of in the middle of the road when it comes to gluten, where I am trying not to eat too much of it, yet I find that eating some foods with it works fine for my body. The thing I really like about couscous is the quick-cooking factor, and also the versatility.  It’s a way to get in some vegetables and herbs, like tomatoes and basil, and feel full and nourished at the same time.

tomato and pesto couscousAnyway, I love the tangy taste of the pesto with the fresh, ripe tomatoes, which are so good this time of year!  If you want to add shredded, cooked chicken to this couscous recipe, feel free.  I know we are having it as part of our dinner tonight, and my husband will probably take a container of it with his lunch tomorrow.  I hope you all enjoy the last few days of summer! It is really starting to look and feel just a bit like fall, which is not a bad thing, but for me, it is a bit nostalgic.  The daylight is fading earlier in the evenings and there is a bit of a chill in the breeze now, yet the sun is still warm and soft in the afternoons.  Have a great weekend!tomato and pesto couscouscouscous against windowtomatoes and parmesanI am sharing this recipe over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Loretta @ Safari of the Mind and Natalie @ Kitchen, Uncorked.

Tomato-Pesto Couscous Bowls

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Print


  • One package of Near East Couscous Mix (I think the toasted pine nut mix works best for this recipe)
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of prepared pesto (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil sprigs for garnish, if desired


Prepare the couscous according to the directions on the package.  While the couscous is cooking, chop the tomatoes, and measure out the pesto and shredded cheese.  When the couscous is cooked, combine all the ingredients. Serve in bowls.  May be served warm, at room temperature, or cold out of the refrigerator, if using as a leftover. Enjoy!



Peach-Plum Salad

Luscious peaches and plums, along with chopped walnuts, crumbled Feta, and leafy lettuce make up this refreshing salad.  A spritz of honey and lemon juice give it a light dressing that brings out the rich flavor of the fruit.  When you are looking for a light lunch or lively side dish, there is nothing like a seasonal salad to brighten your day and boost your immune system.

peach-plum saladSome days, I really crave a good salad to energize my body with fresh, bright ingredients.  As a result of my baking craze this past few days, I am in desperate need of a light lunch!  (My latest baking adventure includes soft pretzels, which are so good, but still need more practice before they hit the blog).  This peach-plum salad works really well, because it is super-easy to make, and it uses the best of late summer fruits.  Peaches with honey and lemon juice taste like a heavenly combination to me, and the savory aspect of the walnuts and Feta add depth to the flavor.

peach-plum saladLate summer is my favorite time of year to eat peaches, since their flavor and color seems to match the glorious mellow warmth of the September sun.  We have had absolutely stunning weather the past couple of days, and I just want to hold onto this as long as possible, because to me, this is the most comfortable weather we get.  Cool, misty mornings give way to warm, soft afternoons, which lead to dinners full of fresh fruits and vegetables out on the screened-in porch.  Nights are cool, and the breeze coming in the open windows is laden with the sound of crickets and cicadas.  The light outside is not so strong as it is in the height of summer, so it is a photographer’s dream.

peach-plum saladThis salad is so very easy to make, it hardly requires a recipe, and sometimes just a pretty photo and a few words will remind us of a great combination of delicious, healthy ingredients. I have included a recipe below, though it is flexible and can be adjusted easily.  I consciously used honey in the dressing, not only because it tastes great with this salad, but also because I have heard that consuming locally-made honey can help with allergies.  This is the time of year when I often get seasonal allergies, so I have been trying to incorporate local honey into my meals as often as possible.

I hope you are having a great week, and enjoy the diffused light of September! Sometimes it is easier to see when the light is not so bright. “Summer has filled her veins with light and her heart is washed with noon.” ~C. Day Lewis
peach-plum salad ingredientspeaches and greens

Peach-Plum Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Print


  • 1 fresh, ripe peach
  • 1 fresh, ripe plum
  • a small head of leafy lettuce, such as Boston lettuce or green leaf lettuce
  • a handful of chopped raw walnuts
  • crumbled Feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 4 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • black pepper to taste


In a small bowl, stir together the honey and the lemon juice. Taste, and adjust the levels if you wish.

Wash the lettuce, pat it dry, and tear it into bite-sized pieces.  Wash and slice the peach and the plum.  Place the lettuce on two salad plates and top with sliced peaches and plums.  Sprinkle a handful of walnuts onto the salads, and then a handful of crumbled Feta.  Drizzle the honey-lemon juice mixture over the salads.  Top with a tiny bit of ground black pepper. Enjoy!

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