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Tuna Pizza Poppers {Gluten Free}

Forget the crust, just give me Mediterranean tuna pizza poppers for lunch!  I’m trading my pizza stone some for muffin tin magic, with protein-packed pizza bites that keep everyone full and happy.Tuna Pizza Poppers

At last, here is a long-awaited savoury muffin tin recipe!  Until now I have shared only sweet muffins for Muffin Tin Month. Except on my Muffin Tin Mania Pinterest board, which has some savoury creations from other bloggers.  There are 28 pins and counting; I invite you to follow the board on Pinterest and see if we get all the way up to 100 recipes!  You can have your recipe added too!  Just hop over to my Muffin Tin Month post and leave a comment with a link to your recipe. outside-cooling-tuna-poppers

Easy to pack and loved by kids and grownups alike, these savoury gluten-free wonders are definitely going into our lunches this fall.  Inspiration came from Aimee’s Tuna Cheddar Lunchbox Bites, but these pizza poppers can be made without cheese.  We tried them with and without cheese, and my children preferred the cheesy version.  I think they have so much flavour that they work just as well dairy-free though.  It was my first time to use nutritional yeast and I am looking forward to incorporating it into other savoury recipes.

I made two versions of tuna pizza poppers–with and without olives; all were gobbled up eagerly.  I  used a secret sauce the first time, which was actually leftover Tomato and White Bean Soup.  You can leave out the beans and just use seasoned marinara sauce to make it easier, but I liked the heft from the blended beans, especially for dairy-free ones.

These pizza poppers work well for lunchboxes and picnics.  They are full of flavour and loaded with protein to carry you and/or your kids through the afternoon. And you can easily make them ahead of time in 30-minutes or less (if your muffin tin is clean)!tuna-poppers

Tuna Pizza Poppers

  • Servings: 4 to 6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 can tuna, drained
  • 1/3 cup grated zucchini, packed OR 1/3 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1/4 cup marinara sauce OR tomato and bean soup
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (or 1/2 cup Italian blend cheese if not avoiding dairy)
  • garlic salt to taste
  • Italian herb blend, to taste (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
  • parsley flakes, for sprinkling


  1.  Beat eggs and mayonnaise together.  Add  marinara sauce or soup.  Stir in tuna, zucchini, Italian herb blend, and nutritional yeast/cheese and stir well.  Season with garlic salt to taste.  Sprinkle with parsley flakes.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (174 C).  Grease muffin tin or mini muffin tin cups well with butter or oil.  Pour in egg mixture.  Bake for 15 minutes or until pizza poppers are firm and golden.  Allow muffin tin to cool for 10 minutes before removing pizza poppers with a knife or spoon.  Serve warm or cool.


Tuna Pizza Poppers

I share my recipes here.


Cranberry Butter Tarts

Cranberry Butter Tarts | Swirls and SpiceGrowing up on the plains of Canada in heart of wheat country, my grandmother learned to bake with staples like wheat flour, butter, sugar and eggs.  With those simple ingredients she proved it is possible to create quite an array of baked goods, including butter tarts.  Her recipe was one of the only butter tart versions I have come across that leaves out syrup of any kind (usually they call for corn syrup or maple syrup).

In her original recipe, soaked dried currants were one of the ingredients; I replaced them with fresh cranberries.  I appreciate the pop of colour and tartness that cranberries add, which balances out the sweetness of the sugary filling.  Otherwise the recipe below reflects my grandmother’s baking expertise and simplicity.  (However I am not a person who is inclined to follow a recipe exactly, so I have noted a few modifications in parentheses.)

Cranberry Butter Tarts

My grandma was sparing with her instructions, but I found that when she was specific, it was important for getting good results.  With this recipe I had to make sure I followed her technique of chilling the filling before adding it to the tart shells.  Also important was using just one tablespoon of filling per tart; when I added too much, the filling rose up and overflowed during baking.  Again I was reminded that heeding her advice is almost always the best route to take–and not just with baking.

Although I wish I could have seen exactly how she made her tarts, I am exceedingly thankful that I have a number of her recipes preserved in two cookbooks–one put together by my aunt and another by her church.  Each time I read a recipe of hers or make something that she made, I miss my grandma.  And as I recall her kind countenance and contentment in the kitchen, I am challenged and inspired.

Cranberry Butter Tarts

Cranberry Butter Tarts: An Heirloom Recipe

  • Servings: 12 muffin-sized tarts
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Ingredients:Cranberry Butter Tarts

  • 3/4 cup cold butter (originally part shortening, part butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • cold water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter (originally 1 tablespoon)
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries, each cut in half


  1.  To make the crust for the tarts, use a pastry blender or your fingers to combine the cold butter, flour, and salt, until a crumbly mixture forms.  Add cold water gradually, until a dough starts to hold together.  Wrap and chill dough for 10 minutes.
  2.  Roll out dough on a floured surface and cut into circles to fit muffin tin cups.  Shape the crust into the muffin tin cups and place the prepared crusts in the freezer or refrigerator.
  3.  To make the filling, beat eggs with a fork or whisk.  Add in brown sugar and butter and blend with a fork or whisk until smooth.  Refrigerate the filling for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).  Take the chilled crusts and fill each one with a layer of cut cranberries.  Then add one tablespoon of the filling mixture to each tart shell.
  5.  Bake tarts for 12 to 15 minutes, until crusts and filling are golden.  The filling expands during baking and will sink somewhat after cooling.  Serve tarts at room temperature.  Tarts freeze well.  Thaw completely prior to serving.

I share recipes and find inspiration here.


Cranberry Date Tartlets {Gluten Free}

Cranberry Date Tartlets {Gluten Free}No pumpkins were harmed in the making of these tarts.  Nevertheless, the warm flavours of fall shine through in healthy, date-sweetened treats.  But these cranberry date tartlets are not just for health nuts.  Finicky eaters might notice that the crust is unusual, but oddly enough, my normally skeptical children gave them a big thumbs up!

The rich, sweet flavour made my mouth glad to eat more, and my body seemed to tell me to “eat this, not that.”  “That” would be super sweet desserts that are made with white flour and refined sugar.  It’s so nice to feel better, not worse, after indulging in something sweet!

Cranberry Date Tartlets {Gluten Free} | Swirls and Spice

Cranberry Date Tartlets


For the filling

  • 10 dates
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk beverage, almond milk, or water
  • 2 Tablespoon coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped

For the lentil chia crust

  • 1/2 cup red split lentils
  • 2 teaspoons pure honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 Tablespoons ground chia seeds
  • 5 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/8 ground cardamom


  1.  To make the filling, pour boiling hot coconut milk or other liquid over dates and cover for 10 minutes to soak.
  2.  Add melted coconut oil and vanilla and blend in food processor or blender until relatively smooth.  Add in egg and blend briefly to combine.
  3.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add lentils.  Turn heat down to simmer, and cook until very soft, about 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and mash lentils until they are the consistency of applesauce, draining excess liquid if necessary.  Measure out 1 cup of mashed lentils, reserving excess for another use (such as soup). In a medium bowl, stir together lentils, honey, baking soda, salt, and ground chia seed.  Let sit for several minutes before adding the coconut oil and remaining dry ingredients.  Stir ingredients together to form a dough and knead until well mixed.  Chill for 10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 C).
  4. Roll out dough on a mat or parchment paper to form a thin crust (about the thickness of a tortilla).  Cut into circles to fit into a mini muffin tin (or larger circles for a full size muffin tin).  Bake empty crusts for 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven.
  5. Fill tartlet crusts with a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of chopped cranberries.  Pour filling over cranberries.  Bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, until filling is set and crust is golden.  Let cool before removing from the muffin tin.  Serve tartlets at room temperature.  Tartlets will also freeze well and can be thawed prior to serving.

This recipe is part of Muffin Tin Month, and may also be shared here,

at Allergy Free Wednesdays, and Gluten Free Wednesdays.


Cranberry Lemon Muffins

Cranberry Lemon Muffins | Swirls and SpiceLemon and fresh cranberries pair beautifully to create tender, tart-and-sweet muffins that are just as fitting for breakfast as they are for the dinner table.   These quick-to-disappear muffins are something I want to make for Thanksgiving too, which is coming very soon here in Canada.  Then I plan to make them again for American Thanksgiving in November.  Another batch or two will be gobbled down in between the two occasions.  They are that good!

Cranberry Lemon Muffins | Swirls and Spice

Cranberry Lemon Muffins

  • Servings: about 16 muffins
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  • 2 cups spelt flour or unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup oat bran or oat flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or oil
  • 2/3 cup pure honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons lemon juice (juice from 1 large lemon)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cranberries


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flours, baking powder, and ginger.  Combine sugar and berries in a separate bowl and set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream together softened butter or oil and honey.  Beat in eggs until smooth.  Add lemon juice and water and stir until well combined.
  3. Add dry ingredient mixture to wet mixture and stir to form an even batter.  Fold in sugar coated berries and sugar.
  4. Line muffin cups with muffin liners or grease muffin tin cups.  Pour in batter.
  5. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until middle of muffins tests done.  Cool slightly and remove muffins from tin.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

This recipe is part of Muffin Tin Month, and may also be shared here.


Goji Pear Spice Muffins {Gluten Free}

Goji Apple Spice Muffins

My first taste of goji berries came as a twenty-something foreign teacher in China.  It was one of the delicious components of the famous “eight treasures” tea, and the berries were touted as being very nutritious.  And indeed they are, with stratospheric levels of antioxidants plus a healthy dose of vitamin A.  I’ve incorporated these delightful red berries in recipes before, first in spiced apple cider and more recently in a goji berry vinaigrette.  Now it’s muffin time!

If perchance you cannot obtain goji berries easily, dried cranberries will also work perfectly well.  And they contain antioxidants too.  Both berries blend nicely with the warm spices, beckoning you and your household into the kitchen as these muffins bake and are pulled out of the oven.

We’re going to be baking and sharing muffins galore this month, and if you have not heard about Muffin Tin Month yet, I hope you will jump in and participate!  I’d love to include your muffin recipe in the party!  And you can take part in our baking challenge too!  Find all the details in Wednesday’s post!

Goji Pear Spice Muffins

  • Servings: 18 muffins
  • Print

Ingredients:Goji Apple Spice Muffins

  • 2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or allspice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pure honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed or pureed pears (applesauce may also be used)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons dried goji berries or cranberries
  • oats, optional, for sprinkling on top
  • cinnamon sugar, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).  Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  2. In a separate bowl, blend together oil, sugar, honey, and eggs.  Stir in applesauce.
  3. Combine wet and dry mixtures, stirring well.  You can also use a mixer for this.
  4. Fold in dried berries.  Pour batter into a greased muffin tin or tin with paper muffin liners.  Sprinkle batter in each cup with oats and/or cinnamon sugar if desired.
  5. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until centers test done.  Do not over bake.  Serve warm.

Goji Pear Muffin {Gluten Free}

I’m bringing this muffin recipe to Fiesta Friday (and sharing here as well).

I’m also sharing at Allergy Free Wednesdays.


Muffin Tin Month {and a Challenge to Share}

Muffin Tin Month and Love Your Neighbour ChallengeHow many things can you bake with a muffin tin?  This month I will be revealing some wonderful muffin tin recipes, both sweet and savoury, that are perfect for kicking off the fall baking season.  And since muffins are great for sharing, I invite you to join me in a unique baking challenge!

The “Love Your Neighbour” Muffin Tin Challenge

All month long I will be adding recipes to a new Muffin Tin Mania board on Pinterest.  And you can be part of it!  Just share a link to a muffin tin recipe in the comments.  There is a limit of one recipe per person, and it should be something that you have baked before.  The recipe can be your own, or someone else’s recipe that you love!

Now for the challenge.  Help us bake 100 muffins!  For every pin of the Muffin Tin Mania board, my children and I will bake a home-baked muffin to give away, up to 100 muffins.  We’ll choose a few favourite recipes and deliver muffins to neighbours and also to families that we know who are caring for foster children.

There are so many possibilities with this idea.  I invite you to take the challenge and run with it.  Below are a few specific ways you could join in this challenge.

  1.  As mentioned before, simply leave a link to a muffin tin recipe you have baked in the comments.  The more people who add recipes, the more muffins we will bake to share!  Each recipe that fits the theme will be added to the Muffin Tin Mania board on Pinterest.
  2.  Invite others to join us here and add a recipe too!
  3.  Bake some muffins (whatever number you wish–even a half dozen is fine!).  Give them away to neighbors or anyone that you would like to reach out to in kindness.

I am excited about intentionally sharing the baking that I enjoy with others in my community.  When a friend or neighbour has showed up at my door with homemade food, it brightened an otherwise difficult day; I would like to follow their example of reaching out.

So let’s get baking and sharing!




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