Posts Tagged With: baking

muffins for Monday – 4.2.12 – peanut butter banana

Bananas. I’ll buy a big bunch of five or seven when they’re nice and green around the edges, and I always think I might eat them all before they turn on me.

I’m always wrong.

I never mean for this to happen. But I’m really picky about my bananas. A perfect specimen has a bright, golden peel with a splash of lime green still at both ends and firm, light-colored flesh. The problem is, if a bunch of bananas is at this stage on Monday morning, they’ll be well past it by Tuesday at lunch. That makes for a pretty short window of enjoyment.

You might like bananas best when they get to the freckled, super-sweet stage. I have several friends who will only eat them once they’re brown and spotty. But for me, these mushy, sugary fruits are well past their prime.

And that, my friends, is when it’s time to make muffins.

(Yes, my muffins tend to all look alike...but at least the backgrounds are ever-changing.)

For this week’s batch, I’m continuing my Childhood Lunchbox series, a poignant exploration of the food memories that evoke bittersweet nostalgia for younger days gone by. We all must grow old, we all must die, but these muffins might recapture, just for a moment, the joy of forgotten youth.

Sorry. That was a bit much.

(I do seem to like making muffins based on 80’s breakfast cereal commercials and kiddie sandwiches from my childhood…)

What I really meant to say (instead of that driveling psychobabble) was that this week’s muffins were inspired by a time-honored combination that I’ve loved since I was a wee lass, the classic peanut butter and banana.

What’s in it:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 super-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F and get 12 muffin cups ready.
  • In one bowl, mix the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In another bowl, mix the eggs, bananas, peanut butter, yogurt, and milk.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients, scoop into muffin cups, and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  • Cool and enjoy!

These muffins turned out super moist, almost gooey, and they were a little hard to get out of the pan. Before I tasted one, I was afraid they were a little bit too soft and mushy. But Micah and I sampled them for breakfast this morning, and I’m pleased to tell you that they were delicious!

Besides having a slightly squishier texture than I had planned, these also didn’t have quite as much peanut butter power as I was hoping. The peanut butter flavor is overpowered just a bit by the banana. So, if you make these, try adding extra peanut butter and let me know how it turns out!

What are some of your favorite childhood foods? Maybe they’ll inspire a muffins for Monday post one day soon…:)

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muffins for Monday – 3.25.12 – nut & honey

Anyone remember this commercial?

Or this one:

Or this one:

Well, this morning, Micah asked me what kind of muffins I was going to make for the week. I’d been eyeing a jar of honey and a bag of pecans in the pantry and considered replying like a sane person with “honey pecan.” Then my mind flitted to the phrase “honey nut,” like in Honey Nut Cheerios. Even that would’ve been a reasonable response.

But in the end, my terrible sense of humor and love for bad puns overcame my better judgment, and I replied, “Nut ‘n’ honey.”

Groans ensued, and I immediately needed to find those old cereal commercials to see if they were as dumb as I remembered. They were. But back when I was a five/six/seven-year old kid watching them on TV for the first time, I remember laughing. Hysterically. In fact, I always wanted my mom to buy that cereal so I could have conversations like the ones in the commercials with my little brother, or my Mammaw, or whoever would give in and play along. (Have I mentioned that I was kind of a strange kid?)

I don’t think my mom ever bought Nut and Honey Crunch, though, mostly because she insisted on a pretty regular rotation of plain cereals: plain Corn Flakes, plain Rice Krispies, plain Cheerios, plain Chex. The sweetest cereals we ever ate were Kix and Life (though never Berry Berry Kix or Cinnamon Life–just the unflavored varieties).

Our friends probably hated spending the night with us. Where are the Lucky Charms? What about Cocoa Puffs? Can we at least have some sugar to dump on this cardboard??

My Mammaw, though in a perfect position to be a food role model, wouldn’t eat any of the cereals at our house without a healthy dose of added sucrose. (Which, given some of the other things she liked to eat, shouldn’t come as a surprise.)

Besides sleepovers at friends’ houses (friends with cool parents, that is), the only time we ever got to indulge in overly sweet breakfast monstrosities like these was at Christmas, when we would find an 8-pack of these wrapped under the tree:

Gee, whiz! Thanks, Mom! Er, I mean...thanks, Santa Claus!
(image from Amazon.com)

At the time, though of course I ate my mom’s boring cereal choices without complaint, I was convinced that her low-sugar rule was horribly unfair. Just like it wasn’t fair that all the other kids at school got to play on the Nintendo (we didn’t have one) and drink soda with dinner (you can imagine my mom’s thoughts about that one).

Now, I’m glad Mom made us eat unsweetened cereals and drink milk instead of soda, because as an adult I am absolutely unable to eat a bowl of Froot Loops for breakfast (ugh!), and I rarely crave a Coke. It’s a lot easier to make healthy choices when the unhealthy ones kind of gross you out. 🙂

(I do wish she’d caved on the Nintendo, though. My video game handicap is about the same as your average five-year-old’s, thanks to my lifelong lack of eye-thumb coordination.)

But I digress. Rewind to this morning’s conversation:

“What kind of muffins are you making today?” asks Micah.

“Nut ‘n’ honey!” I chirp.

Groan.

The name of this week’s muffins for Monday might echo the silliest 80’s commercial pun ever penned, but they did turn out nice:

A muffin so pretty, even our blooming camellias want a taste.

I can’t tell you how the taste of my nut ‘n’ honey muffins compares to Kellogg’s Nut & Honey…Crunch! because I’ve never tasted the stuff, but how ’bout you make the muffins on your own and compare for yourself?

What’s in it:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup honey

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F, and get a 12-cup muffin pan ready.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients (flour through pecans) in one bowl. Mix the wet ingredients (everything else) in another. Then combine.
  • Spoon into your muffin cups and bake for 12-15 minutes, then let cool.

The batter for these muffins is a little thicker than you might be used to if you’ve tried some of my other muffin recipes, because when I substituted honey for some of the brown sugar, I decided to leave out the milk (lest my batter become too runny). But the chopped pecans yield a nice crunch, and the honey flavor is perfect: light, a little floral, but not too sweet. Just like my mom would prefer.

What kind of cereal did you eat growing up?

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lazy brunch – 2.26.12 – buttermilk biscuits

When I was a kid, sleeping over at my Mammaw’s house on Friday nights meant an evening of the TGIF prime-time lineup (back when Jaleel White was Urkel on Family Matters, not a cool dude on Dancing with the Stars), followed by the early-morning aroma of biscuits baking in the oven.

This kind of biscuits:

image from Walmart.com

My little brother and I could easily split a whole can of these in a morning, slathered with Country Crock or split open and smooshed around some pan-fried sausage patties. I liked my biscuits a pale, goldish color, but Mammaw would always blaze them in her gas oven until they were as uniformly brown as a squadron of UPS delivery guys. Once Mammaw started letting me cook on my own, though, I would pop open the can all by myself and bake them to golden brown perfection.

I’d heard stories of people making biscuits from scratch. Like, mixing and kneading and stuff. Heck, I think I ‘d even read about the process in some historical fiction book or other. And of course I had experienced the euphoria of sinking my teeth into a crispy-crusted, flaky, fluffy homemade biscuit. Old people, other people’s grandmas, the ladies at the S&W Diner down the street or the Biscuit Barn here in Athens–they could craft these magical breakfast breads and all the fixins to go with them. But the only way I ever knew how to make biscuits was from one of these bright blue cans.

In fact, canned biscuits were the only kind I had ever made until about, oh, 2007. I was intimidated by real biscuits (and even a little scared to make ’em out of Bisquick, sure I’d figure out some way to ruin them).

One morning, back when we were still unmarried apartment dwellers, I woke up early on a weekend and romantically decided I was going to make Micah breakfast in bed. I found a biscuit recipe somewhere and set forth on my dough handling adventure.

Imagine a biscuit mating with a boulder and making little rock babies, and you’ll get a pretty good idea of how this batch turned out. They were so tough and dry that Micah not-so-subtly suggested that some gravy sure would be good. (My gravy was stellar, by the way…but it still couldn’t save those poor, dry, overworked biscuits.)

A few more biscuit attempts failed just as miserably. Gravy reinforcements were called in again and again.

Then I found this recipe on Food.com, and my life was forever changed.

picture taken 2/26/12, before I started this blog and before I dug my decade-old real camera out of a box in the den

These biscuits didn’t need gravy, sausage, Country Crock, or even jam. Somehow, they were amazing all on their own: crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, and dang near perfect.

What’s in it:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter (the original recipe calls for 6, but I only had half a stick last time I made them and they were still great!)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 teaspoon lemon juice allowed to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes)

Step-by-step (another sitcom from the Friday night TGIF lineup!):

  • Preheat your oven to 450°F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly grease with cooking spray.
  • Dump the flour, baking powder, and salt into your food processor and pulse a few times to mix. (Or, mix in a bowl.)
  • Cut the butter into small cubes. Add it to the dry ingredients and pulse some more until it’s incorporated. (Or, use a fork or your fingers to work the butter into your bowl of flour.) The mixture will start to look and act a little more like Nickelodeon’s floam, with bigger grains than the powdery flour and a tendency to stick to itself if you smoosh it between your fingers.
  • Add the buttermilk and process just until the dough starts to form a ball. (Or, add it to your bowl and mix until it’s incorporated.)
  • Dump the dough out on a floured surface. It will be really, really sticky! Don’t mix in a ton of extra flour (as was my misguided instinct)–just sprinkle a little more flour on top.
  • Lightly pat the dough down to about 3/4″ thick. The recipe says to press, fold, and repeat about five times, but I skip this step and my biscuits are still pretty darn good.
  • Use a biscuit cutter, round cookie cutter, or drinking glass to cut out circles of dough. Don’t twist your cutter when you pull up–this apparently makes your biscuits a weird shape or something.
  • Move these pretty little dough circles to your baking sheet. I like to put my biscuits far apart so that each biscuit has crispy edges, but you can put them closer if you like your sides fluffy.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.

Enjoy with your favorite biscuit toppings: gravy, bacon and eggs, sausage, cheese, smoked salmon, leftover barbecue, plain old butter and jam. Or serve them with a Southern-style dinner of fried chicken, collards, and black-eyed peas. Or just eat ’em plain, because they’re that good.

I love my Mammaw, and memories of those weekend sleepovers with her still make me smile.

But I do hope that, when my future grandbabies spend the night with me, they’ll wake up to the early morning smell of these delicious homemade biscuits.

“Did you really eat biscuits from a can?” they’ll ask.

“Yep,” I’ll say as I pat my sticky biscuit mess onto the cutting board. I’ll cut my circles, slide them into the oven, dust the flour from my hands. And those kids will marvel as I relate tales of blue cardboard tubs bursting with a soft “pop!” and bulging with pre-made discs of dough.

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muffins for Monday – 3.18.12 – pb&j

Today’s muffin experiment: capturing the magic of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich–but in a muffin!

(No, my green cutting board isn't the most pristine background--but I sure do like the color.)

 

I love peanut butter. Probably more than I should. I can eat it by the spoonful straight from the jar, and often do. I love peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter cookies…even peanut butter and bacon burgers, which I first got the guts to try a few years ago at Clocked here in Athens. (It sounds weird, I know, but they’re amazing!)

I could eat peanut butter every day, maybe at every meal, and be perfectly happy…

…so why on earth have I never thought to make peanut butter muffins?

Well, now I have, and let me tell you, these things are delicious, and despite the whole wheat and oats, they don’t taste healthy at all. They’re almost like dessert. (Actually, I did eat one for dessert tonight.)

What’s in it:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite jam or jelly

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Prepare 12 muffin cups. (You might want to make a point to use paper liners or a little extra cooking spray/butter for these because they’re a tad stickier than my normal recipe.)
  • Mix the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in one bowl.
  • In another bowl, beat the eggs. Whisk in the peanut butter, then the yogurt, then the milk.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then divide the batter into your 12 muffin cups.
  • Top each muffin with a spoonful of jelly. Then, use a toothpick to swirl your jelly around in the batter.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Let the muffins cool (at least a little), and then enjoy (preferably with a tall glass of milk).

About the jelly: I didn’t swirl mine enough, and it kinda sunk from the tops of my muffins down to the bottoms, making for some pretty gooey, messy undersides. They were still delicious, but the jelly wasn’t really dispersed throughout the muffin like I wanted it to be, and my fingers did get a little sticky.

Again, about the jelly: I used FROG jam. It isn’t made of frogs, I promise!–just fig, raspberry, orange, and ginger. These would be delicious with regular old grape or strawberry, though, or any other jam or jelly.

I’m really looking forward to breakfast this week. 🙂

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happy pi day!

Click here (or on the photo) to read more about it and get the recipe for my bourbon thyme pear pie. 🙂

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date-night dinner – 3.11.12 – a series of unfortunate events

It all started harmlessly enough.

“Let’s defrost that salmon. It’s been in the freezer a while,” suggested Micah. I love seafood, but although wild-caught salmon is one of the healthiest proteins you can eat, it’s not something we can afford to buy all the time. We’d ordered this particular salmon fillet through our amazing online farmer’s market, Athens Locally Grown (though it was actually caught by a dude in Alaska named Doug), and it really was on the verge of earning a loitering citation from the freezer police.

Plus, it was date night. Usually, Friday night is date night, and we cook a fancier-than-on-weeknights meal (or sometimes eat out), splurge on some wine (since I rarely imbibe during the school week), and catch a movie or visit a local late-night spot for music and drinks. That Friday, we’d gone to a local Mexican joint for dinner with Micah’s family, and that Saturday, we’d somehow managed to visit the second location of the very same local Mexican joint for dinner with my family. So Sunday became date night, which worked just fine for me since I’m on spring break this week. And for date night, we needed something delicious.

Back to that beautiful, pink hunk of fish. Originally, we thought we might try a salmon recipe from one of our very favorite cookbooks, Hugh Acheson’s A New Turn in the South:

image from indiebound.com

The author of this fantastic cookbook is one of our neighbors, his kids attend my school, and his restaurants are some of my favorites I’ve ever visited, ever. We knew this recipe for salmon with marinated vegetables would be scrumptious…if we ‘d had the right ingredients. Which we didn’t. Not even any passable substitutes. So, we did what I pretty much always do when following a recipe won’t work. We improvised.

What we DID have in the fridge: parsnips, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, a LOT of carrots, a bag of clementines.

We decided to sear the salmon per Hugh’s instructions and make the lemony salmoriglio sauce from the book (subbing clementine zest for the lemon, ’cause that’s what we had).

But, instead of marinating all those vegetables we didn’t have, we were going to roast and mash the parsnips (which we’d never cooked before), saute the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms in some olive oil, and enjoy all those yummy, earthy flavors with a nice Pinot Noir.

Finally, since date-night dinners often involve dessert, I decided to thin out the overabundant carrot population of our produce bin by grating some of those Vitamin A-bombs into a cake and frosting it with something clementine-y.

Simple enough, right? Meat and two simply-prepared veggies, cake with frosting. Except, somehow, (almost) everything went horribly wrong.

Micah worked on the sauce and chopped parsnips for roasting while I started on carrot cake (which I very loosely based on this recipe). Thinking that it would cook more quickly (and be cuter) as cupcakes, I split my batter into muffin cups and put that pan in the oven so I could start on the frosting.

Cream cheese frosting is the perfect match for carrot cake, but alas, we didn’t have cream cheese (and rarely do). But these folks suggested making a similarly tangy-sweet confection from Greek yogurt, which we always keep around. So I loaded the bowl of my stand mixer with Greek yogurt, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and some clementine zest. My frosting was coming together nicely and turning a lovely shade of orange, but it was still a little thin, so I added some more powdered sugar. Instead of making my icing thicker, though, this somehow made it thinner, more like a glaze. It was much too flimsy to spread on cupcakes (why hadn’t I just made a cake, anyway?), so I decided to reduce it a little. Gotta think on your feet when you’re improvising, right?

I got my Greek yogurt frosting/glaze thickened to a spreadable consistency around the time that my cupcakes were ready to pull from the oven. They were beautiful and smelled delicious. But (why is there always a but?), as soon as I tried to get one out of the pan, I could tell they weren’t done yet. Back into the pan, back into the oven. The tops of the cupcakes, once pretty little rounded mounds, fell and wrinkled. At least I could cover them with frosting, and at least (I hoped) they would taste good.

Ten minutes later, those cupcakes were still raw in the middle. “I’m giving these stupid things five more minutes, and then I’m calling it,” I grumped at Micah, and he agreed that this was probably a good idea. Five minutes later…well, they weren’t done, and I muttered some words that aren’t so polite.

In a hangry (hungry + angry) rage, I scooped all those ugly, smooshy cupcakes into a pie pan, mashed them together with some of my gooey clementine stuff to hopefully keep the resulting dessert from being too dry, and stuffed that on-the-fly mess of a cake back into the oven for the fourth and final time.

Meanwhile, we checked the parsnips, which theoretically were roasting in the other oven. Except that instead of becoming crispy-edged, soft-centered, caramelized nuggets of sweet-and-starchy goodness like any respectable roasted vegetable, these babies dried out and shriveled up like a chain-smoking grandma. Still hangry, I scraped those dessicated veggie bits into a saucepan on the back burner, dumped in some milk to rehydrate them, and started them a-simmering.

Now that the cake and parsnip disasters were as averted as we could hope for, it was time to turn our attention to our salmon, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms. Micah had gotten everything cut and ready while I was battling the cake, thank goodness.

Micah was in charge of the fish because, well, meat is usually his job. He oiled up our biggest skillet and started heating it to sear the fillets. Those poor slabs of fish were goners as soon as they hit that hot pan. Despite Micah’s best efforts, they stuck. Bad. Turning them a few minutes later proved to be nearly impossible, and the second side stuck, too. This salmon might turn out to be delicious (please, oh, please! let it be delicious!), but it was ugly as sin.

While Micah fought with that sticky fish, I pulled my cake-like-concoction out of the oven, discovered it had miraculously not stuck to my pie pan, but was a bit concerned when it turned out onto the plate in one big, rubbery disc. I crossed my fingers that smearing it with the rest of the clementine frosting might be enough to make it edible, then turned my attention to the vegetables.

The parsnips had undergone an impressive transformation, swelling with milky tenderness, and I tackled them with my hand blender, bent on making this part of dinner not a disaster. One press of the “blend” button sent scalding hot milk and parsnip bits onto my forearm, which immediately reddened (and hurt like hell). More choice words. A big splash of cold milk into the pot. Another push of the button, and this time no mashed veggie shrapnel–just the smooth whir of blender blades as those stubborn parsnips finally accepted their fate. But, since they were now cold, I put them back on the back burner to reheat, and I crossed my tired fingers.

One side dish down, one to go. We heated some olive oil in a skillet and added the Brussels sprouts. They made a delightful sizzle when they hit the hot oil, and we sauteed them with their cut sides down to get those little baby cabbages nice and brown. Mushrooms were added, everything turned a beautiful color, salt and pepper were sprinkled, and this pan of veggies was done. Yep, sprouts-‘n’ shrooms, you guys got one measly little paragraph of this tale because you were kind enough to cooperate.

Time to cross our fingers and plate. Stubborn mashed parsnips, then scarred salmon, then those obliging Brussels sprouts and mushrooms, finally a big drizzle of lemony sauce:

Prettier than we expected, but we still hadn’t tasted it. If this dinner sucked, we had endured two hours of pain and suffering for nothing. It might be enough to make me cry.

Micah lit some candles, poured the wine, and tried for all the world to act like we hadn’t just suffered through kitchen hell. We carefully filled our forks with a little bit of everything and took a bite. Chewing thoughtfully, Micah raised an eyebrow at me. Swallowing just as thoughtfully, he raised his glass. “Good dinner,” he said.

I had to agree. It was good. The salmon was rich and fatty, as it should be. The veggies were earthy and rustic, as planned. The citrusy salmoriglio sauce brightened every bite. The Pinot was not a perfect match, but it definitely worked.

We ate every bite on our plates, drank up every drop from our glasses.

It was time for dessert. I spread the frosting on the cake, then cut it into wedges and prayed for a miracle.

It was okay. The texture of the cake was weird and dense and chewy, and the frosting was perhaps a tad too sweet. Still, the flavors were delicious. Not a total failure, but certainly not a success.

Sometimes, I feel really confident as a cook. A meal will come together exactly as planned, we’ll groan in pleasure with every bite, and we’ll leave the table pleasantly full and still musing on just how damn good that meal just was. Then, there are nights like this one, when I’m not sure if I’m cooking or fighting to the death in the Hunger Games. But ultimately, despite all the drama, this story was less tragedy and more comedy of errors, with everything (sort of) working out.

In the end, nights like this remind me that I’ve still got a lot to learn in the kitchen. That’s probably a good thing. 🙂

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muffins for Monday – base recipe #3 – whole wheat oatmeal muffins

This might be my favorite muffin recipe because I can make it even if I don’t have any good fresh fruit or vegetables to throw in, plus it’s really easy to adapt. (This one is also lower in fat than the first two because it doesn’t contain butter. Not that I have anything against butter, and you could certainly add some if you want to make these extra moist. Or, you could just butter them afterwards like Micah always does.)

What’s in it:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup milk

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  • Prepare 12 (yes, 12!) muffin cups for action.
  • Mix the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in one bowl.
  • In another bowl, beat the eggs, add the yogurt, then add the milk.
  • Combine the wet and dry ingredients, then divide into your 12 muffin cups.
  • Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Then, well, you know what to do.

Why I like these: they’re like a blank canvas, just waiting for inspiration to strike!

The first time I made this recipe, I added a cup of chopped walnuts and 2 tablespoons of orange zest to the dry ingredients, and I substituted orange juice for the milk. The result? These yummy, nutty, orange-y babies:

(Yes, I ate a couple of bites of this one before I realized I ought to snap a photo. It just smelled so heavenly, I couldn’t resist!)

The second time I made this recipe, I added 1/2 cup cocoa powder to the dry ingredients and about 3/4 a cup of dried cranberries at the end. No photos of this variation, but they were pretty yummy.

My favorite version so far? Add 1/2 tablespoon lemon extract to the wet ingredients OR a few tablespoons of lemon zest to the dry. At the end, fold in 1/3 of a cup of sunflower seeds. (I used the unroasted, unsalted variety, but I’ll bet the roasted and salted kind would give these muffins a yummy salty-sweet kick!)

I’m calling this batch “sunshine muffins,” and not just because they’re such a lovely golden brown. The flavor last week was lemon and sunflower seeds, and after trying one of these babies I can say that it did indeed brighten my day.

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muffins for Monday – base recipe #2 – sweet potato muffins

I baked these due to a crazy excess of sweet potatoes in my house last fall, but you could easily make some delicious substitutions.

What’s in it:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons room-temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 pounds cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Get 16 muffin cups ready (see my earlier muffin post about this).*
  • In one bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
  • In a bigger bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, then the yogurt, then the sweet potatoes, then the vanilla and orange juice.
  • Mix the wet and dry ingredients together.
  • Divide the batter into your 16 muffin cups.
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes, cool, and enjoy!

This recipe tastes like Thanksgiving to me, but you could substitute other fruits/veggies and spices to make it taste like whatever holiday you like. 🙂

* My apologies for the strange 16-muffin yield of this recipe! The problem with winging it is that you don’t always end up with a “normal” number of servings.

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muffins for Monday – base recipe #1 – chocolate persimmon muffins

image courtesy indiebound.com

The first base recipe I use is adapted from Kim Boyce’s book Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours, and I discovered it after buying a bunch of persimmons from the farmer’s market and having no idea what to do with them! The recipe is for whole-wheat chocolate persimmon muffins, but I’ll bet you could substitute mashed bananas, applesauce, peaches, pumpkin–almost any sweet fruit/veggie puree–for the persimmon to get a moist, yummy, chocolaty breakfast muffin. 🙂

What’s in it:

  • 2-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons room-temperature butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pureed ripe persimmon
  • 1 10-ounce bar of dark chocolate, chopped

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • If you’re using metal muffin tins, lightly grease 18 cups or put some paper liners in there. I love my silicone muffin pans because I can usually make the muffins without cooking spray or liners and then pry them out with a silicon spatula (one of my other favorite kitchen tools.)
  • In one bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • In another bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer. Once this stuff gets light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, then the yogurt, then the pureed persimmon.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet stuff without over-mixing, then fold in the chopped up chocolate chunks.
  • Divide into your 18 muffin cups.
  • Bake for about 30-35 minutes, cool, and enjoy!

These are pretty tasty and not super-sweet, but the chocolate chunks give them a little extra decadence that I really enjoy. (And if you’re filling your muffins with whole wheat and fresh fruits, why not have a little chocolate for breakfast?)

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