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Triple Berry Pound Cake Muffins

June 7, 2010
Camping mission accomplished!
More often than not I judge the success of my day, or in this case weekend, by my level of productivity. As far as productivity goes, this weekend was a major success. Not only did I experience camping for the first time, but we also managed to secure an apartment for J. to live in when he starts his job next month. That may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but if you saw some of the apartments we looked at you would probably agree we accomplished quite a bit.

Street view of the apartment
 And the happy apartment hunters! 
Oh, and we ate. A lot. I had no idea camping is as much serious eating as it is outdoor recreation. Along with this salad I also brought along a few sweeter treats, including these muffins. Sure, they are a little more pound cake than muffin, but who’s really counting?
Truthfully, I whipped up these little beauties a couple hours before leaving for the weekend. Since my kitchen was stocked with basics but running low on fun mix-ins, I threw in a cup of frozen mixed berries since they can almost always be found in my freezer. And while I imagined they would satisfy hungry campers for breakfast, I had no idea they would be such a hit! Gone within the first 48 hours of our little camping adventure, the biggest complaint was that there weren’t enough to last the entire trip.
Triple Berry Pound Cake Muffins 
*1 cup butter, softened 
*2 1/3 cups sugar 
*3 large eggs 
*3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1/2 cup milk
*1 tsp. almond extract
*1 cup frozen mixed berries (keep frozen, no need to thaw – fresh berries may be substituted if desired)
*1 cup powdered sugar 
*1/4 cup milk
*Preheat oven to 325*F. 
*Beat butter with an electric mixer on medium high speed for 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar. Beat 3 minutes more. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined and yellow disappears. 
*Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Add flour to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in almond extract. Gently beat in the frozen mixed berries by hand.
*Spoon batter into muffin/cupcake pan lined with paper muffin liners, filling about 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
*Stir together the powdered sugar and 1/4 cup milk. Drizzle over muffins while muffins are still warm. 
Happy Baking!

Double Chocolate Muffins

March 28, 2010

Weekends are near the top of my list of favorite things, and while there may not be a hard and fast formula for a great weekend, I’ve found that if you combine at least two of the following, you are guaranteed to have a fabulous two days:

*Beautiful weather
*Loved ones
*Baking a new recipe
*Good food
*Lots of coffee

I was lucky enough to have a weekend that included all of the above. And while I would hardly be able to justify baking chocolate muffins for breakfast on my own, J.’s visit and some extra time on a Sunday morning was enough to inspire trying out a new recipe. I’ve had The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook on my book shelf for almost six months now, but thus far the closest I’ve gotten to using it has been looking at the pretty pictures.

I’m a little bit sad I didn’t start baking from it earlier because these Double Chocolate Muffins were to die for. Serious chocolate goodness for my boyfriend who loves chocolate just as much as any girl I know. And the best part was that I could mix it all together in one bowl, with a whisk and nothing else. The only question I have now is what is the difference between a muffin and a cupcake? After eating these, I’m all sorts of confused….

Double Chocolate Muffins
Adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
*1 egg
*1/2 cup sugar
*3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
*1/2 cup all-purpose flour
*1/8 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. baking powder
*1/3 cup milk
*5 Tbsp. butter, melted
*3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

*Preheat oven to 350*F. Line a mini-muffin tin or regular muffin tin with liners, or grease the tin with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
*In a medium mixing bowl, beat together egg and sugar. Beat in the cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder until well combined. Beat in the milk, followed by the melted butter until just combined, followed by the chocolate chips.
*Spoon the batter into the baking tins, filling each 2/3 of the way full. Bake 12 minutes for mini-muffins or 28-30 minutes for regular-sized muffins. Cool on wire racks.

Happy Baking!


Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins

March 17, 2010

Last night, one of my oldest and dearest friends (yeah, I know I’m only 22 so how ‘old’ can this friend really be, but just play along) gave me a call to catch up. Like me, he recently graduated from college and is adjusting to life in the real world, which includes feeding himself.

I’m not entirely sure how the topic of eating habits came up, but after our conversation I’m pretty sure he wishes it hadn’t. Because after telling me he eats up to 10 fast-food meals a week, starts every morning off with a Pop Tart, and gets on average one fruit or vegetable a day, I went on to spend the next 20 minutes telling him how he is going to die prematurely or live the rest of his life dependent on prescription medications. Yup, I can be a charmer on the telephone. I promise, it was all said out of love.

But what our conversation really did was get me thinking – about food, nutrition, and taking small steps in the right direction. Maybe it’s not about being perfectly healthy, just a bit healthier than the day before. So while my plan was to make these muffins with 100% whole wheat flour, I reconsidered and tried to create a breakfast muffin that would be healthier than a Pop Tart but would satisfy those, like my friend, who are reluctant and skeptical.

Many times whole wheat flour gives baked goods a denser, heavier texture. So to mimic the texture of a muffin made with 100% all-purpose flour while adding in a fiber-rich dose of whole grains I settled on a combination of 50/50 all-purpose flour and instant oats. I found the combination to be the compromise I was hoping for. Instant oats, which are ground finer than regular rolled oats, don’t weigh down the texture of the muffins like whole wheat flour might and instead yield a light, airy texture. The other great part of this recipe is its adaptability. Feel free to play around by substituting a cup of canned pumpkin, cooked and mashed sweet potato, or grated zucchini for the mashed bananas.

Banana Oatmeal Breakfast Muffins
Loosely adapted from “Whole Wheat Muffins” by The New York Times
*1/2 cup butter, melted
*2 medium bananas, mashed
*1 egg
*1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/4 tsp. baking soda
*2 tsp. baking powder
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
*1 1/4 cup instant oats
*3/4 cup sugar
*2 Tbsp. brown sugar
*1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

*Preheat oven to 375*F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners and set aside.
*In a bowl with a fork or whisk, mix together butter, bananas, egg, milk, cinnamon, baking soda, powder, and salt until well combined.
*In another bowl, mix together flour, oats, and sugar. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix together until just combined, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
*Evenly divide batter among the 12 muffin cups. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the 12 muffins. Bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Happy (healthy) Baking!


Banana Chocolate Chip Mini-Muffins

February 17, 2010

For someone who would rather eat a bowl of broccoli for breakfast than eat a banana, I love banana bread an awful lot. In that sense, there’s something fascinating about bananas. Put them in a smoothie, oatmeal, or bread, and they become something so much more than you would ever guess when eating a banana on its own.

If you have bananas that are a bit too ripe, chances are you’ve made banana bread. Chances are, if you’re anything like me, you’ve also been a little more than disappointed. In the past I’ve made too many recipes that leave me less than enthusiastic. Dry, unevenly cooked, flavorless, you get the idea. Maybe it has something to do with the amount of time, close to an hour, that most banana bread loaves spend in the oven in order to cook all the way through.

I would like to tell you I’ve solved the problems with banana bread loaves, but I haven’t, I was a lazy baker and took the cheap way out, putting this delicious, spiced batter in mini muffin cups, solving the long baking time problem, since the mini-muffins are ready in under 15 minutes.

The result was exactly how I had hoped. A short baking time lets the banana flavor shine through and reduces the risk of burnt chocolate at the bottom of the liners. Chocolate chips were a last-minute addition since I had them on hand, though I can only imagine that butterscotch or peanut butter chips would be nice, too.

*1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*1/3 cup granulated sugar
*1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
*1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/4 tsp. nutmeg
*1 tsp. coarse sea salt
*2 large ripe bananas, mashed
*1 egg
*1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
*1/4 cup milk
*1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Muffin liners (mini or regular, if desired)

*Preheat oven to 350*F. Arrange muffin liners on baking sheet. (I didn’t have mini-muffin cup tins, so I just put muffin liners on a baking sheet and it worked just fine)
*Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. (flour through sea salt)
*In another bowl, mix together bananas, egg, butter, and milk until well combined.
*Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring with a spoon until just combined. Do not over mix. Stir in chocolate chips.
*Spoon batter into muffin liners, filling with a heaping teaspoon each, about 2/3 of the way full.
*Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until tops are lightly golden and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. If you are using regular sized muffin liners, plan on around 25-30 minutes.
*Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Happy Baking!


Fruit and Nut Breakfast Muffins

October 19, 2009

Whew! After a crazy two weeks of papers, tests, and general craziness there was nothing more I wanted to do than mentally check out of school mode and into creative baking mode. Nothing even remotely related to school was allowed this past weekend, just baking and more baking. Of course, man (or woman) can not survive on decadent sweets alone.

For that reason, I give you Fruit and Nut Breakfast Muffins. Truly healthy, hearty, and utterly satisfying in every sense of the word. The whole wheat flour and fruit make these treats dense and give them a texture that’s part scone, part cakey muffin. I all but eliminated sugar in the batter, used all whole-wheat flour, tossed in some rolled oats, and cut down the oil to only 1/4 cup. The fruit in these muffins? Dates! One of Mother Nature’s most delicious, fruity gifts. Because of the natural sugar in the dates, I figured cutting the added sugar wouldn’t be a problem.

These muffins are best when straight from the oven with a bit of butter, but are also great the next day re-heated with a touch of peanut butter. Well, I say peanut butter because I think it tastes great on everything, but maybe fruit preserves would be a bit more appropriate for most people. :)

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1 egg, slightly beaten
1 1/4 cups fat-free or 2% milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 package dates, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped pecans

*Preheat oven to 350F.
*Mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, rolled oats, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
*With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat in egg, milk, and oil until well combined.
*Stir in dates and pecans. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, 2/3 full.
*Bake muffins at 350 for 10 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Happy cooking!


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