Strawberry-Almond Muffins

Hubby has this little habit of making suggestions.  Usually, his suggestions involve things that I should bake.  (This is clearly a strategy on his part – he knows he’ll get the baked goods when I pull them out.)  This past weekend, my mom, aunt and friend were visiting, and hubby suggested me right into baking muffins for them before they woke up on Sunday morning.  (I’m an early riser.)  I thought first of making a batch of banana muffins, but I had a beautiful box of strawberries in my fridge, and the end of a bag of sliced almonds, and strawberry almond muffins were born.  They were the perfect fuel for a day of walking the monuments on my girls’ weekend, but I’m sure they’d be perfect for lazier mornings too.  These muffins are officially in the rotation.

Strawberry Almond Muffins

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
3/4 cup applesauce
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 cups large-diced strawberries*
1/2 cup sliced almonds

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Prepare a muffin tin with 12 wells (line with paper liners or spray with baking spray such as Baker’s Joy or Pam for Baking).
  • In large bowl, whisk together oats, flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • Add milk, eggs, applesauce and almond extract and stir to combine well, but do not over-stir.
  • Fold in strawberries and almonds, just until combined.
  • Spoon into muffin wells and bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Serve warm.

*I used fresh strawberries.  To substitute frozen, just thaw and drain the strawberries so they are as dry as possible.  They will almost certainly still be wetter than fresh berries, so do use fresh if you can.  This winter, when fresh strawberries aren’t available, I’ll see about trying out the recipe with frozen berries and let you know if I have any tips.

Yield: 12 large muffins.

Source: Covered In Flour

Tropical Banana Muffins

Life lately has been all go-go-go.  It seems like I’m constantly running out the door and bouncing all over creation.  One of these days I’m sure things will slow down again, but until they do I’m really in need of portable healthy breakfasts and snacks.  Which is where these muffins come in.  I was lying awake in the middle of the night last weekend, thinking I really should make some banana muffins.  My original plan was to make classic banana-nut muffins (or classic-ish; I usually make mine with pecans because I don’t really care for walnuts, which I think are more traditional).  But then I remembered that I had a bag of frozen pineapple in my freezer and a can of lite coconut milk in my pantry, and a different idea started to take shape.  I fell asleep with the idea of “tropical” banana muffins with pineapple and coconut on my mind, and it was still there when I woke up and rushed down to the kitchen on Sunday morning.  Happily, these muffins definitely lived up to my imagination – they’re relatively healthy (I cut the sugar in half, replaced the butter with applesauce, and subbed in whole wheat flour for some added protein and fiber) and perfectly portable, great for breakfast on the go.  I’ll definitely be making these again, and perhaps freezing a few batches for busy mornings to come.

Tropical Banana Muffins

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup lite coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups medium-diced pineapple chunks (fresh or frozen)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line or grease muffin tins: either 18 large muffins, or 12 large muffins and 12 mini-muffins.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Add mashed banana, coconut milk, applesauce, eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Don’t overmix!
  • Fold in shredded coconut and pineapple chunks.
  • Transfer batter to muffin tin wells.  Bake 25-30 (if using frozen pineapple, this recipe will likely take closer to 30; if using fresh, closer to 25) minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean.

Source: Loosely adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (not an affiliate link)

Blueberry Coffeecake Muffins

It felt like a long wait – in fact, it probably felt even longer to the hubs than it did to me – but after two weeks of unpacking and organizing frenzies, I finally had the energy to pull out my favorite stainless steel mixing bowl (it belonged to my mom before I talked her into giving it to me, it’s older than me and still gorgeous) and my best wooden spoon and dusted myself with a cloud of flour.  For my first messy baking in the new house, I decided to make muffins.  My parents were sleeping in the guest bedroom upstairs and I wanted them to wake up to delicious aromas wafting up from the kitchen.  (It didn’t hurt that I was up early enough to be dressed and ready for church with these muffins cooling on the countertop and a perfectly clean kitchen waiting for them when they got downstairs.  I love when I look like I have it all together!)

I wanted to do something a little creative, both to impress the parentals and also just because it had been weeks since I’d baked anything and I was itchy.  So I picked coffeecake muffins out of Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook and did a little editing of my own.  The original recipe called for plums, but it’s obviously not plum season so I substituted frozen blueberries to great effect.  And, because I love the flavors of berries and almond together, I switched out the vanilla extract for almond extract.  You can certainly use vanilla, but the almond extract gave the muffins a wonderful, subtle almond flavor that worked very well with the blueberries.  Oh, and I also cheated a bit – instead of making my own cinnamon sugar, I used my cinnamon sugar blend from Penzey’s.  Martha would probably be mad at me, but whatevs.  I still felt like I was on top of my game (for once) and that’s what counts, right?

Blueberry Coffeecake Muffins

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 teaspoon almond extract (or sub vanilla)
3/4 cup milk
1 pint blueberries, washed
cinnamon sugar

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare a muffin tin with liners or by greasing it with a cooking spray that includes flour (such as PAM for Baking or Baker’s Joy).
  • Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and sugar – in a large bowl.  Set aside.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, almond extract and milk.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold together with a silicone spatula or rubber spoon.
  • Fill the muffin cups halfway with batter – you should have plenty of batter left over.  Drop several blueberries atop each pile of batter.  Spoon remaining batter over the blueberries – but don’t cover them completely!  The blueberries are so cute peeking out of the muffins!  Sprinkle each muffin with cinnamon sugar.
  • Bake 18-20 minutes, until muffins are golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean (or as clean as it can, since you’re dealing with cooked fruit here).  Cool on a wire rack for several minutes and serve warm.

Yield: Martha’s recipe says you get 10 muffins from this, but she must be using a bigger muffin tin than I am, because I got 12.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

Sun-Dried Tomato-Parmesan Mini Corn Muffins

Tap, tap.  Is this thing on?

Hello out there!  Is anyone left?  I’m sorry.  I’m so, so, so, so sorry.  I realize that I officially take the prize for Worst Blogger Ever.  The truth is, I’ve had an incredibly hectic month – hubby and I are currently in the midst of a personal project which has taken on all the intensity of a hurricane, and what feels like the proportions of Ancient Rome.  We’re doing something completely necessary, yet completely crazy at the same time: we’re BUYING A HOUSE.  I know, right?!?!?!  We fell in love with a house back in October, made an offer, and have been in the process of buying it ever since.  If you know me in “real life,” you’ve probably heard the entire saga several times.  So I can now explain that, other than the week when hubby and I both fell sick within days of each other back in January, most of my blog disappearances have happened around the times when things were heating up in the house-buying process.  It’s been a long haul, but I finally feel that I can mention it on the blog, because our closing is in less than two weeks, our move is three days later, and we have boxes stacked up containing many (but not all – like I said, I’ve been busy) of our worldly possessions.  We received word that our sale was going through in late February, and since then it’s been a whirlwind of doing all of the things that you need to do in order to buy a house, plus numerous phone calls with our broker, discussing whether we want to sell or rent our condo.  And I’ve been dealing with the complete shock of realizing that I’m actually moving and I’m not going to be cooking in my condo kitchen anymore, which does make me sad.  Because I do love my condo, especially the kitchen.

Given all this, hubby and I decided to throw the condo a farewell party.  We had actually planned to have a party for no reason back in February, but Snowmageddon ruined our plans.  So we moved the party to early March, and it just happened to fall after we had tumbled head-first down the rabbit hole of house-buying.  I was exhausted from the whole process and making frequent panicked phone calls to my mom about how I wasn’t sure anymore if I wanted a house, like, ever… so I mostly opted for “easy,” and our friends liked it all just fine.  One of the most popular dishes at the party was a savory mini corn muffin, jazzed up with chopped sun-dried tomatoes and Parmeggiano Reggiano cheese.  Mmmmm, that’s what I’m talkin’ about!  So, in the hopes that you’ll forgive me… here ya go.

Sun-Dried Tomato-Parmesan Mini Corn Muffins

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup (approx.) chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmeggiano Reggiano cheese

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare a 24-well mini muffin tin by spraying olive oil baking spray in each well.
  • Combine dry ingredients.
  • Mix in milk, oil and egg, until just incorporated.  Stir in chopped sun-dried tomatoes and grated cheese.
  • Using a teaspoon, portion batter evenly into muffin wells.  (You may have a little extra, depending on the size of the wells in your muffin tin.  I got about 6 extra mini muffins out of my emergency backup Bakers Secret mini muffin tin, but my muffin tins have small wells.)
  • Bake 20-25 minutes, until muffins are just golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Source: adapted from Quaker

I promise that I am going to try to be better about blogging during this moving process.  I have some photos banked from the past few weeks, and as soon as I remember what the recipes were, I’ll post them.  However, the next two weeks are going to be a little bit difficult.  Most of my cookbooks, and a fair amount of my bakeware, are already packed.  Hubby and I have enough left out that we won’t starve, but I’m not planning to do much creative baking or cooking until we get unpacked and settled and get our condo cleaned up and on the market.  Please bear with me, and I promise I’ll be back with tons of fun new recipes from my new kitchen-to-be!

Whole Grain Apple-Cinnamon Muffins

I have a compulsion: I will almost always buy apples at the store, whether we need them or not.  I’ve been known to have three almost-full bags of apples knocking around my crisper drawer, because for some reason I just can’t stop myself from buying them at the grocery store.  It’s as if some unconscious part of me takes over in the produce section and says, “Mmmm, apples!  Delicious!” and just throws them in the cart without me having any control over it.  (That also happens with cucumbers.)  They are our standby lunch fruit, so we’ll go through 5-10 apples a week just by putting them in lunches (depending on if there are also grapes in the house, in which case I will take those for myself…) but we always, always seem to have extra apples.  I don’t know if they multiply in the fridge or what, but it seems to take forever to get through a bag and I invariably have leftovers at the end of the week.  When I am actually thinking intelligently about my grocery shopping, I will either restrain myself from buying apples or figure out some way to use up my extras – like turkey cutlets with sauteed apples and onions for dinner one night, or these muffins.

Ah, muffins.  Who doesn’t love muffins?  They are tasty, easy, and they have the cutest! name! ever!  But most of the time, they are also laden with butterfat and nutritionally void calories.  I try to make muffins at least somewhat nutritious by using whole grains, like rolled oats, along with whole wheat flour, and adding some flaxseed meal for the Omega-3s.  Tossing in a little fresh fruit can’t hurt, either.  And that’s where the apples come in… a relatively nutritious muffin, and an opportunity to use up some of those extra apples that are taking up half my crisper drawer?  That’s a very nice way to wake up on a weekend morning.

Whole Grain Apple-Cinnamon Muffins

1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour*
2/3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup ground flaxseed meal
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup skim milk
8 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 large (preferably organic) eggs
1/3 cup honey
3 medium apples, large-diced

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin by spraying the wells with a baking spray (like Pam for Baking or Baker’s Joy), or by lining with paper or silicone muffin liners.
  • Combine the dry ingredients – flour, oats, flaxseed meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon – in a large bowl and whisk together.
  • In a smaller bowl, combine the milk, applesauce, eggs and honey, and stir to combine.
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix well.
  • Stir in the diced apple pieces.  Portion batter equally into muffin wells.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffins comes out clean.

*The whole wheat flour actually adds to the taste of these muffins, so I encourage you to stick with it.  If you simply don’t like the taste, you can substitute white whole wheat flour, which is much milder but retains the same nutritional benefits as regular whole wheat, or even all-purpose flour, which is less nutritious.  Whole wheat flour also gives the muffins a somewhat denser crumb than you would get with all-purpose flour, but again, I think it works well with the apple pieces.  Certainly, you can substitute some of all of it, but please do give it a try!

Yield: 12 muffins.

Source: Covered In Flour

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins


How’s this for a contradiction?  I love to bake, but I also value healthy eating.  Baked goods and healthy foods don’t always seem to go hand-in-hand.  Usually, I bake according to the principle that everyone needs a little indulgence (and you can always run it off), and I’ll have just one serving of whatever it is I bake and then give the rest away.  But I do like the challenge of taking baked goods and making them healthy… or at least healthier than they would otherwise be.   This weekend, I challenged myself to come up with a healthy alternative chocolate zucchini muffin.  I swapped out the all-purpose flour with white whole wheat and most of the sugar with agave nectar.  Just with those two steps, I incorporated whole grains and lowered the glycemic index of what would have otherwise been delicious, but pretty unhealthy, muffins.  They also have zucchini in them – obviously – so there’s a vegetable for ya.  And I cut the fat by substituting organic applesauce for butter.  You’d never know.  So there you have it – a delicious muffin recipe that’s heavy on the chocolate, light on the guilt.


Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

2 eggs (preferably organic)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup blue agave nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups grated zucchini
2/3 cup organic applesauce
1/4 cup skim milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (such as Green&Black’s Organic)
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs.  Add the sugar, agave nectar, vanilla extract and milk, and stir to combine.  Mix in the grated zucchini and the applesauce.  Sprinkle the salt and baking powder over the top, and stir that in too.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, and Chinese five-spice powder and whisk to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches.  Stir until combined.  The batter will be thick, but if it gets too difficult to stir, add a bit more milk to loosen it up.
  • Prepare a muffin tin with liners, or spray it with a baking spray that contains flour (such as PAM for Baking).  Using an ice-cream scoop, fill the muffin wells until you run out of batter.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the top of one muffin comes out clean.  Allow to cool.

Yield: 12 muffins

Source: Loosely adapted from Simply Recipes

Peach Oatmeal Muffins


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  How many times have we heard that one?  It might just be that the truest truisms are also the most often repeated, because breakfast really is important.  It jump-starts your metabolism for the day, fills you up so that you are less likely to overindulge at lunch or on snacks, and provides a foundation for healthy eating throughout the day.  For me, breakfast is especially important because I am a morning person, and I need that jolt of nutrition to power my running around until 1:00 or so.  But I don’t really care for cereal – so where does that leave me?  Usually, I grab a yogurt out of the fridge in the morning, stir some granola into it at my desk at work, and get going.  But there are some mornings when I need something special, something homemade, something that reminds me of the weekend.  And it doesn’t hurt if it’s healthy, too.  That’s where muffins come in.  I load them up with fruit and whole grains and bask in the fiber I’m getting – and these are perfect, only very lightly sweet, with bits of juicy peach floating throughout.  If I close my eyes, I can even convince myself that it’s Saturday morning.  Then my desk phone rings and shatters the fantasy… but at least I’ve still got a muffin.


Peach Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup white whole wheat (or all-purpose) flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup honey (or pure maple syrup)
2 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 peaches, peeled and diced

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Fit paper liners into a 12-well muffin tin.  Place the muffin tin on a baking sheet.
  • Whisk together flours, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, honey, eggs and melted butter.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to blend.  Stir in diced peaches.  Scatter additional oats over top of muffins, if desired.
  • Divide batter evenly amongst muffin wells and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin, then lift muffins out and cool on a rack.

Source: Loosely Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Great Grains Muffins”