Tag Archives: muffins

KID IN THE KITCHEN: Banana Nut Maple Mini-Muffins (Simplified)

6 Mar

(Don’t forget to vote for my Watermelon Mojito story for a #2015EDDY award for food and beverage writing. Vote daily till March 15. Thanks!)

Today was yet another snow day in a winter that has been the coldest in decades and during which we’ve been snowed on an awful lot. Most of us are well sick of the disruption and the winter coats and gloves and hats and the shoveling and the slush.

The bakers did very well!

The bakers did very well!

But there are small pleasures with unexpected days off…like sleeping in and — if your seven-year-old shuts up long enough to allow you to complete a thought or a blog post or pay a bill or anything for the love of God — finishing little tasks you wouldn’t have time for otherwise. And then there’s baking, because the best defense against the bad weather blues is a house that smells like sweet, warm, doughy things.

The muffins were not all exactly the same size, but that's part of the charm of home-made!

The muffins were not all exactly the same size, but that’s part of the charm of home-made!

So I decided to try a simpler version of our Banana Walnut Maple muffins with my little man and his friend from across the street after they’d been playing in the snow for a couple of hours (remember when you considered that kind of thing fun?) and I had actually completed one report.

Cute, no?

Cute, no?

It was a great success, both the making and the fragrant baking and the tasting, plus being able to send the neighbor home with muffins for her family and having muffins for the guy on the corner who cleared the driveway with his snow blower and for the sweet couple in their 90s across the street. Mini-muffins go so much farther than standard size muffins!

And we still have plenty left over for lunchboxes!

And we still have plenty left over for lunchboxes!

Banana Walnut Maple Mini Muffins II (simplified)

2 Cups all-purpose flour (or 1 Cup all-purpose and 1 Cup whole wheat)

1.5 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

4-5 overripe bananas

1 Cup light brown sugar

¾ Cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

¼ Cup maple syrup

¾ Cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375˚F and grease or line with cups 2 standard muffin tins (12 muffins) or 4 mini-muffin tins (48 muffins) plus be ready to do an additional six standard muffins. This makes a lot.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt. In another, mash the bananas, then add the sugar and mix well with a fork. Add the melted butter, egg, vanilla and beat well. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Fold in the nuts and maple syrup gently with a rubber spatula. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins to fill about halfway.

Bake 12 minutes for mini-muffins and 20 for standard muffins. Allow to cool for a minute before planning them on a rack to cool further or just serve warm. These store well in an airtight container for about three days and also freeze well. I take them out of the freezer and pop them into my son’s lunchbox frozen and they are good to go by snack time.

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Strawberry and Jam Mini-Muffins

8 Feb

Here is a quickie recipe that my son and his friend from across the street helped make on a recent playdate. They did a great job. Kids love wearing aprons to cook, so try to have enough available for everyone. And set out all ingredients ahead of time. Measuring is a great way to talk about fractions!

They are the cutest little tea muffins and we used some organic strawberries I had got on sale and frozen in season. I freeze these and then toss a couple in the kid’s lunchbox for school. They thaw out and warm up in time for snack!

Easy and delicious!

Easy and delicious!

Strawberry and Jam Mini-Muffins

1 egg

½ Cup plain yogurt

¼ Cup coconut oil (or any neutral vegetable oil)

1 ½ Cups flour (mix of white and whole wheat)

½ Cup sugar (mix of brown and white)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 Cup strawberries, chopped (frozen is fine!)

1 Tbs strawberry or lingonberry or other berry jam

Topping

½ Cup sugar

1/3 Cup flour

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ Cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 400° and line mini-muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the egg with a fork. Add the milk and oil and continue to stir. Add all dry ingredients. Mix the batter well, but do not over mix (which would toughen the muffins). Fold in strawberries and stir in jam.

Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full. Then start making the topping.

In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients for the topping and crumble together with your fingers (if you are baking with children, expect to be abandoned midway when they are grossed out by the stickiness. Also expect to find bits of this topping on the floor and all over the bathroom sink as they try to get it off). Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of topping.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until plump and golden brown. Let stand for a minute, then remove from trays. Serve warm or room temp. They freeze well too!

Blackberry Muffins: Moist and Tart and Sweet

31 Aug

We finally made it down to the berry fields at Restoration Farm for blackberry season and boy am I glad we did!

No butterflies were harmed in the making of these muffins

No butterflies were harmed in the making of these muffins

The little guy picked and popped the berries directly into his mouth (“Oh Mom, these are so good! Try this one!) and ran up and down the rows and climbed up and down the compost pile, while I picked the juiciest and blackest berries and dropped them into my paper bag, and chatted with Donna “The Chicken Lady/Social Commentarist” in the cooling breeze of the late afternoon. One of my favorite things about going to the farm and volunteering my labor (which I don’t do as much as I should once the summer kicks in) is talking while you work. The folks at the farm are so interesting and warm and funny, and weeding occupies the hands, while it frees the mind to wander and the ears to listen and the mouth to chat.

Allison -- our long-time CSA partner -- picks her berries.

Allison — our long-time CSA partner — picks her berries.

Berry-picking does much the same thing. Once you soften your touch to only take the berries which fall off into your hand with the gentlest of tugs — if you tug at all — you find a rhythm as old as time and the conversation comes easily. So does silence.

Taking with my not-particularly-smart-but-loyal phone. Not such a bad shot, no?

Taking with my not-particularly-smart-but-loyal phone. Not such a bad shot, no?

For someone like me, who always has to be getting something done, it is a great relief to be able to have my hands occupied in dignified work, while sharing with friends. I also learn a lot about what to do in my own garden when nothing is going right. And the little man identifies the birds: swallows and mockingbirds and the occasional red-tailed hawk wanting a go at Donna’s chickens. The hawks cause quite a bit of excitement in Mr. Mini-Audubon. And the chickens, of course, who scurry under the coop.

Treat these berries gently and use them immediately!

Treat these berries gently and use them immediately!

So, we collected just under a quart of warm, sweet, soft berries that needed using immediately. Since back-to-school is right around the corner, my fill-the-freezer-frenzy has begun. Mini-muffins make for a perfect lunchbox snack, so that is where I went. Continue reading

Three Deliciously Sweet Blueberry Baking Ideas

14 Jul

Blueberries are in at Restoration Farm, our C.S.A.! We pick our own, each family picking as much as seems reasonable, given that we share with a lot of people, but keeping in mind that these berries won’t stay ripe forever.

Blueberries are one of those power foods, loaded with anti-oxidants, which may or may not counter the aging process. We just know they are powerfully delicious! The good news is they don’t seems to lose that phytonutrient power when frozen. They are also native to North America, which makes it positively patriotic if you are from around these parts.  The bad news is that even domestically-grown blueberries are high in pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group. So use their freezeability to your advantage. Buy them organic while in season and freeze them for later use!

Here are three of our favorite blueberry recipes — should you be brave enough to turn on the oven in the middle of a hot summer. Or, store these recipes when you store your blueberries in the freezer, and pull them out for a burst of summer in your baking in the middle of winter!

Blueberry-Strawberry Muffins

We like mini-muffins because you get so many you can share them around!

We like mini-muffins because you get so many you can share them around!

Blueberry Pound Cake

Blueberry pound cake is rich and tart and sweet

Blueberry pound cake is rich and tart and sweet

Blueberry-Lingonberry Muffins

A favorite for tea, lunchbox or thoughtful treat for neighbors, caregivers and friends

A favorite for tea, lunchbox or thoughtful treat for neighbors, caregivers and friends

Blueberry-Strawberry Mini-Muffins

25 Mar

Another Perfect Mom Moment gone astray. I had the blueberries. I had the jam. I had the flour, the sugar, the butter, the cinnamon, the eggs. I had the kindergartener signed on to the project. But oops (oops being a euphemism for the words I actually used when I realized), I did not have the yogurt for our favorite blueberry-lingonberry mini-muffins.

A favorite for tea, lunchbox or thoughtful treat for neighbors, caregivers and friends

Usually we do blueberry-lingonberry muffins with yogurt – light and lifty

.

But, snow falling on the first day of Spring told me that baking had to be. So Iron Mom took over from Perfect Mom (who I don’t like very much anyway) and made from lemons lemonade. Or in this case, a different muffin. As Temple Grandin’s mom used to say, “Different, but not less.”

Sweet and petite blueberry mini-muffins

Sweet and petite blueberry mini-muffins

Continue reading

Cranberry-Nut Mini-Muffin Scones

24 Jan

Nothing like getting halfway through a baking recipe and realizing you don’t have one of the critical ingredients.

Leandro and I were experimenting with a new muffin recipe on the eve of the spring semester and I had laid out all the ingredients beforehand (a critical strategic move when baking with a four-year-old boy and a secret pleasure because I pretend I am on my own prepped and pretty cooking show).

Then the “1/2 Cup milk,” bit, which I swear was not there when I was playing next Food Network Star in my own head five minutes previous, suddenly loomed into view. Milk!?! I hate milk! Leandro hates milk! Ick! We never have milk in!

And baking? Well I suddenly hated baking too, because it is so precise, so unforgiving, so anal, so not me….

But, Leandro and I do like yogurt and we always have plain nonfat organic on hand for my breakfast and his dip for apple slices. So, seeing as we were well into the process of these muffins (which started with a recipe from Dairy Hollow House Soup and Bread by — I kid you not — Crescent Dragonwagon, an Arkansas chef and innkeeper), I bunged in 1/2 Cup of yogurt instead and hoped for the best.

The result was some really fun mini-scones. They were nubbly and attractive, studded with ruby cranberries. Instead of my usual muffin sponginess, the texture had that dense fluffiness that makes scones so lovely with tea or coffee, punctuated with nutty bits. The craisins took on an orange-y candied peel flavor that was perfect for a winter day.

Leandro did not like them at all. “I told you not to put that smelly powder (nutmeg) in,” was his shrugging response.

My colleagues, however, were a different story. I brought them in for a first-day-of-school snack for our kitchen and they moved quickly and got lots of compliments. So….as they used to say in hockey “kick, save, and a beauty!” I guess I like baking again.

Here’s the recipe…enjoy!

Cranberry-Nut Mini-Muffin-Scones

1 ¼ Cup unbleached all purpose flour

½ Cup sugar

2 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 Cup nonfat plain yogurt

½ Cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

¾ Cup dried craisins (sweetened dried cranberries)

½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (you may sub 1/4 cup walnuts with ¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease or line with paper cups 48 mini-muffin tins.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar to taste, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In a second bowl, whisk together milk, butter, egg and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine gently into a soft dough (crumbly is fine) with as little handling as possible. Gently fold in cranberries and nuts.

Use a spoon or fingers to fill muffin cups a half to two-thirds full. Bake until lightly golden, 12-15 minutes. Cool for a minute, remove and then cool completely on a wire rack. Will keep three days in an airtight container; no refrigeration.

Blueberry-lingonberry muffins (or mix and match berries and jam)

14 Jun

A favorite for tea, lunchbox or thoughtful treat for neighbors, caregivers and friends

Nothing makes people happier than a fresh baked treat, except a fresh-baked treat that isn’t too sinful and comes in small enough portions to make sense rather than create guilt.

Such are these blueberry-lingonberry mini-muffins that I adapted from a Stonyfield Farms strawberry muffin recipe. This recipe I first started doing with my beloved niece, The Incomparable Sofía, when she was just little (she is now a gorgeous and grown-up six-and-three-quarter-years-old). Whenever she comes home for a visit, we bake them up too. I miss her goofy little concentrated self and her beautiful long fingers in the kitchen. It is now Leandro’s favorite thing to bake. It is slightly more complicated than my banana bread or banana muffins; just make sure to lay out all your ingredients, measuring spoons and cups, and bowls before calling the kids to the work table and you can easily do it with a three-year-old maniac (or two!)

We prefer blueberries to strawberries (although to be honest, blueberries do lend a greenish tinge to the final product that is a bit weird, though no one ever, ever complains) as I think they have a punchier flavor when baked. I’ve done it with mixed berries, but early on some kids objected to the seed bits in blackberries and raspberries, so I fell out of the habit of using them.

The real key to good berry flavor, though, I learned from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, which suggests adding berry jam. Blueberry jam might be the obvious choice for blueberry muffins, but as a non-jam eater, I just used what I had in the fridge the first time out, which happened to be lingonberry (shout-out to Sofía’s mom, Annika from Sweden; you’ll find it at IKEA) and we liked the tart sweetness so much, we’ve stuck with it. If you are not familiar with them, think red currant or a softer, gentler version of cranberries.

I prefer mini-muffins, because they allow me to divide and share them more easily and because you can feel good about popping just one or two. Leandro’s caregivers really appreciate getting a batch, and it makes a perfect element to a good fika (Swedish coffee break hang out session – coffee klatch to New Yorkers!).

Blueberry-lingonberry/Any-berry muffins (makes 48 mini-muffins or 12 standard)

1 Cup all purpose flour

1 Cup whole wheat flour

½ Cup sugar (white or light brown)

1.5 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

1 Cup plain yogurt (I use nonfat, lowfat is also fine)

¼ Cup butter (unsalted preferred, but salted is okay) melted and cooled

1 tsp vanilla

1 Cup chopped/mashed blueberries or berries of your choice (frozen are very convenient. Thaw first)

1-2 Heaping Tbs berry jam (I use lingonberry, but use whatever red/blue/purple berry jam you’ve got)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease your muffin tins ahead (especially if baking with children – Be prepared!)

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

In another bowl mix the eggs, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla (if your butter is still very hot, you may get crusty bits when it comes in contact with the cold yogurt. Just break them up as you mix and don’t worry).

Fold berries into the dry mixture. Fold wet mixture into the dry mixture. Swirl in the jam. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins, filling about 2/3 up. Bake for 12 minutes (mini-muffins) or 20-25 minutes (standard size). Cool for a minute, then remove from tins and let cool completely on wire racks (if you’ve got; otherwise any cool, clean surface will do). These keep well tightly covered in the fridge for a week.


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