Walnut-Date Muffins

October 17, 2009 § 2 Comments

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Last Saturday I picked up a twisty-tied baggie filled with large, grade A medjool dates from a Syrian shop by my old house.  Typically, I enjoy eating dates plain or I take out the pit and stuff a pecan, large walnut or scoop of peanut butter inside. Generally speaking, when I treat myself to dates, I can’t imagine eating them baked or stewed or blended into something new.

But, after my grocery rendezvous, I found an enticing recipe on the internet featuring dates!  I debated whether it was worth it to hack-up my delicious dates and throw them into a batter, fearing they’d lose their luster in a tangle of cinnamon and nutmeg flavors.  In the end, I decided to give it a shot.  These muffins were moist and savory, and each bite had a warm, gooey piece of date or a crunchy piece of walnut.  They also freeze wonderfully.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
scant 1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or other alternative or milk)
1/3 cup molasses*
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs

3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dates, pitted & chopped
few pinches of extra all purpose flour

*COOKING TIP: To avoid molasses sticking to the measuring cup, simply grease the inside of the cup with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Measure desired amount of molasses into the cup.  When you pour the molasses into other liquids it will slide right out and leave little-to-no residue in the bottom.

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease muffin tin.

2.  Mix all dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a fork to combine.

3.  In a separate bowl, lightly beat egg.  Add soy milk and vegetable oil.  Grease the 1/3 cup with vegetable oil (see above note) and measure molasses.  Whisk with a fork and incorporate into dry ingredients.  Fold in walnuts.  Roll dates in flour and fold into batter.

COOKING TIP: Because dates are gooey when cut and are prone to sticking together, tumbling dates in a sprinkling of white flour and then folding them into the batter ensures they are able to move uniformly throughout the dough and not clump together.

4.  Spoon batter into muffin trays 3/4 full.  Depending on the muffin size, the baking time will vary.  For small muffins, mine were set in the middle and clean (from the “knife test”) within 18-20 minutes.  For larger muffins, the cooking time will vary between 23-28 minutes.

5. Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack so they set.  To remove muffins, carefully take a dull knife and run around the edge of each container and gently pry out.

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What to do with that leftover sweet “starter”!

February 11, 2009 § 4 Comments

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My mom makes batches of sweet, whole wheat sourdough bread every couple of weeks.  They’re terrific, but because we can’t eat 3 loaves of bread a week (well, I could probably try) my ma doesn’t make a new batch every time she “feeds” the starter with potato flakes and sugar.

Because sourdough starters grow, if you don’t bake bread one week, you’ll invariably have extra starter.  If you don’t use it, you’ll have to dump some of it or you’ll have zillions of little bottles of pale-yellow solution clogging up your refrigerator shelves.

Last week wasn’t a bread-baking week, so I got the leftovers.  I decided to try and make a batch of sweet, sourdough muffins.  My all time favorite muffin is the slightly denser 6-week Bran Muffin, but I think this new muffin gives the bran boys a run for their money.

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1 + 1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
3/4 cup sweet sourdough starter (should be very liquidy)
1/3 cup rice milk (or milk alternative)
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

sourdoughmuffinquartetMethods:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease two 6-muffin tins.

2. Mix dry ingredients together with a fork.  Add egg, milk, and starter and stir until combined.

3.  If you like muffins with “crunch,” add a half cup of your preferred nut. Dollop the batter into the muffin tins about 3/4 of the way to the top.  Bake for 17-20 minutes until firm and golden-brown on top.  Let sit for ten minutes before removing from pan.

Artichoke + Chive Cottage Cheese Muffins

January 14, 2009 § 2 Comments

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Eating these little muffins is just like eating a miniature quiche.  This recipe was inspired by Skinny Gourmet’s fabulous blog!

Ingredients:
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
3/4 grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1/3 cup marinated artichoke
pinch dried basil, oregano, parsley and rosemary
1 tablespoon chives, fresh
2 tablespoons water
4 eggs
sea salt, pepper

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Directions:

1.  Grease and flour muffin tin.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.

3.  Cook between 25-30 minutes (depending on size of muffin) until firm in the center.  Cool in dish approx. 5 minutes, then serve.

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Diet Notes: Nut-free

Fluffy Pumpkin Muffins (sans dairy! attention vegans!)

November 22, 2008 § 2 Comments

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This recipe is an old standby from my years at Whitman.  I’d make these muffins in the Writing House and it would fill up the chilly kitchen with fall smells and rumbling stomachs!  This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite vegan cookbooks called “Vegan with a Vengeance” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.

Ingredients:
1 + 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat-white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/2 cup rice milk (or milk alternative)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons molasses

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and spices.

2. In a separate bowl mix sugar, pumpkin, milk, oil, and molasses.  Combine wet and dry.

3.  Bake 18-23 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.  Let cool for 15 minutes before removing.  They freeze and thaw wonderfully.

Diet Notes: vegan, nut-free

The Easiest Zucchini Bread You’ll Ever Make!

September 20, 2008 § 4 Comments

I grew up eating this bread for summer breakfasts at my grandparents’ house.  It’s one of my favorites!

Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 + 1/2 cup white flour (or white whole-wheat)
1 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium-sized zucchini)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 heaping tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
a few dark chocolate chips

It doesn’t get easier than this!

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease muffin tin and set aside.

2. In a food processor, combine all ingredients.  Pulse until thoroughly mixed.

3. Spoon batter into greased muffin tins.  Top with a few dark chocolate chips.  Bake 20-25 minutes until golden around the edges and a knife comes out clean.  Let cool in the muffin tins for at least 15 minutes before removing.

Diet Notes: Nut-free

“6-week” Bran Muffins

September 3, 2008 § 4 Comments

These muffins are called “six week bran muffins” because rumor has it that you can keep the batter in a closed container (like a Tupperware) for up to 6 weeks and it won’t go bad.  I’ve always been amazed by that fact because there are eggs in this recipe, but maybe buttermilk works some kind of preservation magic.  Whatever the case, I’ve never had the batter last more than a week, so I’ve never worried about past-its-prime batter.   These muffins are extremely moist, flavorful and hearty.   I’ve experimented a lot and sampled a TON – muffins are my favorite breakfast treat! – and these guys, hands-down, are my absolute favorite!

Ingredients:
1 + 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups “Kellog Bran Buds”
3 cups “Kellog All Bran”
2 + 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 + 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 quart (two cups) buttermilk (lowfat is fine)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease muffin tins.

2. Heat 1 cup of water on the stove. Meanwhile, measure bran or bran cereals in a large bowl.  When boiling, pour water over the 100% bran and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream sugar and oil.  Add eggs, buttermilk and then the soaked bran.

4.  In a separate bowl measure dry ingredients.  Sift or stir until thoroughly combined. Slowly add to liquids, stirring gently until just combined.  (Don’t over-mix.)

5. Spoon batter into muffin tins 3/4 of the way.  Cooking times will vary based on size of muffin tin.  For a medium-size muffin, bake approximately 20 minutes, until the sides are golden-brown and a knife comes out clean when inserted into the center.

Diet Notes: Nut-free

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