This Week's Muffin: Spinach (?!?)

It's been a long time since I posted a muffin recipe, mainly because it has been sooooo hot here in NoVA. Who wants to heat an oven? Also, I've been trying to cut back on that kind of food. I won't go so far as to call muffins "junk" food, but I'm trying to make better choices, such as quality proteins, and cramming as many fruits and veggies into my day as I can.

But finally, the weather has turned, and fall is here. These spinach muffins call for 6 ounces of baby spinach--that's more than half of one of those big rectangular containers--and they use whole wheat flour. SOLD!

But dang, that batter is green:

I mean... wow.

I haven't tasted the finished product yet, but the batter is tasty--the banana takes center stage, while the spinach flavor recedes into a generic earthiness that's quite nice. I have no idea whether my kids will eat them. Part of me hopes they don't.

SPINACH MUFFINS  from the Six O'Clock Scramble menu-planning site--We've been happy subscribers for a long time, and they've just started adding weekly breakfast suggestions, like this one!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (GF is fine)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup milk (use any kind you have)
  • 6 oz. baby spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease or line two muffin tins.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter. In a food processor or blender (I used an immersion blender), mix the milk, spinach, and butter until it is completely pureed. Add the banana and vanilla and blend until just mixed.
  4. Pour pureed mixture into the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until completely combined. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full and baking 18-20 minutes.

This Week's Muffin: "Resistance is Fruitful" Muffins

Muffin Maven is back in action! We had some house guests this weekend for the Women's March on Washington, and I decided to make these to grab and go. Then Robert ended up making pancakes, which will always win out over muffins. But these are quickly disappearing too. The march was a profound and positive experience. The logistics were a bit crazy, mainly because the turnout way exceeded expectations. Which I love.

16142656_10154894738233164_2517045947865602022_nI had many friends who wanted to march in DC and couldn't--though many of them marched elsewhere--so at their request I wrote their names on my stole. More than 100 by the time it was said and done.

Why did I march, along with some 3 million women, men and children, in more than 600 events spanning all seven continents? Well, contrary to what people on Twitter might say, it wasn't sour grapes over the fact that my preferred candidate lost. I've experienced that plenty of times--many of us have--and we didn't take to the streets over it.

Yes, I have profound disagreements with the incoming administration's stand on any number of things, and I plan to resist attempts to roll back our progress on health care, climate change, civil and reproductive rights, and any number of other issues.

But it's much deeper than that. Mr. Trump could match me issue-for-issue and I would still think he is catastrophically unfit to be president. His narcissistic personality, dearth of curiosity, disdain for science and basic facts, and lack of humility make him dangerous, I believe. As I often say when people try to reduce this to partisan squabbling, "This Ain't Mitt Romney."

Plus he's mean.

If you see it similarly, I don't need to say any more. If you don't, no recounting of his many statements will change your mind.

Please enjoy the muffins though; they're good, and have no partisan ingredients whatsoever!

These muffins are easy as can be--the only tricky part is putting a dollop of jam in the half-filled muffin cups, then covering it with the rest of the batter. So, not really tricky at all. I used leftover strawberry refrigerator jam we made and froze over the summer.

RESISTANCE IS FRUITFUL MUFFINS (from the Williams-Sonoma Muffin cookbook, where they are called Jam-Filled Muffins)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all-purpose flour 3/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 1 1/4 cups sour cream 1/3 - 1/2 cup jelly or jam

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare 12 muffin cups with spray or paper cups.
  2. In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk melted butter, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and sour cream until smooth.
  4. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Do not overmix.
  5. Spoon a small helping of batter into each muffin cup--enough to coat the bottom. Then add a heaping teaspoon of jam/jelly to the center of each muffin. Cover with remaining batter.
  6. Bake until golden and springy to the touch, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool further.

 

Muffin of the Week: Turkey Day Detox

How was your Thanksgiving? We had a lovely one--one of the best I can remember. These muffins are great for the day after Thanksgiving because... well, you know.

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Adapted from King Arthur Flour's Morning Glory Muffins.

INGREDIENTS

Disclaimer: there are no cranberries in this recipe. But Caroline staged and took this picture yesterday and I thought it was so pretty.

1/2 cup raisins 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour 1 cup brown sugar 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 cups peeled and grated carrots (I had slightly less--threw in what I had) 1 large tart apple, peeled, cored, and grated 1/2 cup shredded coconut, sweetened or unsweetened (I omitted, because gross) 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 1/3 cup sunflower seeds or wheat germ, optional (I used wheat germ) 3 large eggs 2/3 cup vegetable oil -- You can substitute canned pumpkin for oil at a 1:1 ratio, so I threw in that annoying leftover bit we always have when we make our pie. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/4 cup orange juice

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or line it with papers and spray the insides of the papers.
  2. In a small bowl, cover the raisins with hot water, and set them aside to soak while you assemble the rest of the recipe.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  4. Stir in the carrots, apple, coconut, nuts, and sunflower seeds or wheat germ.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, oil, vanilla, and orange juice.
  6. Add to the flour mixture, and stir until evenly moistened.
  7. Drain the raisins and stir them in.
  8. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, until they're nicely domed and a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the inner muffins comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes in their pan on a rack, then turn out of pans to finish cooling. Wrap any leftovers airtight, and store at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

This Week's Muffin: Mini Mediterranean Muffins

It's all book-writing and marathon-training here at the Blue Room. (Note to self--don't have those things coincide in the future, mmm-kay?) Once those are both behind me I'll be back to my regularly scheduled public rumination. img_1098In the meantime, the weather is cooling off which means I'm making muffins again! This week's recipe is one I love. It comes from Matt Kadey's book Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sports and Adventure. I've made several recipes from this book and liked or loved each one.

Kadey's book is divided into Before, During, and After, with each section's recipes formulated for that phase of exercise. Before features light, healthy, carb-fortified foods; During has stuff that's easily portable (including your own gels!); After focuses on the right protein/carb ratio to replenish muscles and energy.

These Mini Mediterranean muffins came from the During section, but they're excellent to snack on anytime. I used them on my last 20 miler, and it was so nice to have something savory to offset the gels and chews I rely on heavily.

img_1083INGREDIENTS 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour 1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal (I used regular cornmeal and it seemed finely ground enough) 3 tablespoons sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons low-fat milk 1/3 cup olive oil zest of 1 lemon (optional) 2 ounces finely chopped feta cheese (about 1/2 cup) 1/2 cup drained and finely chopped roasted red peppers 1/3 cup pitted, finely chopped Kalamata olives

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare 24 mini muffin cups with paper liners or cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour through salt).
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, milk, oil, and lemon zest.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until just blended.
  5. Fold in cheese, peppers and olives.
  6. Divide into muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out mostly clean. Cool on rack.
  7. Keep chilled for up to 5 days and transport in small ziploc bags. (I have frozen a bunch for The Big Day.)

Speaking of which! I'm still raising money for Teens Run DC. Read more about it and sponsor me here.

The Peace of Baked Things... A Poem, Plus Bonus Muffin Recipe

3283331121_2ecd8d73c9_z What do you do when you're discouraged about the state of the world?

I bake muffins. And jot poems.

With apologies to Wendell Berry's poem The Peace of Wild Things:

The Peace of Baked Things

When despair for the world grows in me and I can't sleep at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I creep down to the kitchen, socks on cold wood. A clatter of bowls, hiss of spray on pans, and a pillow of flour. Leavening a perfect mound, whiter than white. Follow directions and all will be well.

Now the liquid: thick buttermilk; melted butter, a risen sun grinning wickedly from its bowl; and an egg--the cracked one, from when my son fumbled the carton. I whisk, wincing at the memory of his frustrated tears.

Then a pause over the two bowls. Master over this one thing, I can suspend time indefinitely, stop the culinary combustion for as long as I wish.

But such sovereignty is foolish. The mess is meant to be mixed, folded, scooped, baked, and warmed-- for the teen who wakes herself before dawn, the long-haired girl with the cat-ear headband, the boy who broke the eggs.

~

Brown Sugar Butter Pecan Muffins (or loaf)

adapted from Real Easy Recipes

INGREDIENTS 2-1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 1 cup light brown sugar, packed 1 egg, beaten 1 cup buttermilk 2 tablespoons melted butter 1 cup chopped pecans

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and spices; blend in brown sugar. Combine egg, buttermilk, and butter; add to flour mixture, stirring to blend well. Stir in chopped nuts.
  2. Scoop batter into 12 greased muffin tins (or a greased and floured 9-by-5-inch loaf pan). Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes (45 to 50 minutes for loaf) or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

~

Psst... my 2015-2016 workbook/playbook is still available for a couple more days. Find out more. Get the workbook now.

Photo Credit: "baking" by Ballookey Klugeypop, Flickr, creative commons license.

This Week's "Muffin": Applesauce Spice Cake

IMG_8428 This week I put muffin in quotes because I actually made this as a bundt cake, but it would work perfectly well as muffins. Just bake for less time.

This cake was a central feature of our Wednesday family dessert as well as a lovely quiet conversation over tea with a friend on my back deck. No frills, but tasty and super easy!

I'd credit the source but I don't know where I got this one.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup applesauce 1/2 cup oil 7/8 cup brown sugar

1 3/4 cups flour 1 tsp baking soda 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground ginger 1/2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp ground cloves 1/2 cup chopped nuts and/or raisins, optional (I omitted)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bundt pan or muffin cups.
  2. Mix applesauce, brown sugar and oil in medium bowl.
  3. Sift together dry ingredients.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry, mix well.
  5. Pour into pan and bake 40 minutes (cake) or 15-20 minutes (muffins).
  6. Cool on a cooling rack.

Muffin of the Week: Easy Cranberry, for the #RagnarDC Steeple Chasers

A sign my daughter made for last year's Ragnar Relay team. EDIT: I wrote this post early in the week, then spent the morning before Ragnar monitoring weather reports. As of this update, our team is still a go, but the muffins didn't get made. So let's call these muffins Hurricane Joaquin muffins instead.

It's Ragnar Relay week here in the nation's capital, and as this post goes live, our team, the Steeple Chasers, is somewhere in Maryland, making the long and hilarious 200-mile running trek from Cumberland to DC. You can read about last year's Steeple Chasers adventure here.

Despite my injury, I'm staying on as driver and general merry-maker. And muffin provider. This week I went with something simple, with no weird ingredients that might be tough on runners' tummies. I also made mini-muffins so people can pop a little one in their mouth if they need a quick burst of energy.

EASY CRANBERRY MUFFINS -- adapted from Eating on a Dime

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups Flour
  • ¾ cup Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ cup Orange Juice
  • ⅓ cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 cup chopped Cranberries
 INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Coat muffin pan with cooking spray. (12 regular sized muffins or 24ish mini muffins)
  3. Mix together flour, brown sugar and baking powder. Set aside.
  4. Beat together eggs. orange juice and oil.
  5. Add wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until moistened.
  6. Fold in cranberries.
  7. Spoon into prepared muffin pan.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

 

When You Can't Have Family Dinner... Plus the Muffin of the Week

It has one of the highest impacts of anything we do as families... and it becomes harder and harder the older the kids get. It's dinner as a family.

Study after study talks about the benefits of a family dinner. It's important physically, emotionally, spiritually, even mentally--according to this article, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to. As someone whose job used to involve a lot of evening meetings, and now involves travel a couple of times a month, family dinner is a challenge. But it's also a cherished value for us. It may not be leisurely or gourmet quality, but I'd say we pull it off four or five times a week.

That average just got a lot harder. On Mondays, our kids have choir rehearsals. It's a single program, but they're in three different choirs that all start and end at different times. It's not close enough to our house to drop off and pick up, so we've been MacGyvering our way through it with sack dinners, the occasional GoPicnic, and bringing homework along while we wait in what is thankfully a very comfortable space to hang out for three hours.

Wednesday is our other challenge--piano night. We were able to keep all of the kids with the same beloved piano teacher we had before we moved, but the lessons are one after the other during the dinner hour. So again we're doing the sack dinner thing. I drop the kids off and go somewhere nearby to do some writing, then pick them up when they're done.

IMG_8325

For the last two weeks we've tried a new practice. If we can't have dinner together, we can at least have dessert together. Monday is too hectic to do anything and we get home too late. So on Wednesdays when the kids and I get home, Robert has the table set for something simple: last week it was ice cream, this week it was these pumpkin gingerbread muffins with whipped cream and Trader Joe's lemon curd.

We use the fancy dessert plates (because it's no extra effort) and do our customary dinnertime check-in of most favorite and least favorite parts of the day. It's been a great way to end our day.

...Ok, this week someone had a meltdown and left the table in a huff. That happens too.

What do you do to make family meals or other special times happen in the midst of your busy life?

PUMPKIN GINGERBREAD

adapted from Simply Recipes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 Tbsp finely minced candied or fresh ginger (optional)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp water

INSTRUCTIONS

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 12 muffin cups or a loaf pan with cooking spray.

2 In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

3 In another bowl, use a wooden spoon to mix together the pumpkin purée, melted butter, sugar, molasses, fresh or candied ginger, eggs, and water.

4 Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Stir only until incorporated.

5 Place the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 50-60 minutes (loaf) or 15-20 minutes (muffins), until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then gently run a knife around the edge and remove from pan(s). Let cool on a rack for 30 minutes or longer.

This Week's Muffin: Egg and Stuff. Plus Bonus Scone Recipe

Here in NoVA, the weather is cool and sunny, perfect for running. Meanwhile I have 51 days left before I can run again, thanks to my stress fracture. It's killing me.

I'11238217_10153571509468164_3411294251634816625_nve been trying to make the best of it by connecting myself with my sole sisters in Moms RUN This Town--Springfield. Two weekends ago I offered up our house as a halfway point during some friends' 20-mile run (see picture). I actually didn't bake for that one--I provided what the runners suggested, which was oranges, potato chips and (brilliantly) Nutter Butters.

But this weekend I did bake. A group has been doing the Cross County Trail, a 40-mile trail across Fairfax County they've been doing in segments for a couple months. I made it through three segments with them before I got injured. Saturday's run brought them within 10 minutes of the new house, so I invited them to come over afterwards. They came bearing a housewarming card and a hilarious (and cuddly) throw pillow in cheetah fabric. Perfect.

I wanted to prepare stuff they could take with them if they needed to eat and run. I've been wanting to try those egg muffin things I've been seeing all over Pinterest, and they could not be easier. Lots of versions out there, but here's what I did.

  1. Grease your muffin pans. (I found the silicone worked great for this.)
  2. Crack an egg in each cup. Add whatever you want. I added torn spinach leaves, grated cheese, salt and pepper. I pressed the spinach into the raw egg so it wouldn't scorch on top, though that was a pain and next time I might take my chances. Maybe the oven is humid enough that they'd just wilt.
  3. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until egg is set to your liking.
  4. Refrigerate until you're ready to eat: microwave for 20 seconds or so, and serve atop toast or between two halves of an English muffin. Love it.

I also made these Lemon Blueberry Scones. They were delicious but quite tart, perhaps because the blueberries I used were pretty tart. I think if I made them again I'd use milk instead of lemon juice in the glaze. I also needed to add more flour than the recipe called for because the dough was sticky. That could be because my daughter and I doubled the recipe and got something wrong, but in any case, be aware of that. Delicious though.

~

Are you on Pinterest? Here's the link to my boards.