Batch # 8 and counting . . .

Pumpkin & Raisin Mini Muffins

Our dishwasher has been broken for two weeks now, and so I get a “look” from my husband whenever I start baking. He likes to point out that cooking is my hobby, but doing dishes is not his. Although, he looks super cute with a towel over his shoulders at the sink, doesn’t he?

And, for the record, I help with the dishes too! Anyway, I know that by now you must think I have a bad case of muffin fever, since it seems like only yesterday that I posted my Apple and Dried Cherry Mini Muffins. But I really just had to share. The double-batch of these charming little pumpkin lovlies that I made this weekened is almost all gone . . . and that now makes for eight batches (and counting) in less than a month.

I love the fact that these are “skinny” muffins. Made with only two tablespoons of canola oil and just the egg whites, these muffins are sooooooo moist. Of course, I made them mini and nut-free so they are lunch-box friendly.

If you have a few pumpkins that you’d like to use up, see the directions for making pumpkin puree from Sawsan at Chef in Disguise here.

For the pumpkin muffin recipe, go to SkinnyTaste.com

But first, promise me that you won’t go and buy pumpkin pie spice! It is so easy to make and you likely have all the ingredients in your cupboard.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Recipe

  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves

Mix all of the spices together in a bowl until well combined and there are no lumps; store in a spice jar. You can double or triple the recipe according to your baking needs.

Yield: The recipe above makes just under 3 tablespoons.

NOTES:

  • I replaced the pecans with raisins in the SkinnyTaste.com recipe and topped them with a sprinkling of raw pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds). I also used regular white sugar, rather than raw sugar.
  • I made mini muffins rather than regular size and baked them for 15 minutes at 350°; yield approx. 30 muffins.
  • In Canada, the pure pumpkin comes in a 796 ml size. It makes two batches perfectly, so a double-batch is a good way to make sure that you don’t throw the other half of puree out, isn’t it?

The ponytails and good friend Miss K (right) making short work of eating up batch #8 . . .


Healthy Apple and Dried Cherry Mini Muffins

The wonderful thing about kids is the fact that they are unpredictable. The challenging thing about kids is the fact that they are unpredictable.

There are times when I expect a negative reaction to a situation, and my girls will completely surprize me by showing a level of maturity that is beyond their years. Yes (smile), they are unpredictable.

One week something is an all-time favourite. The next week it is the worst thing ever. This is particularly the case when it comes to food. Yes (sigh), they are unpredictable.

But, I find that if you hold your ground, they eventually eat the dish or snack that you made for them. And I think they like it too . . . they just won’t admit it. (They get their stubborn streak from their father.) Otherwise they’d have a very unhealthy and boring food repetoire (think mac & cheese, pizza and grilled cheese). Somedays it wears you down, but it keeps me on my toes as I live in search of recipes that my ponytails will like.

These mini apple muffins went over well last week, which made me very happy since they are made with lots of healthy bits, such as apples, oats, dried cherries and sesame seeds. They were perfect to send to school for snacks, since they are nut-free, but still have some crunch to them from the sesame seeds. I guiltlessly ate quite a few myself because they are made with very little fat–only 2 tablespoons of canola oil for the entire batch. They ranked right up there with the Blueberry and Banana Muffins that I wrote about in my very first post.

I keep wondering how many more years until the girls become more adventurous about their food–the way they were when they were really little and weren’t influenced by the kids menu at restaurants? Is there cause for optimism?

Healthy Apple Breakfast Muffins

Slightly adapted from Style at Home Magazine

  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt (I used 1%)
  • 2 cups grated peeled apple
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup fat-free milk (I used 1%)
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°
  • Combine the oats and yogurt in a medium bowl and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Whisk together the apple, eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in a separate bowl.
  • Add the apple mixture to the yogurt mixture and stir to blend.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  • Pour the yogurt mixture over the dry ingredients and sprinkle with the dried cherries and sesame seeds.
  • Stir until just combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into a mini muffn tin and bake for 15-18 minutes, until the tops are brown. If using regular sized muffin tin, bake for 35 minutes.

Notes:

  • For tips on making mini muffins, see my original post.

Itty Bitty Bites

Even though you may end up eating three or more (like 20), there’s something about a bite-sized treat that makes you feel like you’re being really, really good. So if you’ve never made mini muffins or cupcakes, don’t you think that it’s time to try something new? I promise you’ll never look back.

You can convert any muffin or cupcake recipe to “minis” by cutting the baking time. The rule of thumb is 12-15 minutes at 350° for a standard muffin or cupcake recipe.

Here’s a blueberry-banana muffin recipe I just had to try because it’s healthy (can you say fibre?) and because I needed some school snacks for my little Grade One ponytail. Oh, and did I mention that I have about 100 very ripe bananas in my freezer, along with the large haul of blueberries we picked this summer. I need to clear out my freezer in preparation for cookie season, which is just around the corner.

If you’re like me before making this recipe, wheat germ isn’t something sitting in your cupboard. It’s worth getting for this recipe, as you’ll make it again (they really are good) and I have a recipe for healthy granola bars that also calls for wheat germ, so I’ll post it soon.

Tips:

  • Buy a timer! It’ll become your best friend in the kitchen.
  • Always set your timer for the low-end of the baking time listed and check to see if your goodies are done. If not, you can always bake a little longer but over-cooking can’t be undone.
  • When you bake something for the first time, write the final baking time on a post-it note and stick it to the recipe for next time.
  • Invest in a 24-mini muffin pan. It’ll save you time in the long run, as you’ll only need to bake two pans for a standard muffin/cupcake recipe which usually makes about 30 mini muffins/cupcakes. I bought mine for under $10 at HomeSense.

 

Scrumptious Blueberry & Banana Muffins

(Makes about 30 mini muffins or 12 regular)

Janet and Greta Podleski, published in TogetherFamily.ca

  • 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
  • ½ cup each all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (approx. 3)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray a 24-mini muffin tin and half of a 12-mini muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside (or use your 24-cup muffin tin twice).

Combine oats, both flours, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Mix well and set aside.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together bananas, egg and melted butter. Add banana mixture to dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Gently fold in blueberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake for approx 13 or 14 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. (Note: If making 12 regular sized muffins, bake for 20 minutes)