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Posts tagged ‘muffins’

Peanut Butter Pistachio Muffins

My mother, always the wonderful genius that she is, gave me the idea to take some pistachios that we had left over from homemade pistachio pudding and turn it into pistachio  butter. We were out of peanut butter, which in itself is a living nightmare for me, and I was struggling to figure out what to eat for lunch. I had recently made sandwich bread and decided to follow the advice of my mother, make pistachio butter and put it on a piece of my toasted bread.

It was okay. The pistachio butter tasted better on its own, in all honesty.

But then I had the new issue of what to do with pistachio butter?

The following day we bought peanut butter and I immediately knew what I wanted to do. I could combine three of my favorite things: peanut butter, pistachios, and muffin recipes.

The following recipe is an adaptation of the original I made because I am operating under the assumption not everyone wants to make pistachio butter in order to make this recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup peanut butter (consistency doesn’t matter)

1/4 cup oil

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup milk

1/3 cup plus 3 tbs crushed pistachios

DIRECTIONS:

1. Grease six large muffin tins.

2.In a medium bowl combine, flour, baking powder and brown sugar. Stir until combined.

3. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, vanilla, milk, oil, and peanut butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.

4. Mix in the 1/3 cup crushed pistachios. Pour the muffin batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining pistachios. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

*NOTE: I’m back at school and so no longer have access to an oven or photographs of what I make.

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Milk Free Baking

A wonderful friend from Ohio stayed with me and my family this past week. She cannot have milk and so while baking with her I got the chance to experiment with soy milk and oil instead of butter.

Being milk free is not the same as lactose free. A product can be lactose free but still contain other milk proteins, the most common being caseins and whey proteins such as beta-lactoglobulin and alpha-lactalbumin. 

I don’t claim to be a scientist or an allergy specialist, but until I was involved in a situation where I had to understand the milk protein allergy I thought lactose free meant milk free and that was the end.

I was amazed that the store bought bread we buy (an organic bread too) had a side note on the bottom: contains milk. We even bought a margarine spread, but although there were no ingredients listed that should have contained milk, the allergen information said otherwise: contains milk. 

It’s a good think my mom’s a vegan because we always have soy milk and almond milk around the house. It wasn’t difficult at all, once we decided to use soy milk, to make blueberry pancakes, blueberry waffles (my friend shares my obsession with blueberries), and then to shake it up, apple and oat muffins. The pancakes and waffles were easy because all we had to do was use soy milk instead of cow’s milk and spray the griddle with an oil spray instead of using margarine or butter. Muffins too were surprisingly easy because most recipes already call for oil instead of butter.

I was concerned about cooking and baking when worrying about allergy information, but everything worked out fine and  this is a post for anyone who needs ideas on working around a milk allergy. For breakfast, soy milk makes perfect pancakes and waffles, and almost any muffin recipe should work.

Happy baking!

Lemon Poppy-seed Muffins

When I go the food store I walk around the aisles of pre-packaged baked goods in hopes of getting ideas to spark my recipes. It’s a surprisingly easy way to feel creative and it’s a great feeling to look at all the packaged baked goods and tell yourself:

“I can make that!” 

I was shopping with my grandfather for a cheese platter for a party in Shop Rite and, as usual, found my way toward the cakes/cookies/muffins, etc. It was just coincidence that I found lemon poppy-seed muffins because I knew that at home we had a can of poppy seeds I had been meaning to work with.

These muffins are delicious, the lemon has a subtle way of weaving itself through every bite of muffin and the poppy seeds are the base of flavor. The muffin is moist and stays moist to make a dozen last a week of breakfasts (or less if you eat them as snacks too). Each muffin is topped with sugar and lemon peel to add another sprinkle of lemon flavors. These are a definite hit for on the go breakfasts that never skimp on being filling. As always, Cheryl’s Confections treats are natural, healthy, and delicious.

Each dozen is $18

Ingredients: all purpose flour, sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, non-aluminum baking powder, poppy seeds, lemon juice, lemon peel, low fat milk

Experimentation or My Grandfather Hates Sugar

I’ve recently been doing a lot of experimenting, not just on creating my own recipes, but branching out and using ingredients  I would not have used under normal circumstances. I’ve made rice flour muffins (let’s just say not my greatest success), whole wheat pastry flour cupcakes (more on this for a future post), and upon the request of my grandfather, have been looking into alternatives for sugar.

Now, I’ve yet to come to any conclusive ways to perfect sugar free food, but I’m trying out a lot of options. Splenda and other artificial sweeteners are just that: artificial. I’ve used agave nectar before it’s pretty expensive and the same goes for honey and maple syrup. Molasses works for certain specific tastes, but not for everything.

After giving my grandfather a chocolate chip cookie to try he told me it was so sweet he lost his appetite. I don’t really eat my own food, but I’ve taste tested my chocolate chip cookies and I don’t think they’re too sweet. His opinion is that chocolate chips are sweet enough, there’s no need to add any sugar. He’s not diabetic, he just has the opposite of a sweet tooth. Let’s say my grandfather has a salty tooth.

I’m fine with constructive criticism, but I’ve never gotten that comment from anyone but my grandfather. Although I am looking for alternative sweeteners I will not, as my grandfather advised, let my mother take the sugar away from me. I’m in the process of experimentation which can be slow and arduous but generally generates results.

As it stands I was making biscuits at my grandfather’s house and couldn’t remember my standard biscuit recipe, not that it would have mattered because my aunt only had whole wheat flour. So I had been meaning to experiment with whole wheat biscuits for a while and figured then was as good a time as any. I decided to take some blueberries and turn my biscuits from plain to lemon blueberry fantastic. I threw together what I remembered from my standard recipe, added a handful or two of blueberries and a few long squeezes of lemon juice, substituted maple syrup for sugar, and mixed it up.

They came out like muffins. Not bad, just flavorless. The lemon taste was nonexistent and the dough had no flavor save for biting directly into a blueberry. I ate one, but smothered it in blackberry jam.

My grandfather asked me to give him one and I was expecting a dreary report of how bland it was and how I had missed the mark again, this time in the opposite direction. No, he loves it! He tells me it’s perfect and that it’s not too sweet (it’s not sweet at all). He suggests toasting it with butter.

One of these days I’ll create something we can both enjoy. But hey, if you have any sugar free baking tips I’d love to hear from you. I’ll be coming back to perfecting blueberry biscuits.

 

Product Placement: Store Bought Muffins

This is slightly cheating. Store bought muffins is such a broad category I can’t pretend it’s a single product. Maybe some store-bought muffins are quite good and wholesome, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll be referring to Stop & Shop packaged muffins because this is a little close to home.

I do not mean to offend Stop & Shop, and believe me, if I did I would go after something other than their muffins. Now to start off, their muffins taste pretty good. They have a tall muffin top that is both appealing to look at and to eat, and the muffin itself stays moist  for about five days if not more. The taste is fine, varying depending on the type of muffin, but you always get what you expect: a run of the mill packaged pastry. Price-wise each muffin is a little over $1 and can be purchased in a package of 4 for $4.49 at Stop & Shop, give or take depending on where you live.

So if the muffin tastes fine where do I take issue? The ingredients list is long enough to be a novel and each muffin is 3x the serving suggestion.

A good taste tends to hide a few unsavory nutrition facts and ingredients, especially in large scale commercial food. For the apple spice muffins, the ingredients start off pretty normal: enriched bleached wheat flour, sugar, water, soybean oil, eggs, apples, modified corn starch. Everything else is 2% or less of the muffin. From the basic ingredients the only thing I take issue with is the modified corn starch. What’s it modified with? Why did it need to be modified at all? How is it modified? There’s no answer on the box.

Then we get to the 2% or less section: partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening (followed by a list of oils it could be a mixture of just to cover themselves in case of an allergic reaction), soy lecithin,  BHT and citric acid as preservatives, emulsifier (with a long list of unpronounceable words to explain what’s in the emulsifier), and the list continues for another 5 or 6 ingredients before moving on to what’s in the sugar coating. To try not to bore you with the rest, the basic premise here is that if an ingredient needs a list of ingredients to explain what it is, it’s not worth buying.

I’m not trying to preach at you or tell you what to buy or not buy. What you buy is ultimately your choice. I’m not trying to promote my own products as a comparison either. Maybe I have a grudge against pre-packaged food because I make my own, who knows. All I know is that there are tons of muffin recipes which are quick and easy to make and are a whole lot healthier than buying store bought. Cheaper too.

Save yourself the trouble of taking a magnifying glass and a dictionary with you the super market and make your own muffins. Believe me the taste is far better and you know what’s in it.