Best Morning Glory Muffins

Recipes that produce healthy and delicious muffins are not easy to come by. But occasionally, I stumble across a winner. What I love most about this recipe is that it uses apple butter. I’ve seen plenty of muffin recipes that use applesauce. But apple butter delivers the goods when applesauce is still busy making promises.

The muffin pictured above is topped with chopped walnuts. In reaction to some unsolicited feedback from my youngest child, I have been leaving the nuts out altogether lately. I miss the crunch and texture. But it’s not all about me, right?

Morning Glory Muffins

Adapted from Eating Well’s Comfort Foods Made Healthy. Original recipe can also be found on Eating Well’s website –> Morning Glory Muffins.

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons wheat germ
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated carrots (4 medium)
1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1/2 cup raisins
2 large eggs
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a muffin pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, wheat germ, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the carrots, apple, and raisins.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, apple butter, oil, and vanilla extract.

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool. Serve or store in an airtight container. These also freeze well.

Yield: 12
Prep-time: 30 minutes

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Honey Salad

Honey Salad is my new favorite way to use up Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. My youngest loves it because most of it is her favorite food color, white and beige, and the dressing is sweet.

Honey Salad Recipe

This salad is great sprinkled with chopped honey roasted pecans, if you have any handy. My kids refuse the addition. But, personally, I’m a big fan.

For the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard

For the salad:
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
3/4 cup chopped sharp cheddar cheese
1 heaping cup chopped cooked turkey
1 tablespoon raisins (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, honey, and mustard until well combined. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss together the apple, cheese, turkey, and raisins (if desired). Pour on the dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Prep-time: 15 minutes

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Homemade Vanilla Wafers

[donotprint]Even though I’m deep into this make-everything-from-scratch-with-locally-sourced-ingredients-whenever-possible phase right now, there are still certain foods that I don’t feel I have the right to acquire anywhere other than at the grocery store. Nilla wafers are a prime example. I stopped buying them probably because they contain high fructose corn syrup or some other evil ingredient du jour. I never thought about making some from scratch. I let out a little squeal of delight when I saw a recipe for them in The Commonsense Kitchen.

Is there anything better than a homemade version of a highly-processed childhood favorite? Or is it a symptom of how boring and ill-focused my life has become that I find it so thrilling?

I’m breaking a cardinal rule I set a while ago for this blog by publishing a cookie recipe. But I’m sure I’m the only one who even remembers that post. You’ll be happy know that this is in no way a healthed-up cookie. I think I’ve made peace with cookies. I say enjoy them, eat too many, and move on.[/donotprint]

Vanilla Wafers Recipe

This recipe is adapted ever so slightly from The Commonsense Kitchen. These little gems are so so much better than their grocery store counterparts.

5 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
2 cups unbleached cake flour or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farhienhiet.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, vanilla, and milk and mix well. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir well.

Spoon the dough into a gallon-sized freezer bag. This is a bit easier if the corner of the bag to be filled up is resting inside a large wide-mouthed glass. Cut off the tip of one of the corners and pipe the dough onto ungreased cookie sheets at least one inch apart.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the bottoms begin to turn golden brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Serve or store in an airtight container.

Yield: 4 dozen cookies
Prep-time: 15 minutes
Bake-time: 15 minutes

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Apple Turnovers with Cheddar Crust

Supposedly, back in the day, a piece of warm apple pie with melted cheese on top was the bee’s knees. I haven’t tasted it yet. But I feel like I read a whole chapter about it a couple years ago in John T. Edge’s Apple Pie and have been salivating ever since.

If you’re not in the mood to make dough from scratch, please just keep it simple and make an apple tower which could be almost as good if the cheese and the apple are excellent. But there’s nothing quite like pastry. And this filling is pretty awesome.

Dough Recipe

Adapted from The New York Times Cookbook.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of butter, softened
1 1/2 cups fine, soft homemade whole wheat bread crumbs
1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cayeanne pepper
Dash of paprika

Combine all the ingredients except the Parmesan cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Process for until the dough starts to come together, about 30 seconds.

Remove the dough from the processor and form it into a flattened rectangle about 1 – 2 inches thick. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for at least one hour or overnight.

Filling Recipe

2 medium apples, peeled and cored
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 egg
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farhenhiet.

Grate the apple with a box grater. Squeeze excess moisture out of the grated apple. (Save the juice for a little drink if you wish.) Place apple in bowl along with the sugar, applesauce, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

Roll out the dough on a well floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut dough into 4-inch squares with a pastry cutter or pizza wheel. Transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place a generous tablespoon of the apple filling in the middle of each of the squares.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Paint a bit of the egg wash on the outer edge of each square. Fold each square over into a triangle and gently press the edges together with your fingertips. Seal the triangle with the tines of a fork. Paint more egg wash on the top of each triangle and make a small slit on the top with a serrated knife. Sprinkle each turnover with finely grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

Yield: 10 turnovers
Prep-time: 1 hour
Bake-time: 35 minutes

[donotprint]Oh, and by the way, we just got a new puppy. He’s the sweetest little boy in the world. His name is Otter. He’s a mutt/rescue. Supposedly his mother was a Boxer/Lab mix.

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Warm Applesauce with Butter

[donotprint]If you haven’t eaten this little snack, you haven’t lived. Perhaps slaving over homemade applesauce makes it taste better than it really is. Probably not though. I think it is a fabulously simple, smooth, and supreme snack. Every time I cook up some homemade applesauce, a little bowl of this stuff is in order.

The applesauce is pink because a) I am rad, and b) I cook the apples with the skins on and run them through my super food mill removing said skins after they have left behind some of their color molecules.

I’m positively loopy from trying to wrap my head around back-to-school. I forget every year what a sea of paperwork there is to deal with and how many different adjustments need to be made to every aspect of our lives. It’s nuts.

How’s everyone else doing with the craziness? Or maybe I shouldn’t even be asking. I figure you were nice enough to read about my big problems, I should reciprocate. But really I wish we were all talking about amazing fiction we’ve read recently. Or the price of tea in China. Anything but School and Kids.

Oh, and here’s a picture of the applesauce waiting to go into the canner. Isn’t it lovely?

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Warm Applesauce with Butter Recipe

Of course, you could easily make this recipe from store-bought applesauce that you’ve heated up. Maybe that would be cheating, but I certainly would have no problem with it.

1/2 cup warm unsweetened applesauce
1 small pat of butter
Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
Sprinkle of brown sugar. or a drizzle of honey, or maple syrup

In a small bowl, top the applesauce with the butter, cinnamon, and sugar. Serve.

Yield: one serving
Prep-time: 5 minutes

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Jammy Fruit Leather

[donotprint]The sad specimen pictured above is the result of one of my first attempts at jam. Apparently, I was going for broke with my first batch because I always manage to find another jar of it in the cupboard even when I thought I finally used it all up.

I remember that the jam recipe was pretty high in sugar (like most traditional jam recipes). After this batch I started using Ponoma’s Universal Pectin. In addition to the oxidization (browning on the top), the jam never really set so it’s more of a thick sauce. It’s great for yogurt, but I needed more than one way to use up all the jars we have. So I made some fruit leather. And even though my kids are probably going to have a mouth full of cavities the next time they go to the dentist, I still love this snack because it is easy easy easy.[/donotprint]

I still have about six jars of this stuff. I’m all ears if you have any other ideas for using it up.

Homemade Jammy Fruit Leather Recipe

3 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 pint of jam (scant 2 cups)

Mix the applesauce and jam together in a medium bowl until well blended. Divide between three 15-inch square dehydrator trays lined with lightly-greased plastic sheets. Spread the mixture over the sheet to about 1/4-inch thickness. My favorite tool for this job is a large offset spatula. Run your dehydrator according to the manufactuer’s directions. Mine was set to about 135 degrees Farhienheit for about 10 hours.

When it is done, the leather may be slightly tacky, but should not be gooey or sticky. Peel the leather off of the liners. Slice into desired widths and roll up with wax paper. Store in an airtight container. They should last for a couple months, if not longer, as long as they have been dried out properly.

Note: If you’d rather use your oven, a good looking tutorial/recipe can be found at Simply Recipes – How To Make Fruit Leather.

Yield: 18 3-inch wide strips
Prep-time: 10 minutes
Drying-time: 10 hours

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Chocolate Chip Applesauce Muffins

[donotprint]Here are our Hurricane Irene muffins. I’ve stopped listening to the news because I just sends me into a complete panic. I just spent the day doing load after load of laundry and baking.

By the way, my family’s new favorite dinner entree is a Tomato Tart. I’ve been using the recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook which includes a bunch of smashed roasted garlic covering the tart shell topped with lucious ripe tomatoes, olive oil, salt & pepper, and a generous sprinkling of parmesan cheese. It is then baked for 45 minutes until the cheese is perfectly golden and tomatoes are starting to melt. Please go make yourself one right now. Holy moly.

I  just now got a call from the automated Connecticut Emergency Alert System specifically telling people in my town that Irene is going to be all up in our business starting somewhere around midnight. Time to get crackin’! Here’s hoping it’s all getting blown out of proportion and everyone out there stays super safe.[donotprint]

Chocolate Chip Applesauce Muffins Recipe

This recipe is adapted from Kitchen Stewardship’s Easy One-Bowl Muffins which is found in Katie’s Healthy Snacks To Go ebook. It’s extremely moist, tender, and perfectly sweet.

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup cold water
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farhenhiet.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the butter, water, eggs, and applesauce. Stir well. Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.

Fill greased mini muffin cups 2/3 of the way. Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Once cool, freeze or store in an airtight container.

Yield: about 38 mini muffins
Prep-time: 15 minutes
Bake-time: 15 minutes

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Fudge Pops

These beautiful little fudge pops are the world’s most perfect way to consume chocolate on a hot summer day. The girls and I love love love them. They are like eating a popscile and a big bowl of chocolate pudding all rolled into one.

Fudge Pop Recipe

This recipe is heavily inspired by (read pretty much lifted from) Matt Aramendariz’s On A Stick!

1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, chocolate, and 1/4 cup of the milk until the chocolate is melted.

2. Add the rest of the milk and continue to stir until the mixture thickens (about 5-10 minutes).

3. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow the mixture to cool for a minute or two. Add the vanilla and butter and stir well.

4. Pour the mixture into popsicle molds (use as directed) or small (5-ounce) wax-coated cups. If you’re using cups, fill 3/4 of the way and cover the top with plastic wrap. Puncture the plastic wrap with a popsicle stick and insert the stick into the chocolate mixture all the way down to the bottom of the cup. Place on a level surface in your freezer for four hours or overnight.

5. To serve, simply tear and peel the cup off of the pop. If you’re using popsicle molds, run them under warm water for a bit in order to loosen the mold.

Yield: 4 – 5 pops
Prep-time: 15 minutes (and another 4 hours in the freezer)

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Mini BLTs

Most of my family is engaged in a love affair with the fresh summer, vine-ripened, field-grown tomato right now. Even our youngest has decided she might actually like the taste of home-grown grape tomatoes picked fresh out of our garden, which is pretty major. 

Mini BLTs Recipe

Heavy duty toothpicks or cocktail forks come in handy with this snack. Once you cut the sandwiches into quarters, they tend to fall apart without them.

Mayonaisse is an essential component in this recipe. Embrace the mayonaisse. Also embrace the white bread. Of course this sandwich would still be delicious if you went light on the mayonaisse and used whole grain bread. Make it your own and I’ll try my best to keep quite.

8 slices white bread, toasted to a golden brown
Mayonaisse, to taste
8 – 10 slices cooked bacon
1 large ripe tomato, preferrably heirloom, sliced
4 leaves of bibb or romaine lettuce, rinsed and dried

Lay out your bread slices on a clean counter or cutting board. Slather the top and bottom slices for each sandwich with mayonaisse. Layer on the tomato, bacon, and then the lettuce. Each sandwich gets 1 1/2 to 2 slices of bacon. Top with another slice of bread. Cut each sandwich into quarters (preferably triangles). Spear with a large toothpick or cocktail fork. Serve.

Yield: 16 mini sandwiches
Prep-time: 10 minutes (not counting cooking the bacon and toasting bread)

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Grilled Bruschetta

My approach to bruschetta is one I made up a while ago without referring to anything or anyone. I figure I’ve read enough cookbooks that I should know how to make bruschetta with my eyes closed. Feel free to educate me in the comments if I’m commiting some bruschetta sin of the highest order.

Grilled Bruschetta Recipe

Feel free to mix it up based on whatever abundance of summer produce you have on hand.  The kids love to “paint” the olive oil onto the bread prior to grilling.

For the bread:
1 large loaf of rustic crusty white bread
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the tomatoes:
16 grape tomatoes
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, chopped
Pinch kosher salt

For the summer squash:
2 to 3 yellow summer squash and/or zucchini
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
Goat or feta cheese, for garnish

1. Fire up your outdoor grill to medium heat. Somewhere around 400 degrees Farienhight is nice.

2. Slice the loaf into 1/2 inch slices. Combine the olive oil 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl. With a pastry brush, coat one side of each slice liberally with the olive oil mixture. Set aside.

3. Cut off the ends of the summer squash/zucchini. Slice them lengthwise to 1/4 – inch thickness. Spread the slices out on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Place the prepared squash, tomatoes, and bread on the grill. Watch the bread closely and flip it once grill marks appear and is starting to brown. Flip the vegetables when grill marks start to appear. Remove from heat and allow the vegetables to cool slightly.

5. To assemble, cut the bread slices in half, if they are large. Spread the bread out on a large serving plate in a single layer. Chop the tomatoes and mix them with the basil. Sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt. Next, chop the grilled summer squash and mix with the thyme and parsley along with pinches of salt and pepper. Heap the vegetables onto the prepared bread slices. Garnish with goat or feta cheese, if desired. Devour immediately.

Yield: 16
Prep-time: 25 minutes

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