Tag Archives: muffins

Protecting your heart, one little muffin at a time

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 Hip hip hooray! Tomorrow is National Organ Donor Day! What are you doing to help celebrate? Donating some bone marrow? Giving your significant other one of your kidneys? Or baking some deliciously tasty muffins? Well, given the fact that I’m a Chihuahua and not quite a match for mi mama or papa when it comes to organ or tissue donation, I have to celebrate with the last of those suggestions and will be baking up some decadent little muffins. The good thing is, they contain three very important ingredients when it comes to maintaining one’s heart health so in a way, I’m still doing my part. I may not be donating my heart to someone in need but I am doing what I can to keep everyone else’s most vital organ in tip-top shape.

These muffins are really special, if I do say so myself. They contain bananas, chocolate (mmm, chocolate) and the not-your-typical-muffin-ingredient… avocado. Avocado?!?! Yes avocado! The mother of all green fruits. Avocados sometimes get a bad reputation for being high in fat and calories, but the truth of the matter is, the fat contained in an avocado is of the heart-healthy mono-unsaturated variety. As in, the kind that help lower blood pressure and LDL (bad) cholesterol inside the body. So don’t fear the avocado, people. Love the avocado. And then spread the love by baking these healthy little baked treats.

ABC (Avocado-Banana-Chocolate) Muffins

2 large ripe bananas

1 large ripe avocado

1 tsp lemon juice

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup canola oil

1 egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

2) In a large bowl, mash the bananas and avocado until creamy but still somewhat chunky. Add the lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, oil and egg. Mix well.

3) In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

4) Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Do not overwork the dough.

5) Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, about 3/4 full.

6) Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

7) Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing muffins to a wire rack. Enjoy!

Now if only I had a heart-shaped muffin pan, these would be totally perfect… hint hint, mama or papa. Just putting it out there in case you hadn’t figured out what present to get me for tomorrow’s big holiday. I’ll even settle for a bag of heart-shaped baby carrots. Your choice.

As for me, I better be going now. I’m performing my magic tricks this evening at a black-tie affair and I need to go practice a bit before I leave. First up, making my wooden rolling-pin magically disappear.

Abra-cadabra

Oops!

Baking in a winter wonderland

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I don’t know if you heard, but I’m a Chihuahua. As in, I’m from Mexico. As in, I’m a warm weather type of a guy. So imagine my surprise and bewilderment when I woke up this morning, greeted by this crazy white stuff falling from the sky.

Yep, that’s me doing my morning “business” outside in the snow… definitely no bueno.  The only other time I’ve seen this much white powder was when I visited my cousin out in Hollywood and accidentally hopped into Lindsay Lohan’s purse at a nightclub instead of mi mama’s.

So given the circumstances of today’s weather forecast, I made the wise decision to stay indoors and crank up the oven for a day of cooking and baking. Not that I need an excuse to stay home and perfect my culinary skills, but snow and extreme cold are definitely good ones. My delicate Mexican skin can’t take such frigidness. It can handle some yummy Pineapple Coconut Muffins, though. If I can’t be in a warm tropical climate right now, I can at least channel them mentally through some delicious baked goodies.

Tropical Pineapple-Coconut Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup ground flaxseeds

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tsp vanilla extract

8 oz crushed pineapple, drained

2 cups grated carrots

1/2 cup raisins

shredded sweetened coconut, for topping

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

2) Combine flours, flaxseed, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.

3) Combine eggs, applesauce, vanilla, pineapple, carrots and raisins in another large bowl until smooth.

4) Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined.

5) Pour batter into muffin cups 3/4 full. Sprinkle with shredded coconut. Bake 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

6) Repeat with remaining batter. I ended up with 16 muffins total.

7) Allow to cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Enjoy!

Mmmm, these make me feel like I should be sipping a Mai Tai while lounging on the beaches of Acapulco in my little blue Speed-o… or at least how I probably would feel if I weren’t a four-legged canine who doesn’t drink because I have no alcohol dehyrogenase enzymes in my tiny digestive system in order to break down all that rum.

Well on that note, muchachos, I better be going. Instead of a beach, I have a nice warm blanket I need to go burrow in and hibernate. See you again once I thaw out. Perhaps the spring….

For the love of apples

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Is there anything more perfect than biting into a fresh, juicy, straight-off-the-tree, red apple? I mean besides being left alone with an open 10 pound bag of baby carrots. Mi mama went through a faze (we call them fazes instead of crazes so as not to confuse them from the times when she truly is crazy over something… examples here and here and here) where she would consume up to three or four apples in a day. Not all at once, of course, since that would truly be insane, but throughout the course of a day. I don’t know about you, but that’s a lot of apples. Not to mention a lot of fiber going through that belly of hers. obviously this was before she and mi papa got together. I highly doubt she was dating during this period of her life– probably why she sought companionship in the form of apples. Perhaps we should start calling her Eve. Who knew they would ever have anything in common– besides their both liking to walk around the garden donning a leaf bikini.

She no longer eats this exorbitant amount of apples in any one day, but she does still enjoy at least one a day and considers herself somewhat of a connoisseur when it comes to these little round gems, though I think she’s giving herself more credit than she should. Red apple and green apple are not the most accurate way to classify all the different varieties, but hey, at least she knows her colors, right? According to Wikipedia, there are over 7,500 different varieties of apples in the world! And almost 45% of the total supply comes from the state of Washington alone. No wonder those people are so healthy. They practically have apples coming out of their plumbing system– now that would be awesome.

Living in Oregon, we definitely get to partake in some of the pleasures of having an apple supply so close by. During this time of year when many of the apple varieties are at their peak ripeness, the grocery stores and farmer’s markets are overflowing with all kinds of apples and the prices per pound are at their all-time low. 68 cents for a whole pound of organic Galas? Yes please! Naturally once mi mama caught wind of this, she grabbed her keys, sped off to Costco, and came through the garage door carrying (well, mi papa was carrying. she was merely directing him to the kitchen as his vision was blocked from the huge load in his arms) 15 pounds of Granny Smith, Gala and Golden Delicious apples. Looks like someone may be back to her four-a-day habit again.

Despite mi mama probably being able to consume all 15 pounds if given the opportunity, I decided to spice things up a bit and steal a few Granny Smiths for mi Papa’s breakfast on Sunday morning. And spice things up I did, in the form of delicious little muffins.

Apple-Cinnamon Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute

1/4 cup applesauce

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk*

2 cups Granny Smith apples, diced

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

* If you don’t have buttermilk (because who really does), you can substitute 1 tbsp+enough milk to make 1 cup total

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

2) In a medium-size bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt and spices. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, egg, applesauce, oil and vanilla.

3) Working in two or three batches, add the flour mixture and buttermilk and stir until just combined. Do not overmix! Stir in diced apple.

4) Pour batter into prepared muffin pan, filling about 2/3 full.

5) Mix the granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the tops of each muffin.

6) Bake 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

7) Cut in half, smear with peanut butter or jam or whatever the heck you want and enjoy!

So that’s about three apples down and about, oh I don’t know, 37 more to go. I’m sure mi mama will have no problem figuring out what to do with the rest. Looks like someone better get out the plunger.

Well amigos, I better be going now. There’s a big box of Christmas decorations sitting in the middle of the living room floor, and no one seems to want to do the honors. Looks like I’m the perfect man dog for the job.

Sweet Mama! That’s a lot of squash!

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Some women buy shoes and jewelry. Others buy purses and new handbags. Mi mama? She buys more pounds of winter squash than one family could possibly consume in a lifetime. In fact, she came home with enough pounds of Kabocha and Sweet Mama squash yesterday to balance out her weight if put on opposite sides of a scale. Not that she’s a large person or anything, but that’s still a whole lotta squash! Now I guess it could be worse. At least she’s buying items that don’t just sit in her closet, untouched with an enormous price tag still attached. And thankfully what she buys is only 79 cents a pound instead of $79,000 a carat. But still, this woman has obviously gone a little crazy in the squash department. First it was peanut butter, then it was Saigon Cinnamon, and now this. I can’t wait to see what will be next. Let’s hope it isn’t prunes. One person spending the majority of their mornings in the bathroom is bad enough. And I really don’t think our plumbing could take it.

So seriously, what is a TeenyLittleSuperChef to do when his mama brings home a small army of winter squash on a Sunday afternoon? I mean, besides making a call to a local addiction psychiatrist. Why, make muffins, of course. First, though, I needed to puree some of the squash in order to incorporate it properly into the recipe. You can easily skip this step and just used canned pumpkin or squash instead, but it definitely won’t have the same yum factor and you won’t be able to say that the muffins were completely homemade. Well I guess technically I didn’t grow my own sugar cane or hatch my own chicken eggs, but you get the point.

I pureed my squash by simply cutting, gutting and peeling my squash into cubes. I then placed them in a steamer basket which was in a large pot filled with about an inch of water. I covered the pot, turned the heat to medium high, and steamed the squash for about 8-10 minutes until it was nice and soft but not mushy. Then I took my hand-held mixer and pureed the squash on medium low until it was smooth but not watery, about 30 seconds. And voila! You’ve got yourself some squash puree. So much better than Libby’s… not to mention so much cheaper. The puree will keep in the fridge for about a week if you keep it covered, but why let it hang there when you could add it to a yummy muffin recipe.

Sweet Mama Ginger Nut Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup Sweet Mama squash puree 

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup applesauce

2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute

2 tbsp water

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp allspice

1/2 ground ginger

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with Pam.

2) Sift together the flours, sugar, salt and baking soda in a medium sized bowl.

3) Mix the squash puree, butter, applesauce, eggs, 2 tbsp water and spices together in a large bowl. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not over-mix. Fold in the nuts and candied ginger.

4) Spoon mixture into prepare muffin pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle of muffin comes out clean. Cool in pan for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack. Enjoy!

These make an awesome breakfast or afternoon snack and are not too overly sweet. If you love ginger, you’ll especially love these. Oh and candied ginger can usually be found in the bulk bins at most grocery and specialty stores. Don’t tell mi mama though. She obviously loves to buy everything in bulk and I don’t think we have the pantry space for 20 pounds of candied ginger. We may have to transfer one of the bedrooms in our house to her “impulse buy” room one of these days. Although I guess it’s better that than a nursery. Babies are attention-whores and always smell bad… then again, it is fun licking jelly off their fingers.

Oh and here’s a picture of what a Sweet Mama squash looks like before it gets “squashed” down into a puree for muffins.

Yeah, picture that but times 20. Oh well, I’m sure there’s a self-help group out there somewhere for her. Or maybe Valium.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must be going. Aside from figuring out what to do with the 19 other Sweet Mamas hanging out on the counter, I’m currently training for our upcoming mountain climbing trip to Mount Everest. Here’s a picture of our most recent expedition to the Grand Canyon. I think I did pretty well, don’t you?

“It’s peanut butter jelly time…”

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Going back to the topic of comfort foods which I posted about a few days ago, I failed to mention what mi mama’s answer was to the question of what her idea of the perfect comfort food would be. It’s not quite as exciting or complicated as macaroni and cheese (although, neither is she) but I think it still deserves some merit as some out there may actually agree with her. She answered very quickly and without hesitation, “Peanut Butter and Jelly!!!”  And when she says PB&J she’s referring to the Jif creamy peanut butter with Welch’s grape jelly slathered on two pieces of Wonder bread type of sandwich. Nothing gourmet or fancy, like you might see nowadays on some restaurants’ menus or websites. In fact, she stills requests this sandwich every now and then, upon which I go off on a rampage and start preaching to her about all the preservatives that are in Wonder bread and all the high-fructose corn syrup in Welch’s jelly and all the partially hydrogenated oils in Jif peanut butter. That usually changes her request pretty quickly, as I know using big words like “hydrogenated” tends to scare her. Still, I sometimes feel bad for not catering to her requests so easily as I do mi papa’s (what can I say, his lap is bigger and warmer than her’s). So the other day I decided to surprise her by coming up with a new recipe completely devoted to her. It’s not a Wonder bread peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but it’s definitely the next best thing as far as taste and, for sure, more healthy.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 large egg or 1/4 cup egg substitute

2 tbsp applesauce

1 tbsp canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup fruit-sweetened jam, any flavor

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with Pam or line with muffin cups.

2) Combine flours, sugars, baking powder and salt in a large bowl with a wire whisk. Make a well in the center and set aside.

3) Combine milk and next 5 ingredients (through vanilla) in another bowl. Add to flour mixture and stir until just combined.

4) Fill each muffin cup half full with batter. Add 1 tsp of jam to each and then spoon remaining batter on top to cover completely.

5) Bake 20-25 minutes before removing from oven. Allow to cool 10 minutes before removing to wire rack.

6) Enjoy as an afternoon snack, easy breakfast-on-the-go or even as a healthy after dinner treat with a warm glass of milk (or Schnapps, depending on your mood and/or taste buds). Delicioso!

Mi mama went completely over the moon for these muffins and was so happy that I finally created a healthified version of her all-time favorite comfort food. According to her, it was exactly like a PB&J but in muffin form. Yes, sweet mamacita. That it is… That it is.

Now if you’ll excuse I must be going. I need to go finish packing her lunch pail for the day (complete with PB&J muffins, of course).

Just call me the Muffin Man

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I must be on an orange and black colored food kick these days, as the recipe I have for you today also evokes those lovely hues. Either that or I’m eagerly anticipating Halloween which apparently is just around the corner. I wonder what awesome costume mi abuela will create for me this year. Not that anything could possibly top my one-of-a-kind taco outfit. That one will go down in the history books. Or at least it will remain legendary to the fine employees at Petsmart where I took home second prize in the Pet Halloween Costume Costume of 2007. (I still think they only gave it to that darn poodle because they felt sorry for her. Who wouldn’t? Being dressed up like Dolly Parton and all. Complete with fake tata’s… poor little perro.)

I’ve also been on somewhat of a baking kick lately, much to the delight of mi papa and the dismay of mi mama. He rather enjoys eating all my wonderful baked creations, while she curses the heat it brings to the kitchen by turning the oven on. What can I say– genius causes discomfort sometimes. The great Desi Arnaz would never have achieved such greatness without stepping on a few toes along the way.

And on that note, I bring you my latest and possibly greatest muffin recipe to date.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 2/1 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 eggs, or 1/2 cup egg substitute

15 oz can solid pack pumpkin

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2) Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.

3) Combine all other ingredients except chocolate chips in another bowl.

4) Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Mix until just moistened.

5) Add in chocolate chips.

6) Pour into greased muffin cups 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

7) Allow to cool in pan 5-10 minutes before removing to wire rack.

Top with homemade peanut butter, a pat of Smart Balance or just plain if you wish, and devour. No bib required, well unless you’re mi mama– she spills.

This recipe makes about 20 regular sized muffins, which is good because they go pretty fast, especially with mi papa around. Oh well, at least I know he’s getting in his daily recommended value of Vitamin A from the pumpkin… little nutrition lesson for ya, kids.

 Speaking of nutrition, I must go and brush up on some of my nutrition knowledge. I learn best by osmosis.