It’s been an eventful week for us. My little one started preschool which — beyond the obvious “heartstrings” aspect of it all — means thinking about packing a lunchbox on a regular basis. So begins a new chapter in food for our family.
As I was packing up my first lunch, I got to thinking about what would put a smile on my son’s face when he opened up his brand spanking new lunchbox. Something super yummy. A muffin perhaps? Problem was, we were just back from vacation and our refrigerator was really, really bare. Luckily we happened to have a few apples, so I decided to take that as my starting point.
I reached for my “go to” kitchen reference the Gourmet Cookbook and it came through once again with the recipe for “Marion Cunningham’s Raw Apple Muffins” (originally published in Marion Cunningham’s “Breakfast Book“). This is a simple recipe, which requires just a few ingredients and turns out not-to-sweet and very moist muffins. It’s timely, too, with apple season upon us.
[Here’s my little tip: coring, peeling and dicing the apples is the only time consuming step of this recipe. We happen to have one of those apple peeling/coring/slicing contraptions — my husband likes to make pie and this is a fantastic tool for prepping a big pile of apples. I was able to break down my apples into a perfect little dice in no time with very little knife work. Yippee for that.]
Raw Apple Muffins
(adapted from the recipe for “Marion Cunningham’s Raw Apple Muffins” in the Gourmet Cookbook. This recipe was originally published in Marion Cunningham’s “Breakfast Book”)
- 2 apples (peeled, cored and diced — 1/4″ dice is ideal)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup oil (I substituted my apple-pear butter, you could also use apple sauce)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (I omitted this since my apple butter already has spices in it)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- muffin tin liners
- Toss the diced apples and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
- Mix egg, vanilla and oil (or apple butter) in a bowl set aside.
- Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour, salt, spices, baking soda)
- Add the egg mixture to the apples and mix well. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
- Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees. Start checking for done-ness at 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin should come out clean. Makes about 10 muffins.
I think next time I might experiment with substituting a third of the flour with whole wheat flour and stirring in a couple of tablespoons of oats and a couple teaspoons of flax seed just to add a little extra nutritional punch. After making these muffins, I think I’m definitely going to have to check out the “Breakfast Book”!
Like me, you probably have a long list of recipes on your “gotta try” list, and like most families we usually find ourselves relying on a short list of quick, “go-to” recipes to get us through the weekday rush. Meanwhile, that list keeps getting longer… Here are three tasty-sounding recipes that have been lingering on my mind for quite a while. I’ll make sure to report back when I’ve had the chance to try them. What’s on your list??
Gobi Manchurian (Cauliflower Fritters with a Spicy Sauce) from eCurry. Indian-Chinese fusion = yum! I never heard of Manchurian sauce until coming across this recipe, but I am intrigued. According to Wikipedia: “It is said to have been invented in 1975 by Nelson Wang; Wang described his invention process as starting from the basic ingredients of an Indian dish, namely chopped garlic, ginger, and green chilis, but next, instead of adding garam masala, he put in soy sauce instead.” Do any of you have experience eating or making it? I’ll bet with a little tinkering we can make this one at least reasonably kid-friendly.
Lemon Poppyseed Olive Oil Muffins from In Jennie’s Kitchen. There’s something about the combination of lemons and olive oil in a muffin that just sounds utterly divine, don’t you think?We’ve been watching the lemons on our deck inch towards ripeness and I’m bookmarking this recipe just for them.
Shakshuka from Smitten Kitchen. Aside from having an awesome name, Shakshuka is an Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. My kind of brunch! My son loves eggs and we all love having breakfast for dinner — so this one has definite possibilities.
What’s on your “gotta try” list?
My friend Becky is about as close to a “super mom” as you can get. A demanding full-time job, 3 kids, and manages to find the energy for fun adventures, running half marathons, lots of home-cooked goodness, and having a sense of humor about it all. If she wasn’t such an awesome person, I might just hate her a little.
Here’s what she says about these carrot-zucchini muffins: “We make them in mini muffin tins. Oliver (baby) loves them and the other two will eat them if they are starving, so I save them for the ride home from school. They travel well and are reasonably good for you. Nate (toddler) is a huge fan of cooking with me and he loves this because he gets to do the cuisinart and the mixer. He also likes putting the cupcake papers into the baking pans. Even though he helps me make these, it doesn’t stop him from looking at the muffins later and saying – what is this green stuff mommy? Oh well!”
I gave them a test run recently and the kids I was with (ages 2-4) ate them right up. “Do these have vegetables in them?” asks the four year old, suspiciously. Aren’t you amazed at the impressive power of observation that kids have when it comes to spotting that sliver of green or tiny speck of pepper? But despite the suspicion of vegetables lurking, the lure of these muffins was just too strong. Tiny nibble…. “Mmmmm these are THE BEST!”. Big bite…. “More please!”
This makes a large batch (~2 dozen standard-sized muffins), so unless you have 3 hungry kids, you might cut it in half, freeze some, or best yet share with a friend. For little hands (or messy cooks), you can scoop the batter into a large zip lock bag, snip the corner and “pipe” into the muffin tins about 2/3 full.
Shopping List: eggs; vegetable oil or unsweetened applesauce; sugar; vanilla extract; 2 zucchini; 3 carrots; 1 can crushed pineapple in juice; salt; flour (all-purpose or can substitute 50% all purpose and 50% whole wheat); baking soda; baking powder; cinnamon; nutmeg; nut or dried fruit (optional)
- Combine 3 eggs, 1 cup of oil (or use apple sauce or a combination), 2 cups sugar (I reduced this by about a third), 2 teaspoons vanilla. Beat together until thick and foamy
- In the cuisinart shred about 2 zucchini and 3 carrots so that you pretty well fill up a 9 cup cuisnart. Squeeze well to remove excess moisture and then stir into the to the mixture above.
- Add 1 can of well drained crushed pineapple (Crushed is much better than cubes as no one notices them if they are crushed.)
- In a seperate bowl, combine the dry ingredients: 1 teaspoon salt, 3 cups flour (or substitute 1.5 cups white and 1.5 wheat flour), 2 teaspoons baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Mix dry ingredients into the wet mixture, but don’t stir too much because it will make the muffins too heavy. (I usually stop using the mixer at this point and mix by hand.)
- If you like, add 1c nuts and 1 c. raisins (My kids aren’t fans of these at all.)
- Bake at about 350 for 15 – 25 minutes until they spring back in the center and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Reduce the baking time for mini muffins.