Double Chocolate Banana Muffins

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It always seems like summer is completely filled to the brim with fun events and outings. Whether it’s a quick vacation or local festival, I have something planned nearly every weekend through the end of August. But as much fun as beer festivals, vacations Up North and constant dinners with friends are, the summer habit of eating out more often has left me feeling a little less than healthy. So to make up for our weekend fun, I’ve been trying to eat as healthfully as possible during the week days. I find it gives me a lot more energy, and stops the awful stomach-aches I often get from too many meals away from home. But even in a healthy diet, I think it’s important to leave room for dessert. And it just so happens that I found a recipe that is both nutritious and decadent at the same time. These chocolate banana muffins taste more like fudge brownies than your run of the mill banana bread, yet they are healthy enough to eat for breakfast. They contain no butter, oil, eggs or added sugar, and with the use of gluten free oats, can be made completely gluten free. But again…they taste like fudge brownies. In my book, you can’t get much better than that.

Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins, recipe from Ambitious Kitchen

  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 medium to large ripe bananas
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Place oats in a food processor and pulse until oats are ground up and resemble flour, set aside
  2. Place oat “flour”, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl
  3. In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, vanilla extract and honey. Use an electric mixer to blend wet ingredients until just combined
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips
  5. Place paper muffin liners in a muffin pan and lightly spray with cooking spray. Pour batter into 12 prepared muffin cups and bake at 350 for 10 minutes

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Greek Yogurt Muffins

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Before I landed my current position in Hotel Sales, I worked as a wedding & event planner. I worked at a private club and later a hotel, planning and coordinating weddings. I worked with a number of brides and mothers-of-the-bride from the beginning phases of booking their wedding to the actual wedding day itself. This included small intimate affairs and lavish 300 person weddings, but for some reason all of the brides had one thing in common. They were all at some point, completely stressed out. And I just didn’t get it. Maybe it was the hundreds of chair covers I tied or the thousands of escort cards that I painstakingly alphabetized, but I sort of became immune to the details that stressed so many brides out. I always had the idea that when it came to my own wedding, I wouldn’t care about the details.

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My philosophy has always been if I end up married to my best friend at the end of the day, the wedding will be a success. Sure, I’ve had fun planning cute little details for our big day,(I’m not letting those years in the industry go to waste!) but when it comes down to it, the only thing I really care about is the actual getting married part of the wedding day. So because of this, I always thought I would be the exception to the “stressed out bride” norm. And for the most part I have been. Even though so many brides-to-be go on some sort of crazy crash diet to look their very best on the big day, that just isn’t my style. Because it’s a wedding, not a beauty pageant. And even though I kind of hated the way they did my hair for my “bridal hair trial” I’m not too worried, as I’d much rather just do my own hair anyway.

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But the type of stress I didn’t expect to take on was the guilt. The guilt of having family members and friends spending so much time to throw not one but four bridal showers for me. And the guilt of asking my best friends to fly into town and wear a dress I picked out so they can stand by my side at the alter. And the guilt of running into people I went to high school with that might possibly expect an invitation despite the fact that we lost touch years ago. So even though I promised myself I would be cool as a cucumber when my big day rolled around, certain types of stress are inevitable. And for me, this has resulted in terrible stomach aches that my doctor attributed to “wedding stress.” As a former wedding planner, I’m a little embarrassed. But I guess that’s life. So to combat my “stress induced stomach pains” I was told to relax and avoid a few food groups to see if it helped at all. And one of these forbidden food groups was dairy. And since I had just purchased some Chobani Greek Yogurt, I decided I needed to use it in a different way. And that is how this muffin recipe came to be. The muffins have a slightly tangy flavor from the key lime flavored yogurt which I think pairs really nicely with the sweet blueberries. Just make sure you add the blueberries in while they are still frozen or else they will bleed and result in some ugly blue muffins.

Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins

  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 6oz container Key Lime Greek Yogurt (or the flavor of your choice)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, beat milk, applesauce, yogurt and egg until well blended
  2. Stir in next 4 ingredients (flour through salt) until just combined
  3. Gently fold in frozen bluberries
  4. Divide batter between 12 muffin liners
  5. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle

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Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

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When I was 12 or 13 I wrote down a list of goals I hoped to accomplish in life. Some of them were simple and have already been checked off the list. Write a letter to my 7th grade teacher and thank him for teaching me so much about literature and life. Check. Travel somewhere I’ve never been, completely on my own. Check. And then there were a few goals that will take a lot more work and patience. One of these goals is run in the Detroit Marathon. It’s a bit funny to me that I had this ambition so long ago when running wasn’t even really a part of my every day life. Sure, I ran fairly regularly to stay in shape but I didn’t enjoy it. And running any distance longer than 2 miles seemed absolutely miserable. But over the years, running became so much more than a way to stay in shape. As crazy as it might sound, I think it’s become a big part of who I am. I’ve always been a chronic over thinker, over analyzer and, well, all around spazz. But running somehow balances me in a way I can’t quite explain. Starting every day quietly with only the sound of my feet on the pavement calms me down and settles my over active mind.  So for the last 3 months I have been working at achieving this particular life long goal. I’ve suffered sore muscles, frigid ice baths and 7am Saturday wakeup calls from Eric, encouraging me to get the long run in before the heat and humidity set in. But overall, I’ve really enjoyed the training process. Getting to increase my mileage each week and walk away with the knowledge that I ran 9, 10, 11 miles all before 9am has been an amazing feeling.  In a few days I will run the Detroit Half Marathon.  I may not run the race quickly or perfectly paced but I’m confidant that I will cross that finish line with a flurry of endorphins and sore muscles. So what, you may ask, does this have to do with muffins? Well, one of the things I’ve learned from half marathon training is the importance of proper fueling. I never like to eat before I run, but I started realizing running anything over 6 miles on an empty stomach didn’t leave me feeling too hot. Enter these muffins. They are slightly sweet and chock full of wholesome ingredients. And at only 90 calories a pop, they aren’t so filling that you feel like you’re running with a brick in your stomach. Key for a good run. I started making a batch of these per week, and they are so delicious I may continue baking them even after my half marathon training is done. So whip up a batch of these babies on Sunday, and send me good vibes so I can cross the finish line in one piece!

Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins, Adapted slightly from from Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans

  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1 tsp sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a small bowl, soak the oats in the milk and let sit for at least one hour
  2. Combine the oat mixture with the applesauce and egg whites until just combined
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk dry ingredients together (whole wheat flour through salt)
  4. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon into dry ingredients, set remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon aside
  5. Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients until just combined
  6. Scoop muffin batter into a muffin pan lined with muffin liners
  7. In a small bowl, combine sugar and remaining cinnamon and sprinkle evenly over muffin batter
  8. Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes

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Pumpkin Muffins

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I’ve come to realize that my love of baking is very reflective of my personality. The process of baking is steady, quiet and requires quite a bit of patience. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that the addition of flour and baking soda will make bread rise, and the right amount of sugar will make it sweet. I think it is that steady dependability that has always made me consider myself more of a baker than a cook. Because much like the process of baking, I too am about as careful and calculated as one can get.  Cooking, on the other hand, is much more spontaneous, loud and full of adventure. When cooking, you can throw a bunch of ingredients together on a whim and it often results in a perfectly harmonious dish. Yet with baking, the measuring of ingredients is key, and one must be precise and careful.  And though I love the spontaneity of cooking, time spent baking is when I feel most at home in the kitchen. So when the weather starts to cool down, I jump at any chance to turn on the oven and spend the night whipping up some magic in the kitchen. And while many people my age spend every Friday nights out at the bars, I’m perfectly happy spending Friday evening in front of the oven. And that is just what I did last weekend. And starting off the weekend with a delicious batch of pumpkin muffins is about as good as it gets. I found this recipe over on SkinnyTaste.com and love how decadent these muffins taste despite its healthy ingredient list. They make for a perfect snack any time of day.
Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins, Adapted slightly from SkinnyTaste
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  •  1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour though salt)
  2. In a large bowl, place pumpkin, vegetable oil, egg whites and vanilla; Beat with and electric mixer until just combined
  3. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, beating until just combined
  4. Scoop batter into a muffin pan, lined with muffin liners
  5. Bat at 350 for 25-30 minutes

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Lemon Blueberry Streusel Muffins

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I love the way food can induce so many different memories. Sometimes it’s an old cherished family recipe that will bring you back to a different time in your life. But sometimes it’s as simple as a childhood snack that can flood your mind with memories. This past weekend I had the urge to make some homemade blueberry muffins and I was suddenly reminded of one of my favorite childhood snacks. My mom used to always buy my brother and I those packaged blueberry mini muffins for an after school treat. Those 4 tiny muffins, studded with sweet blueberries always take me back to the days I spent in my Catholic school uniform chasing after my big brother. I remember being in Kindergarden and hating the time I had to spend without Sean. He was in the 3rd grade and went to school all day, whereas I was only in my Kindergarden class until noon. Since I couldn’t quite tell time, he would tell me he would be home right after Barney was on. And as soon as Barney ended I would run to the window  patiently waiting for my friend to return home. My mom recently told me that there were a few times Sean was set to go to a friend’s house after school, but would ask if his friends could come over to our house instead because he knew how sad I would get when he was gone. And here we are, 20 years later and I still absolutely love hanging out with my big brother. My best friend LT brought Sean as her date to our friend’s wedding this past weekend and we had a blast. It’s funny, because there were a few of my old friends there who had never met Sean and I’m sure they were surprised at how different we seem. I was always known for being a bit quiet and reserved, whereas Sean is the life of the party and pretty much captures the attention of every room he enters. And though we may be opposite in a number of ways, we do have one very important thing in common. We will always be each other’s first friend. And I think that is one of my favorite parts of growing up with a sibling. It teaches you early on to make friend’s with people who are different than you. Because those are the friendships that teach you more about yourself and really help you grow.

And these were the thoughts that came to mind as I was peacefully whipping up these classic blueberry muffins. They filled the kitchen with the delicious homey smell of butter and sugar reminding me of childhood afternoons spent at the kitchen counter. These muffins pair tangy lemon juice with sweet blueberries, and the contrasting flavors pair really well for a deliciously nostalgic treat.

Ingredients: Makes 14 muffins, adapted from Forget Those Calories 
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup yogurt(I used vanilla greek yogurt)
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Streusel Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Preparation:

  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
  2. Beat in egg, vanilla and lemon zest and juice
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (baking soda through flour)
  4. Slowly beat dry ingredients into butter mixture until just combined (mixture will be crumbly)
  5. Beat yogurt into batter until just combined
  6. Stir in blueberries
  7. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop batter into greased muffin tins
  8. For the streusel topping, combine all streusel ingredients (melted butter through brown sugar) and sprinkle 1/2 tablespoonful of topping over unbaked muffins
  9. Place muffins in the oven and bake at 350 for 25 minutes

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Mother’s Day Recipe Round Up

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Mother’s Day is the day we get to celebrate the wonderful women in our lives, and I feel pretty blessed that all the “moms” in my life are definitely worth celebrating. I’m lucky to say that my mom is my best friend and my go to person for just about everything. (You may have noticed I talk about her a lot on this blog) My sweet Grandma Dolly is the best Grandma around, and I am so lucky to say that my future mother-in-law is absolutely wonderful as well. And since I’m sure you all have some fantastic ladies to celebrate next Sunday, I thought I would share a few of my favorite brunch recipes with all of you. Seeing as breakfast is my absolute favorite meal of the day, I realized I have quite a few recipes to share. From main dishes to sweet breakfast desserts, below you will find a delicious list of recipes that are sure to impress your mama next Sunday. Enjoy!

 

Breakfast “Main Dishes”

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast Casserole

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Peanut Butter Syrup

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

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Banana Bread Baked Oatmeal

Banana Coconut Pancakes

Muffins and Breakfast Breads

Orange Blossom Muffins

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Blueberry Crumble Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Muffins

Vegan Raspberry Muffins

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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Vanilla Bean Scones

Pumpkin Scones

Coconut Crusted Banana Bread

Coconut Lime Bread

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Breakfast “Desserts”

Apple Turnovers

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Baked Apple Cinnamon Donuts

Mini Blueberry Pastries

Lemon Blueberry Bars

My BFF Julie

My BFF Julie

Cheddar Corn Muffins

For anyone who loves cornbread, this recipe is for you. These quick and easy corn muffins are the perfect dish to bring along to your Fourth of July Barbeque, and you won’t waste too much of your sunny holiday in the kitchen. I started with a box of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix, and with a few extra ingredients, this salty sweet snack was born. Whole corn kernals and grated cheddar cheese take the classic Jiffy mix to a whole new level. And might I suggest pairing them with these Brown Sugar Baby Back Ribs and this utterly summery Lemon Cake? Your Fourth of July menu is ready to go….now go enjoy that sunshine.

Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 box Jiffy corn bread mix
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 cup whole corn kernals
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling on top of muffin

Preparation:

  1.  In a large bowl, place Jiffy cornbread mix and paprika and mix well
  2. Separate egg, placing egg white in a separate bowl and egg yolk in cornbread & paprika mixture
  3. Beat egg white with electric mixer until light & fluffy, set aside
  4. Add corn kernals & buttermilk to cornbread mixture and mix well
  5. Lightly fold egg white into cornbread mixture
  6. Fold in in shredded cheddar
  7. Divide batter into 12 muffin liners and sprinkle with remaining shredded cheddar cheese
  8. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes

Whole Wheat Nectarine Muffins

Lately I’ve been digging the taste and texture of baking with whole wheat flour. It’s nutty, and slightly sweet and it reminds me of my first business venture. That’s right. I once owned a small business. Impressed? You shouldn’t be. I was 9 and after reading an inspiring issue of American Girl magazine I decided it was about time I started making my own money. To buy important things like Lisa Frank stickers. And candy. Lots of candy. And seeing as my Train sisters were also very pro-candy…I enlisted them in the start up of my brilliant business idea. And what was my incredibly innovative and well thought out small business? Selling homemade dog treats.  We made tiny whole wheat dog snacks and named ourselves “The Barkery.” Cute name, right? Yeah well…I stole it from a tv show. And I also stole the recipes from that American Girl magazine. So maybe innovation and creativity were not yet the name of my game. The Train sisters and I went door to door toting our bags of homemade dog treats offering them to our dog loving neighbors, and then set up Lemonade stand style on the corner of our street. We made a grand total of $0 on our first day of business. The next day we gave up and went back to playing dress-up and religiously reading Little House on the Prairie. But even though my first bout with entrepreneurship wasn’t exactly a success, I still love baking with whole wheat flour. And this recipe is far superior to any of those pathetic little dog treats. These muffins are lightly spiced and incredibly moist and tender. I used some healthy baking substitutes like mashed banana and egg whites to cut back on fat, so these muffins would be a great healthy breakfast to start the day. And the juicy pieces of fresh nectarine lend an unexpected sweetness to the batter. I wonder if we would yield some better  business results if I grabbed the girls and went door to door with these muffins. On second thought….I think I’ll just enjoy them myself.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon light agave nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 nectarine, chopped into bite sized pieces

Preparation

  1. In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & brown sugar together
  2. In a separate bowl, mash banana, and stir in agave nectar, vanilla, oil & egg white
  3. Add wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined
  4. Stir in chopped nectarine
  5. Divide batter into 8 muffin cups and bake at 350 for 15 minutes