Thanksgiving Side: Coconut Corn Muffins

While I was making corn pudding last week, I remembered how much I like corn muffins. Now, I’ve rarely met a muffin I didn’t like, but corn is one of my favorites. I kept thinking about the muffins so the next day, I decided to make a batch using the copycat Jiffy Muffin recipe I found online. There was just one problem: I forgot to add the baking powder. I had always wondered what would happen if I forgot such a crucial ingredient while baking, and, sadly, I now knew the answer. My mistake rendered the muffins hard little clumps that unfortunately went straight into the garbage. Adding insult to injury, I had made a double batch.  So much for satisfying my craving. I didn’t have time to make more that day, but tonight we are having chili, and instead of corn bread, we’ll be having corn muffins as a side.  I tweaked the Jiffy recipe by using white whole wheat flour, coconut oil and half and half.

As you can see from the above photo, I couldn’t wait until dinner to sample the muffins, so I had one with my afternoon coffee. They have a delightful buttery flavor despite the fact that there isn’t any butter in them. I think it’s the half and half and coconut oil.  For those readers who don’t like the taste of coconut, it’s undetectable. And unlike many store bought corn muffins, this version isn’t too sweet, making them an ideal alternative to dinner rolls for your Thanksgiving feast. This recipe only yields six muffins, so if you do make them on Turkey Day, you may want to double the batch.

Coconut Corn Muffins (adapted from

2/3 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons coconut oil, in liquid form (scoop a tablespoon or so  out of the jar and put it in the microwave for 30 seconds)

1/3 cup half and half

1 egg

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together. Add the coconut oil and mix until all lumps are gone. Stir in egg and half and half and mix well. Spoon the mixture into muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes. Makes six muffins.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I had a little bit of fresh pumpkin We puree left over from my pie baking expedition and was in the mood for muffins. No surprise there.  I also happen to love pumpkin and chocolate chips together, as evidenced by the bread I made a few weeks ago. A quick perusal of recipes online yielded one that I liked, but it called for more pumpkin than I had on hand. But given that I had applesauce in the fridge, and that it’s a similar consistency to pumpkin puree, I wondered what would happen if I combined the two to equal the one cup I needed? I decided to find out, especially since this was much more fun than the writing deadline I was supposed to be working toward.

I’m happy to say, my little experiment worked and I had a freshly baked snack to go along with my afternoon coffee (and my completed deadline).

Another beverage that goes nicely with pumpkin treats is mulled apple cider. I’ll be honest: as much as I want to like mulled wines or ciders, I can usually only take a sip or two before moving on to something else. They’re just a little too sweet for me, and if I’m going to have a warm drink, I want it to be coffee or hot chocolate. But last week a package of Simply Organic Mulling Spices arrived in my mailbox courtesy of the good people at Mambo Sprouts. I’ve bought Simply Organic spices, taco and chili seasoning before, and enjoyed them all, so I decided to give the mulling spices a try, especially since I still have apple cider in the fridge from our trip to Lyman Orchards. I was pleasantly surprised! Their version has that clovey, spicy fall feel without being overwhelmingly sticky sweet. Look for Simply Organic products at your local supermarket or order the mulling spices online here. Then head over to Mambo Sprouts where you can enter to win their Spice Is Right contest sponsored by Simply Organic and Frontier Spices (also a fabulous organic brand that I use frequently). One grand prize winner will win a set of over 50 unique spices! Two separate winners will get a 10-pack sampler. Click here to enter!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 2/3 cups flour (I used whole wheat)

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2  large eggs

1 cup (do not use pumpkin-pie filling) canned solid-pack pumpkin (I combined pumpkin puree and apple sauce to equal one cup)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper muffin cups; spray liners lightly with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, mix first six ingredients; add chocolate chips, tossing to coat. In another small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients; add to flour mixture and stir just until combined (do not overmix). Fill each muffin cup about two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until muffins spring back when lightly touched. Cool muffins on rack.

Cinnamon Apple Tea Bread

Yesterday was a glorious late summer day in New York: sunny and warm during the day and pleasantly cool at night. Today, however, it’s rainy and gray, perfect for staying inside and baking. And for watching football, though that’s Johnny pastime, not mine.

After reading my post on RootSpeak about why I pay careful attention to where my food comes from, the good people at Organic Valley sent me a care package of their products as a thank you for mentioning their company. Yum! I love Organic Valley (whether they send me free stuff or not) and I was happy to discover that their website is full of healthy recipes.  I wanted something that would go well with my afternoon coffee so  I settled on this recipe for cinnamon apple tea bread. I didn’t have shortening, so I substituted a 1/4 cup of unsalted butter. (A 1/2 cup of butter would actually have been an equal substitution, so feel free to use the whole 1/2 cup if you like.) Instead of soy milk, I used Organic Valley’s 2 percent milk. On Sundays, there’s a small farmers market around the corner from our apartment and one of the vendors who sell there is Red Jacket Orchards. I picked up a couple of their Paula Reds, which are in season from late August until early September. Then I set to work. I only left my loaf in for 35 minutes, rather than 40-45 but my oven is off. I greased my loaf pan liberally and the bread popped right out after it had cooled.

OK so I didn’t wait to taste the bread until this afternoon. I cut a slice about 20 minutes after I took it out of the oven. Johnny had one too. I was very pleased. The bread isn’t too sweet but you can definitely taste the butter and apples in every bite. Also, while the bread does rise, the top doesn’t round the way most breads do. This is normal, so don’t worry that your bread is headed for brick territory. I will definitely make this bread again! And stay tuned for a giveaway of Organic Valley products in the coming weeks.

Speaking of giveaways, the winners of  the Arrowhead Mills Pancake & Waffle  Mix giveaway are Heather Wiese and Patti Strosnick! Thanks to all who participated!

Cinnamon Apple Tea Bread

1/2 cup shortening (I used a 1/4 cup unsalted butter)

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup apples, peeled and very finely chopped (heaping cup)

1 cup Old-fashioned oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder (scant teaspoon)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use a bit of the shortening to grease a loaf pan that’s about 4 by 9 inches. In a small bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Set aside. Cream shortening and sugar with electric beaters in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and beat until smooth. Stir in the apples. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until they are barely combined. Spread the mixture in the prepared loaf pan and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool on wire racks about 15 minutes, then use a sharp knife to loosen the edges of the loaf. Remove the bread and let it cool to warm or room temperature before serving.

Blueberry Pancakes

A few weeks ago, someone from contacted me about reviewing some of the all-natural, organic brands they feature on their site. Since I’m always looking for ways to draw attention to companies who care about the ingredients that go into their products, I was only too happy to oblige. Plus, many of the brands on MamboSprouts are ones that I use anyway. (And they have coupons!)  I normally buy Arrowhead Mills Pearled Barley and Wheat Berry, so I was excited to try their Multigrain Pancake & Waffle Mix, especially since it has 22 grams of whole grains per serving. Readers of this blog know that I’m not big on pre-made mixes, but given that this one was from a brand I trust, I was game for giving it a shot. I decided to go with pancakes because I don’t have a waffle maker and I was pleasantly surprised! The cakes were easy to make—aside from the mix you only need two ingredients: canola oil and milk. If you’re out of milk, you can use water. I also added 1/3 cup of blueberries to my batter and a pinch of cinnamon, since I wanted to use up some blueberries I had on hand. The pancakes were light and fluffy and the berries gave them a natural sweetness.

Oh yum. But don’t take my word for it dear readers. Try making them yourself—for free!  I have two bags of Arrowhead Mills Multigrain Pancake & Waffle Mix to give away courtesy of MamboSprouts.  Simply email me at or leave a comment below with your email address by September 10th. Winners will be chosen at random by

Good luck!

Chocolate Chip Yogurt Muffins

Yesterday was a rainy dreary day in New York. While I would much rather have been on the beach or in the pool, these delightful muffins made the rain a little more bearable. I’ve been wanting to make chocolate chip muffins and I wanted to do so with yogurt, which not only makes the muffins healthier but also much more moist. A quick google search yielded this recipe from The Fresh Loaf which was quick and easy. I also liked how the there were several options for add-ins. I opted to add in chocolate chips and I made minis because I am currently obsessed with my mini-muffin pan.

After arriving home thoroughly soaked from brunch with my girlfriends and running errands, I promptly plopped down with a cup of coffee and a bite sized treat. Yum! What better way to spend a rainy day?

Chocolate Chip Yogurt Muffins

Heat oven to 375F.


1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

OPTIONAL DRY: Add any of these you like to the dry ingredients.

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup chocolate chips

3/4 cup blueberries (best added to dry ingredients if frozen, so they don’t clump together)


1 beaten egg

8 ounces plain or vanilla yogurt (low fat or non-fat, or whole fat, for that matter)

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

1 tsp. vanilla extract


1/2 to 1 cup mashed banana

Combine all dry ingredients (including options) in a large bowl, and wet ones in a smaller bowl. Add wet ingredients to the dry ones. Stir only till moistened.

Fill large or small muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake about 16-18 minutes for large muffins; 12-13 minutes for minis. If you use mashed banana, you may need to bake for another minute or three. You can also sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar before baking. They freeze very well.

Lemon-Lime Mini Muffins

I’ve been on a muffin kick of late. I think it’s because when it comes to breakfast pastries, muffins are my first choice. However, I rarely eat them because they’re usually loaded with sugar, carbs and lots of calories. Thankfully there are many healthy muffin recipes—look for ones that substitute yogurt for larger quantities of butter and oil—that don’t sacrifice taste. This is one of them.  I saw a picture of these muffins on Foodgawker and, since I love to use fresh citrus fruits in my cooking and baking, I was sold. The recipe, which was posted on a blog called The Perfect Pantry,  was surprisingly simple. I didn’t have a mini muffin pan so I promptly went out and bought one. The recipe calls for white whole wheat flour, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I used a cup of whole wheat flour and one cup of all-purpose. I also used plain low-fat organic yogurt rather than Greek. And I forgot to add the vanilla, though this didn’t seem to affect the taste. However, I’ve never eaten the muffins with the vanilla so I am not sure how they would come out had I added it in. Your best bet: if you have vanilla in your cupboard, use it.

I like the idea of bite-size muffins as they make a perfect afternoon snack. They’re also an ideal hostess or housewarming gift. I’m planning on visiting our friends Steve and Emily and their new baby next week and they just might be getting a batch!  I got about 28 muffins from my batter, and I froze half of them for later munching. The little pastries have a tart flavor that’s refreshing. I didn’t add the glaze, but if you like a sweeter muffin, it seems simple enough to prepare. It’s just about snack time. Yum!

Lemon-Lime Yogurt Mufins

2/3 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
Zest and juice of 1 small lime
2 cups white whole wheat flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour, or half and half)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners sugar
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a mini muffin tin with paper liners, or spray with baking spray. In a large bowl, with a rubber spatula, rub together the sugar and lemon and lime zests until the sugar is moist and you can smell the fruit. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, lime juice, yogurt, eggs, vanilla and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry, and with a rubber spatula gently and quickly stir to blend. Do not overmix. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Bake for 13 minutes or until the tops are light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and let cool to room temperature on a wire rack.

Place the rack with the cupcakes over a plate or platter, or over a sheet of wax paper. In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar with 2 Tbsp lemon juice. Add more lemon juice if needed to get it to a drizzling consistency. Use a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cupcakes.

Spiced Yogurt Muffins

I haven’t baked all week, which was due to a combination of the stifling temperatures outside (who wants to turn on the oven?) and an influx of writing assignments that needed my attention. But today I was in the mood for muffins, especially since the last of the strawberry muffins I made a few weeks ago and froze have now been eaten. Which brings me to another point: freezing baked goods really works! I’ve always been skeptical of this practice—how can something freshly baked still taste as good after being stuck in a freezer for weeks or months? But somehow they still do. I would imagine after a long period of time—six months to a year—the taste might begin to turn, but I froze these muffins a month ago, and every time I took one out and let it defrost, I was amazed at how fresh it still tasted.

This time, I made spiced yogurt muffins, a recipe I found in my Food & Wine cookbook. I substituted whole wheat flour and I didn’t pulse the dry mix in a food processor, opting instead to just stir it with a wooden spoon. I’m not sure if this matters, but the muffins taste delicious. Nicely spiced. Almost like carrot cake, without the carrots.

The yogurt and applesauce make them moist without the use of oil or lots of butter, so they’re healthy too. I’m going to have one for snack as soon as I finish this post and then I will put most of them in ziplock bags before storing them in the freezer for future snack times. Yum!

Spiced Yogurt Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups plain low-fat yogurt

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line 18 muffin cups with paper or foil liners. Lightly spray the liners with vegetable oil spray. In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of the nutmeg and pulse to blend; transfer to a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, butter, applesauce and vanilla. Fold the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg over the muffins. Bake for 18 minutes, until the muffins are springy; let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Low Fat Strawberry Muffins

I was on Facebook the other day and I came across a  blog link on my friend Sarah’s page. Turns out it’s her little sister Anna’s blog, whose URL is the very cleverly named How fun is that? Anyway, this recent college grad is seriously accomplished in the baking department. I was not nearly as well-versed in the kitchen when I was 22. I perused through a bunch of her recipes and happened on one for strawberry bread. Strawberries are in season right now and I’ve been wanting to use them for baking, but aside from a cobbler or shortcake, I wasn’t sure what to do with them. Th recipe on Anna’s site was actually for muffins. Strawberry muffins? Why not? I picked up a pint of strawberries at the farmers’ market this morning (along with a bounty of in season produce. Stay tuned for garlic scape pesto!) and got to work. I actually ended up using a different recipe than the one posted on Anna’s blog because I wanted to use up some plain yogurt that I had in the fridge, and I love any recipe that calls for a spice I own but don’t get to use often, like nutmeg. If you make this recipe according to the directions, each muffin has 173 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 29 carbs. Not bad for a muffin, which are usually laden with fat and calories. I substituted whole wheat flour for all-purpose and low fat yogurt for fat-free. I also sprinkled the tops of the muffins with the tiniest bit of sugar.

I am pleased with the results! The muffins are moist and not too sweet, making them perfect for breakfast. Since we still have some cookies left over from Carlie’s party, I think I will freeze them for later snacking.

Strawberry Muffins

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt

1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/4 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries

In a small bowl, combine the first four ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, butter and vanilla. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in strawberries.

Fill muffin cups coated with cooking spray or lined with paper liners two-thirds full. Bake at 375° for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.

Pumpkin chocolate chip scones

I had leftover pumpkin from the muffins I made earlier this week, and since I had more time to bake this morning, I decided to make pumpkin scones. I used a recipe I found on Brown Eyed Baker’s blog, though I omitted the spiced glaze and added in 1/2 cup of chocolate chip instead. I’m not a huge glaze fan and when I want something sweet, I almost always turn to chocolate. Note: I had more pumpkin than the 1/2 cup the recipe called for and I used it all, which was probably not a good idea. Though the scones taste good, they didn’t rise as well as I would have liked. I think there was too much moisture in the dough.

I would use this recipe again because it’s very simple. You don’t need to pulse the dough in a food processor, and it rolls out relatively easily.

In other food news, I’m now going to be writing a column on about sustainable and locally grown food, which I’m really excited about!  Check out my first post here, and please click on the subscribe button while you’re there. I need to drum up as many readers as possible. 🙂 And if there are any restaurants or local food purveyors in the New York area that you’d like to see featured in the column, please drop me a line at

Pumpkin Muffins

Just when I’d begun to think that summer might be making an early appearance this year, I awoke to a dreary, damp rainy day. Not much fun to be outside in, but definitely conducive to baking the kind of treats that complement a mid-afternoon coffee break. (Though I’ve got a pitcher of iced coffee in the fridge, I think today calls for a steaming mug of caffeine.) I’ve been on an organizing my cupboards kick thanks to my discovery of OXO’s Pop and Top containers, and this morning I came across a can of pumpkin that I had left over from the holidays. My friend Stephanie had sent me a recipe for fig and pumpkin scones over the weekend, which I contemplated making, but I didn’t have all of the ingredients, and scones can be a bit labor intensive. I needed a baked good that I could make quickly before my 2pm meeting. Hmmm…muffins?  I logged onto Epicurious, typed in pumpkin muffins and this recipe came up. I didn’t have buttermilk, so per another reader’s suggestion, I substituted vanilla yogurt. Other tweaks: I used one cup of white whole wheat flour in place of one of the cups of all-purpose flour, and I omitted the pepitas because I didn’t have any. The golden raisins give the muffins a subtle burst of sweetness, so if you have them, add them in.

I filled the muffin cups to the brim, so I got 10 muffins from one batch. They’re moist and the pumpkin flavor is tasty without being overpowering. Yum!

Pumpkin Muffins

1/3 cup golden raisins

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin

1/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoon raw green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas), divided

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter muffin pan if not nonstick. Soak raisins in hot water 5 minutes, then drain. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined, then stir in raisins and 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds. Divide batter among muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining seeds. Bake until a wooden pick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly on a rack.

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