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Copyright Ozarkhomesteader 2009, just like the rest of the blog.  
Feel free to post short excerpts with full links to this blog.

I like to mix up muffins regularly because they give us healthy, wholesome breakfasts and healthy snacks for little money.  Making muffins from scratch only takes a few more minutes than making them from a mix, and you know your scratch muffins are full of good things instead of chemicals.  This morning we had double delicious apple muffins.  I’ll talk after the recipe about how healthy they are.  Feel free to skip that if you’d rather think they’re decadent!

This recipe makes 6 muffins, perfect for a medium-sized family (or a small family who wants muffin snacks later!).  If you can get organic ingredients and farm-fresh eggs, by all means use them.  We do!

Dry ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain oat flour (or just use old-fashioned rolled oats, all wheat flour, or flax meal if you don’t have oat flour–remember:  use what you have!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) ground cinnamon
  • pinch/sprinkle of allspice
  • 1/4-1/3 cup chopped walnuts  (I just crush them in my hand as I’m adding them to the mix)
  • optional:  small handful of raisins or currants

Wet ingredients:

  • 1 apple (like Gala, McIntosh, or Arkansas black)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce or apple butter  (oh, yes, this is the double-delish part:  apples and apple sauce!)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk or kefir (or milk mixed with yogurt if you don’t have either one in the house, or just milk if that’s all you have.  Like I always say, use what you have!)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (brown or maple okay–or more, up to a quarter cup if you’re family is addicted to sugar–use less if you used apple butter instead of apple sauce)

Optional:  cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle on top before baking.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 6-cup muffin tin.  Get a 1-quart (small) mixing pitcher or bowl.  (Using a pitcher will make everything easier to pour into the muffin cups.)

Begin by chopping the apple.  I like to cut my apples into halves, quarters, and eighths first, so they I can remove the minimum amount of core.  Since I use homegrown or organic apples, I wash them well but do not peel them.  The peel is both healthy and pretty.  Your apple pieces should be no more than 1/2 inch cubed each.

Make-and-eat directions:  If you are going to make the muffins right away, you can mix everything together immediately.  Just start with the dry ingredients and then add your wet ingredients.  Stir well to combine but do not over-stir. Pour into prepared muffin tins.  Sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar (optional).  Bake the muffins for 20 minutes.  Let them cool briefly in the pans and then turn out to cool (or just turn them on their sides to cool.)  Enjoy!

Night-before preparation, for even quicker morning baking: If you want to eat these on a school day (or get them ready for the kids to bake in the morning while you sleep in!), you can mix together all the dry ingredients separately from all of the wet ingredients.  In the morning, preheat the oven (350′ F) and grease your muffin tin.  Then combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Bake for 20 minutes and eat or take them with you!

Dutch oven directions for camping:

Follow the directions for night-before preparation to mix your dry and wet ingredients separately.  Put both in separate camp-worthy containers.  Freeze the wet ingredients if you won’t use them for a few days.  The morning you want to eat your muffins, use 6 metal cupcake “papers” in the bottom of a small Dutch oven.  Put on the lid and add coals top and bottom and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Alternatively, you can just grease the Dutch oven itself and make this recipe coffee-cake style.  Cut the finished cake into wedges.

What’s good about these muffins?

These muffins are great whether you are watching your cholesterol, concerned about high blood sugar, or trying to keep your intestines in good shape.  With both soluble and insoluble whole grains as well as a lot of apple, little sugar, and almost no fat except for the good fat in the walnuts, these muffins are wholesome health food.  Don’t worry, though; your family will never notice!

Healthy snacking: These muffins make great afternoon snacks or even a light dessert.  For a snack, try spreading two halves with some natural warm peanut butter.  (Making the peanut butter warm will help natural peanut butter spread without tearing the muffin.)

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I can’t help but notice how many people find this blog because they are searching for a recipe for winter squash, especially butternut or acorn squash.  You’ll find both savory and sweet recipes at Ozarkhomesteader, because these squashes are incredibly versatile.

Tonight, for instance, I was working with green European cabbage, red onion, and turkey bratwurst.  These ingredients scream German or Austrian food (at least to me), but I was also staring at a butternut squash with a little damage, one that I needed to fix soon rather than keeping through the winter.  Ultimately, I boiled the brats in beer and then mixed just a touch of molasses in with a tiny bit of the beer to make a glaze, allowing me to get nice grill marks when I put the brats on a hot cast iron grill pan.  I served the brats on cabbage sauteed with red onion, cider vinegar, prepared grainy mustard, a touch of honey, and some soy sauce.  (Darn Alton Brown for mentioning umami right about the time I was reaching for the salt!)  I decided that the squash could be seasoned to stand in for pumpernickle–or maybe gingerbread.

DSCN2091I began by peeling the butternut squash.  Butternut is the only winter squash that peels easily when uncooked. Then I cut the squash into chunks, popped it in a casserole with a little water, and baked it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Then I mashed it with about 2 tablespoons dry ginger and two generous drizzles of molasses (maybe about a tablespoon).

I served the brats on top of the cabbage with the squash to the side, some green beans, and some tiny sliced radishes.  Sure the squash looks like baby food this way, but it tastes rich!  And our entire meal celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It’s hard to believe that was twenty years ago!

Regardless of whether winter squash with ginger is your idea of a good time, know that you can bring its warm, comforting flavor to all sorts of cuisines, including Indian (try it with curry and coconut milk!), Italian (think ravioli with nutmeg, a little garlic), or even New England colonial (acorn squash stuffed with apples and dried cranberries).  Enjoy those squash you found at the farmer’s market, in your CSA basket, or even–like us–in your own garden.

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Copyright Ozarkhomesteader 2009.  Please see other posts about fair use.

In the late 1980s I was living in Madison, Wisconsin, on a budget so tight that I spent just $10 total on food and entertainment a week.  If I wanted to go the movies (we did that back then), I had to save up or cut back.  I learned how to eat locally and in season long before the concept was cool because it was all I could afford.  That was how I ate my first acorn squash.  You see, I had been raised on good vegetables including summer squash, but my deep South family had not grown winter squash (or at least I never saw it!).

That year, Madison-area farmers had a bumper crop of gigantic acorn squash, larger than many pie pumpkins.  When I saw a dozen of these big beauties for $2 that was about to go on end-of-market sale for $1.50, I knew I had to try them.  I had no idea how to use them, though,--and we had no internet–so I asked the kid who was tending the booth.  Oh, it’s easy, he told me.  Just cut them in half, scoop out the seed, and put a little water in the hole.  Then bake them at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes. He told me I also could stuff them with chopped apples and walnuts and add cinnamon and brown sugar.  I bought the dozen and lugged them home and did exactly what he’d told me.  It was so good, so rich compared to what I’d been eating.

Next week, I went back to the booth to thank him.  He wasn’t there, but his mother was.  When I told her that he had given me cooking directions, she looked stunned.  He had never prepared an acorn squash in his life!  When she told me the squash would keep through the winter, I bought another dozen.

The morals to the story are

  1. eat local and in season if you want to eat cheaply;
  2. acorn squash is easy to prepare, even if you’ve never done it before; and
  3. if you buy two dozen giant acorn squashes for $3 because you’re on a budget and they’re cheap, you’re going to be sick of them by the time you finish them.

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