Monday, January 25, 2010

Healthier Muffins and a Wannabe Latte

My 4 year old computer is back from its vacation at the mac spa where it got a much needed makeover...but that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking! A lot of the usual actually: soup, bread, more soup. However, I'll change things up a bit with this healthy muffin recipe. I have been experimenting with healthier baked goods. I am always on the lookout for good vegan recipes which eliminate the delicious yet fattening butter, cream, and eggs.

Though not vegan, this recipe is adaptable. You can sub in flavors or healthier alternatives as you see fit. I'll list the original recipe and then what I changed about it in parentheses.

Healthier Muffins
preheat oven to 400 degrees F

1 cup flour (I used 2/3 all-purpose + 1/3 whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup milk (I used plain unsweetened soy)
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used apple cider)
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used almond extract)
1 egg
1/4 cup of oil
pinch of salt
3 Tbs sugar (or honey)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup whole flax seed
1/2 granny smith apple, peeled, cubed into 1/2" pieces

Combine dry ingredients in medium mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients then add to the dry.
Add nuts, flax, and fruit and stir with fork until just combined.
Spoon batter into greased muffin tins. Top with nuts or flax seeds.
Bake for 13-15 min or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
(If using mini-muffin tin, check them after 10 minutes).

Some flavor combos to try
-coconut mango
-banana chocolate chip
-orange ginger
-pumpkin spice
-lemon poppyseed
-peaches and cream
-pina colada
-berry nut
-carrot raisin

Since we saved a few calories with the muffins, why not indulge on a homemade coffee treat? I learned everything I know about coffee from living in Portland Oregon for 14 months. Don't laugh, but I moved there still mistaking espresso for "expresso". At that point I had probably only been to a handful of coffee shops that didn't have a "Starbucks" sign out front. I don't think I had ever tried a cappuccino, latte, or straight espresso before my first week in Portland when I promptly experimented with all three. Now, I am a bit of a coffee snob, and proud of it. Recently, I have stopped drinking coffee on weekdays, which has made the weekend cups a genuine luxury rather than an everyday addiction.

A real cafe latte is an espresso, made with steamed milk, and milk foam on top. Since I don't happen to have an espresso machine or milk steamer at home, I came up with a shortcut that produces a similar effect on a lazy saturday morning. (Apparently this is on the menu at some coffee shops as Caffe con Panna).

Wannabe Latte

Make a strong pot of coffee in a french press. Pour about a 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and a tsp of powdered sugar in a cold metal mixing bowl. Use a whisk to whip the cream until it is just thickened, before any peaks form. Stir a dollop into your fresh hot cup of coffee. I suggest you pull out the fanciest cup and saucer you have, this is the perfect excuse to dust it off.

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