Wednesday, August 29, 2007

0 Recipe #20: The "Delicious, Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink" Oatmeal, Nut, & Fruit Muffins/Bread

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As promised, below is a delicious, fiber-rich recipe that I sometimes make in either muffin form or sheet-cake form. (OK, now don't get too excited just yet, it's not actually a recipe for sheet-cake!). I eat it for breakfast or as a snack. It's high-protein & high-fiber.

I've actually lost weight eating it repeatedly for breakfast. It's like a breakfast bar, but only tastier. If you make it in a sheet-cake type of pan, you can pre-cut slices into about 4 oz. servings & freeze them for future use. Or just store in your fridge as a quick grab-&-go snack.

I've made multiple different versions of this recipe, altering the fruits, nuts, fruit juices, & spices in the recipe, & I haven't made or tasted a bad batch of the stuff yet. It's almost idiot-proof. That is, unless you toss in something weird or totally wrong & disgusting like green peppers or pickled eggs. That was not a suggestion or a dare, OK?! ;-)

This recipe also tastes really good with dried fruits like dried apricots, raisins, etc.

So, without further ado, here's the recipe. Substitute ingredients at your own peril. ;-)

The Delicious, "Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink" Oatmeal, Nut, & Fruit Muffins/Bread

1 banana, mashed
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 large egg
1 c. orange juice

1 Tbsp. orange (or lemon) zest (You can substitute dried lemon or orange peel if you don't have the citrus to make fresh zest.)
1-2 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
3 c. oats, ground into flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp ginger, or to taste
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. clove
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 c. pecan &/or walnut pieces
1 c. apples, roughly chopped
1 c. blueberries
1 c. cranberries
extra virgin coconut oil, for coating the pan

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium-sized bowl, mash together banana & baking soda with a fork & set aside. In an electric mixer, mix together remaining wet ingredients (egg, orange juice & zest, lime or lemon juice, & vanilla extract) on a high speed until ingredients are well combined; mixture should be fluffy & frothy. Then, turn down mixer to medium speed, add in mashed banana mixture & whisk together until just combined. Don't overmix batter or dough will become gluey, making a dense, hard bread. (There should still be banana lumps in the mixture; be careful not to purée bananas or bread will not become as light & fluffy as it should during the baking process.) Turn off mixer & set aside.

Next, sift together all remaining dry ingredients (oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, & allspice), minus the nuts & remaining fruit, into a separate, large bowl. This is a very important step. Do NOT skip it; it will help to further aerate the ingredients. Transfer wet ingredients from mixing bowl to this bowl & gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry (i.e., this is called the muffin method) until just combined. Bubbles should start to appear in the mixture, which is an indication that the baking soda & baking powder are reacting with the wet ingredients. Fold in nuts, apples, blueberries, & cranberries, & mix only until the fruit & nuts have been evenly distributed, which should only take a few seconds. Do not over-mix the batter or the softer fruits (i.e., the blueberries & cranberries) are likely to burst; this recipe tastes better when the fruits are consumed in small chunks.  Immediately pour the batter into a Pyrex glass baking dish, sheet-cake style pan, loaf pan, or muffin tray that's been coated with coconut oil, & bake for 23-25 minutes, or until top turns golden brown. Test with a fork for doneness; if fork pulls out easily without any batter on it, then it's ready. Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan. Serve, preferably warm, & enjoy!

Chef's Notes: Depending on the thickness or height of your mixture, & also your elevations level, this dish may take longer to cook. To be on the safe side, continually check the oven while the mixture is baking to ensure your muffins/bars don't burn. Test occasionally with a toothpick or fork to see if it's ready; if the utensil comes out clean, i.e., without any ingredients stuck to it, you know it's probably ready. You can also cut into it with a knife to check its progress.

If you are using muffin pans, make sure to remove the muffins soon after cooking, so they don't stick to pan. (Believe me, I've made this mistake before; you don't want to have to employ a large catapult to heave out the ingredients, or be scraping out the pan until next Tuesday.)

When I make this recipe in large amounts, I usually bake it in a sheet cake pan, cut it up into bars, & just leave it in the frig (in a plastic/Ziploc bag or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or foil) to nibble on whenever breakfast or snack time rolls around. Breakfast-bar-sized portions are about 4 oz., while snack-sized portions are about 2 oz.

Let me know how your version of this recipe turns out! Would love to hear what other ingredients you've tried using for muffins or banana-bread type recipes. I look forward to hearing your comments & suggestions! Thanks & Bon Appétit!


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