All-Morning Muffins

All-Morning Muffins

Grandma Mallory would have scoffed at my idea of making protein-packed muffins that could serve as a breakfast by itself. After all, in her day, breakfast had to be more than a couple of muffins–the men worked all day in the fields and women cooked, cleaned, laundered and gardened. For her, muffins were something to make out of white flour and white sugar as an alternative to the usual biscuits, and served alongside country ham or bacon, fried eggs, and fried potatoes (hash browns would have been “too fancy”).

But those folk didn’t have to rush out to the fields or the garden by a specific time, like us modern workers who have to punch in or be there on the computer by 8:30 or whatever. Breakfast is a challenge for me–I don’t want to eat early but I don’t want to skip it. Some days instant oatmeal will work, and even I get tired of one of my favorite foods, Kellogg’s brand Pop-Tarts (there goes my reputation).

So I decided to make a single-meal muffin that would have protein, fiber, flavor and enough sweetness to keep me out of the Pop-Tart box. One thing I learned long ago that if you’re a food blogger, you have to get used to wasting food. This was a hard lesson for me. I come from people who do not waste anything. Even Grandma Mallory would break an egg and then run her finger around the inside of the shell to get every bit of albumen. Then the shells were crushed and fed to the chickens–a strange, cannibalistic cycle I can’t explain.

I’ve thrown out enough muffins to tell you this is the right recipe. It’s not your typical easy-muffin recipe, but they are very good. They’re not a “dessert” or “snack” to me–they’re a complete breakfast.

 

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ALL-MORNING MUFFINS
Makes 12 medium-size muffins

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup soy flour*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup flaxseed*
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 cup finely chopped dried fruit

(I used dried cherries from Door County, WI, but chopped raisins also work well)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. With an electric mixer, blend sugar, honey and butter until smooth. Add eggs and mix well.
In a separate container, dissolve the baking soda in the cream.

In a large bowl, put in both flours, salt, and wheat germ. Stir to mix. Add to this in about thirds, alternating, the sugar/honey/butter mixture and the cream mixture. Stir just until moistened each time.

Add flaxseed, walnuts and fruit and stir just enough to mix. Spoon into muffin tins about 3/4 full.

Bake on top rack for about 16 minutes, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center will come out without batter. Serve warm, or when fully cooled, store in a tightly-covered container.

Cooking notes:
Unfortunately, substitutions, such as milk instead of cream, margarine instead of butter, or egg whites instead of whole eggs, do not work well in this recipe. The chopped fruit can be any type, but needs to be a dried fruit, like raisins.

Soy flour tends to make the sides and bottom of the muffins look almost burned because it browns deeper than all-purpose flour, so do not be alarmed if you look through the oven window and they seem too dark.

*I used Bob’s Red Mill Soy Flour and Bob’s Red Mill Organic Raw Whole Brown Flaxseed, which is found at most stores, but any brand will do.

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Cream of Asparagus Soup

I’ve carried on before about my love of asparagus but this relationship just gets better all the time.

Strangely, I’ve never made homemade asparagus soup until this spring. Perhaps I don’t have the patience when I know it can be steamed or blanched in a couple of minutes and ready to eat.

Even more odd, this recipe came about when I was trying to make a healthy breakfast smoothie. I’d found two similar recipes for a healthy breakfast smoothie that were similar–one from ever-young Martha Stewart, and the other from ever-healthy Dr. Oz. The recipes were very much alike, with names like “Green Drink” or “Green Juice,” and started with two cups of chopped fresh spinach.

I love spinach almost as much as asparagus, so I thought this green drink would be a much healthier alternative than my usual breakfast–black coffee and a Kellogg’s Pop-Tart (hey, I’m entitled to feel like a 12-year-old at breakfast, at least).

Unfortunately, both versions of the green drink–even with their sweetening additives like minced fresh ginger or honey–tasted like a glass of wet, freshly-mowed grass. So I thought about converting that recipe to a hot soup. Then, the lure of my lover, asparagus, beckoning, I thought, why use spinach?

This soup can be served warm or cold, though in my book cold soup is an oxymoron, , like “jumbo shrimp” or “delicious calamari.” This soup also strays from my original idea of a super-lean green liquid food since I added cream for thickness.

But that’s okay. When you eat asparagus, all is forgiven . Sorry, Dr. Oz, I won’t give up my organic heavy cream.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

Cream of Asparagus Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
2 lbs. asparagus
1 ½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 cups chicken broth
½ cup half-and-half
½ cup buttermilk
Garnish

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, snap woody ends off asparagus and chop into half-inch pieces.

Add garlic, salt, pepper, and asparagus to simmering vegetables. Cook 1 minute, stirring. Add 4 cups chicken broth, stir. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, let rest 5 minutes.

Puree soup in blender in 2 or 3 batches. Pour pureed mixture into a saucepan over medium heat. Add half-and-half and buttermilk, and stir. Warm through, covered. Pour into bowls, and garnish.

Possible garnishes: grated fresh parmesan cheese, crumbled bacon, croutons.