Vegan Banana Carrot Muffins

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Let me tell you why throwing something out is a trillion times worse than ripping a bandaid.

I’m a reuser. I’m a recycler. My roommates have mentioned on more than one occasion that they’re sick of drinking from jars. We…might be drinking from glasses formerly known as candle holders.

And it’s not just that.

Having three pennies in my wallet for those times when the total is $7.48 gives me probably the greatest joy in the world. The red sneakers I got seven years ago will have their comeback.

Call me weird. Call me a pack rat (Except I’m not really a pack rat because I really have very few things and I give stuff away all the time and I don’t want you to think my room is full of what you’d find on an episode of Hoarders.).

But being this way has its advantages, guys. Especially in the kitchen.

Did you know that you can save your  vegetable butts (onion skins, carrot greens, celery ends) and make some amazingly delicious broth? And brown bananas are the perfect excuse to bake something. Duh.

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Or like those times you get 67 bananas instead of just four because you want potassium something awful?

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And then you’re all “I’m gonna smash you and turn you into muffins, bananas.”

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I’m not much of a carrot eater. But when a bundle of organic ones are on sale, I have to get them, right?

While the rest of the girls are compulsive lip gloss buyers, I’m busy getting far too many vegetables.

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So, some oats are going in these. You’re lucky this round didn’t get flax seeds.

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Can I also just say that repurposing string to hold up jewelry is the best?

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So stop throwing things away. Make some broth. Something about lemonade.

Vegan Banana Carrot Muffins.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 medium bananas, mashed
1/2 carrots, grated
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas until only a few chunks remain. Add the vanilla and almond milk and mix with a fork. Whisk in the brown sugar until no clumps remain.

In a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients. Fold into the banana mixture about half a cup at a time.

Add the oats and grated carrots, lightly folding until fully incorporated.

Put batter into muffin tins or ramekins, filling only about 3/4 of the way.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Makes enough muffins for you to resist leftover Easter chocolate. For…maybe 5 more minutes.

Steamed Rice Muffins (Puto)

My mom had her work cut out for her. Three kids, each more rambunctious than the next, and her third and final installment, me, just had to go ahead and bear a name that means rebellious. Weekly chores done? Meh, unlikely. Trash taken out? Probably not. Dishes? No way.

Forever borrowing her clothes and never letting her touch mine, rolling my eyes when we order the same food and perpetually bickering about my awful taste in music, mom and I are locked in a battle of the wits because, as much as I used to groan to admit, we’re exactly the same.

I feast my eyes on sidewalk sales and never, ever leave the grocery store without checking my receipt. I’m starting to laugh like her.

Although I’ll never be able to take her turbo 2-minute showers or fit into her shoes again, I’d like to think that when I grow up, I’ll be just as beautiful, smart and courageous as this mother who is now a lola and nothing short of the most wonderful woman I know.

And boy, can she cook.

Hailing all the way from the Philippines, my mom always had a few tricks up her sleeve in the kitchen. These little rice muffins, or puto, were a staple of Saturday morning breakfast in our household.

Rice flour, coconut milk and sugar are essentially all of the ingredients in these fluffy delights.

And thank goodness it’s summer, because I was twitching without mangoes, which grow like weeds in the Philippines. Mom always stuffed chunks of ’em into these muffins.

I would’ve been lost in this recipe if not for watching my mom, who built her own makeshift steamer with a couple of baking sheets.

Genius.

Steamed Rice Muffin (Puto).

2 cups rice flour
2 cups coconut milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
mango chunks (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients before adding the coconut milk and water. Mix until creamy smooth.

Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full with batter before throwing in some mango chunks (you don’t have to push them in unless you want to).

For the steamer, place a lipped baking sheet about half full of water over two burners (preferably gas). Keep the heat low and place the cupcake pan in the baking sheet and cover with another lipped baking sheet.

Steam for about 30 minutes, making sure that the water doesn’t run out (it didn’t for me). A toothpick should come out clean when they’re done.

Makes 18 muffins, for one very special lady.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Strawberry Coconut Flax Muffins

Sometimes waffle fries for dinner happens.  Sometimes you crochet all night and forget to sleep.  And eat.  Sometimes those shoes you were waiting for in the mail show up four sizes too small and in the wrong color.  Sometimes you borrow clothes and lose them.  Sometimes the Italian parsley plant you were trying to save finally succumbs to its untimely death.  Sometimes you get a mediocre haircut.  Sometimes you steep too long.

Sometimes the toothpick doesn’t come out clean.

And sometimes you wear your snow boots when its 50 degrees just so you can splash in the melted puddles left from last night’s frosting.  Sometimes rolling on a foam cylinder feels better than an hour of yoga.

Sometimes you set your alarm just so you can make muffins.  Sometimes you still press snooze.

Sometimes you substitute canola oil with coconut oil.  And the pig approves.

Sometimes you pulverize flax seeds for added fiber.

Sometimes you’re not sure if it’ll work.

Sometimes the dishes suck.  All the time.  Dishes suck all the time.

Sometimes you eat one before they’ve even cooled.  Then you eat another.

And sometimes everything is pretty delicious.

Strawberry Coconut Flax Muffins.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup flaxseed, ground to a powder with a coffee grinder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup coconut oil, softened
1/3 cup milk
6oz greek strawberry yoghurt

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease a 3×4 muffin pan or use cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, flax, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

To soften the coconut oil, measure first then heat for about 15 seconds in the microwave.

In a small bowl, whisk the coconut oil, milk, egg, and yoghurt.  Add to the dry ingredients and fold until fully incorporated.

Fill each muffin tin about 3/4 of the way.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins.

Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips

My kitchen is a cornucopia of fibrous muffins.  I don’t know how it happened, but the counter went from zero muffins to two dozen in the blink of an eye.

The moment December hit, my neighborhood was bombarded with colorful LED lights that flicker “realistically” (because icicles naturally flicker?) in the night.  I even caved and put lights in the window.  I may even get a tree.

And every year, something in those lights trigger my eyeballs which trigger something in my belly that makes me want chocolate and peppermint and eggnog.  All day.  In my sleep.

There is a solid chocolate frog on the kitchen table.  Okay, half of one.

Whatever.  I just did 100 squats.  And these muffins are so hearty and fibrous they may as well be balls of flax and grain.

Except they taste sweet and fluffy.  And not flaxy.  And they aren’t shaped like balls at all.  And they have chocolate chips in them because I couldn’t resist.  It’s December.

I made this pumpkin pureé.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s just another leftover Halloween pumpkin, but it’s so much tastier than canned pureé.  And I’m more likely to cut my finger on a can.

If you want to make your own, just chop up the pumpkin (after scooping out the innards), cut off the skins, and boil until soft.  Whip it up in a food processor and you’re golden.

Muffins dipped in Turkish espresso?  Don’t mind if I do.

Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips.

1 cup pureéd pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup 10-grain hot cereal or millet
1/4 cup milk

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Optional.  But not really.)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and spices.  Add the oats and hot cereal and toss until evenly mixed.

In a large bowl, whisk the brown sugar and pumpkin pureé until smooth.  Add the oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and whisk until the oil no longer separates (about a minute).

Slowly beat in the flour mixture.  Fold in the milk until the batter is fluffy.  Lightly fold in the chocolate chips.

Line or grease 18 muffin tins, filling each cup about 3/4.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Makes 18 muffins.

Mulled Wine Muffins

Here’s a story I think we can all benefit from.

I had had a long day at work, and I needed a drink.  An adult beverage.

So I walked over to the liquor store, after practically running through the cemetery between my apartment and the liquor store (because ghosts are real and so are mermaids), and perused the scant aisles until my eyes fell upon a jackpot: 2 for $8!

Two bottles of red wine.  Eight dollars.  Cha-ching.

I happily pranced home (aside from when I had to walk/run through the cemetery again, where which I felt so frightened that I had to call home for moral support) with my bargain wine and placed them proudly on the kitchen counter.

Then I opened one.  It was intolerably bad.  I wished I had cooking wine to supplement the awfulness that came from that bottle.

Two bottles of red wine.  Eight dollars.  What was I expecting?  And what on earth am I supposed to do with the rest of this stuff?

But you know what they say: When life gives you putrid wine, make mulled wine cupcakes!

I also made up for it by making strawberry-basil martinis.

This is a very untraditional mulled wine recipe, because I had minimal oranges and more grapefruit.

I also went the infused-sugar route with the cupcake batter.

Sigh.  Yet another missing household necessity.  Cupcake liners.

Mulled wine icing.  Who knew?  To be honest, I had extra mulled wine and the last thing I wanted to do was drink it.  But even worse than drinking it was dumping it.  So I iced it.  Don’t be frightened.  These are actually really good.

Mulled Wine.

750mL bottle of cheap, horrible red wine
1/2 cup sugar
juice from an entire red ruby grapefruit
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange, sliced thin, setting aside about five slices for the cupcakes

Throw everything into a pot and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Let it cool and set aside.

Mulled Wine Muffins.

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon clove
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup plain greek yoghurt
2/3 cup mulled wine, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

To infuse the sugar, place in a bowl with leftover orange slices from the mulled wine and let sit for at least half an hour.  Take out the oranges before mixing.

Whisk together dry ingredients and spices in a medium-sized bowl.

Beat the butter and infused sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the yoghurt and eggs and mix until just blended.

Alternate lightly folding the dry ingredients and mulled wine into the sugar mixture until thoroughly combined.

Fill cupcake liners or well-greased cupcake pan about 3/4 full.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a fork or toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 12 cupcakes.

Mulled Wine Icing.

1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/4 cup mulled wine
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat sugar, wine, and vanilla together until smooth.  Add cream cheese and mix until creamy.  Drizzle on cupcakes.