Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cooking On A Shoestring Budget: Create Your Own Muffin

Blueberry and Lemon Muffins-mmmm!

I don't like wasting any of the food in my fridge, so I'm always glad to find recipes that help me use up the little bits of this or that. And, now, with just my husband and me in the house, it's more important than ever that I use up what we have. This recipe helps me do just that.

I love muffins, just about any kind. It's probably my breakfast of choice on any given morning and they are so portable! So good with coffee. When I first started making muffins, I always went strictly by the recipe in the cookbook. Then I found Amy Dacyczyn's Creating a Muffin recipe and I found that muffins are pretty flexible just as long as you go by the guidelines she sets out in her book, The Complete Tightwad Gazette, one of my favorite frugal sources. I have used this recipe many times and they have come out good just about every time. And, it feels good not to throw out food!

Create Your Own Muffin

Grains: Use 2-2 1/2 cups of white flour. Or substitute oatmeal, cornmeal, whole-wheat flour, rye flour, or flake cereal for 1 cup of the white flour. Or substitute 1 cup of leftover cooked oatmeal, rice, or cornmeal for 1/2 cup of the white flour and decrease liquid to 1/2 cup.

Milk: Use 1 cup. Or substitute buttermilk or sour milk (add 1 tablespoon of vinegar to 1 cup milk). Or substitute fruit juice for part or all of the milk.

Fat: Use 1/4 cup of vegetable oil or 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Or substitute crunchy or regular peanut butter for part or all of the fat. The fat can be reduced or omitted with fair results if using a "wet addition."

Egg: Use 1 egg. Or substitute 1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour and 1 tablespoon of water. If using a cooked grain, separate the egg, add the yolk to the batter, beat the white until stiff, and fold into the batter.

Sweetener: Use between 2 tablespoons and 1/2 cup of sugar. Or substitute up to 3/4 cups brown sugar. Or substitute up to 1/2 cup of honey or molasses, and decrease milk to 3/4 cup.

Baking powder: Use 2 teaspoons. If using whole or cooked grains or more than 1 cup of additions, increase to 3 teaspoons. If using buttermilk or sour milk, decrease to 1 teaspoon and add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Salt: Use 1/2 teaspoon or omit if you have a salt-restricted diet.

The following ingredients are optional. Additions can be used in any combination, up to 1 1/2 cups total. If using more than 1 cup of wet additions, decrease the milk to 1/2 cup.

Dry additions: Nuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut, etc.

Moist additions: Blueberries, chopped apple, freshly shredded zucchini, shredded carrot, etc.

Wet additions: Pumpkin puree, applesauce, mashed and cooked sweet potato, mashed banana, mashed and cooked carrot, and so on. If using 1/2 cup drained, canned fruit or thawed shredded zucchini, substitute the syrup or zucchini liquid for all or part of the milk.

Spices: Use spices that complement the additions, such as 1 teaspoon cinnamon with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or cloves. Try 2 teaspoons grated orange or lemon peel.

Jellies or Jams: Fill cups half full with a plain batter. Add 1 teaspoon jam or jelly and top with 2 more tablespoons batter.

Topping: Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the batter in the tins.

Nonsweet Combinations: Use only 2 tablespoons sugar and no fruit. Add combinations of the following: 1/2 cup shredded cheese, 3 strips fried and crumbled bacon, 2 tablespoons grated onion, 1/2 cup shredded zucchini, 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Spices could include a teaspoon of parsley and a pinch of marjoram.

Basic Recipe:

2-2 1/2 cups grain
1 cup milk
Up to 1/4 cup fat
1 egg
Up to 1/2 cup sweetener
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Up to 1 1/2 cups additions

To make the muffins, combine the dry ingredients, and then mix in wet ingredients until just combined; the batter should be lumpy. Grease muffin tin and fill cups two-thirds full. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (give or take 5 minutes).

The sky's the limit on this formula. No longer am I limited by what is in a recipe, I can use up whatever is in my cupboard or refrigerator.


Erin @ EKat's Kitchen said...

Darcy, this is great! I love that you've included the basics and the ways that they can be altered and the ingredients substituted! I've never gotten really into baking before and you've just opened up a whole new realm for me! Awesome post, and I'm bookmarking!!


Mom said...

Darcy, you never cease to amaze me!! You would really make a great Chef, they can always make something wonderful from what they have available. Love ya, Mom

Marie said...

Thanks so much for the muffin combinations. That is wonderful!

Domestic Nerd said...

This is great! Thanks for sharing :)