Loaded Morning Glory Muffins

IMG_3396Another good name for these muffins would be Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Muffins. I’m not quite sure who came up with that phrase to describe recipes that are full of add-ins, but I just like the sound of it. I suppose the phrase could have been everything-but-the-oven-door or everything-but-the-moldy-cheese, but someone chose “kitchen sink.” I can’t say it makes much sense, but people get what you’re talking about and it’s a lot more fun to say than “muffins filled with a whole bunch of stuff.” However, just in case someone out there read the title and got confused and pictured a batch of muffins made with dirty sink-water or something, I stuck with Loaded Morning Glory Muffins, which also has a nice ring to it. Very glorious-sounding, I’d say. And so concludes the end of my unnecessary thought process.

These muffins are based off of the infamous Morning Glory muffin…you know, those bakery muffins that are the size of your head and lumpy and brownish and full of peculiar objects? The the kind of muffin that your mom always chose and offered you a bite of, leading you to politely shriek “no, thank you!” while stuffing your face with your favorite blueberry-cream cheese muffin? You know those ones?

IMG_3393Needless to say, Morning Glory Muffins never much appealed to me throughout my childhood but now I can’t get enough! They’re packed full of carrots, zucchini, shredded coconut, dried cranberries, chopped apple, applesauce, flaxseed, and nuts (although I left those out in my version for no good reason other than not having any). I’ve seen some recipes that include diced pineapple as well, but I figured I had to stop stirring things in at some point. Not to mention that I didn’t have any pineapple, either.

Basically, my Morning Glory Muffins are a meal in themselves. The carrot, zucchini, apple, oil, and buttermilk come together to keep the muffins super soft and moist, and every bite is loaded with texture. They aren’t exactly health food, but compared to many muffins (ahem, blueberry-cream cheese muffins of my past) they’re not too shabby. I mean, as long as whole wheat flour, heart-healthy fats, fruit, and even vegetables are in there you can claim to be eating a healthy snack. I’ll totally back you up. 🙂IMG_3403

Loaded Morning Glory Muffins

Makes 18-20 standard-sized muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 large eggs (I used 2 eggs + 1 “flax egg” made w/ 1 Tbs ground flaxseed mixed with 3 Tbs water and left to sit for 5 minutes)

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/3 cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 medium apple, finely diced

2 cups shredded carrots (I used a mix of carrots and zucchini)

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line muffin tins and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flours, sugars, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a smaller bowl whisk together the eggs (and flaxseed mixture, if using), oil, applesauce, buttermilk, and vanilla until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined.

Fold in the chopped apple, shredded carrots/zucchini, coconut, cranberries, and nuts. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling 3/4 way. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Let the muffins cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then carefully move to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Sea Foam Bars

Living on a tiny island has its pros and cons.  One con, for an example, would be the fact that the only way to get to our island is via boat or plane, most often one of the Washington State Ferries.  I’ll admit there is a special kind of tranquility that comes from looking out over the miles of ocean and tree-covered islands as the ferry treks from island to mainland, but after the hundredth time it becomes much more of a chore than an adventure; an inconvenience rather than a luxury.

And the worst part is the ferry lines.  A 90-minute boat ride quickly turns into a 2 1/2 hour ordeal when you add up the time spent waiting at the ferry landing after arriving early to ensure a place on the boat.  Sometimes I long to be back in Colorado, where a shopping trip in the next town wasn’t plagued by watch-checking and carefully planned departure/arrival times.  Now all of our trips off-island lie at the mercy of the ferry schedule, allowing little room for flexibility and a lot of room for hurrying to the ferry landing just in time to sit and wait.

Yesterday one of the ferries broke down and its replacement was stalled, resulting in the most chaotic ferry mishap in decades.  All of the usual routes were either delayed, rerouted, or cancelled.  Our ferry system includes four islands as well as the dock at the mainland, so people at various locations sat waiting in the hot sun for hours on end.  My parents had planned to celebrate their silver anniversary on one of the other islands and they arrived at the ferry landing at 11 a.m.  They were told that the ferry had broken down, but if they came back at 11:30 they could wait for the next one.  An hour later they were asked to wait until 1:50.  And then 3:30.  And then 4:30.  At 5:00, my parents were lucky enough that the man behind them drove away in frustration, and since they were now at the back of the line they were able to pull out and go back home.  Otherwise they would have been stuck in the ferry line, surrounded by cars and unable to leave, for who knows how long!  I think it goes without saying that yesterday, the cons of living on an island seemed to outweigh the pros by about 10,000 tons.

But there’s always tomorrow to bring back the pros of island life.  I’m going away to college in a year, and I know that I’m going to miss this beautiful place, frustrating ferries and all.  A few nights ago my mom and I rode the ferry home after a long day of shopping, and the full moon sat low over the ocean, casting golden ripples across the water.  It was breathtaking, and it’s times like those that I feel so lucky to be living in such a gorgeous location.  Growing up in the mountains of Colorado, I only saw the ocean every few years when we came to Washington, and now that I’ve lived by the sea I don’t know how I’ll ever stand to leave it.  At least I know that it’s not going anywhere!

Now you might be wondering, what does all of this have to do with a baking blog?  This time I’m stretching the relevance just a leeetle.  Today I’m sharing a recipe for Sea Foam Bars….Sea Foam Bars, just like the sea I’ve been talking about.  See the relevance?  Okay okay, I said it was a stretch!

Anyway, these bars, a favorite of my brother’s, are a delicious spin on your everyday cookie bar.  They have a soft, buttery base topped with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts, and then covered with a light, sweet meringue that gets wonderfully crunchy after being baked.  I’m not sure where the name Sea Foam Bars came from, but probably because of their puffy, sea-foam-like meringue top.  And the recipe I used calls them Mud Hen Bars, which makes even less sense.  So we’ll go with the Sea Foam.

I’m not sure what the best part of these bars is….the cookie base, the gooey, chocolatey, marshmallow middle layer, or the sweet crackly top.  What I am sure of is that you should make them; then you can decide for yourself! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Sea Foam (aka Mud Hen) Bars

1/4 cup butter or shortening, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs (2 separated, 1 whole)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease or spray a 9″x13″ pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter (or shortening) and sugar until smooth and creamy.  Add in 1 whole egg, 2 egg yolks, and the vanilla.  Mix well.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients just until combined.  Spread the dough into the prepared pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips, marshmallows, and nuts.

Beat the 2 egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the brown sugar.  Spread the mixture over the chocolate chips/marshmallows/nuts.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden-brown.  Let bars cool before cutting.  Yield: 24

(Recipe from Your Home-Based Mom)