Tag Archives: muffins

Zucchini Cheddar Muffins

It has been a long time coming, but being able to, in a moment’s notice, decide to cook or bake and just KNOW that you can do it…
it’s an amazing thing for someone who, two years ago, didn’t know her way around her own kitchen.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a friend’s house and we were all waiting for some out-of-town guests to arrive.  About thirty minutes before the scheduled arrival time, my friend’s husband (who is also my friend of course!) commented that “perhaps I’ll make some cookies”.

I checked my watch (okay, my iPhone) and looked at him somewhat surprised. “But they’ll be here any minute.”

What came out of the following conversation was the point that once you’d made a food enough times, you could do it effortlessly and quickly…at any time.  He had so much experience making cookies that he could throw the basic recipe together in minutes and simply add whatever cookie…accessories, shall we say….that he had on hand.

I haven’t gotten to that point with cookies yet. I have worked with substitutions but  I still need a recipe.
I’m sure B would argue that means I simply HAVE NOT MADE ENOUGH COOKIES! So, I’ll fix that…eventually. 😉

But yesterday, I had a similar moment with muffins.  I had company coming over and shortly before arrival, not 30 mins I admit…more like an hour and a half ahead of time, I suddenly decided to make muffins.  Again, I don’t necessarily have a basic recipe memorized, but I have mixed the base ingredients enough times now that it felt do-able.

It was an awesome feeling!
To feel confident enough to start making a mess in the kitchen as company were on their way, knowing that you could finish and even have the dishes done before they arrived!
It has taken a long time to feel that kind of comfort in my kitchen.

I like it.

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 So, yes, this recipe was simple.  The hardest part was grating the zucchini and cheddar, but put on some good music, start singing along and enjoying yourself,
and suddenly every vegetable in your kitchen has been grated while you were zoned out dancing to Peter Murphy!

Dry ingredients in one bowl…wet in another.

Fold the wet into the dry and then add the zucchini and cheddar.

Could it be any easier?

Mixed dough, ready to be baked!

Mixed dough, ready to be baked!

I changed a few things in the recipe. Partly because I like applesauce in baked goods and also partly because I feel proud of the fact that I can confidently substitute and NOT follow the recipe exactly. (This is notable.  I am a Capricorn and, when I began cooking, I REQUIRED a recipe.  Read the conversation at the beginning of this entry to see how to make a Capricorn’s head explode.)

So, for the 2 eggs, I substituted 2/3 cup applesauce.

For the buttermilk, I made my own using lemon juice: 1 1/4 tbsp lemon juice in a measuring cup, followed by enough milk to have 1 1/4 cups.

Then, I lightly coated my muffin tray with some butter, filled the cups? (Is that what you call them?) and placed the tray in the 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

These muffins didn’t rise very much so you can really fill the tray.  I left 1/4″ or less at the top of each and that worked out well.

Simple, straightforward and delicious.

Make them just before company arrives. I dare you!

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Zucchini Cheddar Muffins


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  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs (I used 2/3 cup of applesauce)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (I used 1 1/4 tbsp lemon juice plus enough milk to make 1 1/4 cups of “buttermilk”)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and soda, sugar, salt.
  3. Mix eggs OR applesauce, buttermilk, butter in another bowl.  Gently fold that mixture into the dry mixture.
  4. Fold in  the zucchini and cheddar.
  5. Prepare a muffin tray, I added a light coating of butter.  These muffins didn’t rise too much so I was able to fill my tray, leavning the slightest bit of room at the top of each.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
  7. Allow to cool for 10 min before removing from tray.

Makes 12 muffins.

Chestnut Sweet Potato Muffins

Unlike many of my foodie friends,  I spent much of my holidays not cooking. 😉

Instead, I enjoyed food made by others, mainly family members…including an awesome chicken noodle soup made by B that was heavenly!
Who knew that plain macaroni used as noodles would be so yummy….or so fun!

Just prior to the holidays however, I experimented with a new recipe and a new ingredient: chestnuts!

So sort of pre-holiday cooking that was sort of related…Chestnuts roasting on an open fire anyone?

I was out at one of our local markets to pick up some veggies and I noticed a huge bag of “Italian Chestnuts”. They were shiny, round and a beautiful “chestnut” brown.
I put my hand in the bag and they felt so smooth and sleek…soothing even…like when you pick up a stone on a beach that has had its edges smoothed by the sea and you find yourself holding onto it and rubbing it like a worry stone.  (Worry-chestnut!)

I had no experience with chestnuts.  I had never roasted them or really used them in any way.  I was curious, and they were pretty, so I bought a bag.

It was this purchase that led me to this chestnut recipe, which I found online. But prior to actually attempting the recipe, I had to research the process of getting the nuts out of the shell!

Click here for the recipe or scroll to the bottom of the post.


This was a fairly long process, so be sure to start this a while before you plan to make the muffins.

First step was to slice an X into each nut.  This was the fun part as I used a good-sized knife and found it cathartic to slash at them!

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Then I boiled them for about 25 minutes.

I question the amount of time…I also question the method.  My muffins turned out well, but there were pieces of chestnut that were hard to chew through, if you could at all.
They seemed to be overcooked, with the boiling and then the baking.

If I were to redo this, I would boil them for half the time, around 10-15 mins and then check to see if the shells were ready to peel. I think 25 minutes was too long.

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At the end of it, the shells had started to lift and open…as predicted!

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Everything I read mentioned that the hotter they were, the easier it would be to remove the shell so I started peeling them right away.
Um…ow!  And also, LIE.
Most of the shells came off in little strips.  It was a messy, somewhat annoying and fingertip burning adventure, but I stuck with it.


The shells coming off in strips and in layers of strips  was probably the most annoying part of the process.

The shells coming off in strips and in layers of strips was probably the most annoying part of the process.

Processed chestnuts!

Processed chestnuts!

Once the chestnuts were ready to go, I was finally ready to start following the recipe.

At this point, pick out 12 nice looking chestnut pieces.  You’ll use these to top the muffins just before baking.

Oh and also….during the chestnut peeling, I also put my sliced sweet potatoes on the stove to boil.

Yep, multi tasking queen am I! 😉


So, on to making the actual muffins!

Dry ingredients first…no surprise there….

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Wet ingredients mixed secondly…and separate….

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I constantly have issues with my butter…although it’s usually my own fault because I have forgotten to remove it from the fridge and bring it to room temperature. So, I end up microwaving it.
And it doesn’t matter how short I time span I use, I end up with a severely softened (um..melted) centre and a maybe slightly softened exterior.
This explains the picture above and why my butter is in bits.

But it still worked!  So onward we go…gently mix the two bowls together…

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…and then add the remaining ingredients…

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Adding the sweet potatoes, chestnuts and raisins…

The mixture made 12 good-sized muffins which I topped with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, as well as a large piece of chestnut.

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35 minutes later, I had a tray of lovely muffins!

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These were definitely worth trying and they turned out quite well!  I enjoyed the creaminess that the chestnuts added to the muffins which was nicely balanced by the light sweetness of the potatoes.  As mentioned before, I would reduce the boiling time of the chestnuts or I would change the method altogether as it resulted in hard, and what I assume overcooked, pieces of chestnut.  These were few and far between, but they were there and they tainted my muffin-enjoyment! 😉

Chestnut & Sweet Potato Muffins

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  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes mashed ( baked & peel )
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • !/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  •  2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 1/3  cup chestnuts  chopped ( pre cooked  and de-shelled )


  •  mixture of brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon
  • a few whole chestnuts for topping ( optional )

NOTE: The instructions do not include the mashing of the sweet potatoes nor the prepping of the chestnuts.  Getting those two ingredients ready beforehand is…well…ideal. 😉

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350  degrees
  2. In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients,  flour,  sugar,  salt,  baking soda , baking powder,  cinnamon. Set aside
  3. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs, butter,  oil, water,  and vanilla.  Mix the egg mixture into the flour mixture and whisk gently.
  4. Add the cooked sweet potatoes,  chopped chestnuts and golden raisins.  Mix lightly.
  5. Spoon mixture into muffin pan.
  6. Sprinkle topping mix on the muffin before baking.  Top the muffin with a whole chestnut.
  7. Bake until golden brown.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 muffins

Recipe taken from: http://sugarbaking.blogspot.ca/2011/07/sweet-potato-chestnut-muffins-japanese.html

Fresh Pumpkin Puree to Yummy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins, in one day!

A few weeks before Halloween,  I got it into my head that I wanted to do some cooking with pumpkins.
Pumpkins muffins were particularly on my mind.

In early October, I attended an event with a table of goodies, all made by the attendees. Each dish was posted with the corresponding list of ingredients so people knew what was gluten-free, vegan etc.  The pumpkin muffins I had were delicious!  So flavourful, moist and tender…so I snapped a shot of the ingredients list! Kinda blurry, but there is it!

I spent some time googling those ingredients, trying to find a matching recipe and I came across one that was pretty close, listed at the bottom of this post.

Click here for the recipes or scroll to the bottom of the post.

Along with my desire to make pumpkin muffins came my desire to make my own fresh pumpkin puree rather than going to the store and buying  the canned stuff.
B suggested I wait until just after Halloween, as all the remaining pumpkins would be on sale.

Yeah. No.

Well, not that they weren’t on sale, but the problem was that they were freakin’ hard to find!  I scoured my whole neighbourhood…hitting a number of small independent veggie markets as well as the large grocery store nearby.  In the end, as I began to consider stealing pumpkins off porches, I came across three of them.  I’m thinking they were probably the last three pumpkins in west Toronto!

During my pumpkin scouting adventure, I learned the difference between sugar pumpkins and other not-sugar pumpkins.  From what I read, it simply refers to the size of the pumpkin. Six to eight inches in diameter is great for cooking.  They bigger they are, the less flavour and texture they have.

Not surprising. Isn’t that the way with every fruit and vegetable out there?

So, I walked home with three sugar pumpkins. Wish I had a picture of that!  The ultimate in awkward!

Instead, I only have this shot:

Trying to get three pumpkins from one room to the other, all at the same time, was challenging 😉

Three pumpkins back to my house, all nicely washed! Okay, two nicely washed. Three pumpkins is difficult. Two is do-able.

I had done some reading on creating pumpkin puree and one of the most exciting things about it? I had another opportunity to use my cleaver!!!

Sssshhhhh, it’s all right. It’ll all be over in minute!

Unfortunately, what the websites didn’t tell me was that a cleaver isn’t the best choice for this job!

Unlike the rutabaga I cleaved to death in a previous post (*sigh* that was SO much fun!), pumpkin doesn’t quite work that way. I assume that’s due to the hollow centre.

I sadly had to return the cleaver to its hiding place and used a regular chef’s knife to get the job done. It was surprisingly easy to halve them.

Next up for pumpkin puree, scrape out the guts. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it?

….It is at this moment that I would like to pause and recognize the annual sacrifice offered by pumpkins everywhere…pie, muffins, soup, cheesecake, even lattes…we are ever thankful

As Buffy put it many years ago (Eeeek! It *really* WAS  many years ago!!!)
I was just thinking about the life of a pumpkin. Grow up in the sun, happily entwined with others, and then someone comes along, cuts you open, and rips your guts out.”


So yes, you scrape out guts. I didn’t keep the seeds.  Thought about roasting them. Got lazy.

Once scraped clean, I cut my pumpkins into four as they seemed to roast faster that way.

I set my oven to 400 F and roasted the pumpkin until it was tender enough to allow a fork or knife to pierce the skin…about 30-45 mins depending.

Once tender, remove them from the oven, set them out and allow them to cool, just a bit. It surprised me how yellow the flesh was…and the skins darkened up quite a bit.

I removed the overcooked black bits bits and while the pieces were still quite hot, I peeled the flesh from the skin into a bowl. I found that the hotter they were, the easier they peeled.

Once I had peeled all of them, I used my handblender to puree the flesh.  Then I used a strainer to separate the stingy bits from the purée   This took a bit of time but it was worth it to have the smooth consistency at the end.

Pushing my purée through a fine strainer.

Two 8 inch pumpkins gave me about 9 cups of purée.  I used up some and then froze the rest in 2 cup freezer bags.

Freshly made pumpkin purée!

So to finish up this post, I will include my pumpkin muffin recipe!  As mentioned, I looked up the recipe online and found it…although I question the measurements as the muffins I made weren’t as soft and moist as the ones I tried in October.  Suggestions? What ingredient would you increase or decrease?

I will say that I had an interesting time finding the appropriate flours to use.  One store had them all…but first I had to discover that:
1) tapioca starch is the same as tapioca flour
2) garbanzo bean flour is the same as chickpea flour

Prior to making this recipe, I didn’t know either of those things…so I figured I’d share.

I don’t have much to add regarding the muffin recipe as it’s pretty straightforward.
Dry ingredients? Mix. Wet ingredients? Mix. All ingredients? Mix. Muffin tray. Bake. Done.

Recipe #1 Fresh Pumpkin Puree

Gather some pumpkins…6 to 8 inches in diameter.
I found each pumpkin created approx 4 or 5 cups of puree.

Preheat oven to 400F.
Cut pumpkins in half and scrape out the insides.
Then, cut them into fours.
Place them flesh down on a cookie sheet and bake for 30-45 mins.
The  skin will darken and you will know they are done when a knife or fork slides easily through the skin.
Remove from the oven and place upright on either the same sheet or another surface.
Allow them to cool *slightly*. The hotter you can handle, the easier I found it was to peel away the skin.  But be careful and don’t burn yourself!
Gather all the flesh into a large bowl and go at it with a handblender (or a food processor if you have one).

This next step is optional:
For a smooth purée similar to the canned texture you can purchase, use a strainer and separate the puree from the stringy bits.  This will probably take a little bit of time but I found it well worth the effort!

And there you are! Fresh pumpkin purée!
The first time I made it, it took a few hours as I didn’t quite know what I was doing.
The second time, I cut my prep time in half so don’t give up if it takes awhile the first time around! 🙂

Recipe #2 Yummy Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

      • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
      • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
      • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
      • 3 Tbsp flaxseed meal
      • 1 tsp baking soda
      • 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
      • 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
      • 1/2 tsp sea salt
      • 2 cup pumpkin puree?
      • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
      • 1/4 cup applesauce
      • 1 cup brown sugar
      • 2 eggs
      1. Preheat oven to 350.
      2. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
      3. Mix wet ingredients together in another bowl and then add to dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
      4. Ladle mixture into a muffin tray and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 12 Muffins.

The recipe was found on the internet in a variety of places and has been adapted slightly. The website I used for reference is found here.

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