Thursday, January 15, 2015

Food Friday - Muffins!

From Tracey G.

Muffins are one of my favorite things to make. I like to have them on hand for myself for breakfast as, I'm not a big breakfast fan. But if it's something I can grab and eat, with not a lot of effort, to enjoy with my morning (or afternoon, lol) coffee - I'm all in. So, by that definition, muffins are perfect for me :-)

 This is my favorite banana nut muffin recipe of all time. It took me years to find it and get it the way I want it (and I still play around with the recipe sometimes!). I was tired of banana nut muffins that had a cake-like texture - I wanted a texture like banana bread! That moist, slightly dense banana nutty goodness that I loved so much. And I do have to say that I've always had this recipe turn out just that way. Well, except for the time when I was seeing just how far I could cut back on the vegetable oil in them, and I went a tad too far, lol, lesson learned on that one!. ;) 

You can make the recipe as it is, or if you're like me and like to try to lighten these kinds of things a bit, I've found I can cut back on the oil and sugar with the more bananas I use in it - for example, it calls for 2-3 mashed very ripe bananas, 1/2 c vegetable oil and 1 c granulated sugar. Well, by using 4 large bananas (or even 5, lol), I have cut the oil back to 1/4 c and I've cut the sugar back to 3/4 c and it turns out just as well, if not yummier, because of the extra banana. But, as I said, you can make it as written and then as you become more familiar with it - try your own additions/subtractions and so forth ;-) I'll have the recipe at the end of the post!

 First things first, preheat the oven to 350°F, that way while you're getting your muffins ready to go, it will be ready for your muffins!

The recipe makes approximately 12 muffins, so, get your muffin tins ready - you can use liners or grease them with a little butter or shortening. I personally prefer foil liners, as there's less mess AND the bonus of helping to keep them moister longer during storage, my opinion is that paper liners leach the moisture out of cupcakes and muffins. 

And now onto getting the ingredients mixed:

 In your bowl or bowl of your mixer, combine the sugar, oil and eggs.

 Mix the sugar, oil and eggs until they are light yellow...
And keep going until.....

 ....the mixture looks like this

While the sugar, oil and eggs are doing their thing in the mixer to get to the light yellow stage, combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl, whisk (or stir) together until well combined.

Once you reach the light yellow stage, add your mashed bananas and chopped nuts (I chop my own if I don't have already chopped) to your sugar, oil & egg mixture...

I make sure I mix them in well before I add the dry ingredients...

Next, I unceremoniously dump in my dry ingredients and mix the heck out of it until smooth - that was part of the original recipe, and it went against all the stuff I'd learned about quick-breads & muffins - you're only supposed to mix just until combined! Yikes! But I followed the directions and it worked so I've never changed it...

Now onto filling the muffin tins, I fill almost to the top, seems to be a nicer looking end-product when I do.

Once they're filled I pop them into the oven for about 30 min, and then I start checking them for doneness using the toothpick-poked-into-them method, if it comes out clean, they're done. 

When I take them out of the oven, I let them cool about 5 min or so in their tins then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling :-) Once they're cooled I usually take some and wrap to freeze. I like to individually wrap each one tightly in plastic wrap, throw them into a zipper-top freezer bag and pop them into the freezer. They come back to life just beautifully after they've been thawed. ;-)

And now, the recipe!

 Banana Bread Muffins
**Preheat oven to 350°**
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
½ cup vegetable oil
2 or 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
¼ cup walnuts or nut of choice
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

1)  Place cupcake liners in muffin pan, or grease muffin tins with a little butter.
2)  Mix sugar, oil and egg until creamy and light yellow. Add bananas and nuts. Add flour baking soda and salt. Stir until completely smooth. Spoon batter into muffin tin.
3)  Bake approximately 30 minutes or until toothpick poked in center of muffin comes out clean. 

Food is almost always a good photography inspiration for me, maybe because I've always enjoyed reading cookbooks and looking at the yummy and beautiful photos they can contain as well. I love having props for plating my subjects etc. I look at food magazines and can't help but think "wow, I'd love to be the food stylist/photographer as they must have a plethora of props (plates, cups, napkins etc) at their disposal!" :-) I love going to stores like Home Goods and seeing all the interesting pieces in the dishware section. And it's nice because you can buy just one or two pieces, not having to purchase a full set that you may or may not ever use outside of photos! lol I love using white dishes, cups etc as I think they compliment rather than compete with the subject. And finally, with food photography, you can eat your subject when you're done! 

From Kris B.

Plain and simple, I love muffins!  They are a perfect snack, a perfect treat, and often a perfect meal.  Muffins, like a good friend, are flexible and right there when you need them to be.  Muffins are sweet, but not too sweet.  Filling, but not too filling.  Healthy…or not.  They are portable.  They are freezable.  Muffins can be dressed up in fancy muffin cups or jump out of the tin naked.  Muffins are just all around goodness.  As one who is not a fan of icing (except chocolate), I prefer muffins to cupcakes almost always.

I took muffins to share with my students during final exams last semester.  One of them asked what the difference was between a muffin and a cupcake.  Aside from the icing, I wasn't sure how to answer his question so I turned to a professional, my daughter, who is a trained pastry chef.  Her response, “Sugar level, sort of.  Also two stage mixing method vs. creaming, but that’s debatable.”  This is the kind of response you get via text message when you are both supposed to be working.  On my way home from school that same day as this question was asked, I stopped by a local card and gift shop.  I stumbled  across a tea towel that said, “Cupcakes are just flamboyant muffins.”  Well there you go.  Mystery solved!

The towel is from "Primitives by Kathy." Her tagline is "LOL made you smile."   How can you not love it?

Since muffins can be all things, it seems only reasonable that they should include all things that are favorite ingredients of mine - oatmeal, brown sugar, eggs, butter (sorry!), fruit, and chocolate!   This recipe is an adaptation of several that I have tried along the way.  I cant remember where I found the original one, maybe Taste of Home magazine???

I am one of those people that gets all of the ingredients out before I start preparing anything.  This comes from several instances of starting to make something and then realizing that I was missing some crucial ingredient.

Here is a practical use for your photos.  Take a picture of all of the ingredients necessary for your favorite dishes.  Store the photo on your phone.  Then next time you are at the grocery store and cant remember the recipe, there are the ingredients right there in your hand.  This also serves as a way to test how carefully you look at a picture.  This method is not guaranteed.  You may still forget something!


This recipe makes eight dozen mini muffins or two dozen regular sized muffins.  The recipe can also be halved.  Or, muffins can be frozen.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups oatmeal (not instant)
2 cups chips - I prefer mini chocolate chips but any flavor will work.

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs.  In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix the dry ingredients with the wet ones.  Add the applesauce and the vanilla.  Mix in the oatmeal and your chips of choice.

Scoop into muffin tins and bake 25 minutes for regular sized muffins and 15 minutes for mini muffins.  Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full.  I use a muffin scoop for the larger muffins and a cookie scoop about half filled for the mini muffins.


Take your camera with you into the kitchen…even if you don't like to cook.  There are lots of interesting photos to be had by observing not only the food in your kitchen, but also the utensils, appliances, and other kitchen gadgets.

A muffin tin with colorful liners.  (You don't have to actually make the muffins.)

It just becomes abstract kitchen art.

Lots of things in the kitchen create cool reflections…

For instance, the batter scoop…

It makes your kitchen look a lot bigger than it really is!

Or, perhaps you’d rather be upside down.

This just goes to show that you can have fun with those everyday tasks.  When you think everything around is boring and mundane, look again.  There is always something to see.  Granted it may be what kind of shape you can discern in the streaks on your stainless steel fridge, but hey…that’s something!


  1. This is such a cool idea of you two. I can see why food and photography are the perfect combo. Lovely read and so much eye candy! You two are amazing.

  2. If this shows up twice delete whichever one you want. I think i lost my first one. Love the recipes, photos and the reads. I am one of those that takes my camera into the kitchen and love food photography. And yes I will buy just one dish specifically for a photo op!!! Great job guys!!!