Wednesday, July 17, 2013

English Muffins

This is a post I've been working on for a looooong time, believe it or not!  I wanted to make sure that I had enough information to share, since English muffins aren't typically something a person has made before.  I have now made these probably a couple dozen times.  The summary of why I make these, if you don't read the whole post- they are delicious and significantly cheaper than store-bought!

The breakfast my husband has most days before work (when the rest of us are still sleeping) is an egg sandwich- with a baked egg patty, reduced-fat sausage patty from Costco, a little grated cheese, and an English muffin.  Seeing as how I make most of our other bread products, I decided to tackle English muffins, as well.  I found this recipe from Alton Brown (Mr. Good Eats) and it works very well!  I altered it very slightly.

The only equipment I needed to buy to make these was English Muffin Rings.  I tried making this recipe using other things as rings, like some suggest, but these work FAR better- and were only 8 bucks.  I have saved more than that already!  Besides that, it is helpful to have a covered electric skillet (good for maintaining even heat) and a large cookie scoop for even portioning.

Last thing- I have made variations of this, as well.  I normally make them with half wheat/half white flour, and sometimes I make them with a little extra sugar and cinnamon.  It's a pretty flexible recipe!

The equipment ready to go

The dough is so wet, it's almost more like a batter

I cook 4 muffins at a time

Finishing up cooking on the 2nd side

You can read more about these muffins on Food Network's website, here.

Price Breakdown
Yeast 5¢
Powdered Milk 36¢
Sugar 1¢
Salt <1¢
Canola Oil 3¢
All-Purpose Flour 12¢
Wheat Flour 16¢
Water- Free
TOTAL = 73¢ per batch of 8 English Muffins

Weight of one batch: 1 lb. 5 oz.
Price per ounce: 3.5¢

Comparable store-bought English muffins: $1.68 for 14 ounces = 12¢ per ounce

Price Comparison per ounce: 3.5¢ homemade vs. 12¢ store-bought = 71% SAVINGS!

English Muffins
Printable version here

2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast (1 packet)
1 1/8 tsp. granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup powdered milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. canola oil (or other neutral-flavored oil)
2 cups flour (I use 1 cup each all-purpose and wheat)

1. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine and set aside to rest:
  • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 1/8 tsp. sugar
  • 1/3 cup warm water
2. Meanwhile, combine in a large bowl and stir until dissolved:
  • 1/2 cup powdered milk
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 cup hot (but not boiling) water
3. Once yeast mixture is a little bubbly, pour into milk mixture and whisk to combine. (Make sure the milk mixture isn't too hot, as yeast die at temperatures above 130º)  Add to this mixture and stir:
  • 2 cups flour
4. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes. (I like to turn on my oven for 1-2 minutes while I'm preparing the dough, then I let dough rest in there.)

5. Preheat griddle to 300º (when I use wheat flour, I set the heat just a little under that).  Remove plastic wrap and stir dough thoroughly.

6. Place metal rings onto griddle and coat lightly with nonstick spray. Using large (3 tbsp.) cookie scoop, place 2 scoops into each ring and cover with a lid.  Cook for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes, flip (I like to use 2 flat spatulas for this), then recover and cook 4 1/2 to 5 more minutes. (I do 4:45) Cool on a wire rack, split with fork, and serve.

Yield: 8 muffins
Storage: Store in an airtight container (or zip-top bag) at room temperature for up to 3 days.  Freeze for longer storage.
Recipe Source: Alton Brown/Food Network

Why I love it? Let's see, they're INFINITELY fresher tasting than the kind you buy in a store, there are no preservatives, you can customize them (with different types of flour, using additional seasonings like cinnamon, etc.), and like I said above- SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper! If you're still reading, I will say- these were a little frustrating to make until I got the hang of it, but after making them a few times I figured out what works best, and now I love making them!  Let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Simple Guacamole

Guacamole- for me at least, this has been an acquired taste.  I didn't grow up eating it, and while I can still see why some don't like it, it has certainly been growing on me!  I like trying to get healthy fats (like avocado) in our diet, and this is a great way.  I have used this "recipe" as a topping for dishes like enchiladas, as a snack for dipping chips in, and as part of a layered dip.  It has worked great for all of these, and it is EASY!

I put recipe in quotation marks because I don't measure anything in this... it's more of a "suggestion" than an actual recipe.  I thought of it when I was looking up how to make guacamole, and realized that most of the ingredients (besides avocado) are the ingredients in salsa- which I normally have on hand. It's hardly more difficult than just mashing the avocado and adding salsa! (Here's the link to a ridiculously easy Blender Salsa recipe, if you haven't already tried it!)

I also like making it this way instead of buying it because it makes a great amount for one dinner (or snack).  I would never be able to use up a store-bought container of guacamole before it went bad, so I like being able to make it in small batches like this!  Plus it is so fresh- just make it a little before serving (to give the flavors time to combine), and you don't need to worry about it turning brown or needing preservatives.

Simple Guacamole
Printable version here

1 ripe avocado
Salsa- about 1 tablespoon, or to taste
Lime juice (bottled or fresh)- about 1 teaspoon
Salt- about 1/4 tsp.

Cut open avocado and remove pit.  In a small bowl, mash avocado with a fork.  Mix in remaining ingredients to taste.  Chill until serving.

*This will turn dark after a while, so eat it within a few hours of making it.

(If you want to see pictures of how to cut open an avocado, here's one site I found.)

Why I love it?  It's quick, uses ingredients I normally have on-hand (besides the avocado), costs under $1, and is a healthy condiment/snack!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Recently I searched for a new healthy blueberry muffin recipe, and this one looked appealing.  It did not disappoint!  So many muffin recipes are more like a disguised cupcake, with things like blueberries thrown in to make it look healthy.  But these, I actually feel good about giving my kids for breakfast!  Enjoy!

Recipe Source: Cooking Light, August 2010

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins
Printable version here

1 2/3 cups quick-cooking oats
3 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2/3 cup)
2.33 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1/2 cup)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (5.3 ounces)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tsp. grated lemon rind (from one small lemon)
2 large eggs
2 cups frozen blueberries
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. granulated sugar (or a cinnamon/sugar mixture)

1. Preheat oven to 400º.

2. Place oats in a food processor; pulse 5 to 6 times or until oats resemble coarse meal.  Place in a large bowl.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Add flours and next 5 ingredients (through salt) to oats; stir well.  Make a well in center of mixture.

4. Combine buttermilk and next 3 ingredients (through eggs).  Add to flour mixture; stir just until moist.

5. Toss berries with 2 tablespoons flour, and gently fold into batter.  Scoop batter into 18 muffin cups coated with nonstick spray. (I use a 3 tbsp. cookie scoop that's filled a little over the top, so probably close to 1/4 cup) Sprinkle tops with either sugar or a cinnamon/sugar mixture (I keep some in a shaker container).  Bake at 400º for 20 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center.  Remove from pans immediately; place on a wire rack.  Store in a covered container at room temperature for up to a couple days, or refrigerate or freeze for longer storage.

  • I've only ever made this exactly as written, but I'm sure you could make slight changes to it and it would still turn out well.  Such as: substituting the all-purpose flour for wheat, omitting the lemon zest (or replacing it with orange zest), using fresh blueberries instead of frozen, and using buttermilk substitute instead of buttermilk (this explains how to).
  • As I only have one regular muffin pan, I had to bake a dozen of these muffins, wash the pan, and then bake 6 more.  Sometime I might scale this recipe down to equal a dozen, but we like them so much that I don't mind the hassle of washing the pan in between batches!
Why I love it? They are hearty without being dense, flavorful (I love the blueberries & hint of lemon!), and decently healthy!  The large batch size lets me feed my family of 5 and still have some leftover to freeze.