Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsI planned to post this recipe a year ago. I can’t tell you why it didn’t happen—I had written the recipe and a whole post. All I had to do was take some photos and hit “publish,” but instead I just let the file get buried in the digital depths of my iPad, never to be seen again…

Whole Grain Banana Muffins…until two weeks ago. I was searching for these Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars, but this recipe caught my eye instead. Long story short, I’ve made these Whole Grain Banana Muffins twice since rediscovering them, and let me tell you: they are freaking delicious. I mean, most banana baked goods are–mashed banana just has a way of making things wonderful–but these muffins have a little something extra.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsIt’s not some new product or anything. No, that’s not my style. There are no unusual ingredients in this recipe. Instead, its one little almost-no-effort step that makes these muffins truly spectacular:

Before you do anything else, spread the oats and walnuts out on a rimmed baking sheet and toast them in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsYep, that’s it. That one little step is the difference between good muffins and great ones.

Whole Grain Banana MuffinsOther than that, this recipe is exactly what you’d expect. Mix together some dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and leaveners) and some wet ingredients (oil, eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk, and just 2/3 cup light brown sugar). Whisk it all together with exactly ten strokes of the bowl. Add the toasty oats and walnuts and use a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) to fold everything together for another 10 strokes. Throw in some chocolate chips if you like, and fold for another five strokes.Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Why do we need to count strokes of the batter? This keeps the gluten from over-developing and making the muffins tough. When the gluten in the flour meets the liquid ingredients, it’s activated, meaning it starts forming the bonds that give baked goods structure and texture. If we stir/fold too much, we’ll end up with tough, chewy muffins, and nobody wants that. For tender muffins, keep your mixing to a maximum of 25 strokes.

Divide the batter amongst about 16 prepared muffin cups and bake for 16-18 minutes. Then let them cool in the pans for about ten minutes before turning them out and digging in.

These Whole Grain Banana Muffins are much more than the sum of their parts, y’all. They’re soft, tender, not too sweet, and full of nutty whole grain goodness from the whole wheat flour and toasted oats. Oh, and of course there’s all sorts of good flavor from the mashed ripe bananas, toasted walnuts, and chocolate chips! That’s my kind of breakfast treat 💗Whole Grain Banana Muffins

Whole Grain Banana Muffins
makes about 16 standard muffins

1 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk*
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a standard muffin tin or line with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Toast the oats and walnuts. Place oats and walnuts (if using) on a rimmed baking sheet and spread to cover the surface. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Do not burn. Place pan on a rack to cool a bit.

Make the muffin batter. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy (about 30-60 seconds). Whisk in light brown sugar, followed by oil, mashed bananas, and buttermilk. Add flour mixture and whisk 10 strokes. Add oats and nuts (which may still be warm) and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir an additional 10 strokes. Add optional chocolate chips and fold an additional 5 strokes. Batter may have a few small lumps.

Place about 1/4 cup of batter in each muffin cup; they should be about 2/3 full. Place full pan in the oven and bake 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let muffins cool in the pan for ten minutes until removing to a rack to cool completely.

Bake any remaining batter, filling any unused muffin cups halfway with water to keep the pan from warping.

Muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

Note:

If you do not have buttermilk, you may make your own. Place 1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar (or fresh lemon juice) in a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk up to the 1/2 cup mark. Let mixture sit for five minutes, until curdled. Proceed with recipe as written.

Blackberry Pie

Blackberry PieI hope you have a place like Swans Island.

Blackberry PieI don’t necessarily mean an island off the coast of Maine with one store and a population of 300 (but I highly recommend it). I mean a place that you find endlessly enchanting. For my parents, it’s Santa Fe. For my older sister, it’s Isla Mujeres, Mexico. For me, it’s this little island four miles out to sea. I just can’t get enough.

Blackberry PieThe appeal of this place isn’t the broad spectrum of activities—in fact, it’s the opposite that keeps me counting the days between trips. Whereas in New York I am constantly bombarded with people and noise and tasks that must be dealt with right-this-second, on Swans Island, a car passes the house once every ten minutes, the only consistent sound is that of a bell on a lobster boat floating a mile away, and there is literally nothing I have to do. As Swans Island has limited phone and internet access too, this is a place where it really is possible to get away from it all.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieFaced with a lack of activities, each of my friends and I have found ways to pass the time. Almost all of the things we do together (hiking, beaching, cooking, etc.) take place in the afternoons, so we each have to find a way to while away the mornings. Adam has been tearing through a book, VJ has put together 2.5 puzzles, and I have been wandering the sides of the road with a saucepan in hand, foraging for berries.

Blackberry PieThe last time I was here, I found mostly blueberries and raspberries—Blue-Razz Pie was the result. This time, the vast majority of the berries have been blackberries, so Blackberry Pie it is.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieBlackberry PieThis pie, y’all. It’s made with my Whole Wheat Pie Dough and a super simple blackberry filling. Just fold some sugar, cinnamon, lime, and cornstarch into a few cups of fresh blackberries and it’s good to go. Now you can concentrate on the top crust.

Blackberry PieWhile you may top your pie however you like, may I suggest a lattice? They’re very easy and I love all the pockets of blackberry filling that peek through. Start by laying a few strips of dough parallel across the top of the filling. I cut my strips in different widths because I think it’s cute.

Blackberry PiePeel back a couple of the strips of dough and lay one perpendicularly across the filling. Then place all the strips back in their original positions.

Blackberry PiePull up the strips you didn’t move the first time and lay another strip across. Keep doing this until you don’t have any room left.

Blackberry PieBlackberry PieBlackberry PieCrimp the crust, brush it with egg wash, and give it a good sprinkle of sugar.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Bake until beautiful and serve a la mode.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Share with friends and definitely go back for seconds. It’s vacation, after all.Blackberry PieBlackberry Pie

Blackberry Pie
makes one 9-inch standard pie

1 recipe Whole Wheat Pie Dough or other good crust
4 cups fresh blackberries
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons cornstarch
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
juice of 1/2 lime

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
sugar, for sprinkling

On a floured surface, roll out one disc of pie dough to a 12-inch diameter and fit it in the pan. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine blackberries, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, salt, and lime. Fold with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until everything is evenly coated. Transfer filling to prepared crust, discarding any excess liquid. Refrigerate.

On a floured surface, roll out the other disc of pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. If you’d like a lattice crust, slice the rolled dough into strips (see photos above for instructions). If you want a full top crust, lay the rolled-out dough on top of the filling and cut a few vents. Trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang, and crimp the top and bottom crust edges together. Refrigerate.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Make the egg wash. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg and water. Use a pastry brush to brush the entire exposed crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 45-50 minutes, tenting with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Slice and serve with ice cream, if desired.

Pie will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Carrot-Zucchini Muffins

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsI’m such an optimist when it comes to meal planning. I start every week with the best of intentions, picking up a ton of fresh produce. Tomatoes and avocados go quickly around here, being tossed with pesto or mashed into guacamole or served on toast. Greens go with fried eggs or are made into a huge salad with any odds and ends I have in the fridge. But no matter what I do, something gets forgotten.

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsLast week, it was nearly a pound of carrots and a few zucchini. I made some into hash browns (recipe coming soon!), but I can only eat so many of those in a week. Instead of letting good produce sit in the fridge for another day or two, I turned to my go-to Zucchini Bread recipe.

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsIn addition to being delicious, these Carrot-Zucchini Muffins are a little more nutritious than your average breakfast pastry. For one, they’re made with shredded carrots and zucchini—there’s a full 1/4 cup of vegetables in every serving!

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsThe batter can certainly be made with only all-purpose flour, but I like to use half whole wheat flour here. Where using all whole wheat flour has the potential to make things dry and crumbly if not handled properly, using it in a 50/50 ratio with all-purpose keeps everything nice and soft. The resulting muffins have a nutty whole grain flavor and fluffy interiors—the best of both worlds.  

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsCarrot-Zucchini Muffins are pretty low in sugar, coming in at less than a tablespoon per serving. While adding a few more tablespoons of sugar could certainly amp up the flavor, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg basically do the same thing without adding to the calorie count.

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsIf you’re looking to get some extra vegetables into your family this summer, this is one easy way to do it. These muffins have all that carrot and zucchini, a bit of whole grain, and with such minimal sugar, seconds are encouraged. Also, they freeze like a dream—just pop a frozen muffin in the microwave for 45 seconds or so. Served alongside a glass of Cold Brew, eating your vegetables has never been so delicious.Carrot-Zucchini Muffins

Carrot-Zucchini Muffins
makes 12 standard Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots, not packed (about 3 medium carrots)
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini, not packed (about 2 medium zucchini)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners, or grease well. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Fold in shredded carrots and zucchini. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles.

Bake 5 minutes before reducing the heat to 350F for another 12-14 minutes. Muffins are ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

To freeze, place cooled muffins on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Transfer to a labeled freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to three months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight or microwave for 45 seconds-1 minute.

Whole Wheat Pie Dough

Whole Wheat Pie DoughI have a lot of feelings about pie crust. Namely, that it should be easy, homemade, have defined flaky layers, and be insanely delicious. No hard, crunchy, cardboard-flavored crusts for me, thanks.

Whole Wheat Pie DoughWhole Wheat Pie DoughNow, I have a pie crust that is all these things and more. Yes, my Cream Cheese Pie Dough is perfection, as far as I’m concerned. And what’s not to love? The dough is simple to make and never, ever tears during rolling. It goes well with sweet and savory applications. It has so many layers that I have had friends comment that it’s akin to having a pie wrapped in croissant dough. And it really is delicious.

I could go on and on about that crust all day. Really, I could. But as much as I love it, sometimes I just need a change.

Whole Wheat Pie DoughWhole Wheat Pie DoughEnter this Whole Wheat Pie Dough. It has all the ease, flakiness, and versatility of my beloved Cream Cheese Pie Dough, but with a rich whole wheat flavor. It might sound a little odd, the idea of a pie made with a whole grain crust, but trust me when I say that it’s shockingly good. The combination of sweet, jammy fruit and nubbly wheat crust–let’s just say it’s the dessert you never knew you wanted.

If you don’t believe me, just wait–I have a Strawberry Rhubarb Galette coming your way tomorrow 😊🍓Whole Wheat Pie Dough

Whole Wheat Pie Dough
makes two 9-inch pie crusts

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
2/3-3/4 cup buttermilk, very cold

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter, and use a handheld pastry blender to cut it into the dry ingredients until the smallest pieces are the size of large peas. Pour in 1/2 cup cold buttermilk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until clumps form. Add more buttermilk by the tablespoon, as necessary. Put your hands* in the bowl to knead the mixture until it comes together. Form the dough into two discs, and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Chill for one hour, or up to two days.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one disc of dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on the surface. Press the dough with the rolling pin. Roll it in one direction 3-4 times, and then turn it 90 degrees. Roll in one direction 3-4 times. Repeat rolling and turning until dough is at least 12 inches in diameter, dusting with more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

Fold dough in quarters, and place in a pie plate with the scraggly edges hanging over the outside of the pan. Unfold the dough to fill the pan. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch. Fill crust with filling and chill for at least 15 minutes. From here, there are two options.

For a single crust pie, crimp the edges, and brush them with additional buttermilk. and bake at 375F for 45 minutes to one hour, covering the crust with foil halfway through. Let cool at least three hours.

For a double crust pie, roll out the top crust the same way that you did the bottom crust. Cut into strips for a lattice,* or leave whole to cover the whole pie. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch. Crimp the edges, then chill for 15 minutes. Brush the crust with additional buttermilk. Cut vents if the top crust is whole. Bake at 375F for 45 minutes to one hour. Let cool for at least three hours.

Notes:

If your hands are warm, run them under cold water for thirty seconds (and then dry them) before kneading.

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip BarsOne of these days, I’m going to get some sleep. I’ve been up before the sun for the last three days to do volunteer work, and in addition to my work schedule and attempt to have a social life, it’s made me into a little bit of a zombie (the good kind, who can’t put sentences together but has cookies).

They say that if you want something done, you should ask a busy person. In my experience, this is absolutely true. I do well when I have an extensive to-do list, but once I get on a roll, I have a hard time saying “no.” When you work 12-16 hours everyday, what’s the harm in adding an extra cake order or volunteering to do service at 6:30am, even though you haven’t gotten a full eight hours of sleep in a month? The days and weeks run together, and suddenly you can’t remember the last time you took a full day off.

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip BarsI have reached this point, and with nothing that I have to do this weekend (yet), I am really hoping to spend Saturday and Sunday eating takeout and watching Netflix. Will this actually happen? Who knows. But it’s giving me something to dream about while I skitter around Brooklyn checking things off my to-do list.

When I am super busy, I have to find ways to keep my energy up without consuming too much caffeine. I stick to two large coffees per day–if I have more than that, it will be impossible for me to sleep at night. Instead, I try to eat a lot of nutrient-dense foods throughout the day. Lately, it’s been a lot of huge green smoothies and small, high-protein meals. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been baking and eating treats–it’s my job, after all.

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip BarsThese Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars are my new favorite thing. They’re soft and chewy, like a combination between a blondie and a muffin, with a pronounced banana flavor and chocolate in every bite! And they’re just the slightest bit healthier than your average cookie. These bars are made with white whole wheat flour and old-fashioned oats, so they’re completely whole grain. I also cut the sugar in this recipe, but rest assured that they still taste like dessert!

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars are a wonderful way to end the day (I highly recommend having one warm with vanilla ice cream), but they’re also great for tucking into school lunches or carrying with you for a snack while you’re on the go. Just because you’re super busy doesn’t mean you can’t take two minutes to treat yourself, right?!

Looking for more whole grain recipes? Check out these Whole Grain Cranberry-Orange Snack Bars and Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Whole Grain Banana-Chocolate Chip Bars
makes one 9-inch pan, about 16 bars

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 very ripe medium banana, mashed
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch square pan, line it with parchment, and butter it again. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together white whole wheat flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in dark brown sugar, followed by banana, egg yolk, and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture until completely combined. Beat in oats followed by chocolate chips.
Spread batter in prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Place the full pan on a rack and let cool completely. Chill bars for 30-60 minutes before slicing.

Bars will keep covered at room temperature for up to five days.