Banana-Chocolate Olive Oil Muffins



A couple of weeks ago my husband bought a really nice new camera–a mirrorless DSLR, the Sony Nex-5–and I frankly know very little about it (not a great sign for a food blogger, right?) but I am eager to learn. The funny thing is that I’ve been experimenting using it to take pictures not of our three beautiful children, but of food, like these delicious muffins (possibly a good sign for a food blogger?) The truth is, muffins don’t squirm and don’t cry, they don’t have to all smile at the same time, and I can easily move them around to where I want them.

My kids, not so much.

These banana-chocolate olive oil muffins are great for plenty of other reasons besides being photogenic, though. With their use of olive oil, all whole wheat flour, and no refined sugar, they are a healthier alternative to a heckuva lot of other muffins recipes out there (I’m looking at you, streusel topping). And in my opinion, they’re some of the best muffins I’ve ever made–really moist, not too overpoweringly banana-y, with a little kick of chocolate inside.

These never seem to last long in our house, though, because they are such a hit with my (also photogenic, if not easily movable) kids. Here’s one of them:

Banana-Chocolate Olive Oil Muffins
(Adapted from Healthy and Fit)

Ingredients:

1 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. olive oil
1/2 c. honey
2 eggs
2 mashed bananas
1/4 c. hot water
1 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12-cup muffin tin.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix olive oil and honey. Add eggs and mix, then bananas. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, alternating with the hot water. Fold in chocolate chips.

Bake 17-20 minutes. Yields 12 muffins.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Muffins are the little black dress of baked goods. They are endlessly versatile–accessorize them with add a little of this, a little of that, dress them up, dress them down, and you (almost) always end up with a hand-held paragon of yumminess that everyone wants for breakfast. I am always in search of new muffin ideas. With three little kids that can’t make their own breakfasts each morning, muffins are my go-to for tossing on a plastic Ikea kids’ plate with a little butter and calling it good.

These little beauties I found on this super cute blog that not only has plenty of recipes, but also some cool sewing tutorials. They turned out delish! Nothing fancy, but nice and easy and a great way to use up the extra apple that always seems to be rolling around forlornly in my fruit crisper. Give them a try!

Cinnamon Apple Muffins
(Adapted from Little Miss Kimberly Ann)

Ingredients:
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. oil
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1 medium apple, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 8 cups of a muffin tin. Combine the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until combined. Add the oil, milk and egg to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the apples. Spoon batter into the 8 muffin cups. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.

Kitchen Victories: Rosemary Crusty Bread

Okay, so this is the recipe that made me realize I was really asking too much for anyone reading my other blog (which doesn’t exactly have a theme, but is definitely not a food blog) to keep indulging me posting about food. If I’m gonna keep posting about food, might as well start a food blog, right? I’ve been so inspired by some incredible food blogging ladies like Annie of Annie’s Eats, Christy of The Girl Who Ate Everything, and Shawnda of Confections of a Foodie Bride that I feel like I just want to add to the conversation about great food. Indulge me and have a look at this beautiful bread.

I never, ever thought I could or would make a bread like this in my own kitchen. I’ve come a long way as a home cook since the early days of my marriage when I made a list of things I knew how to make (It went something like this: 1. Omelets, 2. Burritos, 3. Fish Sticks.) But as time has passed and I’ve expanded my repertoire, I’ve realized that cooking is one small, relatively safe area of my life in which I can consistently try new things, and therefore progressively conquer little fears. As someone who is always trying to shake the specter of fear and anxiety from my life, this gives me confidence. My little kitchen victories–learning to use the broiler, cooking with jalapeños, finally buying and using a food processor–remind me that the best way to fight a fear is to face it. Same is the case with yeast breads–one of those things I have long had an irrational fear of making. Not like I thought it was going to morph into a menacing, drooling dough monster…more just like I thought I would screw it up. Bread is something you buy from the grocery store, where the bakery elves have made it magically appear, not something normal people make on their countertops. There’s all that rising time, the mysterious and somewhat nasty foaminess of the yeast, and then what are you supposed to bake it in?

Well, luckily, in the case of cooking, all you really usually have to do is follow the recipe. (If only everything else in life were so clear-cut!) I found this delightfully simple recipe after deciding to bust through my yeast bread angst by hunkering down and making some. And what do you know? It turned out awesome, rather like the pre-meal bread you get at Carrabba’s or Macaroni Grill. I’ve made it three times now, and this last time I added rosemary for a different flavor. Take that, yeast angst!

What are some of your kitchen victories–things you’ve been afraid to cook but went ahead and tried anyway? How did they turn out?

Rosemary Crusty Bread
(Adapted from Simply So Good)

Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon Instant or Rapid-rise yeast
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast, and rosemary. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 – 18 hours. (Overnight works great.) Heat oven to 450 degrees. When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating. Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.