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The Sailaway Gourmet

At the time of this writing, it is still cold outside and seriously windy. It makes me wonder what boating season will be like this year. It may be great for the sailors but not so much fun for all the power boaters as they might get bounced around a bit. We’ll see.
In the meantime, we can do some baking at home to grab a quick breakfast or snack as you’re heading out the door to the marina. Muffins are quick and easy to make and far better than the store bought that are loaded with butter and who knows what else to keep them on the shelf. For those who can eat anything, muffins usually have flour as an ingredient, however, if you need gluten-free food, mashed bananas or applesauce and oatmeal take their place. I have been using this method more often and find that they are just as delicious as a typical muffin. And if a recipe calls for peanut butter, any nut butter can substitute. The other thing I love about muffins is that you can use a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in them. Bananas, apples, cherries, cranberries, pears, carrots, zucchini, etc.

Muffins are easy to store. Some can be left out in an airtight container or plastic bag, while others may need refrigeration. And if you’ve made a dozen, they can be easily frozen.
This morning I tried a recipe that called for a full cup of mashed banana – having only one banana around, I ended up crushing some fresh pineapple to make up the difference. And with no peanut butter, I used creamy almond butter and oak milk for the almond. I am happy to say that they are really good!
The first recipe is the one I used this morning and is gluten-free (although I am not, I enjoy many gluten-free foods). The other two recipes have flour but are really delicious.

Peanut Butter Banana Baked Oatmeal Cups
(recipe came from the Ambitious Kitchen online)
1 heaping cup ripe mashed banana
1⁄2 cup creamy or crunchy natural peanut butter (just peanuts + salt)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tb. of pure maple syrup (or honey)
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats, gluten-free if desired
1 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp. of salt
1⁄3 cup dark chocolate chips or 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts (or both!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners and spray with nonstick cooking spray to prevent oatmeal cups from sticking.
In a medium bowl, mix the mashed banana, peanut butter, eggs, maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla until smooth and well combined. Stir in dry ingredients: oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; stir well to combine. Fold in the chocolate chips or walnuts into the batter.
Evenly distribute the batter between muffin cups. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips or nuts on top if desired, and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12.

Fig & Bran Muffins
1 cup chopped dried figs, plus 3 whole dried figs, thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups bran cereal
1 cup low-fat milk
1-1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. of salt
3/4 cup natural applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
2 TB. of unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the cereal and milk. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add the applesauce, honey, oil, molasses, and egg to the cereal mixture and stir until combined. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the chopped figs.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and top each muffin with a fig slice. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. If necessary, run a knife around the muffins to loosen them. Unmold and cool completely on a rack. Makes 12.

Carrot & Zucchini Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour or white whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp EACH of baking soda and salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peeled, finely shredded carrots
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper muffin cups.

In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves for 20 seconds. Set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl whisk together granulated sugar and brown sugar, canola oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla. Stir in the carrots and zucchini. Add the flour mixture and nuts if using, then stir and fold the batter with a rubber spatula until the ingredients are just combined.
Divide the batter among prepared muffin cups filling each nearly full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 – 24 minutes. Cool in muffin pan for several minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store muffins in an airtight container. Makes 12.