Tag Archives: food

This Week’s Muffin: Apple Cider “Donut”

I was skeptical about these because they have no fat in them whatsoever—well, except the melted butter/cinnamon sugar coating. But they turned out scrumptious. Of course, like most low-fat recipes, they make up for it in sugar, which is no better nutritionally. Oh well, the apple cider has some fiber in it, right? Don’t tell me differently.

I messed up the cinnamon sugar step. Instead of dipping them in melted butter, THEN rolling them in cinnamon sugar, I mixed it all together and coated the muffins. So what should have looked an elegant dusting of snow on each muffin ended up looking like this:


However, I’m sold on the “mistake.” The topping became a nice glaze when it cooled. Yum.

Last thing before the recipe: Don’t forget the girls’ fundraiser. We’re on our way to $1000, and Carol of the Bells is sounding very good!

Apple Cider Donut Muffins

Recipe available at Baked by Rachel.

When you get to the last step, consider following in my absent-minded footsteps by combining butter, cinnamon and sugar and coating the muffins with the glaze.

Muffin of the Week: Glazed Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal



1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 c powdered sugar
3 T apple cider
(you can also combine applesauce and powdered sugar to make the glaze, but I had cider to spare)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease your muffin pans. This recipe made 12 regular muffins and 12 mini-muffins.
  2. In a large bowl, mix by hand flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla, then stir into dry ingredients until just combined.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake for 10-15 minutes for mini-muffins, 15-20 for regular muffins, and/or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and whisk together the glaze ingredients.
  6. When the muffins have cooled for a bit, remove from the pan onto a cooling rack and spoon the glaze over the top. Allow the glaze to set before slicing.

Recipe adapted from this lovely site.


photo credit: kPluto via photopin cc

Muffin of the Week: Pumpkin Streusel

This is not a food blog, but I am the Muffin Maven, and it’s definitely muffin season, so every so often this fall I’ll share what I’ve made. This week: pumpkin streusel.

Many food blogs will give you several photos of the dish in various stages of preparation, no matter how simple. I even saw an animated GIF the other day of chicken broth being poured into a crock pot. Really people, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. This isn’t rocket science, it’s home cooking.

Instead of photos of preparation, how about a photo of the most sincere pumpkin patch I could find?


Ahhh… nice.

I also don’t like overly chatty food blogs, in which the author gives you several paragraphs about her life you have to scroll through. But it seems to be required, so here’s my autobiographical tidbit: when I was in sixth grade I lost the district spelling bee on the word “streusel,” a word my dad had quizzed me on just that morning.

Now that that’s done… here they are:


adapted from this site

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 tsp. cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat muffin pan(s) with cooking spray or use paper baking cups.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, butter, sour cream, egg, and pumpkin.

Pour wet into dry and mix until just incorporated. Don’t over-mix.

Topping: Combine ingredients until well mixed and crumbly. Pastry cutter works well. (I like doing this step before the previous one so the batter doesn’t sit once you’ve combined it.)

Scoop muffin batter into pan, filling 3/4 of the way full. Distribute topping amongst all of the muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until they spring back to the touch. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool further for storage, or serve warm. (These refresh nicely the next day in a 375 toaster oven for 5 minutes.)



photo credit: `James Wheeler via photopin cc

Six Tips for Keeping Fit During the Holidays

Most of us don't need Mrs. Claus's encouragement to fatten up over the holidays.

Most of us don’t need Mrs. Claus’s encouragement to fatten up over the holidays.

I lost 40 pounds a couple years back and have been in maintenance mode ever since. It’s gone OK, but I’ve lost a bit of ground in recent months—anywhere from 5-7 pounds depending on the day. Since I’m training for the Disney marathon next month, some of that could be muscle: my clothes more or less fit the same. But I know that some of those pounds come from lack of vigilance. Weight maintenance is harder than loss. It’s so darn forever.

December is going to be a challenge. It always is, with its parties and potlucks and cookie exchanges and countless batches of pralines. And this year I have the “moral balance sheet” to contend with, which is the feeling of virtue in one area of your life that gives you mental license to cheat in another. In my case, I’ve got 18, 19 and 20-mile training runs coming up in the next few weeks. Shouldn’t I be able to eat what I want as a result?

It doesn’t seem fair that one should have to watch what one eats while running 30+ miles a week. But life ain’t fair (and let’s be honest, there are way more egregious examples of that in this world than MaryAnn not being able to stuff her face with gingerbread men without consequence).

Here’s the approach I’m going with this year. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what works for you.

  1. I will enjoy the foods I love without guilt. I will be mindful of portions rather than abstaining from favorite goodies altogether.
  2. I will prioritize homemade foods over processed and store-bought items. Nothing against the Candy Cane Joe-Joes—we’ve already gone through a box in the Dana house. But a homemade cookie, in addition to being delicious, touches a deeper place. Depending on the recipe and the baker, it may represent family, or tradition, or simply care. Yes, food is connected to love. You’ve got to be careful how you live with that truth, but it’s true nonetheless.
  3. I will prioritize eating rather than drinking my calories. I love a good mulled wine, or a hot cocoa with a shot of Baileys and topped with marshmallows. But given December’s many delights, those treats will take a backseat to other things I enjoy.
  4. I will track what I eat every day. I’ve been intermittent with MyFitnessPal for the past year or so, and it shows in my gradual weight gain. My deal with myself this month is this: I have to record what I eat. I may go over my calorie allotment in a given day, and hey, that happens, but I’ve got to write it down. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  5. I will make exceptions to #4. I will take a break from tracking one day each week. I haven’t decided whether to set a specific day or be strategic about it based on what’s going on. Also, I won’t track on long run days.
  6. I will weigh once a week. I like to weigh myself several times a week, just to keep a bead on where I am. I’m going to relax that and just weigh once a week. After the marathon’s done on January 12 I will reassess that practice.

Got a great tip to share? Let me know!

Parenting Hack: Avoiding the Snack Wars


I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in hunger and were suddenly silenced.

Now that all three kids are in school (and there was much rejoicing!) I’m trying to find ways to simplify life. One of my sources of stress has been after-school snacks. I try to provide a number of decent options, but in the past it drove me crazy to have the girls come home and start jockeying for stuff. I’ve been torn between giving them the freedom to choose what they want and trying to teach them about balance and nutrition.

Can I have a granola bar after I eat this graham cracker with peanut butter? (No, those are both the same kind of food. Eat an apple.)

I also got put in the middle of some annoying altercations.

She ate the last of the fruit snacks! No fair! All that’s left are raisins and I hate those. (Tough. Eat an apple.)

Now with Sweet Baby James in the mix, I knew I had to head off these snack kerfuffles before they started sucking my will to live. So here’s my solution:

1. Each week I make or buy one snack, and that’s the snack for the week. These are generally grain-based snacks and may be granola bars or muffins or even frozen whole grain waffles.

2. If they do not want the snack of the week, or if they eat it and are still hungry, they are welcome to serve themselves anything from the fruit and vegetable drawer, a hard-boiled egg, or a piece of string cheese. (No Caroline and Margaret, I will not wash those grapes for you. Yes James, I will peel your carrot.)

I’d say it’s working pretty well in that I am not a ragey mess from all the negotiating and needling. But this week I made these pumpkin granola bars and Margaret said they “make her gag.” OK, I guess I’m still honing my repertoire. So if you have any suggestions of easy crowd-pleasing snacks that aren’t nutritionally terrible, please let me know and I’ll pin them to my “afterschool” board on Pinterest. Store-bought suggestions are also appreciated, because there ain’t no shame in that.

P.S. No cutesy snacks that require complicated assemblage. The above is about as crafty as I care to get with food.