Adventures In Baking

(in a perpetually messy kitchen)

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Skinny Chocolate Fudge Banana Muffins


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Ignore the word “skinny”. Really. Because these taste anything but skinny. They taste FAT in the most delightful way. Fat with chocolate flavor. Fat with cakey texture. Fat with desserty joy.

And yet they are skinny too. Low fat, Weight Watchers-friendly, and full of healthy ingredients like wheat germ, yogurt, bananas, and whole wheat white flour. They have chocolate chips too, of course, but that’s okay. It’s all about balance. And deliciousness. These muffins have that in abundance.

I started with bananas. The recipe called for three large ones, and I had four small/medium ones, so I figured I’d come out even.


bananas, mashed

I added cane sugar, reducing to a half cup, an egg, and then yogurt (instead of applesauce). I threw in some vanilla too.

adding sugar, egg, yogurt

I mixed well. (I like to think I always mix well. I’m a good mixer.)


Next I combined the dry ingredients: whole wheat white flour, wheat germ,  cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Then I added some espresso powder for good luck (and a stronger chocolate flavor). I whisked it all together.

dry ingredients

dry ingredients, whisked

And then I dumped that into the bowl with the banana mash, and folded everything together, stopping as soon as the last poof of flour had disappeared.

adding flour

dry ingredients added

batter, mixed

I folded in the chocolate chips. Instead of a cup of full size chips, I went for a half cup of the minis.

adding chips

I scooped the batter into muffin cups, distributing as evenly as I could. It tasted heavenly.

batter in tins

Right before I popped the tray into the oven, I sprinkled a few random chips over each one. I was still in the half a cup range, and it seemed like a nice thing to do.

I baked for 22 minutes. Man did they smell good.

muffins in tin, baked

muffins on rack

I let them cool as long as I could before putting six of them in a tupperware container, lidless (to keep them from getting sweaty), so we could deliver them. My amazing friend Carol had the kids for the day, and if that isn’t worth six muffins, I don’t know what is. Of course these were untested, untasted muffins, which is a different story, but I had a good feeling about them.

Dave and I went to dinner (and oh what a dinner). And then we made the trade: six muffins for two children. (“Leave the muffins. Take the children.”)

I didn’t get to taste these until the next day. Oh my. Like I said, these taste like decadent chocolate cake, like they couldn’t possibly be anything but fattening, and yet they have bananas and yogurt instead of oil or butter, not a whole lot of sugar, and the ever-nutritious wheat germ. They are extraordinary.

dry ingredients


My version of Skinny Chocolate Fudge Banana Muffins (adapted from Hungry, Darling?)


4 medium ripe bananas
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2/3 cup whole wheat white flour
1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips


Heat oven to 400 degrees, you will reduce the temperature later. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a medium to large bowl, mash the bananas well. Add the sugar, egg, and yogurt, and mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk (or sift) together the flour, wheat germ, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, and salt.

Pour the dry ingredients into the banana mixture and mix just until incorporated.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop batter into muffin cups, and if you like sprinkle a few extra chips on each one.

Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 15-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit in the pan for another 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.


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Peanut Butter Protein Muffins



I’m always looking for more peanut butter recipes; anything that focuses in on peanut butter without becoming a Weight Watchers points nightmare piques my interest. So even though these were called Peanut Butter Protein Muffins,  which meant that something was being prioritized along with flavor, I gave them a shot. Peanut butter does that to me. I would follow it almost anywhere.

I didn’t do my usual flour/wheat germ swap in this one, because wheat germ was already in the recipe. I did, however, forego spelt flour for my old friend whole wheat white, which went into a bowl with the wheat germ, oats, baking powder, and cinnamon. I used a full teaspoon instead of a quarter, because I don’t think a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon is all that different from no cinnamon at all.

dry ingredients

I whisked.

dry ingredients, whisked

Dave was in the kitchen too, making spaghetti sauce in the crockpot.

Dave stirring spaghetti sauce

I think it was this that inspired him to investigate changing the wiring in our kitchen so the toaster, crock pot, stand mixer, and microwave don’t have to share the same outlet.

Next I stirred together applesauce and peanut butter.  It seemed odd to mix these two ingredients together but I did it.

peanut butter and applesauce

Then it was time for the honey. A friend at work recently picked up some local Brooklyn honey for me, from a mutual friend’s fantastic gourmet cheese shop called Eastern District, and I’d been waiting for a chance to try it in a recipe. Amusingly, the combination of the color of the honey and the type of jar the honey-maker used made it look exactly like a urine sample.

urine sample honey

In fact, when it was sitting on my desk at work, someone I work with actually thought it WAS a urine sample. I don’t know what it says about my character that someone who knows me thinks I would do a urine sample at work and then leave it on my desk, but it can’t be good.

I poured all of that into the peanut butter/applesauce mixture, along with dark brown sugar, an egg, and some vanilla bean paste. I stirred.

adding sugar, egg, and vanilla


Last thing to go in was Greek yogurt.

adding Greek yogurt

Okay, I give in. I have to say something about all the shadows in these pictures. My photography challenge is that I bake in a kitchen that only has one source of natural light, a small window over the sink. I tend to bake at night, and so I use the flash. This time I was baking on a semi-sunny afternoon, and I’d recently read something that said to use the Aperture Priority setting on the camera to avoid needing a flash. So this entry (and the next one, unfortunately) were my experiments with that, and I have to say I am not pleased with the results. I have shadows on everything. I tried moving the bowls to right in front of the window, holding them with one hand and taking my pictures with the other, but all that did was minimize the shadows, sometimes.

So I apologize for the shadows. Just pretend I’m baking in an exciting shadowy bakers’ lair.

Once the yogurt was stirred in, I dumped the dry ingredients into the liquid, and stirred just until combined.

adding dry ingredients


I scooped it into muffin cups.

batter in cups

These baked for about 17 minutes, then spent another 5 in the pan, then moved to  wire rack. They smelled like peanut butter. Did I mention that I like peanut butter?

muffins in tin, baked

muffin in tin

muffins on rack

And peanut buttery they are. They really come into their own a day after baking, maybe the flavor gets even better after that. I just ate one for breakfast right now, and the flavor is definitely stronger.

I think these are good. Not magnificent, but good, and satisfying, and a good hearty breakfast muffin that leaves a nice flavor on your tongue. The texture works too, dense in a good way with a nice soft crumb. And they’re good for you too! I will add these to the peanut butter repertoire.

peanut butter protein muffins


(I didn’t change anything except the type of flour and the amount of cinnamon, so I’m not posting my own version.)

Filed under peanut butter protein muffins peanut butter protein muffins low fat healthy breakfast honey urine sample

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Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins



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Everyone loved these. I thought they were just okay, but everyone I work with went nuts for them and kept coming back to ask if there were any left long after the last one had disappeared. So I’d consider that a hit. And they’re awfully good for you.

They started with zucchini. I grated a medium-sized one and then squeezed out all the moisture with some paper towels. Ew.

zucchini in paper towels

I got exactly a cup, which is just what I needed.

shredded zucchini

Once the shredding was complete, it was time for some mashing. The recipe called for two small to medium bananas, but I had three small ones, so that’s what I used.

ripe bananas

mashed bananas

Fruit and vegetables prepped, it was time for the dry ingredients. The recipe called for 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour. For the cup, I used 2/3 flour and 1/3 wheat germ, and for the 1/2, I just poured a little extra into the bottom of the measuring cup before topping it up with flour.

wheat germ in measuring cup

That went in with the rest of the dry ingredients: baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

dry ingredients

I whisked.

dry ingredients whisked

And now for another interesting ingredient, and a Laurie first: coconut oil. This oil is all the rage…people are baking with it, cooking with it, spreading it on their skin, using it in their hair (I think?) and generally raving about it. I have had some in the cupboard for ages and was a little disappointed that the recipe only called for a teaspoon of it.

coconut oil

I also got to use some fine quality honey I’d picked up.

local honey

In my stand mixer bowl I combined coconut oil, honey, banana, vanilla, and egg. (I used a whole egg instead of two egg whites.)

liquid ingredients

I put the mixer to work.

liquid ingredients in bowl

liquid ingredients, mixed

I added the zucchini, applesauce, and yogurt. (I only had peach applesauce, so that’s what I used.)

adding zucchini


I admit I wasn’t feeling great about this. The zucchini pieces looked too big to me, and it made the batter looked a little stringy as a result. As a zucchini-hater, it was disconcerting. I added some of the flour mixture.

adding flour

adding flour

adding flour

Once the flour had disappeared — and not a moment afterwards — I removed the bowl from the stand mixer and added the chocolate chips. I opted for the minis.

adding chocolate chips

I folded them in.

muffin batter

I scooped the batter into muffin cups and sprinkled some turbinado sugar across the top. Unfortunately that didn’t improve their appearance. They looked a bit like those neural parasites that stuck to Spock’s back and made him all crazy.

alien parasite muffins

alien parasite muffins

Right? I guess it would have bothered him a lot less if it was zucchini muffin batter stuck to him instead of an alien parasite, plus he could have just eaten it.

I baked, and baked, and baked.  I started at 15 minutes and incrementally added 15 more! I assume it was the extra banana that made them take so long to cook all the way through. They smelled good.

muffins baked in tin

They didn’t puff up much, though.

muffin in tin, baked

Sometimes I just get flat muffins. I should probably look into what I do differently when they puff up. Puffy or no, they still looked promising. I let them cool on the rack for a bit.

muffins on rack

I brought these into work the next day, and word spread quickly. Rumors traveled and muffin-eaters arrived. They came back for seconds, they sent friends. I ran out early in the day. I brought in the rest the next day and they all disappeared by noon.

My personal take on these is that the texture isn’t fluffy enough, and the chocolate is the dominant flavor anyway. I just didn’t love them. But everyone else raved and I’ve been asked multiple times to make them again, so what do I know? I’m just the baker who thinks that muffin batter looks like aliens from Star Trek.

zucchini banana chocolate chip muffins


My version of Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (adapted from Ambitious Kitchen)


2/3 + 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 small ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon melted coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 egg
1 cup shredded zucchini
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup low fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling


Heat oven to 400 degrees, you will reduce the temperature later. Line or spray a 12-cup muffin tin.

Squeeze the excess moisture out of the zucchini, and separately, mash the bananas.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine mashed bananas, oil, honey, vanilla, and egg, then beat on low to medium speed until smooth.

Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop batter into muffin cups and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Reduce oven temperature to 375 and bake for 15-30 minutes, depending on how many bananas you used. Let them sit in the pan for another few minutes, then move to a wire rack

Call your friends and give them muffins. They will be very grateful.

Filed under zucchini banana chocolate chip muffins zucchini banana chocolate chip muffins spock neural parasite low fat healthy breakfast

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Peachy Keen Muffins (with Poppy Seeds)



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I had to try one more time. I want a peach muffin without peach pieces, is that so wrong?

Well, it may not be wrong, but I still haven’t achieved it. Not that these muffins are anything but sweet and delicious and good for you, they’re actually quite wonderful. Fluffy, flavorful, sweet, with a nice little crunch from the poppy seeds, a last-minute addition. And they actually do have a hint, a wee whisper, of peach taste. So while I love them and plan to make them again, they are not the peach muffin I’ve been seeking. (“These aren’t the peach muffins you’re looking for,” said the Jedi master.)

They taste damned good, though.

And I’ve got my peach pureeing process down to a science. I scored each peach on the bottom, and put a pot of water on to boil. Once it was all bubbly and crazy, I popped the peaches in there for 60 seconds.

peaches in boiling water

Once my minute was up, I promptly plunged them into an ice bath.

peaches in ice bath

And after about a minute of that, I removed them and peeled the skin off, just like that.

peeled peaches

I chopped them up. With the help of the blender, my peaches went from this:

chopped peaches

to this:

pureed peaches

That done, I focused my attention the dry ingredients. As always, I replaced all purpose flour with a combination of whole wheat white flour and wheat germ. I added baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt, and then the spices, quadrupling the cinnamon, doubling the nutmeg, and increasing the ginger by half.

dry ingredients in green bowl

I whisked.

dry ingredients, whisked

Then I combined the liquid ingredients: peach puree, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla bean paste, melted butter, and peach Greek yogurt. (I thought that would help increase the peach-y-ness.) It looked goopy. I whisked.

liquid ingredients

liquid ingredients, whisked

And then I poured the flour mixture into the peach one, which made me think that I should have used the big green bowl for the liquid ingredients and the smaller one for the dry. Oops.

adding dry ingredients

flour added

I mixed. Carefully. Thoughtfully. Lovingly.

peach muffin batter

And then, just as carefully, thoughtfully, and lovingly, I added three tablespoons of poppy seeds. It just seemed like a good idea.

poppy seeds added


I tasted the batter, and it most definitely tasted peach-y. I scooped it into muffin cups before I could eat too much of it, and sprinkled some turbinado sugar on top, not that they needed it. (Next time I won’t use as much sugar IN the recipe, which will make the sparkly sugar on top pop a little more.)

batter in cups

They took 23 minutes in a 350-degree oven. I let them sit in the pan for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.

muffins in tin

muffins in tin

muffins on rack

And I tasted them as soon as they were ready.

I’ll tell you something; they may not taste particularly peachy, but they are excellent muffins. Dave ate two of them that night alone, since the recipe makes about 20, and maybe, you know, I ate two as well. They’re too hard to resist, as well as unnecessary to resist, since they’re only 3 P+ and I could get that even lower by reducing the sugar next time.

But they’re a real treat to eat, and taste like dessert, and get addictive quickly, so even without the strong peach flavor I’m hankering for, I still think these are a win.

peach muffins


My version of Peachy Keen Muffins

makes 20 muffins


1 1/3 cups whole wheat white flour
2/3 cup toasted wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups peach puree
2 large eggs
1 cup (scant) brown sugar (I will reduce to 2/3 cup the next time)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, peach flavor
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar, for sprinkling


Heat the oven to 375, you will reduce the temperature later. Grease or line two 12-cup muffin tins. (I used two tins but didn’t bake at the same time as I wanted them to be on the middle rack.)

Whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the peach puree, eggs, browns sugar, yogurt, vanilla, and melted butter.

Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the peach mixture and gently stir to combine, stopping when the flour has disappeared. Fold in the poppy seeds.

Scoop batter into muffin cups. The amount of muffins you get will vary, depending on how much you fill the cups. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top of each one.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let the sit in the pan for another 5-10 minutes, then move to a wire rack.

These muffins really come into their own both texture-wise and flavor-wise the next day, so resist eating them right away if you can.

peach muffins

Filed under peach muffins peach poppy seeds muffins breakfast healthy low fat peach yogurt