It’s Been a Summer…and a Fall

Taken moments after our engagement…I swear we love each other

You all know as well as I do, if not better – it’s been six months since my last post. And, contrary to what it may seem, I did not lose interest in blogging, or cooking, or writing. Rather, things have simply been pretty busy, and the messy tornado-torn cache of memory I possess of this time seems barely piece-together-able. Since July 11: work…vacation…school’s beginning…the end of both of my jobs, and the beginning of unemployment…moving into the perfect apartment…a tortured first semester of grad school…a mysterious bout of fatigue that lasted over a month…a grueling job search that has only just been fruitful…a temporary position working with admissions…the long-awaited holidays…the planning and (finally) beautiful marriage of my two good friends…and probably the closest event to my heart: our very own engagement!! Jonmark and I engaged on our two year anniversary, this past July 24th, and now, we begin our own wedding planning.

My return to Concise Slice is not necessarily related to these changes. Rather, in spite of all the happy things that have happened in the last six months, I have severely missed my food blogging hobby here, and decided while waxing nostalgic around the new year that I absolutely must return to the smaller joys in life. Consequently, Jonmark and I have also set the date of our wedding for October 27, 2012! So, ironically, my return to Concise Slice coincides with a diet that inevitably limits the delicacies in which I can indulge (and, thereby, cook). I mean, yes, one day last week I may have cut back the calories throughout the day so that I could have my treasured deviled eggs with homemade mayo, plus chicken salad and my new cheese biscuit recipe…..but in general, things are changing.

So, for my first post of 2012, we’ll be discussing the new low-fat muffins I baked so that there would be some extra breakfast foods in the house when our old friend from Oswego, Jon Walda, came to visit! And for any of you following my life from Facebook, you may have already noticed my decisive opinion about these muffins: despite their low-fat and eggless benefits, and despite their orange zesty and cranberry-y kick, low-fat muffins in general just don’t compare to a good old full fat, crazy buttery muffin. However, for those of you who love the taste of oats (and who like to bake with them), these are pretty good. The very nutty flavor from the oats and nuts brings out the fruity tang of the dried cranberries and fresh orange zest…mmmmm. I added extra liquid because I was out of muffin papers and didn’t want the oats to absorb too much moisture, but if you like your oats a little more firm, go with just the 3/4 cup of milk. Also, I happened to have macadamias lying around from the holidays, but feel free to use whatever nut you choose; I would have preferred the more robust flavor of walnuts myself 🙂

As you might see in the photos (which are soon to come), the muffins stayed in the oven for 4 or 5 minutes too long because, well, I tend to forget about what I’m baking and our oven timer isn’t working properly, but they were definitely salvageable. I’ll be posting the nutrition facts for anyone who’s keeping track or using a tool like sparkpeople.com as I am!

Cranberry Orange Oat Muffins
1 cup white or wheat flour (I ran out of wheat and used white)
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I’d avoid Craisins – added sugar)
1/4 cup nuts (I had cashews, but walnuts would probably be better)
2 tbsp. nonfat plain or Greek yogurt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water (if not in possession of muffin papers)
3 tbsp. canola oil
at least 2 tsp. orange zest (I added more to taste)

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
-Mix all dry ingredients together well and make well in the center.
-Mix wet ingredients separately to be sure they combine well; add to dry ingredients, folding the dry over the wet just until combined. Don’t overmix!
-Line muffin tin with paper liners if on hand; if not, be sure you added a little water! Spoon batter into the cups, being sure not to overfill (about 75% of the cup should be filled).
-Bake about 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out dry and the edges begin to turn a bit golden brown. Don’t overcook! Even 23 minutes made them very dark.
Servings: 12

Funnily enough, these muffins didn’t really get eaten. They weren’t a total bust; they were just a bit burned for our tastes. Also, with my calorie restriction, it was hard to justify 2 160-calorie muffins for breakfast only to find myself hungry 2 hours later. I’ll post some even lower calorie muffins soon that pack a lot of flavor!

Here’s the nutrition info for one muffin:
Calories: 166
Total fat: 6.4 g
Saturated fat: 1 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.4 g
Monounsaturated fat: 4 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Sodium: 52 mg
Potassium: 124 mg
Carbohydrates: 32 g
Dietary fiber: 2 g
Sugar: 16.5 g
Protein: 2.5 g

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