Some say "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." I say "when an orchard gives you 12 lbs. of apples, make muffins." A trip to Heinz Orchard provided Dan and I with apples so glowingly beautiful they could persuade even the most wary of Snow Whites to take a bite. Each varietal of apple that we picked (i.e. Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Empire, and Jonathan) offered a unique burst of sugary tartness.
As I sampled each of the apples straight from the tree, I was reminded of my childhood years growing up on Apple Street (true story) with five apple trees in my family's backyard. It was tradition to gather bushels of apples from the Granny Smith tree, peel and core them, and make homemade cinnamon-apple pies. There is something so satisfying about cooking and baking with ingredients that have come straight from their source into your kitchen; it feels natural, wholesome, and healthy.
On our way home from the orchard, I scanned through my mental recipe files to find an appropriate way to showcase the crisp fall flavors of the colorful apples Dan had gently tucked away in the back seat of my car. Things worked out beautifully (just as my mom always says they will) and at the precise moment I decided upon a recipe, I also spotted a grocery store. Okay, okay, I actually passed a grocery store at the precise moment of my decision, but a quick turnaround in a random State Farm parking lot put me back in the right direction. State Farm, like a good neighbor, you're always there for those much-needed turnaround spots.
Fast-forwarding to our arrival home an hour or so later, I immediately warned Dan that for the next couple hours I'd be on a date with our kitchen. I diced, chopped, peeled, sifted, whipped, and measured my way to the title of this blog entry and the result was a divinely tasty and awesomely fall-esque muffin. More than just tasty, this muffin was engineered to be healthy. For those of you who are searching for a naughtier version, I also whipped up some spiced cream cheese glaze to provide a sweeter variation.
Apple-Carrot Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins with Spiced Cream Cheese Glaze (Makes 18 Muffins)
Blissful Basil Recipe
Apple-Carrot Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins
4 tbsp agave nectar or honey
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup apple juice
½ cup milk
1 cup rolled oats
3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled, finely shredded
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, hand mix eggs, agave nectar, oil, apple juice, milk, oats, apples, carrots, and vanilla.
3. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
4. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just mixed.
5. Spoon batter into lined or greased muffin pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Serve plain or with spiced cream cheese glaze (see recipe below).
Spiced Cream Cheese Glaze
8 oz light cream cheese
½ cup turbinado sugar (add more to reach desired sweetness)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and cinnamon in a food processor and process until smooth.
2. Refrigerate to thicken and drizzle over cooled apple-carrot cinnamon oatmeal muffins.
*Refrigerate muffins with or without glaze to preserve freshness.