Wednesday, June 6, 2012

egg-free muffins

We're not an egg-free family. We're not vegan or vegetarian. We're not gluten- or wheat-free.

What we out of eggs.

And cereal...and bananas...just about any breakfast food.

I forgot we were out of eggs, though. I knew we had no cereal, and I thought, "well, maybe I can make some muffins really fast..." I started thumbing through what muffin recipes I had, when I realized that they all take eggs. Did I mention we're out?

So I turned to the one place that has become a good friend of mine in this relatively new quest to cut fake food and unhealthy ingredients from our diet: Google search.

Search: "muffin recipe no eggs."

And my so-far-faithful friend showed me the Our Busy Homeschool blog, which had - lo and behold - a Basic No-Egg Muffin Recipe. It sounded normal and doable (and it didn't have a crazy amount of flour like some do) so I gave it a go.

Here's the recipe:

2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 c sugar (I used raw)
1 handful oatmeal (I used a solid handful)3/4 c water
1/4 c oil (I used canola)
1 c fruit plus appropriate spices
The recipe says to mix dry, then mix wet separately and then add to dry. I mixed the dry in my stand mixer, but then there were only the two wet ingredients and fruit left, so I just put the water in my big measuring cup, and added enough oil to make one cup, and poured them both in together.

I had one apple lying around that was probably in its last days so I cut that up into little bitty pieces, and filled the rest of the one cup with applesauce. Since I was using apples/applesauce, I added some clove, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. I was a little wary of how much to use, so I probably added less than I could have. Maybe an 8th of a teaspoon each. Maybe.

I even sprinkled some ground flax seed over the top of the mixture in the bowl, because a little ground flax never hurts. (Unless you're allergic to it, I guess. In which case, please don't use it.)

Mixed all together, poured into muffin pan. I'm out of cooking spray, but due to our tight budget this week, I have stick margarine (you can't beat 92 cents for four sticks, even though it's margarine), so I used my finger and spread a little bit of margarine around each muffin cup.

The recipe says bake for 18 minutes, but I was nervous about burning them (I'm still perfecting my muffin technique) so I checked them twice during that time. I ended up pulling them out at about 15 minutes, when they were still very light but looked more muffin-like than batter-like. I let them sit on the cooling rack, in the pan, while I drove Miss Eight to school, total about 10 minutes probably.

And I gotta tell ya...

They looked BEAUTIFUL! I loosened them from the edges of each tin with a knife, and they slid out all gorgeous and honey brown! I've never made such pretty muffins. I'm pretty proud.

One thing I would change, however, is simply how much batter I'd put in each tin. I'm used to filling them about 2/3 full because they'll rise, but these didn't really rise, so I could've used that little extra batter that was left in my mixing bowl and probably filled them close to the top.

The real test, however:
I let Mr. Five and Mr. Two pick out their muffins. Mr. Five said, "mmmm!!" Mr. Two gave me a thumbs up. I'd say they were a hit. And they ate theirs plain.. I split mine in half and added margarine and they were right - they were very, very good.

I'm very grateful to Ms. Our Busy Homeschool, who helped me make breakfast without eggs.

Monday, June 4, 2012

finding recipes with on-hand ingredients

Okay, I normally like to post in order of how I've tried things, but this one is just too cool not to let you know right away.

I'm low on groceries. Like super low. And this being a tight money week, I'm having to get creative (again). However, since we make so much more of what we eat now, I don't have things on hand like Minute Rice or ready-made stuff. That means I'm buying to what we make, which takes more intentional shopping. So if we're low on foods, that means I have things like celery, potatoes, honey, bread flour, and several random cans of black, pink, and garbanzo beans. (Which we never eat, by the way.)

So I did a search - no joke - for "put in ingredients on hand get recipe suggestions." My goal in doing this was two-fold:
One, I could find recipes that I didn't know of before, that might really have all the things I have on hand that I would never think of putting together.
Two, I might find a recipe that I don't have everything to make, but it might contain other ingredients that are cheaper to buy than hamburger or chicken. Hear me: we are not going vegetarian. But that stuff is EXPENSIVE!!! So I'm trying to find more recipes that don't include meat, but still have sufficient protein. (If you have a link to recipes like this, please feel free to send them to me!) Even if they include beans: something my California-based hubby enjoys, but I'm not entirely keen on. Hey, I'm taking one for the team...and taking my kids along with me.

So the very first return was a blog entry by the Fun Times Guide called "Find Recipes Using Ingredients You Already Have On Hand." Perfect!! (And you know it's a good article when it's bringing up a result from 2007!)

If you scroll partway down the page, you find her suggestions of sites that do this for you.

The first one is At the top left, you add in all the ingredients you have. ALL of them. Underneath they will suggest things that might work in a recipe, and there were several that they suggested that I was like, "ooh, yeah, I do have that." Things like condiments and stuff, but it still helps the site round out the recipe suggestions. Then, as you keep listing, on the right it starts listing recipes with a very encouraging "You have everything needed for this recipe!" That's very encouraging when you're so low on items.

Granted, although it said I had 196 recipes that I could "right now!", most of them are things like potato salad and potato and celery soup. But! That's two dishes that I can absolutely make, that I probably wouldn't have thought of without the site. (And mashed potatoes. It's simple, but when you're in "my cupboards are bare and I'm getting desperate" mode, you don't always think of the simple things.)

The rest of the sites she listed returned few hits on the ingredients she entered, so I skipped them. But honestly, simply having found was worth that whole blog.

I went back to my Google search, and tried another site. This one was In the same way, you start typing your ingredients (for the record, with both these sites I entered 27 ingredients). This site made it a little less obvious: when you're done entering, scroll down and it will say "choose your cuisine." Fortunately it lets you choose more than one. I chose things like "Italian," "American," "BBQ/Grill," "30 Minutes," and "Crockpot," among others.

It came back with 1,283 recipes, but this one was much more tailored to my Reason #2 for the search. On the results page, it shows you the recipes that match, but gives you a basic ingredients list and shows you what ingredients you'd have to buy. Bingo! The first one, for instance, was a Carrot Salad. I have the mayo, raisins, and celery, but it showed me that I'd have to buy carrots. How helpful! For their "Awesome Potato Salad" recipe, it tells me that I'd have to buy salt and pepper, which of course I have, but didn't bother to list. That tells me that I might be able to find recipes with only a few simple (cheap!) ingredients!

I seriously hope these two suggestions give you hope - it can be downright dark and dreary when you're facing what would usually be a very large shopping trip for your normal recipes, with very little money. There IS hope, there ARE recipes, there IS creativity to be shared! The very reason we bloggers write what we've found. (grin)