Monday, January 17, 2011

Lady Marmalade

Ever found yourself with an ingredient or a random food in your pantry that you neither remember buying nor have a clue what to do with? Yup, that's what happens to me - about... every day. And usually it's not something like the cranberries from yesterday that I can rid myself of in a one-shot deal, but it's the cans of tuna, the wasabi powder and the tiny jars of "gift basket" jams and jellies I find in the pantry, long abandoned by the rest of the household. Or the tins of evaporated milk, the used-Once can of Ovaltine powder and the packages of cook and serve pudding that I find wasting away in my baker's nook. Periodically I do try to clean out the works, tossing ancient foodstuffs or those that should be learning to talk rather than be cooked, but I hate to waste things that are still "good" - even if I have no idea what I'll do with them, they become my new project elements. Come Hell or high water, I will figure out how to incorporate that random ingredient into a recipe!

It was exactly that line of thinking that brought me to making these two sweet treats. Somewhere along the course of last year, one of us had been gifted with a jar of guava jelly. Now, I don't mind guava jam, but I'm not big on toast these days given the whole issue with my GI tract gluten seems to give me, and nobody else in my family was about to touch the stuff (sigh, they don't know what they're missing!). I really didn't want to throw it out, but at the same time there was no way I'd find a gaggle of willing eaters for a lavish jam-filled cake or even a crostata type of pastry. Seems like I've become so popular at my mom's office that my treats have been eaten with a bit more gusto than most of the ladies' jeans were willing to accept. So I've had to put a bit of a damper on my idea generator, or at least the manifestation of it!

Regardless of their diets though, I do know that everyone at the office is quite fond of muffins. Particularly, if I can bring them something that matches the quality and spectacle of their cafeteria or the meeting caterer's goodies, the fact that I almost always add something healthy pushes me up a bit above the rest. These babies were inspired by these ones that I found on Pioneer Woman's site. I won't say they were adapted, per se, because that would be a lie... it was basically just a jumping off point I used for the basic ratios of flours : leavening : jam. So I don't wanna hear anything like this about me, okay? 

Phew. Okay, sorry about that. I think I need a muffin.

Marvelous Marmalade Muffins
Makes 12
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup marmalade (or fruit jam - I used guava)
1 tbsp grated ginger root
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup dried cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk the flours, sugar and baking powder together in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together coconut oil, marmalade and ginger.
  4. Add half the flour mixture, stirring briefly, then add the buttermilk, vanilla and egg.
  5. Add the remaing flour mixture and cranberries and stir just to combine.
  6. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 189.3
Total Fat: 5.3 g
Cholesterol: 18.2 mg
Sodium: 65.0 mg
Total Carbs: 35.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.8 g
Protein: 2.6 g

After the muffins were baked and (frankly) devoured tout suite, I was still left with a piddly little bit of guava jam in the bottom of the jar. It was maybe a quarter cup, barely coating the inner walls of the bottle, but my Scottish nature just refused to let the rational part of my mind chuck it into the blue box. My mom would be proud that that iota of her heritage carried on through (although my dad's side has more Scottish than hers, she's laid claim to that part of the gene pool. She *is* more frugal than my paternal family though).

So in the interest of utilizing every speck of that jam (and not having to buy any new ingredients), I dug through my baker's pantry and came up with these. They're like blondies that have been flipped upside down and sent away to a hippie spa-ish retreat - they taste uber healthy, but don't be fooled: they may have whole grains, fruit and seedy goodness inside, but there's also butter and sugar. So health food... notsomuch. Then again, part of health is moderation and enjoying life... so what the heck! Have a square on me, you'll be glad you did!

Chewy Sunflower - Guava Bars
Serves 12
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup guava (or other fruit) jam
1 tbsp fresh-grated ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp mesquite flour
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oats
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup water
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sunflower seeds

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F, line a 9" pan with parchment.
  2. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, add jam and ginger and beat in well.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together nutmeg, flours, oats, flaxseed meal, salt and baking soda.
  4. Add half the dry mixture to the creamed blend, beating in, then add water and vanilla, mixing well.
  5. Add the remaining dry ingredients, the raisins, cranberries and sunflower seeds. Mix just until combined.
  6. Spread evenly in the pan.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, until it springs back when touched. Cool completely in the pan.
  8. This cuts easiest when thoroughly chilled.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 222.6
Total Fat: 9.6 g
Cholesterol: 20.4 mg
Sodium: 75.9 mg
Total Carbs: 32.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 3.0 g