Monday, September 3, 2012

Oatmeal-Carrot Breakfast Muffins

I don't know why it is, but Montana-grown wheat just tastes better.  Any of the Western-based bread companies that utilize Montana wheat bake up the most delicious loaves of bread I have ever tasted.  If we have the time while visiting our family out west, I love to pick up a couple loaves from the local bakeries to take back home with me as a treat.  Plus, a loaf of bread makes the perfect airplane snack for my carb-loving child.  During our trip a little over 8 months ago, Matthew consumed an entire loaf of bread during our 4-hour flight from Denver to Ohio.  He didn't eat much over the next few days as that binge worked its way out of his system.

During our most recent trip, my Mother-in-Law gave me a cookbook I had been admiring that featured a wide variety of recipes utilizing the products of Wheat Montana, a local bakery/deli chain.  There are so many great-looking recipes in the cookbook, everything from breakfast treats and artisan breads to main-course wheat berry salads.  

The first recipe I chose to tackle was Oatmeal Carrot Breakfast Muffins.  This relatively healthy muffin recipe calls for the addition of shredded carrots, orange peel, and a healthy handful of dried fruit.  There is very little added sugar (for a muffin) and only a modest amount of oil.  The original recipe calls for the addition of raisins, which I switched out for dried cranberries (which pair most wonderfully with orange!).  I also used white flour instead of wheat (all I had!) and added a couple extra tablespoons of grated carrot (I grated waaay too many but threw them all in anyway...despite what my husband may think, a few extra veggies never hurt anyone!).  I also skipped soaking the oats for a few hours, opting instead to microwave the oat/milk mixture in the microwave at 50% power for 3-4 minutes, or until the oats had begun to soften.  Worked like a charm.

These baked up beautifully.  Matthew could hardly wait to try one.  He had his head pressed up against the oven door, cheering his future snack on as they rose and swelled in the heat.  Although I don't know if he could beat Paul's enthusiasm.  My hardworking husband had just come inside from mowing the lawn...and he was sweaty, stinky, and looking for food.  He must have devoured about three of these muffins before pitifully whining about the fact that he had burnt the roof of his mouth.  Biting into a muffin fresh out of a piping-hot, 400-degree oven will do that to you.  He'll never learn.

My Paul, in muffin heaven.

The whole pan was gone by the end of the day.  Paul and Matthew were fighting over the last muffin, so Paul decided to go all "King Solomon" on us and split the muffin in half so they both could enjoy it.  Matthew freaked as he watched the muffin being mutilated and refused to eat his half.  So, clever Paul got to enjoy the whole muffin.  I think he planned that one.  In order to avoid a family schism, I might have to make another batch of muffins.

Wheat Montana Oatmeal Carrot Muffins
adapted from The Wheat Montana Cookbook

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins or cranberries)
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 cup flour (wheat or white)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl, combine the oats, cranberries and milk.  Stir well, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Alternatively, if you don't have the time to wait, combine everything in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 50% power for 3-4 minutes, or until the oats have softened a bit but all the milk has not been absorbed.  Let cool as you gather the remaining ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together the carrots, sugars, oil, eggs, and orange peel.  Stir into the oat mixture.  Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir into batter just until moistened.  Spoon batter into a greased, 12-cup muffin tin.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins bounce back when lightly pressed.

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