Applesauce Muffins

It’s Sunday night and I have gone the whole weekend without baking something chocolate!!!

It’s killing me. And as I write this, I am eating celery with peanut butter and coconut. It’s good, but it’s not a brownie :(.

Earlier this week I made these muffins, and although healthy, they were enough to squelch my desire for something sweeter. They have white whole wheat flour, carrots, and organic applesauce. They were so healthy, I let Owen eat some :).

I was able to make them on a weeknight because they didn’t really take that long to make. These applesauce muffins are great for breakfast or a snack!

Applesauce Muffins 

Topping

  • 2/3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Batter

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup organic unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup carrots, pulsed several times in food processor
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  1. MAKE STREUSEL Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 12-cup muffin tin or line with baking cups. Melt butter and mix topping ingredients together.
  2. MAKE BATTER Combine flour oats, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a ziploc. Mix together applesauce, milk, carrots, sugar, melted butter, and egg. Stir in flour mixture just until combined. Batter will be lumpy
  3. DIVIDE AND BAKE Divide batter among muffin cups and sprinkle with topping. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Mid-American General Tso’s Chicken

So…a little disclaimer on this…I made this as healthy as I could…for what it is. There is no MSG in this General Chicken, I cut the sugar, and I fried in canola oil :).

Generally, I do not favor Chinese Food of the take-out variety. In fact, I told my husband that often I think others’ Chinese take-out smells a lot like garbage. For some odd reason, that conversation led to me deciding to make some General Tso’s Chicken.

Just so you know, my house did not smell like garbage when I made this. And…I thought it was delicious. Justin hasn’t stopped talking about it 🙂 What a great husband. He said it was sweet like General Chicken in the Northeast, but spicy like it is here in the Midwest. Hence the Mid-American name :).

This recipe is fairly easy…no dipping and dredging, you just coat the chicken in the batter and fry. And the sauce takes less than a few minutes to make. I would definitely recommend using a dutch oven to fry in and an instant-read thermometer is very helpful as well.

Mid-American General Tso’s Chicken

  • Sauce
    • 1/3 cup cornstarch
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
    • 1/2 cup chicken broth
    • 1 bunch scallions
    • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Chicken
    • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 1/2 cup corn starch
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • 1 egg
    • oil, for frying (I used canola), just enough to cover chicken
  1. MAKE SAUCE Heat oil to 350 degrees in large pan or dutch oven (just enough to cover the chicken). Whisk together 1/3 cup cornstarch, 1/4 cup soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and chicken broth until sugar is dissolved. Refrigerate until needed.
  2. BATTER UP Whisk together 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1 cup flour, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add 1/4 cup soy sauce and egg. Coat chicken in batter.
  3.  GET FRYING Heat oven to lowest setting and put a rimmed baking sheet in the oven. Test heat and make sure it is between 350 and 375. Put chicken in the oil in small batches. Don’t crowd the pan. Fry each batch about 4 minutes. Be sure to stir the oil so the chicken doesn’t get stuck together. I used 2 different sets of tongs (one for raw chicken, and one for cooked chicken). Also, I used rubber gloves so I don’t get little drops of hot oil on my arms (sort of had a mad scientist look going on, as you can see from the photos). You can test a nugget by taking it out and checking the temperature (about 160 degrees is right). Once you remove the chicken from the oil, drain on paper towels and then move to tray in the oven.
  4. COOK SAUCE Put a bit of oil in a large non-stick skillet and heat to medium. Cook white parts of scallions until softened. Add red pepper flakes and cook 30 more seconds. Take sauce out of fridge and pour into skillet. Stir until thickened to your liking. Coat chicken with sauce, or pour on top of chicken and top with green parts of scallions.

Homemade Yogurt in a Crockpot

So…when I tell people I make my own yogurt I get one of a few looks/comments. 1. You have some sort of magical power. 2. You’re such a hippie. 3. You spend way too much time in the kitchen. The third one is probably true…but, not because I make my own yogurt. And really it is more like multiplying the yogurt. From a half cup of yogurt (8 oz) and a half gallon of milk I make around 48 oz of yogurt. When it comes to yogurt, there are a few reasons why I make/multiply it myself. The first is because it saves money. The second is because the cheap yogurt has a bunch of junk in it. The third is because I like Greek-style yogurt, which is more expensive. So basically, I make my own yogurt because it saves money. I paid $4.88 for a 35.3 oz tub of Fage Yogurt (the best kind :)). I paid $3.28 for a gallon of milk. So, technically I could make yogurt 8 times with my tub of Yogurt if it lasts long enough, or I make enough yogurt. And I make about 48 oz of yogurt each time I make it. So compared to about 14 cents an ounce for the Fage Yogurt, my homemade yogurt is just as good and only 5 cents an ounce. Pretty big difference 🙂 I’ve tried a different method of making yogurt before, but it was more labor intensive. The crockpot method literally takes less than 15 minutes total work time. It has to sit for a long time without you doing anything…but that’s pretty easy for most people :). This method comes from Stephanie O’Dea’s a Year of Slow Cooking.

Homemade Yogurt in a Crockpot

  • 1/2 Gallon Whole Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Yogurt (I like to use Fage or another Greek-style Yogurt)

1. SLOW-COOK MILK Pour milk into crockpot and cook on low for 2.5 hours.

2. LET MILK SIT Turn off crockpot and let the milk sit with the lid on for 3 hours. If you are in a hurry or you let it sit too long, the temperature you’re looking for is 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a candy/instant-read thermometer to check this.

3. STIR IN YOGURT Take out 2 cups of warm milk and put in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup yogurt. Pour milk and yogurt mixture back into crockpot.

4. WRAP AND LET SIT  Wrap the entire crockpot in a towel and let sit 8-24 hours. (I must admit I’ve let it go longer)

5. STRAIN YOGURT (optional) At this point you could just put the yogurt into containers and refrigerate. I, however, prefer thicker yogurt, so I strain out most of the whey. To do this, line a large colander with coffee filters and put over a large bowl, or the sink if you don’t want to keep the whey. Let sit for 30 minutes or so. Pour out the whey from the bowl and flip the colander over into the bowl. Pull off coffee filters, spoon yogurt into containers and refrigerate. You can put the whey into smoothies and such if you’re into that sort of thing.

Now you decide what goes in it!

My favorite is: Yogurt, honey, and blueberries/blackberries/raspberries

Justin’s favorite is: Yogurt, brown sugar, cinnamon, strawberries

You could also try this with some Chocolate Granola! Share your favorite yogurt toppings 🙂