Earlier this week, three forgotten apples sat quietly at the bottom of our refrigerator. The produce drawer is a lonely place to be, I suspect, especially when you’re the last guys left until the next trip to the grocery store. Actually, I’ve always been rather hesitant about using the refrigerator drawers just because of the whole out-of-sight-out-of-mind issue. I tend to fill them with tons of fruit and vegetable goodness and go on my merry way. Then, during one of my I-have-nothing-to-cook-for-dinner moments, I suddenly remember the plethora of produce stuffed inside those bottom drawers, only to find that, for many of them, it’s too little too late. I’m forced to send them to their maker by way of our trashcan. It’s heartbreaking, really. There’s nothing sadder than a squishy grapefruit or stalk of celery that never got to reach its full potential.
But dry those tears because today’s is a story about the little fruit that could. The forgotten apples that were remembered at just the right moment. The lonely pieces of fruit who thought that all was lost, only to be rescued and transformed in the nick of time (does that make me the hero in this story? Weee! Woo hoo! Happy day!).
So three lonely apples. That’s how this recipe started. They were a bit past their über crunchy, bite-into-it-Snow-White-style point but still crisp enough and fresh enough to be loved. After a search through the pantry to see what I could whip up (we just moved, so the cabinets are still a bit Mother Hubbard-y compared to their normal look), I thought that muffins would be just the ticket. Simple enough to ad lib on my own and the perfect base for my pile of chopped fruit. I call them Happy Apple Wheat Muffins because I like to think that’s how the apples now feel. Wouldn’t you (if you were an apple, of course)?
Happy Apple Wheat Muffins
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 cup whole-wheat flour
• 1 tablespoon cinnamon, plus ½ teaspoon
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• ½ cup packed brown sugar, plus ¼ cup
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• ½ cup canola oil
• 2 eggs
• 1/8 cup orange juice
• ½ cup milk
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 3 crunchy apples, peeled and diced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 18 muffin tins (or line muffin tins with paper cups if you’d prefer).
Sift together flours, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl. Then add the sugars, and mix together until combined. Set aside.
Mix canola oil, eggs, orange juice, milk and vanilla in a separate bowl, then pour into a well in the middle of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Then fold in the apples.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar/cinnamon topping: ¼ cup brown sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full, adding a sprinkling of the brown sugar/cinnamon topping on top of each. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
I might try going all wheat with the flour next time around just to see how the texture holds up, though I do love how moist and delicious these little guys are as is. Granted, Jared and I are now trying desperately to eat through 18 muffins before their day comes (have I ever told you the story of the sad and lonely muffins?). Perhaps our neighbors would like to share in the wealth. Or maybe that would mark us as the crazy new folks who try to peddle off their wares to anyone who will talk them. Humph.
Do you have any tales of long-forgotten produce to share? Or maybe it’s another food or ingredient that you always forget until it’s too late. What are your best tips for eating the food you have without having to throw anything away? Do tell!