The more things seem to go south for me these days the happier I am that I have my baby blog as an escape. Don’t get me wrong: I know I’m not the only one in this situation and I feel awful for those who are experiencing worse. But right now, I’m so stressed I can’t even see straight, which is why I’m glad cooking and being creative in the kitchen is such an amazing stress-reliever. Experimenting with new recipes and seeing awesome end results has always been fun for me, but now it’s almost therapeutic. It’s like in Julie & Julia, when Julie’s had a bad day at work and tells her husband that it’s such a comfort to know that no matter how bad things are, you can always count on cooking to turn certain ingredients into a delicious pie.
Today’s ingredients did not result in pie, but they did turn into these awesome little muffins that just scream “Fall is here!” We’re not feeling the fall weather that much just yet in this, but it is starting to cool down and baking something just seemed like a good idea. Since I’m still rather obsessed with the idea of baking with quinoa after making my Red Quinoa, Apple & Cranberry Cake last month, I thought it’d be fun to play around with that a bit more while making something different with butternut squash. Though I’ve done pretty much everything savory you can think of with this lovely little squash, I wanted to try my hand at baking with it. After all, we bake with a lot of other squashes, namely pumpkin and zucchini; so why not butternut?
Once again, the addition of cooked quinoa adds a certain nutty quality to the overall flavor of the muffin, but my favorite part about baking with the mother grain is how moist it makes the finished product. I kept the spices simple but used enough to truly enhance the sweetness of the freshly roasted butternut squash that was the base of the recipe. I’d considered tossing in some raisins but decided not to at the last minute, opting instead to make a sweet almond streusel to top off the muffins. Next time I make these I think I will add either nuts or raisins to the actual batter, but even with the delicate streusel alone, these were still quite delicious. It’s a great way to make use of any extra butternut squash you may have lying around and is a nice departure from the perpetual pumpkin baked goods we see this time of year (though I will be doing a fun li’l pumpkin recipe soon!). And since these are of a reasonable size, as opposed to what one would get at a coffee shop or bakery, they’re slightly less bad for you. Let’s check ‘em out.
Spiced Butternut & Quinoa Muffins with Almond Streusel (makes 12 muffins; total cost per muffin: $0.60)
1 ¼ c whole wheat flour
¾ c brown sugar, packed
½ t ground cinnamon
½ t ground nutmeg
1 t baking powder
½ t salt
¾ c cooked quinoa
1 small butternut squash (should yield¾-1 c pureed squash)
4 T butter, melted
½ c milk
2 t vanilla extract
1 T cooking oil
1 T brown sugar
1/3 c chopped or slivered almonds
1/4 c sugar
2 T whole wheat flour
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t ground nutmeg
2 T butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 425°. Peel and chop the butternut squash into 1″ cubes and toss together with the oil and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Place in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Allow to cool for a few minutes and puree until smooth using a food processor or hand blender. Set aside and reduce the oven heat to 400°.
Prepare the streusel by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and mixing together until crumbly. Set aside. In a separate medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, and stir until well combined. In a larger bowl, beat together the butternut squash puree, eggs, vanilla, melted butter and milk until smooth. Gradually add the flour mixture to the squash mixture in small batches, stirring until smooth between batches. Finally, fold in the cooked quinoa until completely combined.
Spoon the batter into a muffin tin that’s either been greased or lined with paper muffin liners. Top each muffin with a small amount of streusel then bake for 30 minutes, until the streusel is golden and the center of the muffin is no longer moist when tested with a toothpick. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve for breakfast or for a quick snack with some excellent coffee, and enjoy!