The Leftover Formulas: Part I “The Muffin Method”

muffin method

I have found that the most useful recipes are more of a “process” or a “formula” than a rigid recipe. An adaptable framework allows more room for creativity, but also gives some flexibility to use ingredients you have on hand. Recipes that use up dribs and drabs of leftovers are useful efficient, reduce waste and are more fun take make, in my opinion.

I found this wonderful muffin master recipe in The Complete Tightwad Gazette. It is great for using up bananas that are too brown, partially used cans of pumpkin, bits of cooked squash, or surplus zucchini. Make a double batch and freeze the extras! The total formula is a bit daunting at first read, so I’m including a tested oatmeal raisin muffin recipe developed with this method as an example.

Muffin method, master recipe

Muffin Master Recipe Makes 12 Muffins:

Grain:  2 to 2-1/2 cups AP flour. OR substitute oatmeal, corn meal, whole wheat flour, rye flour, flake cereal for 1 cup of the white flour.

Milk or Juice: 1 cup

Fat: ¼ cup oil or 4 tablespoons melted butter. Or substitute peanut butter for part or all of the fat. The fat can be reduced or omitted with fair results if using a “wet addition”. {I cut the fat in half, to 2 Tablespoons, when using wet additions with great results}

Egg: 1 egg

Sweetener: Between 2 tablespoons to ½ cup sugar. Or substitute up to ¾ cup brown sugar. Or substitute up to ½ cup honey or molasses, and decrease milk to ¾ cup. {Oats and whole wheat flour tends to be a bit bitter, so I tend to be on the generous side with the sweetener if using whole grains}

Baking Powder: 2 teaspoons. If using whole or cooked grains or more than 1 cup of additions, increase to 3 teaspoons or 1 Tablespoon.

Salt: ½ teaspoon, or omit. {So far, I left out salt with good results}

Optional Items: Can be used in any combination, up to 1-1/2 cups total. If using more than 1 cup of wet additions decrease milk to ½ cup. {I maintained the milk proportion at 1 cup, since I cut back on the oil}

Dry and Moist: Nuts sunflower seeds, raisins, coconut, blueberries, chopped apple, freshly shredded zucchini, shredded carrot etc.

Wet: Pumpkin puree, applesauce, mashed cooked sweet potato; mashed banana; mashed cooked carrot, and so on. If using ½ cup drained canned fruit or thawed shredded zucchini, substitute the syrup or zucchini liquid for all or part of the milk.

Spices: Use spices that complement the additions, such as 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground gloves, or nutmeg, Or 2 teaspoons grated orange or lemon peel.

oatmeal raisin muffins

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins:
Makes 12 muffins

Dry Ingredients:
1-1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1 Cup quick cooking oats
1 Tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
2 bananas mashed
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons oil
1 egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix wet ingredients and dry ingredients in separate bowls. Mix wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.

Spray muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray before filling.

Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden brown.

I hope you find the muffin master recipe as useful as I do. Do you have a favorite “method” or “formula” recipe? What is your favorite way to use up leftovers?

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