My Muffin Top is All That: Get yourself a piece of that

Post- Magazine, Brown Daily Herald, 9/22/11


Via Wikimedia Commons

Ah, September in Providence. The air is crisp, the sky is blue, and we’re all still in that happy limbo between coming back from summer vacation and actually doing any work. But for those of us venturing off campus, and off meal plan, for the first time, the blissful blur of decorating your new living room and throwing your first house party is swiftly followed by the realization that you have no idea what to eat three times a day, every day. You long for the days when you could pop into the Ratty for some gnocchi or Cracklin’ O’s, when Chicken Finger Friday was part of your weekly routine. This food-sick angst is only made worse by the Blue Room’s latest advertising campaign: posters taunting you with retouched photos of their fluffy, flavorful muffins.
Sweet, soft, and delicious — the muffin is a magical food, consumable anytime, anywhere. It’s so special, in fact, that Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York all have their own official state muffins (corn, blueberry, and apple respectively, in case you were wondering). The Blue Room features all three of these varieties in their delectable display, ranging from the bright, all-natural green of the pistachio to the warm scarlet and mauve of the triple berry. But before you get too bogged down in your muffin-less angst, take a deep breath and step into your kitchen — you can totally handle this.
For starters, muffins are quick and easy to make. Even better, you can make dozens of them at a time and save them for an afternoon snack or portable breakfast as you rush out the door five minutes before your class in Smitty-B. They also score bonus points for being super versatile (blueberry, strawberry, cartoon, imaginary — the list goes on and on), and for using ingredients that you probably have lying around the house.
So here, for your culinary pleasure, is my super easy, super yummy muffin recipe. Just 20 minutes in the kitchen and you can be enjoying that fluffy goodness, the perfect balance of bread and cake — a warm cinnamony cradle with tangy blueberries or sweet chunks of apple nestled inside. The first warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven bite bursts with home-cooked happiness that, to be honest, you just can’t get in a plastic baggy, even if it only costs a couple points.How to make Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable/canola oilCombine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center of the mixture.

Stir together egg, milk, and oil until blended.  Add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.  

Now that’s the base for your basic, plain, sweet muffin. Easy, right? Now feel free to spice it up with whatever goodies you’d like to toss in. Some of my favorite variations include:
Apple:  add 3/4 cup peeled, chopped apple, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg.  
Blueberry:  fold in 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed).  You could add cinnamon to these as well, or a little lemon juice to the wet ingredients.
Chocolate chip: add 1 cup mini chocolate chips (or more — in this writer’s opinion, there can never be too much chocolate)
Once you’ve added the filling of your choice, spoon batter into lightly greased muffin pans, filling 2/3 full.  
Bake at 400 degrees for 13-14 minutes.  Remove from pans immediately.


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