ugly food

January's Ugly Food Recipe: The Ever Adaptable Muffin Recipe

photo via Sweetie and the Kitchen

photo via Sweetie and the Kitchen

There's a bakery in New York, in Park Slope, that makes the BEST muffins. I'm not even exaggerating. They have a cult following. Fluffy insides, perfectly crispy tops that hiss when broken. And they are so adaptable. They even have ones with a slightly sweet cream cheese in the center that gets all melty and wonderful when made in a traditional 'blueberry muffin' version.

I used to go every Saturday morning with a girlfriend and grab a muffin and coffee for about $3. One day, after moving and mourning the loss of these beauts in my life, I came across a blog post with the recipe. Lo and behold, it was spot on. (Thank you, Sweetie and the Kitchen. I owe you more than you know.)

And the best part? The base is a bran muffin so it's healthy (right?)! You can add so many ugly fruits and veggies without your guests (or kids) even knowing. You're welcome.

Things you'll need:

  • 1 muffin tin (one of those big 6 muffin guys)
  • an oven (obviously) set to 425 degrees F - this is key, a hot oven makes those sky high crispy tops of perfection
  • 2 and 2/3 c buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c extra virgin olive oil (the original recipe calls for vegetable oil so you can use that too, although I try to stay away from veggie oil)
  • 3 c. wheat bran
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 c. dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cup ugly fruits (and/or veggies) of your choosing - get creative!

How to make them:

Preheat oven to 425 and coat muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.

Mix buttermilk, eggs and oil in a medium bowl.

In seperate bowl combine wheat bran, flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar and salt.

Pour wet mixture into dry one and mix until just combined.

photo via Serious Eats NY

photo via Serious Eats NY

Place about 2 tbsp of batter in each muffin tin (the batter will expand to fill about 1/2 the cup).  Place a generous layer of fruit  (about 2 heaping teaspoons) into each cup.  Measure 2 tsp of the sugar in a small bowl, taking pinches with your fingers, sprinkle the sugar over the fruit.  Divide remaining batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Place remaining 2 tspn of sugar into bowl and pinch and sprinkle the sugar over the top!

Bake for 5 minutes.  Rotate muffin tins front to bake to ensure even cooking and bake for another 11-13 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs sticking to it.  Do NOT overbake.

Cool for 10 minutes if you can bear it, and then remove muffins from the tin.

Eat all the muffins. Or share and become everyone's favorite friend.

photo via NYTimes

photo via NYTimes

Holiday Food for Thought

7 Tips for Cutting Food Waste Throughout the Holidays

Tis the season for parties, festivities, food and fun. The holiday season is here and many (including me!) are eager to eat, drink and be merry. Calendars are filling with concerts, ugly sweater parties, baking dates, families dinners, and much more. The season of fun and cheer is definitely here! (Rhyme intended. You’re welcome.)

While this time of merriment is wonderful, it’s also incredibly wasteful. As Americans, we are extraordinarily wasteful year round, but we definitely take it up a notch over the holiday season. According to the EPA, Americans throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and the New Year’s holiday. This accounts for things like food, wrapping paper, ribbons, cards, and trees (amongst other things). And food is a big piece of the waste!  Americans throw, on average, 40% of our food resources each year, and the EPA estimates that food waste increases by an additional 33% during the holiday season!

Sad? Mad? Want to do something? Try these seven simple steps to trim the holiday food waste.  

  1. Make A Meal Calendar - Many develop a grocery shopping routine - buying the same foods and the same amounts every time we shop. However, with all the festivities and fun, you may not be home for meals as often as usual. Check your calendar and mark the nights you will likely be home cooking and eating. Also check with the rest of the household to know the quantities you will need. (We know everyone, including kid’s schedules, get crazy this time of year!).  Adjust your shopping list accordingly.

  2. Menu Plan & Stay Organized -  Not many of us are accustomed to hosting large gatherings frequently, so it may be difficult to determine how much food to buy for the number of people you are hosting. An important tip is to make menus, determine portions (check out this handy portion planner from the Food Network) , and create detailed shopping lists. It may seem cumbersome, but in the long run, it saves you time and money.

  3. Make a Few “Greats” Instead of 20 “So-So’s” - Many believe that in order for a meal to be special, the counter and plates must overfloweth with food. This is simply not the case. A few delicious, thoughtful, well-executed dishes are way more special and appreciated than a buffet of mediocre abundance. Also, when we do less, it presents an opportunity to really think about the foods and provide personal touches. We can spend time thinking about sourcing and preparation techniques that will enhance the dish and make it something truly special.

  4. Send Guests Home With Leftovers. Sometimes leftovers are inevitable. But is that such a bad thing? Leftovers can be awesome! If you know you’re going to have food leftover, buy extra tupperware you are willing to part with (preferably multi-compartment) and send a meal home with your guest. This can be your host gift, and your guests will be extreme grateful when they’re enjoying a delicious, home cooked meal the following day.  

  5. Make an “Eat Me First” Shelf in the Refrigerator. Download this simple “Eat Me First” printout from the EPA to adhere to one shelf in the refrigerator. Any food that is at or near the point of going bad, place on this shelf. Also place any leftovers on this shelf. It will serve as a frequent reminder for the whole household to choose these foods first. (Note: This is a great year-round strategy, not just for the holiday season.)

  6. Serve Desserts in a Mason Jar - It’s cute, trendy and if a guest has eaten more than enough that evening, they can simply put the lid on and take it home for later. It’s a lovely token for your guests, and also an important reminder that overeating is just as wasteful as throwing food away.

  7. Get Creative With Holiday Leftovers - Some foods are awesome stand-alone leftovers, while others need a little help in the days following the actual meal. Here and here are a couple of great blogs sharing creative ways to reuse and repurpose leftovers, beyond a turkey sandwich! A Leftover Thanksgiving Brunch Waffle? Yes please!

Got suggestions on more ways to reduce waste? Share in the comments or on social media with #FMUglyFood.

Wishing all a safe and sustainable holiday season!

Cheers from Megan M., and the Ugly Food People of the North