Monday, November 19, 2007

It's an exciting time here in western Montana. Starting early yesterday afternoon, it began to snow -- and it didn't stop until today, dropping over a foot of accumulation in some places. Right now it is cold and icy and all-around soppy. Not so much fun for driving in, but lovely for settling down with a cozy, home-cooked muffin. If a muffin can in fact be cozy, that is. But I think that it's allowed, and so onward with Muffin Monday!

I had some leftover spaghetti squash in my fridge that was starting to get a little aged. There wasn't quite enough to make a meal of, so I thought it would be interesting to put the stringy squash into a baked item. And what could be more versatile in bridging the baking chasm between sweet and savory than the humble muffin? So into my mixture went the spaghetti squash, along with some cranberries and applesauce. Also, I wanted to use some yogurt but unfortunately had run out of the plain yogurt I typically use for cooking. What I did have was a Costco-sized case of individual Yoplait yogurts in strawberry and peach. I decided on peach (on account that peaches and spaghetti squash are both orange, and must obviously go well together on the palate), and I could not discern any difference.

The result was a very bready muffin, due more to the fact that I used 2 cups of whole wheat flour as opposed to half wheat flour and half white or all-purpose flour. But the muffin was also moist and filling, and it left me feeling that I had eaten something good but hearty. Which is exactly what I was after on this snowy not-quite-winter's day.

Snow Day Squash Muffins

2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Yoplait fat free peach yogurt
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup sugar free maple syrup
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp plus a little baking powder

1 cup fresh spaghetti squash
1 handful cranberries (I used frozen)
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir the dry ingredients together. (Leave the squash, cranberries, cinnamon, and nutmeg for later.) In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Mix well. Combine the two bowls and stir. As the batter smooths, mix in the squash, followed by the cranberries. Add the nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir until smooth. Scoop the batter into a greased muffin tin (I used canola oil cooking spray). Sprinkle the tops of the muffins lightly with cinnamon. Bake for 20 minutes, adding approximately 5 minutes if you are using a six-muffin tin. If you can stab a muffin with a fork and have the tongs come out mostly clean, your muffins are done!. Cool and remove muffins. Makes 6-12 muffins, depending on your tin of choice. A slather of honey on this muffins would not be amiss.

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