polar vortex baking: hearty oatmeal-chocolate-almond-cranberry muffins

oatmeal muffins

Welcome to #PolarVortex2014. Ok, well, the vortex is over for us, but let’s recap. Also, the only thing I can ever think of when I see hashtags now is this.

Last week was “everyone hype up the polar vortex” week. Tom Skilling told us wind chills on Monday and Tuesday would be up to -50. Panic ensues. And by panic, what I really mean is everyone (EVERYONE.) went to the nearest grocery store and purchased anything and everything they could get their hands on. By the time we went on Saturday evening, they were out of onions. ONIONS, I tell you. And eggs. And a million other things. But ONIONS!?!? I mean, seriously? How do you run out of onions?!

We snatched up what groceries we could, and began 3 days of hibernation, since neither of us had to go to work on Monday or Tuesday. Man, am I glad we are lucky enough to have a roof over our heads and a functional heater. -40 is COLD, y’all.  There was baking, there was video game playing, there was lounging. And that was pretty much all that happened. Most of the city shut down anyway, and it was just not worth dealing with the weather (or the ginormous piles of snow and ice that were a result of the 13+ inches of snow we had gotten the week before…there’s a pile across from my apartment that is actually taller than I am. No joke.) We all started to get a little cabin fever-y yesterday, though. (He’s actually meowing about his boredom, not hissing.)

Elton

Now that we’re finally back in the regular routine, I’ve spent some time catching up on my blog reading. I love reading everyone’s first few posts of the new year. It’s interesting to see people reflect on the previous year, and talk about the future, goals, etc. Blogging is tough. Maybe it doesn’t seem like it, but to come here and regularly a) post “new” content, and b) be authentic, c) not sound like a douche while doing it is pretty challenging. It’s easy to get discouraged and quit, too. Also, the world is surprisingly judgy and rude, and you would not believe the number of people out there who hate-read blogs and post mean comments just because they want to. Most people I know have no idea this blog even exists, which is totes okay with me because who wants to deal with people being judgy? Not me. One of my favorite blogs/bloggers, Bailey over at Peppermint Bliss, did a great job at addressing some of this cattiness. Life goal: Let’s be better people in 2014 and NOT be mean to each other, directly or indirectly. Cool? Cool.

Now, it’s muffin time! These make the perfect breakfast muffin — they’re flavorful and interesting, but also packed full of oats to keep you going a little bit longer. Best part: the berry, chocolate, nut, and spice combo is totally adaptable. Pick whatever you want! Use what you’ve got left in the freezer/pantry. Don’t like berries? Omit them. Want extra chocolate? Add more! Add coconut or peanut butter!

Pro-tip: Brandon ended up steeping some milk, earl grey tea, and citrus simple syrup together and pouring a bit of the hot milk mixture over a muffin (a-la-baked oatmeal). It was awesome.

oatmeal muffins

Oatmeal Muffins with Chocolate, Almonds, and Cranberries

recipe makes 12-15 muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups oats (rolled oats would be better, but I ended up using quick cooking in a pinch)
1/4 cup bran
1/3 cup ground flax seed
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup water
Any of the following: 1 cup dried, fresh, or frozen berries, 1/2 cup (or more) toasted chopped nuts, 1/2 cup (or more) chopped or chipped chocolate, dried coconut, etc.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare your pan (muffin/cupcake liners are better, but I suppose you could use nonstick spray too.)
  2. In a small bowl, combine egg, oil, greek yogurt, and buttermilk. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together remaining ingredients (except water).
  4. Add the wet ingredients, plus the water, to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
  5. Stir in any mix-ins (berries, chocolate, nuts, etc).
  6. Divide into muffin cups (I use an ice cream scoop for this), and bake for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pan for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
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