Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Owned by April Fool's...

I tend to be a little foggy-headed first thing in the morning when I wake up. My early-morning routine consists of a healthy dose of exercise to shake me out of my hazy stupor, followed by bright and sunny breakfast fare like whole grain and fruit pancakes, luscious berries enveloped by Greek yogurt, nuts and honey, and yes, occasionally a poached egg on top of oatmeal (see post from February 4th). This winning combination gets me feeling like a champion, ready to take on the daunting worlds of school and work, knowing that I am chipper, alert, and best of all, extremely well-fed.

Only this morning, I forgot one minor, teensy little's April Fool's Day. Imagine my delight this morning when I open an email from The Rundown, one of my favorite daily email services, and read about this fantastic restaurant on Wilshire called "Gratis," where customers can name their own prices for incredibly gourmet-sounding edibles. Tender Kobe beef sliders, and I get to decide how much I want to pay for them?? Amazing! A few minutes after I gleefully forwarded this little electronic ray of sunshine to all of my friends, asking them to join me for a night of carefree culinary revelry this weekend at a fantastic diamond-in-the-rough dining destination, I was confronted by a rude awakening. Delightfully surprised by a quick response from my boyfriend, I was instantly disheartened by the three painfully obvious words glowing on the screen of my glossy white MacBook before me: "It's April Fool's." My immediate thought? No, it's not... followed by, oh is... Panicked, I scrolled down to re-read the editorial scoop on this ground-breaking eatery, only to find that, yes, it was in fact a joke. A very cruel, harsh and inhuman joke, might I add...

Thankfully, while this depression-inducing ruse put a minor damper on my morning, I had unknowingly softened this terrible blow to my happiness by whipping up some of the best muffins I have ever tried. Strikingly similar to the consistency and texture of a crispy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside cornbread muffin, these palm-sized pastries achieved the perfect balance of sweet, spicy and savory, thanks to dried cranberries, grated cheddar cheese, sauteed green onions, and a mix of thyme, oregano and sage. I adapted this recipe from the Whole Foods market recipe database with a few changes of my own, and eschewed the suggestion to make them in the mini-muffin size. My scientific formula for a successful meal of muffins? Bigger muffin = better morning. If you, too, have fallen victim to an unjust April Fool's Day prank today, join with me and throw together a batch of these tasty tin-cakes. Take my word for it - they'll give you a more positive perspective and remind you that there are better (and more delicious) things in life than the embarrassment you're feeling from that salt-switched-with-sugar act.

Savory Cheese, Cranberry and Herb Muffins (adapted from Whole Foods Market)
Makes 12 regular-sized muffins


1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup almond meal (easy to find at Trader Joe's)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup liquid egg whites
1 cup non-fat milk


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add green onions, thyme, oregano and sage. Cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant. remove from heat and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour and almond meal with baking powder, salt and cayenne. Stir in the cranberries and cheese. Set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg whites and milk. Add green onion mixture, including all of the oil, and whisk well.

Fold the flour mixture into the egg and milk mixture, mixing until just combined. Scoop batter into a lightly greased muffin tin. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before taking muffins out of the tin. Serve warm.

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