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Banana Cranberry Nut Muffins

To me, muffins are little packages of goodness and such a perfect start to the morning. The day they are made, the whole house takes on the scent of freshly baked treats, and even the next day, a warm muffin from the toaster oven makes me happy. I guess these are just a few of the reasons that I bake a lot of muffins, usually for breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

While I use a basic muffin recipe and have several particular favorites—from raspberry to apple-carrot, I sometimes look for new recipes based on what I have, and two ingredients I seem to always have on hand are brown bananas and frozen cranberries.

Now, any devoted banana bread bakers will know that it takes at least three bananas to bake one loaf of bread. Or, at least it has been my experience that the more bananas, the better the bread. So, two is the perfect number for muffins. And, if you only have one, add some applesauce or a very ripe pear, and you’ll be just fine.

Why do I always have cranberries? They freeze extremely well, and you can bake with them without waiting for them to thaw. I’ve taken to buying an extra bag or two of cranberries in the fall and popping them in the freezer to use the rest of the year. As they start showing up in stores for the holiday baking season, I suggest you do the same.

These particular muffins take a basic muffin recipe, split the white and whole wheat flours and add cranberries and ripe bananas. The addition of honey keeps the muffins moist without adding too much butter. And you can’t go wrong with the zest of an orange and chopped pecans. The original recipe is on FoodBlogga, and I’ve made just a few tweaks. You can also modify this to accommodate whatever juicy fruit you have, and if you don’t have a mixer, this should work just fine mixing by hand. But the original recipe is quite good, so set two bananas aside this week and make that Saturday morning the best of the week!

Banana Cranberry Nut Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons Smart Balance butter substitute, melted
2 eggs
2 very ripe bananas (about 1 cup)
The zest of one large orange (about 1-2 teaspoons)
1/3 cup fresh or frozen, unthawed cranberries
1/4 cup pecans, finely chopped

1. Place rack in center of oven, and preheat to 375 degrees F. Coat muffin pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl and stir well.

3. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, honey, vanilla, Smart Balance, and eggs; beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add the bananas and orange zest and lightly beat until blended (it shouldn’t be smooth). Add the flour mixture, mixing on medium-low speed until just combined. Avoid over mixing the batter, as it will become heavy. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cranberries and pecans.

4. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until the tops are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

5. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing each muffin and placing on a wire rack to cool.

Makes 12 muffins.

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