the first of many muffins to come…

Muffins have a soft spot in my heart (and stomach). Healthy, covered with icing as a cupcake, veggie-filled — it doesn’t matter. An individual cake, just for me, in a special little wrapper package? Perfect.
This is one I make quite often. The recipe is basic and fast and, with some of my modifications, I never feel guilty about eating more than one (which happens every time I sit down to eat one). It’s also great because, with a longer cooking time, it can be converted into a loaf of banana bread. Double yum.

This recipe has been adapted from one I found awhile back from The Fresh Loaf. I have changed a few things from the original: I use applesauce in place of some of the butter, and I substitute half of the flour with whole wheat flour for added texture (and to be healthy). I also sprinkle oats on the top of my muffins, just for a little cute touch.



Banana Nut Muffins

• 1/2 cup applesauce (plain or cinnamon)
• 1 T butter, softened
• 2 eggs, room temperature
• 2 or 3 ripe bananas
• 1/2 – 2/3 cup sugar (depending how sweet you like your bread)
• 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
• 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
• 3/4 t salt
• 1/2 t baking soda
• 1/4 t baking powder
• 1/2 t cinnamon
• 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (or, your favorite nuts – maybe even chocolate chips!)
** optional: a pinch of additional spices, like nutmeg or cloves

– Preheat oven to 350°. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray or line them with paper muffin cups.
– In a large bowl, combine applesauce through sugar. Mash with a fork. Leaving lumps of bananas is a good thing!
– In a medium-sized bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients.
– Add the dry mix to the banana mix. Stir in walnuts. Spoon mix evenly into muffin tin.

fill the muffin cups almost all the way up with batter

– Bake for about 20 minutes (depending on your oven), or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Note: Make sure not to over-bake these. With the whole wheat flour in there, it’s easy to get a tough and dry muffin with over-baking.

I broke into one so fast I almost forgot to take a picture...


potatoes, sweeeeeeet

have you ever seen whole nutmeg?

Inspired by a recent tip for a spinach soup, I decided to spend a gray Sunday afternoon over the stove creating soup (instead of buried in textbooks studying, oops). This is truly an “ad hoc” recipe in that I just threw together some foodstuffs I had in my cabinets, sweet potatoes being the base, and waited in anticipation for a, hopefully, delicious soup.
I lucked out, it tasted great! The taste is complex — not just puréed sweet potato with cream, like so many of the recipes I found online. The roasted mashed sweet potatoes, fennel fronds, cinnamon and nutmeg, red pepper flakes. Wow. I’m looking forward to eating this all week.



Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

• 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1″ cubes
• 1/2 T cinnamon
• 3 T canola oil (or your favorite oil)
• 1/2 t each of salt and pepper, plus additional for seasoning
• 1/2 onion, diced
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 1/2 T fennel fronds, finely minced
• 1/2 t ground nutmeg
• 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
• 3/4 cup milk
• 1/2 T dill
• 1/2 t red pepper flakes (or, as hot as you like)
** optional toppings: blue cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions, bacon…

– Preheat oven to 400°F.
– On a baking sheet, toss cubed sweet potatoes with 2 T oil, cinnamon, 1/2 t of both salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft enough to mash with a fork. When baking time is done, put potato cubes in a medium-sized bowl with about 1/2 cup of milk and mash roughly with a fork. Set aside. (The potatoes don’t have to be a puréed consistency – I like some big chunks for good texture.)

mash the sweet potatoes with a fork

– Heat a big soup pot over low heat. Add remaining 1 T oil. Sauté onion in oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper for 3-4 minutes until soft. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

-Add fennel and nutmeg and cook for about 1 minute (just to develop their flavors).

add the fennel fronds and nutmeg

– Stir chicken broth and potato mix to the pot. Add the remaining milk, dill, and red pepper flakes. Simmer on medium-low until bubbling, maybe 15 more minutes. Make sure to taste for salt seasoning! (I found I needed to add a lot more to mine.)

stir in sweet potatoes, chicken broth, milk, dill, and red pepper flakes

I topped mine with some crumbles of blue cheese — yummmm.



I will usually try to have my posts revolve around food. The last thing you need to spend your time on is trudging through yet another rant by someone who needs to get their opinions and thoughts out there.

However, for this one, you will have to suck it up. Due to today’s (possible) festivities, I thought an article I wrote for the Indiana University (IU) Office of Communications is appropriate. For those of you who don’t know, I am interning this semester as a writer for, basically, the “PR hub” of IU. I write various health-related articles: I have interviewed professors about their research, written about up-coming IU studies, attended health events, etc. I have recently been commissioned to write a health blog. My first little number is what I want to share with you now.

It’s a bit last-minute to post this, I know, but here it is anyway.

I hope you spend the day in a way that makes YOU happy :)


microwave + cake batter = late night snack

So, I know there are some purists out there who shun the microwave. My response to that notion is: How in the world could you??? All I know is, if I want an individual chocolate cake, say, it takes longer for me to put the ingredients together than it does to cook it.
You will never hear me complaining about something that easy.
A big mug, a tablespoon (T) measure, a spoon, and a microwave. Done.



Microwave Chocolate Cake

• 4 T all purpose flour (use whole-wheat if you want to be good, but the texture will be tougher)
• 3 T sugar
• 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
• pinch of salt
• 1 T water
• 1 1/2  T oil (canola or vegetable — any flavorless oil)
• 1/3 T coffee (you could use instant, dissolved in water)
• drop of vanilla extract
** optional: pinch of cinnamon, chocolate chips (!!)

– Combine and mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in a big mug. (If using cinnamon, add here.)

dry mix

– Add water, oil, coffee, and vanilla. (If using chocolate chips [you want to], add here. It will keep the inside gooey!) Making sure to scrape to the bottom of the mug with a spoon to get any dry bits, mix together until combined.

add the wet

– Microwave on high for about 45 seconds. Depending on your microwave strength, and how wet or dry you like your cake, continue to cook at 10 second increments until desired cake texture is achieved.

my preferred texture = 50/50, gooey/solid

This is truly one of my favorite things to eat, especially late at night… don’t judge. Enjoy!

happy girl!

welcome, welcome!

Fellow foodies! Welcome to allisoncooks. Tune in for updates on cooking, enjoying your kitchen, and living vicariously through me in Madison, WI.