Showing posts with label Quaker oats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quaker oats. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Irish Oatmeal Cookie Muffins for St. Patrick's Day from Cleo Coyle

Cleo Coyle, who is a wee bit
Irish every March 17, is also
author of The Coffeehouse

On March 17, everyone is a little bit Irish, at least here in New York City. Our St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of the biggest of the year.

Hot coffee is a must for me and my husband on those cold March mornings when we line up with our fellow New Yorkers to applaud New York's Finest (of the NYPD) and its Bravest (of the FDNY) as they march up Fifth Avenue.

If you've never been to the NYC parade, allow me to take you. (I shared these photos last year, as well, but we have so many new site visitors and followers, I thought I'd share them once again...)

Portable food is always a good idea for St. Pat's Day parade watching, especially when it’s green. Last year, I baked a special batch of St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Pistachio Muffins, using ricotta cheese. To get a PDF of that recipe, click here or on the photo below.

This year, I have something as delicious and even more nutritious: an oatmeal muffin that tastes like a fresh-baked oatmeal cookie, redolent with the flavors of brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins.

A few notes on the recipe
before we start cooking...

You may wonder why I'm calling these "Irish" Oatmeal Cookie Muffins. Don't worry, you don't need any special oats to make these muffins (I use plain old Quaker brand "old fashioned" rolled oats). One reason I call these muffins "Irish" is because I soak my rolled oats in buttermilk overnight, which is a technique borrowed from the directions of McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal.

So what's the difference
between steel cut oats and rolled oats?

Steel cut oats (right), such as McCann's Irish Oatmeal, are whole oats that have been chopped up a bit. Rolled oats (left), such as Quaker Old Fashioned, are whole oats that have been literally rolled flat. "Quick cooking" oats are rolled oats that have been chopped up even further so they'll cook faster.

(Click here to visit McCann's site. Again, you don't need these oats to make my muffins, but if you're curious about trying them, and they're not in your local grocery, you can always use their online store.)

There is no significant difference in nutrition or dietary fiber between these different types of oats, simply taste. When you cook the steel cut oats (right), they're chewier and nuttier in flavor and texture than rolled oats (left).

For my own recipe today, if you use rolled oats, your muffin will be tender and cake-like in the crumb. If you use the steel cut version, you'll get a chewier texture with a slight nutty flavor, as if you've added chopped walnuts to the muffin. So it's your choice! Have fun!

To learn more about the difference between these two oats, click here or on the photo above and you'll jump to a web page with more info.

And now for the recipe!


So what’s the big-deal benefit about eating whole grains like oatmeal? For one thing, fiber-rich whole grains take longer to break down in your body, which means your glucose levels will remain more constant instead of shooting up and crashing down (so you won’t be craving another snack an hour later). Paired with a warm cuppa joe or freshly brewed tea, one of these muffins is deliciously filling, easily curbing the appetite between meals. Eat with joy! ~ Cleo

To download a free PDF of this recipe that you can print, save, or share, click here.

Makes 6 standard muffins


1 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine or make your own, see how at end of recipe)
½ cup rolled oats (old fashioned, not quick cooking, I use Quaker brand; for a chewier, nuttier texture use steel cut, such as John McCann's Irish Oatmeal)
1 egg
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola (or vegetable) oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup raisins
1 cup all-purpose white or “white whole wheat” flour (see note below)*
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda

*On the “white whole wheat” flour in this recipe: The King Arthur brand is especially nice. It's a lighter kind of whole wheat flour that gives you the fiber and nutrition benefits of whole grain but with a taste and texture closer to white flour. According to the King Arthur web site, you can substitute "white whole wheat" flour for all-purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio. While this won’t work in an angel food cakes or puff pastry, you can get good results using it in cookies, muffins, brownies, quick breads, and yeast breads. Learn more by clicking here.

Step 1 – Soak oats overnight: Very easy. Combine the buttermilk and rolled oats in a bowl or plastic container. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight (or at least six hours before making muffins). This soaking will soften the rolled oats, giving your final muffin a tender cake-like crumb. (If using steel cut oats, the muffin will be chewier and nuttier, but the soaking is still necessary to soften the hard grain.)


Rolled oats combined
with buttermilk.

Photo above is before soaking.
Photo below is after soaking overnight.
To make the same day, soak 6 hours.

Step 2 – Make batter: Crack egg into a mixing bowl and beat lightly with a fork, add buttermilk and oat mixture (from Step 1), dark brown sugar, oil, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, raisins. Stir well to combine. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda and stir to create a lumpy dough. Do not over-mix at this stage or you’ll create gluten in the flour and your muffins will be tough instead of tender.

Step 3 – Bake: Pre-heat oven to 375° Fahrenheit. Line muffin cups with paper liners and lightly spray the papers and top of your muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. (This dough is low in fat and may stick to your papers otherwise.)

Using two tablespoons, drop the sticky dough into the muffin cups, filling to the top. Bake in a well pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until top of muffin is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with no wet batter on it. Remove pan from oven.


NOTE: If muffins remain in the hot pan, the bottoms may steam and become tough. Remove muffins from pan as soon as possible. Finish cooling on a rack and . . . Eat with joy!


Buttermilk adds a wonderfully bright tang to recipes, deepening the complexity of flavor beyond plain milk. To make your own "sour milk" replacement for buttermilk, simply place 1 tablespoon of lemon juice (or white vinegar) into a measuring cup and fill it with milk until the liquid reaches the 1 cup line. Allow this mixture to sit for 10 minutes at room temperature, then use as you would buttermilk in any recipe.

Drink with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, win free coffee,
or find out more about my books, visit me
 at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

Click on the book covers above
to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.


A final, quick note for our mystery reading fans.
The latest Mystery Readers Journal with the theme Hobbies, Crafts, and Special Interests is now available.

The issue, edited by Mystery Fanfare's Janet Rudolph, includes many mystery authors who have guest posted for us over the past year. You can check out the contents by clicking here, which will also give you info on how to purchase a copy (hard or electronic) for yourself.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oprah’s Oatmeal Muffins and The Zero Fat Muffin Experiment by Cleo Coyle

Like Cher and Martha, Oprah has achieved that rare thing—global one-name recognition. Her public battle of the bulge alone should be enshrined in the broadcast hall of fame. First her weight was up then down; then way up and down again. Do you remember any of that?

For Oprah, the public yo-yoing began with a crash, liquid diet. After four months on the Optifast program, she finally fit into her size 10 Calvin Klein jeans and walked onto the set of her talk show pulling a red wagon filled with the equivalent of the 67 pounds of fat she’d lost.

Then it happened. The horror! The horror! The burger! She went off her diet one day, eating a single bacon, avocado cheeseburger. (I can’t believe I still remember that.)

If I correctly recall Oprah's foodie fall from grace, she ate that burger and went absolutely crazy. She couldn’t stop eating and chomped her way right back up again, gaining back all the red wagon weight and more.

Disgusted and frustrated, she turned to health professionals for advice, who explained to her that crash dieting doesn’t work. It destroys the metabolism, setting the dieter up for the kind of yo-yoing weight loss and gain that Oprah had experienced. (Hey, listen, I’ve gone up and down about the same thirty pounds all my life, so I can honestly say: “I feel you, Sister!”)

Oprah forced herself to learn about her body and nutrition, eating right and exercising. Instead of a crash diet, she changed her way of eating and living, and a wonderful thing happened: She pulled her viewers along for this new ride of living and learning.

During this period, she endorsed a cookbook by her personal chef, Rosie Daley, whom she’d hired away from a spa. The front flap of the cookbook says Oprah loves these recipes because they helped her lose weight and feel good. I noticed it on my bookshelf the other day. I haven’t looked at it in years, and I pulled it down.

Cleo Coyle, lover of
muffins, fan of Oprah,
and author of The
Coffeehouse Mysteries
Now I enjoy cooking all kinds of recipes. Last week I shared a classic (and decadent) French dessert, Chocolate Pots de Crème. Click here for a PDF of the recipe if you missed that one.

I also have fun developing and adapting healthier recipes, too. Among my favorite treats to enjoy with a cup of coffee are my Healthier Oatmeal Cookies with maple glaze. Get the PDF of that recipe by clicking here. In the PDF, I explain one reason why whole grains are so good for us and so good at helping us take off weight.

I really enjoy the taste of rolled oats, so I paged through the Oprah cookbook looking for that ingredient, and low and behold, Oprah had a favorite oatmeal muffin recipe.

I couldn’t believe this recipe contained no butter or oil, not one milligram. That seemed a little extreme. I mean, I'm all for healthy recipes, but if they don't satisfy you on a foodie enjoyment level, then I doubt they'll help you in the long run.

Even though I was wary of this recipe, I gave it a quick try. So here you go, my zero-fat muffin experiment for your edification. (Scroll down to my "report" below to see what I thought of it.)


Adapted from In the Kitchen with Rosie: Opraph's Favorite Recipes with notes from Cleo Coyle

Makes 12 standard muffins
(or 24 mini muffins)

128 calories per standard muffin and only 2.5 grams of fat 


Light vegetable oil cooking spray
2 large egg white (I used extra large, all I had on hand)
1/3 cup maple syrup (do not substitute “pancake” syrup)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (juice form about 1-1/2 medium oranges)
1 cup skim milk (I used 1% low fat)
1 tablespoon orange zest (grated rind of one medium orange)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice (I increased to ¼ teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (I eliminated because allspice carries that flavor note)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1-1/2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned, not quick cooking)
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used white flour, see my end notes on this switch)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup dried cranberries (I substituted raisins, doubled the amount, and soaked them in water then drained them for extra plumpness)
¼ cup chopped pecans (I had no nuts on hand and didn’t add any nuts)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 

Step 1 - The Oprah recipe says to “spray the tins 3 times with vegetable oil” and I know why. With no fat in this recipe (no butter or oil), these muffins will want to stick like crazy to your pan, hence the liberal use of non-stick spray. I decided to make mine with paper liners.

Step 2 – Whisk egg whites in a mixing bowl until frothy. Whisk in pure maple syrup, orange juice, and milk. Add in the orange zest, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Whisk to blend. Switch to a spoon or spatula and stir in your rolled oats, flour, and raisins (or cranberries and nuts).

Step 3 – Fill your muffin cups about 2/3rds full. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the muffins are firm in the center. If baking mini-muffins, they should be done in about 12 minutes.


FLAVOR – HIT! The flavors of maple, orange, and spices with the raisins tasted delicious. Once I correct the texture (see below), this promises to be a satisfying breakfast or coffee break muffin, especially with pecans or walnuts added next time around.

TEXTURE – MISS. My results looked very pretty indeed but the texture was way off what it should have been – rubbery instead of tender and crumbly. Yes, I know! Whole wheat flour soaks up more liquid than white, and my batter was in fact too liquid before it went into the oven, but I wanted to try a 1:1 ratio just to see what I’d get. Next time I’ll use the whole wheat flour or (maybe) split the whole wheat and white flour and increase the white flour a bit. My aim here is to make a tasty, low fat oatmeal muffin -- oatmeal and whole wheat together might be very healthy indeed but tasty? I don't know. I'm going to continue experimenting with further adaptations. (I'll keep you posted. )

STICK FACTOR – MISS. I used two different paper liners, some with a slight waxed coating and some without. The liners without that slippery waxed coating were a disaster. Some of the muffin actually stuck to the paper! Now this could have been my fault, having used white instead of whole wheat flour, but I suspect that's why the Oprah recipe did not give you an option of using paper liners at all but instead insisted on spraying the tins with non-stick spray 3 times! I think I'll solve this problem by using foil liners next time and spraying them with non-stick spray once.

So there you go, a no-fat muffin, an inspiring story and a basic healthy muffin recipe to play with yourself.

Honestly, until I get this recipe right, I'll continue to stick with my Healthier Oatmeal Cookies (with or without the maple glaze)!

Click here for that recipe PDF and...

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To get more of my recipes, win free coffee,
or find out more about my books, visit me
 at my *virtual* coffeehouse:

Click on the book covers above
to learn more about Cleo's culinary mysteries.


A final, quick note for our mystery reading fans.
The latest Mystery Readers Journal with the theme Hobbies, Crafts, and Special Interests is now available.

The issue, edited by Mystery Fanfare's Janet Rudolph, includes many mystery authors who have guest posted for us over the past year. You can check out the contents by clicking here, which will also give you info on how to purchase a copy (hard or electronic) for yourself.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Cleo Coyle's Healthier Oatmeal Cookie

First a shout-out of thanks to Rene Lynch, the Assistant Food Editor of the Los Angeles Times! Thank you, Rene, for the nice mention in the column this week! Woot! To see the LA Times column where Mystery Lovers' Kitchen was mentioned, click here.
And now here is...

A “good for you” cookie
that’s still a good cookie!

Who doesn’t love cookies? I certainly do, and so does my amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi. In Espresso Shot, Clare describes the deliciously decadent Italian cookies she plans to serve with some of the world’s rarest coffees at her ex-husband’s wedding. (And, yes, I include two of those Italian wedding cookie recipes at the back of that book.) In the recipe section of Holiday Grind, you’ll find many more cookie recipes courtesy of Clare and her baristas. But let’s be real...

Now that the New Year is here, most of us are resolving to choose lower calorie options to fattening snacks. My “healthier” oatmeal cookie recipe attempts to do just that. Sure, you can find oatmeal cookie recipes everywhere—even on the underside of a Quaker Oats box lid. But beware: most traditional recipes are full of butter, sugar, and white flour.

*My recipe reduces the sugar and cuts the butter in half. It also cuts down on the white flour, replacing it with more healthy whole grain oats. So what’s the big deal about whole grains? For one thing, fiber-rich whole grains take longer to break down in your body, which means your glucose levels will remain more constant instead of shooting up and crashing down (so you won’t be craving another snack an hour later). With a warm cuppa joe, one or two of these cookies are very filling, curbing the appetite between meals. But what I really love about this healthier cookie is its versatility.

For friends or family who crave more decadence, just dress up some of them with my maple glaze. Now a single batch of cookies can satisfy the weight-watcher and the sweet-lover. For more recipe ideas, or to find out more about my Coffeehouse Mysteries, visit my Web site:

Cleo Coyle’s Healthier*
Oatmeal Cookies

To get a printable version
of these recipes,

Servings: 3 to 4 dozen, depending on size


1-1/2 cup raisins (+ water to soak)
3-1/2 cups Oats (I use Quaker old fashioned)
½ cup butter*
½ cup white sugar*
½ cup light brown sugar*
3/4 cup all-purpose white flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1-½ teaspoons cinnamon
3 eggs (beaten with a fork)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup applesauce (I use the no-sugar added kind)
1 cup chopped walnuts

*My recipe uses half the butter & white flour and less sugar than traditional recipes.

(1) Soak your raisins: Measure out your raisins, place them in a bowl, and cover with plain water. Let them soak for 15 to 30 minutes then drain. You’ll now have a plumper, moister raisin for your cookie.

(2) Create your oat flour: Measure out oats, run through a blender or food processor until the rough oats have the consistency of all-purpose flour.

(3) Melt butter and sugars: In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Do not let brown or burn! Add white and light brown sugars, stirring frequently to keep mixture from burning. When ingredients are melted into a smooth liquid, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit.

(4) Marry dry and wet ingredients: Into a mixing bowl, measure out white flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add oat flour that you made in Step 2. Add the butter & sugar mixture that you melted together in Step 3. Add beaten eggs, vanilla, and applesauce. Stir into a smooth batter. Finally, fold in your drained raisins and the chopped walnuts. Do not over mix, but make sure all of the dry ingredients are fully blended into the wet.

(5) Chill, drop & bake: Chill loose dough for 30 minutes to firm up. If you make the cookies right away without chilling the dough, they will bake flatter, which you may prefer anyway. Experiment with what appeals to you. Bake on a lined or greased baking sheet, in an oven pre-heated to 350° Fahrenheit for 12 to 15 minutes. Cookies are done when tops have firmed up. If cookie is still wet and spongy when touched, keep baking.

(6) Optional Maple Glaze: For a dressy, slightly more decadent touch, frost some or all of your cooled little heart-healthy oat cakes with an easy maple glaze. See next page for recipe.

Cleo Coyle’sMaple Glaze
This glaze is delicious on oatmeal cookies. It’s also great on muffins and quick breads. Try it on banana, pumpkin, carrot, or spice varieties.

Ingredients:2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons butter

(1) Heat liquids: In a non-stick saucepan, warm water and maple syrup over medium heat.

(2) Melt sugar: Add powdered sugar to the warm liquid. Using a rubber spatula, stir constantly as the sugar melts to create a smooth, loose glaze

(3) Thicken with butter**: Add in the butter, continuing to stir until the butter is completely melted. As the butter melts, you’ll see the glaze thicken. Remove from heat and work quickly with a spoon or pastry brush to glaze your cooled cookies or muffins.

CLEO’S TIP: WORK QUICKLY! The glaze will harden as it cools. If the glaze hardens up on you as you work, reheat again over medium heat, stirring until you regain a smooth consistency.

**NOTE: If you think you can cut calories by omitting the butter in this recipe, think again. Without the butter, what you’ll get is a sticky mess of clear syrup on your cookies and not true glaze that dries properly. Believe me, I’ve tried to reduce fat and calories by leaving out the butter, but it just does not work without it!

A Note for Waistline Watchers: My last batch of oatmeal cookies produced 43 cookies. Here’s what the glaze added per cookie: about 1/8 teaspoon of butter per cookie (less than what you’d use on a slice of toast); a little less than 2 teaspoons of sugar per cookie (about as much as many people put in a single cup of coffee); and a trace amount of maple syrup. Not bad for an afternoon coffee break snack!

Eat with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle, author of 

To get more of my recipes,
enter to win free coffee, or
learn about my books,
including my bestselling
Haunted Bookshop series,
visit my online coffeehouse:

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are national bestselling
culinary mysteries set in a landmark Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the ten titles includes the 
added bonus of recipes. 


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name Alice Kimberly
To learn more, click here.

Mystery Scene Magazine: "Coyle's greatest strength is writing characters that feel real. Clare and company are some of the most vibrant characters I've ever read...Coyle also is a master of misdirection and red herrings. I challenge any reader to figure out whodunit before Coyle reveals all."

Kirkus:“Coyle’s coffeehouse mysteries (Espresso Shot, etc.) are packed with believable characters and topped with serious coffee lore and holiday recipes. This one will keep your cup piping hot.”