Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cereal Number

Our pantry looks eerily like the cereal aisle at Wal-Mart. There are only four people in my family, yet somehow we've managed to accumulate no less than seven boxes of cereal in the pantry: Kix, Honey Nut Cheerios, Raisin Bran, Frosted Mini Wheats, All Bran, generic bran flakes, and some weird kind of granola made with hemp (um, yeah). That's in addition to the hot cereals: oatmeal, grits, and so on.

I find this intimidating.

And thus this morning I found myself standing in a cereal-haze for who knows how long, staring blankly into the open pantry and trying to decide what to eat for breakfast.

Thankfully, my college days (which included a LOT of cereal) taught me a life skill crucial for coping with this kind of quandry: when in doubt, choose 'em all. (You'd be surprised how many kinds of cereal you can dump in one bowl and still have it taste good.)

Unfortunately, it wasn't until after all this that I realized we’re out of milk.

The simplest solution to this probably would have been "make toast." But that's admittedly sort of boring, and, on consideration, I realized that the gray, nasty weather made it a perfect muffin-making/coffee-drinking morning. At the same time, by this point, I was sort of hung up on the idea of cereal. So I compromised and improvised: cereal muffins! Why not?

My tried-and-true Taste of Home Baking Book has a decent recipe for Three-Grain Muffins. I added some stuff, took out some stuff, made healthy modifications as per the usual, and came up with this, which I really liked. They’re hearty, full of fiber, not overly sweet, and great with coffee.

Cereal-Aisle Multigrain Muffins
½ cup crushed Mini Wheats cereal
¼ cup crushed bran flakes
¼ cup crushed All Bran
¼ cup quick-cooking oats
¼ cup wheat germ
¼ cup white cornmeal
¾ cup low-fat buttermilk
¼ cup very hot water
¼ cup fat-free sour cream
¼ cup applesauce
1 egg
½ cup packed brown sugar (I actually used brown-sugar Splenda)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
(You could also add a mashed banana, raisins, nuts, and/or chopped apples or berries.)

1. Heat oven to 400°. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin; set aside.

2. In large bowl, stir together Mini Wheats, bran flakes, All Bran, oats, wheat germ, and cornmeal. Stir in buttermilk hot water, sour cream, and applesauce; let sit about 1 minute. Beat in egg (by hand). Stir in brown sugar.

3. In separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add to wet mixture and stir just until moistened. (Batter will be lumpy.)

4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about ¾ full. Bake 15–18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes.

Makes 1 dozen muffins

Ironically enough, that last picture is of what I found in the mailbox after the whole above-narrated episode: a cereal sample. Ha. Make that EIGHT boxes of cereal now in our pantry!

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