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Frugal Healthy Recipe: Apple Almond Muffins

Contributed By Marissa Bognanno, Professional Chef & Zumba Instructor, and Author of The Boot Blog

My phone rang earlier than usual Saturday morning with a giddy Barbara on the other end asking us to spend the night at her villa in the countryside. Manu, half asleep, said, “Heck yes!” and so we quickly packed our bags with sweatshirts and comfy pajamas. Though only a half hour away, it already feels like winter in Castel del Monte. While deciding whether or not I should bring slippers (Italians love slippers) Barbara called back, “Can you make a breakfast item? Something soft and nice?” 
After a long night of intense games of Italian Boggle, we woke up bright and early. I skipped to the kitchen (I brought my slippers, in the end) heated up the muffins, made a pot of coffee and called everyone to the dining room. They ate their muffins in silence until finally, Barbara said, “Um, Mari...these muffins...” Then came a deluge of recipe requests, compliments and muffin ponderings, “What does ‘muffin’ mean?”
Apple Almond Muffins
(based on this recipe)
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and quartered
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped almonds, toasted 
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cooking spray; set aside. Cut 3 apple quarters into 1/4-inch dice; cut remaining apple quarter into 12 thin slices for garnish. Whisk together sugars, flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add diced apple and almonds, toss to coat. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and butter in a small bowl. Gently fold buttermilk mixture into flour mixture until just combined; do not overmix. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each about three-quarters full. Top each with an apple slice and a sprinkle of sugar. Bake until muffins are brown around edges and spring back when touched, 16 to 18 minutes. Let muffins cool slightly, about 5 minutes, before turning out of tin onto a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

As I went back to the country villa kitchen with the leftover muffins, I heard Barbara sneak in behind me, looking longingly at the last two. I packed them up for her and gave a “sh” signal. She gave me a thumbs up and a wink and returned to the others. 

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