Sunset Morning Muffins

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Here’s what’s going on with me and breakfast. We had a good thing going for a while. Cheerios and milk. Predictable, reliable. Then I decided to switch to drinking organic milk after a somewhat traumatic and eye-opening trip to a Wisconsin farm. No big deal. I get tastier milk on my cereal in the morning, and I support local farmers and happy cows, right?

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WRONG! So. Wrong. I have bought organic milk twice now. And it tastes weird. Kind of metallic and plastic-y. What is up with that!? I wish I knew. I googled it and found some uneasy solace in message boards proclaiming a worldwide dairy conspiracy. More practically and less globally, I just hate going to the grocery store every other day. What’s a locavore girl to do?

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Needless to say, for the past two weeks, breakfast has not been my pal. It’s been chocolate chip granola bars and coffee around here. Maybe some O.J. to get some vitamins in there. (In the beginning of this tragedy, there was also cake, but two bites of insanely rich cake does not a breakfast make.) None of those things are good for your first meal of the day. They are not filling. Which is, of course, the whole point of having breakfast in the first place.

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Luckily, though, as often happens in life, as in baking (sage metaphor coming right up), challenges lead to creativity. And so it was with my organic-milk-breakfast-dilemma. Walking home from work today, I thought to myself, HANG ON. I have buttermilk. I have butter. I have some eggs. I have cranberries. I have oats. I have spices. I have walnuts. I am making myself muffins for breakfast. At least until I get off my lazy butt and go to the grocery store for some new milk.

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So that is what I did. I made these as the sun was setting, for tomorrow morning (now you get the title right?). You can put whatever you have in your pantry in these things. I put in a bunch of oats so they are healthy. (That’s a lie–don’t kid yourself–these are full of brown sugar and butter.) I put in walnuts for crunch, allspice for some dark background spiciness, and cranberries for tartness and a little bit of sunset color. But any nuts, dried or fresh fruit will be good in these things.

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Breakfast problem solved. Except for the fact that now I’m not really sure I’m ever going to want to go back to plain old cereal and milk again…

Sunset Morning Muffins
Adapted from my Blueberry Muffin recipe
Makes 12 regular-size muffins and 1 jumbo muffin

7 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
generous 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground fancy cinnamon
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
generous 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
generous 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan (go parchment paper rustic if you like).

In an electric mixer, combine butter an sugars on medium until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well until light golden and smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, allspice, and cinnamon; set aside. Combine buttermilk and vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 2 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture. Stir until just evenly moistened (the batter should be lumpy), then stir in walnuts and cranberries.

Use a largeish cookie scoop (about two tablespoonsful) or two big spoons to plop the batter into the prepared cups, filling about 2/3 to 3/4 full. (You’ll have some leftover after you fill the dozen cups, so dump the rest into the jumbo muffin cup.)

Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine came out clean in 20 minutes exactly; the jumbo muffin will take a couple of minutes longer.)

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