Saucy Oat Muffins w/ So-Easy Apple Butter

     These muffins are yummy yet chock-full of healthy ingredients. The applesauce keeps them extremely moist and helps reduce the amount of fat called for in the original recipe. For a real treat serve them with So-Easy Apple Butter.

Saucy Oat Muffins 
Yield: 10 to 12 muffins     Source: Meta West
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 to 1/3 cup craisins or raisins
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 egg or, substitute 2 egg whites (or enough egg substitute to equal 1 egg)
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup apple butter or applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2  cup all-purpose flour + 1/2 cup white whole wheat
2 to 3 teaspoons ground flax seed or flax seed meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup, or more, coarsely chopped walnuts

1.  Preheat the oven to 400°.
2.  Pour the buttermilk in a large mixing bowl. Add the oats and craisins or raisins; stir until all the oats and fruit are moistened. Allow the mixture to soak in the buttermilk for 20 minutes. To the soaked oat-fruit mixture, add the eggs, sugar, apple butter and oil.
3.  In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, ground flax seed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chopped nuts. Slowly add the dry mixture to the oats and stir just until moistened.
4.  Grease muffin tin(s) with a non-stick cooking spray. Fill the cups 2/3 full of batter (use a 1/3 cup capacity dipper). Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cooking Tips:
Unused Muffin Tins: Fill any unused muffin tins about 1/3 full with water so they won't smoke in the oven. And, supposedly, the muffins or cupcakes bake more evenly as there won’t be any hot spots . . . like those empty cups.
Leftover Buttermilk: Buttermilk is usually available only in quart cartons but recipes invariably call for a smaller quantity. Try freezing what’s left and thawing it for the next use. For convenience, measure the needed amount, pour into a rigid freezer container, label and freeze. If you need the container simply pop the frozen buttermilk into a plastic freezer bag to free it up. 

So-Easy Apple Butter     Makes 4 half-pints
Although this recipe does contain processed sugar, it has no fat and can be used in place of butter.  Try substituting a natural sugar replacement for the granulated sugar if you prefer.  Recipe is from Midwest Living magazine, Sept./Oct. 2008.

4 lb. cooking apples, peeled, cored & sliced (about 12 cups)
2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1.  Place apple slices in a 3 1/2 or 4 quart slow cooker. Stir in sugar, water, vinegar, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg.
2.  Cover, cook on high-heat setting 5 or 6 hours. Stir. Cool at least 1 hour, or cover and chill overnight. 
3.  Ladle apple butter into half-pint storage or freezer containers, leaving a 1/2” headspace. Seal and label.  Store 3 weeks in refrigerator or for 1 year in freezer