In my perfect Type A world, my freezer is well-stocked with all sorts of ready-made, carby delights just waiting for your unexpected mid-afternoon coffee visit.
In my perfect Type A world, I effortlessly serve banana bread, spiced bundt cake, or apple cider muffins to you, my unexpected holiday guest, while Nat King Cole croons from the living room and my Christmas tree fills the room with piney smells and perfect soft lighting. The afternoon involves nothing more than warm friendship and tasty treats.
Sometimes I live in a holiday company and treat dream world. This much I know. It's not a bad way to live, but it does make me feel completely inadequate when I wake up and realize my freezer only contains things like zucchini from last year's garden, Weight Watchers ice cream bars, a large hunk of cheese from Amsterdam, and a questionable piece of frozen fish. That's really not a buffet I'd be revisiting anytime soon.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and if you're like me you're expecting houseguests, maybe of the sleep-over variety. And if you're like me, you love company but also sorta freak out when faced with the cooking/cleaning/Thanksgiving prep still left in the To-Do book. (Yes, I said book. I'm mutating, and the jury's still out on whether this is actually de-evolution.)
In my perfect Type A world, I'd easily provide brunch with the works to my guests on Thursday and Friday morning. But in my real Type A world, where my numerous lofty self-expectations go to die, all I got are muffins and fresh coffee, and you know what? That'll do just fine.
These apple cider muffins are the perfect solution to the how-can-I-be-a-good-hostess-and-still-keep-my-sanity conundrum. They are loaded with crisp apple pieces, mild apple flavor, dense chewiness, and crispy browned outside bits, and are an ideal choice for a make-ahead breakfast or afternoon treat. They freeze beautifully, so don't be afraid to check "houseguest breakfast ideas" out of your To-Do book early (but please don't ignore my subtle cry for help).
To serve, thaw at room temperature for a few hours, then pop them into the toaster oven and spread with your favorite butter or jam. By the way, can we talk about how much I'm obsessed with Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter right now? It's basically spreadable pumpkin pie, and it's a bit ridiculous how much of this I'm consuming these days. I bought an extra jar for these muffins alone.
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Preheat the oven to 350 def F. Line muffin tins with muffin liners, or spray with cooking spray.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat, and add in the diced apples, 3 tbs apple cider, and a pinch of cinnamon and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the apples are brown and soft, about 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let cool a bit.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg until smooth. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and brown sugar until the mixture is smooth and there are no lumps. Add in the vanilla extract, butter, applesauce, and apple cider. Stir until smooth.
Gradually add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Gently fold in the apples until just combined. Don't overmix!
Fill each muffin liner until about 2/3 full and pop in the oven.
Bake for about 17 minutes, or until tops are no longer wet and are slightly golden.