As many of you know, I really like the Tightwad Gazette. It's a good collection of ideas--some that are useful to me, and some that are wacky, but Amy Dacyczyn is a sport and tried them all. She and her husband Jim also came up with quick and easy ways to make meals, thanks to the fact they had six kids.
Muffins were something they found they could make quickly and easily and use leftovers (oatmeal, fruit, etc.). The book has a standard muffin recipe that you can tweak to accommodate whatever additons you want to use (shredded and frozen zucchini? fruit? jam? oat or whole wheat flour? honey? etc.).
The basic recipe is:
2-2 1/2 cups grain
1 cup of milk
Up to 1/4 cup fat
Up to 1/2 cup sweetener
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Up to 1 1/2 cups of additions
Whatever spices are appropriate
I was going to make zucchini muffins but I forgot to take out the frozen shredded zucchini from my freezer. I ended up using frozen berries because they were not stuck together in a solid block and defrosted fairly quickly. I used canola oil for the fat, regular white flour (sometimes I combine this with oats run through my food processor for oat flour, maple syrup for the sweetener (honey works also works well). If I used zucchini, I'd cut down on the milk since the frozen and defrosted zucchini is so moist.
These came out well--I was pleasantly surpised since I had to improvise a bit. My folks, who were over for breakfast, liked them. I baked them in my heart-shaped cupcake/muffin pan.
What I like about this recipe is that you can often use what's onhand and get a pretty good result. It's also a good way to use up vegetables. Have a bunch of carrots that you fear will go off? Shred them and make carrot muffins (like carrot cake, but you can rationalize eating muffins for breakfast). An apple in the fridge can be peeled, chopped, and added to muffins. Out of sugar? Use honey or maple syrup.
When I've had friends over for brunch, I'd make muffins. They take almost no time to bake (about 20 minutes or so in a 400 degree oven), so I could put the pans in when they arrived and they'd have hot muffins a few minutes after I took their coats and they sat down.