When I went back to work several years ago I found I didn't have as much time to bake as I did before, yet my grandkids still liked their "treats" from Gaga, so with a little creativity I came up with a way to make their beloved "nanny cakes" (banana muffins) a little easier. And really, I don't know that it's less time consuming than making everything literally from scratch, but it sure makes good muffins!! This weekend I made up two batches...banana and pumpkin spice and decided I might as well share the recipe that goes with them because you can make just about any flavor/kind you want starting with just the base mix.
1 pkg. yellow or chocolate cake mix (I've found the cheaper, store brand makes firmer muffins)
1/3 cp. of oil
1/2-1 cp fruit/veggie of choice
1/2 cp (more or less) oatmeal
1/3-1/2 cp (more or less) of ground flax seed
Water as needed to bring the batter to the right consistancy
I have two grandchildren who have stomach/bowel issues and their mom's needed a way to get some fiber into them that not only tasted good but would appeal to the kids. The oatmeal and flax seed does just that and helps to "clean out" their systems as well, so short of the boxed mix...I like to think these things can be healthy too! :)
For the pumpkin spice muffins I added 1/2 can (the small one) of pureed pumpkin (not the premixed filling) and 1 and 1/4 tsps. of pumpkin pie spice. They're even better with a "dollop" of cream cheese icing on top which I made with a 1/2 pkg of cream cheese and 1 and 1/2 cps. powdered sugar. After tasting these the daughter claimed them to taste like carott cake, which is something my family loves, so a second batch was made adding the additional 1/2- 3/4 cp of drained crushed pineapple along with 1/2 cp black walnuts. If you tossed in a 1/4 cp of shredded carrotts you'd have carrot cake for sure, just top them up with a pineapple cream cheese version of the icing.
When making banana muffins I just mash up 3 or 4 over ripe bananas and stir it into the base mix...done! Of course they are even better with nuts in them, but with most of my bunch not caring for nuts, I normally leave them out.
My grandsons' all time favorites are chocolate chocolate chip zucchini muffins. This is one where I use a chocolate cake mix instead, then add a full cup of finely shredded and drained zucchini along with about a cup of mini chocolate chips to the rest of the base. This is also one that has better "results" in cleaning out the systems! ;)
On all of these I only add about a 1/2 cp of water at the beginning just to get everything mixed in and then I use more as I need it because I want a thicker dough consistency than what a normal cake dough would be and the amount is really dependent upon what your fruit/veg's are. I don't think I've ever used more than a cup on any of them.
The biggest trouble with this recipe is my "abouts"...I have a tendency to not measure anything too much...I seriously use my hand to throw in the oatmeal, flax, and nuts, so take these measurements I've given as what they are...abouts!! You can add more or less of any of it and still have good muffins! The above three are my family's tried and true favorites, but I've also made these using apple sauce, a little finely chopped apple, and some cinnamon...sprinkle a strussel topping on them before baking and they are DELISH! The possibilities are endless and with the cooler weather moving in who wouldn't enjoy a batch of muffins! :)