Oatmeal apple muffins are the perfect use for apples that are less than perfect and can add a filling and heart-healthy element to a salad supper.
Oatmeal apple muffins are the perfect use for apples that are less than perfect and can add a filling and heart-healthy element to a salad supper.

As the holidays end at my house, we've been through many stages of leftovers. Each holiday party had a different menu, so leftovers have varied from week to week.

Most recently, my husband, Dale, and I have enjoyed big salads of greens sprinkled with leftover vegetables, cheese, meat, fruit or nuts.

To make a salad meal more filling, I created oatmeal apple muffins to go with our berry and goat cheese salad last night.

The leftover use-up rule means each item on the menu has to include something that might otherwise be wasted. The apples in the muffins were a couple from the fruit drawer that were starting to shrink. But they were still firm enough to peel with a paring knife and be shredded.

Including apples allows one to use less fat in this recipe. Oatmeal is a heart-healthy grain, which makes it a desirable addition to any meal, even if it's for a salad supper.

And yes, baking a batch of muffins creates more leftovers. But they are great for breakfast or sharing at the office.

I started thinking about muffins again when my granddaughter, Cora, told me how much she enjoys making banana muffins with her mom. She helped me bake a batch when they were in town for their family Christmas.

My recipe wasn't quite the same as the one her mom uses, so next time I'll be sure to have her mom's. Cora wasn't quite sure of the outcome when I was short one banana and used brown sugar instead of white.

I thought of Cora again yesterday when I was cleaning another cupboard. Sorting through the contents wasn't something I'd planned, but I couldn't fit a wooden container used for holding spoons and forks during the Christmas season back into its old space.

At one time, I systematically dressed up my kitchen for seasons or events. Little Valentines, Easter or Halloween decorations were tucked into this small corner kitchen shelf.

My eyes glimpsed a happy-faced stuffed apple doll, once used as a Valentines decoration. What caught my attention was its name tag, “Cora MacKintosh.”

I have to give this to Cora, I thought, as I took it out and set it aside.

Later, realizing the need to rearrange to fit in the wood tray, I started pulling out old candles, once part of my seasonal decorating. Some were misshapen; some quite faded. I can throw them away, I thought, piling them together.

So, I rearranged items by holidays and tossed the junky candles. The good ones in jars go to the cabin for our candle-lit suppers there.

Now, when I open the door, the stuff still fills the space, but at least they don't spill out.

There's also a cucumber doll named, “Cole Q. Cumber,” but I don't have a grandchild named Cole, so I'll keep him as a summer decoration (unless someone wants him).

My determination to give things away to my kids when they came for Christmas nearly derailed getting ready for their visit. The more I dug stuff out, the more I found. Truly, this was not an overnight or even week-long project.

Apparently, TIME magazine is considering the process as they included an excerpt from Margareta Magnusson's “The Gentle Art of Death Cleaning,” in its Jan. 22nd issue. The idea is to go through your stuff, not necessarily because you are dying, rather because you don't want your loved ones to be faced with the task some day.

Thankfully, some of the items were taken home by the kids with the Christmas gifts, and I know what was left behind can be donated. My daughter reserved a few items she'll pick up at a later date when their car isn't filled with luggage.

My husband and I enjoy watching the Eagle's Cancer Telethon each year. We thought about stopping by Mayo Arena Saturday night to attend the event. But it was so cold, we decided to just go back home after dropping off the grandkids at their homes, following a Christmas at our house.

We watched TV until midnight, while snacking on leftovers, and the next day decided to stop by the arena after church. I made a donation to light a candle for my former husband, Ross Clark, at the memory-of and survivor table. My husband made a donation in Ross's name.

One thing I've thought about is how a person's name is rarely spoken after their death. Years ago, when I participated in a summer cancer walk, one of the most touching activities was the reading names of persons taken from us by cancer. It was wonderful for me to hear Ross's name read then.

I remembered a statistic that one in three of us experiences cancer during their lifetime. Of seven siblings in my family, my sister has had cancer twice (colon and kidney), a brother is currently being treated and another had prostate cancer.

My sister and I keep in touch with each other with a weekly email. When I described to her my series of Christmas celebrations with our families, she commented my Christmas was more like a marathon, while theirs was a mile run.

Oatmeal apple muffins are great for plain everyday post-Christmas baking. Have them with a soup or salad supper, then have another for breakfast the next morning.

Oatmeal Apple Muffins

1 1/2 cups milk

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (quick or regular)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled

1 1/2 cups peeled, shredded cooking-type apple

Topping: Oatmeal; cinnamon and sugar mixture (mix 1 tablespoon each)

Measure milk into a two-cup liquid measure, add rolled oats and allow to soak for about ten minutes. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Measure dry ingredients of flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium sized bowl. Stir together until there are no lumps. Make a well in the center of the ingredients.

In another bowl break the eggs and beat with a fork until yolks are mixed into whites. Add milk and oatmeal mixture, shredded apple, and melted butter. Mix together. Pour into well of dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to gently fold ingredients together, mixing only until dry ingredients are incorporated.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each with batter until nearly full. Sprinkle each with a little oatmeal and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar. Bake 20 minutes until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.