Showing posts with label muffins. Show all posts
Showing posts with label muffins. Show all posts

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cream Cheese Banana Pecan Muffins #MuffinMonday


Sweet ripe bananas and soft cream cheese combine to make the best muffins! Add in a goodly number of toasted pecans and these are the perfect breakfast or snack. 

If you’ve ever had a look at my blog roll in the left hand column (assuming you aren’t on a mobile device, and then I don’t know where it goes!) you’ve likely noticed one link called Kelli’s Kitchen. That’s my friend, Kelli’s blog. She was blessed with a grandmother who loved to cook and bake and who was delighted to have little hands helping her in the kitchen as she concocted her culinary magic. Kelli often shares her Nana’s best-loved recipes but just last week, she published one for an Old-Fashioned Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread that she adapted from Southern Living Magazine. I love that Southern Living tried to make the banana nut bread healthier, using some whole wheat and reduced fat cream cheese, but Kelli did Kelli and made it more delicious. Even as I read her post, I knew that I would have to recreate that old-fashioned banana bread in muffin form.

Those sweet bananas and cream cheese may sounds like an unusual combination, but let me assure you that they are divine together. This may be my favorite sweet muffin so far in all my years of Muffin Monday.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cup or 190g flour
3/4 cup or 150g sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 medium-sized bananas (Peeled, mine weighed a little more than 8oz or 230g together)
4 oz or 115g cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1/3 cup or 75g butter, melted then cooled
1/4 cup or 60ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups or 140g pecans, toasted

Method
Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C.  Fill the muffin pan with liners or grease it really well with butter or non-stick spray. In case you are coveting them, my pretty liners were a gift from my elder daughter. They came from Crate & Barrel.

Measure your flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large mixing bowl and give them a good stir to mix.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mash your bananas and softened cream cheese together with fork.



Add in the egg, butter, milk and vanilla and mix well.

Complete the batter by pouring the liquid ingredients into the dry ones and fold until they are just combined. You should still see a lot of dry flour.



Chop your pecans roughly and put aside a generous handful for topping. Fold the rest of the pecans into the batter.



Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups.



Sprinkle the tops with the reserved chopped pecans.



Bake in the preheated oven about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.



Allow to cool for a few minutes in the muffin pan and then remove to a rack to cool completely.



Enjoy!








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Monday, January 12, 2015

Christmas Stocking Candy Muffins #MuffinMonday

These muffins are the perfect use for the Christmas stocking candy you’ve got hanging around and subverting your vows to make better food choices in the New Year. Now you can eat candy with impunity and call it breakfast. Let’s just pretend you don’t already. :)

When I was growing up, Santa came and filled our stockings on New Year’s Eve. I have no idea how my parents got us to believe that Santa came by twice, but that was the way it was. I was a trusting child. What a stocking on New Year’s Eve meant was children with candy and little toys to keep them quiet on New Year’s Day, I’m guessing, when the grownups were no doubt wanting to sleep in and sleep off the late night bubbly. In my husband’s family, Father Christmas left your stocking on the foot of your bed as you slept on Christmas Eve. Children were supposed to wake up on Christmas Day and explore the stockings before coming in to disturb their parents. Same objective, different days. For our girls, we went with option 2.

When they were little, I tried to balance the candy out with more little toys but as they’ve gotten older, there seems to be more candy than stuff. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, until they leave and I’ve got a great big bowl of Christmas stocking candy leftovers. Why do they not take it with them? Excellent question and one I cannot answer for you. I’ve been giving it away right and left. But there is STILL candy in the bowl, so something had to be done. And that something is muffins.

By all means, keep your favorites out. You will notice that there is not a single Butterfinger in there, for instance, although Butterfingers would be superb chopped up in a muffin. And that is because I have already eaten them all. Those are my favorites and they go first. Chop the rest up and let’s make muffins!

A small selection of leftovers
Ingredients
2 cups or 250g flour
3/4 cup or 150g sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup or 240ml milk
1/2 cup or 120ml canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 generous cup, roughly chopped, or about 200g random leftover Christmas stocking candy

Method
Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C and generously grease cups of your 12-cup muffin pan or line them with paper liners.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl.

Whisk together milk, oil, vanilla and eggs in another smaller bowl.

Add all the milk/egg mixture to the dry ingredients.



Gently fold until dry ingredients are just moistened.  Now fold in your chopped candy.



Divide your batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups in your prepared pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes in your preheated oven or until the muffins are golden.



Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing the muffins from the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack.



Enjoy!

Empty stockings but full muffins!

When does Santa come, if at all, to your house? Do you have a favorite candy that you hope for or hoard around Christmas time?


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Monday, January 5, 2015

Ham and Scalloped Potato Muffins #MuffinMonday

A scalloped potato casserole-inspired muffin, with sliced potatoes, lots of cheese, cream and smoked ham. Perfect for breakfast, snack or even lunch. 

For the last couple of weeks our house has been a bustle of creativity and laughter, both in and out of the kitchen. Favorite dishes were cooked, touristy places were visited, a gingerbread mosque was baked and erected, many a cocktail was imbibed and a thousand backgammon games were played amongst the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree and our ancient rag-tag manger scene, which includes such witnesses to the Miracle Birth as a headless wise man, a longhorn and a small rhinoceros, along with the usual shepherds, cows and sheep.

Now the busy bathrooms and crazy kitchen are empty. The forlorn tree, stripped naked of its finery but for the occasional missed wisp of golden tinsel, has trailed fallen needles all the way to the curb of rejection. The dog circles just me now, every hopeful. And the baby Jesus and his eclectic entourage are back in the doll stroller box from Christmas circa 1995, which is their home for 50 weeks of the year.

I look around at the now reassembled living room, furniture back in its accustomed places and I am working on being grateful rather than sad. As much as it would give me joy to keep our daughters with us always, I am grateful that they are exceptionally capable of looking after themselves and are avidly pursuing their dreams.

Trying to look on all the bright sides of this situation, another bonus is that I can cook and bake exactly what pleases me. Last week a post from a friend and fellow blogger Kelli from Kelli’s Kitchen arrived in my email inbox with a recipe for one of my favorite casseroles, scalloped potatoes. Her version is a family favorite, cheesy and creamy but with the welcome addition of ham. If that divine top baked to a golden crunch doesn’t sell you, the tender, cheesy potatoes inside should do the trick. Do go have a look. My thoughts turned, as they do, to the possibility of a ham and scalloped potato muffin but I figured it wouldn’t be very popular with the sweet muffin crowd in residence. So I waited a week. (As it turns out, most of them didn't buy the PR for dried plums vs. prunes anyway. Hey, I tried.)

Totally worth the wait. These guys are delicious. All potato-y and cheesy and that ham? The perfect addition, for sure.

A good savory muffin is great consolation. And you can be sure I have saved some ham to make the original casserole as well.

Ingredients
6 oz or 170g smallish new potatoes
2 cups or 250g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup or 180ml milk
1/2 cup or 120ml whipping cream
1/4 cup butter or 60g, melted and cooled
7 oz or 200g extra sharp cheddar, grated
2 1/3 oz or 65g Parmesan, grated
1 cup or 150g baked smoked ham, chopped

Method
Put a pot of water on to boil with a teaspoon or so of salt, as you would to boil pasta. Fill a bowl with cold water and a few ice cubes and set it aside.

Slice your potatoes and pop them in the boiling water.

Cook for about 4-5 minutes, until they are just done. Pour the cooked potato slices into a colander and drain. Transfer them to the bowl of ice water till cool.

Return them to the colander to drain again.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by greasing it liberally with oil or non-stick cooking spray.

Combine your flour, baking powder, salt and mustard powder in a large mixing bowl.



Set aside 6 slices of the cooked potato and a couple of small handfuls each of the cheddar, ham and Parmesan for topping the muffins before baking.

Just a little pile of each for topping.


Add the rest of the cheddar into the dry ingredient bowl and stir.



Now add the rest of the sliced potatoes into that bowl. Use a spoon to break the slices into pieces as you stir to combine. Finally, mix in the Parmesan and the ham.



In another smaller bowl, whisk together your eggs, milk, cream and cooled butter.



Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stop when they are just combined.

Divide your batter between the 12 greased muffins cups.



Top with reserved Parmesan cheese and ham pieces. Cut your potato slices in half and insert one half slice of potato into the batter in each cup.



Now try to get some reserved cheddar cheese to sit on top and around each potato slice. We aren’t looking for perfect here. Just some cheese on the potato.



Bake for 25-30 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Remove the muffins from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan and then remove to continue cooling on a wire rack.

Since the cheese melts out a little while baking, you may have to run a knife around the outside to remove them, depending on how well you greased the pan.


Enjoy!



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Monday, December 29, 2014

Dried Plum Honey Muffins #MuffinMonday

These delicious muffins are sweetened with chopped dried plums - formerly known as prunes - cooked briefly with honey and a little Cognac, which softens them slightly and plumps them up but still leaves them nice and chewy. Great for breakfast or with a cup of tea at snack time.

Dried plums are just prunes with a better public relations campaign. Back in 2000, the California Prune Board received permission from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change the name, citing research that the fruit would sell better if it lost the negative moniker prune, more commonly associated with things old and wizen and past their best. That organization has since become the California Dried Plum Board and sales have indeed improved dramatically, a result I figure is akin to the Hollywood studios renaming future stars Marilyn Monroe, Rock Hudson and John Wayne, back in the day.

Salt prunes
As a child, I knew two types of prunes: Salt prunes, which are completely desiccated, salty, sweet and sour, which I adored, and the stewed kind. It was hard for me to fathom that these were even remotely related. Swollen and mushy, dark and forbidding, I avoided the black ones with all the ingenuity a repulsed child can muster. Which is to say, a lot. As I got older and more adventurous, I learned that soft dried prunes could be eaten as is, like very large raisins and, although they were still dark and a little scary looking, they were actually sweet, chewy and rather tasty. It was a happy turning point. Turns out soft dried plums are pretty healthy too.  If you hated prunes as a child, it might be time to give soft dried plums a chance.

Perhaps someday the lowly prune or I should say, soft dried plum, will become, like Norma Jeane Mortenson, Roy Scherer and Marion Morrison, as popular as it deserves to be, even as we all giggle at the original name. Here’s my effort to forward that goal.

Ingredients
Generous half cup, chopped roughly, or 110g soft dried plums
1/3 cup or 80ml honey
2 tablespoons Cognac or Armagnac
2 cups or 250g flour
1/4 cup or 50g sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup or 120ml buttermilk
1/4 cup or 60ml canola or other light oil

Method
Put your roughly chopped dried plums in a small pot with the honey and the Cognac.

That golden color is from my UAE honey. Well, and the Cognac.
Bring to the boil and then take the pot off the stove and allow to cool.



Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare a 12-cup muffin pan by greasing it liberally or lining it with paper muffin cups.

In one big mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.



In another smaller bowl, whisk the egg with the buttermilk and oil.

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until just combined. There should still be lots of dry flour showing.



Take out a couple of spoonfuls of the dried plums with syrup to add to the top of the muffins before baking.



 Then fold the rest into the batter.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups.

Top each with a piece or two of the honeyed dried plums with a little syrup.



Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.



Remove from the muffin pan and finish cooling on a rack.


Enjoy!



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Monday, December 22, 2014

Fresh Cranberry Muffins #MuffinMonday

A delicious muffin made with fresh cranberries in a vanilla batter which lets the cranberry flavor shine through. These babies would be perfect for Christmas morning or for bringing along to a Christmas brunch. 

T'is the season for fresh cranberries in the United States, and from the looks of the refrigerated supermarket shelves here in Dubai, the trend has spread. Last year I had a comment on muffins I had made with dried cranberries, asking if they could be made with fresh as well. So this recipe is for my friend, Marilyn, who lives in cranberry country, that is to say, the US northeast. I have been a regular reader of her blog, Communicating Across Boundaries,  since I connected with her through a post about Egypt, where I was living at the time and she had lived for many years. I knew I’d met a kindred expat spirit as I read about her struggles to fit in and at the same time maintain traditions while living overseas and raising children. And with the challenges of moving back to the US after a life abroad. Every word she publishes enlightens me and makes me think. If you are a third culture kid or are raising some, I am sure you will love her too.

Along with fresh cranberry muffins, may each of you enjoy the wonderful Christmas I wish also for Marilyn and her family!

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups or 170g fresh cranberries
1 cup or 200g sugar, plus two tablespoons
2 cups or 250g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 120ml milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup or 60g butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla

Method
Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by greasing it or by lining it with paper muffins cups.

Chop the cranberries roughly and put them in a bowl. Separate 12 little pieces of cranberry to top the muffins with before baking, if desired. Sprinkle the rest with the 2 tablespoons extra sugar and toss to combine.



In a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the sugar and the flour, along with the baking powder and salt.



In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla.



Add your sugared cranberries in the dry ingredient bowl and toss them lightly with a spoon to coat them.

Fold your wet ingredients into your dry ones until just combined. You may still see a little flour showing and that’s okay.



Divide the batter between the muffins cups. Top with reserved pieces of cranberry, if you kept some back.



Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then remove the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.




Enjoy!


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