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Apple Praline Muffins October 18, 2009

Filed under: Muffins,Uncategorized — amynb2008 @ 12:20 am
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The culinary world is one traditionally dominated by men.  In most families, however, it is the women who take charge of nourishing their families.  Growing up, I guess I had the best of both worlds.  I have fond memories offood 040 both my grandma and my uncle cooking away in the kitchen.  My grandma never cooked with a recipe.  To this day, I still have no idea how she made her gingerbread and sadly, she is no longer around to ask.  My uncle, however, is still around and has passed on some recipes to me.  One such recipe is his apple praline bread.  I’m not sure where this recipe comes from but I know he adapted it from its original form.  When I went to make this, I made a few changes of my own.  For one, I decided to make it into muffins.  For another, I replaced the sour cream with plain yogurt.  I also played around with the amount of apples and pecans.  My uncle also cuts his apples into rather large pieces.  I wanted smaller pieces.  Partly because they needed to be smaller since they wouldn’t bake as long as a muffin and partly because I wanted them more evenly distributed within the muffin.

The result is a moist, if a bit dense (though not unpleasantly so), muffin.  Although there is definitely a difference in texture between the muffins and the apples, the apple all but disappeared in the muffin.  I don’t, however, find this a bad attribute.  On the contrary, it seems to work, although next time I will probably add more apple.  I topped each muffin with a sugar-coated pecan (I told you they’d turn up again!) but I think next time I will mix pecan pieces right in with the glaze.  I think this will give it a more praline taste to them.  As for the glaze itself, I used the same amounts for the bread but found I needed a bit more.  I will give the amounts I used, but I would add an extra half of the amounts if I were to make it again.  The glaze really makes the muffins — so no skimping!

I really liked this bread as a muffin.  They are a very pleasant treat.  Despite the apple they don’t have a particular fall feel to them, making them good year-around.  The yogurt gives it some nutrition and boosts it up to a snack you can feel pretty good about.  It was delicious with milk for breakfast.  I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to last around here much longer.

That’s okay though…there’s always another muffin to be baked.

Apple Praline Muffins

Makes 14

1 cup white sugar

1 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream)

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups tart apple, peeled and chopped (I used granny smith and will probably use 2 cups next time)

1/2 cup chopped pecans

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons brown sugar

14 pecan halves (preferably sugar-coated)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly spray 14 muffin cups.

In a mixing bowl, beat together white sugar, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla on low until combined.  Turn the mixer up to medium and beat for 2 more minutes.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir this into  the yogurt mixture until just barely mixed.  Add in the apples and pecan pieces and gently stir in.

Divide batter among the 14 prepared muffin cups and bake for about 2o minutes.  When they are done, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for 5-10 minutes.  After that, remove muffins from the cups and rest on the rack.

While the muffins continue to cool, melt the butter and brown sugar in a small sauce pan over low-medium heat until sugar is dissolved.  Turn up the heat and let come to a boil.  Boil for one minute.  After a minute, spoon the mixture over each muffin.  Top with a pecan half.

Alternately, you can add another 1/4-1/2 cup of pecans to the butter-brown sugar mixture before pouring over muffins.

If you’d like to make this in as one loaf, bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.

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Late Night Delights (Cherry Pecan Streusal Muffins) July 30, 2009

I think it’s no secret that I love to bake.  To me, baking is magic.  Baking is a lot different than cooking.  In cooking, each ingredient typically remains the same.  Master chefs can blend ingredients seamlessly but carrots are still carrots, meat still meat.  In baking, you blend a bunch of ingredients together and what you get in the end is something entirely different.  What starts out as a lump of dough ends up as soft, sweet bread.  Lumpy, pourable batter transforms into moist, delicious cake.  Baking is all about synergy.  What you end up with is so much more than the sum of its parts.

I’ve been hankering to bake lately.   I mean really bake…and that usually means without my children.

I love my girls.  I adore my girls.  It’s just they tend to suck the joy out of baking for me (and I mean that in the best, most loving of ways).  When they help, there’s always spills and fighting and lots of noise.  When I get in my kitchen, I just want to create.  I want quiet and peace to focus on what I”m doing.  To enjoy the process and the magic.

(Note:  All that being said, I think it’s of the utmost importance to get kids in the kitchen.  It’s fun and it’s educational and it’s a time to really enjoy each other’s company.  Passing on time-honored recipes and the joy of baking or cooking is a something that bring parents and kids together and it helps develop important skills they’ll have for a lifetime.)

Last night, I found myself alone.  Howie was working late.  The kids were (mostly) asleep.  I had seen a recipe on Everyday Baking for mini cherry-pecan loaves that I wanted to try.  I’ve been on a mission lately to use up stuff in my pantry and fridge, not only for the space but to save money.  I had both cherries and pecans.  I thought this was a perfect recipe to make while I had a few moments of quiet, even if it was a bit late in the evening.

The online reviews for this recipe often reported that they had too many cherries so I decided to cut back on them.  It’s a good thing because the recipe called for 1 1/2 cups and I only 2/3 of a cup.  In all honesty, I wish I had had more but I do think that the full amount would have been too much.  Next time, I’ll aim for 3/4 to one cup.  Also the original recipe called for 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans (mine were chopped a bit more finely).  I didn’t want the nuts to overpower the cherries, so I cut back on those as well.  I could have used some more of those as well.  I made a few other changes as well.  First, I made them into muffins since I didn’t have enough mini loaf pans.  Second, I added chocolate chips to the streusel.  How could that be wrong?

I really enjoyed these muffins.  Although they were a bit on the heavy side for a muffin, they weren’t too dry or too sweet.  The dried cherries gave them a sweet-tart almost spicy undertone and the pecans added a nice flavor and texture contrast.  I toyed with adding the chocolate to the batter but I’m glad I didn’t.  Putting it in the struesal gave it just a hint of chocolate that was both satisfying and left you wanting more (in a good way!).  I do wish that they hadn’t turned out so heavy.  They probably would have been much better as a loaf, but as muffins they were still delicious.  This recipe is definitely a keeper.  The best part is if you leave out the cherries and pecans, you have a great base recipe to which you can add other flavors.

Cherry-Pecans Streusal Muffins

This recipe is the way I made it so it is slightly different from the original recipe of mini cherry-pecan loaves.  To view the original click on this: http://www.pbs.org/everydayfood/baking/recipes/mini_cherrypecan_streusel_loaves.html)

For the Streusal

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar

4 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar and butter with your fingertips until small, moist clumps form.  Mix in pecans and chocolate chips.  Place in freezer.

For Muffins

Cherry-Pecan Streusel Muffins

Cherry-Pecan Streusel Muffins

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 stick  butter, melted

2/3 cup dried cherries (I’d add 3/4 -1 cup next time)

2/3 cups chopped pecans (Again, I’d 3/4 – 1 cup next time)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lighlty spray 15 muffin cups with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, and butter until smooth.  Mix in cherries and pecans.

Fold in dry ingredients until just moistened.

Divide batter among the muffin cups.  Top with streusal.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the largest muffin comes out clean.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing muffins to cooling rack.

 

Simple and Delicious…Blueberry Muffins July 28, 2009

Filed under: Marth Stewart,Muffins,Quick Breads — amynb2008 @ 3:32 pm
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Martha's Blueberry Muffins

Martha's Blueberry Muffins

A few years ago, Martha Stewart came out with her Baking Handbook.  I, of course, bought it as soon as I could and was determined to bake my way through the entire book.  I even kept a journal to document what I had made.

That didn’t last too long.  I managed to make about 42 of the recipes but my dreams of writing my own memoir and getting on the Martha Stewart show was dashed as I found myself with too little time and too many recipes.

Still, all was not lost.  I did manage to find some gems in the recipes I did make.  One of my favorites is the white chocolate-butterscotch cookies.  Totally delicious!

However, the one recipe I keep coming back to, time and time again, is the blueberry muffins.  There are nothing fancy about these.  Simple preparation using simple ingredients.  They are just really, really good muffins.

A friend of mine mentioned to her daughter that she had never made homemade blueberry muffins before.  Her daughter told her that I should show her how.  So I did.  This was the recipe I showed her.  I think everyone was pleased with the results.

These muffins were made with fresh blueberries.  I usually use frozen.  Be warned they do turn the batter purple.  That doesn’t matter to me.  Purple or white or green…these are still my favorite muffins!  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Blueberry Muffins

from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups fresh blueberries

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter and flour a standard 12-cup muffin tin (I just spray it with Pam for Baking); set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Working over a bowl, toss the blueberries in a fine sieve with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the flour mixture to lightly coat (this keeps the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the muffin).  Set flour and blueberries aside

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until combined.  Mix in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, add the reserved flour mixture beating until just combined.  Add milk beating until just combined.  Do not over mix.  Using a rubber scraper, fold in the blueberries.  Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups.

Bake, rotating halfway through, until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in one muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes.  Turn the muffins on their sides in their cups and let cool.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Blueberry Munchkin Muffins March 25, 2009

Filed under: Healthy recipes,Muffins — amynb2008 @ 1:45 am

 

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

Healthy Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins are my favorite.  Which is kind of funny considering I don’ t like blueberries.  Still…there’s something really, really sastifying about a warm muffin bursting with purple berries, sweet and delicious.  Sigh…

 

I may not like blueberries, but my 4-year-old does.  Which, again, is kind of funny considering she just doesn’t like much of anything.  Luckily, however, we do share a love of blueberry muffins.  

For my nutrition class, I have been working on a project about childhood nutrition and how to avoid childhood obesity.  One of my “tips” is to use what kids love and make it heatlthier.  So…I chose to make blueberry muffins healthier.

I found this recipe for Blueberry Munchkin Muffins in Nick Jr. Family magazine in 2005.  It’s been kicking around my notebook of recipes to try for 4 years now.  I figured it was about time to try it.  I originally kept the recipe for the topping but I figured I may as well give the whole recipe a go.  

These muffins are very easy to make.  Just mix together the dry ingredients.  Mix together the wet ingredients.  Add the wet to the dry and then mix in the blueberrie (my baking class friends will recognize this as the “muffin method”).  Nothing fancy here.  Straightforward ingredients and easy preparation.  It’s a nice little recipe to get the kids involved with.  The muffins are baked in mini-muffin tins, which I think is good.  I found them not quite sweet enough for my taste so having them smaller distracts your from that.  However, this does give the blueberries a place to really shine and I found they actually taste better after they’ve cooled down.   The topping gives a nice little crunch and also offers  a bit of sweetness.  Luckily, my children didn’t seem to notice any missing sweetness at all.  Woo Hoo!!!!  In fact my 4-year-old finished hers, looked at me sweetly and sai, “Can I have another one please, mommy?”  Of course!  My 1-year-old also asked for more but did so my pointing and just saying, “Muffin”  but still managed to sound just a sweet as her sister.  

Two mini-muffins are only 90 calories and has 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of protein.  Not too bad. That makes them good evn for those of us watching our figures.  These numbers are for the original recipe which calls for 6 ounces of yogurt and no flax seed.  I used 8 ounces and added a little ground flax.  I had it.  Why not use it?  Besides, I can never really follow a recipe to a T.  

 

Blueberry Munchkin Muffins
Makes 24
Topping:
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix together and set aside
Batter:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup quick cooking oats
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large eggs, beaten
1 8-ounce container blueberry yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.    Spray a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray.
Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
Combine the eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, and vanilla in a separate bowl.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry.  Stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened.
Gently stir in the blueberries.
Spoon batter into the muffin tins.  Sprinkle with topping.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer to a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from muffin tins and cool another 5 minutes before serving.
 

Great Grain Muffins March 14, 2009

Filed under: Baking From My Home to Yours,Dorie Greenspan,Muffins — amynb2008 @ 2:34 pm

 

Great Grains Muffin

Great Grains Muffin

I’ve been wanting some muffins.  Usually I  go for blueberry but since I have a new cookbook I figured I’d peruse it for a new recipe.  I came across the Great Grains Muffins.  These muffins contain three different grains and dried fruit so they seemed to have some measure of healthfulness.   The picture looked nice and I had all the ingredients, so I decided to give it a go.  My new friend, Dorie likes quartered prunes in these but as  I don’t generally have prunes just lying around I decided on a combination of dried blueberries and dried cranberries.  

 

These muffins are just slightly sweetened with both sugar and maple syrup.  I personally thought they needed a bit more sweetness.  But that’s just me.  The dried fruit really helped in that area, also offering a plump chewy texture that I really enjoyed.  The oatmeal in the muffin seems to disapppear but you can really detect the cornmeal, not so much in the flavor as in the texture.  It has a slightly cornbread-like texture, drier than most muffin but unpleasantly so.  The best part of these muffins were the crunchy edge around the top.  As with most muffins, you really need to eat these the same day they are made.  The texture dries out by the next day.  They are still edible, just not quite as nice.  Although I haven’t tried it, they might be nice the next day toasted a little bit with some butter spread on.  Dorie also suggests serving with cream cheese, jam, or cheddar cheese.  

All in all, while I wouldn’t call them my favorite, these easy-to-make muffins are a solid choice and a nice one to add to your repertiore.  Besides that…my kids liked them.   And if they like them, I’m pretty sure yours will too.  

 

Great Grains Muffins

from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1/3 cup maple syrup

2 large eggs

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3/4 cup quartered, moist, plump prunes or other dried fruit and/or nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter or spray a muffin tin (I used Pam spray for baking — love that!).  

In a large bowl, whish together the flours, cornmeal, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, maple syrup, eggs, and melted butter.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and gently, but quickly stir together.  Don’t worry about being thorough — if the batter is lumpy, that’s fine.  Stir in the fruit or nuts, if you are using them.  Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops are gold and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then carefully lift each muffin out of its mold and onto the rack to cool.