Monday, November 16, 2009

Fall Into Flavor with Sweetness & Light Muffins

Yes, that really is the name for these muffins :-)

Baking is not my forte but I've never had a batch of these muffins fail, and the recipe comes with variations that make it very versatile. It's from the Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook; and the pages are a mess with spilled ingredients from the many, many times I've used this recipe. I'm going to give you the basic recipe and then follow up with some of their variations, along with my favorite which I altered from the book (which just goes to show you can pretty much do what you want with the basic recipe).

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like your muffins)
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I just use ground nutmeg)
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled (I use Canola oil instead)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners.
In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients.
In a smaller bowl whisk together milk, butter (or oil), egg and vanilla.
Add wet ingredients to dry, combine with as few strokes as possible -- just until ingredients are incorporated.
If you like, fold in additional ingredients as mentioned in Variation Options.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling to 1/2 to 2/3 full.
Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes.
Cool briefly on racks until the smell and hunger pains drive you to eat at least one while piping hot.

Peach and Nut: Add a drop of almond extract to wet ingredients. Add 3 diced peaches and 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts to batter.
Ginger-Pear-Walnut: Add 2 partially mashed, diced pears, 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger root and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts to batter.
Cranberry Nut: Use larger amount of sugar in basic recipe. Add 1 cup chopped cranberries and 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts to batter. You can also add 1-1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest.
Piña Colada: Use smaller amount of sugar in basic recipe. Replace 1/4 cup milk with 1/4 cup thawed frozen pineapple juice concentrate mixed with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. Add this to wet ingredients, then mix with dry ingredients. Add 1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (how about macadamias?) and, if you want, 3/4 cup diced fresh pineapple to the batter.
Banana-Chocolate Chip: (my personal favorite and the one I make most often) Add 2 mashed bananas,  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/2 cup (at least) chocolate chips to batter.


My poor husband endured a storm of tears on my part this morning. Nothing big, but lots of little ones building up combined with PMS, makes for a Major Monday Morning Meltdown :-(  Poor guy! How he puts up with me at times I'll never know, but I'm thankful he does!

Busy weekend with soccer on Saturday followed by a meeting to explain the upcoming Word of Life summer camp and how they might earn enough to pay their way. Our co-workers have lined up a lady that makes empanadas who is willing to sell them to the boys at a discount so they can resell them for a profit. If they sell 6 dozen per week until camp in early February, they can cover all their costs (camp, transportation and t-shirt). Empanadas are small meat pies very popular in Argentina, and especially in this area.

Sunday was our co-worker's birthday and we had a fiesta after the evening meeting. Nine of the soccer boys came as well as one mom and another dad. Good times! I spent part of the afternoon in the kitchen making a huge batch of chicken salad. It took as long to clean up my mess as it did to make it :-)  I used pre-cooked rotisserie chickens from the store which saved time and meant I didn't have to heat up my kitchen. Because you can't find seedless grapes and I had no desire to spend another hour removing seeds from the ones I can find, I used Granny Smith apples instead. I think I prefer the apple because it adds some additional crunch to the salad. Just bought a variety of small rolls as a vehicle for the chicken salad -- a little neater than crackers or regular bread. Actually cleaned the grocery store bakery out of their entire stock of small rolls. lol  Do you know how much teenage boys can put away?!

Ivan thought up breakfast yesterday. He prepared grapefruit (using the grapefruit knife to separate all the sections and sprinkling a little sugar on top) while I made potato pancakes with leftover mashed potatoes, and then he threw a bunch of cherry tomatoes into the skillet and cooked them on high heat for a few minutes. We topped the pancakes with the tomatoes and a dollop of sour cream. ¡Muy delicioso! That is now my favorite breakfast.

Our co-workers' middle daughter will be turning 15 next month and that's a BIG deal here. Last evening she gave us our invitation. It's so cute! I'll post a photo of it on Project 365 next week.

Things are beginning to pick up with the holidays fast approaching. And I don't mean only Christmas and New Years; in Argentina school goes from March through early December so the kids have end-of-year activities. Their system is divided into primaria (up to 6th) and secondaria (7th-12th); our co-workers' youngest will be graduating from 6th, so another party is in the works. Next week I'll spend three days helping with oral exams at the English institute again. There's a big peña on December 10th (folklore festival) as well as untold smaller parties among friends. 

Most exciting for us will be the arrival of our daughter in mid December! She has asked me not to mention how many days to go because SHE IS FREAKING OUT WITH ALL THE STUFF SHE STILL HAS TO DO BEFORE THEN so I am not talking about days at all. Not at all. Even a little bit. Because I don't want to stress her out even more. Besides you can do the math :-) No Tina, NOT YOU! Don't do the math. Just get back to work on all those things you have to do. lol

I'm happy to report that even though my son still doesn't have any sensation in the tips of his fingers, the physical therapy is helping him regain strength in the hand/wrist again. But keep praying for complete healing! On his blog he's starting a series on how to build websites which I would love to learn one day but feel I need to keep my focus on Spanish right now. But one of these days!

The daughter gave me her top four choices of frames and two of ours actually coincided! One pair that we both like, Ivan does too. But I'm still not completely convinced. Because of the really dry conditions here I can't wear contacts (I'd be putting eye drops in every hour-on-the-hour and I'm not even kidding) so I'd like to choose a pair of frames I'm going to enjoy wearing for a few years.

Also, at the second place the lady mentioned that if I went with a multifocal rather than bifocal I could get by with smaller lenses. I've been nervous about trying multifocals because I've heard they can be difficult to get used to, but I'm seriously considering the switch. That would give me more options; a good thing since my face is just too small for most of the frames out there.

My cousin Grace sent me a message after yesterday's post and said I look just like my mom. I've thought that a lot this past year after I lost all that weight (my mom was always very thin). Since I've put about 15 lbs. back on the resemblance isn't quite as strong but it's definitely still there :-)  No mistaking me for anyone other than Georgia Shepherd daughter!

I have a tablecloth I need to hem. ¡Hasta luego!


KD said...

Several years ago our church took a mission trip to Salta, Argentina and I first met empandas. hmmmmm. I love them. I was just thinking that maybe I would make some for Thanksgiving. Thanks for reminding me of a great time.

SmallTownRunner said...

Kim, please please please try fresh nutmeg sometime. It is so much more fragrant and the taste is definitely worth it. I don't think we'll ever go back to ground nutmeg. I'm not sure if you can get whole nutmeg there -- they are small nuts, and you just grate them into your dishes. I think Stephan gets ours at Meijer. It's wonderful!

H-Mama said...

Exciting news having your daughter for a visit. ;) I love recipes with variations! Thanks so much!

Oh... and yes, you must try the rolls at least once over the next few months. ;)

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

I've missed so much here, Kim. It's good to be back. and the muffins sound delicious, esp. with all the variations.

SnoWhite said...

that recipe sounds just like the title reads -- sweet and light :) thanks for sharing all the variations.

Susanne said...

Oh my word, those muffin variations sound mouth watering! Peach is one of my faves.

I know exactly what you mean concerning PMS meltdowns.