Category Archives: muffins

Love (aka Cranberry-Lime) Muffins

You may or may not be aware of this, but today is Valentines Day.

Today is also Monday.

And it’s raining.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?!?!

Yes, we should make muffins. I think that’s the best idea I’ve had all day.

Next dilemma: what type of muffins?  I make a batch almost every week, but I haven’t told you about them for a while because I feel like they’re too common most of the time…and well, let’s face it – banana-blueberry-bran-oatmeal muffins are good, but sometimes you need to shake things up a bit.

A few months ago, I came across a recipe compliments of the lovely Joy that jumped out at me because while I often make blueberry-lemon muffins, I’ve never tried cranberry-lime. I filed the recipe away for a rainy day, and went about my business.

Today was that day, folks. The day where the muffins were made. Since I have an inability to follow a recipe exactly as printed,  I changed a few things from Joy’s original recipe but the result was quite good so I wanted to share them with you.

Unsalted butter, milk, eggs, vanilla, lime, AP flour, spelt flour, cane sugar, baking powder, salt, and cranberries.

Measure out the dry ingredients, and set them aside:

3/4 c AP flour, 3/4 c spelt flour, 3/4 c cane sugar, 1/2 T baking powder, 3/4 t salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients:

1/3 c milk, 2 eggs, 1 t vanilla, and the zest of 1 lime.

Set it aside while the butter works its magic…and not only on my hips.

Seriously my friends, I believe the secret to these muffins is the browned butter.  Most muffins use either oil or softened butter, but browning it first takes things to a whole other dimension of flavour.

Curious? Here’s what you do:

To start, melt 7T of butter in a small pot over medium heat.

I suggest you keep an eye on the butter, and not walk away to check your voicemail with people declaring their undying love for you.

I consider it my job to save you from burning your butter.

It’s a responsibility I take very seriously.

Once it melts, keep cooking the butter until it separates and turns light brown…almost like its being toasted.  Resist the urge to stick your finger in to confirm that it doesn’t taste burnt.

Whisking constantly, pour the browned butter in a steady stream into the wet ingredients.  If you don’t whisk constantly, you might end up with scrambled eggs or coagulated butter so be careful!

Add the wet to the dry ingredients, and stir gently to combine.

Fold in 1 1/2 c of fresh or frozen cranberries.  Raspberries would also be delicious – yum!

Portion into muffin tins – Joy says the recipe makes 12 muffins, but I only got 10 out of it.  I suggest you live on the edge and make 11, just for the fun of it.

Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with some extra cane sugar…or raw sugar…or cinnamon sugar…

But whatever you do, since it’s Valentines Day and all, don’t skimp on the sugar.

Please and thank you.

Bake the muffins until they’re golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean…this will take about 18 – 24 minutes at 350-degrees.

Let them cool in the pan for about 15 minutes while you find a use for the (naked) lime sitting on your counter.

(I made a bean salad with cilantro, red onion, garlic, and peppers with a lime-cumin vinaigrette if you’re curious.  Please don’t ask me for the recipe though, because you should know by now that there isn’t one.)

Muffins are ready!

Don’t be shy, let’s dig in together.

These muffins are light, fluffy, sweet, and tart all at the same time.

Love, love, love!

Until we meet again…

xoxo

Jaclyn

Hey Mom – look what I can do!

The top 3 questions that I am asked on a sometimes daily basis are, in no particular order:

~ are you single?

~ why don’t you straighten your hair everyday?

~ how did you learn how to cook?

While I could wax poetic about questions 1 & 2, I’ll save your eyes from reading about my personal life and instead tell you the answer to #3, since I know that food is the reason 95% of you read my blog.  For those of you that haven’t read the story already, here it goes!

When I was a very young child, my mother would go through her cupboards, fridge, and freezer and pull out random ingredients.  She’d set out bowls of whatever she could find, and let me play.  After I had measured, felt, sifted, poured, and mixed to my hearts content, she’d bake my experiment creations so that I could proudly present them to my father for a snack when he got home from work.  As a result, I learned at a very young age that muffins containing 20 limes may turn out a pretty colour but they do not always taste so good, that cookies bake better when they’re all the same size, and that leaveners are very useful unless you want to sharpen your teeth on your baked goods.  Fast forward a few years, and I graduated from this style of “cooking” to being on a first-name basis with Martha Stewart.  Funny how time changes everything, huh?

Now, before we move on, I just want to state on public record that while I am sorry for subjecting my poor Father to my culinary experiments when I was 3, I’m pretty sure he isn’t too scarred.  For reasons unbeknownst to me, he was often “too full’ to eat whatever I made him when he first got home, but I’m sure he enjoyed his treats later on in the evening with his nightly cuppa tea.

Also, for those of you that are wondering whether or not my Mom is crazy for letting her children use her pantry like a sandbox, the answer is no.  She was full-on crazy, but I’m glad she was (is?).

Anyways, even though I’ve long since gone from making muffins with 20 limes (ask my Mom – I dictated my recipes to her and she still has some of them), I still like to open up my cupboards and play every now and then.  I started pulling stuff out of the pantry, fridge, and freezer, and with a notebook close by I started combining.

Curious what I made? Come join me!

You’re looking at spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, ground flax, apple, pear, kabocha squash, 1/2 banana, oil, eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Let’s play!!!

Grind up 1/2 c of blanched almonds in your food processor until they go from this…

To this!

I know what you’re thinking – do I have to go to the trouble of making almond meal? No, of course you don’t – you can buy it but this is my experiment, remember?

Moving on…

Pulverize 1/2 c of oats in your food processor until you end up with oat flour.  Or just buy oat flour.  Doesn’t matter to me!

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to assemble the rest of the dry ingredients:

Besides the almond meal and oat flour, you’re also looking at 1.5c of whole-wheat spelt flour, 2 t baking powder, 1 t baking soda, 2 t cinnamon, 1/4 t salt, 1/2 c coconut, 1/4c sunflower seeds, 1/4 c pumpkin seeds, and 1/4 c ground flax.

Whisk everything together and set it aside for a few minutes while the rest of the ingredients get their act together.

Mash up 1/2 banana and 1/2 c cooked kabocha squash (compliments of the depths of your freezer):

If you don’t have any squash kicking around, just add more bananas or canned pumpkin. I’m pretty sure no one will die if you do so.

Grate up a few carrots until you end up with about 1c worth:

While grating, remind yourself to put a new food processor on your Christmas wish list, right below the Vita-Mix.

You may not know this about me, but I hate grating things manually.

There – I said it.  I know I’m going to sleep better with that off my chest.

While you’re at it, either grate or finely chop an apple.

Why use your hands when there is a perfectly good appliance at your disposal?!?!

It only took me grating my knuckles approximately 27 times to learn that lesson.

Do the same with the over-ripe pear that is begging to be put out of its misery.

All together now!

Besides the carrots, apples, pear, squash, and banana, I also threw in 2 eggs, 1/4 c canola oil, 1/4 c maple syrup, 1/4 c brown sugar, and 2 t vanilla.

Whisk everything together…

Such pretty colours! That right there is why you don’t peel your apples or pears.

And also, I may be a tad lazy.

Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones:

Looking good!

Scoop the batter into greased muffin tins – I made a dozen regular size, and 6 jumbos.

And bake @ 350-degrees (or 325 convection) for about 20 minutes.

Check out the great texture!

I love the different colours and textres in every bite of these muffins.  I also love that they are delicious with butter, which I may have laid on a little thick in my earnest attempt to prove once and for all to Paula Deen that I am her long-lost niece. They’re not overly sweet, but they’re not overly “healthy” tasting either.  I guess I have no excuse for not eating breakfast for the next few days now, huh?  And now that my produce drawer is slightly less full, I also have no excuse for not eating salad for lunch.  Awesome.  Can’t wait.

P.S. Need some more muffin ideas?  Try these!

Banana Muffins

Banana Kobocha Chocolate Chip Muffins

Rhubarb Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

 

(Better than) Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

My flight out of Calgary was a bit delayed yesterday, which meant that I had time to stop for a beverage/dinner pre-boarding.  Conveniently, there was a Starbucks about 10 ft away from my gate so that’s where I ended up.  No sooner did I join the line of people addicted to overpriced drinks than I saw THE sign.  You know, the one advertising the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, and of course, the new Toffee Latte.  Or something like that.  I debated over beverage choices, and while I was ordering my $5.49 Vivanno smoothie (aka dinner), I noticed that their pumpkin cream cheese muffins were also back.  Or maybe they never left the Calgary airport? I was too tired from my spontaneous jaunt through the airport to pay attention to the details, apparently.

Total sidenote, but how is it even possible that someone thinks they can get away with flying with knives in their carry-on bags?!?!  Thanks to those kind souls who considered it their national duty to ensure that the metal detectors at the security check-point do in fact work, I began my training for my 5K race at the airport.  Awesome.

So back to the muffins. I don’t particularly like Starbucks baked goods, and besides, the Scottish in me has a hard time paying $2.95 for a muffin (why does airport food always cost more?!?!).  However, I do love all things pumpkin (except for pumpkin pie), and said to myself “Jaclyn, you can make muffins that taste better! And then you can blog about them!”

I didn’t say that outloud by the way.  I try to avoid talking to myself in public places, especially airports.  It tends to make everyone by the gate uncomfortable, and they all avoid eye contact as if acting captivated by something else will make you sit as far away from them as possible.

I’m not speaking from experience, of course.

After that mini-conversation, I Googled a Starbucks clone recipe as a starting point, and then healthified and personalized it a bit. Cause you know, I’m the Modern Day Martha after all.

I’ll stop talking now.

Go ahead and grab the following:

Flour (I used all-purpose + spelt), cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt, baking soda, eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, canola oil, applesauce, vanilla, cream cheese, icing sugar, and salted pumpkin seeds.  Whew! I practically need a nap after pulling out all of the ingredients.

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a muffin tin with 10 liners.

Measure out the dry ingredients first:

* 1.5 c of flour – I used 3/4 c each of spelt flour and all-purpose flour, but you can use any combination of AP, whole-wheat, spelt, etc. I think I’m going to try baking with quinoa flour next.

* 1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and baking soda

* 2 t of pumpkin pie spice.

Next, the wet ingredients:

* 1 c canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling. I’ve made that mistake before, and never will again.)

* 2 eggs

* 1/2 c white sugar

* 1/2 c brown sugar

* 5T applesauce

* 5T canola oil

*1 t vanilla

Something about brown sugar makes me want to build sandcastles.  Anyone know what I mean?

No? Liars.

Before we combine the wet and the dry ingredients, we should make the cream cheese filling. I used 1/2 a block of cream cheese for 10 muffins and found that they could have used more cream cheese filling, so I suggest you use up to a full 8-oz block if you want to live dangerously.

I also added 2T of icing sugar and about 1/2 t of vanilla since I like things on the sweet side, but I suppose you could leave that out.  Oh, and I used full-fat cream cheese.  It’s what I had in the fridge, and besides, I don’t like baking with the low-fat stuff.  It’s against my religion.

Hey, I said these were HEALTHIER, not healthy.  Everyone needs a break from steel-cut oats and tofu now and then.

Smoosh the cream cheese, icing sugar, and vanilla together…

Put the cream cheese mixture into a piping or Ziploc bag for a few minutes while the muffins are finished.

Whisk the wet ingredients together, and pour them over the dry ingredients.

Stir gently to combine everything.  Don’t overmix your muffins or else I will hunt you down and make you repent of your muffin making sins!

In all seriousness though, over-mixing your baked goods makes them tough, so please be gentle!

Do you have one of these?

It’s a disher/portion scoop, and if you don’t have one or 12 of these, please buy a few ASAP. I suggest you buy at least 3 of them in varying sizes. It will make baking muffins and cookies and meatballs and truffles beyond easy, which will make your stomach sing and your lovehandles rebel.

I still think its worth it though.

Now, I’m about to show you what I did, and give you a variation on what you can do. Pay attention please; it’s for your own good.

I scooped the batter into 10 paper-lined muffin tins like so:

And then squeezed a small portion of the cream cheese filling onto each one…

I know it doesn’t look appetizing. Sorry. Stick with me; it gets better. I promise.

I used my fingers a spoon to push the cream cheese filling down and cover it with the pumpkin batter as best I could without making a royal mess.

I failed.

If I had had more time (HA!), I would have made 10 portions of the cream cheese filling and frozen them so they could be pushed into the batter easily.  If you don’t have the time and have an aversion to using your fingers when you cook, you could always fill each muffin cup half-full, drop the cream cheese in, and then cover with more batter.   There are multiple routes to pumpkin cream cheese muffin bliss, my friends. Just because I like to choose the most complicated way of doing something, but that doesn’t mean that you have to.

Sprinkle some salted and roasted pumpkin seeds on top of each muffin before sliding them into the oven.  This will give a bit of textural interest, and help you use up the 38 bags of random things you have in your pantry.

Once again, I am not speaking from experience.

Twenty-two minutes later, look what happened:

The hardest part of making these muffins is giving them a few minutes to cool before eating.

I AM speaking from experience on that one.

Wanna see what they look like, up close and personal?

An interior shot, for your viewing pleasure:

See what I mean about the cream cheese filling? Next time I’m making double the amount of filling.

Speaking of next time, I’m going to go bake another batch of these right now.  You know, for research purposes.  Why wait on a good thing?

(P.S. I just made batch #2 and found the original amount of cream cheese filling to be perfect for 12 muffins.  Weird I know. I must have somehow picked the one muffin with the lowest amount of filling to photograph earlier.  Smaller muffins = better ratio of muffin to cream cheese. I changed my mind about the doubling after all! )

Rhubarb Muffins

This past weekend I was very generously gifted a very large quantity of rhubarb, with the stipulation that it be used to feed 17 hungry children and 7 hungry adults. I debated what to do – a crisp? a pie? a chutney? – but when I got up early one morning it seemed like the answer was obvious: muffins.  Last time I made rhubarb muffins they were a disaster in every sense of the word, so I knew I had to do several things differently. Namely, adding more sugar and oil and at least some white flour.  Since I don’t remember liking rhubarb as a kid – I think it was probably too tart for my palate – I also figured that if these were going to be kid-friendly, a cinnamon-sugar topping would be a good idea..  I followed my instincts and made a batch, and since they were given the kid (and adult) approved label very quickly, I figured I’d tell you about them too.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera in the kitchen with me that morning so I had to make another batch today.  All for the sake of the blog, you see.

Let’s round up the troops!

All-purpose flour, spelt flour, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, butter, cinnamon, white sugar, canola oil, vanilla, rhubarb, buttermilk (or milk + vinegar).

Let’s make the topping first. Grab yourself about 2T of butter to get things started.

Melt the butter, inhale deeply, and give thanks for all good things.

Add 1/2 c of white sugar and about 2t of cinnamon to the melted butter:

Stir it all together.

Now, before we move on, go make yourself a piece of toast and slather some of this stuff on top. After all, quality control is very important!

Now that you’ve eaten your toast, we can make the buttermilk. Obviously, if you have buttermilk in your fridge you can use that, but I didn’t so instead I made my own by measuring 1T of vinegar into a measuring cup and then adding milk until it reached 1c.

We should let the buttermilk sit for a few minutes to thicken up, so we might as well continue on our prep work. What else has to be done?

Well, for starters, we need to dice up some rhubarb:

And get our dry ingredients ready. Never one to repeat things twice, I made a few very minor tweaks to the original recipe that I used on the weekend.  For the kids, I used all-purpose flour, but today I wanted to experiment with a combination of all-purpose and spelt flours, plus some oat bran.  So I did.

I used 1c of AP flour, 1c of spelt flour, and 1/2 c of oat bran. On the weekend, I used 2.5 c of AP flour.

What is a muffin without sugar? I didn’t bother trying to reduce the amount used, so I added 1.5 c of brown sugar. I also threw in 1t of cinnamon, 1t of salt, and 1t of baking soda. You should too, unless you’re into eating rocks.

Build a sandcastle, and then whisk everything together to break up the clumps of brown sugar.

Buttermilk should be ready by now, so go ahead and add 1 egg, 2/3 c oil, and 1t of vanilla to it.

Whisk the wet ingredients together, and add to the dry ones.

Stir the batter gently to incorporate everything together, like so:

And since rhubarb muffins wouldn’t be complete without rhubarb, add 2c of it:

Stir it together, and then distribute it amoungst 24 muffin cups/silicone liners.

Remember the cinnamon-sugar topping? Now is the time to sprinkle it on top of each muffin like so:

Bake the muffins at 375-degrees for 15-18 minutes.

Let’s check them out!

Yummmm! These are quite sweet and tender, with a hint of spice. These are almost too sweet for me for breakfast, so I may make this into a coffee cake next time or cut back on the sugar. In any event, it looks like rhubarb muffins are a good thing after all!

P.S. Look what happens when you overfill mini-muffin tins…

Oops!!!