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Super Cutie Cherry Muffins

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For my birthday Mom gave me a set of mini muffin tins to add to my kitchen collection, and she included  the printed recipe for cherry muffins. I had seen the Food Network and country singing star bake these muffins on Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, so I was excited to try them. Naturally, I made some adjustments and now I have a recipe which I can call my own. Today I made these cutie muffins with a bright pink cherry to share with the sisters at Inspire Women, and I was flattered when my treat was called, “Divine.” This is my creation:

Cream together: 1/4 cup softened butter + 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1/2 cup brown sugar.
Add and mix: 2 eggs.
Add and mix: 3 Tbs maraschino cherry juice + 1/4 tsp almond extract.
Sift together: 1 cup unbleached flour + 1/4 tsp baking powder.
In 3-4 batches, add and mix dry mixture into creamed mixture.
Stir in: 1/2 cup pecan pieces.

Scoop muffin batter into mini cupcake tins lined with mini cupcake papers. (Pampered Chef small scoop is the perfect size to portion 2 tsp batter.)
Lightly press 1/2 maraschino cherry into each mini cup of muffin batter.
Bake @ 400* 8-10 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned on top.
Dust hot muffins with powdered sugar.
Remove individual muffins to wire rack to cool.
Makes about 3 dozen mini muffins.

Serve with love! Package these cutie muffins in a basket to give for a gift or share at a ladies’ gathering. They are so super cute and yummy!

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Pumpkin Muffins

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Because I adore pumpkin recipes for fall, I wondered if I could modify my award-winning applesauce muffins (August 2016 archives) by substituting canned pumpkin. Yes! Here is my updated recipe:

Cream together: 1/2 cup softened butter + 1 cup sugar.
Mix in: 1 egg.
Sift together: 2 cups unbleached flour + 2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1+1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp ground nutmeg + 1/4 tsp ground cloves.
Measure into measuring cup: 1 cup canned pumpkin.
Alternately add and mix flour mixture and pumpkin into creamed mixture, beginning and finishing with dry mixture.
Measure into glass measuring cup: 1 cup dried raisins (I’ve been favoring golden raisins). Pour boiling water over raisins and let fruit soak to plump. Strain plumped raisins and fold into muffin batter.

Scoop muffin batter into cupcake tin lined with cupcake papers. (Pampered Chef large scoop or an ice cream scoop is a perfect size for portioning muffin batter.) Bake @ 375* 20-25 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned on top and the toothpick test comes out clean.
Remove individual muffins to wire rack to cool.

Note: I had only a dozen cupcake papers, and the recipe makes 15-18 muffins, so I portioned the extra batter into mini cupcake papers. (Pampered Chef mini scoop is the perfect size for portioning mini muffins.) I don’t have mini cupcake tins (Santa, baby…), so I stood the cupcake papers in a pie dish to fill and bake them. Bake mini muffins 15-18 minutes, until muffins are set on top. Super cute for quick breakfast or little snacks!

Award-Winning Applesauce Muffins

Back-to-school season causes me to crave applesauce muffins. Something comforting about the spices and raisins suggests autumn is coming even though temperatures are still hitting the 80s in humid Houston. I loved when Mom made these applesauce cupcakes (I call them muffins now), and I won with this recipe in the Marion Star cooking contest when I was in 8th grade. I remember Mom helping me decide if I should enter the children’s category or the baking category, and I chose to enter the baking category, so some adults were not thrilled when a middle-school kid took the honor. I also remember one of my best friends coming to the mall for the event to cheer me on and my teachers making a big deal of my accomplishment at school the next day. This is my family’s recipe:

Cream together: 1/2 cup softened butter + 1 cup sugar.
Mix in: 1 egg.
Sift together: 2 cups unbleached flour + 2 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda + 1+1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp ground nutmeg + 1/4 tsp ground cloves.
Measure into glass measuring cup: 1 cup unsweetened applesauce.
Alternately add and mix flour mixture and applesauce into creamed mixture, beginning and finishing with dry mixture.
Measure into glass measuring cup: 1 cup dried raisins (I’ve been favoring golden raisins). Pour boiling water over raisins and let fruit soak to plump. Strain plumped raisins and fold into muffin batter.

Scoop muffin batter into cupcake tin lined with cupcake papers. (Pampered Chef large scoop or an ice cream scoop is a perfect size for portioning muffin batter.) Bake @ 375* 20-25 minutes, until muffins are lightly browned on top and the toothpick test comes out clean.
Remove individual muffins to wire rack to cool.

Serve with love! Applesauce muffins are a wonderful treat because they can pass for a healthy breakfast-on-the-go or lunchbox or after-school snack. I’ve also packaged warm muffins in a cutesy basket to share at a ladies’ gathering or the office. I wish I’d taken a picture, but I baked in the morning and was rushing out the door…

…Ahh, but Mom had the brilliant idea to dig up the press photo from 1979. So, to prove I really did win the Marion Star cooking contest (and to demonstrate I am not vain by my willingness to post this tragic middle-school picture on the forever web), here I am so extremely excited to display my award-winning applesauce cupcakes. I do not remember if I thought I was having a good hair day.
muffins

Hot Cross Buns

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Friday is Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus Christ our Savior went to the cross to die for our sins and offer eternal life to those who believe in him and call him Lord. To honor Jesus’s sacrifice and the Easter celebration I have been baking hot cross buns. I had first been inspired to make hot cross buns when Food Network’s Pioneer Woman made them and shared the tradition that delivering hot cross buns to friends on Good Friday ensures lasting friendship. I googled several recipes, and, of course, I’ve developed my own variation. One special addition to my recipe is a combination of dried cranberries and golden raisins. To me, the red fruit symbolizes Jesus’s blood which he willingly shed for us and the golden fruit symbolizes his glory when he rose on the third day. This is my creation:

Hot Cross Buns

Set out 4 Tbs butter to soften.
Combine in small glass bowl: 1/2 cup dried cranberries + 1/2 cup golden raisins + fresh juice from 1 orange. If the dried fruit is not covered in juice, add hot water to cover fruit.
Let fruit soak and plump for about 10 minutes. Then strain juice from fruit.

Combine in another glass bowl: 1/4 cup very warm milk + 1/2 tsp sugar + 1 envelope (2+1/4 tsp) yeast.
Stir a bit. Let yeast activate for about 10 minutes.

Combine in large bowl of stand mixer: 1/2 cup very warm milk + 1/4 cup packed brown sugar + 4 Tbs softened butter. Start mixer.
Sift together: 1/2 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp ground allspice + 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg. Add spices to bowl; continue mixing.
Add: 2 beaten eggs + proofed yeast mixture. Continue mixing.
Change to dough hook attachment. Add 3+1/2 cups flour, 1 cup at a time and mixing between additions until soft dough forms. It’s sticky.

Working with floured hands, turn sticky dough out onto floured surface. Knead dough a few times and pat it flat; Sprinkle 1/3 of the drained fruit onto the dough; Knead dough to mix in the fruit; Pat it flat; Sprinkle another portion of the drained fruit onto the dough; Knead dough to mix in the fruit; Repeat with final portion of drained fruit. Transfer the dough to a large buttered bowl; Cover with a tea towel; Let rise until double in volume, about 1+1/2 hours.

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Working with floured hands, turn dough out onto floured surface. Use a large sharp knife or dough cutter to cut ball of dough into 3 equal portions; Cut each third in half; Then half again so you end up with 12 bun-size pieces. Form each bun into a ball and place in buttered 9″x13″ baking dish. Cover buns with tea towel and let rise until puffed, about 30 minutes.

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When buns are ready to bake, brush them generously with egg wash (beat 1 egg with a splash of water until frothy) to give a glossy glow.
Bake @375* until golden, approx. 15-18 minutes.
Cool tray of buns on wire rack. While buns cool set out cream cheese to soften. When completely cooled decorate with cream cheese icing.

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Cream Cheese Icing

Mix together: 2 oz softened cream cheese + 1 cup powdered sugar + 1/2 tsp vanilla. Add a splash of reserved fruit juice or milk if needed to loosen frosting.
Spoon icing into a plastic baggie and cut a tip off corner to pipe the icing through. Decorate buns with nice thick crosses – because frosting is yummy and because my Savior gave himself on a solid cross, not some wimpy thin tree.

Remember to share with friends. Happy Easter! Christ Is Risen!

Pumpkin Bread

Many pumpkin bread recipes have been shared this fall as we enter the season of Thanksgiving. I like to bake loaves for gifts to show appreciation to special people. This recipe makes a mammoth loaf; it took our sweet housekeeper two hands to carry hers yesterday. So, the batter is enough to split among four mini loaf pans. Like the tomato bouillon recipe (October 2013 archives), I made up a history that this was my great-grandma’s recipe when, according to my Mom, she got the recipe from an old neighbor friend. This is my Mom’s recipe, with my update on method for plumping the raisins:

Soak 1 cup raisins in apple juice or cider. When raisins are plumped, strain.
Cream together:
1 + 1/2 cup sugar;
2 eggs;
1/2 cup canola oil;
1/2 cup water.
Sift together:
1 + 2/3 cup flour;
1 tsp baking soda;
3/4 tsp salt;
1/2 tsp baking powder;
1/2 tsp cinnamon;
1/2 tsp nutmeg;
1/2 tsp cloves.
Alternately mix into creamed mixture: flour mixture + 1 cup 100% pure canned pumpkin.
Fold in: plumped, strained raisins. Optional: 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.
Grease and flour loaf pan; Pour in batter.
Bake @ 350* 60-75 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes; Remove from loaf pan to wire rack to continue cooling.

Share with friends! Happy Thanksgiving!

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