Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cranberry Pecan Muffins

Sorry I've been away for so long. I've had a couple of posts sitting in blogger, but was too lazy (I mean, um busy) to get the photos edited and uploaded. Now then, these cranberry muffins are super tasty. Add more or fewer cranberries and nuts according to your taste and dietary restrictions.

Cranberry Pecan Muffins
adapted from Leona Luecking's Cranberry Muffins recipe on

1/2 C. butter, softened
1 C. sugar (or Splenda, whatever you think is best for you)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 C. + sour cream (I'll explain below why you will want to have some extra on hand)
2 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground nutmeg (if you don't have nutmeg, you can use whatever spices you think might work. I think 
          I've used various combinations of ground ginger, allspice, and cinamon before.)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 C. chopped fresh or defrosted frozen cranberries
1/2 C. or more chopped pecans (or walnuts, or whatever nuts you have on hand)

2 Tbs. sugar
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. You could do this with your mixer, but since I hate getting my mixer dirty unless I really have to, I just use a fork and mash the two together.

Butter and sugar creamed together. I kind of like to eat a little bit of this bit itself.
Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Fold in sour cream.

It doesn't look like much yet.

In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.

Dry ingredients.

Fold flour mixture into the butter/sugar/egg/vanilla/sour cream mixture just until moistened. Note: this makes a stiff batter, but if yours is not moist enough, add some more sour cream.

Fold in cranberries and pecans.

This is what it should look like. Told you it's a stiff batter.

Fill greased or lined muffin pan with batter. I like to just grease them and not use paper liners-- it's better for the planet and nicer-looking, anyway.

Batter in the pan.

Combine sugar and nutmeg for topping, and sprinkle over muffins.

Hello, pretty.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs.

Mmmm. I made these way back at the end of November. I want more. Now.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I thought I'd kick off this blog with what has become a favorite in my household-- brownies! A classic at bake sales, people love brownies, man. You can eat them with a fork, you can eat them with your hand, kids love them, grownups love them, and let's just admit it, you love them.

This recipe makes a dense, moist brownie with a crunchy top layer.

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook, Clarkson/Potter Publishers, New York, 2005.

1 stick unsalted butter
8 ounces dark chocolate (I like to use Ghirardelli's 60% bars)
1 1/2 C. sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. dark rum (you could, of course, use vanilla)
3/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

If your chocolate is in bar form, bust it up with your fingers while the chocolate is still in the wrapper. This saves you from having to dirty a cutting board and knife (and from getting chocolate bits all over your counter, if you're like me). It doesn't need to be in teeny-tiny pieces, just do your best.

Put the chocolate and the stick of butter into a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Or use a double boiler, fancypants. I just use the bowl from my mixer. Because it's the only heatproof bowl I have.

My hobo double-boiler. (I know, I know, hobos should be so lucky as to own pots and pans.)

Stir often until the butter and chocolate are melted and smooth.

So dark and smooth and delicious.

Take the bowl off the heat and let cool. I like to put my mixer bowl in its stand so that it has air circulating all the way around it, but you could set it on a wire rack.

Please excuse the clutter-- small apartments call for desperate, uh, clutter.

Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture until combined. I added my sugar and eggs in the wrong order, so I don't have any pictures of what that should look like. Mix in your eggs, whisking in only one at a time until combined.

Then, mix in the rum (or vanilla, if you like).

Rum and chocolate. 

Fold in the flour and salt.



Grease your brownie pan in whatever way you prefer. I like to use Pam for Baking, but you could just grease it up with butter, too.

Pour the batter into the pan. If your household is like mine, you will leave a significant amount of batter in the mixing bowl for a certain someone who likes that kind of thing.

It doesn't look like much yet.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through. You want your cake tester/toothpick to have some soft crumbs on it-- that's when the brownies are juuuuust right. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Watch as your loved ones lean in to sniff. Or maybe it's only my loved one who does that. Your brownies might have some cracks. That's okay, mine always do that.


Seriously. He's a sniffer.

  Cut yourself a little slice while it's still warm.


Then add a few scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Even better.

  Then, because you love yourself, add some pecans.


I know that this post is ostensibly about brownies, but here's what we had for dinner: curry joes. Leftover curry (ours is red curry with chicken, corn, cauliflower, and rice) heated up in the microwave and wrapped up in butter lettuce leaves. It's messy, sure, but it's an easy way to do something a little different with last night's curry.