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I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen these days. To be completely honest, I don’t usually put a whole lot of effort when it come to dinner during the week. A lot of open this bag and reheat this frozen entree type of thing. However, a couple friends of ours have recently become parents, and we’ve been taking meals to them a few times a week. Where I am unwilling to make the effort just for us, it’s a completely different story when it comes to someone else. Mostly I make dinner items that are easily microwaveable, but I’ve also been trying to throw in hand-sized baked goods that are easily consumed in between feedings and diaper changing. This weekend I decided to whip up some Cranberry Maple Muffins.
- After making the Apple Cider Muffins last month, I knew I’d have to overfill the cups to get the generously sized muffins (I think) most of us prefer. With that in mind, this recipe yielded 8 muffins instead of 12.
- I used real maple syrup (from Canada, no less), and if “maple” wasn’t in the title, no one would be able to tell it was an ingredient. It brought the needed sweetness, but if you want straight up awesome maple flavor? This is not the recipe for you.
- This is a personal preference, but without the maple flavor being noticeable, I thought these muffins needed something extra to round out the flavor. My vote would be for some sort of citrus.
In pursuit of getting one step closer to crossing off #8 off of my 30 before 31, I pulled out a cookbook I received for Christmas from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. It’s chock full of chocolaty perfection, and I was eager to make something Andy and I could quickly grab as a snack in between running errands and our household chores.
After perusing the book for a few minutes, I landed on this tea bread. It was pretty simple to whip up, and I thought with a couple of tweaks it would be pretty perfect for us.
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 4 eggs lightly beaten
- 8 oz semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup craisins
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- zest of one orange
- 2 cups self rising flour
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a loaf pan and line the bottom with baking parchment.
- Cream together butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, fully incorporating each. If the mixture starts to curdle beat in 1-2 tablespoons of the four.
- Mix in the chocolate, the crasins, the pecans, the vanilla and the orange zest. Sift the flour and gently fold into the mixture.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pan and create a small well down in the center with the back of a spoon.
- Place loaf pan in the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes to an hour.
- Leave to cool in pan for 5 minutes then carefully turn our to finish cooling.
- Serve in thin slices.
- At first glance, it looks like I changed a lot of this recipe, and to a certain extent ,that is true. I replaced three of the ingredients because of Andy’s food allergies and my absolute disdain of raisins, but I tried to stay close to the original recipe by swapping them for items that wouldn’t alter the integrity. There was still chocolate, dehydrated fruit, and nuts, so I think it all came out pretty true in the end.
- I left my bread in the full hour, and it came out a little drier than I like, which isn’t a problem if you are actually serving this with tea, but I think next time I’ll cut 5-10 minutes off the cook time.
I went a little crazy at Publix the other day. You see Pillsbury released a special holiday Cinnamon Bun Cake Mix, and I may have bought 3 boxes without even thinking about it. Okay, there was a little thought, but it went something like “Look! Special cinnamon cake! Andy likes cinnamon and cake. I should buy a couple just in case they’re awesome.” Fast forward to me trying to shove the boxes into my all ready jam-packed pantry and realizing that they would be in there forever if we didn’t like them. So, I decided to whip up a batch the week before Thanksgiving, knowing that if they weren’t our cup of tea, I could unload the extra mixes on unsuspecting family members. Plus, it gave me an excuse to try out a frosting recipe from Little City Adventures that I had my eye on.
- 12oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2-4 Tbsp milk
- 1 Tbsp orange zest
- 2oz can jellied cranberry sauce
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Beat the cream cheese and butter until combined and creamy.
- Add the vanilla and half of the confectioner’s sugar. Beat until combined and creamy.
- Add the remaining confectioner’s sugar and the milk. Beat until combined.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.
- Once combined, continue mixing for at least 3 more minutes to create a light and fluffy frosting.
- I was a tiny bit disappointed that this frosting never got fluffy. I tend to like a “lighter” frosting, but if thick and sinfully rich is your thing, this is the recipe for you.
- While not my ideal texture, flavor-wise this was spot on. The cranberry and orange cut some of the richness, and I found myself eating far more than I should.
- Also, the cake mix was really good. It was very cinnamon-y, and I could even see eating it without frosting. The house smelled amazing while it was baking.