Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Tale of Two (Kinds of) Muffins

I've recently learned to love banana bread (as long as there are no nuts). I bought bananas about a month ago and they finally were brown enough to use. The day actually coincided with the day I tried the store brand of apple sauce I'd bought in attempt to save money (note to self: there's usually a reason the store brand is not the leading brand). It turned out to be too gross to eat, but I'm on a strict no-wasting policy now (I've always been bad at this, I'm turning over a new leaf), so I reached back into the files of my memory and recalled a time when I made applesauce muffins with my mom. I think I might've been about four years old. I have no idea. Maybe I wasn't. In any case, I don't remember anything else about them except that I had fun making them, and that they were good.

I googled an applesauce muffin recipe, pulled up a banana bread muffin recipe my friend had given me, and thus began the great muffin project!

It went along pretty much without a hitch (aside from a quick trip to the store mid-mix to get more brown sugar and butter), and I was able to successfully create 36 muffins from scratch in a one-hour window (curse starting late due to distractions and needing to finish on time so you can attend the soccer game of certain amazing boys and girls).
An army of muffins!

All in all, I was really impressed with the taste. We ended up giving 4 to one of the aforementioned soccer-playing girls, 6 to a group of those soccer-playing boys, and 8 to one other soccer-playing boy who really needed them (though I'm certain his roommates ended up eating them too). That left 18 to be consumed by my roommate and I, and boy was it worth every bite (no, we did not eat them all at once. I would have, but that would've been gross). And now, the recipes.

Applesauce Spice Muffins
adapted from Epicurious.com (mine has more spice)
For muffins:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
~2 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
~1/2 teaspoon ground allspice (didn't use, which is why there's so much more cinnamon)
~3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
6T butter
1 1/3 cup applesauce
1 cup pecans or walnuts (3 1/2 ounces), coarsely chopped (I omitted. Yuck, nuts!)

For topping:
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
~1 teaspoon cinnamon
~1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (again, didn't use)
~3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Prepare muffins:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Grease muffin pan or line with muffin papers. (The batter makes about 16 muffins)
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl until combined well, then add butter, a little at a time, whisking until mixture is creamy. Stir in applesauce, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened. Stir in nuts (if using) and divide batter among muffin cups.

Make topping and bake:
Stir together all topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 18-20 minutes (depending on your oven-- keep an eye on them, you do NOT want these gems to burn).

Banana Muffins
adapted from Cooks.com with tips from my friend Reyna and my own adjustments
1/2 stick butter
1 1/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
2 large heaping spoonfuls flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. sour cream
3 mashed ripe bananas
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
1/2 c. chopped pecans (I omitted, again nuts=gross)

Grease or line muffin pan (again makes about 16 muffins). Beat butter until fluffy. Gradually add sugar. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Add to sour cream to the sugar mixture. Add bananas and pecans (if using). Sift flour, baking powder, soda, and salt together; mix just until well blended. Turn into prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes (depending on your oven) or until pick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean and they look and smell delicious.

P.S. Forgive my blurry and unprofessional photos. I live in a basement and took them at night.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Long Time, No Eat

No excuses from me. I'm sorry for the absence.
I actually made this back in January (eek!), possibly even before the soup post, I'm not sure. In any case, I wanted to show y'all that I don't always make desserts, and that I am also capable of making things that don't require several ingredients.
Thus, I give you...
...And yet, so delicious! I started with frozen chicken tenderloins (cheaper than breast, but I'm definitely paying the extra next time, to avoid tendoniness) and marinated them in Worcestershire sauce/Mesquite spice/thyme/who knows what. I then proceeded to fry them up in olive oil, then steamed some peas in butter, and through some frozen sweet potato fries in the oven until they were (mostly) crispy. Add a side of ranch dressing, and WABAM, dinner!

I was very pleased with myself A) for having something other than macaroni and cheese for dinner, B) for remembering to take a picture of it for posterity, C) for using frozen food successfully, and D) for the marinade actually tasting good, even though I was pretty sure it wouldn't.

I took issue with the stringiness of parts of the meat (again, next time I'll splurge on breast). I was also kind of irritated that the fries were still a little mushy, even after cooking them longer than was required. Maybe that is just the way of sweet potato fries, but I wish it wasn't so.

Okay, I know this was a lame post, but I need to get back into the groove of blogging. It's been far too long.