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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2006
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Surprise friends and neighbors with a basket of Cranberry Orange Muffins.
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Surprise friends and neighbors with a basket of Cranberry Orange Muffins.

Muffins make a tasty gift

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com· 340-2446

Looking for something different to make and take to friends or neighbors for the holidays?

Muffins and breads are good alternatives to cookies, and they may be better than cookies or candy for those trying to watch their diets.

A holiday basket of fruity Cranberry Orange Muffins may be the perfect gift; the recipients may enjoy them with morning coffee or afternoon tea, or save them for a holiday breakfast for guests.

This recipe is from Martha White. The company's baking expert, Linda Carman, says the key to tender muffins is to stir the batter just until the dry ingredients are moistened; the batter should be lumpy.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread is another idea for holiday giving, because loaves can be wrapped with colored plastic wrap (perhaps still in the disposable aluminum loaf pan) and decorated with ribbon and a tag. This Nestle recipe includes fresh, frozen or dried cranberries, orange juice, canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.

For a different taste sensation combining some favorite flavors, try Nestlé's Choco-Chunk Raspberry Muffins.

Cranberry Orange Muffins

2 cups self-rising flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup melted butter

1 egg

1 cup chopped fresh cranberries

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with paper baking cups. In medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and orange peel; mix well.

In small bowl, combine milk, butter and egg; blend well. Add to flour mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened (batter will be slightly lumpy). Fold in cranberries and walnuts. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.

Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

2 teaspoons baking soda

1½ teaspoons salt

3 cups granulated sugar

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin

4 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup orange juice or water

1 cup sweetened dried, fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9x5-inch loaf pans. Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil and juice in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended.

Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans. Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Note: Various sizes of loaf pans may be used. For three 8x4-inch loaf pans, prepare as above and bake for 55 to 60 minutes. For five or six 5x3-inch mini-loaf pans, prepare as above and bake for 50 to 55 minutes.

Choco-Chunk Raspberry Muffins

1 10-ounce package frozen red raspberries in syrup, thawed

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 6-ounce container raspberry low-fat yogurt

1¾ cups (11.5-ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate chunks

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat 18 to 20 2½-inch muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray. Drain raspberries; discard syrup.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make well in the center. Combine eggs, milk, oil and yogurt in medium bowl. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in raspberries and chunks. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with pecans.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove muffins to wire rack to cool slightly; serve warm.

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