Cranberry Orange Muffins with Apple and Pecans

My system requires fruit and it is my belief that if you are going to consume carbohydrates it is best dome in the morning!  My husband is not a muffin fan so since our children have been grown I have seldom made them.  It occurs to me we both get very bored repeating the same breakfast so for my part I am going to try muffins for a while.  We will see if he joins me.

This recipe made 9 Texas size muffins and can be more easily consumed than two dozen or more in a recipe.  My inspiration is the Lazarus cookbook fro their restaurant published in December of 1990.   I have adapted in in several ways to my taste and preferences.  They are delicious!  Where have these been all my life?  Breakfast was good today!

Ingredients for Cranberry Orange Muffins with Apple and Pecans:

1 extra large egg
1/2 C. sour cream
1/2 C. buttermilk
1/3 C. vegetable oil
3/4 C. sugar
1 C. rough chop pecans
1 peeled and grated fresh apple
1 whole fresh orange washed and cut into 1/8ths then chopped in the food processor
1 C. dried cranberries (or grind fresh)
2 1/4 C. all purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
2 t. Vietnamese cinnamon (or other cinnamon on hand)
1 pinch salt
1/2 t. orange flavoring
1/2 t. vanilla bean paste (or 1 t. vanilla)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place rack so tops of muffins are in alignment with the center of the oven.  Lightly butter 9 Texas size muffin cups or 12 large muffin cups.

Beat together the egg, sour cream, buttermilk, oil, and sugar.  Stir in the flavorings.  Fold in the fruits.

Combine in a separate bowl first the walnuts, then flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon stirring well to combine.  This will help keep the nuts from falling to the bottom.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients stirring just enough to combine.  Do not over mix.

Divide  the batter into the muffin cups evenly and bake for about 25 minutes,  A tooth pick inserted into the center of a large muffin should be clean when removed, 

Cool for 10 minutes then remove from the pans.  Serve with warm butter or make Orange Honey Butter for a special treat!

Ingredients for Orange Honey Butter:

1 C. soft butter
2 T, honey
2 T, grated fresh orange zest

Whip the butter and honey until light and fluffy.  Fold in the orange zest.  Serve on muffins toast, or biscuits. 


Switiching My Diet Plan to Alton Brown's Today and Here is Why......Plus I took a Brisk Walk This Morning and Enjoyed the Blooms of Spring!

If you are going to walk this is my ideal time to start with the dogwoods blooming in our neighborhood! 
Life has it's way with us all and there are some big bumps along the way.  During those stress filled and often scary times I forget about everything including healthy eating and my diet. This past fall and winter has been a dilly for us.  I admit to envy for those who can't look at food under stress but I am not one of them.

I do love the plan I have had success with but I get tired of everything including diet plans.  So, I am switching as of today to Alton Brown's food list.  It is easy, makes sense and is not far off of what I have done in the recent past.  You get a once a week red meat, white starch, desserts, and alcohol day which is comparable to the "free day" in the old plan.

What I am totally drawn to is the fact that it calls for fruit every day and I need that.  My system requires it.  I can do this!

I started this morning with a walk at 7:30 AM.  There are some REALLY big hills here in my neighborhood and I was huffing and puffing but I feel all the better for having done it.  Years ago when I was in my early 40"s I walked up to 7 miles before going to work almost every day.

Then my aches and pains got the best of me and I quit.  Well I am thinking I can do a short walk 3-4 times a week and be none the worse for it.  Worst case it will require knee surgery sooner but what the heck!  This is not called for on this diet plan but I just want to do it!

I do love a good salad.
Here is Alton Brown's plan:

List 1: Foods to Eat Daily

Dark leafy greens
Green tea
Whole grains

List 2 Foods to Eat Three Times a Week

Sweet Potato
Oliy Fish

List 3 Foods to Eat Once a Week

Red Meat
White starch

List 4 Foods to NEVER Eat and Avoid at all Times

Processed Meats
Canned Soups
"Diet" anything

There are several sites online if you want more information.  Just Google  Alton Brown's Diet Lists as I did.  I did see him on TV some time back talking about this and giving the food lists so there is plenty of information out there if you are interested.

So after my banana and raisin bran breakfast and a walk I think it is time for a cup of that green tea I normally don't drink but gonna give it a try.  Later!


Easy as 1-2-3 Parker House Yeast Rolls, Light as a Feather and Delicious

Delicious and Easy as Pie!
If I only make one yeast roll recipe again for as long as I live this will be the one.  It combines many of my favorite elements into an easy, light as a feather, moist, delicious and forgiving yeast roll!

The recipe from the King Arthur Flour website combines instant mashed potato flakes in the recipe for the soft feather light characteristics of potato bread.  It uses the one bowl dump the dry then the wet ingredients and allows for a 7-8 minute knead on a dough hook from your electric mixer.

The rolls are easy to form and rise beautifully.  Just a great great recipe and dinner roll!

Ingredients for Parker House Rolls:

3 C. all purpose flour (I used King Arthur)
3 T. sugar
1 1/4 t. kosher salt
3/4 C instant potato flakes
2 1/2 t. instant yeast
1 C. warm milk
1 large egg
3 T. soft butter
3-4 T. melted butter for tops

Compile all of the dry ingredients in a large mixer bowl and whisk together.  Add the egg to the warm milk and whisk.  (The milk needs only to be warmed enough not to be cold and not cook the egg!)
Add the wet mix and the butter to the dry ingredients and mix together to form a shaggy dough.  I used the dough hook.  Then knead with dough hook for 7-8 minutes until smooth and elastic.  I added a little additional flour so  the dough did not continue to drag the bottom of the bowl as I had an extra large egg!


This step is borrowed from the English who lave long used heavy pottery type bowls warmed and used to enhance the rise of bread dough.
Use a heavy bowl and fill with very hot water,  next empty and dry the bowl quickly.  Butter the bowl well and turn the ball of dough into it coating on all sides with the butter.  Cover and let rise for 90 minutes.

Cut the dough in half and butter a clean work surface lightly.  Pat or roll the dough into a 8" x 12" rectangle.  Butter the top of the dough.  Cut the rectangle in half longways forming two 4" x 12" rectangles.  Fold over longways about 1/4" from the edge.  Cut into 4, 3" portions and place side by side longways in a buttered 9" x 13" pan.  Do the same for the remaining strip of dough then repeat with the other half of the remaining dough.  Cover and let rise one hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Brush tops of rolls with melted butter.  Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes until browned and serve warm.

Yield 16 rolls.


Easy Make Ahead 5 Layer Ice Cream Cake Makes for "Ohhs and Awws!"

This is the easy way, I don't want to work at it, make ahead dessert to please young and old alike.  You have lots of options too!  You can use any cake or cookie base, any flavors of ice cream or sherbet, and optional sweetened whipped cream depending on just how far you want to go!

I would recommend using a spring form pan and parchment paper just for the sake of ease.  Or you could use saran or other strong plastic wrap.

You can bake your own cake or cookie layer in the spring form pan as directed or use a purchased cake you can trim to fit!  I recommend removing the cake from the spring form pan after it is totally cool and then putting it back when you start to assemble!

Make either a tall collar around the inside perimeter of the spring form pan or place layers of plastic wrap  tall enough to drape over the outside but pull up around the layers as they become taller than the sides of the pan.  After the cakes freeze solid they will be easy to pull away from the sides.  I would NOT put anything under the actual cake or cookie layer as you will leave the whole cake on the removable disk bottom of the spring form pan to serve from.  Just place the whole thing on a decorative flat cake plate to serve.  I found it easiest to cut with a large serrated bread knife.

Ingredients for My 5 Layer Ice Cream Cake:

1 box brownie mix baked in a 10" spring form pan (or your choice)
1/2 gallon each Bryer's  Chocolate, Strawberry, and Vanilla ice cream (or your choice)
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
2-3 T. sugar

After baking and cooling the brownie layer and removing it from the pan, reassemble the spring form pan and place the color around the perimeter and return the layer to the bottom.  Snap securely shut.

Using an electric mixer whip the cream adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time until it forms soft peaks.  Set aside.

Cut the cartons away from the ice cream one at a time.  Cut the rectangle into thick slices, about 5/8" thick or thereabouts.  Place the large slices down over the brownie first then cut smaller triangles and shapes to fit.  By now the ice cream has softened somewhat and you can press it out to seal the edges somewhat.

My first layer was chocolate.  Repeat the layers as above.  Next I used vanilla and then strawberry.
Be sure to add additional parchment as needed to form a tall tube as you go.  Frost the top with the whipped cream.  Drape plastic wrap across the entire top of the tube and set in the freezer at least overnight.  Longer is fine too!

Be sure you have made ample space in the freezer to place the completed cake.  Before serving you may want to further decorate with cherries, strawberries, chocolate curls or anything you can imagine!  This makes a large dessert, 12-16 servings depending on the size of your slices.  We had 11 for Easter dinner and there were 5 generous slices left to store.  I placed the single slices in individual plastic containers and stored them in the freezer.  Ready at any time to be enjoyed with no mess!


Easter Menu, Spring has Finally Sprung and We are All Smiles!

A few years ago I made the twins these Easter baskets.  They make me smile.
Today is Good Friday and I thank the Lord for His suffering to give us life.  I am thoughtful and prayerful this morning in the face of the state of the world knowing that we are so very blessed to be in our town, state, and country.  Thankful for all of the veterans who have more than anyone except Christ suffered and given their service, and their lives for us.

God and country and the right to bear arms, free speech, freedom of religion, and the pursuit of happiness.
So spring is coming!

Greening up!
The daffodils are in bloom and I have spent the last two mornings puttering around in the yard!  Blowing leaves and picking up sticks is no chore at the end of a long winter.  It is a joy to be able to get outside and do these chores!  I am also planning our Easter Menu and reading for our traditional Egg Hunt!

I will be watching for the lilacs to bloom!
Our Easter Menu

Baked Easter Ham  (Baked last night and will slice in the morning to heat up for Easter dinner.)
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Fresh Green Beans
Deviled Eggs 
Fruit and Cheese tray
Hot Rolls
Ice Cream Cake (Love this make ahead dessert.)

Happy Spring One and All.   Have a Blessed Easter too.