All this talk about muffins, I think we'd better have some recipes.
My recipe for lemon poppyseed muffins is to put them on the grocery list. I've experimented with various lemon/orange poppyseed recipes, and for me they always come out too dry, and the flavor is never intense enough. The flavor thing is especially irritating because I'll add, say a tablespoon of lemon extract (not cheap) and also dried lemon zest (not cheap), and I'll even break down and grate some fresh zest, and the lemon flavor is still barely perceptible. So! Swistle Says: If you want lemon poppyseed muffins, buy a mix, or buy a package of already-made from the bakery.
But if you want Pumpkin Spice Muffins? Stay right here:
Pumpkin Spice Muffins
1 and 2/3 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2-3 t. pumpkin pie spice (or, see below)
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 T. grated lemon peel (or, see below)
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
you can also put in 1/4-1/2 c. golden raisins, but I never have
Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spice. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, lemon, butter, and walnuts. Add contents of medium bowl to large bowl and stir just until mixed. Spoon batter evenly into 12 greased or papered muffin cups, and bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Pumpkin pie spice alternative: 1 and 1/2 t. cinnamon, and about 3/4 t. (I just do a well-rounded 1/2 t. so I don't have to screw around with a bunch of measuring spoons) each of ground ginger and ground cloves. The exact quantities don't seem to matter much.
Grated lemon peel alternative: I hate grating my own zest, so I put in a t. of lemon extract and maybe half a t. of dried lemon peel--but I think just the extract would be sufficient.
I always double the recipe because I love these muffins and they freeze so well.
Here's another favorite (the kids like these best):
Banana (and/or Pumpkin) Chocolate Chip Muffins
2 extra-ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (or, see below)
1 c. dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 t. vanilla
2 and 1/4 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
3/4 c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, combine bananas, eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and chocolate chips. Add contents of medium bowl to large bowl and stir just until mixed. Spoon batter evenly into 12 greased or papered muffin cups, and bake 25-30 minutes.
Banana alternative: Two bananas is roughly 1 c. of banana. Sometimes I use one banana and 1/2 c. canned pumpkin. Sometimes we don't have any ripe bananas, so I use no banana and use 1 c. of pumpkin instead. It doesn't seem to affect the flavor much: the cinnamon and chocolate overwhelm the banana/pumpkin.
Speaking of muffins, do you have a disher? It looks like this:
(Also pictured: our genuine 1960s gold-flecked countertop, covered in knife cuts from previous owners who evidently did not own a cutting board.)
This particular disher is a #20, and it is exactly right for muffins. (Note: the recipes above will make more like 14-16 muffins using a #20 disher. So when I say "exactly right," I mean "I love it and don't know if another size would be better or not, because I know nothing about disher sizes except for the one I have.") It has improved the quality of my life, since I hate trying to fill the cups "evenly" and pre-disher-days I always ended up pinching a little batter from this one to that one in an effort to make them exactly perfect, and also getting muffin batter all over the edges of the muffin pans from glopping batter off the mixing spoon.
I thought of this disher the other day while answering Shauna's post about gift-giving. It's an example of one of the times Paul got me something he thought I'd want--not something I asked for--and it's been a huge success. He's a fan of Alton Brown, and apparently Alton Brown is a fan of dishers. Alton Brown uses the #20 disher for cookies, which makes big cookies. And who can argue with big cookies? I rest my case: you need a disher.
Gift ideas for an 8-year-old, part 1 of 2 - I have TWO 8-year-olds to buy for, so I’m going to split it up into two posts. Today will be the things we’re getting for Edward. I dislike saying “Gift id...