Thursday, April 10, 2008

Although spring has officially arrived, it remains cool and blustery here in western Montana. So I feel no qualms about keeping my oven warm in the process of baking some warm and yummy goodies. What sorts of foods, then, have been tumbling out of my kitchen of late? Muffins, of course!

I attend a women's Bible study group every Thursday morning, and last week it was my turn to bring some snacks to nosh on while we chatted about God and life. I decided to bring corn muffins, served with a side of applesauce. I put dried cranberries in half of the muffins, and left the other half plain. They were a hit, especially the cranberried muffins, and everyone complimented the choice of applesauce as a garnish. As for me, I enjoyed my test muffin the night before with a spoonful of mango peach salsa and quark. Mmm. (Find the recipe for these puppies below.)

Then I decided to make some bread. This past Christmas, I inherited a vast tome of a Williams and Sonoma cookbook from my grandmother that is devoted to baking. The breads recipes offered in the book are all intriguing and delicious looking, but I felt tired of following everyone else's recipes. I wanted to write my own. After doing a little research on proportions of such items as flours and baking soda and powder, I pieced together a recipe of my own. The result was a hearty bread with a nutty taste and texture -- whole wheat almond pear bread. Check out the recipe here, along with the rest of a complete menu for a spring-y Mother's Day brunch.

Earlier this week, the lovely moderators of the Royal Foodie Joust over at The Leftover Queen forums revealed the three ingredients for May's event: mango, cardamom, and brown sugar. Already a huge fan of mango salsa, and having a container of if stashed in my fridge, my brain immediately began percolating exciting ideas. Since I came up with so many dishes that I want to try my spatula at, I am going to experiment with a few things before submitting my entry. First up, as is only proper, was a muffin recipe. More specifically, mango salsa muffins. It unfortunately did not turn out quite as I had planned, but that's quite all right -- I've still got more than a fortnight to play in! I want to devote a blog post just to these cute bundles of mango-y goodness, but I will leave you with a glimpse of them to satisfy -- or perhaps tantalize (she said with a wicked gleam in her eye) -- your curiosity.

And now, onto a recipe!

Classic Corn Muffins

2.5 cups AP flour
1.5 cups corn meal
1/2 cup applesauce
2 cups fat-free yogurt
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup egg replacer (or 4 eggs, beaten)
1 cup cranberries (adjust to your preference)
canola oil cooking spray

Turn the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix in the yogurt, applesauce, and eggs, stirring until just combined.

Spray a muffin tin with the non-stick spray. Distribute the batter between the muffin cups.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Serve with applesauce or salsa and sour cream. Makes 24 muffins.

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