Cranberry Muffins

I normally don’t go for muffins, but I wanted to bake something today, but didn’t want to bake something too unhealthy, so muffins it was. Most muffins are actually pretty unhealthy, but I can honestly say these are healthy. They have dried fruit, they do not use sugar (honey or agave instead), and they use whole wheat flour. So you see, they are pretty healthy, and quite tasty at that!

Ingredients:
Oven: 350 degrees
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (If you do not have WW flour, you can use 1.5 cups white flour)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup honey (or agave)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2/3 cup low fat or skim milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup dried cranberries
zest of 1/2 lemon
Directions:
Line a muffin pan with liners or spray with nonstick spray if you do not have liners.
1- Mix the flours, baking powder and salt in a medium-large bowl.
2- In another medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, honey, lemon zest, and butter until well combined.
3- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and add the cranberries and lemon zest. Fold everything together until just combined.
4- Fill muffin cups 2/3 of the way and bake for about 15 mins minutes. Check after 10 mins.
Enjoy!
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Cinnamon Rolls

Unfortunately I probably won’t be able to enjoy these since I’m getting over a stomach virus that put me in the ER for the day on Monday, but at least I can enjoy the smell! I decided to make these because a)I had everything home and I didn’t feel well enough to go to the store and b) it’s horribly cold outside.

Most cinnamon rolls take about 5 hours to make, but I’ve cut the time down to about 2 hours with this recipe. I omitted the scalded milk and added some other time saving steps. They turn out just as wonderful as the 5 hour kind and even better than store bought:)

Ingredients:

2 cups of warm water
1/2 cup sugar + another 1/2 cup sugar
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Canola or Vegetable oil
5-7 cups cups of flour

Directions:

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the sugar and salt. Mix. Add the oil, 2 eggs, 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Stir in 3  more cups of flour. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading it, adding in more flour, 1/2 cup at a time, as needed until dough is no longer sticky. Let the dough rest in a lightly oiled bowl for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 1 tbs butter in the microwave. In another bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tbs cinnamon (less if you don’t like the cinnamon flavor as much). Put both the butter and cinnamon/sugar mixture aside.

After 20 minutes, roll the dough into a rectangle that’s about 24 to 30 inches long by about 16 inches wide. Spread melted butter on top with a pastry brush and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Starting at the wide end, roll into a log. Cut the cinnamon rolls into equal sized slices (approximately one inch wide each or slightly more) and place close together (touching even) into two greased  pans. Cover with saran wrap and put in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes (See picture)

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (or until the cinnamon rolls are golden brown).
Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then turn out of the pans.

And for icing, you can either make a cream cheese icing or a regular white buttercream icing. Since cream cheese icing is the standard, here’s a simple recipe:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream the butter and cream cheese together. Add the vanilla extract and cream another 30 seconds. (Always add flavorings directly the fat in your mixture). Add the powdered sugar and mix slowly at first and gradually picking up speed, until creamy. Put on cinnamon rolls only after they are very cool.

Oh fudge!

I posted pumpkin fudge around Halloween, but recently I made chocolate fudge. The process for chocolate fudge is exactly the same as pumpkin, but I’ll go through it once more. You only need 6 ingredients, 5 if you count vanilla as an ingredient. I actually forgot to add the vanilla and it didn’t make a big difference. Some people say it enhances the flavor. I think that’s true if you’re using real vanilla, but I only have the imitation stuff, which doesn’t really cut it most of the time. Also, when using chocolate make sure you store it at room temperature, unless it’s very humid where you live. I bought the chocolate I used for this recipe in August and I live in the NE, so it gets very humid, so I stored it in the refrigerator. When the weather turned cold, I should have taken it out, but didn’t and when I went to use it to make fudge, the chocolate had bloomed. When chocolate blooms, it gets that grayish tint to it. This means the cocoa butter in the chocolate separated. Not a big deal. It’s still fine to use, but it won’t have that nice, deep color. So what I’m saying is to properly store your chocolate.

Oh before going into the recipe, don’t attempt to make this without a candy thermometer because testing for soft ball stage is just way too hard and then you have to cool the fudge to 120 degrees, so please just get a candy thermometer.

Ingredients:

4 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate

3 cups sugar

2 tbsp light corn syrup

1 1/4 cups milk

4 tbsp butter

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Line an 8 inch square pan with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray.

Melt chocolate in pan over very low heat. Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and milk. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring until sugar dissolves.. Cook to 238F on candy thermometer. Remove from heat, and without stirring, add butter.

Let cool in the pan to 120F. Add vanilla and beat until mixture begins to thicken. It will begin to lose its shine, that’s when you want to pour it in the pan. Don’t wait to long or it will set as you are mixing it, which is not fun at all. I had to mix about 1 min.

Pour mixture into the pan and cut into squares when cool. It will last one week sitting out or about 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Super Nifty S’mores Brownies

I was looking around online today to see what I could do for dessert tonight and came across s’mores. I thought to myself that s’mores are something I haven’t had in ages and that their multiple layers of sweet goodness is something that might make for a good dessert for tonight. I then asked myself how I can make them with the things I have home already. I remembered I had box brownie mix, graham crackers, and butter at home already, so all I would need are marshmallows and I would be able to create a kind of brownie s’more. yum.

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1- 1 box brownie mix

2- about 4 graham crackers smashed to crumbs and places in a bowl

3- about 6 tablespoons butter, melted

4- marshmellows

Directions:

1- Melt the butter.

2- Add the melted butter to the smashed graham crackers and stir to coat. All the graham crackers should be evenly coated.

3- Press the graham cracker crust into small custard cups, ramekins, or a pie plate. I didn’t have enough custard cups, so I ended up using some custard cups and some individual tart pans, which worked out alright.

4- Pre-bake the crust(s) for about 8-10 minutes. While the crust bakes, make the brownie mix.

5- Take the crust(s) out of the oven and evenly divide the brownie mix among the custard cups or pour the mix into the pie plate.

6- Bake for about 30 mins or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

7- Once done, take the marshmallows and place some on top of the fully baked brownie. Broil on high until the marshmallows are at your desired level of brownness.

Serve warm.