Apples and oranges help make a great holiday food gift

Aside from making Peppermint Chocolates I racked my brain trying to figure out what I was going to bake as holiday food gifts for our close friends this year.  This is an annual ritual for me, and most of the time I make big cookie boxes to pass along.  Being on a bit of a health kick this year I wanted to do something other than cookies galore.   I considered my choices, and hashed, and re-hashed the options over and over again in my head.   Leaning toward breakfast goodies I  narrowed it down to cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes, or muffins.   And the winner…..

Oh, these are your clues.  Did they help?  I didn’t figure they would but I just love taking picture of fruit.  I know, weird right? 

This year, muffins won me over.  Apple Oatmeal and Cranberry Orange to be exact.

I’ve made the Apple Oatmeal Muffins before but the Cranberry Orange Muffins were created specifically for this occasion.

I found a recipe for Orange Yogurt Muffins in my Williams-Sonoma cookbook Baking.  I know I’ve mentioned this book a few times before but it’s one of the best.  And no, I’m not getting paid, or any freebies from Williams-Sonoma to promote their book (that would be nice though – hint, hint).  The book just has some awesome recipes in it, along with  pictures of every recipe .  Pictures inspire me.  When I look at my cookbooks without pictures it’s not quite the same. 

With a little tweaking here is what I came up with. This is my adapted version. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 


1 large orange for zest and juice

1/2 c. sugar (1/4 cup for orange mixture and 1/4 cup for later in the recipe)

4 tablespoons of orange juice (from the orange)

5 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 c. of all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

3/4 c. sour cream

3/4 c. milk

1 can of whole cranberry sauce ( you will need to save 1 tsp. for the glaze but should have plenty left over)


1 large orange for zest and juice (you will only need half of the orange)

1 c. powdered sugar

2 tablespoons of orange juice

2 tsp. orange zest

1 tsp. cranberry sauce

pinch of salt

Grease muffin tins, or line with papers. Strip the zest from the orange.  Put the zest into a saucepan and cut the orange in half.  Squeeze the juice from both halves into the saucepan.  Add 1/4 cup of sugar and the butter.  Warm until sugar is dissolved and butter is melted.  Take off heat and set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk together sour cream, eggs, milk, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla and orange mixture.  Add flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.  Mix until blended.

Spoon batter into muffin cups (about 1/2 full) and then place 1 teaspoon of cranberry sauce onto of the batter in each cup.  Cover the cranberry sauce with more batter so the muffin cup is about 3/4 full. 

Bake for approximately 15 minutes.   While the muffins are baking make your glaze.

To make the glaze zest about half of the orange and put the zest into a  small mixing bowl.  Squeeze the juice from the half of the orange you zested into the bowl.  Add powdered sugar, salt and cranberry sauce – mix thoroughly.

Once the muffins are done let them cool approximately 5 minutes and drizzle the glaze on top.

The Cranberry Orange muffins look so festive.  We immediately delivered them to our friends so they could enjoy them while they were  fresh.   Upon arriving at one of our stops we were greeted by one of  our friends little girls who immediately took the container from my hands (before we could even get inside).  Her eyes were wide and bright.  “Are these for us?” she asked.  As her three little sisters got wind of what had just arrive they surrounded their dining room table like hungry little vultures.  Pure excitement and anticipation radiated from them.  A very happy ending for a baker who didn’t know where to start. 

Do you give holiday food gifts?  What kind of  sweet confections are you whipping up to share this year?


The peaches aren’t ready, but – summer apples are!

There’s a story behind these apples and muffins.


Apple Oatmeal Muffins


I asked my friends what I should do with some fresh peaches I had on hand.  I got the greatest  ideas from everyone.  People thinking outside the box (I was stuck in).  Sommer suggested soup – I hadn’t thought of that – sounds delicious.  Dennis suggested grilling them – I never in a million years would have thought of that one.  I especially liked the idea of grilling them and then topping them with vanilla ice cream, and maybe a dash of cinnamon.  Kristen suggested peach syrup – hadn’t thought of that either, and Molly backed Kristen up on the syrup idea.   

So, here is the scoop on the peaches.  They were so fragrant and ripe I couldn’t stand it another minute.  I peeled them, and sprinkled a little  sugar on them and we ate them – end of story.  Feeling guilty that I’d asked my friends for help and then ate them without using a single idea, I stopped tonight to get more.  The grower told me they did not pick them today.  They need a day or two longer to ripen.  Hmmm….  Another fine mess I’ve gotten myself into!  What were my friends going to think of me now?  

As I was chatting with the grower I noticed fresh apples on his wagon.  He went on to explain they were summer apples.  Jersey Macs.  He said they were pretty good, slightly tart, and his wife had just made a pie with them.   When I asked if they were good for eating he suggested I sample one.  Instead of sampling, I bought some ($2.00 for a peck) –  a great deal.  

Now I had to come up with my own idea.  There was no way I could ask again.  Rifling through my cookbooks I found a recipe for oatmeal muffins.  If I did a little re-vamping I could make  apple oatmeal muffins.  Then I would have breakfast ready for tomorrow, and something to share.   

The recipe was adapted from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.  

1 egg (I used two small eggs  produced by our very own chickens)  

1 cup of buttermilk (I used 1 cup of heavy cream)  

1/2 cup brown sugar – packed  

1/3 cup shortening (I used soft margarine)  

1 cup of quick-cooking oats  

1 cup flour  

1 tsp baking powder  

1 tsp salt  

1/2 tsp soda  

2 small apples grated (about 1 cup)  

1/2 tsp cinnamon  

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease medium muffin tins – I used baking sheets.  Beat egg, buttermilk, brown sugar, and shortening.  Mix remaining ingredients together.  Fill tin 2/3 full.   I opted for a topping of oats, brown sugar and cinnamon (which I didn’t measure out) Sprinkle on top of batter before baking.  Bake 20-25 mins.  Immediately remove from pan.  

Makes 12 muffins (I didn’t get that many)…  

I now know how Eve felt after eating the forbidden fruit!  Sorry guys – and thanks for all your ideas…