Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cranberry Orange Muffins

As I mentioned here, Thanksgiving this year was a bit different than in years past. The biggest difference for me is that we didn’t spend it in Winston-Salem. Instead, we spent the weekend at the beach. Because we celebrate the holidays with so few family members - the result of my parents’ siblings and their families living in Australia and Kansas - it was logistically easy to move our five-person gathering to the beach. Jason and I drove down after eating Thanksgiving brunch with his family, making it there just in time to eat, but not prepare, any of Thanksgiving dinner.

We spent the weekend doing a whole lot of nothing. I wrote several blog posts, baked tasty muffins, finished reading Hotel at the Corner of Bitter + Sweet, ate shameful amounts of food (though in small but frequent meals, as my stomach seems to be getting smaller as quickly as my belly is getting larger), watched two terrible movies, all while continuing to marvel at every kick, and punch, and hiccup that little snow pea delivers.

Several friends and acquaintances, especially of the male variety, have asked me if it is weird or strange to feel the baby moving around. Pre-pregnancy, I would have asked the very same questions but now that I am experiencing it, I have to say that it neither weird nor strange.

Instead, it is a little frightening, as every single movement is a reminder that this is real. And each shift in position leads to another question: Will she inherit my impatience? What about my haphazardly wavy hair? What kind of baby, toddler, adolescent, and adult will she be? Will we have a strong relationship?

It is also awe-inspiring. There is child - a daughter - that has grown from a tiny single-digit mass of cells into a human being that has bones and muscles and is able to kick me square in the ribs on a daily basis. Someone that we will finally get to meet in less than six weeks (if she is on schedule).

But mostly these bumps and turns and pushes are comforting. If she is kicking and rolling around in there, she must be thriving, right? And the physical discomfort I experience must be indicative that she is growing into a healthy, ready-to-be delivered baby.

In the last week or so, these movements have grown a little more predictable, a little more persistent. If I’m stressed, she moves less. When I am ready to go to bed, she moves more. And about five minutes after I’ve eaten, she moves most! Given the holiday that celebrates thankfulness through the abundance of food, it should come as no surprise that I experienced quite a bit of movement this weekend. These muffins specifically got her tossing and turning!

Cranberry Orange Muffins
adapted from Obsessed with Baking

Makes 14 muffins

Preheat oven 400º

In an electric mixing bowl, combine:
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs

Beat for 1-2 minutes.

Mix in:
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange juice
zest of one orange

Mix in until just incorporated:
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

Line muffin pan with liners.

Fill each halfway with batter. Add 1 teaspoon leftover cooked Thanksgiving cranberries.* Use a skewer to swirl in the cooked cranberries. Fill to liner’s rim with the remaining batter.

Bake 17 minutes. Once toothpick comes out clean and tops of muffins are golden brown, remove from oven. Remove muffins from pan and place on cooling rack.

Prepare orange glaze and orange-zest sugar.

*If you don't have leftover cranberries, add 1/2 cup raw cranberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup orange juice to a small saucepan and let simmer covered 10-15 minutes over medium heat.

Orange Glaze
In a small cereal bowl, combine:

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice

Microwave 90 seconds.

Orange Zest Sugar
In a medium cereal bowl, combine:
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon minced orange zest

Hold muffin upside-down and dip the top of the muffin in the orange glaze. Let excess glaze drip off and then dip the top of the muffin in the orange zest sugar. Repeat. Serve warm with a dollop of butter.

Eat up!

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