My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Archive for the ‘muffins’

Zucchini-Cheddar Muffins 0

Posted on August 22, 2011 by crankycheryl

What kills me is that when I consult this blog as a record of my days, it’s going to look like I did practically nothing this summer.

Friends, I did everything this summer.  The boys and I have been out and about, camping and playing and exploring. We’ve read a ton and seen movies and visited family and friends.  I’ve been cooking up a storm.  Canning, freezing, snacking, everything.

I’ve been working, and even (sound the trumpet) am preparing to start a brand new full time job with the University of Vermont’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture.  (Which, let’s face it, I wouldn’t jinx by advertising in advance, except the director has called and gotten my social security number and birthdate to get my paperwork started, so I’m pretty sure it’s true.)

I’ve written articles and emails and lots and lots of copy for a variety of projects.  Just not here, somehow.

Ah well.  We’re here now.

Among all of these other things, I had the good fortune to be able to provide the food for a friend’s brunch on the day after his summer wedding.  They had friends and family coming from all over the country, and they wanted to show off Vermont’s great food with a big Green Mountain brunch feast.

We got planning, and I scored some help from a friend who’s a NECI grad, and we spent a couple of days making all manner of piecrust and waffles and slicing fruit and making currant lemonade and steeping fresh mint for iced tea.  And maybe the most humble-appearing item of our line-up were these muffins, more like scones because they were so rich.  And containing zucchini because Pike said, “Well, it’s summer in Vermont.  We’ve got to have zucchini there.”  Which is totally true.

These muffins are so buttery, cheesy and good that they would have deserved to be on the menu anyway.  Just today, weeks later,  Z. helped himself to one right out the freezer from the few leftovers we’ve still got.  He would have eaten it that way, but Greg took pity and got him to thaw it in the toaster oven first.  Good.   Good either way.

Zucchini-Cheddar Muffins
Makes about 12
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

  1. Preheat an oven to 350.
  2. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin and set aside.
  3. Whisk together in a bowl:
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
       4.   Add and toss to separate and coat with the flour mixture:
  • 1 c. shredded zucchini
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallions
  • 3 T. chopped fresh basil (we had purple, so that’s what I used)
      5.   Whisk together in another bowl:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. buttermilk or yogurt
  • 4 T. melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
       6.  Add to the flour mixture and mix with a few firm but gentle strokes, just until the dry ingredients are moistened.       (Let the batter stay lumpy.)   Scoop into cups of pan, then bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out     clean.  Let cool in pan for a few minutes, then enjoy while a little warm, or else cool on rack.


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Blessed Silence Sunday: Breakfast Cupcakes 0

Posted on February 07, 2010 by crankycheryl

Banana-squash muffin with cream cheese frosting.

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Apple Pie Muffins for My New Favorite Person 2

Posted on January 29, 2010 by crankycheryl

Everyone, meet Glen.  Although he wouldn’t let me take his picture head-on, Glen is my new favorite person.   Why?  Because Glen (there in the purple) is bringing to a lovely and so far uneventful close the “Leaking Bathtub, Buckling Floor, Toxic Mold of Death,” chapter of our lives.

Allow me to recount:

We purchased our unit before it was even constructed as part of this new cohousing community.  It’s a great location, with trees out every window, lovely.  It was also the first unit to be completed.  We didn’t consider that we would be moving into the beta version of the development.  Instead I simpered, thinking how precious it was that our condo would be the ground-breaker in this little eco-communitarian paradise.

Over time, various problems arose, some large, some less so, mostly of the seems-normal-for-new-construction variety.  Then, in spring 2009, I noticed that the floor of the bathtub was feeling a little soft.  I invited neighbors over and we climbed into the bathtub in our socks, springing up and down a bit.  “Hmm,” we said.  Hmm.  We shrugged.

The caulking on the side of the tub kept pulling away and I keep dutifully replacing it.  Then, sometime in June, a small hill appeared in the linoleum near the tub.  Though I tried to ignore it for a couple of days, it was hard to keep that up.  Greg tapped his foot at me, and I started asking around for recommendations for a contractor.  My mother recommended Glen, who’s a friendly and burly Australian native.  We walked around the bathroom and started talking about likely causes.  If I was lucky, said Glen, it would prove to be a leak from the toilet’s gasket.  If we were unlucky, it would be a leak from the tub.  The only way to find out the cause would be to take up the floor and look, and he’d have to line up a plumber to assist.  Hmm.

A couple of days later, CrankyGreg came into the bedroom and said, “Um, I just tried to scratch some dirt off the tub, and I poked a hole in the tub.”  A hole in the tub was not something I’d ever really considered before.  We went to look at it, said, “hmm,” a couple of times.  I got on the phone to cancel a camping trip we’d been planning, since I’d have to stick around and get this fixed.

So I started making phone calls.  I left a message with the project’s general contractor, who never returned the call.  I spoke with the foreman of the plumbing subcontractor, who was the linchpin in getting to the tub’s manufacturer, but it took him 6 weeks to write three sentences on a piece of paper and submit it to the right people.  I called my insurance company, who promptly told me that my policy excluded damage incurred over time.  I contacted the condo association’s insurance company, who told me the whole thing would take about $1,200 to fix, including a new floor, new sub floor, new bathtub, and any necessary repairs.   We said, “No, thank you.”

I reported this to Glen, who told me to call back when I knew what I wanted to do.

In the meantime, we had a hole in the tub, but it was summer and kind of fun.  I sent the boys outside in the sprinkler to get clean, or else we went swimming.  A couple of times, I borrowed neighbors’ bathrooms, which was a chance to marvel at how clean other people’s homes are.

But time went on and the leaves started turning and now I really wanted some action.  Every time someone coughed or sniffled I became surer that we were sick because of mold spores.   I contacted the supplier of the tub, who had me talk to the quality assurance person at the manufacturer.  I’m pretty sure I’m the only homeowner he had ever spoken with, because what he mostly said was that I couldn’t call him, and had to deal with the supplier.  I called my lawyer, who came over and stood with me and looked at the tub and said, “hmm,” a few times and then told me I really should make some phone calls and get it fixed.  But that now he’d know what I was talking about when I called.

I really needed help.  In desperation, I called my insurance company and asked if there was someone who could just help get something done, like quarterback this for me.  From the other end of the phone came chirping crickets, silence, more silence, then, “You want us just to help you?  No.  We don’t do that.”

If there was a bright spot in my dealings with this wacky cast of characters, it was Donna at F.W. Webb, who had purchased the unit.  Although neither of us knew what to do, she made suggestions and gave me names and phone numbers.  Finally, now in October, I told Donna that I had had it, and asked her to relay to the tub’s manufacturer that she had an extremely irate homeowner who was ready to call the state’s attorney.  A few minutes later, Donna called back with the name, phone number, email and fax number of the person who handled such claims.  She told me what I needed to do.

It took me until December to have the two necessary estimates (in Vermont, we don’t do much in the way of home repairs in November because it’s deer season), and send them off to the company.  Then just before Christmas, I got a call from Scott, one of The Big Bosses at the manufacturer, who was telling me that they were of course going to replace the tub and pay for all necessary repairs.

So as I write this, I have a newly installed tub, and am picking out new linoleum (this, I think) and paint (Misty Memories, 2nd row from bottom, 2nd column from the right).   The toilet isn’t attached, and Greg says I’m on dukey duty if the boys decide to use it anyway.

That aside, things are looking up. The damage was fairly contained to one area, and there was no actual toxic mold.  I even heard words I’ve never before heard in this context, “You know, everything went right for you that could have.”  and now Glen is leaving for the weekend.  But not without having had some Cranky Love in the form of Apple Pie Muffins, really the least I could do.

Of course, the job isn’t quite done yet.

Apple Pie Muffins
Makes 12

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk together in a medium bowl:

  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c. unbleached white flour
  • 2 T. ground flax seed
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. cinnamon (I used cardamom, which I always do, but I don’t like to go on and on about it like I’m some kind of weird cardamom nut)

In a large bowl, mix together well:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 5 T. melted butter or olive oil
  • 1 1.2 c. peeled, cored, chopped apple, or apple pie filling

If you use fresh apples, let them sit for 10 minutes to soften.

Stir the flour mixture into the egg-apple mixture, just until mostly combined. A few lumps (not just the apples) should remain.

Put into muffin tins and bake for 14 – 18 minutes.

When done, remove pan from oven and let muffins cool for a few minutes in their pan before removing to a rack to cool completely. Feed them to your contractor and any other people who might be hanging around looking hungry.

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Sweet Potato-Pineapple-Chocolate Cardamom Baked Things 1

Posted on December 07, 2009 by crankycheryl

I’ve been finding myself thinking about muffin tops.  Mostly in an, “Nnnnnnrrr!  Mmph!  I don’t need to, grrr,  go up a size in jeans.  Zip, damnit!” sort of way.

And then last night my neighbor presented me with the last Thanksgiving leftovers – a whole pot filled with mashed sweet potatoes with pineapple.   It seemed like an easy thing to turn into some good food, so off I went with promises to share whatever resulted.

Since we had no baked goods around for snacking or behavior-related bribery, something in the sweet and yummy category seemed right.  So half of the sweet potatoes became:

Sweet Potato-Pineapple-Chocolate Cardamom Muffins & Bread
10 – 12 servings
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan or 12-cup muffin pan.

Whisk together thoroughly:

  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. baking powder

Combine in another bowl:

  • 1/3 c. water or milk
  • 1/2 t. vanilla

In a large bowl, beat until creamy:

  • 6 T. unsalted butter

Gradually add and beat until fluffy and light, about 3 minutes:

  • 1 c. sugar or brown sugar

Beat in, one at a time:

  • 2 large eggs

Add and beat on low speed just until blended:

  • 1 c. sweet potato (or pumpkin, or butternut squash) puree

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts, stirring with firm strokes just until blended but still lumpy.

Fold in:

  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. crushed pineapple

Scrape into pan or muffin cups.  Bake about 30 minutes for muffins, or one hour for bread.  Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing to rack to cool completely.

And why did mine come out so flat?  Here are some ideas from Chowhound.  I don’t know why I can’t seem to remember that my oven’s so slow and I really have to set it 25 degrees higher.

The rest of the sweet potatoes is destined for my attempt to recreate the amazing Southwest Sweet Potato soup I had at (one of my workplaces) The Scuffer the other day.  Picturing cream, broth, chipotles en adobo, a little smoked paprika.  Of course I’ll be reporting back.


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Upside-Down Apple Maple Cornmeal Cake with Cheddar 1

Posted on November 11, 2009 by crankycheryl

I’ve been awfully busy with work!  There’s this (still tickets left as of this posting):


and here, where you really ought to know that the freshest seafood in Burlington appears every Thursday, and the floor and kitchen staff will smack me if I cause any more people to show up for 1/2 price locally-grown burgers every Wednesday:

Scuffer doilly comp

and these, because these small people just seem to keep having birthdays and getting ever taller and smarter and cupcake-loving:

cupcake small

But no matter that I’ve had so much to do, there was the fabulous Melissa Pasanen on Facebook, posting a picture of a Caramelized Green Tomato Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake from a recipe she had picked up from a chef in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.  Holy smokes, did that look good.

What with the late blight here, I had no green tomatoes, but yes, apples galore.  And though I didn’t get that fabulous recipe, it was pretty easy to put together an apple and maple version that’s awfully homey and nice.  I made a proper upside-down cake with half of a doubled recipe, and a batch of muffins with the other.  If you too make some of it into muffins, make sure to use liners since they do tend to have the sticky maple-y apples fall right off the bottom.  I spotted Z. sucking on the parchment cupcake liner this morning at breakfast, so this doesn’t seem to be a terrible problem.

cornbread apple cake 013Upside-Down Apple Maple Cornmeal Cake with Cheddar
Makes 1 9″ cake, or 12 muffins

  1. Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425.
  2. Grease a 9″ pie plate, or line a muffin tin with 12 muffin liners.
  3. Peel, core and slice:
  • 3 apples (I like Gala for a cake like this), and toss with
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 3 T. maple syrup

cornbread apple cake 0014. Arrange apple slices in bottom of pan or muffin liners.  Set pan aside.

5.  Whisk together in a large bowl:

  • 1 1/4 c. stone-ground cornmeal
  • 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt

6.  Whisk together in a medium bowl:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 2/3 c. buttermilk or yogurt
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup

7.  Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir just until moistened.  Stir in:

  • 2 -3 T. melted butter or vegetable oil.

cornbread apple cake 0118.  Pour over apple slices.  Cut

  • 3 oz. cheddar cheese

into 1/2″-wide long squares and insert into center of muffins or at some sort of interval around the cake.

9.  Bake muffins for 12 – 14 minutes, or cake for about 25 minutes.  Let muffins cool on rack until ready to serve.  If a whole cake, let cool thoroughly before inverting onto a plate.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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