Treat your friends and family to muffins Christmas countdown

October 24, 1990

Muffins may be the perfect gift for that hard-to-please person on your list. Sweet or savory, muffins freeze very well. Wrap them in foil and keep them in the freezer for up three months. Advise the recipient to keep the muffins frozen and be sure to tell them the last day the muffins can be enjoyed. Once thawed, the muffins will keep in the refrigerator for about five days.

Frozen muffins can be reheated by wrapping them loosely in foil. Heat frozen muffins for 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Room temperature or chilled muffins reheat in five to ten minutes at 250 degrees.

The cranberry muffins are shown in the photograph on the front page.

Cranberry Muffins

3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For muffins, combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in center of mixture and add milk, butter, eggs and vanilla. Stir just until all ingredients are moistened, batter will be lumpy. Stir in remining ingredients. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full with batter.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a muffin sprigs back when gently pressed.

Makes about two dozen muffins.

-- Adapted from "The Spirit of Christmas" edited by Anne Van Wagner Young; Leisure Arts -- 1990.

Oatmeal Raisin Muffins

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup uncooked old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup raisins

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter eight (7 tablespoon) muffin cups. Fill any unused cups with water.

Stir together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine the milk, butter, egg and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the milk mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in the raisins. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean. Remove the tins to a wire rack and cool for five minutes before removing the muffins from the cups. Finish cooling on the rack and serve warm or completely cool.

-- "Muffins and Quick Breads" by Irena Chalmers; Longmeadow Press -- 1989, $4.50.

Italian Muffins

1/3 cup butter

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

3/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup sliced, pitted ripe olives

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly butter nine (6 tablespoon) muffin cups. Fill any unused cups with water.

Heat the butter, garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes in a skillet until the butter is melted and the garlic has just started to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and cool for ten minutes. Stir together the flour, Parmesan, sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl combine the milk and eggs and then stir in the melted butter mixture. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, add the milk mixture and stir just to combine. Stir in the olives. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean. Remove the tins to a wire rack. Cool for five minutes before removing the muffins from the cups. Serve warm.

-- "Muffins and Quick Breads" by Irena Chalmers; Longmeadow Press -- 1989, $4.50.

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