Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! improvised muffins edition

By the end of the day yesterday, the side of our house looked like this:

And today it looks like this:

There doesn't appear to be a huge difference between the two, and while I admit I was hoping for more progress on the siding, there was substantial work done that you can't see. For example, when the carpenters pulled the old aluminum siding off the gables, they discovered that whoever built the house didn't bother to board up the attic, but just slapped some sheets of foam over the opening and nailed siding to it. Not good. They also pulled off a bunch of rotten wood from around the windows and worked on putting up new trim. And pulled out damaged foam from the corner where some mice had at one time set up housekeeping (YUCK. I do not like mice. At all. They are horrid little vermin that do not belong in my house.)

See the boarded up window there with a giant cord running through a hole drilled in the plywood? That's our electric line and it's been that way for a month. The cord snakes all the way through the basement in front of doors and across the entrance to the bathroom. Soon the utility company will come and permanently bury the line in a trench, but until they do, we have to live with an ugly tripping hazard.

Anyway, that's my update on the reno project. Exterior work has been rained out for the next day or so, and the guys are otherwise engaged later in the week, so we won't get anything else done before next Monday. I'm trying to be patient. I'm not very good at it.

Meanwhile, I did squeeze in a tiny little Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! project with Anya this afternoon. (Daniel had homework so he was off the hook.) In between getting the kids home from school and dashing to a late afternoon rehearsal, we mixed up some muffin batter to go with chicken soup. A cold rainy day calls for soup and muffins, don't you think?

I improvised off a basic muffin recipe from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion.We were short an egg and we added a bunch of ingredients to make the muffins a little more exciting. Both the basic recipe and our adaptation are below.

Ever since Anya cut her finger making lasagna, I'm a little skittish about my kids using sharp tools, but I think I need to just get over it. They're careful and they need to learn how to use these things. Still, when Anya was grating apples, I couldn't help but hover!

She did just fine, of course, and was a champ at breaking eggs and measuring flour and sugar and cinnamon for the batter. We mixed it all up and put it in the fridge before I dashed out the door for what should have been a quick rehearsal but turned into more of a therapy session. 

The soup was delicious (no picture, and anyway you don't really need a recipe for chicken noodle soup, do you?) and the muffins were good. Maybe not jaw-dropping knock-your-socks-off I-can't-stop-eating-these fantastic, but pretty good. And they went well with the soup.

I have a pampered chef ceramic muffin pan a friend of mine got for me with he r sister's wholesale discount. It is awesome. These things are worth the investment if you can manage it. This one cost me $27, which isn't even all that bad considering how much I use it.

All-Star Muffins
  • 3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose or cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 T. (1 stick) butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sour cream
  1. Beat butter and sugar until creamy and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla and sour cream.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then add to wet mixture and mix just to combine.
  4. Bake at 400 degrees 18-24 minutes or until golden on top and a cake tester comes out clean.
  5. BONUS! The batter keeps well in the fridge for several days. You can mix it all up and bake a few muffins at a time to have fresh for breakfast.
Now, my version had a lot of changes. I went from three eggs to two (because we ran out). I substituted a cup of whole wheat flour for one cup of the white. I added about a cup of grated apple, 1/2 cup of raisins and 1/2 cup of sliced almonds and some cinnamon to the batter for extra flavor. I also forgot to add the sour cream until almost the end, so it got a little over mixed. As a result of all these changes, our muffins were slightly denser than the original, but they still tasted good with chicken soup. And BONUS: we have batter left over so I can make a fresh batch later this week without all the measuring and mixing.


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