Cranberry Anything Muffins

One of the reasons I generally like cooking better than baking is that cooking tends to be a little more forgiving when it comes to experimentation and substitutions. Lately, though, I’ve been playing with quickbreads. For this recipe, I took elements from three or four recipes and hoped for the best. These muffins were good enough that I wanted to remember and repeat.

I specifically wanted these to be low fat and low sugar.  They ended up being vegan too.


  • 1 1/2 cups flour (you could use some wheat flour — I didn’t have any)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup almond milk (you could use any kind of milk)
  • 1/2 cup butternut squash puree
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar (you could use brown or white sugar)
  • 2 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1 cup cranberries (I gave mine a little whir in the food  processor)


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper baking cups.
  2. Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda,  cinnamon, and coconut in a large mixing bowl and stir. In a second bowl, mix the applesauce with the milk, squash puree, agave, and bananas with a wooden spoon. Add the flour mix slowly, stirring just until moistened. Carefully stir in the cranberries. Do not overmix — the batter is supposed to be lumpy.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Bake 18 to 20 minutes.


Forty Cloves of Garlic Chicken

This was easy, easy, easy and so delicious. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of garlic — it becomes really mild, and the garlic can be eaten separately as a vegetable or spread on bread or crackers. The recipe calls for unpeeled garlic, but I had bought the peeled kind (at Trader Joe’s), so I used about half peeled and half unpeeled.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chicken (3 pounds), cut up
  • 40 garlic cloves, unpeeled (or peeled)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large Dutch oven, melt butter in oil. Add chicken and cook, turning, until golden, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Tilt pan and spoon off all but 2 tablespoons fat. Add garlic and stir to coat. Sprinkle with lemon juice, thyme, salt, pepper, and water.
  3. Cover tightly and bake 1 1/2 hours.

Winter Beef Stew

I found this recipe on an old Kraft calendar. It was called “Perfect Winter Beef Stew,” but I can’t verify the “perfect” yet. It’s simmering on the stove, and it does smell pretty good. Also, Jason asked me to omit the bacon (what?!?!), so I don’t think my version will be perfect anyway because everything is better with bacon (except, according to Jason only, soup).


  • 3/4 cup Italian dressing
  • 2 pounds beef for stew, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped (apparently optional)
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can beef broth


  1. Place dressing and meat in a large resealable plastic bag and refrigerate 30 minutes (or more) to marinate.
  2. Cook bacon until crisp; drain.
  3. In a large saucepan, cook onions and mushrooms on medium-high heat for 10 minutes, or until soft.
  4. Remove meat from marinade; discard marinade.
  5. Add meat, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes with their liquid, broth, and bacon to saucepan and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 75 minutes.
  7. Simmer uncovered 15 more minutes, or until meat is tender and sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.

Things I Wish I Would Remember

These are things that I don’t always do when I bake (or cook) but that make the whole experience so much more pleasant.

  1. Start with a clean kitchen.
  2. Get all my ingredients and/or necessary tools out before I start.
  3. Clean up/put things away as I go.
  4. Get up  before the kids wake up (unless I am specifically doing something for fun with them, of course).
  5. Drink coffee when baking, wine when cooking.
  6. Use the baking time/downtime to blog or read (or organize recipes?).
  7. Make some notes on the recipe for next time.

What would you add?