squash muffins

Winter Squash and Cranberry Muffins Perfect for Sleepovers

It's December already and I am still sorting through summer clothes and several newspaper articles from last March and April that I was going to read when I had more time.

Why am I always so far behind?

I should be posting about Hanukkah. But somehow I am more focused on New Year's weekend. Probably because I made some unbelievably delicious winter squash muffins recently.

That really isn't a non sequitur. I thought of these muffins because every year we celebrate the coming new year with my brother and sister-in-law and my cousins. The cousins sleep over for a few days. We watch a lot of movies. Watch a lot of British mystery tv (Morse, Endeavor, Foyle's War, etc.). We sit around and enjoy each other's company.

We used to drink a lot of wine but have slowed down over the years.

We used to eat much more too.

(You get older, you can't keep going quite the same way, the same amount, the same speed.)

Still, there are meals to consider.

Breakfasts are usually smoked fish, bagels and stuff like that. 

But every once in a while I like to break up the monotony and have at least one different something for breakfast.

This year: those squash muffins I mentioned. I made a few batches recently and I can honestly say that they are the best muffins I ever ate. I've given some out as samples to my usual "tasters." Most of them also said they were the best muffins they ever ate. 

You'll see.

WINTER SQUASH-CRANBERRY MUFFINS

  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup mashed cooked squash (or canned squash or pumpkin)
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin tins. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger and whisk the ingredients to distribute them evenly. Set aside. Beat the sugar and vegetable oil in the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium for a minute or so or until well combined. Add the eggs and beat them in. Add the orange juice and squash and blend them in thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients to the squash mixture and stir gently until just blended. Fold in the cranberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared tins. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins

 

Squash Muffins

It only took two months to gain about 10 pounds after I started my first full-time job. 
 Back then, even back then, in the dinosaur era, when the only yogurt you could find easily was Dannon (in maybe 6-7 flavors), I brought a yogurt to the office. I was a freshman attorney in a big, bustling law office on Wall Street. I was so clueless then I didn’t realize that the proper office hours were NOT from 8:00 a.m., when I liked to get in (so I could also leave early and have a life), but 10:00 or 10:30 (and then have dinner with the team and come home late). 
 I brought in my yogurt and ate it early, but then, when the rest of the lawyers came to work, they would bring like a full American breakfast: eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast. 
 So, in order to try to be part of the team and a little less clueless, I ordered in breakfast too. Usually it was a blueberry muffin and some juice. Those blueberry muffins cost me 10 pounds. 
 But I did learn three things. One, I could never consume an “American breakfast” at my desk. It always reminded me of how bad your car smells when you have french fries wrapped up in a paper bag getting all soft and steamy. 
 Two, that food writing pays a   lot less   but has been an infinitely better career for me than working day and night as a lawyer. 
 Three, that I love, love, love muffins.  Blueberry muffins  sometimes, pumpkin or squash muffins now, when the scent of autumn spices is so alluring. 
 Squash Muffins 
 4 tablespoons butter 
 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
 1/2 cup sugar 
 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
 3/4 teaspoon salt 
 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg 
 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger 
 1 cup buttermilk 
 1 cup mashed squash 
 1 large egg 
 1/2 cup golden raisins, optional 
 Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 10 muffin tin cups. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl. Place the buttermilk, squash, egg and melted butter in a second bowl and beat to blend ingredients thoroughly.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix just until combined. Fold in the raisins if used. Fill muffin cups evenly with the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 15 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and serve warm or let cool to room temperature. Makes 10

It only took two months to gain about 10 pounds after I started my first full-time job.

Back then, even back then, in the dinosaur era, when the only yogurt you could find easily was Dannon (in maybe 6-7 flavors), I brought a yogurt to the office. I was a freshman attorney in a big, bustling law office on Wall Street. I was so clueless then I didn’t realize that the proper office hours were NOT from 8:00 a.m., when I liked to get in (so I could also leave early and have a life), but 10:00 or 10:30 (and then have dinner with the team and come home late).

I brought in my yogurt and ate it early, but then, when the rest of the lawyers came to work, they would bring like a full American breakfast: eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast.

So, in order to try to be part of the team and a little less clueless, I ordered in breakfast too. Usually it was a blueberry muffin and some juice. Those blueberry muffins cost me 10 pounds.

But I did learn three things. One, I could never consume an “American breakfast” at my desk. It always reminded me of how bad your car smells when you have french fries wrapped up in a paper bag getting all soft and steamy.

Two, that food writing pays a lot less but has been an infinitely better career for me than working day and night as a lawyer.

Three, that I love, love, love muffins. Blueberry muffins sometimes, pumpkin or squash muffins now, when the scent of autumn spices is so alluring.

Squash Muffins

4 tablespoons butter

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup mashed squash

1 large egg

1/2 cup golden raisins, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 10 muffin tin cups. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a bowl. Place the buttermilk, squash, egg and melted butter in a second bowl and beat to blend ingredients thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix just until combined. Fold in the raisins if used. Fill muffin cups evenly with the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for 15 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and serve warm or let cool to room temperature. Makes 10