Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday

I don't do the whole Black Friday shopping thing. Yes, I love to shop, and given a Friday off of work, I'd probably be shopping at some point during the day, but not on Black Friday. I'm against this for two reasons. First, I hate crowded shopping areas. I find that crowded shopping areas almost always contain rude people that will push, elbow and generally disregard all others in search of the coveted item. The second (and more important) reason I don't believe in shopping on Black Friday is that its the day after Thanksgiving! I think it should be spent with family and friends, not in a dark parking lot waiting for the mall to open. Now that you know where I stand on Black Friday, I have a little confession to make. This year I made a tiny appearance at a couple stores on Friday morning.

My camera broke back in August, and since then I've missed a few weddings, get togethers, and parties that I would have otherwise documented with loads of pictures. I figured that it was about time to replace my camera, and Black Friday was probably the best time to do it, since I am trying to save my money to spend on others instead of myself! I researched the camera I wanted, looked up prices at a couple places, and decided that I'd go to BJ's first thing on Friday morning. The BJ's in Nashua is about a mile from the mall, and Best Buy is closer to the mall (and a Black Friday hot spot) and Target is attached to the mall, so I figured BJ's would be my safest bet for getting in and getting out quickly. And instead of driving (I wasn't sure how full the parking lot would be) I ran there. What better way to burn off some of my two dinners? After all the mashed potatoes, rolls, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pie, I'd certainly carbo-loaded enough for a marathon or two!

Friday morning was very cold and rainy, so I bundled up and set out on my mission. Just as I got to the top of the hill that BJ's sits on, I heard a car slowing down next to me. It was Pat! He had woken up and realized how cold and rainy it was and didn't think I should run in that weather! So sweet of him, although he should know that I'm tougher than that! He came into BJ's with me, and I picked out my camera. I was only going to buy the camera, since I'd be able to fit it in my small backpack for the run home. Now that Pat was here with a car, however, I started looking around. I loaded up on more canned pumpkin (6 jumbo cans!), got the SATC2 movie, and also bought 5 small poinsettias (originally $2.97 each but on sale for $0.99 at Lowe's, next to BJ's)! 
After shopping in my cold, wet clothes, I decided to take Pat up on the offer for a ride home. So I only ran 3.5 miles instead of 7, but once we got home I changed into dry work out clothes, fueled up with some oatmeal, and Pat and I went to the gym for a long chest and tri session. 

Back from the gym, I got to my baking. Friday night was my mom's Thanksgiving, and I was bringing cranberry muffins. I found this recipe in the Hannaford November/December recipe catalog. 

Cranberry Surprise Muffins (by Jane Dornbusch)

The "surprise" is a rich vein of lime-scented cream cheese filling inside (I had lemon, so my surprise was lemon-scented cream cheese filling!). It will melt a bit into the baking batter, making these the moistest muffins ever. Tart cranberries provide a zesty burst of flavor.

Dry ingredients plus butter:

Butter mixed in:

Eggs whisked:

Sugar beat into the cream cheese until fluffy:

Add one egg and lemon zest to the cream cheese:

Mix it all together:

Batter. After doing chest and tris at the gym this was quite painful to beat!

Add in some cranberries (I forgot to chop mine!):

Mix in the cranberries:

Fill each cup 1/3 way with the cranberry batter.

Then evenly distribute all of the cream cheese filling between the muffin cups.

Pour all remaining cranberry batter into muffin cups and top with Sugar In The Raw.

After baking for twenty minutes, they were done!

Alright, these are not the most beautiful muffins I've ever seen (I think I should have made about 15 muffins instead of 12 so these didn't overflow so much) but they are some of the tastiest muffins I've ever had! 

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 6 oz. 1/3-less fat cream cheese, at room temperature (I used 1/2 fat cream cheese)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime zest (I used lemon)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp turbinado sugar for sprinkling (optional) - I used Sugar In The Raw

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. (I would recommend either using a bigger muffin tin or making this recipe into about 15 muffins instead of 12).
  2. Prepare cream cheese filling. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and lime zest and beat until smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, gently whisk the eggs, being careful that they don't get too foamy. Whisk in the milk and vanilla. Pour into the flour-butter mixture and stir by hand just until incorporated. Stir in the cranberries.
  4. Fill each muffin cup 1/3 of the way with the cranberry batter. Top each with some of the cream cheese filling, dividing it among the 12 muffins. Top with remaining cranberry batter. The muffins should be about 3/4 full. If desired, sprinkle each muffin with about 1/4 tsp turbinado sugar.
  5. Bake muffins until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then remove from tins. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes about these muffins - once I started making them I wished I had an electric mixer (partly because I just got back from the gym and my muscles were still sore, but also because this is just a whole lot of mixing if you don't have one!). Pat said that some recipes you just need a mixer for...but I'm stubborn and said that I could do this by hand, and I did! These muffins were so good! Pat's least favorite word in the world is moist, but that's the only word he could come up with to describe these. You definitely won't need any butter or jam to liven up these muffins! I'd like to try making these with some other citrus flavors (perhaps grapefruit or orange) and also substituting some of the butter for applesauce to make these a little bit lighter.

Friday night was my mom's Thanksgiving, though she spared us another turkey meal and instead made a fall stew! Jim got creative with the snacks...

 Jim and Kristi made some meat pies (with ground beef and pine nuts):

And my mom's stew was a big hit!

The stew was made of kielbasa, kale, sweet potatoes, and white kidney beans. My mom had planned on cooking it in this giant pumpkin, but after removing the seeds and scraping the insides she found a crack in the bottom. So she cooked it in a pot and then displayed it in the pumpkin!

Accompanied by her famous corn bread...

A delicious fall-inspired dinner!

For dessert we had apple pie made by my Aunt Mary and my cranberry muffins.

I had some tea with my pie and muffin.

What a wonderful few days with family!

1 comment:

  1. i miss BJ's! :( we don't have them in south carolina. that is quite the veggie tower. love the muffin recipe!