Monday, May 20, 2013

Katrina MRE Cranberry Orange Muffins

Since my brother-in-law is an electrician, excellent sheetrock installer, and all around handyman, he was one of the first people to return to the New Orleans area and begin cleanup after Katrina. Because of the limited resources at that time, MREs were given out to help feed everyone. Since my son was a Boy Scout, his uncle gave him his leftover MREs to use on camping trips. Since I do not like to see food go to waste, I claimed the dried cranberries from the MREs and used them to make cranberry orange muffins. We liked the muffins, and I now make them with Ocean Spray Craisins. My daughter took them with her last week on her Physics class's camping trip.

I used the streusel muffin recipe from the article "How to Make Professional Muffins at Home" in the magazine Cook's Illustrated September/October 1993 as a basis for this recipe. I omitted the topping and modified the recipe to use whole wheat flour and dried fruit. It makes about 16-18 regular size muffins, 1 dozen mini-muffins and 12 regular size muffins, or 2 dozen mini-muffins and 6-8 regular size muffins.

Muffin Liners?

I like to use muffin liners when baking muffins. They shorten the time needed to clean the muffin pans. I think it is easier to pack a muffin with a liner in a lunch box and neater to eat it.

Muffins are relatively inexpensive to make, but liners can vary significantly in price. I try and get them for less than 2 cents each. I once bought a large box at a warehouse store, but I have not found them again. Check different locations in grocery stores for choices. Our local Ingles sells them near the cake mixes and by the plastic wrap. You can sometimes buy them on sale after holidays. I am currently using Halloween liners that I stocked up on when they were 90% off at Target. Instead of 2 cents per liner, three Halloween liners cost less than a penny.

If you decide not to use liners, grease and flour your muffin tins well. Grease and flour both the muffin compartments and the tray top.

Fill Only 2/3 Full

A common mistake is to completely fill your muffins. Since the batter expands as it cooks, you only need to fill the muffin compartments 2/3 full.

1 1/4CupsWhite flour
1CupWheat flour
1TspBaking soda
2TspsBaking powder
1 1/3 CupsBrown sugar, packed
2TbspsOrange rind, grated (from about 2 medium-sized oranges)
1Egg, beaten
2/3CupCanola oil
1CupCraisins or other dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Grease and flour muffin tins or place muffin liners in tin.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together white flour, wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir to mix well.
  3. Add brown sugar and orange rind. Stir to mix well.
  4. In a small bowl, wisk together buttermilk, egg, and oil.
  5. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until mixed.
  6. Stir in Craisins.
  7. Using a measuring cup for regular muffins and tablespoon for mini-muffins, fill muffin tins 2/3 full.
  8. For mini-muffins, bake 10 minutes. If not done, reduce heat to 350° and bake for 5 more minutes.
  9. For regular muffins, bake 15 minutes. If not done, reduce heat to 350° and bake for 5 more minutes.
  10. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from tins.

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