Sunday, September 11, 2005

Happy Anniversary!

Today is mine and DH's 6th anniversary! Six years may not be very long, but it's sure been a busy 6 years! We have gone through 3 moves and 2 children have come into our life. It' sbeen a ride, that's for sure. We're not doing anything special today, we have always encountered a challenge to our plans. Our first anniversary Abigail was just a few weeks old, so we spent it being with her. Our second anniversary was the terrorist attacks- and our anniversary felt small. And since then they've all snowballed. Andy has been out of town for two of them, and I was sick for another. So we have made no plans, and plan to just enjoy the day...and of course, the beginning of Packer season.

This last few days we had a very nice visit with Andy's parents. We had a really lovely time visiting and I am pretty sure that they enjoyed spending time with the kids too. I think that Abigail is a little sad today because she just loves "being with that Grammy." But it really was a nice visit. I can't say that I cooked anything really special while they were here- but yesterday Mom and I went to a very nice Farmer's Market and I got a beautiful collection of tomatoes, so we had a nice composed salad with dinner that consisted of tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and fleur de sel. Oh, that was a great find. We also made a trip to the fromagerie and got some great cheeses and had a cheese plate yesterday afternoon. We had two Irish cheeses that were phenonmenal! I want to go back and explore more Irish cheeses. We had an Irish white cheddar that was creamy and smooth, and slightly nutty, and slightly sweet. Oh, it was so good. The othre Irish cheese was an Irish Blue. Oh my. I suspect it was a triple creme, because it was just that, super creamy and slightly fruity, and slightly salty. It didn't have the tang that a lot of blues have, and I really enjoyed it. I am trying to figure out what to do with the leftovers today- it deserves a star treatment. I am toying with a pear and walnut salad, but I am also debating picking up some steaks and doing a topping- we'll see. Check me out tomorrow to find out what I do!

And lastly, it was also bake sale weekend. I was asked to bring 2 dozen baked somethings to our church bake sale. The sale was being run by our youth- with all proceeds going to Katrina relief. Well. First of all, I could not just do 2 dozen anything. Second of all, in my opinion, bake sales always lack big time. Bake sales should be full of those goodies grandma used to make, and that someone put a lot of time and effort into. Not the. "I'll pick up a box and make this and try and sell ot." Or even worse, picking up something pre-made and re-packaging it. Anyway, I digress. I really went all out, and I think I want to do something like that again. It really was fun spending a day in the kitchen making goodies for an army. I started with Cinnamon Scented Rice Krispie treats topped with chocolate ganache. Then I added Peanut Butter Chippers, Coconut Biscotti dipped in Chocolate Ganache, White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, and my triumph of the day was Orange-Walnut muffins with Lingonberry Preserves. The white choclate oatmeal cookies can be found at and they really are very good. I left out the nuts, added a few dashes of cinnamon, and dumped in a bag of craisins. Oh, yummy. The PB chippers were a standard PB cookie recipe, but I chop the chocolate chips before dumping them in, and I make them small. Two bites and they are gone. I do want to share the recipe for the Orange muffins, They are very good, and I had fun coming up with it. The lingonberries are found in a jar by the canned fruits at my grocery store. These ones I found in a jar, and it simply says Swedish Lingonberries. It does have added suagr and pectin, so it is very similar to a wholeberry cranberry sauce, only I really think the lingonberries have a more delicate flavor. I REALLY like them. Anyway, if you can't find lingonberries, you could get a good substitue by reaching for whole-berry cranberry sauce. Just make sure you buy a good brand. Of course, if you are lucky you can find lingonberry jam at some farmers markets and general stores, so if you have some actual jam- use that.

Orange-Walnut Muffins with Lingonberry Preserves

1 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
1/3 C. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick butter, softened
3/4 C. mandarin orange yogurt (yoplait is a good one here)
1/4 C. light sour cream
1 tsp. very finely grated orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1/2 C. chopped walnuts
12 TBS lingonberry preserves

Preheat oven to 400. Spray muffin cups (Either use pan or liners, just make sure you spray!)
Combine all ingredients except walnuts and lingonberries. Fold in walnuts. Batter is very thick. Spoon half of the batter into the muffin cups. Use a spoon or your fingers to make a little "cup" in the top of the batter. Spoon a tablespoon of preserves into each muffin. Top with the remaining batter, spreading to the edges. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes.

These muffins keep very well- and are just as good the next day. I have toyed with the idea of adding a tiny bit of streusel or cinnamon sugar to the top...I'm just not sure they need it, but it would look good. Be sure you check them at 20 minutes- they may need a little longer, so don't be afraid to give them an extra few mintues. Enjoy!

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