Is A Muffin Still A Muffin If You Frost It? – Mandarin Orange Muffins

I can’t think of too many things that aren’t made better with frosting, but the question remains:  If you put frosting on a muffin, is it a muffin or a cupcake?  Either way, these muffins are excellent.

Mandarin Orange Muffins


2 3/4 Cup Muffin Mix

2 Eggs

1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

1/2 Cup Melted Butter

1/2 Cup Milk

1 6 oz. Can Mandarin Oranges chopped and undrained

3/4 Cup Shredded Carrot

  1. Combine eggs, vanilla, milk, and butter in large bowl.  Mix well.
  2. Add muffin mix and stir with wooden spoon just until blended.  Do not over mix – batter should be lumpy.
  3. Fold in mandarin oranges and carrot.
  4. Fill greased muffin tins 3/4 full and bake at 450 for 5 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325 and continue baking for 9 – 12 minutes until center is firm.

Pineapple Orange Frosting

1 Tub Cool Whip

1 Small Package Vanilla Pudding

6 oz. Mandarin Oranges with juice

1 Pint Crushed Pineapple with juice

  1. Combine ingredients in bowl and stir until combined.
  2. Let sit 5 minutes until pudding begins to set.
  3. Frost cooled muffins.

These muffins have an almost ‘cornbread’ consistency and would definitely not be considered sweet. The frosting makes these muffins more of a dessert than a breakfast food, but who doesn’t like having dessert for breakfast?

Hubby preferred these muffins without the frosting, while the kids gobbled them up with the frosting.  Either way, these are definitely a great breakfast option, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Mixes In Jars #6 – Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Now that Grace can drive, when she comes to me at 7:00 at night and says, “I want something sweet — I want muffins!” I can go to my list of recipes I want to try, bounce them off her until one clicks, and then send her up to the store to pickup anything we might not have on hand.  This is exactly what happened last night when she proclaimed she wanted muffins, except she already knew that she wanted lemon poppy seed muffins.

Thankfully I had a recipe already picked out and waiting for a trial, but there were a few things I didn’t have, so off to the store she went.  While she was gone, I whipped up what I could, then filled in the blanks when she returned.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins


  • 2/3 Cup Sugar
  • Grated Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Sour Cream or Yogurt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Melted Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Poppy Seeds
  • Icing:  1 Cup Powdered Sugar mixed with 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease or butter muffin pan

In large bowl combine sugar, lemon zest, flour, soda, salt and poppy seeds.

In small bowl, whisk sour cream or yogurt, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and melted butter.

Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Don’t over mix.

Divide dough among the muffin cups.  Bake 4 minutes at 450 then reduce oven to 350 and continue cooking for another 12 – 17 minutes.

Let cool before icing.

To make a muffin mix in a jar, there are two options.

The first is to combine the dry ingredients in a 1 1/2 pint jar and attach a tag with the remaining instructions.  The second would be to use a quart jar and also include the 1 cup of powdered sugar in a separate plastic bag for the icing.  Either way, the tag would read as follows:

Empty mix into large bowl (removing powdered sugar pack and setting aside). In separate bowl, whisk 3/4 cup sour cream or yogurt, 2 large eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla, 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, and 1/2 cup melted butter. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Don’t over mix. Divide dough among muffin cups.  Bake 4 minutes at 450 then reduce oven to 350 and continue baking for 12 – 17 minutes more. To make icing, combine 1 cup powdered sugar with 3 Tbsp. lemon juice.

The family loved these and ate six of them before the night was over.  I however thought they needed a little something.  I found the texture a bit dry and not as lemony as I would have liked.  To improve on this next time I plan to make the following changes:

  1. Instead of 2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar, I am going to use 1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar and 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar.
  2. I will add 2 Tbsp. additional melted butter.
  3. I am going to decrease the flour by 2 Tbsp.
  4. Instead of the lemon zest, I will use 1 tsp. Pure Lemon Extract.
  5. Also, the original recipe called for large eggs.  My eggs were medium-sized.  I will increase the eggs by 1 if I don’t have large eggs available.
  6. Lastly, I used sour cream when I made these.  Next time I am going to try homemade yogurt.

Even though these muffins were a hit with the family, I know I can make them better.  The more I bake, the more I learn how to make adjustments so recipes can become exactly the way I want them to be, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

A Day Like Today Calls For Chocolate – Double Chocolate Muffins

Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power, has that ability to comfort. ~ Norman Kalpas

Ever have one of those days when nothing is going to make it possible to get through it except possibly, just maybe a heavy dose of chocolate.  Well, today was that type of day for me.  In fact, it has been that type of month, but until this afternoon I didn’t have the time, inclination, or inspiration to quell my insatiable need for luscious, rich chocolate anything.

Although there are several chocolate mixes-in-jars recipes I wanted to try, none of them were the “just right” recipe for today.  So, I did what every recipe loving/collecting homemaker would do, I went to the internet and typed in “How to satisfy my chocolate craving!”  The results were too overwhelming to even begin to explore, so instead I brainstormed what chocolate concoctions in the past have quenched my seemingly unquenchable need for chocolate and decided that a double chocolate muffin was one that always hit the spot.

There are hundreds of recipes out there for double chocolate muffins.  The first 10 I went to were all pretty much the same, but in reading through the comments I learned a lot about what ingredients really make chocolate “pop” and which ones would ensure a moist inside with a crispy top.  Although I have been baking since I was 11 years old, up until the past four or five years this has meant pretty much just following a recipe.  Experimenting with ingredients, proportions, and substitutions was not an option with the fear of failure constantly looming in the background. Wasting money, too, was a huge factor in never veering far from the written word.

In the past several years however, I have learned that in cooking there are really no mistakes. Cooking is one of the most forgiving past times I know of.  About the only thing you can’t fix when cooking is if you burn what you’re making and even then, if the recipe calls for gravy, all is not lost. Obviously there have been some absolutely terrible mishaps in my kitchen when I’ve thrown in the towel and dumped a recipe (or twelve) down the disposal, but when this happens I just chalk it up to experience and as Hubby always tells me, “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson!”

What I have learned is the more I read recipes, the more I learn what makes things rise, fall, set, thicken, tenderize, and moisten.  It isn’t just by chance that a cake rises, white sauce thickens, or the flavors in some recipes are far more intense than others.  It’s science!  Don’t worry though, I’m no scientist, so I’m not going to get into the why, for that you’ll have to Google it yourself.  I will however share some of the wonders of cooking that I have been thrilled to learn, you know those Ahhhh! bits of information that keep reminding me how much I have to learn.

Todays internet searches taught me the following:

  • When you add cocoa to a recipe, milk can be used, but it isn’t the liquid of choice.  Buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt will really make the cocoa sing.  This combination makes a delicious, moist texture and enhances the bitterness of the cocoa.
  • Typically when cocoa is added to a recipe it is added to an existing recipe.  Therefore, the amount of eggs and fat in a recipe calling for cocoa should be higher.
  • When a recipe calls for cocoa and/or buttermilk, baking powder should replace some of the baking soda.
  • A recipe with cocoa should have a bit more sugar because the cocoa has a tendency to be bitter.
  • One of the surest ways to enhance the chocolate flavor in any recipe is to add instant coffee granules or espresso powder.  These will not be tasted in the final product, but the chocolate flavor will really “Pop!”
  • In order to attain the “bakery look” for muffins, mix the batter as little as possible, just until the ingredients are combined.  The more you mix it, the more of a chance your muffins have to be tough, heavy, and flat.
  • To get the most rise out of your recipe, bake muffins at a high temperature for the first few minutes and then lower the temperature for the remaining time.

That being said, I finally decided on three recipes for double chocolate muffins.  They were all somewhat similar, but all different as well.  One called for brown sugar, one called for yogurt, one called for salt (here I thought all baked goods needed salt), one called for milk chocolate chips, and only one called for instant coffee.  None of the recipes I found utilized all the fun facts I learned about using cocoa in recipes, so you know what that meant?  Yep, time to make my own.

Tilly’s Double Chocolate Muffins


  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup White Sugar
  • 2/3 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp. Espresso Powder or 2 tsp. Instant Coffee
  • 1/2 Cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/4 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 Cup Melted Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Peanut, Canola, or Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Mini Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat Oven to 450 degrees (very important).  Grease 12 muffin cups.

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, baking powder, and espresso into a large bowl.  Whisk eggs, vanilla, yogurt, butter, and oil in a separate bowl.  Make a well in center of dry ingredients and pour in liquid mixture.  Stir until just combined. The mixture should be lumpy. Add 1/2 cup semi-sweet and 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips. Mix gently until blended. Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.

Bake in preheated oven for 3 minutes.  Turn heat down to 350 and continue baking for 12 to 15 minutes more. Remove from oven when toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing.


This recipe should make a dozen muffins, but my muffin pan must not be a standard size.  It does seem a bit shallow. I was able to get 12 muffins and 12 mini muffins (which were baked 3 minutes at 450 and 10 minutes at 350).

These muffins are fabulous.  They are super chocolately, crisp on the top, and moist on the inside. They have a dense, tender texture and satisfied my craving for chocolate like nothing else.

I love cooking, baking and canning and do it practically every day, three times a day, but that doesn’t mean I know everything there is to know about any of these.  Being in the kitchen is a constant learning process and I love every minute of it, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Crazy For Cranberries

Last winter, around February or March, once all my Christmas decorations were stored away and the house was back to some semblance of normalcy, I decided to work on some winter canning.  Pulling out my recipes and scanning the internet for ideas, I decided that I wanted to work with some of the fruit juices I’d frozen from the summer before and experiment with combining these and cranberries.  Going to my freezer I found I had only two bags of frozen cranberries.  No worries, so I thought, I’d just run up to the store and buy some.

Well, when I got to the store, there were none to be found.  There were none in the fresh fruit section and none in the freezer sections.  I went to every market and grocery store within 20 miles, calling some and visiting most, and was told they were a seasonal item and would not be available again until late October.  This was not at all acceptable.  I needed them right then, not seven or eight months from then.  Not accepting the situation, I went to the internet.  There I found several sources for fresh cranberries, but in order to purchase them I had to buy 30 pounds or more at exorbitant prices.  The reality hit me hard, but the lesson was not lost.  I made a note right then not to make the same mistake ever again.

At the end of October, just as promised, every grocery store in my area began stocking fresh cranberries again.  I was thrilled and immediately began stocking up.  The first time I found them they were $2.50 per 12 oz bag.  I bought four bags.  With these I began experimenting with homemade cranberry sauce and combinations of cranberry, plum and mixed berry sauces.

My next trip to the grocery store, a different one this time, I found 12 oz bags for $1.99.  I bought 10 and threw them immediately in the freezer. Cranberries are the absolute easiest fruit to freeze because you just throw the bag in the freezer and that’s it.  They keep for up to a year in the freezer as is, but if you freeze them and then slip them into another freezer bag or container, they will keep even longer.

Happy that I’d stocked up on cranberries, I still kept my eyes open for any sales.  Last week, while I was picking up a few things from yet a different grocery store, this time Aldi Market, I found they had a special on their 12 oz bags of cranberries.  They had them on sale for $1.19 per bag.  Oh Happy Day!  I picked up another dozen bags and threw them in the freezer as well.

With 22 bags in the freezer, you’d think I’d be content.  But I NEVER want to find myself in need of cranberries again, so before they are out of the stores for another year, I will no doubt pick up at least another five or more bags — just to be sure.

Although canning at this point in time, due to the approaching holidays, is not realistic (there are just so many hours in the day you know), I am still finding time to bake.  Just the other day I made a batch of blueberry muffins and on a whim decided to make a second batch, but this time I added some cranberries to the blueberry mix.  They were great.  I actually thought that the combination of flavors was more satisfying than just the plain blueberry.  I love my blueberry muffins, but by adding just a cup of cranberries, it really made them pop.


Cran-Blueberry Muffins

  • 1 3/4 Cup Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/3 Cup Cooking Oil
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 – 1 1/2 Cups Blueberries (I like lots of berries in mine)
  • 1 Cup Fresh Cranberries

Crumble Topping

  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Butter

Combine dry ingredients for muffins in large bowl.  Make a well in center and add egg, milk and oil.  Mix by hand until combined.  Fold berries into batter.  Fill greased muffin cups 3/4 full.

Make crumble topping by combining flour and sugar and cutting in butter with pastry blender.  Sprinkle one heaping teaspoon of crumble on each muffin and bake at 400 for 20 minutes.


One of Hubby’s favorite sayings is “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”  I am so glad that last years mishap with cranberries is definitely not going to happen again this year and we are well stocked for whatever recipes I want to concoct, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.