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Monday, December 24, 2012

Cranberry Bran Muffins

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This is a season of abundance. No matter how much we try to avoid it, the month of December is a lesson in excess. Excessive amounts of food, excessive spending, excessive gift-giving. Suddenly you find yourself dropping twenties like they're going out of style, drinking a glass of wine or two every more nights than not, and eating cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Don't get me wrong. I understand that this is a season of celebration. And no matter how much I try to focus on the true meaning of the season, it's easy to get caught up in the commercialized version of the holidays. These muffins take things in the opposite direction. They're humble, they're healthy, and the only thing excessive about them is the ratio of cranberries to square inch! 

These are a nice contrast to the heavy, rich food you've likely been eating all month and will continue to chow down on for the next few days. Much as I love to dig into a giant cinnamon roll on Christmas morning, these are a good alternative for the other days this week. They're best served warm from the oven, but ten seconds in the microwave and a smear of butter will keep these fresh for several days.

One Year Ago: Christmas Breakfast Ideas
Two Years Ago: Monster Cookies

Cranberry Bran Muffins
adapted from Carnation Brand's Apple Bran Muffins

-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
-1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cranberries
-3/4 cup water
-1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 large egg
-2 cups bran flake cereal

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a muffin tin with baking spray or line with paper cups.
2. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, combine the water with the dry milk. Add oil and egg, stirring to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring to combine.
3. Stir in bran flakes and cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from rack and cool slightly before serving.