Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cream Cheese Filled Gingerbread Muffins

I wanted to make something Autumny (yeah I know it's not a real word) for work on Halloween. That means baking them at 5 am. God bless me.
What began with a recipe from Bon Appetit through Epicurious, turned into a totally different version after I read the reviews and heeded some of their advice. First, I don't believe in over mixing muffins because then you have cupcakes. Second, I like things rich with deep flavor so more is better to me. Then I wanted them filled like black bottom cupcakes. The end result is wonderfully flavored with crystalized ginger, brandy, brown sugar and maple syrup. The filling is lovely with a light lemonyness (I know). And the topping adds a little crunch. It has everything I like except a winning lottery ticket, chocolate and a wonderful man who adores me.


Muffin Mixture

2 3/4 c flour
2 1/2 t baking soda
1 T ground ginger
1 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t ground cloves
1/2 t salt
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 c maple syrup
3 T grated or finely chopped crystalized ginger
1 c buttermilk
1/3 c brandy or bourbon
1 T vanilla

Cream cheese ginger lemon filling

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 c granulated white sugar
1 large egg
zest of 1 lemon
1 T lemon juice
1-2 T grated crystalized ginger

Crumb Topping

4 T flour
4 T brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3 T butter in small pieces
4 T walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line muffin tin with 12-18 paper cups.

*First make the cream cheese filling.
Using and electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar.
Add egg and mix.
Add lemon zest, lemon juice and 1-2 T grated ginger and mix.
Set aside.

*Second make the crumb topping.
Mix the flour, brown sugar and cinnamon together with a fork.
Add the butter and blend a little or mix it all in a food processor.
Add walnuts and mix.
Set aside.

*Then make the muffins.
Sift or whisk flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt in medium bowl.
Using electric mixer, mix butter and brown sugar in large bowl.
Add eggs and mix.
Add maple syrup, buttermilk and brandy/bourbon and mix.
Add half of dry ingredients mixing until almost blended.
Add remaining dry ingredients and mix.

Divide 1/2 - 2/3 of batter equally among muffin cups.
Place spoonfuls of cream cheese filling in each cup.
Top with remaining batter.
Sprinkle crumb topping over each cup of batter.
Bake on middle rack until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.
Transfer pan to rack and cool 10 minutes.
Then remove muffins from pan.
Makes 12-18 gingerbread muffins.

Because I baked these with a chilled batter the filling was more of a layer, which tasted fine. But I think is you bake them as soon as you mix the batter, you should have more of a 'blob' of filling.
This is for the cool people at work, hence the ones who dressed up. I was a garden gnome, you'll find me...

Everyone else sort of sucked.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Evidently I screwed this up, so if you are still here, this is what should have been, complete with photos.

It's all in the details people. When you entertain, every little detail makes such a difference. It doesn't mean you must be extravagant, it means the extravagant details matter, the simple details matter, even lack of details matter. Sort of like negative space in photographs.

A napkin pulled through a pretty gold star, I really don't believe this was a napkin ring, just turned into one.

A little crow with a Jolly Halloween message, tucked into a Halloween table.

A tea towel with a patriotic applique used as an oversized napkin.

Criss crossing two beautiful runners, give eight places, adds interest and contrast.

I love the bow napkins. The whole table was a bit glitzy for me, but the chair idea could be done in a linen and it would be lovely.

Love, love, love these diamond rings napkin rings. How fun. Could you imagine having over your daughters boyfriend that you really do not like and using these for dinner, then showing all the family baby photos? He would run and never look back.

Crowns are quite the thing right now. Things can be used that you may not have considered, experiment a little.

The writing on the knife looks like Jean Dulost? Anyways, this wooden flatware was gorgeous.

These watches were purchases at yard sales for a dollar each over a period of time to be used for napkin rings.

Never use your real name when you can have a cool alias.

I love vintage bakelite flatware, the color, its rustic look and feel. The tablecloth may have been vintage but I didn't think it was the right choice.

This stemware was fit for royalty.

If you've got it, flaunt it. As in the good stuff.

I am not a fan of hunting, but this table was a tribute to her father who had just passed away.

Use photo clips on stands to hold place cards, mini menus, etc..

Once again, the best thing to include is those you love.

I meant to post this table earlier, it is quietly elegant. I loved it.

I am not sure if I am just jaded from having done a table for 11 years and having attended for even longer. I have seen so many different ideas that I am not as easily wowed as I was. This year their were 10 less tables than last year but there was still new ideas, beautiful pieces, and sweet women. I am sure we all watched our pennies a little more and yet what really mattered was laughter and friendship and life.

Till next year for more tables.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

In The Center Of The Ring

I think the one thing I have not seen for a centerpiece at this luncheon over the years is a bicycle. Trust me. There has been an entire wedding dress, a sandcastle, paint cans, a skeleton with roaches and ravens, a pirates mast and various other interesting, fun and beautiful surprises. It is not about practical at this luncheon. It is about fun and wow and why not.

These are some of my favorite centerpieces this year.

This table was titled 'All That Glitz', I would have gone with a total disco theme complete with Bee Gees music playing.

This is from Anne's table. As I said before, she collects, everything. Her napkin rings were old watches.

I think this is called a 'cloche'. Obviously I don't have one since I am not even sure what it is. I do like it very much though. Inside is a really sweet vintage sewing kit.

This was very pretty, peppermints and a beautiful bow.

Often, I like an oversized and over done centerpiece. This had frosted ice buckets with flowers and Mumm champagne. The beverage server was full of Mumm corks.

This centerpiece comes from possibly an antique dealer. It is a vintage store. Everything was tiny and perfect. I could just imagine a little girl let loose with this. She would play with everything for hours and hours. It was huge, you couldn't see around it or over it. Perfect for families who argue, just put them across the table from each other.

The rest are floral centerpieces that I liked. Sometimes for the container, sometimes for the colors. And the first one for the white roses and feathers.

I like this one for the brass raised container.

This bowl is lovely.

A very harvesty (more spanglish) piece.

I looked as closely as I could to this to see how it is done. I don't know if you can purchase one somewhere, probably. Or make them and get rich and send me my fee. Any ways, it looked like a metal bar of some sort went through the upper part and then down through each piece through a hole. Then you would angle set the pots.

This was a little exotic looking.

See you tomorrow for the last post on tables.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Pretty Little Dishes All In A Row

Some people like linens. I like the breakable stuff. I love dishes and glassware and flatware. They are just so fun and beautiful and can set such a tone for a party. Yes, plain white are the most practical and make most food look best, but they are just that, plain, and yes, I want them too. I have white ones that I used for last years table setting but they are not plain just some pretty little details. Everytime we have this function I walk around with my eyes glazed over and practically drooling wanting to buy more and fill my cupboards to the top with all these pretty dishes that I have not seen before and quite obviously must have. I actually have 6 sets of flatware, all inexpensive. The plan is to give them to my children as they need them but sometimes I feel like a two year old not wanting to share certain ones.

These are my favorite dishes from the table setting luncheon. I wish I could give you the name of who makes them but I don't touch and this year I set up in an hour because I needed at least 4 hours of sleep so I was a little late, which left no time to chat.

This was my very favorite! More of a luncheon or salad plate. Or a really big dessert plate. But I think I would use it for breakfast. I love the grooved snowflake detail, the rustic washed look, and the napkin ring is adorable.

The colors in this plate were like a sunset. Or a Mai Tai. Or a Tequila Sunrise. Okay, enough.

If you saw last years tables you might remember this lady. I think she is trying to embarrass the rest of us. She paints all her own dishes and I think much of her glassware. She is amazing. Now granted they are not my style, but that is beside the point, they are beautiful and I stand in awe of her. I also appreciate how she has placed each piece so the patterns are lined up properly. Details, remember.

Look at the little gold rimmed saucers under the vase on the right, too pretty.

I think this is depression glass. I know nothing about antiques, but this is Anne's table and she is a collector of everything so this is my best guess. The gold color and all the detail is so pretty, how could you be depressed? Ha ha.

I loved this plate, pink and brown.

Halloween plates are just fun fun fun. Love this one. The cups have witches on them.

If you are old enough you may remember these wheat dishes. It seemed like everyone had them. That is why I love them, memories and simplicity.

Blue is not my top color choice except in nature but these are quite the party plates. Sort of Harlequin, though she used them for an Octoberfest table. And how fun are the beer mugs that look like beer is foaming over the top.

No not the plates. The woven charger/tray. Very cool. Also, great napkin fold, bad napkin, I have them also.

That's it, more tomorrow.