Cooking with Kathe for Thanksgiving was fun as always. With pots, pans, baking dishes and countless ingredients strewn about the countertops, we were Tazmanian Devils spinning feverishly around the kitchen moving from one prep station to the next, making cranberry bread, carrot muffins, stuffing and biscotti. Although we hoped to make pecan pies, we ran out of time. Thankfully though, we did manage to hit pause for a minute to wolf down the salad Kathe made for lunch.
I felt like a professional dishwasher at times, standing over the sink scrubbing and rinsing a never ending tide of dirty items. But somehow I didn’t dread this mundane task as I would have alone in my kitchen. In a bizarre way I actually enjoyed the chore with company. I wasn’t focused on the humdrum of the routine, but rather on the conversation I was having with my friend. We chatted about our kid’s progress in school, gymnastics (we both have gymnasts), what cookie to make for her Holiday Cookie swap and our upcoming family vacation plans.
As usual, when Kathe and I cook, we get started right away with our agendas but with no particular order in mind. At times we’re like an old married couple, bickering and complaining to one another. (Don’t be mad I said that Kathe!) If I snag the baking soda or a measuring spoon from her she’ll pester me when I forget to return it to her neatly arranged display of supplies. (By the way, she’s a professional organizer and a good one if you have the need!) And I know I’ll get on her nerves with my gazillions of questions. But it’s all in good fun. We love each other and have a mature cooking relationship.
Cooking with Kathe reminds me of cooking with my Dad, especially when we discuss nuts versus no nuts in our baked goods. Kathe’s family loves nuts and almost everything she bakes will have them. I on the other hand, do not like nuts in my food and as a result, neither does my family. My Dad and I go through this rigmarole with our stuffing every year, arguing about nuts versus no nuts, always ending up with two batches to please our stubborn selves.
Kathe had a hard fought nut victory this past Wednesday when my healthy carrot muffins seemed to be missing something. Although I’m sure an extra stick of butter would have made a difference I needed to keep them low-fat. Suddenly, I blurted out that my muffins needed nuts! I’m not sure how that happened, perhaps it wasmy alter ego taking over for the moment. But Kathe was elated with my suggestion and after high-fiving one another, I began chopping walnuts. With a handful of cranberries and a cupful of nuts, our second batch of carrot muffins was just perfect. We talked about adding cream cheese frosting to jazz them up but that’s up to you!
Carrot Muffins with Cranberries and Walnuts
Makes 70 mini muffins
1 stick butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1 ½ apple sauce
¾ cups white sugar
¾ cups light brown sugar
2 cups white flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 cups shredded carrots
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Using a stand or hand held mixer, cream together the butter, oil and apple sauce with the sugars. Add the shredded carrots and mix slightly. In a separate bowl, mix the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix in the cranberries and walnuts. Spoon the batter into well-greased mini muffin tins and bake until firm to the touch, approximately 12 minutes. Serve with a dollop of cream cheese frosting if you desire.