Cranberry-orange relish muffins: 24 cents each

So, The Great Thanksgiving Fail of 2011 was my completely forgetting to put out the cranberry sauce. (My husband, who has clearly lived with me a long time, waited nearly 24 hours to divulge this information.) Because it has to sit overnight, it had gotten pushed to the very back of the fridge, its presence obscured by the sight of more urgent projects, such as two turkeys.

Not only did this leave me with an entire bowl of cranberry sauce to find a home for, but it kept me from being able to technically count it as leftovers. Thankfully, I managed to pack the majority of it in these muffins. I hate baking muffins, but these ones are particularly good, bursting with sweet-tart bits of cranberry and orange, and each one will be individually wrapped and frozen to eat for breakfasts this week. (Just microwave for 30 seconds and voilà! Fresh-out-of-the-oven taste.)

Cranberry-orange relish (all of the ingredients below, chopped in a food processor and left to sit in the fridge overnight):

• 1 12-oz. bag fresh cranberries: $1.50
• Zest and juice of one large orange: 25 cents 
• 3/4 cup sugar: 25 cents
• 1/4 cup triple sec: 50 cents
TOTAL: $2.50 for about 2 cups ($1.25/cup)

Muffin base:

• 1 cup all-purpose flour: 10 cents
• 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour: 5 cents
• 1 cup old-fashioned oats: 4 cents
• 1/2 cup brown sugar: 20 cents
• 1 T baking powder: 5 cents
• 1/2 tsp baking soda: 2 cents
• 1/2 tsp salt: 1 cent
• Pinch of freshly ground cinnamon: 2 cents
• 1 1/2 cups cranberry-orange relish (above): $2
• 1/2 cup milk: 8 cents
• 1/3 cup canola oil: 16 cents
• 1 egg: 12 cents
• A few tablespoons of turbinado sugar: 5 cents
TOTAL: $2.90/12 = 24 cents/muffin 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl until combined.

Combine the milk, oil and egg in another bowl, beat to combine. Add the cranberry relish.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the milk/cranberry/egg/oil mixture and fold gently until just combined.

Pour mixture into a 12-cup muffin tin (lined with paper muffin cups if it’s not nonstick), filling each well about 3/4 of the way.

Sprinkle the tops with a thin layer of turbinado sugar; it both counteracts the tartness of the muffins and provides a bakery-style crunch.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

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