Happy New Year to everyone out there in Verbatim-Land! I am thankful (and, even after all these years, still frankly surprised) every time someone stops by here, and I especially cherish the comments, whether in the Comments section below, via email, or on Facebook/Twitter. Here's to peace and happiness in 2013!
So, what did we do over Christmas and New Year's? Not a heck of a lot. We celebrated Christmas day in traditional Jewish fashion, by feasting on Chinese food and going to the movies. There was very little playing that everyone wanted to see, or that everyone could see at roughly the same time, so Steph and Julie ended up seeing Parental Guidance, which they enjoyed, while Pete, Andy, and I saw Jack Reacher. Here's the thing: Andy has read all 17 Lee Child books about Jack Reacher, and the main characteristic of Jack Reacher is that he is not only tough and smart and all that, but he is a mountain of a man—6'5" and 250 pounds of solid muscle. He is intimidating just by his sheer presence, let alone his awesome fighting skills etc. So, naturally, the part was given to Tom Cruise. Huh? 5'7" Tom Cruise? Yup, that one. So for Andy, the whole thing was a bust right off the bat. Tom Cruise just flat out can't be Jack Reacher. However, for me and Pete, Jack Reacher is simply a tough and smart guy who has awesome fighting skills, and as much as I loathe Tom Cruise, he sure does know how to play that kind of character (cf. Mission Impossible, etc.). So we enjoyed the movie more than Andy did, although when he was able to step away from this enormous discrepancy, he did agree that it was good.
And for New Year's, Julie baked these awesomely yummy doughnut muffins—yes, that's right, muffins that taste like doughnuts! You know that King Arthur would never steer you wrong. Julie also inadvertently conducted an experiment and determined that you can triple the amount of baking powder called for in this recipe and no one will even notice.
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1½ teaspoons baking powder (Whoops! Julie used 1½ tablespoons!)
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 to 1¼ teaspoons ground nutmeg (This is what gives the muffins a doughnut-y flavor. We had just a scant teaspoon left, but it was fine.)
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2⅔ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar (I keep a tub of cinnamon-sugar in the cupboard at all times in case the cinnamon toast urge strikes. I mix about 6 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon.)
Preheat the oven to 425°. Lightly grease a standard muffin tin, or line with 12 paper muffin cups, and grease the cups with nonstick vegetable oil spray.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars till smooth.
Add the eggs, beating to combine.
Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full.
Bake the muffins until they're a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes.
Remove them from the oven and let them cool for a couple of minutes, just until you can handle them. While they're cooling, melt the butter for the topping in the microwave.
Dip the tops of muffins into the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon-sugar.
Serve warm. Store any leftovers (ha!) in an airtight container for a day or so at room temperature.