"Blessed is the influence of one true, loving human soul to another."
My sister wrapped me in her arms as soon as I poked my head into our guest bedroom. She handed me a bag full of those special gifts that only sisters know how to give. We sat together in my living room, eating yogurt and fruit, and we talked about what we loved and what we hated, about those memories that make us smile and make us cry.
Come evening, my sister and Ryan took me out to dinner. We sat and talked and ate, and I felt so gloriously alive. Surrounding me were these two people who strive to love and understand who I really am. Surrounding me were these two souls that had knitted their spirits into mine.
My parents and I talked on the phone earlier that morning. I laughed with my mother as I thanked her for giving birth to me...because shouldn't our birthdays also be a celebration of the women who endured unimaginable pain to then care and cradle all of us? My parents sent me a bouquet of fruit, and Noelle and I bit into each juicy melon and pineapple with childlike pleasure.
As I type here tonight, I think of all of my friends and family who sent me well wishes. So many of you have touched me with your kind words, your thoughtful notes, and your heartwarming gifts. I do feel truly blessed.
And so I want to share a recipe that brings good cheer to those that make and partake of it. Eggnog muffins with a simple crumb sprinkled on top. I hope you can enjoy these with someone who has knitted his or her heart in with your own. I know that I certainly did.
But my older sister, Susanne, was relentless. She tried to persuade me to take a swig of her favorite holiday drink each and every Christmas Eve. A few years ago, I gave in....and I quickly discovered I had been missing out.
Eggnog is one of those drinks that should only come around once a year. While not something I could enjoy week after week, I find it delightful to pour a tall glass while snow is falling and children are counting the days till Santa comes traipsing through their living rooms.
But even better than drinking the thick nog is baking with it. The sweet and rich milk mixture adds a wonderful moistness to baked goods...and the nutmeg adds just the right amount of spice to remind you its Christmastime.
I adapted these muffins from a recipe I found on King Arthur's website. I added my own crumb topping, and after taking my first bite, I deemed this recipe a success. These muffins are easy to throw together and wonderful to share.
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups eggnog or half and half
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter (softened to room temperature)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cups and grease the cups with vegetable oil spray.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar till smooth. Add the eggs, beating for several minutes and scraping the bowl, till the mixture is smooth and light colored. Beat in the baking powder, cinnamon nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
3. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the eggnog or half and half, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared muffin cups.
4. Stir together all of the topping ingredients JUST till crumbly. (You will have extra topping, which you can use for other baked goods...just store in an airtight container in refrigerator)
5. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes, or until they're a pale golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve warm, or at room temperature.
Anecdotes and Apple Cores