Yesterday I whipped up cranberry beer and cheese muffins for breakfast. I thought they were tasty plain, but they were terrific with butter, honey, or cranberry topping

I hadn’t intended to bake muffins, but two things happened. First, I learned about Bread Baking Day. This is a monthly food blogging event in which participants bake bread according to a theme and share their recipes on-line. I’m not much of a bread baker, but this month’s theme attracted me: bake bread with cheese in it. My family really likes cheese bread. And living in Wisconsin we get lots of reasonably-priced, gourmet cheeses. And as this month’s host described, the combination of homemade bread, fresh cheese and sweet fruit is a classic culinary comfort. Folks, it’s been 15 below zero here in Wisconsin – and that’s our daytime high. We can use a little comfort food.

My second reason for baking these particular muffins is my reluctance to throw away anything potentially useful. As I straightened up after the holidays, I found the last of the party beers in the basement. No, these were not the Wisconsin microbrews; they’re gone. These were the New England seasonals, – bottles of Sam Adams cranberry beer. Nothing against Sam Adams, but I don’t like fruity beers. I tried the cranberry beer, all was fine in texture and color, but it tasted like cranberry hops,-not my cup of tea. What to do with a bottle of cranberry beer missing only one sip? Punt and put it in the ‘fridge until it becomes inedible and has to be pitched? That’s my normal course of action with foods that I don’t like but are too good to waste.

But in this food blogging event I found my inspiration. I’ve baked lots of cranberry cookies and cakes – why not cranberry bread? And I knew just where to look for a recipe for bread requiring beer. I have Joanie Steckart’s cookbook, Drink Your Beer and Eat It Too! So here they are, Joanie’s (cranberry) beer and cheese muffins. Super easy to make, no yeast to coddle or leavening times to endure. Just mix, spoon into muffin pans, top with melted butter and shredded cheese, and bake. 20 minutes later out comes a warm, delicious comfort food that’s the perfect compliment for eggs and bacon, or steaming bowls of chili or soup.

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