Ignore the word “skinny”. Really. Because these taste anything but skinny. They taste FAT in the most delightful way. Fat with chocolate flavor. Fat with cakey texture. Fat with desserty joy.
And yet they are skinny too. Low fat, Weight Watchers-friendly, and full of healthy ingredients like wheat germ, yogurt, bananas, and whole wheat white flour. They have chocolate chips too, of course, but that’s okay. It’s all about balance. And deliciousness. These muffins have that in abundance.
I started with bananas. The recipe called for three large ones, and I had four small/medium ones, so I figured I’d come out even.
I added cane sugar, reducing to a half cup, an egg, and then yogurt (instead of applesauce). I threw in some vanilla too.
I mixed well. (I like to think I always mix well. I’m a good mixer.)
Next I combined the dry ingredients: whole wheat white flour, wheat germ, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Then I added some espresso powder for good luck (and a stronger chocolate flavor). I whisked it all together.
And then I dumped that into the bowl with the banana mash, and folded everything together, stopping as soon as the last poof of flour had disappeared.
I folded in the chocolate chips. Instead of a cup of full size chips, I went for a half cup of the minis.
I scooped the batter into muffin cups, distributing as evenly as I could. It tasted heavenly.
Right before I popped the tray into the oven, I sprinkled a few random chips over each one. I was still in the half a cup range, and it seemed like a nice thing to do.
I baked for 22 minutes. Man did they smell good.
I let them cool as long as I could before putting six of them in a tupperware container, lidless (to keep them from getting sweaty), so we could deliver them. My amazing friend Carol had the kids for the day, and if that isn’t worth six muffins, I don’t know what is. Of course these were untested, untasted muffins, which is a different story, but I had a good feeling about them.
Dave and I went to dinner (and oh what a dinner). And then we made the trade: six muffins for two children. (“Leave the muffins. Take the children.”)
I didn’t get to taste these until the next day. Oh my. Like I said, these taste like decadent chocolate cake, like they couldn’t possibly be anything but fattening, and yet they have bananas and yogurt instead of oil or butter, not a whole lot of sugar, and the ever-nutritious wheat germ. They are extraordinary.
I’m always looking for more peanut butter recipes; anything that focuses in on peanut butter without becoming a Weight Watchers points nightmare piques my interest. So even though these were called Peanut Butter Protein Muffins, which meant that something was being prioritized along with flavor, I gave them a shot. Peanut butter does that to me. I would follow it almost anywhere.
I didn’t do my usual flour/wheat germ swap in this one, because wheat germ was already in the recipe. I did, however, forego spelt flour for my old friend whole wheat white, which went into a bowl with the wheat germ, oats, baking powder, and cinnamon. I used a full teaspoon instead of a quarter, because I don’t think a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon is all that different from no cinnamon at all.
Dave was in the kitchen too, making spaghetti sauce in the crockpot.
I think it was this that inspired him to investigate changing the wiring in our kitchen so the toaster, crock pot, stand mixer, and microwave don’t have to share the same outlet.
Next I stirred together applesauce and peanut butter. It seemed odd to mix these two ingredients together but I did it.
Then it was time for the honey. A friend at work recently picked up some local Brooklyn honey for me, from a mutual friend’s fantastic gourmet cheese shop called Eastern District, and I’d been waiting for a chance to try it in a recipe. Amusingly, the combination of the color of the honey and the type of jar the honey-maker used made it look exactly like a urine sample.
In fact, when it was sitting on my desk at work, someone I work with actually thought it WAS a urine sample. I don’t know what it says about my character that someone who knows me thinks I would do a urine sample at work and then leave it on my desk, but it can’t be good.
I poured all of that into the peanut butter/applesauce mixture, along with dark brown sugar, an egg, and some vanilla bean paste. I stirred.
Last thing to go in was Greek yogurt.
Okay, I give in. I have to say something about all the shadows in these pictures. My photography challenge is that I bake in a kitchen that only has one source of natural light, a small window over the sink. I tend to bake at night, and so I use the flash. This time I was baking on a semi-sunny afternoon, and I’d recently read something that said to use the Aperture Priority setting on the camera to avoid needing a flash. So this entry (and the next one, unfortunately) were my experiments with that, and I have to say I am not pleased with the results. I have shadows on everything. I tried moving the bowls to right in front of the window, holding them with one hand and taking my pictures with the other, but all that did was minimize the shadows, sometimes.
So I apologize for the shadows. Just pretend I’m baking in an exciting shadowy bakers’ lair.
Once the yogurt was stirred in, I dumped the dry ingredients into the liquid, and stirred just until combined.
I scooped it into muffin cups.
These baked for about 17 minutes, then spent another 5 in the pan, then moved to wire rack. They smelled like peanut butter. Did I mention that I like peanut butter?
And peanut buttery they are. They really come into their own a day after baking, maybe the flavor gets even better after that. I just ate one for breakfast right now, and the flavor is definitely stronger.
I think these are good. Not magnificent, but good, and satisfying, and a good hearty breakfast muffin that leaves a nice flavor on your tongue. The texture works too, dense in a good way with a nice soft crumb. And they’re good for you too! I will add these to the peanut butter repertoire.
Everyone loved these. I thought they were just okay, but everyone I work with went nuts for them and kept coming back to ask if there were any left long after the last one had disappeared. So I’d consider that a hit. And they’re awfully good for you.
They started with zucchini. I grated a medium-sized one and then squeezed out all the moisture with some paper towels. Ew.
I got exactly a cup, which is just what I needed.
Once the shredding was complete, it was time for some mashing. The recipe called for two small to medium bananas, but I had three small ones, so that’s what I used.
Fruit and vegetables prepped, it was time for the dry ingredients. The recipe called for 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour. For the cup, I used 2/3 flour and 1/3 wheat germ, and for the 1/2, I just poured a little extra into the bottom of the measuring cup before topping it up with flour.
That went in with the rest of the dry ingredients: baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
And now for another interesting ingredient, and a Laurie first: coconut oil. This oil is all the rage…people are baking with it, cooking with it, spreading it on their skin, using it in their hair (I think?) and generally raving about it. I have had some in the cupboard for ages and was a little disappointed that the recipe only called for a teaspoon of it.
I also got to use some fine quality honey I’d picked up.
In my stand mixer bowl I combined coconut oil, honey, banana, vanilla, and egg. (I used a whole egg instead of two egg whites.)
I put the mixer to work.
I added the zucchini, applesauce, and yogurt. (I only had peach applesauce, so that’s what I used.)
I admit I wasn’t feeling great about this. The zucchini pieces looked too big to me, and it made the batter looked a little stringy as a result. As a zucchini-hater, it was disconcerting. I added some of the flour mixture.
Once the flour had disappeared — and not a moment afterwards — I removed the bowl from the stand mixer and added the chocolate chips. I opted for the minis.
I folded them in.
I scooped the batter into muffin cups and sprinkled some turbinado sugar across the top. Unfortunately that didn’t improve their appearance. They looked a bit like those neural parasites that stuck to Spock’s back and made him all crazy.
Right? I guess it would have bothered him a lot less if it was zucchini muffin batter stuck to him instead of an alien parasite, plus he could have just eaten it.
I baked, and baked, and baked. I started at 15 minutes and incrementally added 15 more! I assume it was the extra banana that made them take so long to cook all the way through. They smelled good.
They didn’t puff up much, though.
Sometimes I just get flat muffins. I should probably look into what I do differently when they puff up. Puffy or no, they still looked promising. I let them cool on the rack for a bit.
I brought these into work the next day, and word spread quickly. Rumors traveled and muffin-eaters arrived. They came back for seconds, they sent friends. I ran out early in the day. I brought in the rest the next day and they all disappeared by noon.
My personal take on these is that the texture isn’t fluffy enough, and the chocolate is the dominant flavor anyway. I just didn’t love them. But everyone else raved and I’ve been asked multiple times to make them again, so what do I know? I’m just the baker who thinks that muffin batter looks like aliens from Star Trek.
I had to try one more time. I want a peach muffin without peach pieces, is that so wrong?
Well, it may not be wrong, but I still haven’t achieved it. Not that these muffins are anything but sweet and delicious and good for you, they’re actually quite wonderful. Fluffy, flavorful, sweet, with a nice little crunch from the poppy seeds, a last-minute addition. And they actually do have a hint, a wee whisper, of peach taste. So while I love them and plan to make them again, they are not the peach muffin I’ve been seeking. (“These aren’t the peach muffins you’re looking for,” said the Jedi master.)
They taste damned good, though.
And I’ve got my peach pureeing process down to a science. I scored each peach on the bottom, and put a pot of water on to boil. Once it was all bubbly and crazy, I popped the peaches in there for 60 seconds.
Once my minute was up, I promptly plunged them into an ice bath.
And after about a minute of that, I removed them and peeled the skin off, just like that.
I chopped them up. With the help of the blender, my peaches went from this:
That done, I focused my attention the dry ingredients. As always, I replaced all purpose flour with a combination of whole wheat white flour and wheat germ. I added baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt, and then the spices, quadrupling the cinnamon, doubling the nutmeg, and increasing the ginger by half.
Then I combined the liquid ingredients: peach puree, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla bean paste, melted butter, and peach Greek yogurt. (I thought that would help increase the peach-y-ness.) It looked goopy. I whisked.
And then I poured the flour mixture into the peach one, which made me think that I should have used the big green bowl for the liquid ingredients and the smaller one for the dry. Oops.
I mixed. Carefully. Thoughtfully. Lovingly.
And then, just as carefully, thoughtfully, and lovingly, I added three tablespoons of poppy seeds. It just seemed like a good idea.
I tasted the batter, and it most definitely tasted peach-y. I scooped it into muffin cups before I could eat too much of it, and sprinkled some turbinado sugar on top, not that they needed it. (Next time I won’t use as much sugar IN the recipe, which will make the sparkly sugar on top pop a little more.)
They took 23 minutes in a 350-degree oven. I let them sit in the pan for a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
And I tasted them as soon as they were ready.
I’ll tell you something; they may not taste particularly peachy, but they are excellent muffins. Dave ate two of them that night alone, since the recipe makes about 20, and maybe, you know, I ate two as well. They’re too hard to resist, as well as unnecessary to resist, since they’re only 3 P+ and I could get that even lower by reducing the sugar next time.
But they’re a real treat to eat, and taste like dessert, and get addictive quickly, so even without the strong peach flavor I’m hankering for, I still think these are a win.
I had no idea you could make cookies without flour that aren’t disgusting. Seriously! I see these recipes all the time and they make me suspicious. And I don’t have any health issues with flour or reasons to avoid it; I am more than pro-gluten, I am a gluten advocate. EAT MORE GLUTEN.
But this recipe looked really good, despite the absence of flour, and I don’t like to give up on big ideas until I’ve given them a good go. And I don’t think these cookies are gluten-free anyway, since apparently there can be gluten in oats. Gluten schmuten, these cookies are deliciously satisfying, full of rich peanut butter flavor, and crumbly in a rather delightful way. The mini chocolate chips don’t hurt the cause either. And yet they’re still pretty good for you, or at least not terribly bad for you. That’s what makes them breakfast cookies.
They were very easy to make; in fact, there was only only one instruction to follow before dropping the cookies onto a baking sheet.
Mix all ingredients together and stir well.
So that’s what I did. Without the flour, there wasn’t really any reason to separate the liquid ingredients from the dry. I saved the chocolate chips for last, but otherwise, everything went into the bowl in one go.
Quick cooking oats, and brown sugar.
Eggs, baking powder, salt, milk, and vanilla.
It was that simple. I dumped in one ingredient after another until I was done, saving the chocolate chips for later, then let the mixer have at it.
I folded in the chocolate chips by hand, putting in slightly less than half a cup. I used minis.
I used my large cookie scoop, since these were going to be nice, big, breakfast meal-sized cookies, not cute little dessert cookies.
I usually get 16 cookies on a tray, and with the larger cookie scoop, I could only fit 9. Big!
After the first batch, I got smart and flattened them before putting them in the oven.
They took about 13 minutes to bake.
I was very nervous about them, I admit. They looked a bit like those flourless banana muffins I made a while back that I didn’t like. I took a tentative bite.
And then I stuffed the rest of the cookie into my mouth with great joy.
I’m back on the healthy muffin train. I was trying to come with something new to try for breakfast when I found this gem hiding at the bottom of one of my Pinterest boards. Being Canadian, I was drawn to this one by forces beyond my control.
It’s hard to believe that all the sweetness in these muffins comes from maple syrup. They’re just sweet and dessert-y and full of flavor and still healthy, without a grain of sugar added. Maple syrup rocks. (Did I mention I’m Canadian?)
First things first, I soaked a cup of oats in half a cup of 1% milk for five minutes.
While that was sitting, I whisked together some flour, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. The recipe said to use a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, but I thought 2 teaspoons made a lot more sense.
I set that aside, and retrieved the oats. I poured in the maple syrup.
I added melted butter, and an egg. It did not look very appetizing.
I stirred that up as thoroughly as I could, then poured it into the flour mixture.
I was supposed to add pecans at this point. Now I do like nuts, but I don’t love them in baked goods, particularly. I skipped them.
I scooped the batter into muffin cups.
In 20 minutes, they were done.
I gave them five more minutes in the pan, then moved them to a rack.
And then I started eating them.
These are so good! They have a lovely, crumbly texture, with some extra substance provided by the oats. The maple syrup flavor is strong but not overpowering, there’s a nice hint of cinnamon, and they basically taste like breakfast in a muffin cup. A joyful way to start the day.
My version of Maple Oatmeal Muffins (adapted from Baked Bree)
1 cup rolled oats 1/2 cup 1% milk 2/3 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons cinnamon 3/4 cup pure maple syrup 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted 1 large egg
Heat the oven to 425 degrees, you will reduce the temperature later. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a small bowl, soak the oats in the milk for five minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
To the oat and milk mixture, add the maple syrup, melted butter, and egg.
Add the oats to the flour and stir just until incorporated. Scoop into muffin tins.
Reduce oven temperature to 400 and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let sit in the pan for another 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
These will last for a few days, but they do taste especially nice fresh out of the oven.
Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies for Juliet's birthday
I swear, I think this will be my last not-healthy recipe for a little while. But it was Juliet’s 6th birthday last week so I sat her down with my iPad and we went through one of my Pinterest boards so she could pick out something special. She knows what she likes, that’s for sure, and once she saw heart-shaped peanut butter sandwich cookies, the searching stopped. I kept thinking she’d want a cake of some kind, but Juliet didn’t care about that. Like me, she loves her peanut butter.
I usually avoid making cookies on a weeknight; it can take forever to get through each batch and the clean-up takes longer too. But a birthday is a birthday, and Juliet deserves the dessert of her dreams. I did my best to provide it.
Of course I had help.
This recipe does not hold back on anything. We started with a cup of peanut butter, a cup of butter, a cup of cane sugar, and a cup of brown sugar. Insanity! (Delicious insanity.)
I put the peanut butter in, then put the mixer to work.
We added the eggs, beating after each one, and then the vanilla.
Once that was thoroughly mixed, the kids and I were ready to get the dry ingredients together.
I couldn’t help myself, I had to do SOMETHING to make this recipe a little healthier, so we used whole wheat white flour and wheat germ instead of all purpose flour.
Nathaniel added the baking powder.
The kids were clearly feeling good about their teamwork.
Juliet took on the whisking. (Like mother, like daughter.)
We slowly added the flour/wheat germ/baking soda combo to the butter and sugar mixture in the stand mixer bowl until it turned into cookie batter.
Now came the tricky part. Rolling out sugar cookie dough is one thing, but this was a very different type of batter and it was a little sticky and just not as smooth as I’d have liked it to be. I found the best strategy was to roll it out in very small pieces, do my best to get some decent heart and star shapes, and then start again. I also ended up making the cookies pretty thick; if the dough got too thin it just fell apart when I tried to move the cookies to the tray.
We did some stars, too.
They seemed baked at 11 minutes, and as we did tray after tray, the cookies got thicker and thicker. They lost their shapes a little, but not too much, and they smelled peanut buttery and good.
Juliet went off to bed around this point, and it was time for the frosting. I started with butter and peanut butter, beating until creamy smooth.
Powdered sugar and milk were next, and then it was just a matter of watching it transform.
It took all my willpower to actually use this on the cookies instead of eating it with a spoon. Or a shovel.
The cookies were thick, and doubling them up with the filling seemed crazy, but it was all for the birthday cause. On went the filling. On went another cookie.
Not too bad, right?
I don’t have the most delicate touch in the world, but they looked okay, and when Juliet came downstairs on her birthday morning and saw them, the look on her face made my exhaustion worthwhile. She loved them.
I’ve been wanting to try making this recipe for weeks, but first I had to use up the carrots, zucchini, and bananas that were sitting around. Finally I ran out of everything, and felt it was morally okay to proceed. (I hate wasting food, okay?)
I had a feeling this bread was going to be something special and I was right. The texture is soft and perfect, reminding me of that Chai Tea Bread I enjoy so much. And it’s sweetened with honey; not a grain of sugar passed through my hands.
Right up until the last minute I was on the fence about the tea. Should I use regular black tea, as suggested, or get playful and try an interesting flavor, like ginger peach? I made a cup of each and let them cool while I assembled the rest of the ingredients. A little procrastination never hurt anybody. (Okay, that’s not actually true, but it wouldn’t hurt the precious tea bread and that’s what mattered.)
My first change was the flour. Instead of two cups of all purpose. I used 1 1/3 cups of whole wheat white and 2/3 of a cup of wheat germ. Baking powder, baking soda, and salt were added along with a full teaspoon of cinnamon, doubling what was in the recipe.
I’d put off my tea decision for a bit but it was time to make the call. I wavered. I waffled. And then I decided to stay with the classic black tea, until I had a handle on this bread and what it was all about. My tea of choice, since I was a tween, is Twinings English Breakfast tea, and I defy you to find anything better. I was supposed to mix it with the milk first before adding anything else, but I accidentally put the honey in too, and whisked right away, since it wasn’t like I could just remove it.
I added the egg and vanilla bean paste, then combined oil with yogurt (instead of just using oil) and whisked it all together.
I poured that into the first bowl, and stirred the ingredients together gently.
I added the freshly grated ginger, opting to reduce the amount to a half teaspoon. (Is it embarrassing to admit that this is the first thing I’ve baked with fresh ginger instead of dry? I think so.) And instead of using dried fruit or nuts, I threw in two tablespoons of mini cinnamon chips.
I folded them in and poured the whole delicious mixture into a loaf pan.
The recipe suggested baking for 45-50 minutes, but I checked mine at 40 and it was done, with that nice crack along the top. Maybe you’re not supposed to like having a crack across the top, but I do.
I gave it another ten minutes in the pan, then flipped it out onto a wire rack.
This tea bread is phenomenal. I’m not sure this makes sense, but the crumb is like silk, it’s just so soft. The sweetness coming from honey instead of sugar, combined with the tea (which I steeped for a good long time) gives it great depth of flavor, elevated by the cinnamon and ginger which support the tea flavor without standing out too much on their own. And the mini cinnamon chips actually melted right into the bread, so you get the little bursts of them without the hard texture, nothing disturbs the softness of the bread’s perfect texture.
Thanks to the yogurt swap, it comes in at 4 P+ a slice, but the trick is sticking to one slice. I could eat half of this for breakfast, easily. (But I didn’t.)
I already liked my carrot oatmeal muffins. A lot. But it’s been a while since I made them, and I decided it was time to see if I could make them even better. And I did!
I knew it was meant to be when I grated the last carrot in our fridge, and it came out to exactly half a cup, just what the recipe calls for.
The recipe also called for 3/4 cup of brown sugar, but I decided to cut that back to half a cup. And look, I finally invested in a proper container for my brown sugar. (No more bags-in-bags-in-bags!)
My second swap was to use yogurt instead of applesauce. I added that to the carrots & brown sugar, along with the egg and vanilla bean paste.
It doesn’t look very nice, but it’s going to be okay,. I promise.
I set that aside and started in on the dry ingredients. Instead of half white and half wheat flour, I did my usual whole wheat white flour/toasted wheat germ combination, then added the oats, baking powder, and 3/4 of a teaspoon of baking soda.
I changed up the spices a little, putting in two teaspoons of cinnamon, half a teaspoon of nutmeg, and then a half teaspoon of ginger, an addition I make every time I use this recipe. I whisked.
I poured the barfy-looking carrot mixture into the flour & oat bowl, knowing this was the key to making the batter look a little tastier.
It did. I folded everything together, then scooped it into muffin cups. I had a little taste, too, now that it looked more appetizing, and knew I’d made the right call on the reduced sugar.
I baked for 15 minutes. They didn’t get those nice tops that I like, but they smelled delicious. After another five minutes in the pan, I moved them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
It’s hard to believe these muffins are as healthy as they are. They taste so good! The carrots and brown sugar provide sweetness, the oats give them a great texture, and the spices add warmth and flavor. Perfect for breakfast, and truth be told (confessed), a late night snack. They’re only 3 P+ on Weight Watchers.
I wasn’t sure it was possible, but I actually made these taste even better! I brought them to work and they went fast. but I admit I ate a few extras over the next day or so. I couldn’t help myself. Guilt-free deliciousness is hard to resist.
My version of Carrot Oatmeal Muffins (adapted from Brownie Bites)
1/2 cup grated carrots 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup low fat vanilla yogurt 1 large egg 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 1 cup rolled oats 2/3 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup wheat germ 1 teaspoon baking powder 3/4 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Heat oven to 425, you will reduce the temperature later. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a medium bowl, mix together the carrots, sugar, yogurt, egg, and vanilla. It will look unpleasant. Don’t sweat it.
IN a large bowl, whisk together the oats, flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
Pour the carrot mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir just until incorporated, stopping before you overmix.
Scoop the batter into muffin cups and place in the oven. Reduce temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Let sit in the pan for five more minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. These taste great nice and warm, but they’re just as good the next day too! The muffins retain their flavor beautifully.
The kids needed donuts. They did! I was just doing what my conscience dictated when I whipped up a batch. I was fulfilling a moral obligation. Really.
Also, I had a new mini donut pan that needed a tryout.
Also, Juliet wanted to help. Cuteness and spills abounded.
We added the butter and put the mixer to work. (We weren’t going for healthy this time around; my goal was to give the kids one big last treat before our vacation was really and truly over.)
Juliet took charge of the egg. She took it very seriously.
We added that, as well as the milk and vanilla, and beat on medium speed.
Juliet ran off at right about this point, and left the rest to me. I added the baking powder and salt, and then slowly mixed in the flour, beating just until combined.
My next task was to pipe it into the mini donut pan. I knew I had some pastry bags & tips somewhere, but for the sake of convenience, I reached for my decorator and just used that. Of course the tip I had on it was for making decorative frosting flourishes, so the batter looked a lot fancier than it needed to.
I used an offset spatula to smooth them out a little, then popped them into the oven and readied the topping. Usually I’ll make the cinnamon-sugar mix but skip the melted butter but I made an exception for this last vacation blast of a day. I set up a little topping station.
The donuts took about 10 minutes to bake through, and I let them cool for a minute or two, then rushed them through the topping process. I brushed them with the butter, then dipped them in the cinnamon sugar.
I promptly delivered them to the children.
Two very happy children. Mission accomplished.
(I tried half of one of them, and I have to be honest, I didn’t love them. I felt like most of the flavor was in the cinnamon-sugar. But the texture was nice and the kids were thrilled and they ate every last one.)
That, my friends, is Julia Child’s kitchen, transported in its entirety to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, and reason alone to take a trip to Washington DC. Check out the saws on the wall!
This amazing sight was part of the FOOD exhibit, which was of course a highlight for me. I learned that Julia was over 6 feet tall, and her husband raised all the counters up to make it more comfortable for her to cook in her own kitchen.
The FOOD exhibit also included some useful information on the history of Fritos.
And yes, “fritos” means “little fried things”, which is a very apt description.
We spent four full days in DC, with some good meals and some bad ones, some fun treats in between, and far too many chicken fingers. I didn’t always remember to take pictures of our meals, but I did my best. What can I say? I was on vacation.
Our first food stop on our first day was an amazing little bake shop just a few minutes from our hotel, in Dupont Circle.
The flavors were exciting.
Nathaniel went for the Root Beer Float and Juliet chose a simple honest vanilla.
We went back the next day and got three of them, so I could try the Peanut Butter Blossom. As the extremely friendly man behind the counter was packing them up, he told me that he had put another one in our box for free! We saved that incredible Caramel Macchiato cupcake for our last day, adding it to our breakfast. Delicious. I had no idea there was a free cupcakes policy in DC, but I approve.
This sign was on the same street, just down the block a bit. I couldn’t help but wonder if the tattoo shop’s proximity to Hello Cupcake helped inspire the name.
We explored the neighborhood for a while, then hopped on the Metro to a place I’d read about called Tonic to have our first dinner in DC.
There’s a really interesting history of the place, which you can read more about here if you like. It’s right in the Georgetown University neighborhood and Quigley’s Pharmacy was founded by a recently graduated pharmacy student in 1891. He branched out to burgers and Cokes after that.
The staff was incredibly friendly and I loved what I ate there: fish tacos with chipotle mayo and spicy slaw. (And yes, there’s no such thing as Weight Watchers when you’re on vacation. It’s a law!)
The coconut rice didn’t have much flavor, but I devoured everything else, and although I’m normally not much of a slaw eater, I stuffed each taco with it once I had my first taste to make sure I’d have it in every bite.
Dave had the friend chicken, and the kids had cute little platters of macaroni & cheese and chicken fingers with tater tots, which was a new discovery for them due to the lack of such things in our household.
The kids liked the trays too.
It was still light out when we stepped back off the Metro at our stop, and we were lucky enough to catch this great little jazz band playing in the street.
Everyone within earshot was dancing. We saw people bopping along from a block or two away as we made our way back. Fun!
We started off Day 2 with a free breakfast at the hotel, which I never photographed because it was just too bleak. It never got any better. Every day it was free and every day it was vile. Thank goodness I’d brought along some of my own homemade baked goods, and the kids always managed to find something amidst the rubbery eggs and oddly textured waffles.
Lunch on day two was not a huge improvement on breakfast. We’d just gotten an incredible tour of the Capitol Building from our friend Joe, and then we walked past the cafeteria and it was all the kids could think of, so we caved and went in. I have no idea what made me decide that getting a lobster roll at a basement cafeteria was a good idea.
Looks okay, right? It wasn’t. It was like eating a salt sandwich. Salt was the only flavor present. I ended up just eating the bread around it just to keep myself from going hungry (or dying of salt-inflicted thirst).
My family can be somewhat predictable when it comes to food: Dave got a soup & sandwich, Juliet got the macaroni & cheese, and Nathaniel got chicken fingers. The kids shared until they got bored and realized the food was crappy. (Happily, they each devoured a fresh apple once they were done. Makes a momma proud.)
The chicken fingers look the same everywhere, by the way. There must be one supplier in all of DC.
We stopped by the shop on the way out to get little notebooks & pens, and then hung around outside for a while. The Capitol Building is a majestic sight, and we’d been lucky to get the insiders’ view of it.
We stopped by the Air & Space Museum next, but it was a little hard for a 5-year-old to get as excited as the rest of us about seeing The Spirit of St. Louis, Apollo 11, and the Wright Brothers’ first plane. Juliet finally had a catnap while we watched a movie at the Einstein Planetarium and then got some energy back just as we were leaving.
As for our dinner that night, it was magnificent. We had great food with great company (Joe, Tom, and Kevin), and I forgot to take any pictures of the restaurant or the food. We went to a place called Clyde’s and I had some fantastic mussels in a thai red curry sauce. Dave had the best crab cakes he’s ever had, and the kids had cheesecake for dessert. (We had Juliet’s arrive with a candle since her birthday looms.)
We started the next day with another substandard (but free) breakfast, then headed to the Newseum, which I highly recommend to anyone visiting DC. Dave & I could have spent days there, but it wasn’t perhaps the greatest place for Juliet. She perked up once we got to the section where kids could record their own news broadcasts, though!
Sadly, the food at the Newseum did not match the quality of the exhibits. This was another time when I forgot to take pictures, but I’m pretty sure Juliet had the chicken fingers again (again!) and I had a salad and a fairly innocuous personal pizza.
But later that day, once back in our neighborhood for a rest, I took the kids on a little outing to Larry’s Ice Cream. It was a worthy outing. Juliet had vanilla, Nathaniel had cookie dough, and I had salted caramel, all homemade, all delicious.
I don’t care how trendy salted caramel gets, I will always love it with all my heart.
The neighborhood wasn’t much to speak of, but the crab was definitely worth dancing about. We sat out on the patio, the wait staff could not have been nicer, and the food Dave and I ordered was delicious. Dave had mussels, and I had a seafood stew, filled with crab, shrimp, fish, clams, and mussels floating in a spicy broth, topped with garlic crostini. It made up for every salty lobster bite and and every chicken finger.
The kids’ menu wasn’t spectacular. We got fried shrimp for Juliet, which she loves, but the batter was too thick and we didn’t blame her for not wanting to eat it.
Nathaniel ordered a grilled cheese and fries. The fries were so perfect that Nathaniel picked out his favorite one and moved it to a separate plate so he could save it for last and savor it.
Nathaniel very graciously switched plates with Juliet once we determined she wasn’t interested in the shrimp, and since they were both so sweet about making sure there was enough food for both of them, we let them order dessert as well: cheesecake for Juliet and key lime pie for Nathaniel.
The next day was our last full day in DC, and we started it off at the FOOD exhibit already mentioned. I loved it all, of course, as well as the other gems they had at the Museum, and instead of giving in to the convenience of museum cafeteria food, we headed back to our neighborhood for a cheap & easy diner lunch. Simple fare at a reasonable price. Sometimes that’s just what you need.
We had a fun time at the Spy Museum that afternoon. Juliet was bored until she got a chance to hang from a pole like James Bond, with the wind blowing at her! Nathaniel did it too, but Juliet went back four or five times until she could stay up there for at least 30 seconds.
That night we had dinner with the lovely & talented Meisner-Eagle family at the District Chophouse, about a block from the museum. I forgot to photograph the entrees, which is a shame because my baked potato was bigger than my head and my fish sandwich was delicious. I did get a crack at the appetizers, though.
Onion ring tower!
We spent our last night checking out some of the classic, majestic monuments of DC.
Our last morning away, we skipped the free breakfast and bought breakfast at a nearby bagel shop. For $20 total we had fresh bagels, real eggs, and pancakes. Woohoo! Our last few hours were spent at the zoo.
I’m so glad Nathaniel suggested taking the train to DC for our vacation! Smart kid.
This delicious, satisfying chocolate zucchini bread came on the heels of two very unfortunate baking experiments, and a last-minute mishap to boot.
Failure #1: I tried to make a zucchini bread without chocolate chips or cocoa powder. Now I know that it’s possible to make a good spiced zucchini bread, but the recipe I tried did not generate one.
First red flag: it required far too much zucchini.
Second red flag: once the batter was all mixed, there was STILL too much zucchini and the whole mixture just seemed much too gloppy and liquid-y.
It looked good enough once it was baked, though.
Its true nature was revealed when I sliced it open. To my great dismay, it didn’t taste like spice cake it all; instead it tasted like wet zucchini, which was most unpleasant. Understatement.
Failure #2: I took another crack at my peach muffin quest.
I still had some peach puree left so I tried a new recipe. This one included some spices and some lemon zest, which I thought would help amp up the peach flavor. They actually looked pretty good, if somewhat lumpy.
Sadly, not only did they lack peach flavor, they lacked any significant flavor at all. I got a whisper of cinnamon from the top and a whiff of lemon from the zest, but that was it. I pitched them. (I think if I want to make peach muffins, I’ll have to add peach nectar or peach extract, because, as Barb the B&B owner warned me, peaches themselves don’t have a strong enough flavor to carry a muffin on the strength of their puree.)
I was ultimately redeemed by this delightful chocolate chip zucchini bread, and even after reducing the sugar and the chocolate chips and the oil, I still ended up with an exquisite, tasty treat. Hooray! Of course the journey wasn’t without its mishaps.
I started by grating a cup of zucchini. I used my new grater, which makes the pieces smaller and therefore less detectable, and squeezed the moisture out.
Things got rough after that. Truth be told, I was TRYING to make these zucchini banana chocolate chip muffins, and made the terrible mistake of whisking the dry ingredients together before doing an inventory to see if I had everything I needed. The two overripe bananas I was counting on? Gone! I guess they just didn’t look gross enough because the kids ate them. Now I’m not one to deny my children some healthy bananas, but I was most displeased when I had to switch gears, and couldn’t find another recipe with a similar baking powder ratio. I had to pitch the dry ingredients and start again.
I took a deep breath, counted to five, and started again.
I whisked together whole wheat white flour, toasted wheat germ, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon (instead of the 1/2 suggested), nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Notice the new whisk? It’s red, which I like. Other than that, I’m on the fence, as it’s a little wiggly,
In another bowl, I beat the egg. To that I added half a cup of brown sugar (not a full cup of white), and the zucchini. Then instead of using a quarter up of canola oil, I filled half the 1/4 cup with low fat vanilla yogurt and topped it off with the oil. It was probably about half and half.
Since my whisk was wiggly, I used a spatula to mix. Everything blended together nicely. I poured it into the dry ingredients.
This was already an improvement over the previous zucchini experiment, even if it does look a bit like an alien takeover. I mixed just enough to incorporate, then folded in the chocolate chips, opting for half a cup instead of a whole one.
The batter looked pretty good. (It didn’t taste too shabby either.) I poured/glopped/scooped it into a loaf pan and then on a whim decided to sprinkle some demerara sugar across the top. (I suppose I was still haunted by my unfortunate experience with the wet zucchini bread.)
It said to bake for an hour, but mine was done at 40 minutes. Every single time that happens I am grateful to the pastry chef at Sur La Table for telling me to start checking baked goods halfway through the baking time. “Don’t trust anyone else to know your oven,” she said. Sage advice.
It looked good and smelled good. I felt the stirrings of hope. I gave it another ten minutes in the pan, then flipped it onto a rack to finish cooling.
It took a while to taste it. It had to cool, I had plans — a private yoga lesson, actually, on the day before a family trip — and so a few hours went by before I had the opportunity.
This bread has a lovely soft crumb, a hint of spice from the cinnamon and nutmeg, a crunch on the top and just enough chocolate to keep it sweet without being overpowering. The zucchini makes it nice and moist but only as much as you want a bread to be, and not one iota more. Terrific.
My version of Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread (adapted from Costa Kitchen)
2/3 + 1/2 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ (plus some in the bottom of the 1/2 cup of flour) 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1 beaten egg 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 cup finely shredded zucchini (not peeled) 1/8 cup canola oil 1/8 cup low fat vanilla yogurt 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips 1-2 tablespoons Demerara sugar, for sprinkling on top
Grease or spray a 9” x 5” loaf pan and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grate the zucchini.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking soda,salt, baking powder, and nutmeg. Make a well in the center of the bowl.
In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg. Add the sugar, zucchini, oil, and yogurt. Stir until thoroughly combined.
Pour the zucchini mixture into the flour bowl and stir until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour/spoon batter into a loaf pan and sprinkle demerara sugar across the top.
Bake for 40-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for ten minutes, then remove and let sit on a wire rack.
Eat! It’s a great excuse to have chocolate for breakfast.
I’m still on a peach muffin mission, but before I tried a new recipe I wanted to go back to this one and get it right. That meant:
A. using properly ripened peaches B. mixing peach puree with baking soda to get it foamy C. not accidentally mish-moshing two recipes together
I succeeded on all three counts. These muffins came out a little fluffier, a little prettier, and a little more delicious, but I have to be honest: I still don’t really taste a whole lotta peach. Still, I’ve had trouble holding on to them, as the kids love them and so does everybody else.
This time around I had no trouble getting the skins off. My peaches were getting nice and soft, so I gently scored the bottoms with a sharp knife, put them in boiling water for 60 seconds, then plunged them into an ice bath. The skins came off very easily and left me with some nice, peeled, slimy, slippery peaches.
I chopped them up easily enough, and glopped them into the blender to puree them, then measured out 2/3 of a cup into a small bowl.
The fun step that I missed the last time I made these was turning the puree into foam. I put a teaspoon of baking soda into the bowl, and stirred. Fun!
Next I put the butter, yogurt, and brown sugar into the stand mixer and had at it.
I added the eggs, beating after each one, then the vanilla.
I whisked together whole wheat white flour, wheat germ, and salt, then put that next to the stand mixer along with the foamy peach puree, so I could alternate adding them to the bowl and mixing. I went back and forth as smoothly as I could.
Last to go in, the poppy seeds. I love poppy seeds. I don’t eat bagels regularly anymore so I’m always happy to throw them into a muffin. I started out using the mixer, then removed the bowl to fold them in more gently.
I scooped the batter into muffin cups as evenly as I could.
There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of it, but I did the best I could. I scraped out the bowl as much as humanly possible.
I put them in to bake, they were done in just shy of 20 minutes. They didn’t flatten out like the last batch, which was a nice bonus.
Well…they still tasted sweet and crunchy and delicious, and the texture was fluffy and substantial at the same time, but did they taste peachy? No.
I still have to figure out the peach thing.
In the meantime, we’ll all just keep gobbling up these sweet fluffy crunchmuffins.
My version of Peach Poppy Seed Muffins (adapted from cooks.com)
2/3 cup pureed peaches 1 teaspoon baking soda 5 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt 3/4 cup brown sugar 2 large eggs 2/3 + 1/4 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 3 tablespoons poppy seeds.
Heat the oven to 375, you will reduce the temperature later. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
Add the baking soda to the peach puree and stir. It will foam up, so make sure the bowl you’re using will accommodate.
Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter, yogurt, and sugar. Once smooth and creamy, beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Whisk together the flour and the wheat germ.
Alternately add the peach puree and then the flour mixture, going back and forth between the two until everything is in. Beat gently but thoroughly.
Stir in the salt, vanilla, and poppy seeds by hand.
Distribute the butter as evenly as possible into the muffin cups. Reduce oven temperature to 350, then bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let them sit in the pan for another five minutes, then move to a wire rack.
Love this twist on a traditional banana bread. Next time I’ll push it even more and up the cocoa powder and the espresso, but even as is it was full of flavor and made for a nice spin on a familiar treat.
First step, mash the bananas. They weren’t at that horrifying stage, but they were ripe enough to mash easily.
Then I got the dry ingredients together. I combined whole wheat white flour, toasted wheat germ, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. I needed 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda, so I got all stunt-y and did both measuring spoons at once.
I whisked it all together, pressing into the cocoa lumps as needed until everything was nicely smooth and well integrated.
I set that aside. It was time for the stand mixer. I threw in a quarter cup of butter and then subbed 1/2 a cup of coconut palm sugar for the 3/4 of granulated listed.
I added the eggs and watched the paddle spin around again. (I’m still enchanted by my Kitchen Aid, I admit.)
Even when it says to add the eggs together, I do them separately, unless they have to be beaten first. I read somewhere that you get better results going one at a time.
I slid the mashed bananas into the bowl and added vanilla.
For the coffee part of the mocha, I mixed a half teaspoon of espresso powder with three tablespoons of water.
That glass has a long history. When I was a kid, Nutella used to come in actual drinking glasses, and once you finished the Nutella you could wash out the glass and keep it. This glass was in my house all through my peanut-butter-and-chocolate-sandwich-obsessed childhood, and now my kids use it, and it felt good to find a way to get it involved in baking as well.
I poured in the espresso mixture.
Once all the wet ingredients were thoroughly mixed, I took the bowl off the stand and added in the flour, mixing by hand — well, by spatula, s things didn’t get crazy — until just combined.
I poured/scooped/spread it into a loaf pan, but I wanted to give it a little oomph, so I quickly stirred a half teaspoon of cinnamon into 2 tablespoons of cane sugar, and sprinkled that across the top.
The directions said to bake for an hour and five minutes. I checked mine at 45 minutes and it was completely done, I probably could have checked even earlier. It smelled great and had that nice crack across the top. I gave it another ten minutes in the pan, then moved it to a rack.
This bread is delicious. As I said, I’m going to add more cocoa powder and more espresso next time, but not by too much because the flavor combination is gentle and smooth and I don’t want to change that balance too much. The texture is just right, a soft crumb but nice and moist from the bananas, and the cinnamon sugar added just the right touch.
Make this! It’s easy and a huge crowd-pleaser. It went fast.
Another win for the zucchini muffin! I’m always nervous about these, because I truly despise zucchini. But in a muffin it becomes transformed, adding a health boost without compromising on flavor one iota. They were also really easy to make, even though I was making changes along the way.
I started by grating the zucchini. It took exactly one to get a full cup. I used my new grater so the pieces I ended up with were smaller than usual. I still had to wring them out though, I used a paper towel to get rid of the excess moisture. And then I ended up with this:
In a large bowl, I whisked together an egg, canola oil, yogurt, coconut palm sugar (reducing to a half cup), and vanilla. I was on the last drop of my vanilla bean paste, so I topped it off with extract.
I plopped in the zucchini. It really did plop, just fell out of the cup in one big thunk.
Suddenly I had a stirring helper! Juliet showed up to pitch in. She did a great job getting the zucchini mixed in.
Together, Juliet and I added in the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. She stirred. Then it was time for the flour. Instead of half wheat and half white, we used whole wheat white, replacing just over 1/3 of a cup of it with toasted wheat germ. I measured the wheat germ, Juliet handled the flour.
Notice her hair? We’d both gotten haircuts that day and they straightened hers, she felt very glamorous for the whole weekend.
We poured the flour/wheat germ mixture into the batter, and I folded it in gently (and lovingly, despite the presence of zucchini).
(This wasn’t one of my better photography days.)
Finally, I folded in some mini chocolate chips, using half a cup instead of 2/3. My helper skipped off to play, and I scooped the batter into muffin cups. I’ve been using an ice cream scoop for this more & more.
At about 20 minutes, they were done, and smelled great, like chocolate and spice instead of zucchini (thank goodness).
I gave them another five minutes or so in the tin, then moved them to a wire rack.
These muffins are wonderful. The amount of chocolate chips was just right, the sweetness balanced beautifully with the spices, the crumb was soft and fluffy, and the zucchini provided moisture and nutrition without ever rearing its ugly head into the flavor. A gem, this one. I feel like these muffins are helping me slowly inch towards a zucchini bread without cocoa powder. Perhaps I am beginning to understand the powers of the humble zucchini. These are only 4 P+, are healthy enough for breakfast (if you like chocolate with your breakfast, and why wouldn’t you?), but tasty enough for dessert. They went quickly.
I have been on a quest: the quest for a peach muffin. To reiterate what I’ve expressed in this blog multiple times, I do not like pieces of fruit in my baked goods. I don’t make or eat blueberry muffins, apple pies, cobblers, or cookies with raisins in them. But I love the taste of the fruit, so as long as the texture is pure crumb, I am happy.
I also love using seasonal ingredients, when I can. Last winter I specialized in Meyer lemons and blood oranges, and now it’s summer so I’ve been making zucchini chocolate treats and have been trying to do something with peaches. I love peaches! I found some lovely peach-ginger tea that worked well in muffins, but I wanted to try using fresh peaches.
My first experiment failed; the flavor was there but the texture was just off, in that low-fat, gummy sort of way.
Last night, I tried again, and I’m onto something. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer. While these muffins don’t have a hugely strong peach flavor, they are still sweet, fluffy, and delicious, despite the fact that I completely bungled the instructions. I had so many different recipes open on my iPad that I started out looking at one and finished up looking at another! On some baking nights I am so focused that the process is almost meditative; this wasn’t one of them.
It started simply enough, with butter, yogurt, and sugar in the stand mixer. The recipe called for a full cup of sugar but I used 3/4. In hindsight, I think I could have used even less without affecting the taste; these muffins are SWEET.
Once that was mixed (with some yogurt lumps, which is normal), I added the eggs, beating them in one at a time.
After the eggs were well blended, I added the vanilla, using vanilla bean paste instead of extract.
Things started getting messy here, I think this is when I realized that I was looking at the wrong recipe. Oy! I did the best I could, and separately whisked together the flour, wheat germ, and salt. I started pouring that into the bowl, alternating with the fresh peach puree, and only belatedly realized I’d forgotten the baking soda and popped that in too.
Finally, I folded in the poppy seeds.
I scooped the batter into muffin cups, filling them as high as I could. I also tasted the batter at that point and was immensely reassured. It didn’t taste super peachy, but it was sweet and delicious.
I baked for ten minutes, turned the pan around, then baked for another ten. Without baking powder they ended up flat on top instead of puffy, but they still looked tasty.
I let them cool for another five minutes, then moved them to a wire rack. I had to make room immediately as my back-up plan for breakfast was to whip up a batch of corn muffins too, just in case these didn’t work out the way I hoped.
Bottom line, the texture of these is perfect. They’re fluffy and moist, with a gentle poppy seed crunch. Flavor-wise, they’re sweet and addictive, they just don’t taste like peaches.
I have some thoughts on how to peach them up, though. Some I thought of, but I also consulted with the King Arthur Flour folks who will talk to you live online if you have baking questions. (I’m rather impressed by that, and rewarded them later that day by ordering a bunch of stuff from their site.)
Use riper peaches. Maybe they’re like bananas, with the full flavor coming with age.
Roast the peaches first. (This was from the King Arthur Flour folks.) The skins would come off nicely then too, said my online friend.
Add some peach nectar. (Also from my King Arthur Flour friend.)
Mix in some peach tea (from the insides of a teabag) to the dry ingredients.
Try the method in the recipe I meant to use, mixing the baking soda with the peaches first to create some fizz. I’m not sure what this does, but it seems a shame to have skipped such a fun step.
So I have some work to do. I bought a new batch of peaches and I’m going to give them a day or two to really ripen. In the meantime, I’ll keep eating the muffins I have, because they’re delicious! I’m actually eating one right now, to inspire and delight myself. (And they’re 4 P+ on Weight Watchers, perfectly acceptable for breakfast.)
PEACH POPPY SEED MUFFINS RECIPE (I’m just writing this up as I did it, since this was sort of a recipe mash-up/hybrid, but still resulted in something worthwhile)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt 3/4 cup cane sugar 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 2/3 + 1/4 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
Heat the oven to 375 degrees, you will reduce the temperature later. Line or grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter, yogurt, and sugar. Don’t worry if there are some lumps, this is just the yogurt. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each one. Then add the vanilla and beat again.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt.
Measure out the peach puree and add it into the bowl of the stand mixer, alternating with the dry ingredients until both are mixed. Best to start out using the mixer and then finish by hand to avoid overdoing it.
Scoop the batter into muffin cups.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 when you put the tray in. Rotate it after ten minutes, baking for 15-25 minutes total. (Mine took 20.)
Let cool in the pan for five minutes, then move to a wire rack.
When you need to whip together some crowd pleasing cookies, this is a perfect go-to recipe. They’re sweet, cinnamon-y, puffy and soft, satisfyingly filling, and don’t have any objectionable ingredients. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t like snickerdoodles. Of course I’m not a purist about such things, so when it came to the question of to cream-of-tarter or not to cream-of-tartar, I went for the not. I’ve never enjoyed that weird aftertaste, especially with sweet cookie goodness so easily attainable. These turned out great.
As directed, I started by making the topping: cinnamon and sugar, a winning combination.
Then I did something I rarely do when baking: threw two sticks of softened butter into my stand mixer. No yogurt was involved in the making of these cookies, just sweet sweet butter.
I let the mixer do its work until the butter was soft and creamy, then added the (cane) sugar.
I beat it until it looked like this:
Next to go in was the egg and the vanilla. Normally I use vanilla bean paste but I’m running low, so I thought I’d save that for something more sophistimicated and just use vanilla extract, which I have in abundance.
Dry ingredients came next, whisked together separately. I used whole wheat white flour and wheat germ — I couldn’t resist — and then added cinnamon and salt. Instead of baking soda + cream of tartar I opted for baking powder. Some snickerdoodle snobs will tell you that it isn’t a “real” snickerdoodle without the cream of tartar, but I’d rather have a delicious fake snickerdoodle than a weird sour-tasting real one. Onward and upward.
I slowly added the dry ingredients to the contents of the stand mixer, beating on low speed, then did the final mixing by hand with some extra spatula scrapes along the bottom of the bowl. The dough was thick but not sticky.
I used a cookie scoop to measure out the dough, rolled it into balls, then gave them a quick spin in the cinnamon sugar topping and placed them on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
I baked the first tray for 10 minutes, the second for 12, and the third for ten again, just to play with the texture a little. Bottom line, they all turned out great, with the 10-minute cookies being just a little bit softer in the middle.
These cookies are really, really good. The kids ate them — even Juliet! — and Dave protested the removal of some to take to the office, but people at work loved them too and I felt compelled to share.
They’re crisp on the outside, with a nice crackle from the cinnamon sugar, and soft and puffy on the inside. They’re thick enough to make up for their smallness; filling enough to stop you from needing a whole pile of them (although you might WANT a whole pile of them).
Great recipe, quick and easy to make, and so delicious that I have no idea how long they last because they didn’t. They got eaten.
They were getting more disgusting daily, they needed to be transformed into something delicious and lovingly baked, but they were small, smaller than they look in this photo, so my options were limited. And then I remembered the recipe I’d seen a while back for One Banana Banana Bread. Yes! Since Pinterest finally allows you to search your own pins, it was easy enough to find the recipe, and reassure myself that all was going to go well in bananaland.
The recipe looked healthy enough, so instead of worrying about reducing the quarter cup of butter, I just melted it, as instructed.
While it cooled, I pulled the dry ingredients together. Instead of a cup of all purpose flour, I used 2/3 of a cup of whole wheat white and 1/3 of a cup of toasted wheat germ. I used coconut palm sugar instead of white, added baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt, and then threw in two teaspoons of cinnamon and a half a teaspoon of nutmeg. I like my spices.
I whisked. I like my spices, and I like whisking.
I poured in the melted butter, now cooled to room temperature.
I added buttermilk and and stirred. Once it was well mixed, I added a lightly beaten egg, and stirred again.
Finally it was time to mash the bananas. I should have done that ahead of time, but I forgot. I know the whole idea of this recipe was the “one banana”-ness of it, but mine were small, and I figured that the banana she was talking about was a lot bigger than my bananas. I didn’t have banana envy, just banana needs.
I added the bananas and vanilla to the batter.
I stirred it all together, stopping as soon as I felt things were mixed enough, and glopped it all into a loaf pan.
I turned my attention to what would turn out to be some ill-fated topping. I mixed together a little flour, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
As you can see, the texture was neither sprinklable nor spreadable, so I ended up plopping little bits of it onto the batter with my fingers and leaving it at that.
It took a long time to bake, a lot longer than the recipe said it would. I blame the extra banana.
I let it sit in the pan for another ten minutes, then turned it out onto the rack.
The topping didn’t really do much, but the bread? Wonderful! I got a perfect crumb, soft and moist in perfect balance. The flavor was just as well balanced, with a strong banana taste and just the right hints of spice. I can’t believe this is only a 3 P+ recipe, because it tastes rich and full of sweet buttery goodness. Woohoo! A win all around.
My version of One Banana Banana Bread (with two small bananas), (adapted from The fauxMartha)
2/3 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1/2 cup coconut palm (or brown) sugar 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted 1/3 cup 1% buttermilk 1 large egg, lightly beaten 2 small overripe bananas, mashed 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon cold butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt
Heat the oven to 300 degrees and spray or grease a loaf pan.
Melt the butter, mash the bananas, and beat the egg.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add in the melted butter and buttermilk, and stir well. Add the egg, and mix again. Finally, add the mashed bananas and vanilla and stir to combine.
Pour into a loaf pan.
In a small bowl, mash the topping ingredients together. I have no magic formula for distributing it across the top, so try whatever works. Or just leave it out — this bread was terrific without it.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for another ten minutes, then flip out onto a rack to finish. The flavor will really peak the next day, but if you must try it sooner, so be it.
These didn’t turn out quite the way I’d hoped. I’ve been wanting to make peach muffins for a while, a muffin that would be all crumb but would be full of flavor from pureed fresh peaches. So I started with a Strawberry Mini Muffins recipe I’d made not that long ago and adapted as I went.
I started with the peaches. I read all these blogs & sites that said the best way to peel a peach was to boil it for 60 seconds, then plunge it into an ice bath. I tried that. I even scored the peel first. Alas, it didn’t work all that well, and I’m thinking that’s because the peaches were still a little hard.
(To be honest, that’s how I prefer eating them, as soon as they get soft, which is the way other people like them, I lose all interest.)
I was able to get some of the peel off that way, and after trying to use a knife on the rest, I finally just grabbed my vegetable peeler and finished the job with ease. I cut up the insides, then pureed them in the blender.
In my (wonderful) stand mixer, I beat together an egg, oil, vanilla, milk, and some peach butter I’d picked up on our trip to Pennsylvania.
Separately, I whisked together the dry ingredients: whole wheat pastry flour, wheat germ, cane sugar, salt, and baking powder.
I poured in the peach puree.
Once mixed, it started looking a little bit like cat barf.
Adding it to the bowl of the stand mixer didn’t really improve things until the paddle started doing its work.
The batter was very thin, but I remember it was the same with the strawberry muffins. I spoon-poured it into muffin cups.
(Does anyone know how to avoid those little pinchy corners I get sometimes? I tried fixing each one, but some of them just squinch right back in again and then the muffins aren’t perfectly round. It’s random and irksome.)
I put them in the oven and set the timer for 20 minutes, but it was about 25 until they were done, and “done” was a little dodgy. The toothpick came out clean, but it didn’t feel as dry as I wanted it to. And they’d fallen, after puffing up nicely earlier on in the baking cycle. Still, they smelled pretty good. Sweet and peachy.
Sadly, the texture never really settled. They stopped sticking to the paper by morning, but they never got fluffy or soft. They just got gummier. I ate a few of them over the next day or two, then gave it up. The flavor was there but the crumb was crummy instead of crumby.
I don’t think there’s much point in posting the recipe, since I don’t think anybody should try to make these. I have my eye on a recipe for peach poppy seed muffins, so have heart, I will persevere. I promise.
It’s zucchini season! And that means it’s chocolate season too. (It’s not wabbit season, though.)
I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a while because it has cardamom in it, which piqued my interest. So I gave it a go.
I started with a full cup of grated zucchini. I squeezed the water out of it after grating so I wouldn’t end up with a bowl of mush.
In another bowl I combined eggs, vanilla, honey, and applesauce. (I used a peach applesauce as that’s all I had.) I had to add a pinch of salt, so I had another excuse to use my weird new “off-size” measuring spoons.
I stirred that together, then measured out the flour. The measurement was provided in weight so I took the opportunity to use my digital scale and in the fleeting excitement of that (I’m a nerd) I forgot to swap some of it out for wheat germ.
The cocoa powder was next.
I sifted them together, then added the baking soda, cinnamon, and cardamom.
I added the liquid ingredients to the dry and mixed well.
I folded in the zucchini.
I poured the batter into a round 9” pan.
I baked for 35 minutes, then gave it another few minutes in the pan before flipping it onto a wire rack to cool.
And then for both looks and sweetness, I dusted it with some powdered sugar.
I brought half of it to work the next day, along with a bag of powdered sugar to sprinkle on top, since it was either absorbed during the night or just fell off. Of course that meant that sitting on my desk all day was a clear baggie full of white powder with a spoon in it. Antonia, a regular consumer of all of my baked goods, was happy to demonstrate its innocuousness.
And the cake was gobbled up.
I will admit that I thought it wasn’t sweet enough for me. The cardamom and the cinnamon gave it an edge that made it popular, but for me, I guess I like my chocolate sweeter. I liked it, but I didn’t love it, but “love it!” was said to me many times at home and at work as people came back for seconds.
I stayed true to the original recipe, so instead of copying it and being a recipe thief, I’ll just post the link.
A few weeks ago, I picked up some peach-ginger tea at an interesting little spice store in Sayville. We were on our way to Fire Island, but had some time to kill before the ferry came, so we stopped in town to get some coffee (for us) and some treats (for the kids) and when I spotted the gourmet store next to it, I couldn’t resist. I’ve had it in my mind to bake with that tea for the last few weeks, but I couldn’t decide exactly how. And then I remembered my Lemon-Ginger Tea Muffins, and thought I could use that as my base.
I melted the butter, and zested and juiced one lemon, so I’d have everything on hand. Then I turned my attention to the dry ingredients.
I combined whole wheat white flour with toasted wheat germ, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
I whisked that together, then emptied three peach-ginger teabags out into it, and whisked again.
Next, I moved to the stand mixer. I used low fat Fage Greek yogurt, and combined that with the melted butter, vanilla bean paste, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice. I beat it together at low speed initially, then increased to medium.
I started mixing in the dry ingredients, dividing it up on on the fly in three batches. I beat on low speed, stopping as soon as the flour was incorporated, then did the last bit by hand.
Oh, and then as I was about to scoop it into muffin cups, I did my final double-check of the ingredients list, and realized I’d left out the vanilla. D’OH! I measured out some vanilla bean paste and mixed it as thoroughly as I could without overdoing it. Once that was done, I scooped the batter into muffin cups. It was a thick batter, so it was more like scraping than scooping.
I baked for 17 minutes, checking after the first 15. They came out smelling good, sweet but not too fruity.
I let them sit in the pan for five minutes, then moved them to a wire rack.
I tasted one and I thought it was okay, but it was the next day when these muffins achieved their greatness, and their true nature shone. Fluffy texture, and lovely, subtle unusual flavors. The peach-ginger tea and the lemon combined beautifully to create something really unique. You can really taste the peach, the ginger, the lemon, and it’s all balanced out with the vanilla and brown sugar to keep it sweet. I’m so happy with these! They’re delicious.
My adaptation: Peach Ginger Tea Muffins with Lemon (adapted from Knead to Cook)
2/3 + 3/4 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 3 tea bags of peach ginger tea 1 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste zest of one lemon juice of one lemon 1 large egg, room temperature
Heat oven to 400 degrees, you’ll reduce the temperature later. Grease, spray, or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
Melt the butter so it has time to cool, and zest & juice the lemon.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the contents of the teabags and whisk again until well mixed.
In a stand mixer, beat together the Greek yogurt, butter, vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and lemon juice until well combined.
In thirds, pour in the flour mixture and beat on low speed, just until incorporated. Finish by hand to avoid overmixing. The batter will be quite thick.
Spoon (or scrape) the batter into muffin cups, and smooth the tops with a knife or offset spatula.
Place the tray in the oven and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for another five minutes, then move to a wire rack.
(I’ve also made them with orange instead of lemon and they turned out great!)
What to make, what to make…I really wanted to try something new with the 3 revoltingly overripe bananas in my kitchen. And I was in a hurry because I picked up a new laptop this morning so I could blog more portably, so I wanted something simple. I struck banana gold with this one, because it IS simple, and straightforward, and delicious. Perfect amount of oats, flour, and buttermilk to create a soft but solid texture, bursting with banana flavor.
I read a bunch of reviews before I got up & running, and decided to make muffins instead of a quick bread and start things off by soaking the oats in buttermilk. It wasn’t very attractive, but it still seemed like a good idea.
I stirred, then set it aside and left it alone, moving on to the dry ingredients. Instead of all purpose flour, I used a mix of whole wheat white flour and toasted wheat germ, and added the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. There weren’t any spices in this recipe, so I added two teaspoons of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of grated nutmeg. Seemed like the thing to do.
I whisked it together, then took another look at the recipe and realized I’d forgotten the sugar. It called for 3/4 cup of white sugar, but I put in 1/2 a cup of brown instead.
In another bowl, I mashed the bananas.
I added the vanilla, oil, and gloppy oat mixture, then beat two eggs lightly and poured them in as well.
Once that was thoroughly mixed, I poured it into the larger bowl with the dry ingredients.
I folded just until the flour was properly incorporated, then stopped. I wanted these to be as fluffy as possible.
And then I used an ice cream scoop to get the batter into the muffin cups. Normally I use a tablespoon, but I’d been watching Bobby Flay make brunch the night before (on tv, not in my kitchen, or his) and I noticed he used one and it look a lot less time than a tablespoon. Granted he had one with one of those sliders in it to push the batter out, and I don’t, but I still liked the idea so I tried it. It worked nicely, plus I love when I have enough batter to get those cups pretty full.
I figured I’d have to change the temperature a bit for the muffins vs. a loaf. I had heated the oven to 400, so I put the tray in and reduced the temperature to 375, and set the timer for 15 minutes. By 18, they seemed perfectly done. They’d puffed up nicely and smelled like bananas.
I gave them five more minutes in the pan, then moved them to a rack to finish cooling.
These were a total score in the world of banana muffins. They’re soft and fluffy, but the oats give them some heartiness, and the banana flavor is strong and blends perfectly with the subtle spices. You can savor these, and they’re nicely filling and satisfying. An exercise in balance, these muffins are, it’s like all the elements just came together in perfect muffin harmony.
My adaptation: Banana Oatmeal Muffins (adapted from Food.com)
3/4 cup rolled oats 1/3 cup 1% buttermilk 2/3 + 1/2 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg 1 cup mashed overripe bananas (I used 3 medium) 1/4 cup canola oil 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 2 eggs, beaten
Heat oven to 400 degrees, you will reduce the temperature later. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
Stir the oats and buttermilk together. Let them soak until you need them.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
In another bowl, mash the bananas. Add the oil, vanilla, beaten eggs, and the oats & buttermilk mixture. Stir well to combine.
Add the mixture to the large bowl with the dry ingredients and mix, stopping as soon as the flour is fully incorporated.
Scoop the batter into muffin tins, then reduce the temperature to 375 and bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let them sit in the tin for another five minutes, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling.
I was out of breakfast muffins and needed to whip something together that looked easy and quick, and this fit the bill: Buttermilk Oatmeal Muffins. The chocolate chips came from me.
First I had to soak the oats in buttermilk for half an hour, which gave me enough time to clear some more counter space. Too bad the mixture looked so barfy.
Nathaniel was put in charge of grating the nutmeg. He’s an old pro now.
While the boy grated, I put the rest of the dry ingredients together: whole wheat white flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. No salt, oddly. The nutmeg, once grated, was added. I whisked.
I scooped out some yogurt, having decided to use that instead of applesauce, and promptly dropped the scooper and watched the yogurt splatter across the floor. My friend Carol would say that Mercury’s still in retrograde, but I think I’m just clumsy.
I cleaned up, then added the eggs and vanilla to the yogurt, and whisked it all smooth, then added it to the dry ingredients.
I plopped in the oatmeal.
I stirred it all together, and then added mini chocolate chips. Too many, I think now, in hindsight.
I folded them in, then scooped the batter into flower-shaped muffin cups. My friend Marcie bought them for me ages ago.
I baked for just over 15 minutes. Maybe 17. I let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, then moved them to a wire rack.
And the verdict?
Sad to say….meh. I mostly just tasted the chocolate, and while the muffins were fine, I didn’t think they were special. There was nothing wrong with them, but I thought them rather uninspiring. My co-workers disagreed, and gobbled them up with gusto. So for that reason, I’ll post my changes. They’re easy enough to make, and a good crowd-pleaser.
1 cup rolled oats 1 cup 1% buttermilk 2/3 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg 1/2 cup low fat vanilla yogurt 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I suggest using less, actually)
Stir the buttermilk into the oats and soak for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees, you will reduce the temperature later. Line or spray a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, and vanilla. Add that and the oatmeal mixture, once ready, to the dry ingredients. Stir just until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Scoop the batter into muffin cups. Reduce the temperature to 400 degrees, then bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for five minutes, then move to a wire rack.
This tea cake is so delicious that I made another one three days after making the first one, and the only reason I waited so long is because we were away for the weekend.
The cake itself is warm with spices, and the topping adds a crunchy sweetness to every bite. It’s a magical combination. Hard to believe it starts out with something as mundane as a cup of shredded carrots.
Lucky for me, Dave bought me some ginormous carrots, so it only took one of them to get a full cup. Using half a dozen narrow pointy ones is extremely tedious.
Once that was done, I got the dry ingredients together. Instead of all purpose flour, I used a combination of whole wheat white and wheat germ. I added baking powder, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon (1 1/2 teaspoons instead of just 1/2), nutmeg, and a quarter teaspoon of ginger (not in the original recipe, but it’s hard to go wrong adding ginger to carrots, unless you’re my friend Scratchy, who simply hates ginger).
I whisked. I always whisk.
I made the crumb topping next. Oats, flour, brown sugar, and a little melted butter to keep it all together.
I moved to the stand mixer. (It’s my beautiful new Kitchen Aid, red and glorious.) Instead of a half cup of butter, I used half butter and half low fat vanilla yogurt, then added some dark brown sugar and set the mixer to low, increasing the speed as the ingredients started blending together.
I added vanilla bean paste and an egg.
I beat that in, added the second egg, and beat again. In went the carrots, around and around went the paddle.
I added the flour in small batches, beating on low speed just until incorporated.
I poured the batter into a loaf pan, and sprinkled the oat crumb topping across it as evenly as I could. This is not an area in which I excel, but I gave it my best shot.
The recipe said to bake for 40-45 minutes, but mine was done perfectly at 35. (I’ve made it twice now and both times it was done right at 35 minutes.) . I let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then flipped it over, trying to retain as much of the topping as possible, and watched it cool on the rack, drooling. It smelled fantastic, warm and enticing.
I held out as long as I could, then tasted.
You’d think a carrot tea bread wouldn’t be that exciting, but it is. It’s moist and filling and sweet and spicy at the same time, cakey and decadent-tasting despite the lack of decadence. The topping takes it to the next level, bringing just the right touch of sweetness with a lovely soft crunch. It was a brilliant idea, that oat crumb topping. I salute you and your topping, blogger Susan! Someone I work with who also bakes said it might be the best thing I’ve brought in yet.
My version of Carrot Tea Cake With Oat Crumb Topping (adapted from Sua Sponte Life)
2/3 + 1/4 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 1/8 - 1/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 1 cup packed grated carrots
topping: 1/4 cup oats 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 2 tablespoons whole wheat white flour 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray or grease & flour a 5 x 9 inch loaf pan.
Whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.
Prepare the oat topping by mixing together the oats, melted butter, flour, and brown sugar. Stir well; it should be crumbly but still hold together somewhat. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat the butter, yogurt, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla. Next, beat in the carrots. Add the flour mixture incrementally, beating on low speed, stopping as soon as it’s fully incorporated. (Might be best to finish by hand.)
Pour the batter into the pan, and sprinkle the oat topping until you’ve used every oaty crumb of it.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let it sit in the pan for five minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
Try really hard not to eat the whole thing in one day, if you can. Or don’t!
I was in a state when I made these. It was the evening before a Day of Many Mishaps, and I think these are where it all started. Funny thing is, the muffins actually came out great, but the making of them was fraught with unnecessary difficulty, mood swings, and the lunacy of the moon. I think. Or Mercury in retrograde. Or solar flares. Or something!
They were, however, sweet and delicious.
First came the easy part, the making of the streusel. Brown sugar. Cinnamon. Straightforward. Simple. Sweet.
For the next step I welcomed the opportunity to use my beautiful new Kitchen Aid mixer. Butter, applesauce, yogurt, vanilla bean paste, cane sugar, and eggs all went in as separate entities and became one under the magic spinning paddle.
The yogurt left some lumps, but I’ve had that happen before, so I didn’t let it bother me all that much. Maybe some. A little.
I let the dry ingredients cheer me up. Whole wheat white flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I whisked. Things were still under control.
I added the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients and beat on low speed. Despite the yogurt lumps, the batter started to take shape.
At that point, I was pretty sure I didn’t have enough batter to make 12 muffins. I looked at the recipe and couldn’t find information on how many muffins it made, so I pretended it was 12 and started filling the cups up halfway.
Then I decided I didn’t have enough batter.
Then I looked at the pictures in the recipe and noticed they were all of only six muffins.
Then I got mad because who wants only six muffins?
Then I scraped out the muffin cups I’d filled, swapped my pan out for a 6-cup one, and started refilling the cups. With each half full, I added the streusel.
I topped them off, and started adding more streusel.
Once done, I still had batter left. This didn’t make sense. I pulled out a mini loaf pan and poured the last of the batter into it, then sprinkled the last of the streusel on top.
While everything was baking, I cleaned up everything, including the pile of scraped-out muffin cups I’d wasted when I thought the recipe made 12 muffins. I looked at the recipe again, and there it was, plain as day:
Serving size: 1 muffin • Servings: 12
Oy! I’d sabotaged my own muffins for no reason, I’d doubled the Weight Watchers points value, and I’d created muffin monsters. Fortunately they looked pretty good when they came out of the oven.
And when cut open, the line of streusel was lovely.
So I was left with 6 deliciously sweet muffins and a mini loaf, none of which came in a portion that I could eat without feeling guilty. But I was already feeling like an idiot, so I ate one, and enjoyed it, and brought the rest to work minus the one Dave ate and the one I put in Nathaniel’s lunch, which he ate half of and traded half of, at camp.
The next morning was full of more self-inflicted mishaps. I took my overpriced, tiny container of Aveda hair smoother and randomly spread it across my face. I took a brand new bracelet I’d just bought myself — and I almost never buy any kind of jewelry — and in my attempt to cut the tag off, I cut the bungee-like thread that held the whole thing together, destroying it before I even wore it.
It was that kind of a day. The baking that night was mishap-influenced as well, but that is another blog entry.
I think I’ll try these muffins again when I’m feeling less stupid. They were sweet and fluffy and delicious. Just…large.
batter 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce 1/2 cup pure cane sugar 2 large eggs 1/2 cup low fat vanilla yogurt 2 tablespoons low fat milk 1 teaspoon (scant) vanilla bean paste 1 1/3 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt
If you want large muffins, line or spray a 6-cup muffin pan, and an additional mini loaf pan. If you want 12 muffins, line or spray a 12-muffin pan and stop fretting. Heat the oven to 375 degrees; you will reduce the temperature later.
In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon for the streusel.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter, applesauce, sugar, eggs, yogurt, milk, and vanilla. Beat on low to medium speed until well mixed. If you have yogurt lumps, ignore them. Beat the batter a little more if it helps ease your mind.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Slowly add the flour mixture to the liquid ingredients, beating on low speed, just until incorporated. Finish by hand to avoid overmixing.
Fill the muffin cups halfway, then cover the surface of each with streusel. Fill the cups to the top and add more streusel.
Reduce temperature fo 350 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for another 5, then move to a wire rack.
I know I have a pretty good banana bread recipe, but this one is sublime. And it comes with cinnamon glaze. I’m not surprised it’s so delicious, since I found the recipe on Tutti Dolci, plus it gave me a chance to use more of the graham flour I bought a while back. Plus did I mention there’s a cinnamon glaze?
I started with the graham flour. Turns out I had a canister available for the leftovers, once Nathaniel modified the label for me.
I put in the whole wheat white flour, wheat germ, graham flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Then I doubled the cinnamon, and added the allspice. The recipe called for a pinch of nutmeg and I JUST got a set of odd-size measuring spoons at some crazy online sale, which included to my delight, a pinch! I put the pinch spoon next to a teaspoon for perspective.
It’s very wee.
Nathaniel was my spice helper too. He grated the nutmeg and also did all the dumping of spices into the bowl.
It all looked good. I whisked.
Next, the bananas. They were already overripe and disgusting. Nathaniel took on the mashing, and did a great job.
Next up was honey. My awesome friend Carol brought over some wildflower honey some weeks before, and I’d been waiting for the right recipe that I thought would bring out the flavor. A half cup was needed, which seemed just right.
Nathaniel beat the egg for me. In it went, along with buttermilk, canola oil, and vanilla bean paste.
A good whisking made it all a little less creepy-looking.
I’d lost my helper at this point, as he’d gone up to bed. I poured the liquid ingredients into the dry, and mixed just enough to incorporate.
I poured it into a loaf ban and baked for about 40 minutes or so. It smelled great, it looked good, but since I wasn’t going to glaze it until the following morning, I had no idea how it tasted.
Bright and early the next morning — well, slightly bright and somewhat early — I got the glaze together. Powdered sugar, milk, cinnamon, a little butter, and some vanilla.
The bread sat there, waiting patiently, biding its time.
I tried doing a lovely drizzle, but I slipped and suddenly there was a huge, un-drizzly blob.
I tried spreading it to compensate.
It looked a little better once the glaze set a bit.
And about the flavor?
The combination of the moist, fluffy, cinnamon graham banana bread with the sweet light glaze on top is completely irresistible. I mean it. You can’t stay away from it. There is no escape from its perfection; you must simply eat it until it’s gone. Share it. It will make you popular.
My version of Cinnamon Graham Banana Bread (adapted from Tutti Dolci)
2/3 + 1/4 cup whole wheat white flour 1/2 cup graham flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/8 teaspoon allspice pinch of nutmeg 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (3 medium to large bananas) 1/2 cup honey 1/4 cup canola oil 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray or grease a loaf pan.
Whisk together the flours, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center, and set aside.
In another bowl, mash the bananas, then add the honey, oil, buttermilk, egg and vanilla. Mix well.
Add the liquid ingredients to the dry (pouring into the well) and mix until just combined. Do not overmix, the texture of this is just lovely if you take it easy.
Pour the batter into a loaf pan and bake for 30-45 minutes, this will really depend on your oven. Cool in the pan for ten minutes, then move to a wire rack.
Once the bread is cool, you can glaze it. To make the glaze, whisk the powdered sugar, cinnamon, milk, butter, and vanilla together, then drizzle, plop, glob or spread onto the loaf. Really, drizzling it is the best. Allow it to set and then commence devouring.
It was the 4th of July, and the kids deserved cookies. And when we were in Pennsylvania, I’d picked up something intriguing called “butterscotch peanut butter”, and I thought that would make for an interesting variation. I was right! These are terrific. Sweet, nutty, crunchy, and crumbly.
The recipe said to use half a cup of white sugar and half a cup of brown, so I used cane sugar instead of white and did just under half a cup for each, figuring that the “butterscotch” in butterscotch peanut butter was going to provide some extra sweetness.
They both went into the bowl of the beautiful new stand mixer with the butter. It was a lovely thing to watch. Magical, almost. Meditative, definitely.
I added the egg, and beat some more.
It was time to add the butterscotch peanut butter.
Since the recipe included a weight measurement for it, I pulled out my digital scale and measured accordingly.
In it went, along with the vanilla bean paste. Around went the paddle. I could watch this for hours.
Next up, the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl I whisked together whole wheat white flour (instead of all purpose), subbed in some wheat germ for part if it, plus baking powder and salt.
I poured it in incrementally and watched the mixer have at it. It was a rewarding process. Easiest cookie dough I’ve ever made.
I rolled it into small balls and pressed down with a fork. The dough got a bit crumbly at the very end and I had to almost knead it by hand for the last few, but I got over 40 cookies out of it so I was fine with a few outliers.
The magical baking time turned out to be 12 minutes, with a tray rotation at 5 minutes in.
Since it was July 4th, we packed some of these up and headed out to go see some fireworks. My photography class ended a few weeks ago but I’m still working on learning how best to use my camera, so I got some tips on the web and brought it with me to see if I could photograph the fireworks, despite my lack of a tripod. I got a few good shots!
My version, Butterscotch Peanut Butter Cookies (adapted from Drizzle & Dip)
1/3 cup unsalted butter 1/2 cup (scant) brown sugar 1/2 cup (scant) cane sugar 1 large egg 1 cup (265 grams) butterscotch peanut butter 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 2/3 + 1/2 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt
Heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease two cookies sheets or line them with parchment paper.
Using a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until creamy. Beat in the egg. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Separately, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and salt.
Add the flour mixture incrementally to the peanut butter batter, beating on low speed. Once incorporated, remove bowl from the mixer and use your spatula for a few final swipes.
Roll the dough into small balls about an inch in diameter. Place on baking sheet and add crisscross pattern with fork.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotating the pans about 5 minutes in. (Mine were done perfectly at 12 minutes.)
Please keep in mind that I am known as She Who Hates Fruit In Muffins. Really. I don’t eat blueberry muffins, cranberry muffins, raisin muffins, or any sort of fruit pie or cobbler. I do not like them, Sam I Am.
But I love the idea of using seasonal fruit in my baking, and I like the flavors of most fruits. (I make a fresh fruit salad for my breakfast every day. For real.) But I hate the PIECES of fruit people put into baked goods. Gloppy peaches, dripping strawberries, chewy raisins & cranberries….gross. I will not eat them with a goat.
All the lemon and orange muffins got me thinking…what if you could make a fruit muffin that was still all about the purity of the crumb? Couldn’t that be possible? I went to my old friend Google to see, and that’s where I found this lovely little recipe for Strawberry Mini Muffins.
The first step was to puree the strawberries.
Here was my first obstacle. I can dance my way around an oven, no problem, and I’ve managed to learn a handful of stove-top skills, but the other appliances in my kitchen are still a mystery. And so I faced our blender for the first time.
Alas, the middle piece was missing. I fetched some tin foil, threw the strawberries in, and listened to it whir while the strawberries sat there, untouched.
Why didn’t anyone tell me you have to cut them up first?
It took a while to get there, but now I’ve learned my lesson, and ultimately I ended up with this:
The other big woohoo? THIS:
Yep. I finally got a Kitchen Aid. It’s a thing of great beauty and power. (I bequeathed my magically wonderful Sunbeam to a deserving soul who will carry on its legacy.)
I was ready to give it its first assignment: egg, oil, and milk. Look at it go!
For the dry ingredients, I made some changes. Instead of all purpose flour I used whole wheat pastry flour, and substituted just over 1/3 of a cup of it for wheat germ. I added sugar, salt, and baking powder.
I whisked that together thoroughly, then poured in a cup of strawberry puree. (I had to check with the person who posted the recipe first to find out if she meant that I should puree a cup of strawberries or puree strawberries until I had a cup. It was the latter. The recipe had said “1 cup strawberries, pureed,” so I wasn’t 100% sure.)
"Toss to coat" was in the instruction here. I made it so.
Is it terrible to admit that it looked like cat puke? It doesn’t come with that terrible sound but it looked nasty, especially when I started adding it to the bowl in the mixer.
Once that paddle started moving, things improved considerably.
On a whim, I added a half teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, and let the mixer work its mixy magic.
Once it was ready, I scooped it into the mini muffin tin. The batter was very thin.
I set the timer for 15 minutes, but they weren’t done to my satisfaction until 19 had passed. (I checked it every two minutes, though.) Despite the runny batter, they came out looking good.
I gave them a minute or two in the pan, then used a toothpick to pry them out.
Dave tried them first, I was too nervous. “Are you sure you liked them?” I asked. “Well, I already had two!” he said.
I made strawberry muffins! These were a hit at work as well as with Nathaniel. I admit I liked them a lot better the next day, but I think after ad day or two they really need to be warmed up to stay interesting. But I feel brave now, and ready to try peach muffins soon enough. And the vanilla was a perfect addition.
1 large egg 1/4 cup canola oil 1/2 cup 1% milk 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 1 cup pureed strawberries 2/3 cup + 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1/2 cup cane sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons baking powder
Puree the strawberries.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees and spray, grease, or line a 24-cup mini muffin tin.
In a stand mixer, lightly beat together the egg, oil, milk, and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the pureed strawberries and lightly toss to coat.
Add flour incrementally to egg mixture on low speed. Beat just until thoroughly incorporated.
Spoon into muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for a minute or two, then move to a wire rack.
Pennsylvania Trip: Breakfast Heaven and Hobo Lunch Blues
Every year when school ends, we take a trip to Pennsylvania to stay at the magnificent Mussers’ Bed & Breakfast. (Last year I even had a baking adventure there.) Barb, who runs the place, is an exceptional human being; we love visiting her every June and we stay in touch with her all year long. She’s definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
This year, since the kids are a little older, we got to change things up a bit and venture beyond our usual pit stops, and so our food options expanded as well; some for the best, some for the worst. So now I will present our food journey through PA, along with some pictures of the kids being their own cute selves.
We arrived at Mussers’ B&B and settled in. Our set-up there is perfect: two bedrooms, a big kitchen, a big living room, a nice bathroom, and our own entrance.
Now that we’re years out of strollers, pack & plays, and high chairs, the kids can enjoy the real furniture and we can pack a whole lot less.
Usually one of our last stops is what I like to call Copper Kitchen Kettle Village. (Its actual name is Kitchen Kettle Village, but for some reason I can never keep it straight, plus it drives Dave crazy when the rest of us get it wrong, so we keep doing it.) This year, we decided to make it our first stop instead of our last.
And so the snacks began. Juliet opted for the kettle corn, and Nathaniel went into the fudge & candy shop for the peanut butter-covered marshmallows.
And right before the thunderstorm hit, Juliet got her face painted.
What I forgot to document that night was the dinner Dave had requested at Miller’s Smorgasbord. ‘Tis a shame. Overloaded plates of mediocre food going back & forth from buffet stations to tables, half-full plates being taken away so more food could be procured, and a salad bar with no more than four raw vegetables — no carrots at all! — but loaded with cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise-drenched “salads”.
But Dave loved it, and the kids had fun, and I found some grilled chicken along with a slice of peanut butter pie. It all worked out in the end.
This is what we’d been waiting for from the moment we booked the trip, from the moment we got in the car, from the moment we fell asleep the night before. Barb’s breakfasts are truly the best we’ve ever had. Local, organic ingredients, everything made from scratch, all just delightful.
The first thing we saw when we got downstairs: a gorgeous fruit plate, fresh yogurt, and homemade granola.
I’m on a quest to learn to like yogurt (separate from baking and Indian food), so I served myself some and tempered it with the granola.
Then came the waffles. They’re those great big homemade ones, but they got smaller the longer they spent at our table.
Then bacon. Crisp, fresh bacon.
Nathaniel made a food face.
Barb enhanced it.
After breakfast,we stopped by one of our regular haunts, the Railroad Museum. We always have a lot of fun exploring the train cars.
Then we headed across the street to the spot that got us to PA in the first place: Strasburg Railroad. It used to be all about seeing Thomas the Tank Engine, but this year our timing was off. And that, my friends, is how we ended up on the HOBO LUNCH TRAIN.
It sounded nice:
Enjoy the Rail Road…Hobo Style! You’ll be served a wonderfully prepared lunch by our costumed servers and experience a train ride like never before. Unwrap your knapsack of goodies and imagine what it must have been like to travel from city to city as a hobo. Enjoy the fresh lemonade served in mason jars or the baked beans scooped from the kettle, along with other freshly-made items. This is one train ride you’ll certainly remember. (Keep your knapsack as a memory of your experience).
It was pretty expensive, given the moniker “Hobo Lunch”, but we thought it might be a fun experience and a lot of the prices there are about keeping the railroad going year after year, so we bit the financial bullet and climbed aboard.
The first thing to come were the drinks. Lemonade or sweet tea. That was it. No water, even. We all opted for the lemonade but it was so sweet that none of us liked it. Sweet tea wasn’t much of a solution. We thirsted on.
Then they brought out the “knapsacks”. Each server carried a pole with kerchiefs on it, but they kept the pole, so our knapsacks were really just scarves, and the “wonderfully prepared lunch” was….not.
I figured a turkey sandwich with cheese was a safe bet. I was wrong. I couldn’t even finish it! It tasted terrible and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t even cheese. They also included a cookie. Now look, I know I’m a baker, and I can be fussy about baked goods, but I also know that even a crappy cookie can be delicious. I even remember our high school cafeteria cookies with great fondness. But these? They were just terrible. Here we were in a town filled with candy shops and bakeries, and we were given the shittiest cookies in all America. It was a sad thing.
Juliet had a hot dog, and managed to eat most of it, but gave up near the end.
Next, the baked beans arrived. Juliet and I had no interest, but Dave & Nathaniel both gave them a shot.
At least they liked the beans.
The Hobo Lunch, NOT INCLUDING the train fare, came to over fifty bucks…and even Nathaniel threw the cookies away after taking a bite.
At least now we can compare all other meals to the Hobo Lunch, and know that there is always something worse than what we’re eating, no matter what. Hooray!
The train ride was nice, though, and when it was down we prowled around Strasburg Railroad, picking out a few toys and walking around. On the way home we thought we deserved a real treat, so we stopped at our favorite candy & ice cream store. I love it there because they have ice cream in the front, and a big candy store in the back where they make fudge, have a lot of strange ingredients for sale, and even have a little honeycomb with bees in it.
Of course I got the peanut butter ice cream.
Juliet got vanilla with rainbow sprinkles, in a cone.
Nathaniel opted for the Turkish Taffy.
Dave didn’t get a treat, for some reason. All that candy & ice cream! Truth be told, he prefers a beer.
They were making the cones for the ice cream right on the premises.
I roamed around the store, tasting the butterscotch peanut butter (which I bought to make cookies with), admiring the flavored honeys, drooling over the candy, and then I came upon this monstrosity.
Maybe they should add it to the Hobo Lunch.
Our final food stop that day was dinner. Now keep in mind that dining options in this area are rather limited. Dave and Nathaniel are pretty easygoing where food is concerned, but Juliet’s fussy (like her momma) and I am on Weight Watchers, so while I’m happy to treat myself to ice cream and vacation treats, I don’t like to waste my points on crappy high-fat foods that I don’t even like. (Hobo Lunch.)
And so, every year, we have one dinner at Cracker Barrel. The decor is delightfully consistent.
It’s silly and fun, the boys can indulge in gravy-soaked mashed potatoes, Juliet can get fried shrimp, and I always get the one thing that doesn’t push me over the points limit and still tastes good: grilled catfish, a baked potato, and corn. The first time I ordered it, I made the mistake of just saying “a baked potato” and it came back stuffed and piled high with sour cream and butter. Now I know to say, “a baked potato, plain, with nothing on it, no butter even,” and I get what I want. They’re always happy to please us at Cracker Barrel, that’s for sure.
I forgot to mention that Nathaniel had picked up an awesome toy mustache along the way, courtesy of a particularly hilarious family we met while checking out the outlet stores.
Juliet definitely enjoyed her fried shrimp, and Dave got something with cheese, coleslaw, and green beans.
And you never have to feel like you’re dining alone, at the Cracker Barrel.
Another day, another magnificent breakfast with Barb.
This time, Juliet tried her hand at a food face.
Then the rest of breakfast came in. Fresh sausage with no antibiotics and no trip to a factory along the way. Barb made scrambled eggs for Juliet and eggs over easy for Dave and Nathaniel, so when I said I was happy with either one, she made me one of each.
After breakfast, we made a quick stop at Springerle House to check out the famous Springerle Cookies that had mysteriously eluded our awareness for the past few years’ worth of visits. Turns out there’s a lovely little cafe with fantastic coffee right in the heart of where we go almost every day we’re there, and we’d never known about it! The guy behind the counter was so nice and warm and friendly that it made it even weirder that we’d never stopped by. The cookies looked gorgeous, and so did the cupcakes.
We bought two of the orange vanilla cookies and two chocolate peppermint, and headed out to Lititz, which Barb had insisted we visit so I could check out Olio, a store filled with a massive variety of olive oils and balsamics. It’s a cute little town with lovely walkable streets and good things to eat on every corner.
We went to Olio first, where I picked up some Garlic Chili Fused Olive Oil for Dave to cook with, and Blood Orange Infused Olive Oil for me to bake with. Our main destination, though, was the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery.
Once inside, we got a tour of the “factory” which mean that we walked around various spots in this one big room while a cute and peppy teenager told us how they used to make pretzels in this building, the first pretzel bakery in the U.S. They also taught us how to roll pretzels with dough that gets manhandled again and again but is never turned into real food, due to some very wise health department regulations.
Next we stopped at Cafe Chocolate to grab some lunch. We’d stopped by earlier and tasted their amazing chocolate, but now we were ready for a meal.
Juliet wanted eggs, so we asked for a plain omelet. It came with sausage and (unfortunately slightly undercooked) french fries.
Nathaniel’s french fries were more done and a lot more delicious. Dave had a Cuban sandwich and I had a low fat healthy quiche. The salad dressing was a chocolate raspberry vinaigrette, which is normally something I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, but I gave in to the moment and gobbled it up.
I ate everything except for those artichoke hearts, or whatever those things are next to the dressing.
The other food highlight of the day was Nathaniel’s whoopie pie. He got one when our horse & buggy ride (known to Juliet as “horsin buggy”) stopped so some Amish dudes could hawk their foodwares.
And then we met up with an old friend of Dave’s and his family for dinner. We headed to the nearby C.R. Lapp’s Family Restaurant in Quarryville. Gourmet it ain’t, but perfectly acceptable it is. For me, grilled chicken and a baked potato.
Yeah, I’d already started eating it. Oops.
Our last breakfast at Barb’s. So sad to say farewell for another year, but we ended on a high note. As usual, it started with fruit, yogurt, and food faces.
And then Barb brought out the peanut butter french toast. Words fail me.
The peanut butter was right in the batter. Oh my.
After breakfast, I got a couple of quick shots of the kids with Barb. They were posing on the steps and Juliet sprang back up before I could click, ran into the other room, grabbed a vase with a flower in it, and returned so she could be holding it in the picture. It was the perfect touch.
Nathaniel had a final romp with Dosie, Barb’s dog, and then we headed out. We made a quick, traditional stop at Dutch Haven to pick up some Shoofly Pies to take home for our friends & co-workers, and picked up an Amish hat for Nathaniel.
We bought the kids lollipops, thinking it would help Juliet avoid getting carsick. It did help, but so did the Dramamine, and at one point I looked over and she was fast asleep, lollipop in hand. I removed the lollipop, but then didn’t know what to do with it, which is my whole issue with lollipops in the first place, the HOLDING of them. Dave came up with an excellent solution.
Our final food stop, made in sheer desperation, was at a rest stop where there was a Roy Rogers. The kids and Dave got fast food; I found a turkey and cheese sandwich that was about 200,000 times better than the Hobo Lunch.
And so my story ends, another June trip to PA come and gone. See you next year!
Another win for the peanut butter team! These muffins are delicious, good for you, and hunger-satisfying in the best way. Delicious.
This recipe was as straightforward as a muffin recipe can be. Dry ingredients first: flour (whole wheat white) plus wheat germ, oats, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon (which I doubled.) Then whisking.
I set that aside temporarily, and attended to the bananas. I had two left from the browning batch of horror on the countertop, and the looked a lot less revolting once I got the peel off.
I mashed them up, added peanut butter and egg, and beat until well mixed.
I added dark brown sugar, vanilla bean paste, and then poured in the milk.
Once that was mixed well, I poured it into the first bowl with the dry ingredients.
The texture seemed off to me, but the recipe was reassuring, stating that the batter would be both thin AND lumpy. This seems as if it could be contradictory, but it wasn’t. It was thin and lumpy! See?
I scooped the batter into muffin cups, filling them right up to the top. The directions would have had me rolling them in a cinnamon-sugar mixture after being baked, but I thought it would be nicer to sprinkle it on the batter and let it bake right in. Next time I’ll make less of it, I probably threw more than half away, in the end.
I baked them for just under 20 minutes. They puffed up big but then flattened. I didn’t mind.
Nothing to complain about. I wish I could post scratch & sniff photos. (Now I’m imagining that feature on some of my favorite blogs….ahhh.)
I let them cool in the pan for a few minutes, then pried them out and moved them to a wire rack. Only one lost a few sticky edges to the tray, so I ate them.
I ate one that night, but the banana really kicked in the following morning. These are terrific. A little gooey when you eat them, but not in a stick-to-the-paper way, and the peanut butter & banana meld perfectly, with the oats providing the substance to make them a perfect part of breakfast. Tasty, filling, good for you, and gooey!
2/3 + 1/4 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 3/4 cup rolled oats 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/3 cup Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter 2 medium overripe bananas (about a cup) 1 large egg 2/3 cup (scant) dark brown sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 1 1/4 cups 1% milk
These are a lovely treat for the cinnamon-lover, and no doubt a nightmare for the cinnamon-hater. Cinnamon muffins with cinnamon chips, and full of healthy ingredients like whole wheat white flour, wheat germ, applesauce, and Greek yogurt. Delicious!
It was also a very easy recipe to whip together, and I already had everything on hand, being a nut for those Hershey’s cinnamon chips. I started with the dry ingredients: whole wheat white flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, using two teaspoons instead of one because, you know, they were cinnamon muffins!
I got out a smaller bowl for the rest of the ingredients: applesauce, cane sugar, Greek yogurt, vanilla bean paste, and one egg.
They looked a lot better once they were whisked together.
Next it was just a simple pouring of the liquid into the dry, and a gentle mixing with a spatula. I think the whole process from flour to incorporation took less than ten minutes.
Last to go in, the cinnamon chips. I used just under 3/4 of a cup instead of the full cup suggested in the recipe.
I folded them in , then scooped the batter into muffin tins. It was pretty thick batter, so in retrospect it was more of a plopping and then a scraping than a scooping. I used an offset spatula to try to smooth things out just a bit.
The recipe accurately predicted that I’d get the cups about 2/3 full, so once I felt the batter was more or less evenly distributed, I put the tray into the oven. In just over 15 minutes, they were done and smelled great. Mmm….cinnamon-y.
I waited until the next morning to taste them, and then watched them get devoured at work until the bag was empty. So good! Full of cinnamon flavor with nothing else to get in the way. What a great idea.
Full confession, it does have a bit of that low-fat texture, only in that it doesn’t come off the paper as smoothly and perfectly as I’d like. But they’re fluffy and delicious and pretty good for you with some decadence provided by the cinnamon chips. Another good one to go into breakfast rotation for sure.
2/3 cup + 1/2 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce 1/3 cup cane sugar 1 large egg 3/4 cup low fat Greek yogurt 3/4 cup cinnamon chips
Heat oven to 375 degrees; you will reduce the temperature later. Line or spray a 12-cup muffin tin.
Whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg until well combined.
Separately, whisk together the applesauce, sugar, egg, vanilla, and Greek yogurt.
Add this to the flour mixture and stir gently just until incorporated. Fold in the cinnamon chips.
Scoop (or plop or pry) the batter into muffin tins, they’ll end up being about 2/3 full. Sprinkle a few cinnamon chips on top.
Reduce temperature to 350 and bake muffins for 14-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then move to a wire rack.
I thought I had the banana muffin market cornered, but these are just as good as mine and come in mini form! The recipe had unusual instructions, and specific directions, and I obeyed all with great results. I changed a few things in the recipe, and got great results: a moist, flavorful, fun mini muffin, popular with all who tasted.
I began with the bananas.
I mashed them thoroughly, then added them to the bowl with the dry ingredients: flour (whole wheat white/wheat germ combo instead of all purpose and wheat), oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
And then, in a baking instruction I’ve never seen before, I put that bowl onto my stand mixer and beat at low speed. Weird, right?
Skipping the walnuts, I added the buttermilk, eggs, oil, and brown sugar.
I beat on low speed until well mixed, then added the vanilla. I used vanilla bean paste instead of extract, as is my whim these days.
Once that was thoroughly blended in, I used my large cookie scoop to get the batter into the tins. The recipe said to use an ice cream scoop, but our ice cream scoop is huge!
Once the batter was evenly divided (with enough left over for a large mini loaf, which seems like a contradiction in terms), I was supposed to add dark chocolate chips to the top of each one. Instead I did half with semi sweet, half with peanut butter, and used both for the mini-large-mini loaf.
I baked for 11 minutes, but they were still a little squishy inside. I find this happens with banana-based baked goods, it’s harder to tell when they’re done because the banana makes them so moist (squishy).
It was closer to 15 minutes when the muffins were done, and another 5 minutes for the loaf. The smell was delightful.
I had a few scary moments when I thought they weren’t going to come out of the pan without falling apart, but a little delicate work with a knife solved that problem, and out they came, whole and perfect, if somewhat misshapen from my efforts to cram so much batter into each tiny cup.
I tasted one that night, but it was the next morning when the flavor really kicked in. Banana, like pumpkin, sometimes needs a little time to come to its full potential in a baked good.
The next morning, I did a quick photo shoot before heading off to work.
Juliet always likes to get in on the action.
I brought a bunch of these to work and they went quickly. The banana flavor was a great base, the oats added a bit of substance without distracting, and the small touches of peanut butter or chocolate were just perfect without being overbearing. A lovely breakfast, an excellent post-lunch snack, and apparently a big help with sagging afternoon energy, according to my co-workers. Mostly though, they’re just delicious.
My version of Mini Banana Chocolate Chip or Peanut Butter Chip Muffins (adapted from A Lo And Behold Life)
1 2/3 cups whole wheat white flour 2/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1/2 cup rolled oats 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 small ripe bananas, mashed 1/2 cup light brown sugar 2 tablespoons canola oil 2 large eggs 1 1/4 cup reduced fat buttermilk 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 1 tablespoon semi sweet chocolate chips 1 tablespoon peanut butter chips
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray or line a mini muffin pan. I had extra batter so I also sprayed an individual mini loaf pan.
Mash the bananas. If you only have large ones, one should be enough.
In a stand mixer, beat together the flour, wheat germ, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and mashed bananas on low speed. It seems weird, but do it.
Add in the brown sugar, oil, eggs, and buttermilk. Beat on low to medium speed until well combined. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix again.
Using a large cookie scoop, scoop the batter into your mini muffin tins. I filled them up pretty high but they’d probably look more uniform if you fill them about 3/4 of the way up. Top half with semi sweet chocolate chips and half with peanut butter chips. Pour any leftover batter into a mini loaf pan and add chips, whichever kind you prefer (or both).
Bake for 10-15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. (The mini loaf will take at least another 5 minutes.) Let cool in the pan for a couple of minutes and then move to a wire rack.
I suppose the gluten-free crowd might appreciate these, but only because they’re used to eating muffins made without flour. Me? I’m a gluten-lover. Bring on the wheat! These have good flavor but the texture is a complete disappointment. I thought they’d be interesting, but alas, they are not.
The good news, however, is that not everybody agrees with me. I offered up the whole batch and they were snapped up right away, so I don’t consider these a failure. They’re just not my thing.
The first thing I did was toast walnuts. I expected it to take 5-10 minutes, so I set the oven timer for 5. At four, the smell of the toasting nuts was strong enough that I pulled them out, finding a number of burnt ones in there. At least I knew they were done.
I pulled out the burnt ones individually and pitched them. Nobody likes burnt nuts.
Next, I put the dry ingredients into a bowl: oat bran, brown sugar, and baking powder.
After whisking, I felt sad. I knew what would cheer me up. . spices! I added some cinnamon and nutmeg.
I felt better instantly. I whisked those in, then turned my attention to the foul-looking bananas that had called out to me to try this recipe in the first place.
I mashed them, then made them even more unpleasant to look at by adding milk, an egg (instead of two egg whites), and agave nectar. It looked better after I gave it a good whisk.
And then, simply and obviously, I poured this into the bowl with the oat bran. (I keep typing “flour” and having to correct myself. This recipe has no flour!)
Once that was fully mixed, I folded in the unburnt walnuts, and a quarter cup of mini chocolate chips.
After they were properly mixed in, I scooped the batter into muffin cups, dividing it up as evenly as I could.
I baked for about fifteen minutes. They came out looking pretty good.
And they really aren’t so bad. The flavor’s there, but for me, I need that fluffy texture you get from a great flour-based muffin. Fortunately, there are others out there who appreciate these muffins…and they are happily eating them while I move back to a world of comfort flour.
I could have just added some orange zest to one of my existing bran muffin recipes, but I like to keep trying new things, plus it’s been a while since I baked with oat bran instead of wheat bran. The results did not disappoint. This is a tasty little thing.
Things didn’t get off to a good start. The recipe called for whole wheat flour, and when I opened my bin of wheat flour I was greeted by a terrible sight. I would have taken a picture of it, but it was too terrible.
Moths! There were moths in my flour! I hate those #%$*ing moths.
I dumped out the container and scrubbed it. It now sits empty on the counter, awaiting replenishment.
I got out the whole wheat white flour (moth-free! all new!) and whisked it together with some oat bran, baking soda, baking powder, cane sugar, and salt, along with the spices that weren’t in the recipe: cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little ginger.
I zested an orange, and found I had nowhere near a tablespoon. Two oranges later, I had about a tablespoon and a quarter, so I threw that into another bowl with the eggs, Greek yogurt (2%), canola oil, and vanilla bean paste.
I used my beautiful purple spatula from France to combine it all, then poured it into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
I stirred just until incorporated, being careful (as always) not to overdo it on the mixing.
I scooped the batter into muffin tins, stuffing them as much as I could. I smoothed them out on top just a little so they wouldn’t look too rustic.
They took about 17 minutes to bake. I let them cook in the pan for another few and then moved them to the wire rack to finish cooling.
The verdict? Another great breakfast muffin to add to my repertoire. Very happy with these. They’re only 4 P+, they’re delicious, and the spices I added seem to compliment the orange and oat bran nicely.
Root Beer Cupcakes with Cream Soda Whipped Cream Frosting
Happy birthday Dave!
The week of his birthday, I sat my lovely husband down and showed up the recipes I’d been pinning for him. He’s a vanilla guy, so I walked him through vanilla layer cakes & pound cakes and something called “fudgy vanilla brownies”. He brought up the 2nd-prize-winning Toffee Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake with Caramel Sauce and Sea Salt, as well as my mom’s classic recipe for blonde brownies. And then we got to the root beer cupcakes, and the decision-making suddenly got a whole lot easier.
Dave’s birthday was a Friday, so I turned this into a two-day operation, baking the cupcakes Thursday night and doing the whipped cream frosting on the birthday itself. (If I’d had the day off, I would have done it all it one.)
I started by doing my first-ever reduction. I’m wary of things that involve the stove instead of the oven, but I had some good advice from an internet mom-friend. She said to pour the amount of water into the pot that you want to reduce to, so you know what it’ll look like when you get there. Smart! I poured half a cup of water into my 2-quart pot, committed it to memory, then dumped it out and poured in 2 cups of root beer.
I watched it, and I watched it, and then I watched it some more. I know it doesn’t look exciting, but it was my first reduction, and it was for Dave’s birthday, so I took it pretty seriously.
When I had that down to a half cup, I set it aside to cool a bit, and set up shop at my stand mixer.
I beat together the eggs, oil, and sugar until well blended.
I added in the reduced root beer and vanilla, skipping the almond extract. I’ve never liked that stuff. (I actually went so far as to buy it, but after a good sniff, neither Dave nor I had any further interest.)
The mixture got a little frothy once the root beer went in.
I moved on to the dry ingredients, a simple blend of all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. No whole wheat white, no wheat germ…just a basic birthday-friendly all purpose flour. (Unbleached, though.)
The blinding whiteness of it all! I quickly mixed it into the liquid, on low, until incorporated.
I poured in an additional cup of root beer. It felt weird to do it, but I did it. I mixed.
The batter was pretty pourable at that point, so I poured it into this handy thing:
And then I forgot to take a picture of the batter in the muffin cups. Oops.
I baked them for almost 20 minutes. They came out smelling delightfully root beer-y.
And that was where I left off. Fingers crossed, I called it a night.
The next day was Dave’s birthday, so I came home and got the cream soda reduction going.
I put the reduced soda in the fridge, and we headed out to dinner with the kids to celebrate the Dave we love so . As soon as we got got home, I put the mixing bowl & beaters in the freezer for a few minutes while I measured out everything I’d need for the whipped cream frosting.
Once they’d been chilled for a bit, I put the equipment back on the stand mixer and poured in the whipping cream, reduced cream soda, and vanilla. I started beating at a slow speed, increasing every few seconds.
I slowly added in the white sugar, a mere tablespoon, and beat until I had stiff peaks. (Stiff peaks!). Then I scooped it into my cupcake decorator thingy for frosting and did my best to pretty up the cupcakes, drizzling a little bit of the reduced cream soda when I was done.
Happy birthday to the most wonderful husband anyone could ask for. I am so lucky to be married to him, which is why I made him these superspecial, wacky and interesting cupcakes. They’re absolutely delicious and the soda flavors come through perfectly. The frosting, because it’s whipped cream, is nice and light. A hit!
If you love peanut butter, then you love these muffins, whether you know it now or not.
(I love peanut butter.)
They’re not healthy breakfast muffins, though. They’re dessert-y, peanut butter fantasy muffins. And they’re very easy to make.
I whisked together whole wheat white flour, toasted wheat germ, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.
In the stand mixer, I creamed the peanut butter, sugar, and melted butter. Then Nathaniel helped with the egg.
To that I added an egg white and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until smooth. Then I poured in the milk.
The batter was looking like liquid at this point, so I took the bowl away from the stand mixer, and folded in the flour.
I scooped it into muffin cups, then in a fit of something, I sprinkled a few mini chocolate chips on top of 10 of them. I saved 2 for Juliet, not knowing she would eventually reject them anyway (silly girl).
The batter was so delicious that I had to throw the bowl into the sink and squeeze some dish soap into it immediately. Yes, it required a Peanut Butter Intervention. (Or is that a Dish Soap Intervention?)
They took just under 20 minutes to bake to peanut butter perfection.
These muffins…what can I say? Soft, fluffy, full of peanut butter flavor in every perfectly textured bite. They’re crumbly in the loveliest of ways. They are perfect.
The only down side is that they’re 6 P+ on Weight Watchers, so they can’t become a breakfast staple. They’re a treat! I made them for my sister and her husband, who were visiting all the way from Bangkok and weren’t interested in my sophistimicated ideas about Chai Tea Bread. My sister, like me (and our other sister), loves peanut butter. Despite the fact that they don’t eat a lot of baked goods generally, Robin & James ate two of these each after Dave’s delicious spaghetti dinner had been devoured.
Of course you could add chocolate chips to these if you like, but there’s something rather ideal about the texture, and I think that would change if you were biting down on chocolate pieces. It’s your call.
If there were any left I’d go eat them all right now.
My version of Peanut Butter Muffins (adapted from food.com)
1/2 cup whole wheat white flour, plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat white flour 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup Skippy Natural creamy peanut butter 2/3 cup cane sugar 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled 1 large egg 1 large egg white, at room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1/2 cup 1% milk mini chocolate chips for sprinkling on top, if desired
Spray or line a 12-cup muffin tin and heat the oven to 425 degrees. You’ll reduce the temperature later.
Melt the butter, and set aside to cool.
Whisk together the flour, wheat germ, graham cracker crumbs, bakig powder, and salt.
Using a stand mixer, beat the peanut butter, cane sugar, and melted (now cooled) butter at medium speed until smooth.
Beat in the egg, then the egg white, and then the vanilla until smooth.
Pour in the milk and beat again until creamy and light. It will look like a liquid at this point.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and fold in the dry ingredient, stirring just until fully incorporated. You definitely want to keep this light and fluffy. The batter may be a little grainy or look a bit lumpy, but as long as you have no flour pockets, you’re all set.
Distribute evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle the mini chocolate chips on top, if desired.
Once you put them in the oven, reduce the temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then let cool in the tin for another few minutes.
Move to a wire rack to finish cooling. Eat, and eat, and eat. Supposedly they freeze nicely but I’ve never had them last long enough to find out.
I found a recipe for low fat Mocha Chocolate Chip Muffins, and in a fit of I’m still not sure what, I turned them into Espresso Muffins with Peanut Butter Chips, and they are full of dark espresso cakey goodness.
I started changing things right away. I was supposed to dissolve instant coffee granules in water, but instead I used espresso powder.
I put Nathaniel to work on the egg.
To the egg I added low fat vanilla yogurt, instead of the applesauce specified. I love the new scooper tool I have, I thought it was just going to be for peanut butter, but it turns out it’s also perfect for yogurt.
I also added the safflower oil, coffee mixture, and milk, using 1% instead of skim.
Next, the dry ingredients. I tried converting the flour measurements to weight and then supplementing with wheat germ. And I used whole wheat white instead of all purpose. After some weird calculations, I ended up with 6 3/8 ounces of flour & wheat germ total. I think about 4 3/4 ounces of that was flour. I’m still winging it when it comes to flour weighing. I put in a little less sugar than the recipe said, added baking powder, cocoa powder, and doubled the cinnamon.
In went the liquid ingredients. I mixed just enough to incorporate, but not overdo it.
And then, instead of adding chocolate chips, I added peanut butter chips, for color contrast and deliciousness.
Once I had the batter in the tray, I topped each muffin off with two more chips.
Now came the baking. I read the reviews on this recipe and a lot of people had trouble with the muffins burning and had to reduce the temperature. So despite the fact that the recipe said to bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, I heated the oven to 400, then reduced it to 375 and baked for 19 minutes. (I set the timer for 15 and kept checking every two minutes after that.) They smelled rich and chocolatey and looked beautiful.
And let me tell you something. These muffins transformed. It was a combination of boredom and creativity (which is an duo) that led to all the modifications I made, along with some careful reading of reviews, and I ended up creating a dark, rich espresso muffin with the sweetness provided by the peanut butter chips. The texture was soft, but dense and cakey, and nutrition provided by yogurt and wheat germ, with a lovely darkness courtesy of the espresso.
I think when I make them again, and I will, I will swap out the sugar for turbinado or demerara and that will give it a little sweet crackle on the inside. But these were well-loved and throughly devoured by my co-workers.
I also needed some baked goods to take to photography class, and I figured we could use some interesting shapes. I had mini muffins and a small loaf, so I decided on donuts to round things out. Round things out! Get it? Sigh.
I do have a recipe I’ve used before, but I decided to try a new one this time around. It was pretty straightforward. First, dry ingredients: whole wheat white flour, cane sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and then since I couldn’t find the allspice, I used apple pie spice with a little extra cinnamon.
And I whisked.
Then I whisked together the liquid ingredients: apple cider, yogurt (instead of applesauce), eggs, and vanilla bean paste.
I poured that into the first bowl, mixed until incorporated, and then used a pastry bag to pipe it into my donut pan.
I popped it into the oven, and boom! donuts.
I mixed some cinnamon with sugar and hoped it would stick to the top of the donuts without glaze or butter.
I packed them up & took them to photography class along with some lemon poppy seed mni muffins (and one mini loaf).
And then once they were nicely arranged…
…they ate them.
And all was well.
Actually, I’ll be honest: I prefer my other recipe. But these were nice too and after tasting them, my fellow photographers scooped up the rest and took them home, so I’d call that a success, in the grand scheme of things.
I already have some tried and true bran muffin recipes, but I had the itch to try something new and Nathaniel had the itch to grate nutmeg, so we scratched our itches together. While I toasted the walnuts, he got to work.
(This blog doesn’t have the subtitle “in a perpetually messy kitchen” for nothing. These wide shots always shame me just a little.)
Into a large bowl went the cooled walnuts, wheat bran, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, whole wheat white flour, and wheat germ. (The original recipe called for whole wheat flour, no wheat germ, and no spices, but we were improvising.)
I got out another bowl for the liquid ingredients. Nathaniel loves to crack the eggs, so I let him have at it.
To that I added yogurt (instead of applesauce), milk, honey, and vanilla bean paste. With a little whisking, it quickly became one very smooth liquid.
In it went.
It all mixed together very nicely. The batter wasn’t thick as bran muffin batter often it, but it wasn’t runny, so I was able to scoop it into the tins. I filled each one up almost to the top.
I baked them for 15 minutes, and they were done. Plus, they were huge!
And they made for a very good breakfast. These muffins aren’t sweet, so they really are true breakfast muffins. I’ll be honest; I actually like my other recipes better. But these are nice and hearty and I think I can take some of the elements from these and use them in my other recipes. The toasted walnuts were really nice, but I think I like the lightness that buttermilk brings to bran muffins…or the heaviness that comes with adding peanut butter.
But they got eaten! A really nice hearty and satisfying breakfast, add some fruit and you’ve got a complete meal.
This was one of those nights when I had a non-specific baking itch. I had no idea how to channel the whisking urge until I spotted the overripe bananas on the counter, then this recipe from Delish leapt out at me. Who was I to argue with a leaping recipe and some brown bananas?
I was also happy for the chance to use my latest acquisition: a digital food scale. The recipe called for 5.35 ounces of all purpose flour. Of course I swapped that out for whole wheat white AND used wheat germ for a third of it, just to make the math challenging.
I should have just used the mixing bowl, but I love my glass bowls, they look like the ones on all the cooking shows on tv. Wasteful perhaps, but esthetically pleasing nonetheless.
I dumped that into a mixing bowl, added baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and whisked.
Next step was creaming the peanut butter and sugar together, foregoing butter entirely. I got to use another new baking tool for the first time.
It may not look impressive (although it does to me), but it’s an ideal tool for scooping out peanut butter without then ALSO having to scrape out the spoon to get it into the bowl. With my new scooper in hand, I plopped the peanut butter into the mixing bowl and added the sugar.
I mixed until it had truly become something new (and greater than the sum of its parts, although as parts go, peanut butter and sugar are pretty fabulous).
I added in the bananas, mashed with love and nine-year-old boy energy by Nathaniel, who suggested we add an extra one to make it more “banana-y”.
I beat that in along with two eggs, lightly beaten by Nathaniel who loves being on egg duty. Usually he just cracks them, but now he’s moved up a step to lightly beating them with a whisk.
I took the bowl out of the mixer stand, and stirred the dry ingredients in by hand. Okay, by spatula.
I know, I’m still having shadow & lighting issues. I’m working on it.
I poured the batter into a loaf pan, and sprinkled some turbinado sugar on top.
The baking instructions were a little unusual. I baked for 40 minutes (not 45, as specified), then covered it loosely with foil, and baked it for another 15. Weird, right? And yet, it all turned out great.
It smelled wonderful, and once I cut it open, I saw that it was baked perfectly, with a soft crumb, moist texture, and delicious peanut butter and banana flavor. So good!
I’ve been feeling the loss of the great blood oranges of the season, but now I know the joys of a regular (non-blood!) orange muffin too. Phew! These are lovely. Nathaniel says it’s like drinking orange juice while you’re eating a muffin, and I agree. (I think my son would be a great food critic; he told me tonight as we were watching Chopped that he’d be a good judge on that show. Given how specific his reviews of my baking are, I believe he’s right.)
I knew I’d have to improvise a little with this one, since the first ingredient was “zest of 2 oranges”, which means nothing. What kind of oranges? What size? How much zest should I end up with? I ended up using what looked like juice oranges (vs. navel) and since the peel wasn’t all that gorgeous, I zested three of them, but only the best-looking parts of the rind. I ended up with something between 2-3 teaspoons, probably a little closer to three. I threw that into a bowl with cane sugar (only half a cup, skipping the extra 2 tablespoons), eggs, vanilla bean paste (instead of extract), canola oil, and yogurt.
The oil/yogurt mix was a little dodgy. The recipe called for 1/3 cup of oil, so I took out my measuring up and filled it halfway with yogurt first. (I learned the hard way not to do the oil first, because when you add yogurt to oil, it leaps out of the cup with gusto.) I topped it off with oil, only spilled a little bit, and poured it in.
I whisked. Thoroughly.
I added in the orange juice (squeezed from the ones I’d zested, not from the jug in the fridge) and rolled oats, then whisked again. The juice made it a lot frothier.
Next, the dry ingredients. Instead of all purpose flour, I used a combination of whole wheat white flour and wheat germ. I added baking powder, a healthy pinch of salt, and whisked.
Honestly, this is one of the simplest recipes you could make. I stirred everything together, being careful to stop as soon as the dry ingredients were incorporated, and scooped the batter into tins.
I also took a moment to taste it, with happy results, which distracted me enough to forget to sprinkle the extra oats on top.
I baked for 15 minutes, then let them sit in the pan for an extra five.
They didn’t really puff up, but they still looked nice, and smelled lovely. It was a long five minutes. Finally they were ready to emerge.
Score another win for citrus muffins! The texture is just right, substantial because of the oats without being chewy, the flavor is strong and almost juicy given that these have a good crumb, and they’re simple and straightforward but just different enough to be interesting. They’re also a mere 4 P+ on Weight Watchers.
I gave them their very own photo shoot the next day and watched them light up as the sun came out, then hid back behind the clouds.
2-3 teaspoons orange zest 1/2 cup cane sugar 1/3 cup of a combination of canola oil and low fat vanilla yogurt 2 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice 4 tablespoons rolled oats + more for topping if desired 2/3 cup + 3/8 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup + 1/8 cup wheat germ 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder pinch of salt
Heat oven to 400 degrees (you will reduce the temperature later) and grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
In a large bowl, add the orange zest to the sugar, oil, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Add the orange juice and oats and stir well.
In a medium/small bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and salt. (The best way to measure the eighth cups of wheat germ is to use a quarter measuring cup and fill it up 3/4 of the way with flour and then top it off with wheat germ.)
Fold the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into muffin tins. Sprinkle with rolled oats if desired.
Put the tray in the oven and reduce temperature to 375. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack.
Once the muffins have been around for a day or two, they might taste better warmed up.
I have tasted the magnificence that is a “skinny” double chocolate chip muffin, and I’ve personally witnessed all the ingredients that went into them. I alone can vouch for the seemingly impossible truth: these healthy muffins taste like decadent brownies. For real. And I’ve already made them twice, so I know it wasn’t just a fluke.
(And that’s why we need a Lego guy guarding them. They have a tendency to disappear.)
I admit I was skeptical initially, not just of the original recipe, but of the changes I made to it. The applesauce I thought I had was actually PEACH applesauce. I don’t even like applesauce, so I’m not sure why I got all adventurous and bought it, but the deed was done and I was forced to adapt. Nervous about potential peach flavor messing with the chocolate, I reduced the amount required and figured I’d make it up with yogurt.
So I put half a cup of peach applesauce into a bowl, with a full cup of low fat vanilla yogurt (instead of 3/4 cup), honey, egg whites, cane sugar, and then substituted one generous teaspoon of vanilla bean paste for the two teaspoons of vanilla extract.
I whisked them together, nervous about yogurt lumps because they were verboten. ” Whisk them all together until smooth, with no yogurt lumps remaining,” was the instruction, and when presented with such specificity in a recipe, I always obey.
Fortunately, I had some help in the whisking department.
Behold the results, No lumps.
On to the dry ingredients. Instead of half wheat and half all purpose flour, I used 2/3 cup of whole wheat white and 1/3 cup of wheat germ. and after adding the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, Nathaniel threw in some cinnamon he’d just wrestled with grating. It was less than 1/8 of a teaspoon, but I like to think it helped.
Once that was thoroughly whisked (my substitution for sifting, which I find tedious), I poured that into the bowl with the liquid ingredients and stirred, being very mindful not to overmix.
And then I added the mini chocolate chips, just slightly less than a half cup.
I spooned the batter into a muffin tin. The directions said not to use paper liners, so I didn’t, despite my collection of really fun colorful ones. I filled up each up as much as I could.
I tasted the batter, and then to avoid slurping down whatever traces I could still find in the bowl, I threw it into the sink and filled it up with soapy water. It was a matter of survival. You’ll know what I mean if you make these.
The baking directions were as specific as the whisking-no-lumps-allowed instruction, so I abandoned my usual muffin method and obeyed.
I baked at 425 degrees for 5 minutes, then reduced the temperature to 375 and baked for 13 more. A toothpick didn’t come out perfectly clean, so I baked for 2 more minutes and no longer. Then I let them sit in the tin for another 5. (It said 3. so I mostly obeyed.) They smelled like brownies.
They didn’t really puff up, but they looked and smelled extremely decadent, far beyond what seemed possible given what went into them.
I used a toothpick to pry them out of the tin and get them onto the rack to finish cooling.
Imagine the smell of brownies wafting up from these things that I KNEW had no butter, no oil, and no slabs of melted chocolate. I even knew they had wheat germ!
Once they’d cooled, I tasted one. My skepticism instantly transformed into pure joy as the chocolate flavor rolled over my taste buds and the texture brought me back to the chocolate cakes and brownies of my overly indulgent past.
I’ve made them again since, and the second time I used Greek yogurt instead of regular, a large egg instead of the two egg whites, and mini cinnamon chips instead of chocolate. I think I’ll stick with the chocolate though, as they really upped the ante flavor-wise instead of creating a contrast. If you like chocolate — and you should — then make these muffins. You’re even allowed to eat one for breakfast (or have two, like Nathaniel), even though you also have the option to call them cupcakes and serve them for dessert. (And for the Weight Watchers folks, they are only 4 P+. I know!!)
1/2 cup unsweetened peach applesauce (regular is fine) 1/2 cup cane sugar 1/4 cup honey 2 large egg whites 1 cup low fat Greek yogurt 1 generous teaspoon vanilla bean paste 2/3 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup toasted wheat germ 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/8 (scant) teaspoon grated cinnamon 1/2 cup (or just a little less) mini chocolate chips
Spray a 12-cup muffin in and heat the oven to 425 degrees.
Whisk together the applesauce, sugar, honey, egg whites, yogurt, and vanilla. Be thorough and make sure there are no yogurt lumps.
Separately, sift or whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, wheat germ, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon if desired.
Stir the wet ingredients into the dry just until incorporated. Don’t overmix.
Fold in the mini chocolate chips, then spoon into muffin cups, filling them up as high as you can.
Bake at 425 for five minutes, then (without taking them out of the oven), reduce temperature to 375 and bake for 13 more minutes. If they’re not done then (if the toothpick doesn’t come out clean), then bake for another 2 minutes.
Let cool in the pan for 3-5 minutes, then move to a wire rack.
Assign a Lego guard if you would like any of them to be left once you’ve made others aware of their existence.
We ran out of Eggo waffles a few days ago and I kept saying I’d get to the store to get more but I hadn’t had a chance, so to make it up to them, I offered to make something for for breakfast. “Donuts!” they cried.
They wanted the mini donuts, but the process for that is a little more involved than I wanted on a sleepy Sunday morning, so I suggested big ones instead. One pan, one pass through the oven, and done. Terms were agreed upon, negotiations relying primarily on vanilla and glaze, and the kids went off to play while I got things ready.
First task: melt the butter.
I set that aside to cool, and got the dry ingredients together, starting with all purpose flour, which is rarely used in my kitchen. But this was not about making a HEALTHY breakfast, this was about a Sunday morning treat. So to the flour I added cane sugar, baking powder, cinnamon (a full teaspoon instead of a quarter), and salt.
I whisked, then got out another bowl for the liquid ingredients. I used 1% buttermilk, an egg, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (my new discovery), and added in the melted butter.
I stirred well, then added it to the dry ingredients and mixed just until incorporated.
The batter seemed too thick to just spoon in, but not thin enough to pour, so I decided to use one of my new piping bags. I’d piped in my baking class the day before, so with the pastry chef’s tips fresh in my mind, I folded the edges over my hand and scraped all the batter in.
I piped the batter into the pan, and discovered that I’d used an unnecessarily decorative tip. (What can I say, it was the biggest one.)
I used an offset spatula to smooth things out a little.
I popped the tray into the oven, and got the glaze together, a simple whisked mix of powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1% milk. (Yes, I’m having shadow issues with my photos. Working on it.)
The donuts were done in about 10 minutes, I waited for them to get nice and springy.
I let them sit in the pan for five minutes, then flipped them out. Despite how hot they were, I managed to pick up each one and get it dipped into the glaze. It was drippy but fun. Then I grabbed a pinch of sprinkles in my fingers and scattered them across the tops.
They looked good, and they smelled good, but did they taste good? I needed them to pass the kid test, since I’d already bungled things by forgetting to buy Eggo waffles for my poor deprived children. I called them in.
Another successful donut experiment. I’m so glad I bought that pan that I kept insisting I didn’t need. I want to make pumpkin donuts next but that’s a hard sell where the kids are concerned. Maybe if I add sprinkles…
I went to a baking class today! The class was based on Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio, and we all got a copy of it to take home. It was called “Baking with Ratios not Recipes” and was a lot of fun.
We started with eggs and sugar.
Not those eggs. Those are the whites and the shells, We used the yolks.
We whisked them with sugar to make Creme Brulee as well as the chocolate pie filling. It’s all about the other things you add and the temperature at which you cook it and use it. And check out that ginormous whisk! Unwieldy, initially, but ultimately effective.
The creme brulee was easier than I expected. Plus: ramekins!
That’s the one I got to use the blowtorch on . I was nervous about it but determined to try and it was very rewarding watching the sugar burn into a delicate crust. Eating it was pretty rewarding too, although I limited myself to a few spoonfuls because of the pie.
Did I say pie? Oh yes, part of the class was about learning to make a pie crust. Now I don’t really make pie, as a rule. I’ve made a peanut butter pie for my own birthday with a graham cracker crust (yum) but I don’t like fruit pie so I don’t have much use for pie crusts. Or at least I didn’t, until this pie came along.
There were some casualties — not my fault! I swear! This was one egg accident I had nothing to do with.
The chef herself, Gisselle Madariaga, knocked the eggs over. They were beautiful blue eggs, but alas, they did not make it to the pie crust. More eggs were procured, the pie crust was mixed, and just like on tv, an already created batter was taken out of the fridge as if by magic so we could work with it.
What you can’t see, which is what that shadow is, is that we were told to whack that pie crust over & over with a large (think almost baseball bat-sized) rolling pin. Well, maybe more like baseball bat thickness and weight, if not length. There was a lot of whacking and I missed it all. After the whacking, there was rolling.
Then Gisselle rolled the crust over a rolling pin and slapped it on top of a disposable pie plate. She cut off some of the excess, but not all of it, so she could fold it under at the rim and and make a nice thick (doubled) layer at the edge. Then she showed us how easy it was, using no tools other than your hands, to make a pretty pie crust edge.
Those were put away for future use, and she took out a different pie crust to show us what could be done with the pie filling we’d made earlier. This was the same egg & sugar mixture we’d used to create the creme brulee with some changes, the most notable one being the addition of chocolate.
Oh, and then there was whipped cream, too.
And she topped it off with some cacao nibs,
So that’s what I ate instead of the whole ramekin of creme brulee. I think I made the right choice. People don’t make chocolate pie for me very often.
And we also made cookies! We made a very basic cookie dough, then added peanut butter, chopped pecans, and chopped chocolate pieces.
We didn’t measure any of the add-ins, just put some in, stirred, looked, put more in, stirred, looked, added eggs when it got too dry, stirred, and baked. They came out great.
They were almost cakey in terms of the dough itself, with these great little morsels of flavor. I didn’t taste the peanut butter much, but it provided a nice undertone.
The other thing we made, which probably took the most time, was the pâte à choux. These are hollow little pastries, I’m most familiar with them as profiteroles, with cream or custard inside, but we kept them hollow but added grated gruyere to the dough itself and sprinkled it on top as well.
As for the finished product, not only did I forget to take a picture of them at the class, I took some home and we all ate them before I discovered that I didn’t have one. In fact I’m pretty sure I popped the last one into my mouth at about midnight lat night. D’oh.
It was a great class. Sur La Table, which is where it was, is also a store, and although I find them highly overpriced, I got a 10% discount and had a gift card from Dave, so I bought a bunch of fun things and ended up only spending another six dollars.
Gisselle answered a ton of my questions about honey vs. sugar, vanilla bean paste vs. extract, ways to get great textures using whipped egg whites and whipped egg yolks, and more. Being a pastry chef, she had little interest in yogurt instead of butter, and felt it was not a good idea, but of course I have already discovered otherwise. That’s okay. She’s making gorgeous pies and cakes and pastries and wonderful desserts and doesn’t have to be concerned with such things. I don’t blame her, she seems to be having a blast. And she loved teaching this class.
This is her:
I loved it. I learned some good techniques and will definitely use them, even if I don’t plan to make pâte à choux anytime soon. And while the ratios thing might not be of HUGE help with my muffins and quick breads, I think I’ll just start a baker’s notebook, not only noting the changes I make to recipes so I can blog them, but also doing experiments and seeing how they turn out. Maybe I’ll just have to improvise a lot more and take more risks so I can learn what happens when I do.
Here are some of the tips I picked up:
Crack eggs on a flat surface, like a countertop, instead of on an edge. You can avoid getting eggshell shards that way.
When creaming butter and sugar for cookies, you can get a lighter, cakier texture if you cream them past the point of “light and fluffy” to an almost frosting-like texture.
Pastry bags work best folded over your hand so you can scrape the batter in more effectively. When using the pastry bag to make something like pate a choux or a meringue cookie, hold the pastry bag in one place as you squeeze instead of swirling it around.
Vanilla bean paste is even better than vanilla extract, and you only need half as much.
You can swap out honey for sugar in an equal amount, and you don’t have to adjust other ingredients. (I do believe you have to be more attentive to baking times, though. This needs more research.)
I had the last blood oranges of the season, and I wanted to make sure that whatever I baked would be worthy of them, so I adapted this wonderful lemon poppy seed bread recipe from amyBITES and hoped for the best. I’d already adapted it VERY slightly to make Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Bread, so I figured it was a safe bet even if was going to change things up even more. Also, this time I had vanilla bean paste, which I’ve never used before but bought on a whim, and saw it was listed as an option in the ingredients.
I started by prepping the blood oranges, not just to speed up the process once I got started but also to make sure I’d have enough to work with.
Later, Nathaniel ate what was left of that zested but not juiced blood orange. He had no idea you could just eat them as is and was amazed by their strange, sweet-sour flavor. (Also he likes the BLOODyness of them.)
Once my ingredients were prepped, I rolled up my sleeves and started in. I didn’t want to change the all purpose flour, as I wanted to keep things light, but I swapped out half a cup of it (out of the 1 1/2 total) for wheat germ. Risky, I know, but I know from experience that wheat germ can go beautifully with blood oranges. To that I added baking powder and salt, and whisked.
I set that aside and pulled out the stand mixer. In went butter, sugar (pure cane instead of white), and the blood orange zest. The recipe called for a tablespoon, but I definitely used more than that.
I put the mixer on medium speed. Look at the difference in what you get without and then with the flash. It teaches me that the capture of movement is all about light.
I added the eggs and Greek yogurt, beating after each item (each egg, or yogurt) went in.
Okay, full confession. I beat in each of the eggs and THEN saw that I was supposed to have put in the yogurt first. It all worked out fine, though. Next I put in the vanilla bean paste. It’s gooier than vanilla extract, and the smell is stronger, too.
I mixed well. Then I alternated adding flour and milk, beginning and ending with flour, until everything was mixed in and I had a consistent texture. It was finally looking like batter instead of liquid.
I took the bowl away from the mixer, and added the juice (plus an extra tablespoon) and the poppy seeds.
I poured (and scraped and coddled) it into a prepared loaf pan. Mindful of the baking time when I made this with lemons, I set the timer for 40 minutes. I checked at 38, it seemed close, and once again, at 40 minutes, it was perfect.
I let it sit for another ten minutes, then flipped it on to a wire rack. It came out of the pan perfectly.
And the verdict? Lovely. Popular at work and at home. Nathaniel even took some to school for snack twice in a row, no doubt puzzling his 4th grade colleagues. It’s a far cry from a Pepperidge Farm goldfish cracker.
In fact, Nathaniel just informed me that the other kids at school started trading him their snacks for bites of his blood orange poppy seed bread. I asked if he was just trying to make me feel good but he swears that he was able to score 3 Oreos for one little taste, and all the kids were asking for more. He insists it was a big hit.
My variation: Blood Orange Poppy Seed Bread (adapted from amyBITES)
ingredients: 1 cup all purpose flour 1/2 cup wheat germ 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 3/4 (scant) cup cane sugar 1 1/2 tablespoons blood orange zest 1/4 cup low fat Greek yogurt 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste 1/4 cup 1% milk 3 tablespoons blood orange juice 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
directions: Spray or line a loaf pan and heat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and blood orange zest together at medium speed until fluffy. Beat in the yogurt, then the eggs, one at a time, being sure to mix well after each. Beat in the vanilla bean paste.
Mix in the dry ingredients and the milk, alternating between them, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Once done, remove the bowl from the stand mixer.
Stir in the blood orange juice and poppy seeds, then pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 35-50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for another 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack.
I stumbled onto this recipe in a moment of desperation. I got out all the ingredients to try a new oatmeal muffin recipe and then, once everything was assembled, I read the first instruction, which was to let the oats soak in buttermilk for an hour.
It was already 9:00 p.m. There would be no hour-long pre-baking activity starting at 9:00 p.m.
In a tizzy, I browsed through the food.com site where I’d found myself and sorted through one recipe after another until I found one that said the oats only need FIVE minutes in the buttermilk.The recipe looked bland but adaptable. Sold.
I poured the buttermilk over the oats, stirred, and let stand.
Once that was ready, I poured it into a mixing bowl and added brown sugar, then half the canola oil suggested, supplemented by almost as much vanilla yogurt.
I’m still struggling with my use of the flash when I bake at night…I will have to ask my photography teacher for suggestions.
I stirred well.
Next, the dry ingredients. Instead of a cup of all purpose flour, I used 2/3 cup of whole wheat white and 1/3 cup of wheat germ. In addition to the baking soda, baking powder, and salt, I added cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. This recipe needed some flavor! I whisked.
I poured the oat mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients, added some vanilla on a whim, and stirred.
I took a quick taste of this half-improvised concoctions, and started really looking forward to getting these baked and ready to eat. It tasted great.
I scooped the batter into muffin cups.
They were done in about 15 minutes, maybe a few more. They looked and smelled great, even better than I had hoped.
I let them cool in the pan for about five minutes, then removed to a wire rack.
I tried to wait for them to cool, but I was unsuccessful. They smelled too good. The paper peeled off effortlessly, and I took a bite, then was instantly rewarded. Soft and fluffy muffins, moist without being dense, and full of the beautifully intermingled mix of the spices I’ve used, with a little sweetness from the vanilla.
These came in at 4 P+, perfect for breakfast, healthy, and absolutely delicious. They didn’t last long; between the kids and my co-workers they were gone in record time.
These are very easy to make, good for you, and taste great! Perfect for breakfast or a snack.
I wasn’t sure how things were going to go with these. I got brave and decided to swap out some of the flour for wheat germ (as my current obsession dictates) and I added some vanilla, and what I ended up with, to my delight, was not only a light airy delicious peanut butter muffin that’s healthy, but something the kids liked too! The ultimate trifecta: delicious, healthy, and kid-approved.
The only thing that went wrong was that the camera was jimmy-jammed for the first part of the process and I ended up with some stages of the baking documented in a blur. I did what I could to sharpen things up but a blur is a blur is a blur and it stymied me until I put down the whisk and simply refused to move forward until it was fixed. From then on, things were much clearer. I’ll have to look for the metaphor in that one.
Oh and the other fascinating thing about this recipe is the description that accompanied it:
PEANUT BUTTER BRAN MUFFINS This recipe came from an estate sale. I obtained it when I purchased the family collection from the Hartford Estate in Mesquite Texas in 1991.
All right, time for some blurry photos. I started with 2/3 cup of whole wheat white flour, 1/3 cup of wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar. Blurry!
I whisked, but I don’t think a blurry shot of it is going to be particularly helpful, and it will shame me.
In another bowl I combined a beaten with milk and oil, which is when things started to come into focus at last.
I added the bran, peanut butter, and honey, and threw in a half teaspoon of vanilla.
I stirred well, then (in a step actually missing from the directions, but overwhelmingly obvious), I poured that into the flour bowl and mixed just until incorporated, then let it sit for 5 minutes, as instructed.
I scooped the batter into muffins cups, and popped them into the oven without snapping a picture, because I forgot. Sorry.
I started checking them 15 minutes in, and they were done at 18. They smelled great.
After about five minutes in the pan, they were moved to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Juliet came by, drawn in by the smell. “Do those have peanut butter in them?” I chose not to mention the wheat germ or the bran, and said yes. “Can I have one?”
Knowing her history, I cut her a small piece of one, expecting (at best) that she’d at least pretend it was palatable. Instead she asked for the rest of the muffin, and Nathaniel came by and gobbled one up, and then I tried one, and we were all very, very happy. (Dave was busy elsewhere or he would have joined the peanut butter party.)
The next day, when I took them to the windowsill to get some better shots of them, Juliet asked to pose with them. She did a great job, too, reflecting her newfound love of something that’s actually good for her.
Woohoo! A gorgeous girl with delicious muffins. And behind her, the lush greenery supplied by a weekend full of non-stop rain. Worth it, I suppose. And so are the muffins. Light, airy, peanut buttery, and full of good healthy ingredients. A mere 4 P+ on Weight Watchers, which is amazing because most peanut butter muffins come in a lot higher. But most of all, these taste fantastic.
My version of Peanut Butter Bran Muffins (adapted from Group Recipes)
2/3 cup whole wheat white flour 1/3 cup wheat germ 1/3 cup (scant) brown sugar 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1 large egg, beaten 1 cup 1% milk 3 tablespoons canola oil 1 cup wheat bran 1/3 cup Skippy Natural Creamy peanut butter 2 tablespoons honey 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 425 degrees, which you will reduce later, and grease or line 12 muffin cups.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
In another bowl, whisk the egg with the milk and oil. Then add the bran, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla, and stir well.
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined, then let stand for five minutes.
Once five minutes have passed, scoop the batter into muffin cups, dividing as evenly as possible. Put into the oven and reduce temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean or with crumbs.
Give them five minutes in the pan, then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. Feed to children. Eat some yourself.
I’m blogging these for the sake of…education, I guess. I didn’t love these. The texture lacked that fluffiness I like in a lemon muffin, and the flavor was okay but not really enough to make up for it. Maybe a more seasoned baker can take a look and let me know what I did wrong. (Huh? Can you? Please?)
This recipe was all about prep, so I started by zesting and juicing the lemons. I had one Meyer lemon left from the season, so I used that first and then regular lemons to make up the rest. I used more than a teaspoon of zest, probably 1 1/2 and possibly two. I like lemon.
(Also, I’ve been unhappy with all the shadows in my baking photos as of late, so I started playing with the flash, taking shots both with and without it to see which I prefer. Jury’s still out.)
While the butter was melting (and subsequently cooling), I beat the egg. I wanted everything at hand when it was time to mix the batter.
(See, that one I preferred without the flash, despite the shadow.)
The directions said to add the lemon juice to the milk in a “large glass”, and we happen to have, randomly, an EXTREMELY large glass in our kitchen. Dave’s. No idea why. It’s large, though! I put it next to a can of baking powder so you could see just how large it is.
I whisked the dry ingredients together: all purpose flour (a rarity in my baking), cane sugar, salt, and baking powder.
Then to the less visually appealing mixture, in another bowl: the milk mixture, melted butter, beaten egg, yogurt, lemon zest, and vanilla. Fortunately the recipe was very reassuring about how unattractive this combination could be. (I used the flash so you’d get the full effect.)
It looked better once mixed. I poured it into a well in the center of the dry ingredients. I’m including the no-flash and the flash photos of this, and wish they’d just met in the middle.
I stirred the batter together, being very careful not to overmix. In a light lemon muffin, proper mixing can make or break the texture. I swear, I was careful.
I scooped the batter into muffin cups.
They were done in about 20 minutes, and they smelled lemony and lovely.
I let them sit in the pan for a few minutes, then moved them to a wire rack to cool.
So…I guess I wouldn’t make these again. I didn’t roll them in butter & sugar as the original recipe directed, but a muffin should be able to stand on its own without such things, and these would not have been saved by it. They weren’t terrible; I ate a couple of them over a few days, and so did my co-workers, but I think I’ve used better recipes.
Still, it’s entirely possible that I messed these up, so here’s a link to the recipe and please let me know if you fare better so I can try again. They were fun to make.
I know, it doesn’t sound tasty, does it? Wheat Germ Bread. Wheat Germ Bread? How is a person supposed to get excited about that?
Well, taste it. Because once you taste it, you’ll get it, and once you find out how easy it is to make, you’ll make it, and once you start eating it, your taste buds and your belly will smile upon you with gratitude. This bread is just light and lovely.
I found this recipe (via Google) on the TLC site, so it wasn’t embellished by some nice blogger’s adventures, nor was there much detail. The first step was to set aside 2 tablespoons of wheat germ from the total I’d need, but I didn’t think it through and just plopped the two tablespoons’ worth into a small bowl.
The next sentence began with, “Combine remaining wheat germ…” and of course I hadn’t measured the tablespoons out of the the full 3/4 of a cup I was going to need. So I measured out a new 3/4 cup, then took out two tablespoons. I poured that into a bowl along with whole wheat white flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
I whisked that together and set it aside.
Next up, a second bowl for the buttermilk, melted butter, and egg.
I whisked that up, then poured it into the flour mixture.
I mixed it just until incorporated. The batter was nice and light, almost airy.
I scooped it into a sprayed loaf pan, spread it out as evenly as I could, and sprinkled the two tablespoons of wheat germ across the top.
The recipe said to bake it for 40-50 minutes, but at 35 minutes in, the smell was wafting into the living room and I went in to check it. It was perfectly done.
I gave it ten more minutes in the pan, then removed it to a wire rack. It came out perfectly and didn’t break apart until about an hour later when I was moving it around too much trying to figure out the best way to photograph it. I’d already taken a bunch of pictures by then, so I just looked at that as a tasting opportunity.
This bread is really delicious. It’s light, with the slightly grainy feel of a great corn muffin, but the soft touch of a fluffy bread, with enough flavor to make it taste great on its own but not so much that it wouldn’t also be nice to add a pat of butter or a little honey. (It’s only 3 P+ per slice on Weight Watchers, too.) It was incredibly easy to make, didn’t have any strange ingredients (now that I’m a wheat gem junkie), and came together in no time. Make this bread. Embrace its name and its flavor. You will be pleased.