Eggnog Coffee Cake

Eggnog Coffee Cake

Change can be hard – real hard.  I live a very different life at work and at home.  At work there is chaos constantly – and I love every minute of it.  I long for change at work – for things to be shaken up, and to try and put the pieces back together again – like a big puzzle.  If things stay static for too long, I get a little antsy.  At home, it is a completely different ball game.

I think one of the reasons why I can deal with such chaos at work, is because things are pretty stable at home.  Well, most of the time.  Tonight I attended a meeting at the new school my daughter will attend next year.  This is going to be the 5th school she has attended since kindergarten, and next year she will be in 7th grade.  The district likes to move them around – and it makes me sick.  Unfortunately she is being separated from the majority of her friends, and being taken out of a school that she has grown to love in only a few short months.  This new school has nothing.  It will start from the ground up.  There are no teachers.  There are no books in the library.  There isn’t a mascot.  There is no orchestra, band or choir.  There is only a principal who was hired to take on this great task.  And there are tons of very unhappy parents.  I had to fight back my tears as I heard parents tell their stories – stories about kids who have finally found their niche in the school they currently attend, only to be redistricted to a new school with lots of uncertainty.

I look at my daughter though in sheer amazement.  Sure, there were plenty of tears when she heard about the school board’s plan – but when the decision was made, she took the high road.  She sees this as an opportunity – a chance to create a school the way she envisions it.  She is an extremely strong willed 6th grader – she is a leader, and boy am I a proud parent.  It doesn’t make it any less painful for me – but knowing that she has a positive attitude is the only way I am going to deal with this change.

Last weekend she wanted to make sure she had something easy to eat for breakfast in the morning.  She found this recipe in Cooking Light – and was planning to make it for herself.  Unfortunately homework got in the way – so I decided to help her out (I know, twist my arm) – as I was making it though, she ran into the kitchen to remind me to make sure the coffee cake had lots of cinnamon.  I told her that the recipe had nutmeg instead – to give it that eggnog flavor – that’s where she drew the line.  She didn’t want that – she wanted a cinnamon coffee cake – that’s what she is used to.  This coffee cake was delicious – nice and moist, with lots of flavor.  Cinnamon or nutmeg, you can’t go wrong.  Again, change can be hard at times – and if this is the only change she wants to resist – I am completely supportive.

Ingredients

Crumble:

  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Cake:

  • 6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • Baking spray with flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare crumble, combine first 4 ingredients in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in toasted pecans.

To prepare cake, weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 6.75 ounces flour and next 4 ingredients (through 1/4 teaspoon salt); stir with a whisk. Place 3 tablespoons butter and granulated sugar in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add whole egg and egg yolk, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk, sour cream, and vanilla; beat at low speed for 1 minute or until well combined. Add the flour mixture; beat at low speed 1 minute or just until combined.

Spoon half of batter into an 8-inch round metal cake pan coated with baking spray. Sprinkle with half of crumble mixture. Spread remaining batter over crumble, smoothing top with a spatula. Sprinkle evenly with remaining crumble mixture. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Place a plate upside down on top of cake; invert onto plate. Place another plate upside down on top of cake; invert onto plate.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Eggnog Coffee Cake

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Dairy-Free Apple Cake

Dairy-Free Apple Cake

The human body is just amazing – for so many reasons, I could go on for days.  If you have ever been hurt, and then in a very stressful situation, it is amazing how your adrenaline can make your pain go away.  I have read about it before – but only recently have truly experienced the power.  But what is the hormone that can help you if you are hurt emotionally?  Many people think it is food – they turn to food when they are upset – and more often than not, when that is the case – you are looking at a serious weight problem.  Other people are quite the opposite – they starve themselves when they are hurt or depressed – it seems as though depriving yourself food can make people feel more in control, and sometimes feel better.

Most of the time, when I am in this situation, I go right to the kitchen.  Not to eat, but to cook.  When I am cooking, it releases some type of chemical in me that makes me feel better.  I can get lost in the kitchen, forget about all of my troubles – and just focus on the food.  When it is all over, the hurt comes back, but at least for a few hours, I am able to put things aside, and just relax.  Now that my kids are getting older and they can be in the kitchen cooking along side of me – it is even better medicine – there is nothing I love more.

Today my husband and I celebrated our 17th anniversary.  It is hard to believe that I have spent more of my life with him than without him.  I am an unbelievably lucky person – he loves and supports me unconditionally, but always pushes me to be the best person I can be – he is the best father in the world, and has helped me to be the best mother – he has dedicated his life to cancer research, and never ever stops forging ahead.  I admire him more than he will ever know.

He has been staying away from dairy for some time now – but I know how much he loves cinnamon cake.  My mother sent me a recipe that her friend had made, who also stays away from dairy.  This is very similar to my mother’s recipe for blueberry cake – but for a cinnamon lover like my husband, this recipe definitely “took the cake.”  He absolutely loved this cake – I have a feeling I will be making this weekly for a while.  It is the least I can do, for all he does for me.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 4 cups peeled, chopped apples
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350o. Grease and flour a 13×9 inch baking pan. In large bowl, cream together first four ingredients thoroughly. Sift together dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture, mixing well by hand. Stir in apples.  Spread batter into prepared pan.  Mix the 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon in a bowl – and sprinkle over the top of the batter.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until straw inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Dairy-Free Apple Cake

Fluffy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Fluffy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Accountability.  What an important word.  Over the years, it has become more and more important for various reasons.  It was not a word I really focused on until I was an adult – and the word really made an impression on me with respect to work.  When you are a kid – you always want to blame everyone else for anything that goes wrong.  Mom gets a big brunt of these…but seriously, it is always someone else’s fault.  At times, that can be accurate – but it most cases, everyone has some aspect of accountability in the situation.

We are dealing with a tricky issue right now with my younger daughter.  There is a boy in her class that has been bothering her for quite some time.  At first it seemed innocent enough, and that maybe he had a crush on her – but unfortunately it has gotten a little more serious, and he has started to get physical.  There is always a part of me that wonders if she is egging him on – but at some point you cross the line.  Even some slight antagonism does not deserve physical violence or disparaging language.  Fortunately we are on a good path forward though with the teacher’s support.

Some adults though never really learn to hold themselves accountable – and it can be extremely damaging.  Sometimes all it takes is just a little humility – to let the other person see that you are not perfect.  Sometimes though you wait too long to hold yourself accountable, and by the time it hits you, it is too late.  The damage is done, and there is no going back.

When I started this blog, one of my hesitations was around accountability.  If I was going to post recipes, tell you how great they turned out – then you try them and they are bust – that wouldn’t make me feel very good.  Now I know like everyone else – cooking is as much of an art as it is a science.  Ingredients have a lot to do with how the recipes come out – and ingredients can be different depending on where you live, how fresh they are, etc…  Just last week I got a comment on my banana bread recipe – the person’s banana bread didn’t rise, and she didn’t understand why.  I suspected it had to do with the baking soda/powder she used – and maybe one of them had gone bad.  She tried it again with fresh baking soda/powder, and fortunately – it came out perfectly.  One of the reasons why I post so many recipes from Cooking Light and Bon Appetit – is they have a team of testers that make these recipes before they are published.  Then I make it myself – and if it turns out good – usually I put it on the blog.  I hold myself accountable to posting good quality recipes  – and if you can follow directions, you will come out with good results – but that doesn’t always happen – and when it doesn’t – I am truly sorry.

I know people were eyeing the biscuits that I posted last week with the Broccoli-Cheese Soup – so here they are.  I make a lot of biscuits, but this recipe from Cooking Light is really a keeper.  I loved how quick and easy these were – and that they were seriously light as a feather.  They were by far some of the best biscuits I have ever made – and you can hold me accountable if you don’t agree.

Ingredients

  • 5.6 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 3.6 ounces white whole-wheat flour (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups very cold fat-free buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°.

Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk to combine.

Place butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 1 minute or until completely melted. Add cold buttermilk, stirring until butter forms small clumps. Add oil, stirring to combine.

Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture; stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated (do not overmix) and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. (Batter will be very wet.)

Drop batter in mounds of 2 heaping tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 450° for 11 minutes or until golden. Cool 3 minutes; serve warm.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Fluffy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Adare Manor Scones

Adare Manor Scones

This morning I woke up late – I slept later than I have slept in months.  I was up at 5:30am, like I normally am, but some time over the next hour, I finally fell back asleep – and the next time I looked at the clock, it was almost 9am.  My body really needed that sleep – it has been craving it for months, at least since last summer when I was on vacation and probably got 10 hours of sleep a night.  It is amazing to me how long my body can stand to get such little sleep, and then all of a sudden once it gets a little more – it requires a ton.  I think I am to that point where I need to go on a break, just to catch up on sleep.

When I finally woke up – it was scones that got me out of bed.  Not smelling them, but the thought of making them.  Our friends are visiting, and with 5 kids in the house, it is always good to have something around for breakfast besides cereal.  This recipe from Bon Appetit has been sitting in my pantry for only a couple of months, but reading about these scones put them pretty much on the top of my pile.  I love scones, and especially love plain ones that are not sweet.  With only 2 tablespoons of sugar in the entire batch – and seeing that they were more like biscuits than scones – I knew they would be perfect with my homemade jam.  What I didn’t realize is how quickly they would disappear with 5 kids – and one of them had cereal instead!  It has been hilarious to see the number of dishes we go through every day.  Having 5 kids would definitely eat me out of house and home – and there was only one teenager in the bunch.  The appetites only get bigger from here…

These scones reminded me of the ones we get at the Puyallup Fair every fall.  After last year though, we vowed not to go back, and so it is up to me to make the scones.  No problem here – I found the recipe.  I served these with my fresh raspberry jam – and they were as close to perfect as they could have been.  Of course we had them right out of the oven – and they were tender and flakey – with a little crust on top.  Next time I am making a double batch – and maybe I will make them the night before.  Although I must say – waking up to that dough in my fingers was almost as good as waking up to the smell of fresh scones in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for work  surface
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut  into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • Clotted cream, raspberry jam, and/or lemon curd  (for serving)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Whisk baking powder, salt, and 1 1/2 cups flour in a large bowl. Add butter and  blend with your fingertips until pea-size pieces form. Add milk and sugar and  mix with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and gently knead until dough just comes together, 3 or 4 times.

Gently pat dough into a  1″-thick round. Using a 2″ round biscuit cutter or inverted small glass, cut out  scones. Gather scraps and repeat, patting out and cutting to make 10 scones.  Transfer to a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet and brush with egg.

Bake scones until golden  brown, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room  temperature, split, with clotted cream, jam, and/or lemon curd.

DO AHEAD: Scones can  be made 8 hours ahead. Let cool completely and store airtight at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Adare Manor Scones

The Blueberry Blossom Pancake

Blueberry Blossom Pancake

I can’t believe it is blueberry season already – boy does that make me happy.  Even though you will never find me popping blueberries in my mouth, they are one of my most favorite fruits to bake with.  This weekend my cousin was visiting, and after dragging him to Boot Camp Saturday morning, our reward was going to the Farmer’s Market.  Before we got there though, I had to stop at my favorite fruit stand.  Not only are their prices better than at the Farmer’s Market, they are just so nice, I love supporting their farm.  I knew that I wanted to make Blueberry Jam this weekend, and wasn’t sure if I would have enough leftover to make something else.  Of course I forgot to mention the Jam to my cousin, so when I walked back to the car with a flat of blueberries, his eyes popped out of his head.  It was a similar look when I took him into my pantry to show him my stash…of jam that is.

I reminded him about my jam problem, and then it made sense.  He immediately offered to hold the blueberries on our way to the market.  He couldn’t stop popping them in his mouth, and I could tell my younger daughter in the back seat was getting a little nervous.  He offered her a handful, and she said emphatically, “No!  You have to stop eating them, my Mommy needs to make jam!”  I started laughing – she is definitely the biggest jam lover of the family.  As we were walking and eating our way through the market this weekend, we got to the jam stand.  My older daughter tried some strawberry jam (that they sell for $8.75) and came running over to me – she told me that my jam is much better.  I had already bought her a pastry, so she wasn’t buttering me up for anything…maybe just hoping I would quit my job and stay home to make jam for a living.

Fortunately I had plenty of blueberries, and I remembered this recipe I had just looked at in this month’s Bon Appetit.  With a name like The Blueberry Blossom Pancake, how could it be anything but beautiful!  Wow were these good pancakes.  I seriously thought I was at a restaurant.  I know I make good pancakes, but these were just incredible.  So light and fluffy, with a burst of blueberry in every bite.  Oh, and did I mention the streusel on top?  Seriously, what is not better with streusel?  It added a crunchy texture that really knocked my socks off.  So – this weekend, if you are looking for a way to make your family happy – look no further.  Waking up to these beauties will definitely make your day blossom.  Don’t delay, blueberry season will not last forever!

Ingredients

Blueberry Syrup

  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blueberries

Streusel

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons light  brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking  powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking  soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher  salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted  butter, melted, slightly cooled
  • Vegetable oil (for  skillet)
  • 1 cup blueberries (about 5 ounces)

Preparation

Blueberry Syrup

Purée syrup and blue-berries in a blender until smooth; set  aside.

Streusel

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine oats, flour, and brown sugar on  a small rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with butter and toss to coat. Bake,  stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 15–20 minutes. Let cool.

DO AHEAD: Streusel can be made 1 week  ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Pancakes

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a  large bowl. Whisk egg, buttermilk, and butter in a medium bowl, then whisk  into dry ingredients.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and lightly  coat with oil. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter into skillet and  top each with 2 tablespoons berries. Cook pancakes until bottoms are golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown  and cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Serve pancakes topped with syrup and  streusel.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  The Blueberry Blossom Pancake

Strawberry Jam Biscuits

Strawberry Jam Biscuits

It’s jam time…that’s right, one of my very favorite times of the year.  The time of year when those empty shelves in my pantry start getting filled with all sorts of delicious cooked fruit.  My daughters love that I make jam, in fact my younger daughter refuses to eat any other jam except my homemade.  You could say I have spoiled them, or maybe just taught them what good food is.

I have already started stock piling for the holidays – but I always save some for the girls.  Usually I just put the leftovers in a ramekin, or in a jar that is not labeled, that I place on a special shelf in the pantry – “our jam section” – as opposed to the jam for gifts.  Last week I came over after a long day, and saw that there was a new jar of strawberry vanilla jam in the refrigerator.  I just about lost it.  Ok, so it wasn’t my proudest moment – but when I asked why they didn’t use the other two already opened jars of jam (one which I might add was the exact same variety, and another was the leftover jam I used for these delicious treats) – they told me that the jam with the pretty labels tastes even better.  Seriously???  I was so angry, but part of me was laughing inside (although that laughing started much later) – but I was fuming that they had just wasted one of my holiday jams.  I brought them into the pantry and showed them where I keep “our jam section” as opposed to the “holiday jam section”.  Of course the “holiday jam section” has about 30 jars already – where as ours only has about 5.  The girls didn’t understand why they didn’t get both.  Wow – that would be a lot of jam.  So – no Mom of the year award for me…

Back to this recipe…I found this in Bon Appetit, and I felt like it was time to actually bake with some jam.  These were so perfect for strawberry season – just the right amount of sweetness with the biscuit – the girls ate them every morning before swim team, and they were gone in no time.  Fortunately there is still some of that great leftover jam in the refrigerator…I just need to get a label for the jar, and it will disappear magically, so I am told.

Ingredients

Strawberry Jam

  • 12  ounces fresh strawberries, hulled, halved or quartered if large (about 3  cups)
  • 1/4  cup sugar
  • 1  tablespoon finely grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh  lime juice

Biscuits

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2  teaspoons  baking  powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher  salt
  • 2 1/4 cups  all-purpose  flour plus more
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon finely  grated lime zest
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 1 tablespoon raw  sugar
  • Vanilla ice cream (for  serving)

Preparation

Strawberry Jam

Cook strawberries and sugar in a medium saucepan over  medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until jamlike in consistency, 12–15  minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime zest and juice. Pour into a shallow bowl  and let cool.

Biscuits

Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk sugar, baking powder, salt, and 2  1/4 cups flour in a large bowl. Add butter and lime zest and blend with your  fingertips until coarse crumbs form. Add buttermilk and, using a fork, mix until  just combined. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Gently knead just until a  shaggy, moist dough forms, about 4 times.

Roll out dough about 1/2-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch  biscuit cutter or inverted glass, cut out rounds. Gather scraps and repeat  rolling and cutting until all dough is used.  Place biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using your  thumb, make a large divot in the center of each biscuit; brush with egg and  sprinkle liberally with raw sugar. Spoon a scant 1 teaspoon strawberry jam into  each divot.

Bake biscuits until golden brown, 18–22 minutes. Serve warm  with vanilla ice cream, if using, and remaining jam.

DO AHEAD: Jam can be made 3 days ahead.  Cover and chill.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Strawberry Jam Biscuits

Strawberry Jam Biscuits 2

Zucchini Mini Muffins

Zucchini Mini Muffins

I am tired – and I am cranky.  That is not a good combination for a blog post…but I am going to plow through it anyway.  Cooking often helps alleviate my stress, let’s see if writing about it does the same.

Do you ever have hunches that you can’t substantiate?  For me, it happens all the time.  For a very analytical person, I tend to sense things extremely well.  The problem is, because I am so analytical, unless I have data to back up my suspicions, I don’t often act until I can find the proof.  Of course this doesn’t always work to my advantage – sometimes I wait until I am too far deep into the hole – and it is hard to climb your way out at that point – proof or no proof.  I am finding myself in one of those situations right now, and it is not pretty.  I need to find some foot holes, and create a plan to crawl out.  I am about half-way there, and there are two paths to take.  I sure do hope I take the right one.

I have mentioned this before – but I also have a good sense about recipes.  I remember talking to friend about that – I felt that I was very lucky with recipes.  Most of the recipes I try actually come out quite well.  She told me it wasn’t luck – I was good at reading recipes.  I didn’t realize that was a skill – but I am starting to realize that it is.  While I am reading a recipe, I am making it in my brain, and there are times when I can actually taste it.  Now – back to reality – not everything turns out tasting like it did in my head.  There are times when I am off – for the better, and for the worse.  Sometimes I tear out a recipe thinking it will be good – and it turns out to be just amazing.  I love when that happens.  The opposite is not such much fun.

I saw this recipe in Cooking Light - and I knew they would not be as good as my tried and true Zucchini Bread recipe, that I have been making for 20+ years – but I thought these would be good – and they were terrific.  Mostly because they were bite sized.  They were so easy to pop in your mouth, that they didn’t last long in our house.  I think the girls ate about 5 each for breakfast the next morning, they just couldn’t stop.  I can’t complain when they are getting a green vegetable in first thing in the morning.

Well – that’s it for me – thanks for the diversion – I need to go work on my exit strategy.  I wish I could just cook my way out of this one…unfortunately not this time.

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2/3 cup shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1  large egg, lightly beaten
  •   Cooking spray

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a large bowl. Combine zucchini and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add zucchini mixture to flour mixture, stirring batter just until combined. Divide batter evenly among 24 miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Zucchini Mini Muffins

Sweet Lavender Scones

Sweet Lavender Scones

Wow – I can’t believe it has been a week since my last post – this week just flew by, and before I knew it, I already missed my mid-week window.  It has been a little busy around here, between work and kids stuff, there hasn’t been a minute to spare.  Why is it that every year I forget how busy the end of the school year gets?  Just 6 more weeks to go…and since I am not a Super-Mom, things are bound to slip through the cracks.

The other week we were talking about the mom of one of my older daughter’s friends.  She categorized her as a Super-Mom – I agreed, not really knowing what the definition was.  So – I asked if I was a Super-Mom?  Both my girls unanimously agreed that I was not.  So – I asked what the criteria was to be a Super-Mom, and they explained the following:  you don’t work, you are on the PTA, and you can have lots of kids at your house at any time day or night.  Ok, so I guess I failed on all points.

The other day I was telling some Moms about this at boot camp – both stay-at-home moms, and one of them added:  and you probably don’t have fresh-baked cookies for them when they get home from school.  BUT WAIT – so I might not have them ready for when they come home from school – but my children probably eat more fresh-baked goods than any other kid at school – unless their parent owns a bakery!!  So don’t I get any points for that??  I guess not.

The grass is always greener on the other side – I have plenty of friends tell me how lucky I am that I never stopped working – now that their kids are in school and they are looking for a job, it is near impossible to find something being out of the workforce for 10+ years.  The truth is – I love working, and although I would make a great stay-at-home Mom, I enjoy the challenge of trying to keep everything together.  There are some people who actually think I am pretty good at it (not including my children).  So – for all you stay-at-home Moms – you should feel proud that you are a Super-Mom.  You might not ever be told that – but I am telling you that right now – my kids think you are Super-Moms, and hey – that is worth something.

So – I guess when I made these scones from Bon Appetit (which were FABULOUS, BTW – so light and flavorful) – and they loved them so much – they each had 2 for breakfast each morning.  They even told me I was the best Mom ever – but I was not a Super-Mom.  I guess I have to take what I can get…

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking  powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried  lavender buds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher  salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking  soda
  • 3/4 cup  (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch  cubes
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons finely  grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  extract
  • 2  tablespoons sanding  or granulated sugar

Preparation

Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to  425°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk 3 cups flour and next 5  ingredients in a large bowl. Add butter; rub in with your fingers until mixture  resembles coarse meal.

Whisk 1 cup buttermilk, zest, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add  wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until shaggy dough forms.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface; knead until dough  forms, about 5 turns. Pat into a 10×6″ rectangle. Halve dough lengthwise. Cut  each half crosswise into 4 squares. Cut each square diagonally in half into 2  triangles. Divide between baking sheets. Brush with 2 Tbsp. buttermilk. Sprinkle  with sanding sugar.

Bake until scones are golden and a tester inserted into the  center comes out clean, 13–15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; let cool.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Sweet Lavender Scones

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie 2

My kids are obsessed with the color pink – they have been all of their lives.  When they were younger and I would do the laundry, it was just a pile of pink clothes – the only positive is that everything matched all the time.  The pink spills over into other parts of their lives as well – food.  They are drawn to anything pink (strawberry flavored).  Unfortunately most of what they are drawn to is fake though…and I spend a lot of time trying to explain that to then.  Sometimes they will listen to me, but most of the time they have to try it for themselves before listening to me the next time.

The other weekend we were on vacation in Whistler.  After dinner we went out for ice-cream – yes, I know, but they love ice-cream no matter what the temperature is like.  They stared at all the flavors for quite a while, but my little one had to go with strawberry.  This was soft serve ice-cream – there was no way this strawberry was going to taste good.  Fortunately my older one choose well – vanilla.  My younger one took a couple of bites, and just set it down on table.  She was a little afraid to tell us that she didn’t like it.  The place was empty, and there were a few guys behind the counter just sitting around.  I got my husband to tell them that she had never had this before, and really didn’t like it – and would it be ok if she got a vanilla instead.  He was more than happy to get her a new one.  Thank goodness – and maybe next time she will remember.

Today we didn’t have a lot going on, and the girls needed a little pick-me-up this afternoon.  I looked at what I had in the house, and decided a fun smoothie was in order.  I asked the girls if they were interested, and boy did I get some enthusiasm.  When I told them what I was going to make, they both crinkled their noses.  They both wanted a strawberry smoothie instead – but I didn’t have anything pink to use.  My younger one was most concerned about the color of the smoothie I wanted to make – she was sure it would be ugly – again, like that has anything to do with the taste.  But I agree, something that is visually appealing, is certainly more delightful to eat.

I whipped up the smoothie, and took a spoon, I was in heaven.  I knew if they didn’t devour theirs – I would have no problem finishing them.  I handed them over, and in about 1 minute they were gone.  They both LOVED the smoothie – they told me how smart I was to come up with this combination – even though it was cream-colored.  Mom 1, Pink 0.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. low-fat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Preparation

Put all ingredients into a blender, and blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

Oatmeal Muffins

Oatmeal Muffins

Wow, can it actually be Valentine’s Day tomorrow already?  My girls have been excited for Valentine’s Day for weeks – the other night my older daughter asked if we could go to my closet and pick out my outfit.  For a split second I thought she was talking about for the next day…then I realized, she was talking about Valentine’s Day.  Let’s see if I can actually remember to wear red tomorrow morning – it is not really my thing, but I know it would make them so happy if I did.

So, my older daughter is having a Valentine’s Day brunch party at school – and I can’t believe it – but this is her last year of parties…next year she will be in middle school.  She was told to bring something you would eat for breakfast – she even gave me some suggestions on what she could bring – bacon, eggs, sausage…seriously?  How would that survive the bus ride, and then the couple of hours of school before the party?  I just laughed.  Then she suggested muffins – ok then, excellent choice.

I went to the pantry to look in my recipe file, and there they were – sitting there, just waiting for an occasion.  I have to admit though, staring at the title, they did not sound that appealing.  I had to convince her that these would be delicious, even though I was definitely skeptical myself.  We made them this weekend, and I swear – these are better than the Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal you buy in those individual packets.  These were AMAZING!!  Cook’s Illustrated really hit a home run here.  The funny part of this recipe is that the batter actually looks like oatmeal!  These were some of the best muffins I have ever made – oh, and that topping – to die for!!  What a winning recipe.  So – if you are still up at this hour, trying to decide what to make for your loved ones tomorrow – how about surprising them with some of these lovely baked goods?  Oh, and don’t forget to wear red tomorrow!

Ingredients

Topping

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (1 1/2-oz)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (1 2/3-oz)
  • 1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar (2 1/3-oz)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Muffin Base

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (6-oz)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (8 3/4-oz)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar (9 1/3-oz)
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten

Preparation

Topping

Combine oats, flour, pecans, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl. Drizzle melted butter over mixture and stir to thoroughly combine; set aside.

Muffins

Grease and flour 12-cup muffin tin. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add oats and cook, stirring frequently, until oats turn golden brown and smell of cooking popcorn, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer oats to food processor and process into fine meal, about 30 seconds. Add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda to oats and pulse until combined, about 3 pulses.

Stir 6 tablespoons melted butter and sugar together in large bowl until smooth. Add milk and eggs and whisk until smooth. Using whisk, gently fold half of oat mixture into wet ingredients, tapping whisk against side of bowl to release clumps. Add remaining oat mixture and continue to fold with whisk until no streaks of flour remain. Set aside batter for 20 minutes to thicken. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°F.

Using ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (about 1/2 cup batter per cup; cups will be filled to rim). Evenly sprinkle topping over muffins (about 2 tablespoons per muffin). Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 18 to 25 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking.

Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from muffin tin and serve or let cool completely before serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Oatmeal Muffins