Sunday, March 10, 2013

Donut Muffins

Another Sunday morning, another baking opportunity. Something about waking up on the last day of the weekend makes me want to savor my time off and for me, that means baking.

Last weekend I had a hankering for blueberry muffins and even after a very satisfying batch of heart healthy blueberry muffins, I still woke up this morning with hot, soft, blueberry goodness on my mind. So up I popped to whip up a batch with a twist. I added a dollop of homemade blueberry jam in the center for an bit of blueberry goodness. Verdict? Definitely a winner!

Well, the Husband isn't much of a blueberry muffin fan. This astounds me because I can't imagine any muffin better than a traditional blueberry muffin. Of all the the muffins in the world, blueberry is, in my opinion, far superior to the rest. So to not enjoy a warm, fresh, flavorful blueberry muffin is just plain madness. But what can I say? I love him, weird taste buds and all.

While my muffins were busy baking up in the oven, I decided to try a new recipe I spotted on Pinterest (Just adore that site!). Sugar Donut Muffins caught my eye. For one, I can't figure out if it's really a baked donut or a simple sweet muffin. Which is it? For another, they just. Look. Heavenly. Husband loves donuts. I love trying new recipes. It was a perfect win-win.

Once pulled out of the oven, I tried rolling them in pure white sugar, but my main squeeze and I both agreed it just needed something. We broke out the cinnamon sugar to roll the last batch in and ta-da! We solved the missing flavor!

Pretty good, definitely sweet for a breakfast treat. Next time I'll try mini muffins (bake for 11-12 minutes) for easy ability to pop into one's mouth. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins
Adaptations to Baking Bites Recipe

(1 3/4) cup of sugar
(1) large egg
(1 1/2) cups flour
(2) tsp of baking powder
(1/4) tsp salt
(1/4) tsp ground nutmeg (Try cinnamon instead if you'd like with the cinnamon sugar) 
(1/4) cup oil
(3/4) cup of milk
(1 1/2) tsp of vanilla (I love vanilla so I added a half tsp)
*(1/2 - 1 1/2) tsp of butter flavoring (I usually add a bit of butter flavoring for some added goodness. Definitely not required though)

(2) Tbsp of melted butter (If you're brushing just the tops, 2 tbsp is great. If you're doing the whole muffin like I did, use 3-4 tbsp of butter)
(1/2) cup of cinnamon sugar

Oven temp, 350. Either grease your muffin pan or throw down some cute cupcake tins.

In a small bowl, beat sugar and egg together until fully mixed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg/cinnamon). Add the sugar and egg mixture and blend.  Add in the final wet ingredients (oil, milk, vanilla and butter flavor (if desired). Beat well, get those lumps out!

Fill each muffin tin about 3/4 full. If you're using standard tins, you'll fill between 10 and 12. Mini tins will probably fill twice as many. Make sure if you aren't using liners, grease the pan well. Nothing is worse than half a muffin or cupcake stuck in the bottom of a pan.

Pop those babies in the oven for about 15-18 minutes. I found, since I filled mine very nicely, about 18-19 minutes worked for best results. Again, if you're doing min tins, about 10-11 minutes. Make sure you test the batter is fully cooked--a knife/toothpick should come out clean.

After you scoop the muffins from the tin (a spoon works well), brush or, in my case, lightly dip muffins in the melted butter. Roll in sugar and set on cooling rack. If you're doing just the tops, a plate is just fine to let them cool.

Here's the last, but most important part, pour yourself a glass of milk, serve up your muffin on a plate, sit down, and savor every bite. Happy Sunday to you!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Yo, Home(cooked) Skillet!

Growing up my mom had a little heart trouble. I say "a little," but really she ended up having open heart surgery after nine years of "just a little heart trouble." She would get winded very easily, napped quite a bit, and just overall felt exhausted. It wasn't odd to come home from school or dance lessons at night and see Mom on her spot on the couch curled up in her favorite quilt nearly half asleep. We didn't know it at the time, but Mom had a whole in her heart the size of two quarters.

Mom got all patched up in September of '97! She was moving up and around town like nobody's business. The Christmas after her surgery, she went shopping for nine hours which, in our household, was eternity! I think all of her great rehabilitation classes really helped with that. They even did segments over healthy eating, but honestly, we'd been practicing pretty great eating habits for a while.

Because of Mom's heart issues, she had discovered heart healthy eating early on through The American Heart Association Cookbook. Her paperback copy has been thumbed through many a time and notes are left on quite a few of the pages. Tons of family meals came from this book and they're still my favorite to make today.

Last week I posted a picture of a favorite meal from my childhood, Chinese Beef Skillet. I got several people asking about the recipe so here it is:

Chinese Beef Skillet
The American Heart Association Cookbook

(1) 7oz package of frozen chinese pea pods (I forgot them and just used peas and add in with the other veggies )
(3) T oil
(1) pound flank stead or lean chuck sliced paper thin (I use pre-cut stir fry cut beef if I can find it)
(1/4) cup chopped onion (I think yellow onion has the best flavor) 
(1) clove of garlic (1/2 tsp of pre-minced garlic) 
(4) cups of cauliflower (Which detest--I call it albino broccoli. Sub carrots, red peppers, and broccoli instead)
(1) cup of beef broth
(2) T cornstarch
(1/4) cup soy sauce
(1/4) cup cold water
(1/4) cup sherry
(1/2) tsp sesame oil
(1) T freshly ground ginger

Pour boiling water over frozen pea pod to carefully separate and then drain immediately.

Heat skillet on medium/medium high and add 2 T of the oil. Add the beef, turn constantly for 1-2 minutes or until just browned. Remove meat at once.

Cook onion and garlic for a hot second in the leftover oil. Add the veggies and the broth and cook, stirring gently for about 3 minutes or until tenderly crisp.

Combine the last ingredients (cornstarch, soy sauce, cold water, sherry, sesame oil, and ground ginger) and stir into the broth in the skillet. Add the beef and pea pods stirring constantly until the sauce thickens.

Dish it up over some steamed rice and enjoy!

Makes about 6 servings for about 285 calories a serving. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

On the Mend

Last Sunday I had the loveliest day. Made delicious pancakes, ran some errands with the husband, and enjoyed sweet spring weather we were having. In short, it was marvelous. Then Monday hit with the looks of a blizzard coming through Oklahoma. 
Delicious homemade pancakes for Sunday breakfast. 

I started off feeling pretty chipper, but a little sore, achy really. By noon, I knew something was wrong. School was fortunately closed early and I headed home for a quick thermometer check and hopeful nap, but my plans were foiled. One broken thermometer and a restless nap on the couch had me thinking I was a little more than just "under the weather."

At the urging of my dear, sweet husband, I took off in the slushy rain for the doctors. The nurse asked if I had a fever to which I replied, "I think a little one." Yeah, "a little one" nothing! 103 and feeling miserable, it was officially confirmed that I had the flu. Gross.

Delicious blackberry cobbler
Well, after three and half days with a fever, one round of tamiflu, and a week off from work, I'm nearly back to health (Damn sinuses kicked in and I'm trying to keep it from turning into a sinus infection...if it hasn't already.).

I started to really feel somewhat like myself Friday. I even cleaned house and got through some catch-up work at home. Saturday I ventured out among the living, bought groceries, nearly took out a customer service woman at Target--it was splendid. I even baked up a delicious blackberry cobbler.
The best blackberry cobbler!

Today was all about sleeping in and baking blueberry muffins from scratch. I think a week away from work helped rejuvenate some of my creative juices. I knocked out a combo today that, for the first time in a while, I'm more than satisfied with. I'm actually a little proud. Sometimes when you're creative juices run dry, nothing seems to be up to the standard you hold yourself to. I guess this just goes to show a little rest can go a long way.

Mom's heart-healthy blueberry muffins
I did miss out on a lovely weekend I had planned. My friend got married yesterday (Congrats Jenn and Will!) and while missing out on that, I missed out on visiting with my in-laws and sweet nephew, Michael. Le sigh. But over the weekend I had a number of sweet videos sent to me of the little man.
Chicken tortilla soup for dinner. 
Even though this wasn't necessarily a joyous occasion, I was sad to miss a celebration of life for a family friend who passed last Wednesday. It's always sad to lose a friend and I'm sorry I couldn't be home to say a proper goodbye. Walter was a good man and will certainly be missed.

It's been quite a week, to say the least. I am ready to get back to work, feel like I'm functioning (almost) to my normal level. Sometimes just having a task to do makes me feel a little more useful. Not that I didn't enjoy those five hour naps a day, I totally did, I just don't have anything to show for it.

Hopefully this week goes by smoothly and I survive all the classes just fine. Two more weeks and I'll be home for a little spring break, hallelujah!

Honey stayed by my side all week long, followed me everywhere like a little shadow.
She says "take vitamin C! Stay healthy!"
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