Breakfast Cupcakes

This recipe is never going to be the diplomat to settle the ‘muffin or cupcake’ debate.  It may not have piles of buttercream on top, but it certainly is covered with a sugary glaze.  While it does have fruit in it, it also has plenty of sugar inside (not just on top) and not a whole grain in sight (although that could be easily modified).  The Tartlets liked snacking on these, so I’m glad I made a double batch and we have some left for tomorrow morning too.

These are even good without the glaze, in case you wanted to trick yourself in thinking it was a standard morning muffin.  Your taste buds will know, but it’s not like I’ve never indulged in a little self-delusion here and there.  There are worse things to deceive yourself about.

For instance, I keep thinking I have more time before certain deadlines.  Calendars are a real help, but when you forget to look at them, they aren’t.  It certainly makes life more interesting when you think you have another week before something comes up, only to find out that ‘week’ was a figment of your imagination.  But I’m glad these muffins are real and I’ll be glad to have one for breakfast tomorrow, as I tell myself it’s a ‘breakfast cupcake’.

Banana Poppy Seed Mufins (adapted from The Muffin Cookbook)

2 ripe bananas, peeled
1 egg
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 t. grated orange peel

2 c. flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt

Citrus glaze (see below)

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat bananas until soft and smooth. Add egg, sugar, butter, and orange peel and mix until well blended. In a large bowl, combine flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture until evenly moistened.

Spoon batter into greased or paper lined muffin cups. Bake 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack. Top with citrus glaze while warm, if desired.

Citrus Glaze:
1 c. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. orange juice
1 t. grated orange peel
1/2 t. vanilla

In a medium bowl, combine all glaze ingredients and stir until smooth.

Monkey Muffins

Do you remember the Highlights magazine from your youth? I didn’t have a subscription as a kid, but there were tons of copies in our local doctor’s office and I loved to search for the hidden pictures while I waited. The In-Laws gave Tartlet 1 a subscription to the magazine a couple of years ago, and she and Tartlet 2 have enjoyed the stories and activities. This year, the In-Laws also gave Tartlet 3 a subscription to Highlight’s High Five, and at age 5 there is little more exciting than getting your own mail, especially your own magazine!

In the magazine that just arrived, there was a recipe for ‘Monkey Muffins’, a whole wheat banana muffin. Of course, the magazine depicts a smiling mom and daughter pair in a spotless kitchen and the kid manages to crack the egg into the batter without getting egg shells in the bowl, but we managed our own version just fine. And I have to say that Tartlet 3 was thrilled we made these together.  She and Tartlet 4 helped fill the muffin tin, with overzealous hands, so the muffins spread quite a bit on top and we still had enough batter for a mini loaf.  I think it would make about 15-16 muffins normally.

Tartlet 3 gave them a critical taste test and declared them to be wonderful and said we need to keep the recipe so we could make them together again. They are nice and tender and have a good taste, and we will probably make them again soon.

Monkey Muffins (by Mary Mulard from Highlight’s High Five, Sept. 2008)
4 bananas

2 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda

1/2 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs

1 t. salt
1 t. vanilla

1/2 c. sour cream (we used light sour cream)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cut four bananas into pieces and mash them.

Put flour and baking soda in a mixing bowl.

Put shortening and sugar in a large bowl and beat until creamy. Add eggs and mix. Add bananas, salt and vanilla. Mix well.

Add the flour mixture and sour cream. Mix well.

Fill muffin cups 1/2 full. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins plus a mini loaf.

Liquid Diet

No worries, Fruittart is not about to start on one of those wacky protein shake diets, drinking a chalk solution from a tin as a substitute for meals made of real food. Blech. And I hope the annual January weight loss frenzy hasn’t convinced you to do it, either. Even Thing 1 has been asking lately why is it that *every* single newspaper and magazine has some headline about weight loss?

During the summer, I like to make fruit and yogurt smoothies as a dessert for our family, but they also work for breakfast any time of the year.  This is the kind of liquid diet I can at least replace one meal with, although I doubt it serves for weight loss.  Especially since Thing 4 didn’t like it, so I helped her finish her glass too! Everyone else calls them ‘milkshakes’ and thinks they are really getting something decadent. Shhh! Don’t tell them how good it is for them!

I bought an excessive number of bananas last week and the family seems to have gone on a banana eating strike, so I had an excessive number of brown bananas. The family can only stand so many variations of banana muffins before they won’t eat any those either. Yesterday I made a gallon of fresh vanilla yogurt using my favorite yogurt as the starter. This morning I made smoothies. Oh, yum!

Banana Blueberry Smoothies:

2-3 overripe bananas
2-3 Tbsp. blueberry syrup
3-4 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
2 c. yogurt
1/2 – 1 c. frozen blueberries

Blend until smooth.

Repeat as desired!

Something A Little Different

I had three rather old bananas sitting on the counter and decided I wanted to make something other than The Same Old Thing, however good it is. So I made cookies with them, using a recipe I modified from an old Betty Crocker recipe. They aren’t overly sweet, but have a good flavor and texture.

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Banana Oatmeal Cookies with Mini Chocolate Chips

3/4 c. shortening (I used 1/4 c. no trans fat Crisco & a stick of Earth Balance ‘Buttery Sticks’)
1 c. sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 c. flour
1 c. quick oats
3/4 c. oat bran
1/2 t. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
3 overripe bananas, mashed (about 1 c.)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 400 F. Place all ingredients except chips in mixing bowl. Beat until well blended. Stir in chips. Drop dough by teaspoonsful on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 min. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Vegan Truffles

Well, that sounds better than “I made mud balls!” It’s probably Myriam’s fault, with her Brownie Babe of the Month contests. Yeah, I think I’m going to place all the blame on her for my latest brownie cravings. I can’t, in all honesty, blame her for the dried cherry or pistachio cravings, but I keep wanting to put them together, in a brownie.

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Last week I made an old ‘Texas Brownie’ recipe I had and added cherries and pistachios but I made it in the smallest of the pan sizes suggested and I ended up with a brownie cake. Tasty, but not quite it. Just enough mix of chocolate, dried cherries, and pistachios to make me want to make more. But when the heat index is 105 F, turning on the oven seems absurd. What could make me more of a Brownie Babe than making no-bake brownies to satisfy the cravings?

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I pulled out a recipe that one of The Husband’s former co-workers gave me a few years ago. Vegan brownies. Hmm, no notes on the page, but I vaguely remember the last time I made these they were too gooey. But I’m pretty sure the time before that they were not exactly firm, but had a decent texture. Well, with a memory like this and no notes to go on, I’ll just follow the recipe and see how it goes.

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Recipe says to make a day ahead for best flavor and texture, so I poured it into a parchment lined pan and left it in the fridge for a day. Then I tried to cut them and they were *very* sticky. Edible, but when left out of the fridge for very long they were rather messy.

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So I rolled them into balls and dipped them in a mixture of sifted powdered sugar and cocoa. Very tasty. The kiddos gave them hearty approval.

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Vegan Banana Brownies

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. spectrum spread (or margarine)
1 ½ c. unbleached flour
1 c. unbleached cane sugar
½ t. salt
3 medium bananas (next time I’ll try just two)
1 t. vanilla
2/3 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

In a small non-stick skillet, cook together the chocolate chips and margarine, stirring often, until the chips are thoroughly melted.

In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a food processor or blender puree the bananas and continue to process for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.

Add pureed bananas and vanilla to the dry ingredients and stir well. Add melted chocolate chip mixture and stir until batter is very smooth and then fold in walnuts. Spread into 9 x 13 pan.

Banana Daiquiri Bread

This recipe came from a book I picked up when we were celebrating our 10th anniversary in the Caribbean. I’ve tried a couple of the things from it before with average to good success. My biggest complaint is the things I *really* want to make involve seafood and we just don’t get the best quality seafood here in the Midwest. 😦  We had some of the most amazing stuff while we were there . . . and mangoes, mangoes, and more mangoes.  I want to go back! 😉

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The recipe called for dark rum but I only had light rum on hand and I didn’t want to buy a bottle of dark rum since I might well never use it again. When we stayed at the resort on St. John they gave us a freebie bottle of Cruz Bay dark rum and it was disgusting . . . it smelled like cleaning solution or something and when we tried it with a fruity mixer we both felt ill. Later we learned that dark rum really isn’t meant for fruity mixers (we’re willfully ignorant when it comes to most alcohol info) but we were so turned off that we just cringe at the thought of dark rum. Having said that, I think it would be better in this recipe b/c this is precisely where the stronger flavor would do well. The rum and Cointreau do not stand out strongly in the flavor of this bread/muffin but they accent it nicely. It’s better than a simple banana bread. I would make this again.

Here is the original recipe with my notes:

Banana Daiquiri Bread

1 ¼ c. granulated sugar
¼ c. butter, melted
1 Tbsp Cointreau
3 Tbsp dark rum
2 c. mashed bananas (I used 5 medium bananas, didn’t measure the amount)
½ c. milk (I used 1/2 c. homemade yogurt)
2 eggs, beaten
2 ¼ c. flour
½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¼ t. cinnamon (I may have used a little more; I didn’t measure this)

Preheat oven to 350 F and butter a glass loaf dish. Take 1 Tbsp of the flour and lightly coat the bottom and sides of the dish.

In a large bowl using an electric beater combine the sugar and butter. Add the Cointreau, rum, bananas, milk, and eggs.

Sift together all dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Beat until combined, but do not overbeat.

Bake for 1 hour and insert a toothpick to check for doneness. Continue baking until toothpick comes out clean.

I made these as muffins rather than bread and it made 20 muffins.

Still Tweaking After All These Years

If you ever look at the ‘Today’s Favorite Recipes’ on the side bar, which just counts the top page hits, you’ll notice that Banana Blueberry Muffins is always at the top. It’s a popular search result and gets 10-30 hits per day. It’s a good recipe. I make it a lot myself and have been making it for years. I look at it as a good base recipe from which to springboard into new flavors. Like the Coconut Apricot Hazelnut White Chocolate Chip muffins pictured on that page. Some people would consider that a whole new recipe. I don’t. I consider it a variation.

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Yesterday was Black Forest Cake Day and I didn’t make one, but I’ve been thinking about one for a couple of weeks and maybe that influenced my baking this morning. I wouldn’t call this a ‘Black Forest Muffin’ by any stretch . . . not enough chocolate and no whipping cream in sight. But I used up some leftover cherry chips and a half bag of mini chocolate chips on hand, then I added some homemade granola (not *my* homemade granola, but some given to me) in place of nuts, which aren’t usually featured in BFC. Thing 2 said these are the best muffins I have ever made b/c she loves the cherry chips.