I’m Back With Some Breakfast

What I didn’t mention in my last post about Tartlet 2’s birthday is that I survived the day relying on Benadryl.  We were all coughing and hacking for a week and both Tartlet 3 and I ended up with scripts for antibiotics — her for strep and me for a sinus infection. The cough has lingered and lingered and it is only now that my taste is really coming back and I feel like making something other than chicken noodle soup.  The kids were about to mutiny after the fourth time I served chicken soup, so while I’ve been cooking, it’s been nothing worth writing about.

Remember the carrots? I still have some in the fridge. So I pulled out one of my absolute favorite muffin recipes. This is no wanna-be cupcake. This is a hearty, stalwart muffin. This recipe comes on the package of flaxseed meal from Bob’s Red Mill.  It is so full of yummy goodness and crunchy flax and pecans that I’m glad the recipe makes 18 muffins so I can freeze a few for next week, if they last that long!

And if you just happen to have a little extra cream cheese frosting loitering in the kitchen, these muffins are strong enough to carry it.  They won’t be a super sweet dessert, but they make you feel like you are making a better choice with less sugar and oil than a typical carrot cake recipe.  And kids who turn their noses up at healthy muffins, will gladly gobble up a frosted cupcake! 😉

Bran Flax Muffins (from Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/2 c. white flour
3/4 c. flaxseed meal
3/4 c. oat bran
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon

1 1/2 c. carrots, shredded
2 apples, peeled and shredded
1/2 c. raisins (optional, I don’t add them)
1 c. chopped nuts (I use pecans)

3/4 c. milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix together flour, flax, oat bran, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. Stir in carrots, apples, raisins, and nuts.

Combine milk, eggs, and vanilla. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix. Fill muffin cups. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Makes 18 muffins.

Fall in the Country

I’ve been a little too busy to post about all things I’ve been baking and the things we’re doing.  Last week I hosted a Ladies’ Night Out with a Christmas theme as we were preparing for Operation Christmas Child. To get us in the mood, I decorated half of my long table with Christmas things, leaving the other half open for us to work. For our treats, I baked Christmas cookies and set them out in the tins I typically use at Christmas time. I made Russian Teacakes, Almond Balls, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies, Mint Fudge, and a variation on this recipe — I made them with cranberries, lime zest, and vanilla extract rather than the raisins and lemon.

But the Big Deal of the week was a field trip we took with Tartlet 2’s history club. The girls read the Raggedy Ann stories for their group and we visited the Raggedy Ann Museum in Arcola, ate a picnic lunch in a park, and then visited The Great Pumpkin Patchin Arthur. The kids had a great time going through the straw bale maze several times, walking through the flattened corn maze (destroyed by wind), checking out all the animals and pumpkins, and finally picking out a pumpkin of our own.

One of the things I had to do while I was there was stop in the Homestead Bakery and pick up an angel food cake. My cake decorator friend had told me the story of a couple from St. Louis who had selected this angel food cake as their wedding cake and she shared some of the challenges in decorating and transporting such a cake. I was intrigued enough to buy one. What was interesting to me was that there were no ‘plain angel food cakes’ in the store — there were peach, pineapple, pumpkin, chocolate chip, black walnut, and blackberry. I took home a blackberry. It is very good. I’m not sure it would be worth driving 3 hrs for, but it was a good cake!

On the way home, I just had to stop and visit Shady Crest Orchard, for which there is no link because it is an Amish business. I was surprised to find the large metal building at the roadside with a large shopping area, rather than heading down the one lane gravel road to the house and barn that I had visited many times over the years. It’s been two years since I last did any canning and went to Arthur to buy my peaches and pears, so I was amazed at the new market — even with coolers for the apple cider and many treats, fudge being one of their newest. I couldn’t resist trying the Pumpkin Pie Fudge and, with their deal of buy 4 squares get 2 free, I decided to split the box with some Apple Pie Fudge. The apple pie fudge has little bits of dried apples and nice cinnamon flavor. The pumpkin pie fudge is definitely my favorite though. Perfect flavor and the walnuts are nice addition.  The girl was kind enough to include a little knife in the box so we could have a little taste in the car before we drove home. 😉

The kids’ favorite purchase of the day by far was the Cinnamon Swirl Bread from the Homestead Bakery. Tartlet 1 thought it was easily the best bread she has ever eaten. I was fortunate to be able to take a picture of the last two slices before they vaporized. It was very good and the best breakfast of the week.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

I mentioned before that I made muffins for the Ladies’ Retreat I attended.  Because I didn’t want to offer a dull breakfast selection, I made some sweet muffins: Banana Muffins, both plain and with chocolate chips, Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins, and Lemon Blueberry Muffins, as well as some savory muffins: Bacon Cheddar Muffins and Ham and Swiss Muffins. These muffins straddle the fence on sweet and savory.  The cheese makes you think savory while the pear lends a light sweetness, neither is overpowering and they complement each other nicely.

The original recipe called for 1/4 t. pumpkin pie spice but since I didn’t have that, I used a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves, and used more than the amount called for. I made a double batch and used some of the extra batter to make a mini loaf of bread. I hate it when a muffin recipe doesn’t come out evenly at 12 because I don’t want to have to bake a partial tin. The mini-loaves are a perfect way to deal with a little extra batter.

Pear Cheddar Muffins (adapted from The Muffin Cookbook)

2 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. cloves
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese

2 medium pears, pared, cored, cut into large pieces
1 c. milk
2 large eggs
1/4 c. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 F. Prepare muffin tin with paper liners or non-stick spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices; stir in cheese. In a blender or food processor, process pears, milk, eggs and butter until pears are finely chopped. Pour pear mixture into flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Spoon into prepared muffin tin. Bake 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm.

Makes 15 muffins.

What’s Not To Love?

I made some muffins for the Ladies’ Retreat I recently attended and I think the favorite, by far, was this Cheesy Ham and Pepper Muffin. Not only is it good for breakfast, it works fabulously with soups. I had this recipe on my computer and I remember first making it several years ago, but I have since lost the source or I would cite it. I know I didn’t come up with this one on my own because, left to my own devices in the kitchen, I’m always more likely to tinker with getting 5 kinds of chocolate into a dessert than making a savory muffin. Also, the copy saved on my computer left out the *ham* in the muffin (duh!), which I’m sure was a typing error in copying from another source. I’m not sure if I’ve missed anything else, but the muffin is quite good in the present form. The muffin itself has a light, tender texture.

I made more of these muffins today and this time I used 1 cup of whole wheat and 4 cups of white flour in making a double batch. I also ran out of baking powder and used a cream of tarter/baking soda/salt mixture, my bell pepper, although a ‘green pepper’ was mostly orange so the color doesn’t show up as well in these photos, *and* I was out of Swiss cheese and used some of the shredded cheddar I had on hand. So the pictures are not identical to the recipe given or what you may have had if you were at the retreat last weekend. I think they do taste better with the Swiss cheese rather than the cheddar, and they are more tender without whole wheat flour. The ‘ham’ in both cases was turkey ham as the pork ham in the store wasn’t thrilling when I was shopping late at night.

Cheesy Ham and Pepper Muffins

2 ½ c. flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 t. black pepper

1 c. milk
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

3/4 c. shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 c. chopped ham
3 Tbsp. chopped red or green bell pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease or paper-line 12 muffin cups.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and black pepper in large bowl. Whisk together milk, oil, eggs and mustard in small bowl until blended. Stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Fold in cheese, ham and bell pepper. Spoon evenly into prepared muffin cups.

Bake 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack 10 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

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.

Lemon Blueberry Scones

As promised, I’m back to tell you about the other scone I made for Tartlet 2’s Tea Party. I hesitate to call this a scone as it does not have a traditional texture at all. It is soft and tender, almost like a snack cake rather than a scone. This recipe was modified from the same one I used for the lime currant scones but you can see how a small difference in sugar and cream and the use of fresh fruit in place of dried makes a large difference in final texture. That’s why I think it’s important to understand the role each ingredient plays in final product — for example, sugar provides moisture as well as sweetens so if you want to reduce sugar, make sure you add some moisture or your reduced sugar product will be dry and dissatisfying, conversely adding extra sugar changes the texture too, etc.

Tartlet 2 and the younger set much preferred these softer, moister scones to the lime currant scones. The leftovers were disappearing throughout the afternoon and I was not the only one nibbling! 😉

Lemon Blueberry Scones

1 3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
6 Tbsp. cold butter

3/4 c. fresh blueberries, washed and dried

1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
6-7 Tbsp. heavy cream

milk

Heat oven to 400 F.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Toss blueberries in dry mixture to dredge. Whisk together egg and 6 Tbsp. cream and stir into mixture until dough leaves the sides of the bowl, adding more cream if necessary.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead lightly 6-8 times. Divide dough in half and roll out to 1-inch thick circles. Cut into wedges. Place on parchment lined baking sheet leaving space for them to spread; brush tops with milk. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Orange Cranberry Muffins

A few weeks ago our well-loved neighbors sold their house and moved about 30 minutes away. The kids were devastated because every minute they weren’t schooling it seemed they were together. The pain was eased when they were able to visit together twice since then. When the neighbors sold their refrigerator, they brought over some things for our family, among them a bag of cranberries. So I mixed up a large batch of muffins and sent a bunch back to their house, because cranberries in muffins are easier to keep and munch than frozen cranberries and moving is a time that is difficult in the kitchen. All the things you might do rather than eat out are made more difficult by the fact that the pans and tools of the kitchen have already been packed and are they still here or at the new place? I’m glad we haven’t had to move in more than 10 years and we keep postponing our intent to move.

I thought these muffins had a good flavor, not too sweet, and made a good breakfast. The kids didn’t like them as much, probably due to the tangy taste that I enjoyed. I thought the sprinkling of sugar on top was just perfect, but if you prefer your muffins to be a little sweeter, than feel free to add another 1/2 c. sugar to the batter.

Orange Cranberry Muffins

1 1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. grated orange zest

4 c. flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 t. salt

1 c. orange juice
1/2 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. applesauce
1/4 c. oil
2 egg, beaten

2 c. chopped fresh or frozen cranberries

sugar

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray or line with paper cups; set aside.

With your fingers, rub the orange zest into the sugar in a large bowl. Stir sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir the orange juice, yogurt, applesauce, oil and egg. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until moistened; don’t overmix. Fold in chopped cranberries. Spoon into prepared muffin tins. Sprinkle tops with a pinch of sugar.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool in tins for 5 minutes; remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Makes 24 muffins.