Saturday Morning Muffins

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think real life should start before noon. Mornings are for hard-core souls who do crazy things like sign up for Polar Bear Swims and chest waxing.

Children. Children under the age of 11 still like mornings. No concept of sleeping in. Their eyes open, they stretch, jump out of bed (or roll over because I can’t ever have my bed to myself), and chirp, “I’m hungry! Can I watch TV?” at which point their knobby little knees finally dislodge from my spine.

Here’s what I made for breakfast this morning before my eyes were functioning and I’d only had two cups of tea:

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Saturday Morning Muffins
(aka: leave mommy alone until she has a nap and more coffee muffins)

2 eggs
2 of the world’s gnarliest & most frighteningly ripe bananas
1/4c whole milk
2c oats
1tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
1TBSP coconut oil
2TBSP wheat germ
1TBSP chia seeds
1TBSP baking powder
3/4c flour
a whole bunch of honey (I didn’t measure. I was sleepy.)
1/2 bag of white chocolate chips (to bribe the children into submission

1) preheat oven to 350F

2) spray a muffin tin with non-stick stuff (I used a 6 large-muffin tin)

3) throw all the ingredients in the mixing bowl (remember to peel the bananas and crack the eggs. …hey, I’m not judging you.) and mix on a low setting until you remember that the mixer is going and maybe you were cooking something.

4) scoop the batter into your tin, remembering that this stuff will puff up about and inch. I used all the batter in one batch, but you go on with your bad self and make more than one batch. You. Wild. Thang.

5) bake for 20-25 minutes or until you’re pretty sure you won’t give your family salmonella poisoning from under-done eggs.

6) watch half an episode of Oscar’s Oasis while you wait for the muffins to cool in the pan.

7) listen to the sounds of happy munching while the kids nosh and you finally get to drink coffee in peace.

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World’s Greatest Sugar Cookies, Coconut Edition

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My great-grandfather was a hoot. He could tell a story and a joke only about half-way through, because after that he was cracking himself up and had a hard time continuing. He was a small, slight man…bent with age, farm work, construction labor, and loading of the great guns of the USS Idaho during World War II. Ever present were his cane, a cigarette, and his smile. My daughter is named after him.

This is the recipe Grandpa’s daughter, my grandmother, passed along to me. These cookies were Grandpa’s favorites…however, I’ve tweaked the recipe because it’s February and I’m sick of winter. The temperature won’t behave as though Old Man Winter is going on holiday, however, so in the baking, I added coconut flavoring. Coconut makes everything better, even February.

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Grandma’s Sugar Cookies

(makes approx. 24 small-ish cookies are about 16 palm-sized cookies. I usually double this recipe.)

1) Sift together and then set aside:

2 1/2c flour , 1/2tsp baking soda, 1tsp salt

2) In the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the following on med/high:

1 egg, 2Tbsp vinegar, 1tsp vanilla extract, 1/2c softened butter, 1/2c butter-flavored baking shortening, and 1c sugar.
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3) With your mixer set on LOW, gradually add the flour mixture to the egg/butter mixture. Combine until the flour is just incorporated. Don’t over mix.

4) Refrigerate the cookie dough for at least two hours. This will allow the vinegar to work its magic. You can either refrigerate as-is and make drop cookies, or you can roll it up in wax paper and slice the dough when you’re ready to make them. (when you’re ready, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 350F for about 8 minutes a batch.)

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The ReMix:

I substituted the vanilla mentioned above for 1tsp coconut extract; also, this is the vinegar I used:

Coconut Balsamic from Green Gate Olive OIls
Coconut Balsamic from Green Gate Olive OIls

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Green Gate Olive Oils

Barefoot in the Sun

Sometimes when I’m very, very lucky, the sun comes out in January and heats my neighborhood into the 70’s.

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When that happens, this happens:

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…and because of the shoes being off during my run, this happens:

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…and then my neighbors look at me like this:

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And that’s okay. Because if they knew what I was drinking after my run, they’d probably keep their noses permanently out of joint. 🙂

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Summer in January Post-Run Drinky Poo

Water, ice, 1/2 tsp coconut extract, herbal tea,

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And chia seeds

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some crazy fools probably just drink their chia seeds with plain water or craptasticly chemically-laden sports drinks, but if the sun is out in January, my friend…I require some oomph and bribery to make my brain last until May. 🙂

Do your own research re: chia seeds, and when you discover how fabulous they are and you decide you want to have some in a drink, try the above mixture. Shake it all up, sip it all up, and imagine how good you’ll look and feel after all that barefoot running you did when the weather was drunk in January.

Healthier, Richer Brownies

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Runner’s World published some ideas for healthier foods this month, one of which was to replace half the called-for butter in your favorite brownie recipe with puréed black beans.

“Gross”, I thought.

“Give it a try!”, said I.

So I did. And it’s pretty good! 🙂

Here’s the recipe, adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchons recipe.

Beanie Bouchons

1c + 2Tbsp sugar
3/4c flour (wheat or other wise works well)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs, room temp

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3/4c cooked, drained black beans
1tsp salt
2tsp vanilla extract
1c high quality cocoa powder

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2Tbsp apple sauce
1tsp Butter olive oil from Green Gate Olive Oils

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2c chocolate chips

1) heat oven to 350F. Prepare a muffin tin however you’d like. (spray, cups, whatever)
2) In a food processor with a small bowl, process the beans, applesauce, butter, and olive oil until completely smooth.

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make really really really really doubley sure that your bean/butter/applesauce/olive oil mixture is super super super super super smooth. this will take a hot minute in your food processor but you’ll be really extra for sure glad you took the time to do this.

3) using the bowl of a large mixer, mix together (med/high speed) the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla.
4) in a separate bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
5) using the paddle attachment of your mixer, mix in 1/3 of the flour/cocoa mixture to the egg/sugar mixture. Then add 1/3 of the bean/butter mixture. Alternate adding the mixtures until complete.

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6) fold in chocolate chips
7) fill baking molds about 3/4 full and bake 15-20 minutes or until set. Let cool completely in the molds.

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These brownies are very dense and I strongly encourage you to use a high-quality, dark cocoa powder. These things are for when you are seriously craving some dark chocolate; they go great with hot coffee and an episode of Sherlock.

PS: each of the kids had one of these brownies and they loved them. After they finished their treat, I told them the brownies were chocka-bok full of beans. The kids looked at me with a mixture of distrust and horror. The youngest called me a liar. They’ve all asked for second helpings, so score one for the Mom-inator!

Summer in January

My husband was deployed last summer and if it weren’t for my kids, my brother, and my friends, life would’ve been super stinky on my end. My friends and I hugged, prayed, and cried through I.E.D., mortar, and firefight reports. Because we were all FRG leaders at the time, we could commiserate about volunteers, spastic spouses, and the glacial pace of the postal system down range. We clung to one another (and Levi’s spinach-artichoke dip!) for support and to feel a little less insane.

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There were many summer evenings, though, when life seemed sweet. After a Skype call or promotion or letter, the stars seemed a little brighter and we didn’t feel quite so guilty about enjoying their beauty.

What follows is a very popular recipe for a summer time beverage. I saved some of the Goodness in ice cube trays wrapped in plastic wrap, of course, so it wouldn’t sublime away. Our husbands are home now, our marriages whole, our children happy… It seems like a good day to bust out the bubbly and remember the best of times, the worst of times, and the joy that goes with love’s successful return.

 

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(also, I need the ice cube trays for juiced beets. Yum?…)

Cheers!

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Summer Wine Spritzer

raspberries, strawberries, and diced mangos are all tasty alternatives!
raspberries, strawberries, and diced mangos are all tasty alternatives!

1 large bottle of Moscato wine (chilled)
1 ltr Sprite or 7up (chilled )
2-3c seasonal frozen or fresh fruit

Mix it all up, serve it over ice, and smile at your good fortune.

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Redemption through Scones

Shortly after 1am, I finished baking a batch of cranberry-orange scones. This baking endeavor was much more successful than The Great Quiche Debacle at 2am, night before last. It probably went so well because the recipe/process is easy, even in the middle of the night:

Ina Garten’s Cranberry Orange Scones
from her book “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics”

1) heat oven to 400F.

2) combine 3 sticks of cold, cubed butter with 4c flour, 2Tbsp baking powder, 1tsp salt. Mix on medium speed until butter crumbles to the size of peas.

3) after you’ve mixed all that thoroughly, add 4 cold and beaten eggs, 1c cold heavy cream and 2Tbsp orange zest.

4) fold in 1-2c dried cranberries which have been tossed in 1/2c flour.

5) place dough on a well floured surface and knead it for about a minute. Roll it out to about an inch thick, cut rounds or squares or whatever, and bake each batch for maybe 10-12 minutes.

6) after they’ve all cooled, brush on a glaze of 1/2c orange juice mixed with 2 Tbsp powdered sugar. Enjoy with coffee. Or whiskey, if you’ve had a rough day…

The really sad part of this is that it’s an Ina Garten recipe. What this means is that I am not qualified to execute a Thomas Keller recipe during the 3rd Watch, but a Barefoot Contessa recipe is etched in my brain. I’d really hoped better for myself. I mean…Ina has a lovely barn and all, but Mr. Keller has The French Laundry! Ah, well…

Thank you, Ina, for at least allowing your recipe for scones to push away the scent of tortured quiche Lorraine. My kitchen (and probably the household), is grateful.

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Random (not really, if you think about it) thought: I will be seriously surprised at tomorrow’s weigh-in if I’ve gained less than 4 pounds. My activity level is down (only 1 run and one resistance/stretching session) and I’ve had rum, cake, rum cake, chocolate, biscuits, and sausage. …perhaps I should be grateful the quiche was sacked…

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(thanks for the pic, Dacia!)

Candy Cane Pancakes

I love it when The Husband gets in the kitchen. He comes up with the most amazing, fun recipes; this one is another of his creations. It’s Christmas on a plate…it’s childhood with sugar…it’s Christmas Break on a fork. I recommend a tall glass of milk and “A Christmas Story” be paired with this meal. Go forth and be happy…this recipe can help with that.

Follow the recipe for your favorite pancakes, either from a mix or scratch, as the base for this little project. To that base, add the following:

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

3 peppermint candy canes, smashed with a mortar and pestle

Combine all the ingredients well (making sure the candy cane crumbs don’t bunch up…you can toss them with some powdered sugar to help prevent clumping), and prepare the pancakes per your recipe’s instructions.

Top with powdered sugar, or make a candy topping with melted white chocolate.

powdered sugar. YUM

The awesome things about this recipe:

The pancakes are warm from cooking, but they taste cool because of the peppermint. Also, depending on how finely you smoosh the candy canes, you’ll get little bits of candy stuck in your teeth. Candy for breakfast…

Christmas rocks.