Banana Blueberry Muffins

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Nothing screams breakfast like a fluffy muffin with a hot cup of coffee. Make your coworkers jealous when they see you bite into this pure deliciousness. The way to win someone’s heart is through muffins…at least at the office.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 ripe bananas

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons butter, melted

3.5 oz. can blueberries, rinsed and drained*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together. Combine bananas, egg, and vanilla in a blender, puree until smooth. Pour banana mixture into mixing bowl with dry ingredients, stir to combine. Add melted butter, stir again. Gently stir in blueberries. Coat each cavity of a standard muffin pan with cooking spray. Evenly distribute batter between each cavity in pan (will fill up about 3/4 full in each one). Sprinkle tops with about 1/4 teaspoon of sugar on each one. Bake for about 23 minutes, until golden brown. Remove pan from oven, let muffins cool slightly and transfer to cooling rack.

*You can use 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries instead of can if you feel like gettin’ fancy. I personally prefer the little blueberries, but some people like the big ole fat ones. Personal preference takes the cake.

**These can be frozen! After muffins have cooled completely, individually wrap each one with plastic wrap, place in freezer bag and store in freezer. Grab one on your way out the door to work to enjoy a homemade muffin with your coffee. You deserve it.

 

Baked Pumpkin Donuts

Over the weekend, we were stuck inside the house due to inclement weather.  I’ve been hearing the buzz of other people talking about pumpkin donuts from different donut shops…but since driving wasn’t the greatest idea, I decided to make some at home.  Biting into that fluffy, flavorful donut and sipping some hot coffee, it did add some brightness to our cabin fever filled days.

pumpkin donuts

For The Donuts

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pureed pumpkin

2 eggs

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a medium size mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda, whisk together.  Add pumpkin, eggs, milk and butter.  Using an electric mixer, beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes, just until well combined.  Grease and flour a donut pan.  Spoon batter into a large pastry bag, cut about 1 inch off the tip of the pastry bag.  Pipe batter into donut pan, then place in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes (or until donut springs back lightly when touched).    Remove from oven and turn donuts out of pan onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Dip each donut in glaze, return to parchment paper to cool.

For The Glaze

3 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons water

In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir well.

Chocolate Chip Scones

It’s amazing how much peoples’ lives change after having kids.  For example, our movie selections.  Do you remember watching movies with adult humor without giving it a second thought?  Those days are gone…for now.  As a reward for good behavior, my daughter received the movie “High School Musical.”  She is hooked on movies with singing and dancing, and she even has her first celebrity crush on Zac Efron.  Who could blame her?

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During a scene in the movie, one of the guys on the basketball team confesses to have a passion for baking, which included scones.  It hit me.  “I’ve never made scones, let alone even tasted one before.”  My husband looked at me like I had crabs crawling out of my ears.  It was time to fix this problem.

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After making these, I became hooked.  Once the flood gates are opened, I might as well grab a life boat because the ideas start flowing like the Amazon River.  Yes, a river of fluffy, buttery scones drenched with chocolate ganache and vanilla glaze.  I can hardly wait to throw myself into that river of sweet goodness.

Chocolate Chip Scones

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up and very cold

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg

Chocolate Glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1-2 tablespoons milk (you determine desired consistency of glaze to drizzle on top)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowlwhisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry tool; then use your fingers to continue to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then toss in chocolate chips.  In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.  Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)  Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick.  Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper) or baking stone, about 1 inch apart. Bake until light golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.  In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar, cocoa, vanilla and milk.  Drizzle over scones.  Store scones in airtight container at room temperature.

**If they have already cooled, pop one in the microwave for 15 seconds to add a little warmth…makes a big difference!**

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Streusel Muffins

Ahhh, the Fall season is officially here.  And honestly, this isn’t the first pumpkin recipe that I’ve made in the past few weeks.  It seems like so many people get pumped up when the season gets here to make pumpkin flavored desserts (me included), so I’ve already made some Pumpkin Bars and Pumpkin Cookies.  Both batches disappeared quickly.

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I made these over the weekend when my parents were in town visiting, so they got the pleasure of trying these little guys out.  My brother and his family also came over after they were made, and I watched happily as his wife and kids gobbled them down.  But, I still chuckle at my husband.  He is always skeptical of a new recipe, so I brought him one muffin to start out with to see how he liked them.  Two minutes later, “Can I have another one?” and then a few minutes after that, “Man, I really want a third one.”  So then take one!  It didn’t take much convincing.  In all honesty though, I think the muffins themselves without the cream cheese center would still be delicious, but the cream cheese center just adds a little something extra.  So, if you have picky eaters in your house that might not be a fan of that creamy center, you can always leave it out without sacrificing the taste of these delicious little muffins.

For the Muffins: (makes 2 dozen)

3 cups all purpose flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients in one medium sized mixing bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, oil and milk.  Stir wet mixture in with dry ingredients just until moistened.  Do not overmix.  Spoon half of batter into lined muffin pans.  Dollop about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture in center of batter, and top evenly with remaining batter.  Sprinkle with reserved streusel mixture.  Bake for 20-23 minutes, remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

For the Filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup sugar

Combine ingredients in small mixing bowl and beat at medium speed with electric mixture until combined.

For the Streusel Topping:

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

4 tablespoons cold butter, cut up into small cubes

Combine ingredients in a small bowl, cut in butter with a fork, pastry blender or your fingers until large crumbs form.

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Holes

I haven’t met a single person in my life that doesn’t like doughnuts.  I’m not saying there aren’t people out there who don’t, I just haven’t met any of them.  After a visit with my in-laws and looking through my mother-in-law’s buffet of magazines that she gets (I always browse through People and Southern Living), I came across this recipe for doughnut holes.  Looking at the picture and reading the recipe clearly showed that this was pretty simple, and looked delicious.  I showed the picture to my husband, and he agreed that I should make these.  Of course he did.

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We have a small deep fryer at the house (that doesn’t get used often), but I prefer to use this when the oil needs to be a certain temperature for frying.  If the temperature isn’t right, it can throw off your recipe.  If the oil isn’t hot enough, the dough will absorb the oil and get super greasy all the way through…and if it’s too hot, the outside gets cooked before the inside does, leaving you with a crispy outside and a gooey inside.  And hey, if you want to go that route, go right ahead…just make sure you use some pasteurized eggs.  😉

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After these little guys are done cooking, let them dry completely on paper towels (if you’re not serving them right away) before rolling in powdered sugar.  These actually sat in an airtight container for a couple days at my house, with my family munching away at them.  While they’re sitting in an airtight container, the moisture will turn the powdered sugar somewhat into a glaze after time.  So if this happens to you, don’t panic!  My brother said, “Oh, they have a little bit of slimy feeling to them.”  When I explained what had happened with them, he said, “I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, because I can’t stop eating them.”  Well, there you go.

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Holes Recipe:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

powdered sugar

Pour oil to depth of 1 1/2 inches into a 12 inch iron cast skillet, heat to 350 degrees.  Whisk together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl.  Make a well in center of mixture, stir in egg and next 2 ingredients until well blended (batter will be dry).  Drop batter by level tablespoonfuls, 6 to 8 at a time, into hot oil.  Fry in batches, turning occasionally, 2 minutes on each side or until browned.  Drain on paper towel-lined plate, serve warm.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

For those of you in the Southeast, you’re probably familiar with the lack of snow that we get around here.  The last time we had significant snow here was three years ago, and it’s something we don’t even get on a yearly basis.  So, naturally, when we know it’s coming, the grocery stores get insanely packed with people loading up on milk and bread.  Literally, there was no milk or bread left almost anywhere, it was nuts.  Luckily, we already had milk and all the ingredients I needed for these muffins, so I made them the day before the snow hit just in case we had lost power and I wouldn’t be able to cook anything.

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I’m very grateful that we didn’t lose power, but we sure did eat the heck out of these muffins anyway.  They were especially delicious right out of the oven, but they’re still good for a few days after…just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds to heat them back up if you like them warm.  Along with these though, we made s’mores by roasting marshmallows in the fireplace, then packing them together with our graham crackers and chocolate.  And let me tell you, roasting marshmallows over an open fire is a lot easier, especially when all you have to roast them with is short little wooden skewers.  We’ll definitely be getting some better equipment for roasting marshmallows, because I almost forgot how delicious those things are.  😉

For the Muffins:

3 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

11 tablespoons butter, melted

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups finely chopped tart apples (I used Granny Smith)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, then add wet ingredients and stir together until mixture is moistened.  Stir in apples.  Spray two muffin pans with cooking spray, distribute batter evenly between pans.  Bake for 19-23 minutes, or until tops are a light golden brown.  Cool slightly and add topping.

For the Topping:

1 stick butter, melted

1 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

Mix sugar and cinnamon together.  After muffins come out of oven, dip each one in melted butter, then in cinnamon sugar mixture.

Eggs Benedict

For our first cooking class in culinary school, it was Stocks, Sauces, and Soups.  I’ve heard about Hollandaise, how it’s very easy to mess it up…and quickly.  Not beating the eggs enough, overcooking the yolks so they end up scrambling, not using the right temperature, etc.  So, to be honest, that first class we made Hollandaise, I was intimidated and a bit nervous.  With our instructor standing by our sides through the process, I made it through that first time, and it turned out perfect!  I would associate that with luck, but knowing our chef instructor was standing right there, taking me through the steps was what did it.  Part of our final exam for the class was to make Hollandaise, and after a second try in class, I felt semi-comfortable whipping up a batch of this stuff for the final.  It turned out a little thick, so I whisked in warm water, a little bit at a time, and BAM!  Perfect consistency.  🙂

Once my friends and family found out about the Hollandaise experiments in my class, they started talking about Eggs Benedict.  I’ve heard of it before, but never had it…and this was my perfect opportunity to start experimenting on my family, using them as guinea pigs.  While we were in class though, our instructor talked about how sometimes in restaurants when they’re making big batches of Hollandaise, they’ll make it in the blender.  This floored me, so I asked how it was done….and tried it out.  Just remember to keep the lid on the blender.  I ended up with bits of Hollandaise in my hair.  It’s the new style.

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I ordered the egg poachers online, since I’ve never tried it before.  These little guys were rated pretty high, and they worked SO well with poaching eggs.  I highly recommend them.  Just don’t leave them in the water after they’re done cooking, because they will continue to cook.  I learned this the hard way when my cousin cut into a hard boiled egg with a solid center.  Oops!  Although she ate the entire thing anyway and raved about the sauce and how well it was put together, I wanted to poach another egg to make sure it was done better.  This time, it had a slightly runny center…so it was closer to where it needed to be, but not perfect.  Practice makes perfect.  Oh, and my cousin tested out the second one…and finished it.  Her son helped her eat it, and even a 6 year old kid approves.  😉

*Safety Tip:  If there will be small children or elderly people eating the Hollandaise, use pasteurized eggs.  (Pasteurize is to expose (a food, as milk, cheese, yogurt, beer, or wine) to an elevated temperature for a period of time sufficient to destroy certain microorganisms, as those that can produce disease or cause spoilage or undesirable fermentation of food, without radically altering taste or quality).  Since I took the Food Sanitation course, I’m a lot more careful about germs and ways to prevent food poisoning in any way possible.

For the English Muffins:

4 English muffins

Split muffins into two pieces each, making 8 halves.  Lightly toast muffins in toaster or toaster oven.

For the Canadian Bacon:

8 slices Canadian Bacon

1 tablespoon butter

Melt butter in skillet on medium heat, sautee Canadian Bacon until lightly browned and crisp.

For the Poached Eggs:

8 eggs

Fill a saucepan with about 1 1/2 inches water, bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer.  Lightly spray poaching pod with cooking spray, crack open egg and put in pod.  Place in pot of water and cover.  Cook for 4-5 minutes, remove from water (they will overcook if you leave them in the water).  Using a fork, remove egg from pod and place on top of Canadian Bacon on the muffin.  Top with Hollandaise, serve warm.

*You may want to practice this one or two times to get the right consistency that you want.

For the Hollandaise:

8 egg yolks (pasteurized)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 lb. (4 sticks) unsalted butter

salt, white pepper, and cayenne to taste

Melt butter in small saucepan on low heat until completely melted.  Once butter has melted, scrape the top thick layer off, using a spoon.  This process is called making clarified butter (this makes a better consistency of the Hollandaise).  Make sure the butter stays warm, 125-130 degrees.  Place yolks and lemon juice in blender.  With the lid on (don’t do what I did and end up with it in your hair), turn the blender on.  After it’s running for about 10 seconds, SLOWLY start drizzling the melted clarified butter in the blender.  Once all of the butter is added, stop blender to check consistency.  If it’s somewhat thick (yet still pourable), add your seasonings and stir together.  Drizzle over top of poached egg, Canadian Bacon and muffin.