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Posts Tagged ‘made from scratch’

If your life is anything like mine, it’s hard to find time to do some of the special things we love. Among them for me, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, is baking. Today I had changed my plans and decided to make some muffins. From scratch, of course. Chocolate chip muffins.

I searched through my collected recipes, but did not find one for chocolate chip muffins. Everything but. So I turned to my good friend Betty Crocker. No matter how many cookbooks I have or how often I’ll search out a recipe online, I will never be without a Betty Crocker or Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. Why? Because it always has so much basic cooking and baking information as well as a variety of recipes both easy and complicated to make. Forgot how long to poach an egg? How many tablespoons of butter are in 1/3 cup? How many cups of chopped nuts you’ll get from a 1 lb. bag? And although these things can always be found online, the internet can be a big time suck and have me looking at all kinds of things I don’t need to be looking at. Just give me the facts, Betty, and I’m good.

I looked up Betty’s basic muffins, and they seemed a little too basic to me. Soooo … I went online to a place where I’ve had great muffin success in the past – Mr. Breakfast. And right there on the home page was #1 of their Top 20 Favorite Recipes – chocolate chip muffins. OK, I’m in!  I read glowing reviews and then compared them to Betty’s version; Mr. B’s are sweeter and more fattening to be sure – butter instead of traditional oil, and a bit more sugar. I’m still in.

The bottom line here is that baking these muffins made me happy. It’s time well-spent – a small gift I can give to myself. It’s something we don’t do for ourselves nearly often enough, sometimes even when we do have the time. Between all the things that really must  be taken care of and all the ways we can lose our time to distractions (and here, I repeat, the internet), what about the things that fulfill us? Whether that be writing, art, music, gardening, baking, crafting, restoring furniture, reading a good book … what about spending a little extra quality time with loved ones/pets … whatever it is, why not give it to ourselves?

Speaking for myself, it doesn’t really take much to make me happy, a trait that I am enormously grateful for. My guess is there’s probably a whole lot of little things that make you happy, too. Be kind to yourself; allow yourself to be happy, and enjoy those little things.

p.s. The muffins? Maybe a bit more chocolate chips than I need. I had already cut down from 12 to 9 oz. Ghirardelli’s Dark Chocolate Mini Chips (what I had on hand), but 6 oz. would certainly be enough. Other than that? Mouthwateringly delicious and worth every second making them. Yum!

 

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CinnamonSugarMuffinBatter2It’s a sad comment on how often I (don’t) bake that when I go into the kitchen and start getting out bowls and baking pans the cats show up to be fed. I mean … why else would I be coming into the kitchen at this odd hour, right? Sad, indeed.

However, much to their surprise, it was to bake something … muffins, in fact. I had pulled a page out of Parade Magazine’s monthly dash insert, (which is all about food), because it had a basic muffin recipe and a bunch of variations. Yes, it’s true – I am suckered in even by pictures of food. Figured I’d try them. By the way, the recipes featured in dash all come from bon appetit, Gourmet and epicurious.

What I liked about them was the low amount of sugar in the batch – only 1/4 cup – and they recommended canola oil, of which I have organic onhand. Made-from-scratch muffins really are incredibly easy to make and these were no exception. I decided to go simple and top them with a mix of cinnamon and the neat sanding sugar I’ve been waiting to use. You can see it best in the batter photo.

CinnamonSugarMuffins2

How did they come out? Beautiful, of course, but oddly enough, they could have done with a wee  bit more sweetness. Want to try them? Find the recipe here with a link to the variations.

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No, that’s not a bundt cake, though she sure is sweet.
That’s Livy, a rescued Belgian draft horse.

Each year Mylestone Equine Rescue holds its annual Open House. As Mylestone is a private farm, this event is their big annual fundraiser and the chance for visitors to come and meet all the rescue horses, learn more about the rescue, participate in a silent auction and … buy goodies from their bake sale tent. As one of 20+ volunteers, I spend the day educating visitors, discussing the need for horse rescue, introducing the horses and their histories to people, and functioning as photographer for the day. I also bake.

Unfortunately, last Sunday, the official date, had to be postponed due to rain and cold weather, and is being held today, October 14th. And unfortunately, I had previous plans and am not able to be there. However, as always, I baked something for their bake sale.

I’ve made this chocolate chip bundt cake once before and chose it again because it is so unbelievably moist and delicious.  It’s all butter with plenty of dark brown sugar and buttermilk. What makes it extra tasty is a blend of chopped pecans, butter and sugar which are mixed together and spread in the bundt pan before the batter is spooned in. It adds a just-right, sweet crunch that complements the dark chocolate mini-morsels.

Of course, I had to taste a very small sliver before packaging individual slices just to make sure it was safe for human consumption!

All packaged up,  ready to go and be enjoyed by Open House visitors. In a world where baking from mixes seems to have become fairly common, that little sign saying the cake is all-butter and made from scratch always turns out to be a great selling point!

You can find this chocolate chip bundt cake recipe at myrecipes.com.

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