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Posts Tagged ‘muffins’

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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Baking for some of us is an expression of creativity, a passion, or a simple pleasure. Personally I wish I had more time to bake, but when I do, I am reminded of the numerous perks of baking besides the obvious. Here are a few:

AppleMuffins-GettingReady2

5. Baking is a license to make a mess. We sometimes need permission to let that super-neat side go, (or that hyper-critical side that’s always complaining that we’re not being neat enough.) There’s nothing like poufs of flour and drooling egg whites on the counter to remind us that messy can often serve the higher power of creativity.

AppleMuffins-BatterInTin2

4. It ends up being a great time to give our prep counters a thorough cleaning, a corollary to #5 above.

3. Baking is also an ideal opportunity to take stock of our pantry and insure that we don’t run out of the staples we need when our next baking impulse strikes.

2. Baking makes the house smell fabulous.

AppleMuffins-1Muffin2

1. The most obvious reason why baking is cool:

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Yum! We get to enjoy something truly delicious that came from our own two hands which is wholesome and free of all the extra and unnecessary additives of store-bought.

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Pictured here are Apple Buttermilk Muffins. I made 6 large muffins rather than 12 small, used pecans instead of walnuts, and I used the Macoun apples I already had in the house. It all added up to a treat worth savoring.

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Life today pulls us in so many directions; sometimes it seems the stress just keeps coming, doesn’t it? And sometimes, we have to stop the world, get off and just do something nice for ourselves.

With a window of time in front of me Sunday, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the myriad of things I should be/could be doing. My list, as I’m sure is the case with your own, was endless. Know what I did? (In case the photos hadn’t given me away.) I baked. For me. That’s right. Not for someone else, not to take to an event, not to bring to someone else’s house … just for me. Something I almost never do.

Muffins-InPan2

Just out of the oven …

I know, shame on me. I picked up a recipe I’d clipped recently from one of the magazines my neighbor and I swap with one another regularly, (like getting free subscriptions for both of us!) Muffins are easy and make me happy during the week, too.

Muffins-Cooling2

Cooling off

The recipe I chose was from Cooking Light called Jammin’ Oat Muffins – made with steel cut, quick-cooking oats, (I only use McCann’s Irish, non-GMO oats), low fat milk and canola oil, both organic – all good choices. How did they come out? I’d say they were better than OK, but not ones I’d bake again. You know … so many recipes, so little time. I only save recipes now if they are fabulous and I would definitely make them again.

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The muffins were a tad heavier than I would have liked. In this photo, I wanted to also show off these gorgeous, kind-of-jacquard autumn placemats I found, too.

But the most important thing was I put a stop to the overwhelming demands in  my head and did something nice for myself. That, in fact, made them taste even better. The moral of the story is … don’t forget to take a little time doing whatever it is that makes you happy and be nice to yourself.

You can find the recipe here.

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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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What a shocking idea. Now this may not be so for some of you reading this, but baking for myself has been a rarely-indulged-in luxury for quite some time. And on the occasions when I do bake, it’s usually to bring to someone else’s house for a gathering. Well, not today. I felt like baking muffins, and bake I did. I went through my recipe stash with something apple in mind, and found it … Apple Buttermilk Muffins.

In broad daylight … the audacity. An accusing voice from somewhere within nagged me to get going on my taxes, complete another drawing, go food shopping, and please! Clean!

I’ve really got to get a better grip on that no-fun, party-pooper. And baking just for me was a step in the right direction. Perhaps I gave in a wee bit when I cleaned the whole top and hood of the stove, but really, we have to start out in a clean spot, right?

I popped in the Breaking Dawn CD – such a great album – gathered ingredients, and happily chopped, measured and whisked. Although many muffin recipes have you making 12 muffins, I always make 6 bigger ones. They came out gorgeous, and then I had the audacity to have more fun – yup, in broad daylight – photographing them. And then eating one. (OK, actually not in that order.) Mmmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

You can make these truly chock-full-of-apple Apple Buttermilk Muffins, too. They’re from the Mr. Breakfast web site which has way more than muffins; it’s got everything you could ever think of in the way of breakfast, which is my favorite meal of the day. Enjoy!

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