Strawberry Muffins

Why yes, it is strawberry season in the great Pacific NW.  We are lucky enough to grow the most beautiful strawberries.  When I was a kid you could be hired to pick them.  Your mom or dad would drop you off up at Safeway and the buses would pick you up and take you out near Monroe to pick berries.  The pay was horrible, but the camaraderie was excellent.

The biggest difference in the strawberries now versus then is the size.  I really don’t like the huge berries.  I know they look cool and they ship ever so well, but they’ve gotten woody.

This is a new recipe for me.  I find strawberries bland even though they can be quite acidic.  If I had to give you a quick fix for these muffins, up the salt to 1 teaspoon and don’t forget the lemon juice.  Yes, I was disappointed.

2/3 cup chopped strawberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

2/3 cup milk

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Make the muffins: Toss the strawberries in a small bowl with 2 tablespoon granulated sugar; set aside. Whisk the flour, remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Add the eggs to the well and gently whisk. Stir in the milk, melted butter and lemon juice until just combined with small bits of flour remaining. Stir in the strawberry mixture.
  3. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them most of the way.  I keep about a teaspoon or 2 of diced strawberries to put on top.  Bake until the muffins are lightly browned  and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let the muffins cool 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.  Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired.

* From the Recipe Box:

Next time I’m making cheddar and jalapeno muffins.  I need more oomph in my muffins.

and remember:  Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.  Big kiss, Lynn

Crunchy French Toast

I tried a new recipe today.  I wish I was the kind of cook that could come up with my own recipes from scratch, but no, I’m not that girl.  What I can do is see something and then finagle it a bit until it’s my own.  I know this is going to come as a shock to you, but I’ve been watching a fair amount of television.  We don’t usually watch a lot of TV, but these are interesting times.  What I watch will probably surprise you:  Diners, Drive-ins and Dives; Alton Brown; The Great British Baking Show; all the David Chang shows on Netflix.  David and Alton are my new heroes since I lost Anthony Bourdain.

I seem to have lost my rule about not getting distracted.  Sorry about that.  To get back to the French toast.  Diners, etc., went to 3 different restaurants over the last few weeks where they made variations of French toast stuffed with peanut butter and jam.  That was a sign I was to try making it.  They crushed 3 different cereals:  frosted flakes, Captain Crunch and something I missed.

Since I’m still on lock down, I couldn’t run out and get just anything.  I think if I had any option, I would have gone with the frosted flakes, but corn flakes it was.  They also used a nice firm bread, but I was lacking that as well.  I used a fairly firm wheat bread.  I also would prefer crunchy peanut butter, but I’m the only fan in this house.

4 slices of bread

creamy peanut butter

your favorite jam

3 to 4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 to 2 tablespoons of sugar

1 to 2 cups corn flakes or frosted flakes

Mix the eggs, sugar and milk.

Make a p,b, and j and sandwich it together.  Dip it in the milk mixture.  Cook it on a low medium.

 * From the Recipe Box:

I will make these again, but I will use frosted flakes or maybe Corn Pops.  I lusted for those when I was a kid.   I don’t know if I will fill them with peanut butter and jam.  I might use cream cheese and jam.  My mom used to love sharp Tillamook cheese with jam on toast.  That’s sounding really interesting.  Or how about an Elvis:  bananas and peanut butter.  The possibilities are endless.

They were heavy and very substantial.  Interesting concept though.

and remember what my Sci-Fi hero Neil Gaiman said:  Fairy takes are more than true:  not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us the dragons can be beaten.  Big kiss, Lynn

Raspberry Muffins

I do love a good muffin.  C the MP was up yesterday with a “Care” package that included raspberries, blueberries and rhubarb.  He knows how much I love my fruit.  After eating almost all of the raspberries plain, I thought it would be nice if I shared a few with G via a muffin.  I’m so good about sharing.

I remember this recipe from when I was a kid.  My mom’s mom and my dad’s mom lived together in this big old house in Portland.  I had many a grand adventure going to stay with them.  They would make wonderful delicacies for “us girls”.  I had cantaloupe filled with ice cream, ribbon candy, baked cheese and more.  Things that have forever stayed in my memory.

The bread basket was my favorite.  There would be Flat Bread, different muffins, Rye bread (still my favorite), lefse, krumkake.  The woman knew how to bake.  She had a tiny little kitchen and still managed to bake everyday and everybody stopped by to share in the bounty.

1 1/2 cups flour (2 cups)

1/2 sup sugar (1/4 cup)

2 teaspoons baking powder (3 teaspoons)

1/4 cup shortening

1 egg

1/2 cup milk (1 cup)

Mix together the dry ingredients with a blending fork or a pastry blender.  Then stir in the wet ingredients  just until the ingredients are blended.  At the last, blend in 1 cup raspberries.  Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.   Bake until golden brown.

This is Grandma’s sweet version.  In the parentheses are the changes she would make for “plain”.  A plain muffin would have Wheaties or whole wheat in it.  I always loved the pop of color the raspberries provided.  She rarely added a streusel topping.  Occasionally there would be a sprinkle of sugar, but she was a firm believer in the beauty of the raspberry.  I may have gotten my love of raspberries from her.

* From the Recipe Box:
Grandma also had this wooden handled pastry cutter that I was lucky enough to grab.  I don’t care how bent and disfigured it gets.  Closing it in the drawer simply adds to the cutting ability.
and remember:  If you boil a funny bone, does it become a laughing stock?  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Gluten-free Banana Muffins

       

What is the world coming to?  I, the queen of gluten, am now making gluten-free muffins for Gluten-free Girl.  We (meaning G and I) are not big banana eaters, so I was left with a major supply of very ripe bananas for some stupid reason.  Why did I buy so many?  Can’t honestly say.  But, I started looking for ways to use up said bananas when I came across Baked Banana Oatmeal Muffins.  And, since I’ve been on a bit of a muffin kick just to show up those stupid scones, I decided this was the recipe to try.

I’m a firm believer in trolling the internet.  I find the best stuff.  This one jumped out at me, but when I went back to get the proper credit, I could not find the recipe again.  I’m such a maroon.  So, to whomever put this recipe online, I thank you and acknowledge that you are the g-f muffin queen or king.

3 cups rolled oats

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup mashed bananas (2 – 3 very ripe bananas depending on their size)

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.  In a large bowl combine oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  In a separate bow, mix together mashed bananas, eggs and milk until well combined.  Pour milk mixture over oat mixture and stir will to combine.

Evenly divide the oat mixture between all 12 muffing cups and then top each one with a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until set and cooked through.  They will store nicely in the refrigerator for up to a week.

*  From the Recipe Box:

The original recipe called for 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, but you all know by now how I feel about nutmeg.  I do use mace now and again.  It’s really growing on me.

As these were baking, the aroma was absolutely intoxicating.  I could hardly wait to take them from the oven.  They aren’t sweet by any stretch of the imagination, but both G and I enjoyed them.

and remember:  A tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of the sheep.  Big kiss, Lynn

Rhubarb Muffins

I love rhubarb.  I’ve also discovered Norwegians in general love rhubarb. It’s one of the first signs of spring in Moorhead, Minnesota.  People in Norway greet it with cheers and festivals.  There’s something about the sweet and tart aspect of rhubarb that totally appeals to everyone in Scandinavia.

So, why do we love rhubarb so much?  Because we’re smart, we have great taste, it’s good for you, it’s very versatile, it’s a hardy plant that comes back year after year.  My mom always canned rhubarb sauce each spring.  You never see it anymore, but that would be dessert.  It was fabulous.

The first book I ever bought written by Martha Stewart was Entertaining.  It was a glorious book with a fabulous idea on every page.  One of the recipes was for rhubarb bread.  I’ve loved that recipe since I first made it a zillion years ago.  These muffins are a riff on that recipe.  I’ll hunt up the bread recipe soon and share that with you as well.  You’ll love it.

4 tablespoons room temperature butter

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup buttermilk

2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 to 8 ounces rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch chunks, approximately 1 1/2 cups

1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  With an electric mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until smooth.  Beat in egg; add buttermilk and beat to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to butter mixture; beat until smooth.  Fold in rhubarb.

Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tin, dividing evenly among 12 paper lined cups.  Sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Now, I freeze containers of rhubarb.  If you put 2 cup ziplocks filled with rhubarb in the freezer, you always have rhubarb when you feel the need for a hint of spring.

and remember:  I dream of a better world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.  Big kiss, Lynn

Pshaw on Scones

I give up.  I’m done with scones.  I’ve tried several more recipes and the hockey puck industry has filed a cease and desist order on me.  They say I’m interfering with their ability to have a monopoly on hockey pucks.  I truly don’t get it.  I follow the instructions, I use the perfect ingredients, I don’t over knead.  Frustrating!  This is the second thing I’ve given up on.  Remember the baked donuts.  Oy!

So, I’ve chosen to move on.  I’m still looking at scone recipes, but I change the ingredients into muffins.  I’m usually not a quitter, but the whole scone thing has defeated me.  The next scone I was going to try was dried cherry.  This makes a great muffin.  Since the muffin batter is mildly sweet, adding the tart dried cherries is the perfect counter balance.  I didn’t have a full cup of dried cherries so I added some craisins as well.  We’re big craisins fans and like them in sweet and savory items.  Dried blueberries would have worked as well, but there weren’t any.  We are big nibblers.  C’est la vie!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

topping:

14 cup flour

2 tablespoons sugar

14 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter

muffins:

2 cups flour

12 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

12 teaspoon baking soda

12 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

13 cup vegetable oil

12   cup milk

1 cup dried tart cherries

12 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

For the topping: Combine flour, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl; mix well.  Set aside.

For the muffin:  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.  In another bowl, combine eggs, sour cream, oil and milk; mix well. Add egg mixture, cherries and pecans to flour mixture; stir only until combined. Portion batter evenly into 12 paper-lined or lightly greased muffin cups (2 3/4 inches in diameter). Sprinkle reserved crumb topping evenly over batter.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree F. oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm.

*  From the Recipe Box:

That incredible fruit distribution is from mixing the cherries and pecans into the dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients.

and remember:  If you knew success was a certainty, what would you do?  Big kiss, Lynn

(I know I wouldn’t waste it on donuts or scones!)

Gougeres

G and I have spa days and drink the waters.  Basically, we’re having drinks and nibbles at an Island establishment every month or so.  We like making things special and we’ll go hither and yon to find new experiences.  We’ve been together a long time and you need to keep having new adventures or things go stale.  We were lucky enough to enjoy the gougeres at Prima Bistro recently.  I’m now a fan, so I needed a recipe.

If you want to get technical, we’re talking cream puffs with Gruyere cheese.  They’re light and very satisfying.  If you love cream puffs, you will love these even more.  The flavor of the Gruyere raises these to a whole new level.  Now picture your Martini in one hand and a gougeres in the other.  Life is good.

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, cut into tablespoons
  • Large pinch of coarse salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (1 cup), plus more for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Freshly grated nutmeg (I’m not a nutmeg fan, so you will have to decide)

*  From the Recipe Box:

I like Alain Ducasse’s recipe.  Picture a 5 star recipe with almost 5K reviews.

If you’re good with a piping bag, give it a try.  I’m not so hot, no hand strength.

I’d rather make approximately 18 per batch but still bake the same amount of time.  I like them a tad smaller and a bit firmer.  It’s all about holding the Martini.

and remember one of the best lines from the Princess Bride:  Who said life is fair; where is that written?   Big kiss, Lynn

Norwegian Seed Crackers

I think I may have OCD.  Once I get on topic, I can’t seem to shake it.  Currently, I’m totally committed to crackers.  I love, love, love crackers.  I always have and I always will.  Part of it is my deep love of soup and you have to have crackers if you have soup.

I’m also looking for things to cook with Gluten-free Girl.  She’s coming up this weekend and is always up for a new cooking experience.  Please don’t judge them until you taste them.  They are pretty good.  You simply can’t make everyone happy.

dry ingredients

  • 3 1/2 ounces pumpkin seeds (approximately 5/8 cup if you don’t have a scale)
  • 3 1/2 ounces sunflower seeds (5/8 cup)
  • 5 ounces sesame seeds (1 1/8 cups)  I used 50/50 black and regular sesame seeds.  This did affect the color of my crackers.  Next time, only a sprinkling of the black.
  • 5 ounces flax seed (1 1/8 cups)
  • 1 1/2 ounces chia seed (1/3 cup)
  • 1 ounce or 6 tablespoons psyllium husk powder
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder

wet ingredients

  • 3 cups water
  •  a smidgen less than 1/2 cup oil (I use grape seed oil, without flavor)

Directions

Mix all the dry stuff and stir it together.

Mix the wet stuff and stir it all together.

Let it rest for half an hour until it becomes a solid dough.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.

Put the dough onto a piece of baking paper. Add another piece of baking paper on top.

Flatten the dough with a baking roll or the like.

Put the dough on a baking pan while still inside the baking two papers.

Remove the top piece of baking paper.

Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes 350 degrees.  If the dough is not completely baked after 30 minutes, turn it over and remove the baking paper to make it easier for the steam to escape. The paper might stick a bit.

Take it out of the oven, remove the baking paper and allow it to cool. I use a cooling rack. If the paper sticks and is hard to remove, the crispbread is not fully baked.

Break it gently into bits the sizes you prefer.

*  From the Recipe Box:

Until you have tried the recipe a few times in your own oven, it’s a good idea to check the dough when it has gotten 20 minutes. It is so thin that it easily burns in the corners. For example, in my oven, I have to both turn the baking trays and switch the top and bottom trays after 20 minutes and then every 10 minutes.

Check out more Nordic Nut Breads at Kvalifood.com

and remember:  Pain makes you stronger; tears make you braver; a broken heart makes you wiser; and alcohol makes you not remember any of that crap.  Thank you alcohol.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

Cranberry Orange Muffins

This recipe really takes me back.  Once upon a time, there were small 25 to 30 page cookbooks at every grocery check out.  I’m fairly sure Mom and Julie bought every one.  The cookbooks  would focus on a specific subject like all the Pillsbury Bake-off winners for that year.  This recipe came from one of those.  When I originally made it, the recipe called for a bundt pan.  The trouble with that is leftovers.  We don’t get the company we used to.  I find it much easier to freeze a muffin than 3/4 of a bundt pan.

This is from one of mom’s books.  She wrote ‘fantastic’ next to the recipe.  I have to agree with her.  The orange is subtle.  The cranberry is sharp.  The apple adds mellowness.  It’s refreshing and not at all heavy as muffins can be.  I wish I’d kept more of the books.  Like the mid-west church books, these come from a simpler past and have a wealth of good ideas in them.

Ingredients

  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 large apple, peeled and chopped

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Whisk the egg, milk, orange juice, oil and orange zest; stir into dry ingredients just until blended. Fold in the cranberries and apple.
  • Pour into two greased 8 x 4-in. loaf pans. Bake at 350° for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I did not peel my apple.  As if!!!!

I wanted a streusel top, so I mixed up 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour and 3 tablespoons butter until crumbly and sprinkled it over the top.  I wish I’d added pecans as well.

I baked my dough in muffin pans.  Optimally, this would have made 14 or 15 muffins, but I only have one muffin pan.  Bummer.  Next time I’ll make 6 muffins and one loaf.

I didn’t use to be a messy cook, but this is my total prep space.  I do have a great view though.

And yes, that is one half of a Death Star bowl.  I’m cool, I own both halves.  Eat your heart out.

and remember:  I am only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.  Big kiss, Lynn

 

 

Grandma Olson’s Bread Pudding

I do love bread pudding.  I know I’m constantly telling you how much I love sweets, but ultimately I’m not sure it’s true.  I love “sweetish”.  Not Swedish, but marginally sweet.  This is not a sweet dessert.  It’s more of a custard and you know how we Norwegians love custard.  I think my mom’s favorite pie was custard.  I’m not going that far, but I do love a good custard.

This is Grandma Olson’s bread pudding.  As you can see, it is totally unfancy.  With basically 6 ingredients, you can make this with ingredients on-hand.  I doubt if Grandma specifically called for an Italian boule, but it’s the closest thing I could find to the bread she would use.

The other thing you’ll notice is the lack of a sauce.  Grandma never made a sauce for the bread pudding when she served it.  So often you will see vanilla or rum sauce to serve alongside the pudding, but Grandma always served it with whip cream and a sprinkling of sugar.  Not whipped cream, but straight out of the milk jug cream.  She might froth is up with a fork, but truly this is a simple dessert.

3 cups cubed Italian boule, allowed to stale overnight in a bowl

2 cups granulated sugar

5 beaten eggs

2 cups whole milk or half and half

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins soaked in bourbon for 10 minutes or so

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 x 8 inch pan.

Combine the sugar, eggs, vanilla and half and half in a bowl.  Pour over the cubed bread and let it sit for 10 minutes, so the bread can absorb the liquid.  Add the raisins.

Pour into the greased 8 x 8 inch pan.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set.

There’s not much to this recipe.  I’ve even fancied it up a bit from the way Grandma did it.  I do not remember her soaking the raisins.  I’d eat it right after it comes out of the oven.  You’ll like it; I promise.

*  from the Recipe Box:

A boule is basically a round, fairly dense loaf of white bread.  It is much thicker than a French loaf or baguette.

You’re on your own if you want a sauce, but they are all over the Internet.

and remember:  Tell the truth or someone will tell it for you.  Big kiss, Lynn