Mini Monkey Bread Muffins

We love having Butterscotch Rolls for Christmas and the 4th of July, but occasionally I’ve been known to forget to start the rise the night before.  My bad.  So, I was ever so glad to see these mini muffins.  My excellent sous chef has been staying here for a few days, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to experiment.

These individual monkey bread servings are perfect hot out of the oven, or 24 hours later. Caramelized bite size pieces of breakfast heaven. Enjoy!  We’re heading to the coast for a few days, Covid virus permitting, and I think this would be a fun treat to take along.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 8 count cans of buttermilk biscuits
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 box butterscotch pudding, not instant

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. pre-heat your oven to 350 F
  2. cut each biscuit into six pieces
  3. Put 2 Cups sugar and 2 Tablespoons cinnamon in a bag and mix, add the biscuit quarters and shake them until all the quarters are fully coated
  4. Place 6 or so biscuit pieces in each muffin cup
  5. Sprinkle with some butterscotch pudding
  6. Melt 2 sticks butter,  and 1/2 Cup brown sugar over low-medium heat, until fully melted and the sugar has dissolved resulting in a gorgeous golden brown, dark caramel color (stir frequently)
  7. Pour the butter mixture over the muffin cups until each is about 3/4 filled
  8. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 25 minutes
  9. Remove from the oven and immediately turn over onto a platter so that all the ooey gooey caramelized butter sugary goodness tips out and covers the monkey bread bites in their caramelized goodness.
  10. If you have some cute little ramekins or serving dishes, place a monkey bread cup into each one and use a spoon to drizzle more caramelized sauce over each cup.
  11. I found several recipes like this on line so I’m not really able to give credit to anyone in particular.

 * From the Recipe Box:

I didn’t tip these out of the muffin pan immediately; I wanted the caramel sauce to firm up a bit so it would stick to the muffins a little better.

We always vote after eating something new and this was voted a winner.

Is there anything better than a tradition?

and remember:    Do something today that your future self will thank you for.  Big kiss, Lynn

Grahamookies

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The sous chef and I made some really fun little treats and we’re calling them Grahamookies.  I’d ordered chocolate graham crackers for another project and this recipe was on the side of the box.

Lay graham crackers on a piece of parchment on a rimmed half sheet cookie pan.  We were making chocolate so that’s the cracker we used.  Next we melted 2 cups of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of cream in the microwave.  We started out at 30 seconds and then gave it a good stir and did it for an additional 30 seconds, continuing until the ganache was smooth and glossy.

Let the ganache cool a smidgy bit and then spread it on each cracker.  Work in sections so the chocolate doesn’t harden too quickly.  The sous chef took all his aggression out on a cup of pretzels in a zip lock bag to sprinkle on top.  Next we sprinkled on Jimmys, but you can use any kind of sprinkles you like.  Finally we added a few baking sized M&M’s left over from Christmas.

The crackers needed to spend about 30 minutes in the refrigerator to firm up.

The sous chef and I had a good time decorating the grahamookies.  We came up with all sorts of ideas.  On regular graham crackers, you could melt peanut butter chips or butterscotch chips.  The same toppings would be excellent on them.   Or we would probably chop up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on one or Butterfingers.  Anything would work.  Jimmys and sprinkles really have no flavor, so you can have fun without flavor conflict.  Give this a try the next time you have little helpers around.

* From the Recipe Box:

There are so many variations to this recipe.  You can make something with the chocolate graham crackers or with the honey graham crackers.  The kids love to help decorating.

We upped the recipe a bit.  Why wouldn’t we?  The recipe on the box was 8 chocolate grahams, 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and 8 miniature pretzel twists, crushed.  That’s merely a taste.

and remember what Pee Wee Herman said:  I know you are, but what am I?    Big kiss, Lynn

 

Chubby Hubby Clusters

Time for something fun.  These are named after the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream flavor from a few years ago.  I found the recipe on line.  I like having a few things the little ones can help with and potentially make a huge mess.  I love adding sprinkles whenever I can.  The small baking M&M’s are another great addition to anything you want kids to help you with.  They will need to help.  The chips made a fairly stiff dough.

I don’t care about the mess.  In the future, I want the kids to remember the fun times.  There are going to be no statues in my honor.  All I want is someone turning to a cousin or sibling and saying, “remember the time?”  That’s better than any monument.

Wait until you see the other ones we made.  Total cuteness!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 cup butter (cut into pieces)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup salted peanuts

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, mix together chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, butter, and peanut butter. Microwave on high for 45 seconds, stir, and microwave again for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth (if it isn’t completely melted, return to the microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring after each time).
  2. Add pretzels and peanuts to the melted chocolate mixture and stir until they are completely coated in chocolate.
  3. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto wax paper and refrigerate for about 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. Optional: drizzle with melted peanut butter.
  5. If you don’t eat them all in one sitting, store leftovers in an airtight container.

 * From the Recipe Box:

While these weren’t going to win the cookie of the year, they were great fun to make with kids.  There will be sprinkles everywhere due to the enthusiasm of your helpers.

I didn’t have pretzel sticks, I had knots.  That didn’t stop the sous chef from breaking them up into the right sized pieces.

I also didn’t have peanut butter chips so we used butterscotch chips.  Who knew.

and remember:  Friendship isn’t about who you’ve known the longest, it’s about who walked in to your life, said ‘I’m here for you’ and PROVED it.  Big kiss, Lynn

Panna Cotta

We had quite a treat the other night.  A restaurant we especially love here on the Island has pick up dinners two nights a week.  The Snohomish kids ordered dinner for us and G went and picked it up.  We had wonderful halibut, clams and mussels; an onion tart; and something I had never had before:  panna cotta.  There was no plate licking, but that was only because we showed amazing restrain.

I’m going to attempt Panna Cotta.  How hard can it be?  Wow, I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that in the past.  I’ve been researching recipes and I’m ready to give it a go.  Since I can’t go to the grocery store right now, I had to wait and order gelatin from Amazon.  Thank God for Amazon.  I’ve not really used gelatin before either.

  • 1/4 cup cold water or milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 g/0.25 oz.) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeded, or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Place water or the milk in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over the surface in a single layer. Be sure not to pile it as that will prevent the crystals from dissolving properly. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to soften.  Why yes, it does look like a bowl of brains.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat cream, sugar, vanilla pod, and vanilla seeds on medium heat and bring just to a boil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and discard vanilla bean. Stir in gelatin and immediately whisk until smooth and dissolved. If the gelatin hasn’t fully dissolved, return the saucepan to the stove and heat gently over low heat. Stir constantly and don’t let the mixture boil.
  3. Pour cream into 4 individual serving dishes. Refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours, or until completely set.

 * From the Recipe Box:

This is very similar to custard, but much silkier.  We loved it.  The top picture looks like brains to me, but it’s the gelatin softening in the milk.

I went with this recipe because I did not have any half and half.  Remember, no extra store trips.  I may try the other one at a future date.

and remember this Chinese Proverb:  If you don’t want anyone to find out, don’t do it.    Big kiss, Lynn

Lemon Tart 2.0

Yes, I know.  You’ve had it up to the gills with lemon tarts.  I don’t care; it was my birthday and that’s what I wanted for my birthday cake.  My able bodied sous chef was here on the Island with me so we decided to get fancy with Grandma O’s meringue recipe.  There was even a bit of a styling competition between my sous chef and the big G.

Normally, the meringue would be much taller, but I wanted to put a thin layer on each.  We made the meringue and scooped it onto each tart.  I think it ended up being about 1/2 inch deep.  Meringue isn’t my drug of choice, so I was quite happy with that amount.

My sous chef made the swirls and twirls.  I like the way the points get extra dark.  G got all fancy and and made the long swirls.  You choose; I think they both look good.  Don’t let anyone tell you meringue is tricky; it couldn’t be easier.  I read now where you have to have special equipment and super greaseless bowls.  Grandma O made hers with a hand beater.  You can do it!

For a 9 inch pie:

3 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

6 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Beat the egg whites with the cream of tarter until frothy.  Gradually beat in the sugar a little at a time.  Continue beating until stiff and glossy.  Pile the meringue onto the pie filling, being careful to seal the meringue onto the edge of the crust to prevent shrinking.  If the filling is exposed to the heat, (not entirely covered) it may “weep”.  Swirl or pull up points to decorate the top.  Bake until delicately browned, usually 8 to 10 minutes works.  Cool gradually in a slightly warm place, away from drafts.  A chill may make the meringue fall.

*  From the Recipe Box:

I like a graham cracker crust.  Use any recipe you like best, or refer to the one I included a while back.

and remember what MLK Jr said:  History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the “good” people.  Big kiss, Lynn

Peanut Butter Pie

This entry is brought to you by the dashingly debonair G.  We were watching a cooking show the other night and he saw a peanut butter pie.  Was it this pie?  Hell, no.  G cannot leave well enough alone; he must change it to be his own creation.  There was no recipe provided, but that has never stopped G.

So, the pie we saw was made with a graham cracker crust, crunchy peanut butter and cream cheese.  G wanted his to have a chocolate graham cracker crust  and creamy peanut butter, because that’s what we have.

This is a really good example of trying something new.  G didn’t have the pie baking skills necessary to make a pie, but he did have the desire to have a piece of peanut butter pie.  Sometimes that’s all it takes.  Don’t let fear stop you from trying something new.

Graham cracker crust

1 sleeve graham crackers, regular or chocolate, crushed

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar

Combine all, press firmly in pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Cool before adding filling.

Peanut butter filling

1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy (G used creamy peanut butter and added 1/2 cup chopped peanuts)

1 cup cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup whip cream, whipped

1 teaspoon vanilla

Using a hand mixer, whip peanut butter and cream cheese.  Set aside.  Whip cream and slowly incorporate it into peanut butter mixture.  Add vanilla.  Once it’s the desired consistency, pour into your prepared pie shell.

G drizzled chocolate syrup over the slices when serving.  Next time he said he’ll put a plop of whip cream on as well.  He says for the visual appeal, but we all know he’s lying.  He loves whip cream!

*  From the Recipe Box:

Be careful with the chopped peanuts.  G used salted peanuts and he had to scramble a bit to lessen the salt flavor in the pie.

The pie is really rich, but everyone but me loved it.  It was a bit much for me.

and remember:  I’ve decided to be happy because it’s good for my health.  Big kiss, Lynn

Bark, Bark, Bark

Over the years, G and I have turned into chocolate bark fans.  Today I want to focus on 3 different barks.  And you thought this was going to be about dogs.  Ha-ha.  I think both G and I like the white chocolate, pistachio and cranberry bark the best.  We made this the first time years ago to give as Christmas gifts.  We liked it so much, we kept thinking of other options to try.  We really liked the way it looked.  There’s something classy and sophisticated about bark.

I found these great discs on Amazon.  They melt really well and the chocolate has a decent flavor.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m not a huge chocolate fan and some chocolates really ….. offend me.  That isn’t the right word, but I don’t want to eat a KitKat due to the chocolate and yet it’s one of G’s favorite chocolate bars.  There’s a flavor profile that just offends the old tongue.  So, maybe it is the right word.

Bark # 1 White Chocolate, Pistachio and Craisin Bark

Melt 12 ounces white chocolate discs in the microwave for approximately 1 minute

Keep going in 15 second intervals if it needs more time.

Place parchment on cookie sheet.  Pour white chocolate on parchment.  Sprinkle pistachios and craisins over melted chocolate and cool in refrigerator.  Break into pieces when firm.

Bark # 2 Reese’s Pieces Milk Chocolate Bark

Melt 12 ounces milk chocolate discs in the microwave for approximately 1 minute

Keep going in 15 second intervals if it needs more time.

Place parchment on cookie sheet.  Pour milk chocolate on parchment.  Sprinkle Reese’s Pieces and cut up Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups over melted chocolate and cool in refrigerator.  Break into pieces when firm.

Bark # 3 Dark Chocolate, Pecan and Montmorency Cherries

Melt 12 ounces dark chocolate discs in the microwave for approximately 1 minute

Keep going in 15 second intervals if it needs more time.

Place parchment on cookie sheet.  Pour dark chocolate on parchment.  Place whole pecan halves and chopped Montmorency cherries over melted chocolate and cool in refrigerator.  Break into pieces when firm.

*  From the Recipe Box:

We love bark; it is the perfect Christmas gift basket addition.

These discs melt so easily, a quick stir will usually get all the lumps out.

Try your favorite flavor and let me know.  I’m always looking for new ideas.

We stirred the nuts and fruit into the white chocolate bark, and I will do that with the others next time.  I don’t like the bark chocolate spread too thin.

and remember:  You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy candy and that’s almost the same thing.  Big kiss, Lynn

Strawberry Cake

Strawberries are a little like apricots for me.  When I was a kid and living in Portland, apricots were just about my favorite fruit.  They were rich in flavor and so juicy.  My mom and grandma canned them every summer.  And then, I don’t know what happened, but they lost their flavor.  I don’t even bother to buy apricots anymore.  I still buy strawberries, but only because G loves them.
When I saw this strawberry cake, I thought eureka, I can combine the best of both worlds, strawberries one time and apricots the next.  So, let’s discuss the recipe.  It’s a very moist cake.  The sour cream is a great addition to the cake.  I baked it for an hour, but I don’t think that was nearly enough.  There were quite a few recipes on You Tube.  This one was by The CooknShare.  He has almost a million followers, so I assumed he’s doing something right and picked his cake to try.  He didn’t suggest a pan size.  I used a 9 inch springform, but next time I will use a 10 inch; that will help it cook a little quicker.
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 12 oz of strawberries
  • powdered sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Heat your oven to 350 F
  2. Beat the eggs and sugar in bowl until they turn a pale color.
  3. Add the sour cream and oil and beat until well combined.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix over low speed until a smooth batter forms.
  5. Grease and line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  6. Pour half the batter in and top with diced strawberries.
  7. Add the remaining half of the batter and cover with the remaining diced strawberries.
  8. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool completely.
  10. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve.

* From the Recipe Box:

It’s hard to tell when this cake is done.  It’s a nice light color and it springs back even when still very raw in the center.

I’d frozen my berries.  I wouldn’t do it again if fresh was an option.  I didn’t like the way they bled on top of the cake.  I always want perfect.

and remember:  Charles Bukowski said it best:  The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence.  Big kiss, Lynn

Peanut Butter Cookies

It’s happened again.  I think I may be the last person on the planet to discover the 3 ingredient cookie recipes.  I really enjoy a peanut butter cookie.  I love the cross hatching using a fork.  They end up looking timeless, exactly like my mom made them.

My D-I-L said she made these everyday she was in lock down and now I understand why.  I simply cannot believe there are only 3 ingredients.  Gluten-free girl was up today for the first time in 3 months and we were able to share them with her.  She was totally shocked as well.

I think I’m pretty smart on the whole, but I cannot think of these brilliant ideas.  Why oh why didn’t I get the clever gene instead of being so incredibly cute?  I’ve since seen several more 3 ingredient cookies and I will be giving them a try soon, but first I have to get out of the sweet habit if you know what I mean.  At least I’m not going to the grocery store and picking up goodies to go along with these treats.

1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

Combine all the ingredients with your hand mixer until creamy.

Roll into teaspoon sized balls.  Roll in sugar.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.    Press each dough roll down with a fork.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.  Let cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

 * From the Recipe Box:

I’m old school.  G’s mom taught me to cool cookies on dish towels and brown paper sacks.  Now I usually put a dish towel down and put parchment paper on top.  If you don’t have parchment, wax paper will do nicely.

G did not like the cookie balls rolled in sugar.  He thought they tasted too sugary and grainy.

and remember:  I know everything happens for a reason, but WTF!  Big kiss, Lynn

Tapioca Pudding

I’m a pudding girl.  Oh-oh, we’re back to white food as well.  Both Grandma O and my mom were big pudding makers and tapioca was an all time favorite.  They would make 2 kinds of Tapioca:  minute and bubble.  The best part about the minute is squishing it through your teeth.  You can’t do that with the bubble, but it’s fun to try,

The recipe they used was originally in Betty Crocker’s cookbook.  There’s a recipe on the side of the Minute Tapioca box, but we just never used it.  I’m sure it’s wonderful, but I can’t mess with tradition.  This was not a company dessert; this was just for the family.  In retrospect, I realize mom would whip these desserts up in mere moments and they were my favorites.  It’s what farmer’s wives and daughters did; they fed people, no questions asked.

This pudding is light and fluffy.  It says it serves 6, but that is such a lie.  I eat 2 servings just checking to see if it’s cool enough to eat.  What’s wrong with these people?  You will so enjoy this.  Sometimes we don’t need fancy.  We need comforting, especially now.  I just like a bowl of it.  G loves his with whipped cream; but then what doesn’t he like whipped cream on?  I didn’t get that whipped cream gene.  Give this a try and let me know what you think.

2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils.  Remove from heat.  Cool.  Stir In:

1 teaspoon vanilla

Fold in a meringue made with :

2 egg whites

4 tablespoons sugar

Spoon into serving glasses.  Serve with whipped cream.  If desired, fold in fresh or drained canned fruit;  or pour over fruit in serving glass.

 * From the Recipe Box:

Tapioca is the thickening agent mom and Grandma used in Cherry Pie as well.

I made both Grandma’s and the tapioca box recipes today so we could have a side-by-side comparison.  The clear winner was Grandma’s.  G didn’t think he was a tapioca fan, but he was totally impressed.

The fluffy pudding on the left is Grandma’s.

I don’t use fruit in my tapioca.  I want to taste the purity of the pudding.  And, I’ve got to keep it white.  May 17th is Norwegian Constitution Day and I must be ready.

and remember:  This too shall pass.  It might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.  Big kiss, Lynn