Oh, how I’ve missed all of you. We just recently got back from a much needed vacation. It was great seeing family and old friends. We went to Florida and met our new nephew, and I can’t even begin to explain how lucky all of us are to have this precious boy in our lives. I am missing him like crazy!
Look at this face and try to tell me you wouldn’t miss it.
Along with spending time with family we were able to go to Disney World, Legoland, and best of all, a Tampa Bay Rays game. Here are a few pictures of our trip.
Of course you know these famous faces. Mickey was so much fun and gave us lots of kisses.
My kids at Legoland. We had such a great time here. Of course my son loved it most of all. He’s a big Lego fan and has tubs of them in his room. I think he might end up working here one day.
Here is my grandmother and myself getting ready to go into the Rays game. We had the best time here, even with the game going into 14 innings. Thankfully, my Rays won so it was worth staying till Midnight.
How cool is this Mickey?
No trip to Florida would be complete without seeing the beaches. We went to Siesta Key in my hometown, which by the way, was awarded the best beach in the United States.
Now we are back to the normal grind of everyday. So I should probably let you know all about these awesome muffins. If you like snickerdoodle cookies, you are going to LOVE these muffins. They taste exactly like the cookies, they are moist and you won’t be able to stop at one.
- 1 cup Butter, Softened
- 1 cup Sugar
- 2 whole Eggs
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla
- 2-1/4 cups Flour
- 3/4 teaspoons Baking Powder
- 3/4 teaspoons Baking Soda
- 3/4 teaspoons Cream Of Tartar
- 1/2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 cup Sour Cream
- 1/4 cups Buttermilk
For the Topping:
- 2/3 cups Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a muffin tin with 12 liners. (I was able to squeeze out about 14 muffins)
- In a mixer, combine the butter and sugar and cream until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and combine.
- In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and mix to combine. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth batter.
- In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon for the topping.
- Use an ice cream scooper and put a scoop of batter into the bowl with the sugar and cinnamon. Gently roll the batter in the sugar and cinnamon. Place the ball into the muffin liner.
- When you have completed all of the muffins, sprinkle the leftover cinnamon sugar onto the tops of all of the muffins.
- Bake the muffins for about 15-18 minutes or until they are golden on top and just baked through.
Source: Slightly adapted by Heather Christo via Tasty Kitchen
Muffins are an amazing thing, they are usually served during breakfast and most of the time have some sort of fruit inside. But when they turn decadent, like chocolate chip muffins, why do we feel guilty eating them for breakfast? They are muffins, right? At least, this is what I tell myself when I grab one for breakfast and so should you. I can’t even begin to explain how wonderful these are. I shared the muffins with some of my daughters friends and I now get requests to make them again.
When I scooped the batter into the cups, I realized they looked sad and needed a little freshening up. I remembered that I had leftover mini chocolate chips from the chocolate chip cookie dough dip and knew I had to sprinkle them on top. It was a great decision. You can never go wrong when adding in more chocolate!
Chocolate Chip Muffins:
- 7oz semisweet chocolate
- 1/3 cup butter, cut into cubes (makes melting easier)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek)
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup chocolate chips and extra for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Using a double boiler or glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter together over low heat. (You could use the microwave. Place chocolate and butter in microwave safe dish and cook on 50% power for 30 seconds, stir and continue this till the chocolate and butter are melted) Let the chocolate/butter mixture cool (10 to 15 minutes).
- In a medium sized bowl, lightly beat two eggs. Add the milk, yogurt, sugar, and vanilla to the egg bowl.
- Stir in the cooled chocolate/butter mixture until blended well.
- In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Pour in the chocolate mixture, and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.
- Place liners in 12 muffin cups and divide the batter evenly into the cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Slightly adapted by Flax and Twine
I am a pancake girl and I will always pick pancakes over waffles. One thing I can promise you right now, I will only give you pancake recipes that I truly love. The past couple months I have tried making pumpkin pancakes and cake batter pancakes. But they have not lived up to my standards. I am still on the lookout for that perfect pumpkin pancake and I hope to find it by fall.
Since we have been eating a bit healthier, I wanted to get a pancake mix I could use on the weekends and not feel guilty about eating. I’m so happy I was able to find it on the first try. This recipe makes a mix that you can keep in your refrigerator for a long time and use it as you need it. It couldn’t be any simpler. I usually always have buttermilk in my refrigerator, but if you don’t, you can easily make a substitute at home. I’ll include that in the recipe. I hope you enjoy these pancakes as much as we did.
Whole-Grain Pancake Mix:
For the mix:
- 4 cups white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
- 1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I use King Arthur)
- 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned or rolled oats
- 3 tbs sugar
- 3 tbs baking powder
- 1 tbs salt
- 1 tbs baking soda
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- Grind the oats in a food processor until they’re chopped fine, but not a powder.
- Put the flour, oats, and all other dry ingredients into a mixer with a paddle. (A hand mixer could also be used) Mix on slow speed, and drizzle the vegetable oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running.
- Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature, or indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer.
For the pancakes: serves 4
- 2 cups pancake mix
- 2 cups buttermilk*
- 2 large eggs
- Whisk together the pancake mix, buttermilk, and eggs till just combined. (The batter will be thin but will thicken up as it sits.) Let sit for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees and set a baking sheet in the oven.
- Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle pan over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. If using an electric griddle, set temperature to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the pan with some butter.
- Drop 1/4 cup of the batter onto heated pan. Cook pancakes till the edges look dry and bubbles come to the surface without breaking , about 2 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 2 minutes, till done. Transfer the pancakes to the warmed oven and continue the process till the batter is gone. Enjoy!
*Buttermilk Substitute… Stir together 2 cups milk with 2 tbs of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice. Let stand for 5 minutes until thickened.
Source: King Arthur Flour
The holiday’s are fast approaching and most of us will either be visiting family or family will be visiting you. If it’s the latter, you will want a fast and easy breakfast to put together for your crowd.
This baked oatmeal is just the thing. If you aren’t a huge fan of oatmeal, I think you might like this. It does not taste like your typical bowl of flavorless oatmeal. It takes only minutes to put together and the combination of oatmeal, cinnamon, apples and raisin’s makes it taste amazing.
On a side note: I don’t do this sort of thing but in light of the recent events surrounding my beloved Penn State, I feel compelled to post this. I am truly sad and heartbroken about the abuse and cover-up of the sex-abuse allegations. I believe we need to keep remembering the victims in all of this and I am proud to see a movement by Penn State alumni to raise money for abuse victims. I am providing a link to the organization of RAINN which provides help to sexual abuse victims. If you want to donate, please do. If not, that’s ok too. Please keep all victims in your prayers. Thank you.
Baked Apple Cinnamon and Rasin Oatmeal:
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 1.25 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1/8 tsp. ginger
- a couple grates of whole nutmeg or 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 cup Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 cup milk (I used skim)
- 1 large egg
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1/2 cup raisins
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or spray a 2-quart casserole dish with either butter or cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, toss together the oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, milk, egg, the melted butter, and the vanilla.
- Place the diced apples in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle about two-thirds of the raisins over the top of the apples, then cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Drizzle the milk mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the milk as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the remaining raisins over the top of the oats. Bake the oatmeal for 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the oats have set.
- Remove the oatmeal from the oven and serve hot with more maple syrup.
Source: Ella Says Opa via Supernatural Everyday by Heidi Swanson, and Smells Like Home
The past two weeks have been fun and fast. My son and I were spending time in the Chicago area celebrating my beautiful mother’s 60th birthday during the first week. Then last week I spent every moment I could with my kids since it was the last week of their summer vacation. That’s right, today I sit in a silent house while they are at school. I’m actually kind of sad. I’ve had so much fun with them this summer. I’m also a little sentimental because my daughter has started High School. But it’s going to be an exciting year, because she made Varsity Cheerleading. I am so proud of my baby girl! I could keep going on and on about my kids. But you aren’t here for that.
Let’s begin with our regularly scheduled recipes. Today I bring you this wonderful spiced peach and carrot bread. This was in the July issue of Southern Living magazine. My grandmother was in town when it came in and she saw it and asked that it be made. I had to agree with Nana because the recipe sounded wonderful. Plus I knew it would work with splenda. Both my husband and Nana are diabetics, so anything I can bake with splenda, I will. It turned out just as good as I figured it would. It was moist and best served warm with butter. You can reheat it in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up. I did omit the nuts because I’m not a big fan of nuts in baked goods. Spiced Peach and Carrot Bread is a great way to use up what’s left of summer peaches!
Spiced Peach and Carrot Bread:
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans(optional)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped fresh, ripe peaches (about 2-3 medium peaches)
- 3/4 cup freshly grated carrots (about 2 carrots)
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup milk (buttermilk would be really good)
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet 8-10 minutes, or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Cool 15 minutes.
- Whisk together the flour and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add peaches and next 4 ingredients, and toasted pecans, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9×5 inch loaf pan (the batter will be very thick).
- Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Cool the bread in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and invert onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
Source: Southern Living, July Issue
One thing I’ve never tried making from scratch is Cinnamon Rolls. I’ve always enjoyed eating them and have wanted to try making them. I finally had a weekend where my daughter was not having a cheer competition and we had no other plans. It was the perfect time to stay home all day and try making homemade Cinnamon Rolls. I’ve been looking at Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls for a long time now. Recently, she was on The Today Show making them; it was a sign that I must make them.
If you want to eat these the day you make them, you must start the process in the morning. It does take some time but it’s worth it in the end. She does say that there is a point you can refrigerate the dough overnight or even for a few days. Which would be great if you want rolls fresh in the morning. I have yet to try this method but I do plan to try it out.
The recipe makes a ton of rolls, this is one half of the dough that is ready to be rolled up. I really loved this part of the recipe. It’s so much fun getting your hands dirty.
The one mistake I made (and I knew better) was packing them in to tightly before they had a chance to rise again. Thankfully it didn’t ruin them but next time I’ll be a little more cautious.
You end up with the best cinnamon rolls ever! As much as you want them all to yourself, you must give some away. I had my daughter take a pan to her youth group and we gave another pan to my husband’s grandmother. Your waistline will thank you for sharing.
Pioneer Woman’s Cinnamon Rolls:
- 1 quart whole milk
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons total) active dry yeast
- 9 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 heaping tsp baking powder
- 1 scant tsp baking soda
- 1 heaping tbs salt
- 2 cups melted butter, plus more as needed
- 1/4 cup ground cinnamon for sprinkling
- 2 cups sugar, plus more as needed
- 2 pounds powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup whole milk, more if needed for thinning
- 6 tbs (3/4 stick) butter, melted
- 1/4 cup strongly brewed coffee
- Dash of salt
- 2 tsp maple flavoring or maple extract
- Making the Dough: Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for an hour.
- After rising for an hour, add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together; I found mixing it by hand was much easier than with a spoon. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it – overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to overflow out of the pan, just punch it down)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- When ready to prepare rolls: Sprinkle rolling surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough, spread the butter around with your hands. Now sprinkle 1 cup of sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon.
- Starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.
- Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately ¾ to 1 inch thick and laying them in the buttered pans.
- Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, Bake until light golden brown, about 15 to 18 minutes.
- Make the Maple Frosting: Mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls.
Source: Pioneer Woman
This recipe comes from Ina Garten’s new cookbook “How Easy is That?”. My family loves breakfast and I love French Toast casseroles. It’s a nice break to not have to stand at the oven dipping the bread in the egg mixture, putting them in the pan, flipping and repeating. So when I saw this recipe in the book and on the Barefoot Bloggers website, I knew it was something I had to make.
I loved how it turned out. My kids on the other hand did not. They didn’t like the custardy (is that a word?) texture. But the adults really enjoyed it. The only thing that I felt it needed was a bit more bread. My 1 loaf of challah didn’t seem to be enough. Next time I might get 2 loaves and cram every part of the casserole dish with bread. The addition of the orange zest was really nice and I will be adding that to my regular French Toast recipe.
French Toast Bread Pudding:
- 1 challah loaf, sliced 3/4 inch thick
- 8 extra-large eggs (I used large with no issues)
- 5 cups half-and-half or milk
- 3 tbs honey
- 1 tbs grated orange zest
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- Confectioners’ sugar and pure maple syrup, for serving
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Arrange the bread in two layers in a 9 x 13 x 2 inch baking dish, cutting the bread to fit the dish. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, honey, orange zest, vanilla, and salt. Pour the mixture over the bread and press the bread down. Allow to soak for 10 minutes.
- Place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan and add enough very hot tap water to the roasting pan to come an inch up the side of the baking dish. Cover the roasting pan tightly with aluminum foil, tenting it so the foil doesn’t touch the pudding. Make two slashes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes, remove the aluminum foil, and bake for another 45 minutes, until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from oven and cool slightly.
- With a small sieve, dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar and serve hot in squares with maple syrup on the side.
Source: How Easy is That? by Ina Garten