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Banana Muffins and the Win-Win Fruit

6 Jul

OK, it has been several months. But I’m happy to report that I’m still alive and cooking…well, trying to, anyway, in this awful heat. 100-degree weather does not make me want to turn on the stove or oven. That’s how you know that the recipe I’m sharing with you today is good. It was worth the heat!

Today I baked my new favorite muffins. Starring what I consider the “win-win fruit”: bananas. You see, I am very picky about eating bananas. If they’ve got a slightly green peel and are served cold, YUM! Love them! But as soon as they turn yellow (or worse, yellow with brown spots), forget it. Something about bananas (perhaps the texture) beyond the slightly green stage makes me go, “bleh.”But would I let the fruit go to waste just because it passed the small window of time when I’ll eat them for a snack? Heck no! Then it’s time for banana bread, or better yet, banana muffins! You can’t go wrong 🙂

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And as a side note: I really think my husband decided to buy 6 bananas at the store this week instead of the usual 3 (which I can usually eat before they turn yellow) precisely because he knew it would motivate me to bake the rest. Yup, I’m onto him 😉

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These muffins are my favorite because they have all the lovely flavors you’d expect in banana bread with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, but in every bite you get a bigger proportion of the slightly crispy, sweet top (which comes from the cinnamon-sugar coating I add just before baking). Everyone knows the top is the best part of any muffin or quick bread 🙂 These muffins are also super moist and really easy to make. As long as you have bananas, you likely have everything you need on hand for spur-of-the-moment baking. Those are the most dangerous recipes, aren’t they? 🙂 Enjoy!

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Banana Muffins

(adapted from recipe by Giada De Laurentiis)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ripe bananas, peeled and coarsely mashed
  • Extra cinnamon & sugar for topping, if desired

Preparation:

  • Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with liners. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl to blend. Beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the banana. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
  • Fill the cupcake liners with batter until each is almost full to the brim.
  • If desired, mix a little cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl and sprinkle each muffin with about a teaspoon of the topping.
  • Bake the muffins on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with no crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a rack and cool slightly.

Makes about 24 cupcake-sized muffins.

Paula Deen Controversy, and her Cinnamon Rolls

29 Jan

Paula Deen has certainly been getting a lot of negatively publicity lately for the whole diabetes fiasco. Anthony Bourdain went so far as to call her, “the worst, most dangerous person to America…[who] revels in her unholy connections with evil corporation…[and is] proud of the fact that her food is f—ing bad for you.” Whew, harsh! Anthony Bourdain apparently has no reservations about calling people out 😛

In my humble opinion, Paula seems like a sweet lady, but it is a little shady to have diabetes for three years and to continue to cook the same unhealthy food on her show until she begins endorsing a new diabetes drug. What were her PR people thinking? As Mario Batali pointed out on Real Time with Bill Maher, it probably would have been better if she at least tried to demonstrate a healthy lifestyle before going public about her disease. But, she does not plan to change the kinds of food she cooks on her show, because she has always been one for “eating in moderation.” I do have my doubts about that.

On the other hand, consumers certainly have a responsibility to evaluate the ingredients in the food they cook and make healthy choices for themselves. We can’t simply cook or buy everything that looks good on TV…that is definitely a recipe for bad health. So there is plenty of blame to share. I just hope that cooking shows featuring healthy options become more of a rule than an exception. Can’t hurt, right?

But I digress. Whatever your thoughts about Paula Deen and the diabetes epidemic, you have to give her this: She does make wonderful desserts. My husband and I hadn’t had any sweet treats  in quite a long time and I really felt like baking the other day. My conversation with my husband went as follows:

Me: Should I make a dessert?
Him: Ehh, I don’t know. What would you make?
Me: Cinnamon rolls
Him: YES!

Lol, needless to say, he loves cinnamon rolls. And as usual, Paula Deen did not disappoint, despite all the controversy. I did cut down on the butter a bit, though.

What’s your opinion on Paula Deen?

Cinnamon Rolls

(adapted from recipe by Paula Deen)

Ingredients:

For the dough-

  • 1/4-ounce package yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup scalded milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour

For the filling-

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for pan
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the glaze-

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons hot water

Preparation:

  • Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and set aside. In a large bowl mix milk, sugar, melted butter, salt and egg. Add 2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add yeast mixture. Mix in remaining flour until dough is easy to handle. Knead dough on lightly floured surface for 5 to 10 minutes. Place in well-greased bowl, cover,  place on top of warm oven, and let rise until doubled in size, usually 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • When doubled in size, punch down dough. Roll out on a floured surface into a 15 by 9-inch rectangle. Brush melted butter all over dough. Mix sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough. Beginning at the 15-inch side, role up dough and pinch edge together to seal. Cut into 12 to 15 slices.
  • Coat the bottom of baking pan with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Place cinnamon roll slices close together in the pan and let rise on top of the oven until dough is doubled, about 45 minutes. Bake for about 30 minutes or until nicely browned.
  • Meanwhile, mix butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until the glaze reaches desired consistency. Spread over slightly cooled rolls.

Top of the Muffin to You: Pumpkin Spice Muffin Tops

10 Apr

Everyone knows that the top of the muffin is the best part. There was even a Seinfeld  episode about it:

Elaine so eloquently stated that the muffin top is the best part because “it’s crunchy, it’s explosive, it’s where the muffin breaks free from the pan and sort of does its own thing.” So true, so true.

Her love for muffin tops inspired a colleague to start a bakery selling these treats, called “Top of the Muffin to You.” But there was only one problem: there was nothing to do with the stumps! The dump wouldn’t take them, and the shelter they tried donating them to received complaints from the homeless, enraged as they asked, “Where are the tops of these muffins??”

Now there’s a solution: baking just the muffin tops! I was so excited to try Bakerlady’s Pumpkin Spice Muffin Tops, and still more excited that they are guilt-free because they are made from applesauce and pumpkin. This prevents against the muffin tops actually giving you a muffin top 🙂

The muffin tops turned out great. They are moist and flavorful, with a delicious sweet glaze drizzled on top.

Technically Elaine wouldn’t approve, as she believes the whole muffin should be baked and the top should be popped off. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree 🙂

Pumpkin Spice Muffin Tops (adapted from recipe by Bakerlady)

Ingredients:

Muffin Tops-

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or use combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar (or use 3/4 cup each brown/white sugar)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze-

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt; set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of applesauce and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls. The size of each should be somewhere between what you would get from a medium sized cookie scoop (halfway between a melon baller and an ice cream scoop).
  • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool muffin tops.
  • For the glaze: Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency. Drizzle muffin tops with a fork.

Makes approximately 30 muffin tops.

Donuts + Muffins = Love: Jelly Donut Muffins

13 Mar

Spring Break has arrived! I technically don’t get much of a break; I’m still going to be working and counseling for 40 hours this week, but at least there are no classes! I decided that rather than dwell on the fact that I have to work during break, I would seize the opportunity to slack off on some homework this weekend and focus on cooking and baking instead. So far, have made so many fun discoveries, so look out for more posts from me this week!

Let’s start with muffins. I have been on a muffin-making spree lately, if you haven’t noticed. Muffins are just darn tasty and a convenient breakfast treat. Besides, it’s almost as fun to just say “MUFFINS!!!!!!!” as it is to eat them. Of course, I am referring to Liam Sullivan’s Cunningham Muffins video from a few years back. I still laugh hysterically every time I watch and/or think about the video. You MUST watch it if you  haven’t already:

But anyway, the particular muffin I am sharing with you today comes from the unique invention combining two sinfully delicious breakfast treats into one: DONUT MUFFINS! Don’t they sound irresistable?

This recipe is for jelly donut muffins (jelly donuts are the best donuts, after all). I love the sweet, fruity surprise in the middle of the muffins. I  filled half  of the muffins with blueberry preserves and the other half with strawberry jam, but you could fill them with whatever you like. On top is a yummy cinnamon sugar mixture. They actually really taste like donuts in muffin form…but perhaps even better!

Thanks to Bakerlady for sharing the recipe!

Jelly Donut Muffins (adapted from recipe by Bakerlady)

Ingredients:

For the Muffins-

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite jam/jelly

For the Topping-

 

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
  • In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, butter and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  • Spoon half of the batter into greased or paper-lined muffin cups.
  • Spoon 1 teaspoon jelly in center of each. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full with remaining batter.
  • Bake for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 1 in. from the edge comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.
  • Brush tops with butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon; dip tops of muffins in mixture. Serve warm.

Makes 20 muffins.