Blueberry Bran Muffins

I use the same base Bran Muffin recipe ALL THE TIME. It is the best I’ve ever found.

I change up the recipe slightly almost every time I make it, sometimes I add cinnamon, sometimes a banana, other fruit, nuts, etc. I add apple butter, change up the amounts of liquid or dairy. It is really extremely versatile. You could use a variety of flours, spices, or even liquids. The important part is the relative proportions.

Anyway, I wanted to make some muffins for Stephen before he left today so the recipe below is the variation I used. I didn’t try them but I’ve never made a bad batch of these muffins, no matter the changes I make (they’re always reasonable!). And they smelled incredible. Sometimes I want to bake muffins just so the house smells cozy.

Blueberry Bran Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson via Holly & Rose.

  • 1/2 Stick Salted Butter, Melted
  • 3/4 Cup 0 Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar (Light or Dark)
  • 1/4 – 1/3 Cup 2% Milk, hot
  • 1/4 Cup Dried Blueberries
  • 1 1/2 Cups Bran (Oat or Wheat – I usually use half and half, depends what I’m looking for)
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3 Tbsp Flax Meal
  • 2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt (1 Tsp if using unsalted butter)
Warm milk until hot and add dried blueberries to help reconstitute. Let them sit for as long as you can until adding them to mixture, giving them time to soak. Combine melted butter, greek yogurt, eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar & vanilla. Add bran, flour, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
The batter is usually a bit thick so don’t worry but if you think it’s too thick, feel free to add a little milk, applesauce, water, or something else you’d like to use.
Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin papers and fill about 3/4 full. Oftentimes I have extra batter so I just fill the papers extra full rather than having to use another muffin pan.
Bake at 400 Degrees Fahrenheit for 15 – 22 minutes. The range is so broad because of the variations that could be made. They usually take about 18 minutes though.
Let cool (mostly) and bon apetite!
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My Birthday!

It’s my birthday and there’s a lot to write about! Including Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Bran Muffins. Then there’s the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Damimmo’s, The Old Stein Inn, and my mother’s Eggs Benedict. There’s also my birthday presents to talk about so I’m excited!

I’ll start with Friday night. Stephen took a bus in from State College and we picked him up in Baltimore. We headed over to the Meyerhoff to see guest conductor, 35 year old, Russian Vasily Petrenko lead the orchestra in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espagnol, Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3. The Rimsky-Korsakov piece was an all around favorite of the night. The conductor was very animated and fun to watch.

After the symphony my brother met us at Damimmo’s for dinner in Little Italy. Just after we were seated Brian Billick, the former coach of the Ravens, was leaving. I ordered the Lobster Tetrazinni which was amazing. Every single thing we ordered was delicious. Stephen ordered the Chilean Sea Bass which was cooked PERFECTLY. For dessert the Creme Caramel was definitely the best. They brought it out with a candle for my birthday!

Saturday morning Stephen & I went to Michael’s to pick up some poster board & tissue paper. He made me a lightbox for my birthday!!!! As well as The Amish Cooks Baking Book. Stephen is from Eastern PA, surrounded by Amish & Mennonite culture. As anyone from the area knows, the Amish make some of the best baked goods ever. Every time I visit I make a very exciting trip to a dry goods store called Echo Hill Country Store. It is, by far, my favorite store ever. It is a Mennonite owned store that repackages dry goods to sell. For a pretty tiny store, it has one of the widest varieties of dried goods at extremely affordable prices. I’m completely smitten. I can’t wait until next weekend when I get my fix at Echo Hill.

After our trip to Michael’s, and after building my new Light Box (Thank you Tater : D ) I made some cookieeees. Some Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies I’ve had my eye on for a while.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Recipe Adapted from Smells Like Home.

COOKIES:

  • 1 Stick Salted Butter, Melted
  • 2/3 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 3/4 Cup AP Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Cup Oats

Melt butter and combine with peanut butter, whisking thoroughly. Add sugars and continue whisking. Add egg & vanilla. Stir with spoon to combines. Add AP flour, oats, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir until just combined.

Form dough into tablespoon sized balls using measuring spoon. Place on baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake at 350 Degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes. Keep an eye on your cookies after 10 minutes. Let cool before assembling.

FILLING:

  • 4 Tbsp Salted Butter, Room Temperature
  • 3/4 to 1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 2 Cups Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup 2% Milk, you may use more depending on how thick you like your filling.

Beat butter & peanut butter together. Add 1 cup sugar. Combine. Add milk. Add rest of sugar and beat together. Add more milk as desired.

Spread generous amount of filling on bottom side of one cookie. Sandwich together with another cookie of about the same size.

These cookies were soooo amazing. The filling is smooth and creamy and you’ll probably want more & more. EAT & BE MERRY!

Boca Food!

I haven’t posted in like a week! I was vacationing in Boca Raton, Florida for a long weekend.

The first morning we got pastries from Bakery of France including Brioche, Croissants, Chocolate Croissants, and some raisin pastry. Everything was delicious but I’m not a huge fan of raisins so that one wasn’t for me.

A picture of the Brioche via a Yelp Reviewer.

We also went to dinner at Seasons 52, which was DELICIOUS. All of their dishes are designed to be less than 475 calories and use seasonal ingredients. Their dinner menu for autumn had a great number of vegetarian dishes and the concept is very inspiring. I ordered the Organic Baby Spinach salad and the Goat Cheese Ravioli then had the Chocolate & Peanut Butter Mousse for dessert. There are no pictures on the website of any of the meals we ate so I’ll just post a picture of the dessert!!

Picture of the miniature desserts via Seasons 52 website.

On Saturday night we had an 8 o’clock dinner reservation at Uncle Tai’s, a very nice & quite tasty Chinese food restaurant. We ordered the Honey Crispy Shrimp, Sliced Fish Hunan Style, and Crispy Beef (which I, of course, did not try), and vegetable fried rice. The Fish was definitely the best. I’m not entirely sure which dish is featured in the picture below but it’s the only picture I found from their site!

Picture via Uncle Tai's Website

A couple more places we went:

Flakowitz Bagel Inn - HUGE breakfast plates. I ordered a 4 egg omelet with broccoli and cheddar cheese. It was ENORMOUS. And it came with breakfast potatoes and a bagel & cream cheese. Talk about enough food to feed a family of 4 (or a small army).

Renzo’s - Italian food. SO GOOD. We ordered a large cheese pizza which was hot & melty and just the way pizza should be. Also ordered some Arancini balls which were yummy yummy yummy. And they came with the best marinara EVAR. Then I got a Veggie Muffaletta sandwich which was the size of my head. I only ate most of half. It had grilled eggplant, grilled zucchini, tomatoes, greens, roasted red pepper and mozzarella.

Señor Burrito - Got the spinach enchiladas. They were covered in an amazingly good tomatillo sauce. I love mexican food.

ANOTHER Apple Pie

We had a plethora of apples and the bunch we picked last weekend were going to go to waste so I made my dad an Apple Pie. As my second pie, it is much prettier than last weekends! And the recipe is a bit different too.

APPLE PIE!

Crust:
  • 2 1/2 Cups AP Flour
  • 1 Stick Salted Butter (like Earth Balance)
  • 1/2 (just under) Cup Crisco
  • 1 TSP Cinnamon
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • 8 TBSP Ice Cold Water
Combine Flour, Salt, & Cinnamon. Cut cold Butter & Crisco into flour mixture until small crumbles. Add water and stir with wooden spoon to bring together. Divide Dough into 2 separate balls, one slightly larger than the other. On flat, dry surface generously floured, roll out larger ball of dough. Press into bottom of 9in pie pan. Roll out other dough ball into circular shape with a diameter slightly larger than 9 inches. Once filled with apple mixture, top with second layer of dough.

 

Filling:
  • 6 Cups of Apple Slices (honeycrisp, golden delicious)
  • Juice of One Lemon
  • 1 1/2 TSP Cinnamon
  • 1/3 Cup Flour
  • 2/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 2 TBSP Butter (EB)
Peel & Core Apples. Slice in thin slivers and 1/2 depending on size of apple. Squeeze Lemon Juice on top of apple slices and coat. Toss Apples with Brown Sugar, Flour, Cinnamon, and Salt. Pour into pie pan on top of bottom crust. Cut butter into pieces and place around top of filling. Cover pie filling with top layer of crust. Slice little Xs in top to vent.

 

Bake in 425 Degree oven for about 40 minutes.

 

Jambalaya Pizza

All weekend Stephen wanted to make Jambalaya. I think he’s wanted to make it for some time now. So on Friday when we went to Wegmans we picked up some vegetarian sausage. We’d never tried replacement sausage before so I quickly Googled the best brands and read that Field Roast was a winner (it definitely was). We bought the standard “Italian” flavor.

Now, last weekend when we went to Wegmans a gentleman convinced us to make our own pizza dough. We make our own pie crust, our own pretzels, and so on but we’d never made our own pizza dough for some reason. Well, we decided to heed his advice & Stephen bought some pizza dough yeast.

Late afternoon we decided to make the pizza crust but we weren’t going to have enough time to make a pizza so we deliberated on what kind of pizza we would make when we got home from a couple of meetings. Why not try to make a jambalaya inspired pizza?

Jambalaya Pizza:

For the Dough:
  • 3 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Organic Whole Wheat Flour (a little extra for kneading)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups Warm Water
  • 1 Package Yeast (2 1/4 TSP)
  • 1 TBSP Brown Sugar
For the Topping:
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, large dice
  • 1 Medium Onion, slivers
  • 1 Green Finger Chili, diced with seeds & ribs
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 Field Roast Italian Sausage (vegan)
  • 2 Small Tomatoes, diced (roma would work)
  • Cajun Seasoning
  • Dried Thyme
  • Trappey’s Red Devil Hot Sauce
  • Mozzarella Cheese

To prepare the dough: In a large mixing bowl combine 1 1/2 cup warm water with a packet of yeast and brown sugar. Stir gently and let sit for about 5 minutes to activate yeast. Then stir in the flours using a rubber spatula, until ball forms. Flour a flat dry surface, turn out the dough, and kneed. Add flour as necessary. Tip:  flour your hands! Next oil a bowl and place dough into bowl. Allow 30min-2hour rise time, depending on climate conditions. To expedite, we covered bowl in foil and put it in front of a space heater on low!

Flour (or semolina) a pizza pan or cookie sheet. Punch down risen dough to remove air pockets. Turn out onto pan and spread with fingers to size of pan. Rub lightly with olive oil & cracked black pepper. Cook at 425 Degrees for 5 minutes or until just turning light golden.

Heat olive oil in medium/large frying pan. Add liberal amount of cajun seasoning and sizzle to bring out flavor. Sautee bell pepper & onion over medium heat until tender. Add chili and continue to sautee. Add bite-sized pieces of Italian Sausage. Add garlic & tomatoes to pan. Add pinch of dry thyme. Add plenty of hot sauce (to taste). The vinegar adds a nice kick of acidity and punches up the flavor. Turn heat down while all ingredients cook.

Spread sautéed mixture on slightly precooked pizza dough. Sprinkle with desired quantity of mozzarella cheese. We kept the cheese light this time, just using up the remaining cheese from the fridge.

Bake at 425 Degrees for 10 more minutes or until cheese bubbles and turns light brown. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 2 minutes. I know it’s hard to wait.

Angel Cream Filled – Soft Pretzel Donut Whoopie Pie Sandwich

Every now and then when I go to the downtown Farmers Market I get a delicious treat from one of the Amish vendors. A Powdered Angel Cream Filled Donut. The best donut I’ve ever had. I was browsing Foodgawker (only my favorite website ever) today and thought “oh my gosh, what if I could make the angel cream donuts????” So I looked up some recipes and came up with this extreme experiment.

I have an aversion to frying my own donuts, I’ve only ever wanted to bake them. You know, cakey baked donuts? Yum. But I didn’t feel like that would work with the angel cream. Then I remembered the Soft Pretzel recipe I love and decided to turn them into a sort of donut instead. This Soft Pretzel recipe makes those mall pretzels that, when smothered in cinnamon sugar, pretty much taste like a slightly salty donut. Again… Yum.

So here’s my experimental recipe…

Soft Pretzel Sandwiched with Angel Cream

Soft Pretzel Donut:

1 Cup Whole Milk

1 TBSP Dry Active Yeast

4 TBSP Brown Sugar

2 1/4 Cups AP Flour

3 TBSP Melted Salted Butter (plus extra for painting)

In large bowl, warm milk in microwave for about 50 seconds. Add yeast and let sit for 5 minutes to activate yeast. Add sugar and let sit 2 more minutes. Add 1 cup of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until comes together. This is important, don’t add all the flour at once. Stir in melted butter (if using unsalted butter add between 1/2 to 1 TSP salt). Then add remaining flour and stir until sticky ball is formed.

Turn out onto floured surface and knead briefly to form soft ball. Place in a clean, oiled bowl and cover to let rise. May take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on climate to rise. You want the dough to double in size. Once doubled, preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Punch dough gently and turn out onto floured surface. Separate into balls to form your donuts. Knead into donut shape, almost like a round disk. The number of balls depends on the size you want your donuts. Remember! they will increase in size after baking soda bath & bake. Which brings us to the next step!

Baking Soda Bath:

1/4 Cup Baking Soda

Enough water necessary to bathe your donuts.

Combine baking soda in bowl or pan of water. Dunk the donuts in baking soda bath so that they are completely covered. They only need to be in the mixture for about 10 seconds. They’ll puff up immediately. Remove and transfer to baking sheet.

Brush top of pretzel ball lightly with melted butter. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 450 Degrees for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Icing/Filling:

1/2 stick Crisco Vegetable Shortening

2 Cups Powdered Sugar

2 TBSP Granulated Sugar

1/4 Cup of Whole Milk

Blend until light and fluffy.

Once Pretzels in shape of donuts are cooled, cut in half. Slather with Angel Cream Icing and sandwich sides together. If desired, dunk top in melted butter then powdered sugar or combination or powdered sugar & cinnamon.

These are very dense & rich. I recommend making them SMALL. Mine were a little big and as a result a little dense and a lot to eat. Also, when I was making them I became pretty nervous that the combination would be strange but it was actually delicious. Soft pretzels and angel cream icing? Totally delicious.

Apple Picking & Pie!

Over the weekend I visited Stephen in State College and we went apple picking at Way Fruit Farm!!! I was so excited. I’d been wanting to pick apples for at least a month and couldn’t find a farm I was sure offered it. We went to Way Fruit Farms because I discovered they had a Fall Festival day and pumpkin patch picking IN THE FIELD. When we got there the line for the truck that takes you to the pumpkins was soooo long & my greater desire was apple-picking anyway so we got a 1/2 peck of a variety of about 4 apples. It was so much fun! I highly recommend it!

After we picked our 1/2 peck of apples we went inside to grab some of the BEST APPLE CIDER EVER. I’m telling you, Way Fruit Farm makes the best apple cider I have ever had. I don’t like my apple cider too sweet and theirs is just perfect. There are no added sweeteners or preservatives so you must keep it cold and it doesn’t keep for very long but we drink it pretty fast. Hot or cold, it is divine. Stephen has taken to adding a splash of Cinnamon Whisky which is also a delicious touch. I don’t usually prefer whiskey but that stuff tastes like pure cinnamon yumminess.

When we got back to the apartment I picked which apples I wanted to use for my first ever apple pie. I was so excited.

As you can see, there are a variety of apples there. I also borrowed (stole, although I guess he got some of it back when he ate the pie) one HoneyCrisp from a 1/4 peck Stephen had bought at the Farmer’s Market.

Anyway, onto the pie recipe!!

Kelley’s First Apple Pie:

For the Crust:

  • 1 3/4 Cups AP Flour
  • 1/4 Cup WW Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Crisco Vegetable Shortening
  • 1/2 TSP Salt
  • 1/2 TSP Cinnamon
  • 7 TBSP Ice Cold Water
  • Extra Flour for rolling out dough.

For the Filling:

  • 6 (apprx.) Large Apples – a variety of handpicked local apples : D
  • 1/4 Cup AP Flour
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 TSP Cinnamon
  • 1/4 TSP Fresh Ground Nutmeg
  • 3 TBSP Salted Butter (Earth Balance)

PS- I don’t have a camera right now so all of the pictures are coming from my phone camera! This shall be changed soon!