Monthly Archives: May 2011

Oatmeal Cookie Muffins

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About a week ago I ran across this blog post about Oatmeal Cookie Cupcakes. I thought they looked amazing.  There were some parts of the recipe that I didn’t care for (like the funky measurements) so i went back to the original recipe on Martha Stewart’s website.  I changed a few things in it, but basically I kept it the same.  I baked these the other night and then took my kids to a movie in the park thinking that I would frost them with the brown sugar frosting that was recommended, but that didn’t happen.  Something in the park (I’m guessing the trees) didn’t agree with me and I’ve been dealing with horrid allergies since then.  Having no desire to cook breakfast for the kids on Saturday I told them to just eat the muffins, and when I had one myself decided that they were much more like muffins than cupcakes.  They’re a little denser and not as sweet as you’d think of a cupcake.  But they do taste like an oatmeal cookie, so they live up to their name.  If I make this again I’m going to do the frosting, or perhaps, skip the frosting and use butterscotch chips.  Still, the way they are is just fine, and good, and I think I’m going to have another one right now.

Oatmeal Cookie Muffins

3 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup oat bran
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 3 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. (Actually, I only got 2 and a half pans full of cupcakes, but I tend to fill my cups a bit full).

  • Beat butter and sugars until pale and fluffy, like you would for cookies. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

  • Mix in sour cream. Batter will resemble wet cookie batter, but should be rather stiff.

  • Use your trusty ice cream scoop (or disher if you are lucky enough to have one) to fill up the prepared muffin cups. I filled mine about 3/4’s full, but I tend to over fill.

  • Bake until golden and a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. If you’re cooking on more than one rack I suggest rotating them half way through for even baking.

  • Transfer to wire racks; let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

The kids loved them, Boo ate 3 of them for breakfast and another one after lunch.  I really liked them.  Only thing that would have made it better would be a tall glass of ice cold milk.

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Frozen Peach Smoothy

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Today is the second day of summer vacation and all ready the kids are complaining about being bored and hungry.  Now, I don’t starve my children by any means, today for lunch they had chicken noddle soup, Oreos and milk, but when they’re bored they are apparently starving.  So, the question is, how can I satisfy both problems?  Well cook something, of course!

Ok, so cooking’s not quite the right word for it, but it works.

Last summer, or early fall almost really, I had a plethora of peaches.  I made jam, of course, and bottled some up.  But I also froze some, and that was the inspiration for today. I recently inherited a blender from my parents and have wanted to use it, and this was the chance.  There’s not really a recipe to follow, so much as a technique that I used.

I used my slightly defrosted frozen peaches, milk, honey and some made from concentrate peach/mango/strawberry juice (it’s cheaper than the premixed stuff that’s from concentrate anyway).  If your frozen fruit is pre-sweetened you don’t need honey.  I almost used corn syrup, but Bud insisted that I use the honey when he found it in the wrong cupboard (why it was with the cans of tuna and boxes of Hamburger Helper I’ll never know).

My peaches were frozen in two cup increments, so that’s how much I had.  I added probably 2 tablespoons of honey, and 1/2 to 2/3 cup of each the milk and the juice.  I just dumped it all in my blender and whirred away.  I had to stop once and break up some rather large peach chunks by hand, but after that I didn’t have a problem.  I added another splash of juice and milk towards the end to loosen it up a bit more, but that was it.

I think its safe to say that any combination of fruit, juice and dairy would produce an equally creamy rich smoothy.  It made the perfect amount, 3 zoo glasses full (the only cups that I have enough of that are all the same size.  As my children are 4 and 8, this is very important).

The kids loved it, they both thought it was great, if a bit cold.

Bud wanted to show off his peach smoothy mustache, which he thought was awesome and cool.  And when both the kids came running that they were cold and needed something warm I sent them outside to play where summer seems to finally have arrived (about a month late) with temperatures near the 90’s.

Will this last for long?  No, probably not.  Bud’s already come back inside telling me that no one else is outside to play with, despite the fact that Boo’s out there, so we might have to find some more things for them to do so I can write about how Leonardo da Vinci is important to psychology, but it was fun while it lasted, and those were darned good smoothies.

Summer Cleaning? Yes, Please

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I’ve a good friend who has a cleaning blog for lack of a better word.  Now, cleaning, not really my thing other than making sure my kitchen and table are clean enough to cook and craft, but she’s inspired me.  She has started a summer cleaning challenge  and I have decided to take part.  First step, clean up your shoes.

I didn’t take a before picture, because that would have been frighting.  Indeed, it is still a work in progress.  SO, there might not be a picture.

First thing I did was pull all my shoes out of the closet.  I started by matching up the shoes and pulling out the ones that didn’t fit my kids any more.  There was an insane amount.  I hadn’t realized I’d kept a hold of so many.  Seriously, I did this less than six months ago, and I still had at least 5 pair.  Of course, as my daughter went and grew two sizes this winter, that was to be expected.

Next thing I did was to pull out all the shoes that I didn’t wear.  These ran the gambit from shoes that I just didn’t wear any more, to ones that didn’t fit right, to ones that i had too many of (I decided I really didn’t need five pair of black heels).  Then I started putting them up.

I have an over the door shoe organizer, but that filled up very quickly.  Once that was all full up I started sitting them in rows on the floor.  I can manage two rows of shoes in my closet.  If my feet weren’t so big I might be able to fit a few more.  There are the shoes that would never fit in an over the door organizer (like my cowboy boots and Ughs)  that will have to go on the floor, but the staggering number that wouldn’t fit was amazing.  I didn’t realize I had that many shoes.

I ended up having to double stack several pairs, which isn’t very good when the shoes in question have 4 inch heels.  I then decided that I needed a shoe shelf.

Mine probably wont be quite that nice though.  I’ve been looking at some nice fake wood ones at Target in a dark word color.  I figure that way it wont show the dirt as much. Of course, I’ve got to wait until I have the money for it, so my shoes will have to remain only partially organized for the near future, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Stay tuned next week for another summer cleaning task, we shall see how we do 🙂

Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookies

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I was in the grocery store the other day perusing the shelves of chocolate chips and other flavored morsels, I was picking up some butterscotch chips for oatmeal scotches, when I saw caramel bits.

These were intended to be used as a replacement for the square caramels that you melt down to make caramel apples with, but inspiration struck.  A few years ago Peperage Farms had a soft baked Chocolate Caramel cookie that I absolutely loved and I haven’t seen for quite some time.  I didn’t know if it would work, but I thought I’d go for it.

The important thing about the cookies was that they had to be soft. Cake like or chewy it didn’t matter, but they did need to NOT be crunchy.  One of my favorite shows on Food Network is Good Eats, and a while back he did a show called “Three Chips for Sister Marsha”  where he went over the types of chocolate chip cookies.  I don’t remember everything about the show, aside from it being funny, is that if you have more sugar than butter you will not have a crispy cookie.  So, when picking out the recipe that I wanted to use I looked for one with more sugar than butter.  The one i settled on was from my Better Homes and Gardens Red Checkered Cook Book.

Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookies
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup caramel bits

  • In a large bowl beat the butter until soft.

  • Add the sugar to the butter.  Beat until light and fluffy.

  • Add the baking soda, eggs, and vanilla.  Blend until well combined.

  • Mix in the flower.  It may get too stiff to use the electric mixer, if so, use a wooden spoon to mix it together.  Once the flour  is mixed in stir in the chocolate chips and the caramel bits.

  • I use a cookie scoop to scoop the cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Make them about two inches apart.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  I find that taking them out of the oven when they still look a little doughy in the middle is the best way to make sure that they don’t get over cooked.  If you ask my 4 year old the hardest part is the baking.

  • After you remove the cookies from the oven let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.

These cookies turned out really well.  I was a bit concerned that the caramel wouldn’t turn out right, but it’s just the right amount of chew to it.  I really did enjoy them.  The caramel on the bottom of the cookies melted (of course) and so I needed to use a metal spatula to remove the cookies to cook, but once they cooled they weren’t sticky any more.  Just wonderful and delicious.

My best friends husband absolutely loved these, and he’s a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur.  His favorite part?  The carmal wasn’t hard and it wasn’t so soft that it was running allover the place.

and just because I can 🙂

Brown Sugar and Spice Pull Apart Bread

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I ran across this recipe for cinnamon sugar pull apart bread a while ago and have wanted to make it so bad.  Today, I said to heck with the fact that its a yeast dough and takes longer to make, it looks darn good.

Brown Sugar and Spice Pull Apart Bread

For the dough:
2 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (divided uses)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:
1 cup brown sugar sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste) (I used this because I had, for some unknown reason, bought a bottle of this and need to use it up. Use what ever spices you want.)
1/4 cup butter, melted until browned

  • In a large mixing bowl mix together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.  Set aside. Whisk together eggs and water set aside. Melt the butter with the milk over medium heat until the butter is almost melted.  Remove from the heat and add the water and the vanilla. Let cool until it’s between 115 and 125 degrees.
  • Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir for about 2 minutes.  The dough will be slightly sticky, this is the way it should be.

  • Place the dough is a large,  greased bowl.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  *The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning.  If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below. (I didn’t do this, but the original instructions say that its ok, so I don’t see why not.)
  • While the dough rises, mix together the sugar pumpkin pie spice for the filling.  Set aside.  Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned and nutty smelling.  Set aside.  Grease a 9x5x3-inch  loaf pan.  Set aside.
  • Punch down the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough until it is smooth and elastic.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel (or the same one you used above) and let rest for about 5 minutes.

  • On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough into a rectangle roughly 20 by 12 inches.  Brush to the browned butter across all of the dough.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar mixture.  Use all of it.  Press into the dough to keep it from coming up in the next step.

  • Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again.  You’ll have six stacks of six squares.  Yeah, I didn’t do this.  I used my pizza cutter (got to love finding another use for a pizza cutter) and cut the dough into six short rows and 4 long rows.  They were uneven, it wasn’t too pretty.

  • Then I used a spatula to stack them into stacks that were six pieces high. Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan.  I found it helpful to stand the loaf pan up on edge and use my spatula to transfer the stacks of dough into the pan.

  • Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.
  • Preheat to 350 degrees F.  Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown.  The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw.  A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.  I didn’t do this either.  I pulled it too soon (the kids were impatient…and so was I) so the middle was a little doughy.  It’s ok, the kids ate it anyway and are none the worse for wear.

  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes (yeah, right, my soon tore off a piece of the top not even a minute after it came out of the oven).   Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and slide it onto a plate to serve.

It is the best warm, right out of the oven, it sticks together better if you let it cool slightly before trying to pull it out of the pan.  It’s good the next day, but I’d recommend reheating it int he microwave for a few seconds to get the sugar all gooey again before eating it.

Mother’s Day Gifts, Part 1

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The finished product

Mother’s Day may have been Sunday, but I’m just getting around to typing up the gifts I made.  Being perpetually short on cash, and always egger to make things from scratch I decided to make some homemade bath products.  This is part one of two, because I made not only the sugar scrub featured here, but also bath fizzies.

I got the recipe from my friend Martha Stewart.  I have wanted to make the scrub since I first saw it in her magazine, and since I’ve been subscribing since before my children were born, I figured it was time I make something other than cookies from the magazines.

Sugar Scrub
adapted from Martha Stewart Living

2 cups cane sugar
1 cup carrier oil (more on this below)
Essential oil

Ingredients

It’s pretty simple, just mix the sugar, oil and smelly stuff together and you’re set to go.  There are somethings to consider though.

The carrier oil can pretty much be any type of oil you want.  I went with grape seed oil because it has naturally occurring vitamin E, which is awesome on your skin.  I’ve heard that mineral oil isn’t the best for you, but if you want to use something like baby oil or bath oil that’s up to you.  I’ve also heard that olive oil is really good.  I’d recommend a light olive oil though so the smell isn’t as strong.

The original recipe said you could use salt or the cane sugar.  I decided not to do that because I know that I often have cuts and scrapes on my hands and legs, and that the person I specifically made the scrub for also has that problem.  I just couldn’t bear the thought of scooping salt up with cuts on my hands, the thought alone is enough to make me cringe.

For the ecentail oil, I suppose that you could use the cheep stuff that they sell at Michale’s or WalMart for soap making, but I decided that I didn’t want to do that.  My local health food store seels natural essietal oils, so i figured since the rest of the ingrediants were all natureal, I might as well go that way with my scent as well.  I picked Tangerine.

Mixed upThe sugar I used had a strong smell too it, not bad, but it kind of masked the smell of the tangerine.  I can tell you that it comes out when heated though, because I used it in the shower this morning and the smell was heavenly.  Like a fresh peeled tangerine.  I loved it.  Also, very nice on my perpetually dry feet.

Now, how to pack it.  Ideally these would go into plastic jars that if dropped in the shower wouldn’t result in cut feet, but as I said, I’m a bit low on cash.  So, I just packed them up into some half pint jelly jars.  It made about three half pint jars.

All packaged up

Because of the oil I’d recommend keeping the decorations to a minimum.  I putt a ribbon around the bad and a label on the lid saying what it was an when to use it by.

With ribbonAs for how long it will keep…I’d be careful not to keep it too long as the oil can go rancid.  I just looked at the use by date on my bottle of oil and use that as a guide.  If you can’t find a date I’d say use it within six months.

Part 2, bath fizzies will be up some time soon, I’ll link back to it when I’ve got it done.

Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins

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I love baking.  And I love making jam.  Yesterday I made my first batch of jam of the season (strawberry, and so good) and had some strawberries left over.  I should have had enough to make two batches of jam, but the kids got into them and ate more than I’d counted on.  So, I was left with what to do with left over strawberries.  I was toying with the idea of making these strawberry cupcakes, but decided this morning that I’d rather have muffins.

strawberry muffin

I pulled out my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Red Checker Cook Book (the one my mom and grandmother have counted on for years, though mine is somewhat newer) and looked up muffins.  One of the things that I love about their muffin recipe is that its not very sweet (its a real muffin, not a cupcake) and it’s versatile, allowing you to add all sorts of things to them.  Last summer I made up a batch with fresh peaches in them when I got a surplus of peaches that needed to be used (yes, I made jam).  I made the oatmeal variation and added the strawberries to it.  So good.  I put my muffins in wrappers instead of using my silicon muffin pan and just popping them out because I had a batch of bath fizzies drying in it.  I still think they turned out really good.

Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped strawberries

  1. Turn oven to 400 degrees, grease or line 12 muffin cups (though I only got 11).
  2. Combine flour, oatmeal, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Make a well in center of ingredients, set aside.
  3. Combine egg, milk and oil.  Add to the dry ingredients.
  4. Mix until just moistened, there will be lumps (extra mixing will cause them to be tough).  Add the strawberries and mix until just combined.
  5. Spoon into prepared muffin cups.  (I use a large ice cream scoop that fills up my muffin cups almost perfectly, I also use it to portion out cupcakes.)
  6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Best if eaten warm.

all the muffins

I hope you all enjoyed reading about my cupcakes.  Next time I promise to use a dishtowel with less lint to take my pictures on.  Maybe next time I’ll share the jam I made, because it was amazing.