Happiness Project#87: Banana Muffins!

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PTSD. I’ve been through a ton of scary medical situations in my life, but none have created such a strong reaction from me as living with cancer has. Recently, someone very close to me was diagnosed with breast cancer, and has already gone through her 1st round of chemotherapy. Fortunately, although she’s had a couple of side effects from the chemotherapy meds that she started, she’s doing much (MUCH) better than I did when I went through chemotherapy. Which is SUCH a relief. To everyone.

But because of seeing her start chemotherapy, and seeing how tired it has made her, the PTSD that I have from my own experience, has been hitting me HARD. For the past 7 days, I’ve been trying to quell this crushing anxiety about it. Because it reminds me too much of the hell that I endured last summer. A hell which I honestly did not think I would survive. And even though I feel like I’ve come pretty far this year since walking out of that terrifying experience, just the word, “cancer,” strikes dread within my heart. To where I’ve been struggling with sleeping, and eating, and leaving my house.

So for the past couple days, I’ve been working on new fondant products, and baking. A lot of baking. Since the act of baking (usually) provides me a small dose of therapeutic relief. The messier, the better.

Hence these new Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins, which my Daughter will be taking to her teachers tomorrow, as a THANK YOU for everything that they do. A quick little baking project, with a wonderful punch of flavor. Stress therapy has never been sweeter.

2 cups cake flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

pinch of cinnamon

3 ripe bananas, mashed well (I use a fork to mash them all up nice & good)

1/4 whole milk plain yogurt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350F. Line two cupcake pans with 18 paper liners.

In bowl #1 combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.

In bowl #2, either on a stand mixer, or handheld, combine all 3 mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla extract, mixed well. Slowly add the wet mixture (bowl #2) to the dry ingredients (bowl #1), and gently stir until the flour mixture is absorbed. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the banana mixture into each of the 18 paper cupcake liners, filling them 3/4 of the way full.

Pop the 2 pans into the oven, and bake for 18 minutes. Pull both pans out of the oven, and let cool on a wire rack. And serve, with or without butter.

The best part of this recipe? When a 4 year old bites into one, saying, “YUM!” That always makes my day. Even though they’ve recently been a little darker.

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Happiness Project#67: Holiday S’mores Muffins!

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3 months. 3 months later & I’m back! Bananas, right? Not to say that I haven’t wanted to be baking and blogging, because I have! I’ve just had NO time for anything extra in my crazy busy life.

My pastry business is booming, like you wouldn’t believe! I’ve been blessed to have a cake and cupcake order every other weekend now. Which is a whole lot of fun artistry, as well as a wealth of new experience for me.

And just last month, I started up my 2nd business venture as an Usborne Book Consultant. Which is beyond thrilling to my book loving heart! It’s been over 3 years since I left the children’s book industry yet no matter the many years away from it, my first passion will always be and still is that of a children’s bookseller. Needless to say, being able to hand sell wonderful children’s books is like a breath of fresh air. Something that my heart will always take immense delight in.

So in lieu of my beautiful, crazy busy life as a Mom (first) to my amazing (nearly) 3 year old daughter, and a business woman (second), my blog has sadly suffered. Until now!

And since Christmas is just a short 6 days away, I’d like to share my newest holiday muffin with you! Not only because it’s super quick to whip up, but it also features two of the most delicious combined flavors: chocolate and marshmallow. Because let’s get real here, who doesn’t love chocolate and marshmallow? Please don’t delude yourself. It’s not fair to anyone (or any stomach) involved.

Ready for this yummy holiday treat? Let’s do this!

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup low fat buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1-1/2 cups chocolate chunks

1 cup mini marshmallows

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Break out either a 6 cup jumbo muffin pan or a 12 cup baking pan. Line with paper liners, of whatever festive design you’re itching to throw down.

In a medium sized bowl, beat together the butter, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla extract, for about 1 minute until well incorporated.

In a 2nd bowl, add together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir until fully combined.

Transfer the flour mixture into a large bowl, on a stand mixture (or easily by a hand held mixer). With your hands, make a shallow well into the center of the flour mixture. Add the buttermilk mixture into the shallow well and beat gently until smooth.

Now, using a large spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chunks, followed with the mini marshmallows.

Fill up each muffin or cupcake liner 3/4 to the top of each liner. Transfer to the oven and let bake for 19-20 minutes.

Pull out your tray from the oven and let your muffins cool slightly on a wire rack before consuming. Or better yet, gifting to a favorite friend or co-worker. You’ll make their day. Trust me.

To all of you who have been such faithful followers of mine, thank you for making this little blog of mine such a joyful experience! I can’t wait to see what the new brings!

 

 

 

 

 

Happiness Project Recipe #14: Husband-Hero Cinnamon Oat Muffins!

It’s been an emotional week (to say the least) & whenever my body forces me into round-the-clock bed-rest, I tend to become either very depressed over it or very contemplative. Last night, as I lay exhausted in bed, listening to my beautiful red dog snoring softly from the floor & my husband’s slow, steady breathing beside me, I was nearly overwhelmed by how deeply grateful I am for the people who care for & love me so unconditionally, especially my husband. It’s not an easy thing to live in an environment frequently dominated by (my) pain, moodiness & depression. It takes immense strength & courage to walk with me down this turbulent path of strife & uncertainty. Yet through it all, he does, quietly & softly. Even within this trying time, there has never been a day where I have not believed in the love of my husband. In our 7 years together, he has taught me & continues to teach me that as long as we’re together nothing else matters. In the end, as long as we have each other, everything will be okay. Love will pull us through. So this muffin recipe is dedicated to my husband, who loves all things cinnamon. He is my knight in shining armor. My Imzadi. My hero. My world is a better place with him in it. Always.

Topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup old fashioned oats

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Filling:

3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

5/6 teaspoons water

Muffins:

1/2 cup melted butter

3/4 cup whole milk

2 large eggs

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

2 tablespoons corn starch

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

4/5 tablespoons whole milk

Preheat your oven to 375F. Butter 12 muffins cups or line 12 cupcake tins.

First, mix all your Topping ingredients together with a fork until nice & crumbly. Set aside.

Now, mix all your Filling ingredients together with a spoon until the consistency is similar to that of frosting. Set aside until later.

For your muffins, in a large bowl (by hand) whisk together the butter, milk & eggs until well combined. In another bowl, stir together your flour, oats, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and white chocolate chips. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet one & stir until just combined.

Now, to get messy! Fill each muffin cup or cupcake tin with 2 tablespoons of batter. Then drop 2 teaspoons of filling on top, in the middle of the batter. With your remaining batter, drop another 2 tablespoons of batter on top of the filling. Lastly, sprinkle your crumbly topping evenly over each muffin.

Bake for 18-20 minutes for cupcake tins or 20-24 minutes for muffin cups. As your muffins are baking away, you’ll notice that the cinnamon filling will start to bubble up from around the edges of the batter & that’s okay. It’s supposed to do that.

For your Glaze, combine the butter, sugar and milk, stirring with a spoon until the glaze is smooth & shiny. If you think the glaze is too sugary (I personally like a sugary glaze), add another tablespoon of milk to thin it out.

Cool your muffins completely before drizzling on the glaze (I have not yet drizzled on my glaze, hence the naked muffin photo above).

Happiness Project Recipe #13: The BEST Chocolate Chip Muffin!

Gooey, gooey chocolate!

Lately, finding the best of all muffin recipes has become an all consuming obsession (besides my nuttiness with collecting beautiful cake stands) & since I’m such a sucker for the classics, I had to create the BEST Chocolate Chip Muffin! Had to! After consulting a vast variety of cookbooks, I finally found “the one.” With my own cinnamon twist, of course. So here’s what I created…

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup low fat buttermilk

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350F. Butter 12 muffin cups or line 12 cupcake tins with paper liners.

In a medium sized bowl (you can easily do this with a hand-held mixer), beat together the butter, buttermilk, egg & vanilla until just smooth (for about 1 minute.) If your batter is visibly very clumpy, it was over beaten & you will need to start over with a new batch.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and optional cinnamon (if using). With your hands, make a shallow well in the center of the flour mixture, add in the buttermilk mixture, and beat until smooth and well mixed, 1-2 minutes. Using a large silicone spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Do not over mix, or the batter will fall flat (& won’t rise correctly when baking). The desired batter should be relatively thick (similar to that of cookie dough) & very sticky. Spoon the batter into each muffin cup or cupcake tin, filling it nearly level with the rim.

Bake your muffins for 20-24 minutes for standard size muffins or 18-20 minutes for standard size cupcakes. They should be lightly golden & springy to the touch when removed. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

After bringing home the left-overs last night from a friends 4th of July party, I discovered a catch. I didn’t & still don’t  want to share any of them. That’s how much I adore this recipe. You will too!

*Recipe adapted from “The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book”

Happiness Project Recipe #11: Saturday Morning Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins!

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Considering how up & down I’ve been with the pain this week, I was damn near frothing at the mouth this morning for something super moist & fluffy. Something that didn’t involve any chocolate for once. I know, I know, who AM I, right?? *wink* So this super moist & fluffy “something” ended up incorporating my 2nd all time favorite dessert flavor: lemon. Luscious, luscious lemon! Whenever I think of weekends, the idea of muffins always seem to come to mind, so with this being said, I decided to tinker with a recipe I’ve never done before: Lemon-Poppy Seed! Though I will forever be a cupcake girl, the muffin is the 2nd closest thing to it, so why (oh, why) have I never made any before?! Fortunately, my Williams-Sonoma Baking Book saved the day (or morning, to be precise). A little bit of soft butter spread also created that extra burst of flavor to a rather good Saturday baking adventure as well. For all of my lemon loving friends (I know who you are!), here’s the recipe..

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, separated (into egg yolks & egg whites)

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Zest of 2 grated lemons

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup low fat buttermilk

2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350F. Butter 10 standard size muffin cups or line 12 cupcake tins with paper liners.

Gather up your ingredients & necessary baking equipment. You’ll need 3 separate medium size mixing bowls for this recipe.

In your 1st mixing bowl, on a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. While this is creaming together, separate your 2 eggs. I use two small bowls to keep the egg yolks separate from the egg whites. Add the yellow egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition until well blended.

In your 2nd mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, grated lemon zest & salt. Quick tip: After you gather your ingredients, zest your 2 lemons with a stainless steel grating zester (which you can find at any local Bed, Bath & Beyond, Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table store) BEFORE you begin the process of mixing together your ingredients. Preparation is key to creating a quicker, easier & cleaner (yes, cleaner!) baking experience. Now, using the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture (bowl #1) in 2 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, then the lemon juice and then the vanilla. Beat until just smooth (for approximately 1-2 minutes).

For the next step, if you don’t have 2 separate stand mixers (I certainly don’t but wish I did), pour the entire mixture into another medium sized bowl & set aside. At this point, you’ll need to thoroughly wash & dry the bowl that you’ve just emptied (bowl #1).

Once clean & completely dry, use this bowl again in your stand mixture, using a balloon whisk to beat your egg whites just until they form a soft white peak (beat on high for 2-3 minutes.) Do NOT over beat your egg whites! Keep in mind that they need to be a soft peak consistency not a stiff one so keep a close eye on them while in the process of whisking. Using a large silicone spatula, gently (no elbow grease required!) fold the egg whites into the batter until just blended.

Spoon your batter into each muffin cup or cupcake tin, filling them three-fourths full. Bake until golden brown and springy to the touch (20-24 minutes for standard size muffins, 18-20 minutes for standard size cupcakes.)

Cool on a wire rack for 5 to10 minutes before serving. And don’t forget to add some of your favorite butter spread to them as well! A properly dressed muffin is always the perfect muffin, I say!

There you have it! Quick & easy! So if you too have a napping husband & therefore a little extra time on your hands, prepare yourself (and your kitchen) for the sudden appearance (and resulting disappearance) of these soft, tangy, lemon filled creations! Huzzah for Saturdays!

*Recipe adapted from “The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book”

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