Breaking the Silence with Muffins

When a blogger goes AWOL, it is hard to figure out how to return from nearly 50 days of silence.   What better way to start blogging again than to share my favorite muffin recipe!

Today is my oldest niece’s 16th birthday.  We were so excited when we found out that she would join us, and I still remember how proud I was before she was even born.  I told everyone who would listen that she was the cutest thing to grace this planet.  She still is!  

She is also a lover of peaches, and today I decided to forgo the normal Blakley breakfast (Mama’s light-as-air buttermilk biscuits and gravy) for something a bit easier.   Enter the best muffin recipe.

The best thing about this recipe is that the ingredient list is simple!  It is the kind of recipe that you can play with depending on your available fruits.  I’ve used blueberries, strawberries, and apples.  ‘Tis the season for peaches, so today I chopped about two peaches or a little over one cup.  The chunks of peaches cooked into delicious gooey bites–similar to a cobbler!  I added 1tsp of pumpkin pie spice, because for an unknown reason, Mama is lacking cinnamon.

This recipe is also delicious using whole wheat flour instead of white flour!  In fact, my favorite version of this muffin replaces the white flour with whole wheat flour.  In this banana nut creation, I use 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, about 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 cup of mashed banana, 1/2 cup of chopped nuts, no oil, and 3/4 cup of milk.

Here are my favorite muffin secrets:  

  • Have a super hot oven.  400 degrees is perfect!
  • Use a little extra flour if the batter is too moist (that’s for you, Rachel…)
  • Everything tastes better with a little butter.  When the muffins are hot, add a little to the top or a sliver inside.
  • Make enough to share!  Everyone loves muffins!  (If they don’t, you should rethink your friends…)

The first two tips are important for creating cute muffin tops.  And let’s be honest, the world could use more cute muffin tops… 
Best Ever Muffin Recipe
Ingredients

  •  2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C).

Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center. In a small bowl or 2 cup measuring cup, beat egg with a fork. Stir in milk and oil. Pour all at once into the well in the flour mixture. Mix quickly and lightly with a fork until moistened, but do not beat. The batter will be lumpy. Pour the batter into paper lined muffin pan cups.  Original recipe makes 1 dozen

Variations: Blueberry Muffins: Add 1 cup fresh blueberries. Raisin Muffins: Add 1 cup finely chopped raisins. Date Muffins: Add 1 cup finely chopped dates. Cheese Muffins: Fold in 1 cup grated sharp yellow cheese. Bacon Muffins: Fold 1/4 cup crisp cooked bacon, broken into bits.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden.

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No More Shortcuts in the Kitchen

I remember when I moved to Mexico, I had the hardest time the first two weeks.  I didn’t know what to eat–and resorted to a daily diet of beans, tortillas, fresh cheese, and Valentina hot sauce.  It didn’t take long for me to adjust, and now I miss fresh cheese, tamales on demand, and more fresh cheese.

I’ve become a little spoiled here in the north.  I can buy most items I would buy in the States.  What I can’t buy I have learned to live without, or I make it the long way!  This has actually been something I revel in, and I have a list I have been compiling of what I will not go back on.

  1. Popcorn:  It has taken me 30 years of my life to finally make real popcorn.  We have lived microwave-less for two years, and that also meant popcorn-less.  Until now.  Now I am unstoppable.  I am a popcorn making machine!  I love the flavor, and I am afraid I may never return to bags of popcorn with questionable ingredients.  I also love anything that I get to choose my own oil–olive oil popcorn tastes just as delicious!
  2. Salad Dressing:  The other day, I had to share my recipe for honey mustard dressing with the ladies at school.  I was almost embarrassed.  I mean, they were RAVING about how amazing it was, and I was over there saying, “Three ingredients.  That’s it.  Mayo, Spicy Brown Mustard, Honey.”
  3. Pancakes:  This was new for me, because I am not a big pancake person.  These were the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted in my life. Recipe  Simple ingredients.  Easy to make.  Fresh taste.  Now, if only real maple syrup didn’t cost an arm and a leg…
  4. Taco Seasoning:  I remember making tacos with my family.  We scrambled meat and added this package of taco seasoning.  Without it, tacos just weren’t tacos.  Well, it should come as no surprise that Mexicans don’t actually season meat with packages of powder.  My suegra mother-in-law and my husband make the tastiest meat you’ve ever tasted.  They do it with onion, garlic, salt, and tomato.  That’s it.  I, however, do find myself occasionally wishing for the tacos of my youth.  And when I do, in goes a little garlic (powder), fresh ground pepper, cayenne pepper, chile pepper, fresh sea salt, and pepper flakes.  Yah.  That’s it.  Just go easy on the pepper if you are sensitive to spice.
  5. Mixed Salad:  This is embarrassing.  My grandmother would die if she saw the money you spend on bags of salad.  Basically, I could make a “fresh spring mix” for a fraction of the cost for the bag of salad.  The other thing is the flavor.  I think I may be more sensitive to flavors now–because the taste of lettuce in a bag is strange.  It also smells strange.  Now I buy a couple different kinds of lettuce, wash it in cold water (in my case soak it in disinfectant), then I put it between pieces of paper towel or regular towels and roll it up.  I store it in a plastic bag in the fridge, and it stays nice and crispy!  Making a mix of lettuces, cabbage, fresh veggies–no big deal.  Salad in minutes.
  6. Granola Bars:  Do you know what is in granola?  Basically the most basic ingredients in the world–then a bunch of stuff I can’t identify to preserve it.  I love making granola.  I can put whatever I want in there, and I don’t feel guilty about sharing it with my baby.  I love making granola with oats, honey, olive oil, dried cranberries, pecans, almonds, peanut butter, chocolate chips, and chia seeds.  Yummo!  Here are two good sites:  Inspired Taste and Running With Spoons
  7. Muffins, Rolls, Other Breads:  Bread used to be my unicorn.  It was some mystical being that I hadn’t personally been introduced to.  Victor and I occasionally buy bread, but we usually stick with corn tortillas.  Once upon a time, we bought a bag of bread, then we went on summer vacation.  I am not kidding: it didn’t mold.  I know we live in the desert and that there isn’t much moisture, but bread that doesn’t change in appearance after a month is a little scary.  I love making bread.  It feels like I am really giving my all to my family and guest when I feed them a warm out-of-the-oven roll.  It isn’t that hard, but I have found that, yes, you can leave bread to rise for too long.
  8. Cake:  Don’t buy cake in a box.  Yuck.  It tastes bad.  Enough said.
  9. Chicken Broth:  It is so simple to boil a chicken in water.  Yes, you can add some veggies to add flavor, but just chicken in water does the trick too.  Especially if you leave the skin on that guy.  You can make your broth skim by cooling it afterwards and removing the fats from the top.  But the fat gives flavor, so I suggest you leave it.  I mean, it is mostly water, after all…
  10. Flavored Oatmeal:  We used to fight over the Strawberries and Cream oatmeal packets when we were young.  This is before Quaker got smart and started selling boxes of ONLY Strawberries and Cream.  Then, when I was expecting, I read this article that suggesting making your own fruit and oats to avoid extra sugar.   Oh my.  Oh my!  I cook the strawberries first with sugar.  Then I add water, milk, and oats.  Sometimes I slice apple and cook it with cinnamon and sugar.  This is so good.  And so much better than a packet of dehydrated fruit, flavored powder and sugar, and quick oats.  I use real oats, people.  It starts my day off with a bang!

I think it is clear that I have a love affair with food.  This isn’t even about preservatives, all organic, non-gluten mumbo-jumbo.  This is about flavor.  It tastes better if you do it right.  The fact that it is healthier is a side-benefit!  Provecho!