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Banana Berry Muffins

  Here are a couple of things you may not know about these muffins at first glance.  For one thing, they're healthy, as they contain quite a punch of fiber from 1/2 cup of ground flax seed.  The original recipe calls for oat bran, which is totally acceptable.  I've also used wheat germ.  Pretty much whatever healthy grain you've got, throw it in.  You'll never know!  Same goes for the berries, whatever you have, use it!

  Secondly, these have no added sugar.  Let me tell you right off that this is very unlike me.  I adore sugar, and pretty much all the unhealthy things ever.  But I've been trying to get my breakfast act together here, and these muffins are a healthy, yet tasty way to start one's day.

  I'm not kidding, I really like these.  The orange juice and honey really compliment the banana, and berries are always a good idea.

  These guys really pleasantly surprised me with their deliciousness.  And since they're good for you, having a second one isn't as guilt-inducing as eating two of those muffins that are on that fine line between muffins and un-frosted cupcakes.

  Dense, berry-filled, and fruit-y sweet.  I love 'em.

Banana Berry Muffins
Yield: 10-12 muffins

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup oat bran, wheat germ, or ground flax seed
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2½ tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ large bananas
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • ¾ cup fresh or frozen raspberries

(Note: If using frozen berries, don't bother thawing, just dump them into the batter frozen.  You're also welcome to use any berry you have on hand.)

Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oat bran (wheat germ, or flax seed), salt, milk powder, baking powder, and baking soda.  Stir together with a fork; set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mash together the banana and egg white until the mixture is well blended and slightly frothy.  Stir in the honey, butter, and orange juice, and mix to blend.   Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Gently fold in the fresh or frozen berries with a spatula until evenly incorporated.

Evenly divide the batter between the prepared muffin liners.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sources: adapted from Annie's Eats, who adapted from Cooking on the Side


Raspberry Lemon Grapefruit Soufflé Pudding

  I made this pud on a rain day.

  I zested lemons and beat egg whites while thunder rumbled and rain slapped against the panes.  I prayed that the power would be merciful so I had time to bake this in our electric oven.  And, yes, the power has gone out in the middle of me making something.  I try not to remember that.

  This is my first time making a pud of any kind, and I'm really happy with how it came out!

  And actually, if I'm quite honest, I couldn't stop eating it.  I may or may not have eaten 3/4 of the pan, aaanddd it is true that this really is best on the day it's made sooo... I'll let you figure that one out.  It's addictive, ok?

  Popping in I Capture the Castle and eating plate after plate of this pud (Can you tell I'm just a wee bit obsessed with shortening the word pudding?  It makes me feel posh.) was one of the best ways to spend a rainy afternoon.

  Every spoonful is fruity, fluffy, sweet but tart, and pure bliss.  It's the perfect accompaniment for a rainy day tea, or it's just nice to have sitting on your table throughout the day, waiting for you to walk by and sneak another dip.

Raspberry Lemon Grapefruit Soufflé Pudding
Yield: one 9-inch pan, or six 1-cup ramekins

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, separated
  • 1 tablespoon grapefruit zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, separated (3 egg yolks and 3 egg whites)
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup frozen raspberries, thawed and mashed
  • Scant 3/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.  Bring a teapot of water to a boil, you'll be using the boiling water to make a water bath (hot water that surrounds the pudding while it bakes, providing temperature protection for the eggs).  Butter six 1-cup ramekins or a 9-inch baking dish (I used a pie plate) and set aside.  Find a larger pan (such as a big casserole dish) that can hold all the ramekins or baking dish.

Place the 3/4 cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and add the grapefruit and lemon zest.  With the back of a spoon, rub the sugar and zest together until fragrant.  Fit the stand mixer with a paddle attachment and beat the butter with the zest-y sugar for 1 minute.  Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating on medium speed until fluffy and slightly lighter in color, about 2 minutes.  Add the flour and salt, and beat until combined.  

Combine the grapefruit juice, lemon juice, and mashed raspberries.  Alternately add the juice mixture and the milk and mix at medium speed until well incorporated, it will be loose and soupy.  Place in a large bowl and set aside.

Clean the mixing bowl very well and dry completely.  Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment.  Add the egg whites and beat on medium-high speed until frothy.  Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold the stiff egg whites into the grapefruit mixture in three additions.  You don't want to break down the egg whites, so try to be gentle and retain some of the fluff.  Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins or baking dish.  The batter won't rise much during baking, so you can fill almost to the rim.

Place the ramekins or baking dish in the larger pan.  Open the oven door and place the large pan (holding the ramekins or baking dish) inside the oven, but pull out the rack enough so you can still work with it.  Immediately pour the tea kettle of warm water into the larger baking dish, filling until the water reaches about halfway up the ramekins or baking dish.  

Bake the ramekins for 25-30 minutes, or if using a larger baking dish 35-40 minutes; until the top of the soufflé is just barely browned and a toothpick inserted into the cake portion comes out clean. Be careful not to insert the toothpick into the sauce at the bottom of the dish(es).  Remove from the water bath and cool slightly before serving.  Can be served warm or at room temperature, with some whipped cream, powdered sugar, or fresh fruit- if desired.  Best consumed the day it's made.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker's Cookbook and blog post


Coffee Bacon

  This, my friends, is not for the faint of heart.

  First of all, you should know that I'm not a coffee person.  And while this bacon isn't totally coffee-ed up, I could definitely taste it.  It was enough to make me not really like it, but my dad loooooved it.

  You know I'm a fan of candying bacon, and this isn't far from that.  Buuut we're adding in a little coffee marinade to the mix, and it just makes things all sorts of intense.

  Chewy, with a crunch, much bacon-ness, and a hint of spice, this is totally man bacon.  But since Joy the Baker developed this recipe, it's absolutely for the ladies too.  I wouldn't call it an ideal Mother's Day recipe, but right now, it's what I got :)

  Shout out to my mom for being the awesome, classy lady that she is!  I make her this cheesecake every year, because she deserves it.  Happy mom's weekend y'all.  Eat bacon.

Coffee Bacon
Yield: 8-12 slices

  • 8-12 slices uncooked bacon
  • 1/4 cup freshly ground coffee
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 tablespoons packed brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Freshly cracked black pepper

Lay cascading bacon slices atop one another so that the fat is on top, so the bacon slices are simply overlapping each other slightly in a row.  Place bacon on top of a piece of plastic wrap or brown butcher paper.
In a small bowl, combine the coffee, chili powder, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, molasses, and water.  Spread the mixture over the exposed, fatty part of the bacon slices, pressing in with the back of a spoon.  Wrap in the plastic wrap or butcher paper and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Wipe off most of the coffee grounds with a paper towel, but not all.  The majority of the coffee will be on the top of the bacon slices.  Lay the slices in a single layer on the parchment paper and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and freshly cracked pepper.
Bake until browned and crisp, about 14-17 minutes, or until bacon has reached your desired crispiness. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes before serving.
Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker's Cookbook and blog post


God Bless

  If you've been wondering where I've been, this cake should explain much.  The past couple of weeks have been crazy, and this weekend was the finale.  Or perhaps just the beginning of graduating craziness.

  I made another giant cake yesterday.  A vast improvement since last time, wouldn't you say?  My piping definitely still needs work, but you can't just buy practice.  This chocolate beast was for my Catholic neighbors, and I figured the whole "God Bless" thing would actually be a good theme for this post.

  I had my last ever piano recital today.  Usually I'm a nervous mess around these things, but this time I was remarkably cool.  I sat down with a clear head and gave it my all.  And when I stood up to bow, applause just erupted.  I stood in front of the mic waiting to announce the next piece, but they wouldn't stop clapping.  I guess I could've taken another bow, but I didn't know what to do...except smile gratefully.  I've never seen anything like it at our recitals before.

  It was a brilliant way to end five years of study, and it's a moment I'll never forget.

  There have been a lot of such little endings.  Things I've been doing for four years that are just done now.  All gone.  People move on, more things happen, and you live life.  It makes me incredibly sad, but at the same time I can't wait to see what's next.

  Overall, I feel blessed.  And so crazy tired.  I hope to get some recipes up here soon, but know that the kitchen is never a dull place here.  Only this space has been neglected.  I miss it.  I haven't been able to work up motivation for it in a while.  I don't remember the last time I picked up a book either. My brain is in so many other places, and right now all I want to do is sleep and hang out with my closest friends.

  But I'll be back.  There's a part of me that always has to write and create, even when I'm not really feeling it.

  God Bless.