I have a question for the ladies out there. Do you ever take your purse and dump it out? Dump every little coin, paperclip, hair tie and piece of trash out of it? Then pick through the contents, get rid of those things that are cluttering it up and placing your necessities neatly back inside your purse.
With the painter almost finished here at our house I have been thinking about what I have that is really necessary and what can be considered clutter. It’s as if I have “dumped” it out and I am starting over. Just thinking about the purge makes me feel invigorated. Imagine if you will, how much better our lives would be if we applied “dumping the unnecessary” to ourselves. How much better would we feel to get rid of the negative thoughts that are cluttering our minds every day?
These muffins are wonderfully moist and delicious. The finishing touches are not necessary, but I love the added crunch on top. I promised easy recipes, and that is still my goal. This week’s recipe is easy, but I’m not sure how many of you will have almond paste lying around. These muffins are well worth the trip to the grocery store though. This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks. One that is well worn with plenty of vanilla splashes and creased pages. Almond Poppy Seed Muffins is from Marcy Goldman’s The New Best of Better Baking.com. You may add one teaspoon of lemon extract and a little lemon juice for a fantastic lemon poppy seed muffins.
Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
- 1 c. sugar
- 4-oz. almond paste, minced
- ½ c. finely ground almonds
- ½ c. (4-oz.) unsalted butter
- ¼ c. canola oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. sour cream
- ⅓ c. milk
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2¾ c. all-purpose flour
- 2½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 tbsp. poppy seeds
- FINISHING TOUCHES
- Slivered almonds
- Coarse Sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the sugar and almond paste together well, about 2 to 4 minutes. Add the ground almonds, butter, and oil and blend well. Fold in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds and blend, scraping the bottom of the bowl occasionally to ensure nothing gets stuck in the well of the mixing bowl. If the mixture seems too loose, add a touch more flour. It should be the consistency of thick cake batter.
- Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Top each muffin with some slivered almonds and sugar. Place the muffin cups on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake about 30 to 35 minutes, until the muffins are nicely browned and spring back when lightly touched. Let them cool in the pan for 15 minutes before turning them out onto a rack to cool completely.
Christmastime for most of us is filled with traditions. Traditions are a big part of what makes the season so special to me. Many of those traditions revolving around food. When the kids were small, we always baked cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. They are older now but I still bake cookies on Christmas Eve. Christmas candy is something my mama always made, and I have continued that tradition at my house.
My kids decorated a gingerbread house every year when they were younger. Wes stopped doing helping with that in his early teens, but Savannah continued, and we had a gingerbread house in the center of the table every year. That is, until last year. With Savannah’s busy schedule she just could not find the time to decorate one last year. I’m not going to lie. The table looked a little lonely and sad.
This year I have decided to change up the tradition a bit. We will have gingerbread at the house but in a different form. I will be making this delicious gingerbread loaf to snack on during our time together. This loaf fills the house with a wonderful aroma as it bakes. It’s perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee or as a snack, or even for dessert. It also makes a great gift for neighbors and coworkers.
In testing this recipe I used 1/2 cup molasses and 1/4 cup sorghum syrup. Sorghum is not quite as strong as molasses, and therefore a better choice for my family.
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- ½ c. granulated sugar
- ¼ c. packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. ground ginger
- 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. ground allspice
- ¼ tsp. ground cloves
- ½ c. unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ c. molasses
- 2 lg. eggs
- 1 c. buttermilk
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 c. confectioners' sugar
- 1 tbsp. milk (more if needed)
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice,and cloves.
- In a separate mixing bowl whisk together melted butter, molasses, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Whisk until thoroughly combined. (Mixture may look curdled.)
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. Do not over mix.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the loaf to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.
- For glaze: Whisk together the milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled loaf.
- If desired decorate the top with chopped nuts, dried cranberries, or whole fresh cranberries.
In testing this recipe, I used ½ c. molasses plus ¼ c. sorghum syrup.
It is no secret that I enjoy cooking and all things that come with it. Well, except for maybe the cleaning up. I read cookbooks for pleasure and even watch a few cooking shows. I also love a day off. I’m up for a good restaurant any day with someone else doing all of the work.
Savannah decided to come home over the weekend since the college campus was closed due to Hurricane Matthew. Having her home was great, and I usually make a few of her favorite dishes while she is home. This time, she cooked breakfast for us one morning. She baked these fabulous Cinnamon Swirl Banana Muffins. The cinnamon swirl was a great addition to banana muffins.
This recipe can also be used to make a loaf of banana bread. Savannah said that the bread is better the day after it bakes. We wouldn’t know because the muffins did not last long enough to find out.
Cinnamon Swirl Banana Muffins
<g class="gr_ gr_65 gr-alert gr_spell gr_disable_anim_appear ContextualSpelling ins-del multiReplace" id="65" data-gr-id="65">Amye</g> Melton
- 3 to 4 overripe bananas, mashed
- ⅓ c. unsalted butter, melted
- ¾ c. granulated sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1½ c. all-purpose flour
- ⅓ c. granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin pan with 12 paper liners or spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray, set aside.
- Mix mashed bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a large bowl. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt and gently mix into the banana mixture. Do not overmix!
- Fill the paper liners half-way with batter. Then evenly distribute half of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Add remaining batter to the top of each. Using a butter knife, swirl the batter. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
To make a loaf, pour half of batter the greased loaf pan. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Pour remaining batter on top and swirl with a butter knife. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture. Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes.
Before moving to the farm, pizza delivery was a weekly affair. However, delivery does not happen in the middle of the country! I had played around with pizza crust in the past. Mostly to get the kids involved by topping and baking their individual pizzas. I’ve tried many recipes over the past few years. Some have been really good, but I have never tried a recipe that when I knew my search was over until this crust.
This recipe is almost as simple and picking up the phone to order a pizza, but the flavor is much better! (The fruiter the olive oil the better the flavor.) No kidding, it takes just a matter of minutes to mix up this dough using my heavy-duty Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook. Allow the dough to rise for two hours. Then you are ready to prepare your homemade pizza or refrigerate the dough to use over the next 12 days. You will get about three 10-inch pizzas from this dough.
Most recipes will recommend a pizza stone. I have used stones and pans, and I prefer a large, heavy-gauge baking sheet with sides. The sides will keep the oil from dripping in the oven, and a heavy-gauge pan holds enough heat to brown and crisp the crust nicely. This crust also doubles as a nice focaccia bread! (Recipe below, no picture of the focaccia, sorry!)
Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 425 °F. Prepare this simple, no-cook sauce and measure and prepare all of your toppings in advance. Remove from the pan immediately and serve.
Olive Oil Dough for Homemade Pizza
- 2¾ c. lukewarm water
- 1½ tbsp. granulated yeast (2 packets)
- 1½ tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
- 6½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
- Mix the yeast, salt, sugar, and olive oil with the water in a 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
- Mix in the flour without kneading, using a spoon, a 12-cup capacity food processor (with dough attachment), or heavy-duty stand mixer (with dough hook). If you're not using a machine, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.
- Cover (not airtight), and allow to rest at room temperature until dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
- The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 12 days.
- To prepare the pizza: Thirty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 425°F (or you could go up to 550°F).
- Prepare and measure all of the toppings, set aside.
- Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a grapefruit-size piece. Dust the piece with flour and quickly shape it not a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
- Flatten the dough with your hands and a rolling pin on a flour dusted wooden board to begin flattening. Once you gave flattened it to about 1-inch thick move to your pan and continue to flatter and shape with your fingertips. You may need to allow the rolled dough to relax for a few minutes to allow further shaping.
- Top with a small amount of sauce and spread, leaving ½-inch to 1-inch pizza sauce. Top with mozzarella and toppings of your choice.
- Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the temperature used. Remove from oven when the pizza is evenly browned and cheese has melted.
- NOTES: You c
You can mix and store the dough in the same container if you prefer. You need a large food-grade container that holds about five quarts. If you double the recipe you will need a container that holds at least ten quarts. Sam's Club has a few good options. I have punched a hole in the lid of mine and use it specifically for my dough.
Pizza Sauce for Homemade Pizza
- 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. sugar
- Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Store in refrigerator.
If you prefer a completely smooth consistency you pour the mixture into a blender and pulse several times.
Can be frozen.
- Suggested toppings:
- Onions and fresh rosemary
- Cherry tomatoes, halved with chopped fresh basil.
- Black olives and goat cheese.
- Grease a baking sheet with a rim with olive oil, set aside. Preheat oven to 425°F, with an empty broiler pan on any shelf that won't interfere with the focaccia.
- Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.
- Flatter it to a ½-inch to ¾-inch thick using your fingertips with a minimal amount of additional flour. Please the dough on the greased baking sheet.
- Top dough with your desired toppings. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. You do not want to cover the whole surface with toppings or oil. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Allow the focaccia to rest and rise for 20 minutes.
- After the focaccia has rested, place the cookie sheet on a rack near the center of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into a broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the crust is medium brown. Be careful not to burn the toppings. The baking time will vary according to the focaccia's thickness.
- Cut into wedges and serve warm.
This week, I'm going to begin by telling you that I am a failure. It is mid-February, and I have broken all of my New Year's resolutions. I'm going to blame it on my foot. After all, we always want to blame our bad habits on something.
I have been dealing with a foot issue for a couple of years. When I started walking in January, as part of my "better me" plan, the pain literally stopped me in my tracks. After finally seeing a doctor it turns out that I need surgery on my right foot. So, one resolution down.
To prepare for post-surgery, when I will be unable to cook, clean, or do laundry (woe is me), I started researching and preparing recipes. Along with this testing came tasting until finally two resolutions down, no more to go. The upside of this is I have great new recipes that I can't wait to share with you over the next few weeks. Excellent sweets, fabulous new main dishes and sides. These dishes will definitely find their way into my regular weekday line-up.
This sweet potato bread is moist and sweet with the perfect amount of warm cinnamon and nutmeg. It's even better a day or so after you bake it. The butter was amazing, but I have mostly had this bread without the butter for a fast, easy breakfast. I'm a big fan of coffee, and this sweet bread is great with a steaming cup!
Sweet Potato Bread with Pineapple Butter
- 1¾ c. all-purpose flour
- 1½ c. granulated sugar
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 c. mashed sweet potatoes
- ½ c. canola oil
- ⅓ c. buttermilk
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
- With an electric mixer beat sugar and canola oil until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sweet potatoes and buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredients and mix by hand just until blended.
- Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes or until when tested with a toothpick the toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool on a wire rack until completely cool. Store in an airtight container.
- Serve with pineapple butter, if desired.
- ½ c. butter, softened
- 2 to 3 tbsp. powdered sugar
- 1 (8-oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained well
- Mix al ingredients with an electric mixer . Store in refrigerator.