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I'm a runner with a baking habit.  I'm constantly on the lookout for awesome desserts, freezer friendly recipes to pack in the lunchbox, and quick dinner ideas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Muffins


Today I bring you a tale of two loaf pans and the accidental discovery of our new favorite snack.  A few years ago when I was on a mission to find the world's best banana bread I was cooking both at my own house and the house of my beloved.  We both owned loaf pans.

The pan on the left is mine, and the one on the right is his.  As you can imagine, every time I baked at his house, there was always extra batter.  I figured out the solution pretty quickly, just throw the extra batter in some muffin tins.  But he didn't own any, so throwing out the surplus batter became a reluctant but necessary way of life.

And then two things happened.  The two loaf pans and my muffin tins moved in together.  Someone near and dear to my heart requested banana bread with chocolate chips.  One weekend we had both supply and demand for banana bread, so I set out to make two loaves.  I used my big pan to make a non-chocolate chip loaf, and then made a chocolate chip loaf in the small pan and cooked up the extra batter in the muffin tins.  Much to my surprise, everyone went crazy for the muffins.  (Maybe it was a numbers thing: two whole loaves vs just six muffins).  I couldn't help but notice the convenience: tiny muffins bake in just 20 minutes vs one hour plus for a loaf.  And they are an awfully convenient thing to have around the house for a snack.

Ingredients
Yield: 24 muffins
(Recipe from the Food Network)
  • 3 ½ overripe bananas
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 ⅔ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
 Method


The first step on the road to glory is an ugly one. I've mentioned before that I stockpile ripe bananas in the freezer.  When the baking urge strikes, take them out and let them defrost a bit.

Extract the bananas.

Blend the bananas, eggs, sugar, sour cream, vanilla, and oil until combined.  Now it just so happens that the last time I made these, we were out of sour cream, so I made them without.  I couldn't tell the difference.

Whisk in the flour mixture gradually until just combined. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Add the chocolate chips and whisk again to disperse.


Line 24 muffin tins with liners.

 Spoon in the batter.

Bake for 20 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test.

And get your snack on.




Monday, October 31, 2016

Oreo Cupcakes


My special someone and I are in charge of dessert for family dinners and we've gotten into a comfortable routine.  In the morning, I mix up a batch of cookie dough and set it aside in the fridge to chill out for the day.  When it's time to leave, I grab the dough and cookie sheets to take with us.  When we all sit down to dinner, I slide the dough in the oven and by the time dinner is done, fresh baked cookies await.

It's a good system, but no one can live by chocolate chip cookies alone.  Once in a while, I like to mix things up, and when I came across a recipe of Oreo cupcakes, I knew it was time to branch out.

The only thing was that the frosting recipe that I picked called for cake mix, which I don't do.  I found a from scratch Oreo cake batter recipe.  I had already decided that I would half it to make 12 cupcakes, but the half batch made 18 cupcakes.  Since I had extra cupcakes, I made the full batch of frosting.  Now you know that I prefer a 1:1 ratio of cupcake to frosting, but I know a few folks I know who like lighter frosting, so I'll usually go light for a few cakes just to be on the safe side.  But just a word to the wise, there was no leftover frosting and I really had to hold back on the last few cupcakes. 


But even with the mystery math of batter for 12 cupcakes=18 cupcakes plus frosting for 24 cupcakes=barely enough for 18 cupcakes, this recipe was still a winner.


Ingredients
Yield: 18 cupcakes
(Cupcake recipe from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life, frosting recipe from cupcakediaries)
  • Cupcakes
    • 6 tablespoons butter
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 4 oz chocolate chips, melted
    • 1 ½ large eggs or 1 jumbo egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 cup flour
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
    • 5 crushed Oreo cookies
  •  Frosting
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
    • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar 
    • 7oz marshmallow fluff
    • ½ tsp almond or vanilla extract
    • 6 crushed Oreo cookies 
Method
 
 Begin by crushing the Oreos in two batches, one batch for the cupcake batter and one for the frosting.  Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Cream the butter and sugars together for a few minutes.

Add in the eggs, vanilla, and chocolate.  I halved the original recipe, so I had to deal with the quantity of 1 ½ large eggs.  This is simple, an egg contains 3 tablespoons of liquid, so just add one egg and 1 ½ tablespoons of the 2nd egg.  Or, if you happen to have jumbo sized eggs around, as I did, just use one of those.

Mix everything together until combined.

Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk in two batches.


Finally, mix in the Oreo crumbs.



Scoop the batter into cupcake liners.  The cupcakes will rise considerably, so be careful not to fill past half full.

Bake for 20 minutes until they pass the toothpick test.  Let them cool while you make frosting.


Cream the butter and powdered sugar together.

Mix in the almond extract and marshmallow fluff.

And finally add in the Oreos.

Frost the cupcakes.

I gave some of the cupcakes a lot of frosting with the swirly roses, some a moderate amount of frosting, and a few with a thin layer of frosting.

And they were good.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Souvlaki


Let's continue our tale of awesome beach condo meals from where we left it last time.  Our second cooking adventure of the journey was a beloved family recipe.



When I say family, I'm referring to my special someone's family.  I didn't have a reference point for souvlaki.  How was I to know that the journey would lead to yet another quick, cheap, and wonderful meal?


We ended up with two full dinners for four people and one lunch serving.  The leftovers were every bit a tasty as the first night.  It was minimal work, maximum taste.  A hearty meal with a light touch.  Let me take you on the journey.

Ingredients
Yield: 9 servings

Souvlaki:
  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ Vidalia onion
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
 Fixings:
  • Pita pockets
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • olives
  • shredded mozzarella

Method

Assemble the ingredients

Chop the pepper, garlic, and onion

Extract the lemon juice.  If you're cooking at home, hopefully you have a juicer on hand.  If you're in a beachfront condo, you've got some serious squeezing in store.

 Mix the olive oil and lemon juice.

Chop the chicken into small pieces.

 Put the veggies and chicken into a bowl and add the oregano, salt, and pepper.

Add the olive oil and lemon juice mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for six hours while you head to the beach.

When you're ready to come off the beach and get dinner, start by draining the sauce off the chicken and veggies.  Heat the sauce and let boil for a few minutes.


Cook the chicken and veggies in a medium skillet.

 Remove the sauce and let it cool.

 Slice n'dice the toppings

Fill the pitas with a little bit of everything and top with a spoonful of the sauce.

Eat them up.