Livin' in the Kitchen

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Snap Crackle Pop Cookies

In Cookies on January 30, 2011 at 6:35 am

Rice Krispy cereal has never been my thing. To make it edible I always had to stir sugar into my milk and drown the cereal. Which is why the title of todays blog post has nothing to do with the cereal, it just sums up my weekend really well…

Today I went over to Liz’s house. (I might go to Michigan with them this summer!) I laughed for so long and so hard that I’m pretty sure my sides split. Is that unnatural? Here’s why:

Why yes, I broke her bed in a swift pop. It was falling apart as it was, the boards were breaking. But, if anyone’s self-esteem is especially low, I’d suggest staying away from questionable-looking-antique beds. However, after tonight, I’m a lot closer to a six-pack than before. I heard if you laugh for 24 hours straight you can get a six pack… half way there, we were cracking up all night. Aside from breaking the bed, I’m pretty sure I also managed to re-injure my right knee.

Her mom came up to find the bed broken and two girls rolling on the floor- this is not figurative, the matress hit the floor- laughing. I can’t say her mom was too happy. Neither was my knee. I think if a stranger were to walk into that room and find two teenage girls rolling on the floor with tears rolling down their eyes and heaves of laughter, they couldn’t help but laugh, too. Ok. Maybe not. But it was just so funny. We broke a bed.  

Here are the cookies that gave us the sugar-high to do so:


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
(There was no credit to this recipe, found it in the cupboard)

(Preheat oven to 350F)

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 peanut butter
1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Combine the dry ingredients minus the powdered sugar, don’t sift.

 Mix the wet ingredients, and only 1/4 cup peanut butter until completely incorporated.

 Combine the dry ingredients with the wet.

It’ll look like this, and taste a little mocha-y when it’s un-baked.

In another bowl, mix the remaining peanut butter plus 2 tablespoons peanut butter and the powdered sugar.

* Next step– Roll chocolate-looking mixture into a ball, press it down with your palm, put a LARGE ball of peanut butter in the middle and wrap the chocolate around it.

Take a bowl of water and a bowl of granulated sugar, dip the bottom of the glass in the water then into the sugar.

Use the sugared glass to flatten the balled cookies. You should push it down far enough so that the sides of the cookies are cracked.

It’s easy, fast, and you can just dig in. DON’T OVERBAKE THESE! I’d definately double the peanut butter-powdered sugar mixture next time. They are best warm! : )

 We used Jewel peanut butter for this recipe. Although, Jiff is my running favorite.

What’s your favorite kind of peanut butter?

Shortbread Cookies and a Delicious Smoothie

In Cookies, Valentines Day on January 24, 2011 at 3:44 am

It’s been a pretty productive Sunday. In May, I’m running a 10K, but I’m going to train for a half marathon so that it’s easier when the race comes. Today was my first day of training, 3 miles. Then, sweaty and gross, I drove the truck to my little cousin’s birthday party. -We rushed cake and presents so that we’d make it back for the Bears vs. Packers game. Bears lost. Figures.

Onto different, less depressing news. Valentines day is coming up. It’s not that I don’t like Valentines day, I just don’t particularly enjoy it. A little angel with an arrow that shoots people making them fall in love just seems a little far-fetched… why not just get them a box of chocolates? Couples are cute, until they start trying to match eachother. Sorry guys, it’s just weird. But the one thing I’d change about Valentines day is the candies… You know? With the messages on them. They aren’t yummy. They taste like cornstarch. 

One of my favorite teachers once told me to change what I could and forget the rest. So I changed the little ‘message’ candies into cookie candies!

 I used Gale Gand’s Brown Sugar Shortbread recipe. I wasn’t sure if they were supposed to be really crumbly or if I did something wrong. It didn’t really matter anyway. I made up a frosting recipe, and I’ve discovered frosting has magic-cookie-fixing powers.

After making the frosting for the middle of the cookie (recipe below) and the topping (just white chocolate bark and white chocolate chips melted with butter in a double-boiler) I made a cookie-assembly line and turned on the Special Victims Unit marathon.

White Chocolate “Frosting”

By: Me!

1 stick of butter
3 cups of powdered sugar
2 blocks of white chocolate bark
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons milk, may need a tad bit more

Combine the butter and powdered sugar, leave mixing
Melt the white chocolate bark, then pour into the powdered sugar mixture
Add the milk and vanilla bean paste
(This is going to be a lot thicker than your average frosting, but I kept it on the thicker-side for these cookies since it was exactly what I was going for! If I try this on a cake, I’ll probably try adding more milk and a little whipping cream to get it to a creamy-er consistancy.

Decorating was fun, I died the topping with food coloring, and added some luster dust to a few…

The process was fun, but long. I whipped myself up a smoothie and enjoyed it while I decorated like thirty something of these little things… My healthy kick is a kickin’, and having a smoothie actually helped me to kick my nasty habit of snacking on the dessert as I went.


All I did was add frozen blueberries- “power food”, peaches, spinach- believe it or not, also a “power food” and barely detectable in the smoothie-, I added a banana and a little pineapple in the blender, and… WHAMO! It was done speedy fast, really yummy, and healthy!

Reality T.V. and Avocado Cupcakes

In Flops on January 22, 2011 at 3:31 am

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work in Jeff Lewis’s office? Well, I have. I’m a reality t.v. show junkie when it comes to Jeff Lewis’s office and the cooking channel.. Which is how my Thursday turned into a flop…

It seemed like a good idea at the time… That’s what I told my dad when he looked in the garbage and found 12 avocado cupcakes. My mom “almost choked on them”.  I thought it was “a waste of two very good-looking avocados”. And my brother had a conversation at his lunch table today about how I could be “a very successful baker if I started making less exotic things, like chocolate chip cookies”. Thanks for the advice guys. – You see, this is what happens when you take a reality show meant solely for the entertainment of those at home on their couches, to heart. Cough, cough, Cupcakes, cough, cough, Wars….

This is what I ended up with:

Sometimes, it’s best to just leave certain ingredients to what they’re meant to be. Not always. But sometimes. Doing things with avocados that vear too far from guacamole doesn’t seem to be an exception to the rule… So here lies the avocado cupcake, a flop in its short-lived glory.

The cupcake looked pretty snazzy, I was even going to make my Salted Caramel Buttercream for the top. I couldn’t wait to try the filling, the excitement of possibly being a someday Cupcake-Wars-Champion was too great to wait. The hope died fast.

Skills for Success, of course, had the answer to why I would do something so impractical. It’s a class that all freshman are required to take. You take a series of tests and a computer tells you what you should do with you life, while pointing out your flaws. Let’s just say, I laughed when I got my results. Instead of, oh I don’t know, being in the math room where I could actually get some help so I could continue to be successful; I was staring at a computer monitor that was giving me the results to my life: Apparently I’m too compulsive and I will never finish anything in my life. Seriously. Also, my passion is going to run out. No time frame, but according to the computer, it could go any day now.

Am I mad that I’m wasting my life in this class? You bet. But, you know what I think? I think that it’s more important to follow your heart than a set of computer results. Maybe making avocado cupcakes is a little compulsive, and maybe I like the idea of traveling and adventure. Does that mean I’m going to be unsuccessful and run out of passion? Uhm, I kind of doubt it.

Let’s pretend the computer’s right and this is all going to come true. If I do become a very unsuccessful person, I will end up an author, blogger, foodie, and cookbook writer… I’ll be accepting failure by denying my inner performer… whatever will I do?

Anyhow, I don’t consider making Avocado Cupcakes that flopped themselves into the garbage a waste of time. Having fun is not a waste of time, being compulsive is fun, and you don’t need a computer to map out what life “should” be.

Monday Muffins and Veggies

In Muffins, Veggies on January 18, 2011 at 4:14 am

I’m not sure if it was after-finals-shock-syndrome.  Possibly it was the four-day-break from school with absolutely no homework for the first time since school started. Or maybe, I was just a little high on life…

Today, after jogging two miles and shaving 1:10 off my usual mile time on each, I was sure I was on the verge of death. I might have considered writing a will had I not been so fascinated by the feel of every vein pumping blood through my body. I was pooped. That’s right. I said pooped on a food blog. And that’s what I was. Too pooped to stretch, too pooped to walk a little more to get my heart rate back to normal, too pooped to close the windows.

Somewhere between my close trip from the treadmill to my floor, I realized that my room was filling with the blizzard outside. But I didn’t feel the harsh affects of the cold, just the refreshing hug of the wind and sprinkle of the flakes. I don’t know how to explain it, but apparently my mind wasn’t too pooped to think because I realized a lot in those ten minutes:
-I was really happy about my decision to run a 10K, despite my current condition
-Cooking some healthier stuff was a long time coming, even if I still cry when I cut onions.
-I was going to write a book, edit it, and think about publishing
-I’d start trying out my own recipes, completely, and make a cookbook (or a bakebook, whichever floats my boat)
-Life’s too short to dwell on things that aren’t important
-I’m gonna enjoy the snow while it’s here because I’m gonna miss it when it’s gone
-Finally, I’ve been trying to figure out the future, and the best way to achieve it. I’m a freshman. Things will work themselves out. Lists aren’t my thing anyway. I loose them.

It was an awesome day… I also cooked, like, a lot. Today was my, stock-up-on-a-bunch-of-healthy-freezable-lunches Monday. But, I decided to post just two of my favorite things.
Numero Uno is a Veggie dish. I could eat these all day long. Since they’re healthy, I did! Introducing, Honey Roasted Root Vegetables.

Honey-Roasted Root Vegetables

Adapted from Cooking Light

6 peeled big carrots
3 peeled sweet potatoes
3 shallots
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

First: Peel all the veggies (pictured above), cut them all into chunks, and put them in a bowl.

Second: Add your honey, olive oil, and salt. Stir, then transfer to your cooking dish.

Third: Pop it in the oven at 450F for 35 minutes. Stir them every 15 to get the best flavor, and try not to spill them all over your oven when you’re trying to return it to the baking shelf… Your mom will make you clean up the oven. Been there. Done that.

Fourth: ENJOY! I swear, you’re going to eat these like you eat potato chips, they’re addicting!

Later in the afternoon, after my jog, was when I made the shift into the baking portion of my day. For a while I struggled with what muffins I should make for my mornings. I wanted something healthy and preferably with peanut butter- for whatever reason, when I jog a lot, that’s all I crave. Finally I put the cookbooks down, and that’s when I hit the second most inspiring part of my day. I was going to make something up. It didn’t matter what. I could be anything I wanted it to be! And that is what it was.

I’m posting this mostly for myself, but feel free to try them! Making them was very trial and error- something you’ll see in the recipe! The end product was actually really moist, and if you like peanut butter, they were delicious! And if you’re allergic to peanut butter, beware!

Extra Peanut Butter-y Morning Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 oats plus three more handfuls
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 plus 4 tablespoons Motts cinnamon applesauce
2/3 brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 2/3 cups of peanut butter
2 tablespoons greek-style yogurt
A splash, more than a teaspoon, of vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/4 cup of milk
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat 350F
Mix in a heavy-duty mixer: the whole wheat, oats, peanut butter, vanilla extract, applesauce, brown sugar, cinnamon, and 2 teaspoons of baking powder together.
Add eggs, one at a time.
Add milk, beat until incorporated
Add the Greek-style yogurt
Stir white chocolate chips in by hand
Use an ice cream scooper to scoop eat into muffin tins, fill to the top
Bake 17 minutes, don’t overcook!!

Can’t wait til’ breakfast!

Spring is Blooming… in my kitchen!

In Healthy on January 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm

I seem to have a case of Spring Fever… even though it snowed two days ago. Although I’m an anything-is-possible-kind of person, I wasn’t so sure sitting in my room invisioning blooming flowers would melt the snow. Which is why I did the next best thing aside from jumping on a plane and heading to somewhere warm of course… I brought spring to my kitchen!

No, you’re not hallucinating… I made an actual meal. And there was absolutely zero added sugar in it. And it was actually edible. And sometimes you need to just pat yourself on the back so I’m just going to come out and say it, it was delicious!

I’m kicking myself to be healthy. (Yes, I’m aware it’s trying to get on a healthy kick…. I just had to kick myself to do it. ) I’m going to run a 10K in the Spring and I decided that just maybe I could make a few changes to my eating habits along the way. Does this mean no more desserts? Never. Honestly, I’d rather someday slip into a sugar comma and be happy than be completley without dessert. The problem is, I do what most Americans do: eat out of bordome. How does it work? Really, it’s easy! You just grab the most unhealthy, appealing looking, highest calorie thing in your house and eat it to your heart’s content. And my heart  requires a lot of sugar to be content. Which is why I was shocked when I actually not only ate, but thoroughly enjoyed these noodles!

Tips: This definately needs salt and a little pepper to bring out the flavors! Don’t be afraid, add as much as it takes to bring out all your flavors. Add tomatoes to your heart’s content, they really give it a fresh taste.

Thoughts: Really yummy! The pasta salad has a nice tang! I added more cider vinegar than the original recipe called for, and next time I might even add a little more. The feta seems to make it a little dryer so I’d also consider adding a tablespoon more of all the liquids. But the tastes were awesome, and I will definately be making this again!

Tomato and Feta Pasta Salad

Altered from original Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Arugula and Feta

Carrots ‘N’ Cake

12 Ounces uncooked whole wheat penne
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic
2 tablespoons plus a splash of cider vinegar
3 tomatoes in cubes *ceramic knives are amazing for cutting these
6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Sprinkled pepper
Sea Salt * Be generous in adding this, if you don’t, it’ll be hard to find the flavors of the dish.

Add salt and water to a pot, turn on medium heat until boiling – add noodles and cook according to the package
Strain, put back into pot, and stir in all your ingredients (salt and pepper too!) except tomatoes and feta.
Transfer the mix into your serving bowl, allow to cool
Cut tomatoes into cubes
Add tomatoes and feta to noodles and mix well

Now for dessert. I wanted to make something healthier and keep with the Spring theme. I got the idea from someone who’s always in the kitchen watching me…

Jack the fourth- or fifth?( We’ve had beta fish most of my life and when one dies we get the same colored fish, name him Jack, and add another number to the end of his name. It’s not replacement… it’s just displaced love.) The flowers on top of his aquarium gave me the idea to make flower-shaped brownies!

Well, it’s hard to make something healthy when what you really want is chocolate. No dessert is going to be actually healthy. So I made healthier brownies which included whole wheat flour and applesause in place of butter. -It still had sugar in it but the fat content was lower than the usual brownie which is what I was going for. 

Tips: Make sure that you DO NOT overcook these brownies. There are a lot of chocolate chips in the batter so either way your toothpick is going to come out a little chocolate-y ~if not, you know you’ve cooked them to long. Another good tip: don’t try the batter and be discouraged. This is more healthy than usual brownies so expect the batter to have a whole wheat taste to it.

Thoughts: These were AMAZING for being healthy. Even if they wern’t healthy, which they were, they were amazing! My smaller brownies were a little overcooked, so when I tried them I wasn’t in love. But OH MAN, when I got to the center of the big brownie cake it was delicious! If anything, cook these a little under and take them out of the pan after sitting in it for ten minutes.

 Healthier Chocolate Brownies 



 Adapted from Handle the Heat

1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons of Motts Cinnamon Applesause
2 cups brown sugar, not packed
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, or vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 3/4 whole wheat flour
2 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven 350F
Combine the applesause and sugars in a pan over medium heat, only keep on until sugar is melted
Pour into mixing bowl of a heavy-duty mixer
Combine all ingredients well except eggs, flour, and chocolate chips
Add eggs one at a time
Add the flour and stir on slow
Stir in chocolate chips by hand
Spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray
Bake for about 15 minutes, and check.* DO NOT OVER BAKE!

Finally done with Finals!

In Frosting on January 14, 2011 at 6:52 am

All I can say is thank God finals are over. No baking four days? No reading for fun? No free time? No facebook? -Yes, I grounded myself from facebook for the week. The urge was too great so I had my mom make me a new password. No friends? No thanks.
Onto life after finals!

Mag, Liz, and I went to sushi…

love Sushi. Have you ever tried a California Roll with Eel Sauce? Delsih!! Plus, who doesn’t like an aesthetically appealing lunch?


Our dear Lizzie likes eating…. just not things she hasn’t tried before. How her mother ever got her to eat in the first place I have no idea. bribery by chocolate? But today, after finals, she agreed to go to sushi- something if I may point out doesn’t look a bit yellow or noodle-shaped! It’s a day to be remembered.


Overall though, sushi was a lot of fun! Don’t be fooled by the picture above. Liz may not have liked her own sushi but she was digging Mag’s Shrimp Tempera Roll. -She said it tasted like Rice Krispies. Hey! Whatever floats her boat.

After sushi we came back to my house and made a recipe from Sarabeth’s Bakery! We made Genoise in cupcake form… turns out Genoise is better off in a thin sheet and circular form. The “cupcake” had a really fresh vanilla bean taste to it, but the bulky texture didn’t work. Sometime I’ll make the recipe as is and see how it is! After finals, it was more about the relief of being in the kitchen than anything. And being there with my best friends made it that much better! 

                   The Batter

Mag and Liz both had to leave before they came out of the oven, but they turned out looking pretty nice!

  The frosting’s a Salted Caramel buttercream that I made and then had to hurry to write down because I liked it so much!









Thoughts- This was awesome! It was creamy, salty, and had the perfect amount of caramel in it! I was starting to loose hope in caramel frostings because I could never find a perfect balance. This is it!

Tips- When you’re boiling your water and sugars together, make sure to do it for more than four minutes. You won’t burn it! It’s best to have the sugar melted to avoid grainy tastes.

   Salted Caramel Buttercream

3/4 cup of white sugar

Heaping 1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

 2 egg yolks

1 stick of salted butter

2 teaspoons of sea salt

About 2 cups of powdered sugar

In a saucepan on medium heat combine the sugars and water, stir together and continue stirring and checking for 6 minutes.

Separate eggs and put the egg yolks in a heat-proof bowl.

When sugar is completely melted, reduce to low heat and add heavy whipping cream. Stir for two minutes, then immediately add to your egg yolks and whisk until combined. Allow to cool completely.

*Don’t heat your butter. Leave it sitting outside of the fridge for 15 minutes, it’s better to mix it colder than warm or melty. *

Use the paddle attachment and the whip the butter and salt together until light.

Add the cooled caramel mixture to the butter mixture, and beat until completely combined.

Add about 2 cups of powdered sugar, it varies with desired consistency.

Saturdays and Triple Chocolate Trifles

In Trifles on January 9, 2011 at 12:57 am

Today was an awesome Saturday. It was mostly just Nick and I at home- leading to a very productive day, if I might add. We kicked back and played some Starwars Legos on the game cube, had Lunch, made something we now call Triple Chocolate Trifle, blew bubbles, did dishes, and in between I found some time to study. 


  He roughed it through the freezing weather

To blow bubbles.                                                      

Then we made a Triple Chcolate Trifle!

Nick is actually the one person I almost never mind baking with. He makes me laugh, loves helping, and gets me to clean up after myself. -Seriously. A fourth child who hates messes can be very assertive.

Assertive- voicing an opinion/feeling while taking into consideration the other person’s feelings. (Who says I can’t walk on the treadmill, blog, and study for my health final at the same time?)

Making our chocolate cake and chocolate layers!


What’s our one secret ingredient that made this cake the moistest chocolate cake I’ve ever had?


Our finished product and the ending to an awesome day:

If you want something done, you’d better do it yourself…

Thoughts- the cakes was super moist and really delicious! I was afraid I’d taste the mayo, but even in the batter I had no clue it was there!
Tips- Measure the size of your Trifle container with the size of your pans. I did so as to not waste batter, leaving enough batter to make cupcakes instead of having a bunch of scraps of cake!

Triple Chocolate Trifle
Adapted cake recipe from Serious Eats blog
Chocolate Frosting adapted from Hersey’s Cocoa

3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups of sugar + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup of maynnaise, I used Hellman’s Mayonnaise
2 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon, slightly heaping, salt
1 1/4 cups of warm water

Preheat 350F
Beat together eggs and sugar together on medium-high for 5-6 minutes
Continue beating, lower to medium speed, add vanilla and mayo
Lower to a slow-speed setting and add your dry ingredients, beat until incorporated
Now add water slowly, and beat until incorporated
Bake cakes anywhere around 25- 40 minutes. (Mine came out at all different time since they were different sizes. Every time one wasn’t done I baked it for another 5-10 minutes and check again with a tookpick. Don’t overbake!!!)

Hersey’s Chocolate Buttercream, slightly adapted
1 stick of butter
2/3 cup of cocoa powder
3 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Split 1/3 cup evenly between milk and heavy whipping cream
Chocolate Pudding
(Due to all the other things we had to do tonight, I used one package of chocolate pudding tonight for one of the layers. Use any chocolate pudding mix you have on hand or make your own which is really simple! In effortts to make this triple chocolate dessert slightly healthier we followed the directions we mixed the pudding package with skim milk and it worked just as well!)
Use a

Slightly beat the butter into the powdered sugar
Add all the other ingredients * and then mix on high until all incororated and creamy
*Picture above

 Assembling the cake: Cut the width of your cakes in the middle so that you end up with four half cakes instead of two full layers. -Depending on the size of your trifle glass you may have one or two layers left over.- Slide the first smallest layer down to the bottom then layer with chocolate frosting, then the pudding, then layer on the next bigger sized cake. Repeat this process until you’re 1/4 of an inch away from the top. Top with whipping cream or whipped cream- whichever you have on hand is find. Sift a little cocoa powder for looks on top (optional)

Wow, while writing this post I’ve walked 4.2 miles on the treadmill! I’ve gotta do this more often!!- Happy Saturday, I’ll be taking finals Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so I’ll probably be cramming instead of blogging. Wish me luck!!

Dreaming of Sunflowers and Spring

In Chicago on January 4, 2011 at 8:39 pm

It’s that week. The week of finals. Why we have them after winter break I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you is that I’ve thought about them everyday and they’ve been a constant source of stress.

Overall, though, it’s been a good break. I’ve visted chicago twice.

First trip with D:
My mom always told me not to argue with adults so when the ticket man walked by my friend and I, thinking we were twelve, we smiled our big twelve-year-old smiles at him and kept our 5 bucks. Smart traveling? I’d say yes.

At the zoo we met a sleepy gorilla and moles! The polar bears wern’t out when we went. Something I find very peculiar since we were…

Second Trip with Mary Beth and Erica: My second trip to Chicago included going to the Museum of Science and Industry. Where there were Christmas trees from around the world.

Does anyone else find it odd that the tree representing the American christmas experience was decorated with almost all flags…. I don’t know about your tree, but that’s never how ours looks!

Where I also saw my veins through this station they’d set up… I’ll never think of my hands the same way again.

This Spring Mary Beth, Erica, and I are going to stay with Mary Beth’s aunt in Chicago, visit bakeries, take pictures, and explore the city. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of Sunflowers and Spring.

Well, I’ve got to go study now. My ultimate goal is to study all week and stay away from blogging and food. We’ll see how it goes. -See you next week!!

Makin’ Muffins

In Muffins on January 2, 2011 at 12:14 am

You’d think being a bake-aholic my New Years resolution would be to eat healthier, stay away from sweets, eat a carrot a day, and join a high school sport. Not even close. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just like making promises I know I can try to keep. Afterall,  Banana Strusel muffins were my first breakfast and baked good of the New Year. It’s a little discouraging when you break your promise the first morning. Plus, I had bigger fish to fry anyway. And that fish is called facebook, the source of all things unproductive.

Facebook’s “good qualities”-Facebook is a great resource for people to connect with other people from around the country. It lets you connect with others in ways that you wouldn’t have before. There are hundreds of quizzes where you can answer questions about your friends. And who doesn’t like looking at their facebook friends box to see how many friends they have. Everyone likes a little ego boost.

Why these aren’t actually good qualities– Well here’s the painful truth I’ve discovered. I go on facebook for hours upon hours of pointless scrolling. I want to know what the heck I’m doing on there for hours because I can’t ever seem to remember. It’s all lost in my mind in a sea of blue and white. And let’s face it. The person you’re usually facebooking is a person two houses down from you or a neighborhood over. The quizzes are pointless. And I’m just going to take a stab at this, but if hours of facebook quizzes can’t actually make your eyes fall out, I’m pretty sure if affects your future vision. Carrots can’t revive that kind of damage. And I’m just gonna say it now, I don’t even know  half of the people I’m friends with.

Anyhow, I’d like to say that I haven’t been on facebook at all. That is a lie. We are exactly 16 hours into the new year and already I’ve been on facebook about six. I’d like to say it’s all in the name of the blog though. Here’s why. You see, my best friend Mary Beth and I are pretty much a perfect match. She likes taking pictures, I don’t. I like making food and blogging and that requires pictures. So as we partied it up last night this morning was also quite fun as we made muffins and she photographed them.   


 Well she went home this afternoon. So did the camera. And so did the pictures. Am I to blame for using facebook to retrieve these pictures? Or should I have inconvienced her and the whole process by asking her to create a shutterfly account so that I would not be going on facebook? No. I’m a nice friend. A friend who still feels slightly guilty about suggesting that she do the dishes while I chopped broccoli for the vegtable appetizer pizza last night. Turns out she had an allergic reaction, to doing dishes. No joke. She had to take benadrill and almost passed out before midnight.

So now you see why I broke my New Years resolution, sorting out all of the awesome pictures she took was actually really hard. I sort of wanted to use them all. Like the pictures? Visit her website at No one could help but be impressed.

We woke up to find my little brother’s best friend playing video games downstairs. Chris was still sleeping, we were hungry, and I had the ingredients for a muffin recipe in my favorite cookbook, Sarabeth’s Bakery. Which is why at 8 am this morning the three of us were baking banana strusel muffin in a sleeping house.

Tips These are going to be taken out of the oven and left in their tins for an extra ten minutes. Bake them until a tookpick comes out clean, no longer.
Thoughts These muffins aren’t the kind you’re probably used to. They’re real bakery muffins. Which means they aren’t overly sweet. But the texture is moist, fluffy, and absolutely perfect. These are great breakfast muffins, and really easy to have other people help with!

Here’s a taste of our morning….
Banana Streusel Muffins
Slightly adapted from Sarabeth Levine’s Sarabeth’s Bakery 

6 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste



Softened unsalted butter, to brush the pan
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or seeds from 1/2 plumped vanilla bean
2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup sour cream
4 small ripe bananas- peel, cut into 1/4-inch-slices

Preheat oven to 400F. Brush the pan with the softened butter and the top of the pan. -No muffin sleeves needed

In a small bowl, mix together all the streusel ingredients with your hands

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into another bowl

In a mixer, beat the butter with the paddle attachment for a minute or until smooth, gradually add sugar, scraping the bowl down with a spatula. Continue to mix for about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and vanilla. Beat eggs and milk in gradually.

Turn mixer on low, alternate 3 times between adding the flour mixture and the sour cream. Don’t overbeat.

Fold in bananas

Put into muffin tin, these should make 12 muffins. Generously add batter. It gives the muffin tops a nice bakery-look.

Spread all the strusel on top of the muffins.

Bake for 10 minutes, then change the temperature to 375F and bake for about 15 more minutes.

Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins so they can cool completely on a plate or a rack.