Friday, July 31, 2009

Recipe: Basic Muffins with variations

I made these muffins the other night and I love how versatile they are! You take a basic muffin recipe and can make oodles and gobs of different kinds. You can even make up the dry mix in advance and it is ready to go when you feel the need to bake!

Basic Muffins


2 cups Flour
1 cup Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoons Salt
1 whole Egg
¾ cups Milk (or As Needed)
⅜ cups Oil (that Is 1/4 Cup Plus 2 Tablespoons)
1 cup Any Optional Additional Ingredients

Preparation Instructions
Stir together dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and any optional ingredients and stir just until moistened. (Adjust amount of milk depending on how moist your add-ins are - add less milk for moist things like banana, crushed pineapple, or pumpkin and add a bit more if needed for dried fruits.) Scoop into greased muffins tins (an ice cream scoop works well for this), sprinkle the tops with sugar if desired, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until done.

You can mix up a large batch of the basic dry mix (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) and store in a sealed container in your pantry. To have fresh muffins in the morning, stir the mix and measure out 3 cups of mix for one dozen muffins, add the wet ingredients and the optional ingredients and bake. Or, for a large group, make a large batch of the basic mix and make one dozen each of a variety of flavors with a lot less work.

NOTES : Variations:

1) Banana Nut - add 1 cup mashed bananas and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

2) Blueberry - add 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries.

3) Pina Colada - add 1 small can drained crushed pineapple (8 ounces) and 1/2 cup coconut.

4) Apple Spice - add 1 peeled chopped apple, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and a dash nutmeg.

5) Coffee Walnut - add 1 teaspoon coffee extract and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts.

6) Pumpkin Spice - add 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spices, 1/2 cup nuts.

7) Mincemeat - add 1 cup prepared mincemeat and 1/2 cup chopped nuts.

8 ) Date Nut - add 1 cup chopped dates and 1/2 cup nuts.

9) Cranberry - add 1 cup chopped fresh cranberries, 1/2 cup nuts, 1 teaspoon orange rind.

10) Chocolate chip - add 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, nuts if desired.

11) Cherry Almond - add 1 cup chopped dried cherries and 1/2 cup toasted flaked almonds.

12) Chocolate chocolate chip - add 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 cup or more chocolate chips.

13) Anything else you can think up. Adjust amount of milk in batter depending on the moistness of the added ingredients.

Friday, July 24, 2009

How To Cut Up a Mango

I was asked today how to cut up a mango and as I was writing the instructions, I figured it would be easier to just show them. So, I found this demo and thought I would share it here for anyone who wants to eat a mango!


Recipe: Easy White Bread

Hello people,

It's a Friday and I love Fridays! I spent last night working in my garage and trying to get rid of things and get organized. It literally makes me want to go buy every kind of rubber container there is and label and stack everything in nice neat little rows....if I only had an extra $1000 or 5 to spend on containers, I would be in heaven! Anyway, about 2 nights ago I tired this new Easy White Bread recipe and I really liked it. I used bread flour but the original recipe called for All Purpose, so just use what you have. I also added the dough enhancer because I think it makes my bread stay fresh longer, but it is totally optional. I know white bread is not supposed to be as good for you as wheat and other whole grains....but I still love it! I only make it occasionally because it makes me want to eat the whole loaf!


4 cups Warm Water
8 tablespoons Sugar
4 tablespoons Yeast
4 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 teaspoons Salt
7 cups Flour (I used bread flour but AP works fine)
2 tablespoons of dough enhancer (optional)


Makes 3 large loaves or 20 mini loaves

Add sugar to 1 cup of the warm water (I just use hot steamy water from the tap) and then dissolve yeast in the sugar water. Let sugar/yeast mixture rest until doubled in size.

Pour oil in bowl, add sugar/yeast mixture, rest of water, and salt. Add dough enhancer to flour and add flour 2-3 cups at a time. Knead (a gentle massage) to make a soft, not sticky dough. *Tip: You’re done kneading if when you touch it, the bread doesn’t stick to your finger. If it sticks to your finger, add more flour. Sometimes you’ll use up to 9 cups of flour so don’t be nervous if you use more than 7. It just depends on the day, how much flour I use.

(If you’re making this is a Bosch or Kitchen Aide mix on level 2 speed with the bread hook for about 6 minutes).

Cut the dough into four equal pieces. Set on greased counter top, cover with towel, and let stand for 15 minutes.

Pound each piece with a wooden spoon for 1 minute (gets the air bubbles out). Massage each piece as you form into loaves and place in greased loaf pans.

Allow to raise until doubled in size. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes (19-20 minutes for mini loaves as seen in the picture) or until golden on top. Rub butter on top while it’s warm.

To store, wrap in plastic wrap and place in a zip-top freezer bag. Our favorite uses for this bread are: butter-slathered toast, french toast, grilled cheese, and gifts for the neighbors.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Random Thoughts: Declutter

I am trying to de-clutter my life. Really, I am. I am one of those people who thrives on organization, cute containers, a "place for everything and everything in its place" kind of husband is not this way and my little boy is, well, a little boy who thinks trains should be everywhere, all over the house...the proper place for a train is near wherever he least in his mind.

I went and visited my lovely Aunt Nancy's house when we went to see "Wicked" (which, by the way, I still LOVE and sing the songs in my head constantly...they are addictive!). She has a beautiful home....I mean it is just beaut-i-mus! Everything is neatly organized and clean and WOW! It inspired me! I thought....I can live like this....and while I really can't live just like that with a three year old, I can live in a similar way. So, I have been going through my house and de-cluttering. It is very cleansing.....but it takes a long time....and I have lots of years of things to go through....but slowly we are making some progress! Tonight we are going through stuff in our garage! After work, my parents are coming over and we are cleaning out and reorganizing. My parents have been storing their stuff in our garage for 3+ years now because my mother's job provides a furnished apartment. So, we have used some of their furniture and then stored some of the stuff in about a third of our garage. They will be moving into their own home again soon so we are going to go through it and get everything in a spot that will be easy to load up. Meanwhile, I will have the chance to go through and get rid of (hopefully) a bunch of my stuff as well. I am hoping that once they move their stuff, My house has FAR LESS clutter and I can park 2 cars in my garage. Right now I can only park one plus their stuff. :)

The Fall is generally the busiest time of the year for my household, so if I can accomplish this, I see an easier fall for us!

I will try to take pictures!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New Recipe Site

Howdy Folks---

I hope you are all safe and sound and happy! We had tornadoes all around us last night with pouring rain, lightening, hail, and wind.....lots and lots of wind! My brother, who lives on the other side of town, called me to tell me that the weather man had just pinpointed a tornado and it pretty much was right in my neighborhood close to my house! Eeek! Don't fret friends, all is well, we made it through just fine! We hear there is more headed our way this afternoon and evening....oh boy!

Anyway, I wanted to share with you a new recipe site that just launched. Its called Tasty Kitchen and is an off shoot of The Pioneer Woman website that I love. Its a bunch of people sharing recipes, just like the good old days. I have already found some great recipes! I hope you do too!

So, come join the recipe sharing community!

Love ya!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Painting and Decoupage: My latest project

I have been working on this project over the last 2 weeks and am really pleased with how it has turned out. I have this old dresser, desk, and shelf that I have had in storage and I am going to fancy it up and move it into my guest room.

We are having a college student live with us for a semester while she goes to school so I wanted the room to look nice. This dresser is from my childhood, in fact it was my dresser all my growing up years. I had a lovely canopy double bed that matched it and I acquired the desk at some point in high school from a garage sale. Its the old while with gold trim style that was HUGE in the 70s. It was cute then but now it just looks dated and it is a little ruffed up from storage so it needed a new life. I decided that I would paint it white and then I wanted to add a little more so I decoupaged this lovely fabric on the top. I really like the way it has turned out. I think I need to do a few more little things, I think I will put a few black touches on it as well to match the toile-ish bedspread. But, since I have been MIA, I thought I would at least show you what I have been doing.

I put on 2-3 coats of the plain white and then put down a layer of modge podge on top, placed the fabric down and removed any wrinkles or bubbles, then topped it with probably 3-4 coats of modge podge.

So, if a piece of furniture is getting a little tired looking, paint it and decoupage! Its so fun! (After, of course, making sure it is not some priceless antique from the Elizabethan age or something.)
Have a great weekend!

Desk before.....
dresser before (with most the drawers removed)

drawers before

Shelf before

desk painted with decoupage

dresser painted with decoupage

I will get the final product done, hopefully this weekend, and put up some pictures. It was actually really easy!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Recipe: African Peanut Stew

Here is another gluten free and vegetarian meal from my friend Lori. I was surprised how much I liked this stew!

African Peanut Stew

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon finely minced, peeled fresh ginger root
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
4 cups vegetable broth
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups shelled edamame(soy beans, HEB has them in the frozen
vegetable section)
1/4 cup creamy or crunchy natural peanut butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teas salt

Heat olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add onion, bell pepper, carrot, and celery; sauté until soft and
translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, ginger and curry powder and sauté until fragrant, about 1
minute; do not brown garlic. Add tomatoes and cook, uncovered, until
tomatoes are slightly reduced.

Add broth and sweet potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low
and simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in edamame and peanut butter until
combined. Cook until thoroughly heated, about 2 minutes. Stir in
cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Fill serving bowls 1/4 full
with rice and then top with stew. I also like this served on Quinoa.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vegetarian & Gluten Free Recipe: Cherry Chipolte Chili

My friend Lori had a cooking night the other night where she made some fabulous recipes for us. This one sounds strange but was oh so yummy! She is mainly vegetarian and gluten free, so I will share some of her recipes over the next few days.

2 c vegetable broth
1 c dried cherries (our grocery has them by the raisins)
1 T olive oil
1 c chopped onion
1 T crushed fresh garlic
1 bottle roasted red pepper chopped, or one fresh red pepper chopped
4 t chili powder
1 1/2 t cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 t dried oregano
4 c petite canned chopped tomatoes
1 16 oz can black beans
1/4 c chopped cilantro
avacado to taste

For chips:
Spelt Flour tortillas
Coconut oil


Heat 1 cup of broth in microwave. Place cherries in small bowl and add hot broth and set aside.Heat olive oil in a 4 quart sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion (and red bell pepper if not using bottled roasted bell pepper); sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add chopped bottled red pepper (if not using fresh), chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and remaining broth, bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered about 5 minutes. Stir in beans, cilantro, and cherry mixture. Continue cooking until thoroughly heated. I cut one tortilla into wedges and fry in coconut oil and stick the triangles in one side of the bowl and then chop a half of avocado and put on top of the chili. If you can find spelt tortillas, they don't have gluten, have only 100 calories and are yummy.

Beautiful Basics

Life is about a journey, and you are the only one who can make yours... So, embrace life: the good, the bad, and the is the only one you've got.

Here's to being Beautiful, inside and out!