03 November 2016

Pumpkin Muffins

I love autumn.

One of my favourite flavours of the season is pumpkin.

At the end of September I love to pick up a few sugar pumpkins at the local orchard, cut them in half and roast them letting the smell of pumpkin permeate the kitchen and then filling little freezer containers with cupfuls of pumpkin puree to use throughout the season.

The puree is perfect for whipping up a batch of muffins for school lunches... or a quick breakfast as we head out the door.

I will admit they are not the prettiest muffins I make but they are full of fall flavour and honestly we don't end up looking at them for long before they get eaten anyway.

I love my food processor for recipes like this one. The oats and pumpkin seeds get thrown into the processor and are whizzed up for a few seconds into a coarse flour. If you choose not to do this you could just add the oats unprocessed (use quick oats - not instant) and replace the ground seeds with a 1/2 cup of extra flour or whole wheat flour.

When I originally made this recipe I used ground walnuts instead of pumpkin seeds - I have also used hemp hearts - they are all good.

Pumpkin Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a large bowl mix together:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground oats (a quick whizz in the food processor is all the oats need)
3/4 cup ground pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

In a separate bowl whisk together

1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup canola oil (melted butter works too)
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk (or plain yogurt or milk if that's all you have)

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir together until mixed. Scoop mixture into a lined muffin tin and bake in a preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

As an option after mixing the wet into dry ingredients you can add a cup of cranberries (fresh or frozen) and stir them in - with this option you may want to increase the sugar if you like muffins a little sweeter.


04 October 2016

Big Breakfast Muffins

The smell of frying bacon  drifting up the stairs is the best way to get my kids up and out of bed in the morning.

I would love to be organized enough to be up early and have a Farmer Boy worthy breakfast on the table ready for my family to all sit down and eat together having a nice relaxing morning before the hubby heads off to work and the kids go to school. (You know, the kind Laura Ingalls Wilder envied when writing about her husband's childhood. Most of what my boys remember about reading that book is the food. Whenever we read it they always wish they could eat like Almanzo). 

I can picture it in my head.

My reality doesn't look like the picture.

I'm pretty good at making up a morning batch of muffins or scones that I can hand out as each person is ready - sometimes I can even manage pancakes - but we are never efficient enough to be ready for a sit down breakfast. 

Ever. At least not on a week-day.

Frying bacon is generally saved for week-ends - which is unfortunate as it really does get the kids out of bed in the morning.

And then I found something great.

I love cookbooks. I mean I really love them. When people come to my house they always comment on my walls of books and they are always surprised to find out that one wall is dedicated to my cookbooks. Usually (unless they know me really well) they seem skeptical when I tell them that I use them. I really do. Not always in the traditional way but I read for inspiration and ideas. 

One of my many favourites is Farm-Fresh Recipes from the Missing Goat Farm by Heather Cameron.

She has a recipe she calls "Breakfast to Go" on page 136... if you don't have the book I do recommend it - and I haven't even been paid to say that. 

I call my version "Big Breakfast" muffins. They are so easy and fast and yummy and you basically get bacon, eggs and toast in muffin form. They are like mini stratas.

These are mine after they have cooled - no time for pictures during the morning rush!

I like to store ends of bread or leftover buns in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Normally they would be thrown away but they are excellent for stratas or bread puddings. Just remember to take them out the night before - or if you forget like I did - just defrost them in the microwave or toss them in the oven for a few minutes depending on the texture you are wanting - they get more crunchy and crouton like in the oven.

I made two dozen today. They are still good at room temperature and the kids love them so they each had two in their lunches today - they were happy and my life was a little easier - win/win. The recipe could easily be cut down and adjusted if your family is smaller than my six or you are just wanting them for breakfast. It's a very forgiving recipe so you can adjust any of the ingredients to taste.

This is what I did:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

8 slices bacon - fried and cut into small pieces 
5 small buns (or equivalent amount of bread) - ripped into small pieces - a fun job for young children if you have them.
2 scallions - I cut them with scissors into small pieces...you can use a knife but I think scissors are easier.
2 cups grated cheddar 

Mix the above in a medium size bowl ... just toss with hands or if you are more refined than I am use a wooden spoon.

In another bowl (I like to use my 8 cup measuring cup - the pouring spout is VERY helpful), whisk together a dozen eggs and 3/4 cup milk or cream and salt and pepper to taste (remembering that this will be seasoning the entire dish but also taking into account the saltiness of the bacon). 

Line two muffin tins (or one if you have halved the recipe) with cupcake liners - I like to use ones made of parchment paper as these tend to stick the least.

Fill the liners with scoops of the bread mixture and you can pack this down a little. Slowly and carefully pour egg mixture into each muffin tin - letting it seep into all the little nooks and crannies between the pieces of bread. You can sprinkle the tops of each muffin with extra cheese if you wish - fresh grated parmesan also works well here. 

Pop the trays into the oven for 15-20 minutes - you want to make sure the egg has set and the edges of the bread bits are nice and toasty brown.

Cool on a cooling rack and start passing them out as soon as they are cool enough to handle. 

A big breakfast of toast, bacon and eggs all in easy muffin form. 

Whenever I make these everyone is happy.


30 June 2015

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones

One recent morning as I was preparing to bake up something yummy for breakfast I heard a request for something with peanut butter...and something chocolate...and then oooh something with both! 

I will admit that this is not the healthiest of breakfasts and it wasn't something that I could put in a school lunch (not a fan of the nut ban at school), but it sounded like fun and I knew I would be able to produce something that would make everyone happy and it is so rare to actually get to do that. 

Peanut butter + chocolate + breakfast = peanut butter, chocolate chip scones. 

The only problem with these is now my kids want them all the time and giving in to that would just push me from good mom to bad mom status and that is not what I want. 

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Whisk the above ingredients together in a medium bowl. With a pastry cutter (or your fingers if your hands aren't overly warm) cut in 1/2 cup butter. 

In a separate bowl gently whisk:

1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup peanut butter ( I use an organic, natural peanut butter - you may have to adjust the amounts if you use a regular commercial brand)
3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Add wet ingredients to dry. Mix until combined. (You may need to add an extra Tbsp of cream if it won't come together). 

As the dough is coming together add 1 1/2 to 2 cups chocolate chips (depending on how chocolatey you want the scones).  

With hands form dough into a ball. It should not be wet or sticky but fairly dry yet able to stick together. Line a baking tray with a silpat liner or parchment paper and place dough ball on a flat surface and flatten with palm of hand to create a round of approximately 1 inch thickness. With a pastry brush, brush tops with cream (you'll only need about a Tbsp). For added sparkle and texture sprinkle tops with vanilla sugar (or other decorative sugar).  Cut dough into twelve equal sections and place evenly spaced on lined tray.

Bake for 15-20 minutes on middle rack in oven. (You want them starting to turn golden around the edges). 

Like all scones these are best eaten warm. Enjoy!

If you are one of those rare individuals who does not like chocolate or if you are just in the mood for something extra peanutty these are also good leaving out the chocolate chips and adding 1 cup of chopped peanuts. I've only made them that way once and they were good but my family is full of chocoholics. 

20 November 2014

Working Hard and Playing Hooky...

I've decided to take more time to work on my photography. Even though I spent a a year in photography school I didn't have as much time to practice as I would've liked. And then post move I've been so busy that I haven't taken much time to work on my photography.

I don't know why, but I tend to feel guilty taking time to do things I enjoy. I always feel like I should be finding extra work to do. I could always be doing laundry (why does laundry never end?), organizing something or washing the floors. I know practicing photography is useful (especially after spending the money to learn how to do it), but I like it so much that I feel like I should be doing something else. My husband's at work, the kids are at school. I shouldn't be enjoying myself...

My husband has been trying to convince me not to feel guilty and to take advantage of the time I have. This morning I decided to go out and take pictures of the beautiful mountains that surround us. When I stepped outside I realized that the sky was very overcast but I did see a bit of sun poking through the clouds so I went out anyway.

I really love the mountains. I missed them so much when we lived in the east. I was able to get a few shots that I was satisfied with considering the weather. I was planning on going alone. But, I brought along some company and enjoyed my time so much.

My seven and a half year old has been having a hard time going to school over the past few weeks. Every morning he dawdles and begs to stay home. Every morning I manage to get him off to school. The past two days he has been trying really hard to get ready and be on time without me having to drag/threaten/beg him. This morning he looked so cute. He came and told me he was ready. I told him how proud I was of him and that he was doing so much better. He just looked up at me and said (as he has every day this week). Mom, I only want some just me and you time. That's what he has been calling our one on one time for the past few years. He loves just me and you time. But, as one of four he doesn't get enough of it.

So today, I told him that I wanted just me and you time too. Watching his face light up and feeling his little arms around me and hearing his thank-you mommy's made me feel so happy. I know he shouldn't really miss school. But he's seven and a half already. Time passes so quickly. My kids are getting so big so fast. We had such a fun day together just hanging out. He even helped me with my "work"...

Normally, he doesn't like modelling for me. He made an exception for just me and you day. I love this toothless smile and I am so happy that I took the time to spend a day with him. Years from now I don't think the occasional day of missed school will be worth remembering... but a day of just me and you will hopefully never be forgotten.