Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blueberry Corn Muffins

     A few weeks ago, while out for breakfast with my parents in Maine, my Dad ordered a blueberry corn muffin that he ended up sharing with Wren.  We have found that Wren will eat whatever my Dad eats.  Even if she has just had lunch herself, if my Dad sits down to eat she climbs up and needs to eat again with him.  He thinks she uses him for food.
       It was while we were driving to Maine that I kept catching myself look at my Dad driving from the backseat and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude that at that very moment I could see him and if I wanted to talk to him.  A little over two months ago, he had a heart attack out of the blue-as if those kind of things are ever actually planned.  Being the worrier that I am, thoughts of something happening to my parents have always crossed my mind, but up until this point, I never had any read reason to worry.  But in an instant, all of our lives were changed.  So while I now have more real reasons to worry-I try as often as I can to just be thankful.  My Dad is the one who keeps me sane and teaches me over and over again to look at the world through the eyes of others instead of just my own.
    So back to that muffin.  Yesterday, we celebrated my Dad's 55th birthday-a day that suddenly felt a lot more significant than it had in years past.  My Dad loves good food and desserts but he has been doing a really good job of trying to limit these things from his daily life.  Being a simple kind of guy, he is always really tough to find a really thoughtful gift for.  However, he is usually the most appreciative of the meals I make or the desserts I create.  So for his birthday, blueberry corn muffins seemed like the best way to show him just how much I love him.  Wren and I baked a batch and filled them with as much love as we could pack in!

Blueberry Corn Muffins
Adapted from a Martha Stewart Recipe
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature *
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling 
3 tablespoons honey 
2 eggs 
3 cups whole wheat flour flour 
1 cup yellow cornmeal 
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 cup milk 
1 cup blueberries

*In typing up this recipe now, I realize that I only used 1/2 a cup of butter!  Reducing the butter probably made the muffins a little crunchier, but they were still really delicious!

Preheat over to 375 degrees
1. Place paper lines in regular size muffin tin.  (Martha used jumbo sized tins and her recipe only made 6 muffins.  I made 30 regular sized muffins!)
2.  Place butter, sugar, and honey in a bowl and mix on medium using an electric mixer.  This mixture should be fluffy.
3. Add in the eggs and beat for 1 minutes.
4. Whisk together the cornmeal and baking powder in a separate bowl.  Add to the butter mixture and beat until combined.  
5. Continue to beat on low and slowly add the milk.  
6. Next fold in the blueberries before adding the batter to the muffin tin.  
7. Brush the tops of the muffins with cold water and then sprinkle sugar over each one.
8. Bake until the tops of the muffins are brown and a toothpick comes out clean-about 20 minutes.

Sampling the muffins to make sure they were edible.
Making a birthday painting.
Wren and Poppy on the beach in Maine.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Yogurt Streusel Muffins

     I haven't posted in months but the holiday season has inspired me to get something up here again.  This weekend, we picked out our Christmas tree and got some decorations up around the house.  Now it is beginning to feel more like the holiday season...which seems to be approaching so quickly this year!  Wren is enjoying the holiday decorations, although she always seems to be questioning what craziness we are up to.  Getting our tree yesterday seemed to be the strangest experience for her.  In the pictures, you can see the seriousness on her face, as if she was asking, "what are we doing now?"  I'm loving having her around, it makes everything about the season better!

Yogurt Streusel Muffins

2/3 cup pecans, almonds, or walnut, finely chopped (optional)
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup plain yogurt
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
1. Prepare the streusel in small bowl by combining all of the ingredients and pinching them together to form large crumbs.  Place in the freezer while you prepare the muffins.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and yogurt.
3. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
4. Fill muffin tins lined with paper.  Then sprinkle and press the streusel topping over each one.
5. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden.  Cool in tray for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

*This recipe made 14 muffins

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tomato and Garlic Chicken

     This is a recipe that I totally hacked from The Pioneer Woman, but I love my version-even though I bet that the real version is way more amazing.  My version is super easy and perfect for something quick to throw together for a weeknight meal.  The Pioneer Woman's version is also simple, but she creates her own sauce...  Someday I will have to try the real deal...maybe on a Saturday.

Tomato and Garlic Chicken

1 tbs butter
2-3 tbs olive oil
1-2 lb chicken thighs
1 jar of Newman's tomato basil sauce
fresh herbs
4-8 cloves of garlic
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
1. Heat a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add the butter and oil.  Once warm, brown the chicken on each side-about 2 minutes per side.
2. Remove the chicken and stir in the tomato sauce, herbs, and whole garlic cloves.  Place the chicken back on top of the sauce, spooning a bit of sauce over the chicken.
3. Cover and bake for 1 hour.
4. Serve alone or over pasta.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Walnut Apple Dessert

     I was lucky enough to grow up in the same town as all of my grandparents.  I never had a traditional babysitter, instead we got to spend time away from our parents with either my Grandma and Pop or my Nanny and Grampy.  I always looked forward to time at each set of grandparents' homes for different reasons.
     My Italian grandparents were known for spoiling us and I often spent weeks at a time sleeping over, literally right between my Grandma and Pop or on a plush bed made from every blanket they owned on the floor right beside their bed.  Summers meant time outside in the garden, getting scolded for picking unripe vegetables and climbing the peach tree.  We often went for walks around the neighborhood and my Grandma loved to toss coins and an occasional dollar bill for us to "find" along the way.
      At my Nanny and Grampy's house, I always hoped for a Toaster Strudel and a game of Rummy or Scrabble with Nanny, while narrowing avoiding a talking to from Grampy for getting into something we weren't supposed to.  I remember getting tucked into the giant bed in the blue room that used to belong to my Aunt Mary and listening to Nanny sing lullabies before we went to sleep.  I loved exploring the rooms and treasures left behind by my aunts and uncles.
     Lucky for Wren, and Arnauld and I, we also live in the same town as her grandparents and her great grandma.  We can always count on them to help out in a pinch or just be around to celebrate some seemingly minor occurrence that warrants dessert.  Yesterday was the very popular Grandparent's Day, so of course we marked the day with a special dessert party made from apples we bought at the Apple Festival in Monroe- with three of Wren's favorite ladies!

Walnut Apple Dessert
Recipe from

8 cups of baking apples, sliced (about 6 apples)
2 1/4 cup brown sugar, divided
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 cup walnuts, chopped
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Place apples in a greased 13x9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup brown sugar and cinnamon. 
2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and 2 cups of brown sugar.  Add the eggs then stir in flour and 1/2 cup of walnuts.
3. Spread the dough mixture over the apples.  Sprinkle with the rest of the walnuts.
4. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the apples are cooked.
5. Serve warm and with ice cream.

At the Apple Festival.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Crock Pot Sweet and Spicy Wings

     The first Sunday of the NFL-a day Arnauld has been counting down to since the Superbowl way back in February.  To say that he is obsessed with football is an understatement.  I don't understand the big deal or the draw of fantasy football, but I decided to be a supportive wife, at least to kickoff the season so I made some football inspired wings to celebrate this "big day."

Crock Pot Sweet and Spicy Wings
Recipe from

1/4-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp Sambal Oelek
2-4 lbs chicken wings
cooking spray

1. Spray crock pot with cooking spray and add the wings.
2. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Pour over the wings and then stir so that all of the wings are coated.
3. Cook on low for 2-4 hours.  The broil for 3-5 minutes or until the skin is crispy.

 In case you also have no idea what Sambal Oelek is, here is a picture.  I had to do a little research before heading out and finally finding this stuff at Target.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Eggplant Pizza

     My Grandma's garden is in overdrive and the backup plants she planted in my yard are producing tomatoes faster than I can pick them.  The toppling bowl of tomatoes on my counter is a constant reminder that I need to do something all the vegetables.  I know in a few months I will be yearning for a garden fresh tomato so I'm trying to make the best of the surplus before it goes bad!  In addition to the tomatoes, it has also been a good year for eggplant-one of my favorites.  I Pinned this recipe for eggplant pizzas about a week ago and it was as if my Grandma had been on Pinterest (she's never used a computer in her life) because the very next day there was a perfect little eggplant in my almost daily garden gift.  No school tomorrow means Wren and I are pretending it's summer vacation again and we have all the time in the world to cook up new recipes that take longer than 10 minutes and then blog about it.

Eggplant Pizza
Recipe Adapted From*

1 medium eggplant sliced into 3/4 inch pieces
olive oil
garlic, minced
1 can of tomatoes or a few fresh ones, diced
shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Place the slices of eggplant on a doubled piece of paper towel.  Sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes so that the excess water is absorbed by the paper towel.
2. While the eggplant is resting, heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, and oregano.  Allow to simmer until it is sauce like.  Add a tablespoon of water any time things start looking too dry.
3. After the eggplant has had time to dry out, blot the excess moisture using a paper towel, while at the same time brushing off excess salt.  Place on a greased baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes.
4. When the eggplant is roasted, top each slice with a spoonful of the tomato sauce.  Then top with a generous amount of cheese.
5. Broil until the cheese is melted.

Wren and Grandma checking out our tomato plants.

*If you want a more exact recipe, check out the link above.  Between making sure Wren wasn't eating dog food and she wasn't feeding the dogs her own dinner, I stole quick glances at the recipes and just kept my fingers crossed for something edible.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Two Cheese Mac and Cheese

     The September issue of Cooking Light is full of great meals that are kid friendly.  This is the second recipe I have tried in 12 hours-last night we made salmon. When I saw this recipe for mac and cheese, I immediately thought about how I could doctor it up to be a more nutritious lunch that I could send in Wren's lunchbox when I go back to work.  My friend Erin recently told me about quinoa pasta, that her daughter Hazel loves.  I bought a box and used it in this recipe to add some extra protein.  I also steamed and food processed kale to sneak in some vegetables.  Wren is a big fan of kale, go figure.  Most other green things, she turns her nose to these days.  Here's hoping that this dish doesn't end up on the floor!

Two Cheese Mac and Cheese

10 oz elbow macaroni
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 1/4 cup vegetable broth, divided
1/2 cup milk
6 tsp flour
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Cooking spray
3/4 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat broiler on high
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes.  Stir in one cup of vegetable broth.  Cook for 1 minute.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining broth, milk, and flour with a whisk.  Add this mixture to the skillet.  Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken. 
3. Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese until smooth.  Add the kale, salt, and pepper before stirring in the pasta. 
4. Transfer the pasta to a baking dish coated in cooking spray.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese and then broil for 3 minutes or until the cheese melts and begins to brown.