Dreaming of Summer…

I find myself aching for summer these days.

For iced coffees, long days, windows down, doors open, Aaron home, lunch on the back deck, grilled burgers, walks that don’t require big coats and blankets, days at the lake, deeply red Oregon strawberries, gallons of iced tea, bright flowers hanging on my front porch, corn on the cob, BLTs with thick cut bacon and juicy plump garden tomatoes, and days where you never actually wear a real outfit because you go from pajamas to swimsuit to yoga pants and a tank top because it’s just that hot.

This week has been filled with days hitting 60 degrees, making me think summer will soon be here.  So I decided to get some blueberries out of the freezer and make some Banana-Berry Muffins while pretending it was a warm enough morning to enjoy one out on the back deck.

It worked.

Yesterday felt like a long-awaited pre-summer day and the smell of banana-blueberry muffins floating through our house was enough to keep me daydreaming for several hours.  Do you have a favorite summer drink, food, tradition or memory?

Banana-Berry Muffins

(Hay Day Country Market Cookbook, by Kim Rizk)

Makes 18 muffins (or 10 jumbo muffins)

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large bananas)

1 tsp vanilla

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup plain yogurt

1 heaping cup fresh raspberries, stemmed blueberries, or blackberries, gently rinsed and drained (I used some that I froze)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly butter muffin cups.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl.  Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the mashed banana and vanilla, and blend in.  (The mixture will look slightly curdled, but it will pull together once the dry ingredients are added.)

3. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture in batches, alternating with the yogurt.  Mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened.  Stir in the berries.

4. Fill the prepared muffin cups two-thirds full, and bake until the muffins have risen and are nicely colored (a tooth-pick inserted in the center should come out clean), 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool in the muffin cups for about 2 minutes.  Then turn the muffins out onto a wire rack so they’re bottom side up, and allow them to cool for a few minutes more before serving.

*These muffins are very moist and keep well in an airtight container for two to three days.  The batter itself keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days, which means you can scoop out enough for a few fresh muffins each morning.

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#22 Pancake Souffle Muffins

I really love cooked breakfasts.  In an effort to get just a few more minutes of sleep, or because of a lack of planning the night before, or possibly because there’s just nothing in my closet that I want to wear, morning seems to be the most rushed time of my day during the week.  Because of this, sometimes I get up extra early on a weekend day so that I can lounge around, sip coffee, and take my time getting ready before I need to be somewhere.  And on those particular days, cooking breakfasts is one thing that makes me a very happy girl.

I don’t do it every weekend, but there are certain times when cooked breakfasts are necessary.  Christmas morning I love to make a coffee cake to eat while we are opening gifts.  Something about the warmth from the oven and the smell of cinnamon, blueberries, and butter speaks comfort and love on such a glorious morning.  On Easter it’s a sausage, egg, green chilies and mushroom quiche that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  Birthdays in our home mean crepes!  Aaron likes his with egg, ham or bacon, and cheese, while I stick to the sweet ones.  Shocking I know.  I like mine with nutella and strawberries or bananas.  Mornings at the lake we make pancakes or waffles with whatever fresh fruit our lovely host Denice picked up at EZ Orchards.  Or we might possibly cook up some scrambled eggs topped with cheese, bacon and fried potatoes.  If we’re feeling really adventurous we make omelets with fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and avocado, Havarti cheese and either bacon or sausage.  There’s nothing better than starting your day off with a meal like one of these!  Anybody else love cooked breakfasts and long lazy mornings?

Breakfasts menus can be fairly limited, so I’m always on the hunt for new recipes to try that would work well for this meal.  When I saw this one I knew immediately that it was going to be a keeper.  So pretty and full of flavor!  Next time you feel like starting your day off with a little love of food, try this one out!

Pancake Souffle Muffins with Strawberry-Maple Syrup (recipe courtesy of Fine Cooking)

Yields: 24 muffins

For the muffins:

10-1/2 oz. (2-1/3 cups) all-purpose flour
4-1/2 oz. (1 cup plus 2 Tbs.) cake flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
6 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
3/4 tsp. cream of tartar
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
6 T bs. granulated sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3-1/3 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling

For the strawberry syrup:

1 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup quartered, hulled ripe strawberries

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Liberally spray two 12-cup muffin pans with the cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  • In a large, clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric hand mixer on medium-high speed to firm (but not dry) peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.
  • In another large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the mixer on medium-high speed until thick, ribbony, and lemon-yellow, about 6 minutes. Add the melted butter, sugar, and vanilla; mix on medium-low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed. Add one-third of the buttermilk and mix to combine. Alternate adding the remaining dry ingredients and buttermilk, ending with the buttermilk and mixing until just combined.
  • With a large rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter, leaving some streaks.
  • Scoop about 1/2 cup of the batter into each muffin cup—you can fill the cups to the rims. Bake, rotating the pans after 10 minutes, until browned on top and puffed, and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out dry, 20 to 25 minutes total.
  • While the muffins are baking, bring the maple syrup to a boil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Put the strawberries in a medium serving bowl. Pour the syrup over the berries and set aside in a warm spot.

  • With an offset spatula, pop the muffins out of the cups and arrange on a platter.

  • Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and serve with the syrup.

Shauna, dear friend of mine…you’re going to want to try these!

What I loved about these pancakes disguised as muffins:  Really pretty, and very unique! ♥

What I hated about these pancakes disguised as muffins:  They were a little difficult to get out of the pan, so a few of my tops split.

#17 Doughnut Muffins

Aaron and I have spent the last 2 days traveling to the gigantic state of Texas, and it is hotter than blazes here.  All of my fellow Oregonians, I am happy to report that it is actually summer in our great country!  This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions for us.  An up one day, down the next situation.  A shimmer of hope to a cloud of discouragement…landing on a blessing straight from Jesus.  So hot or not, we’re welcoming the break from real life, and going to enjoy the next six days of family, traveling, good food, swimming, and relaxation.

On to day #17! (…and yes, I realize I’m behind)

I obsess over all things doughnut.  Add some sprinkles on top, and I’m convinced a doughnut can make the whole world seem right.  I feel so strongly about the comforting power of a doughnut, that I searched high and low for a gluten-free recipe to try…and found one!  Stay tuned because they are absolutely on this 30 day challenge!

These cinnamon and sugar sprinkled delights were a joy to make–easy, good, and pretty. ♥  I wish life could be described with those three words.  That working hard always meant coming out on top.  That wanting something enough wouldn’t allow it to ever leave you.  That caring and being there for others would mean you’d never have to go through your own heartache.  That nothing uncertain would ever happen…but when it did, there was always something certain to take its place.  That life would never look ugly or broken.

But what I’m learning more and more is that there is beauty in the pain.

There’s beauty in the waiting.

There’s beauty in the healing.

There’s beauty in the uncertain.

And there’s beauty in the loss.

Some days it’s hard to find…and those are the days, if I choose to let it, it seems to find it’s way to me.  Thankful.

I brought these pretty muffins to my dear friend, Mekenzie, who shares my deep love for doughnuts.  I love her so!

Doughnut Muffins (recipe courtesy of Fine Cooking)

Makes about 24 medium muffins

Muffins:

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature

1 3/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs

6 cups flour

1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 2/3 cups milk

1/4 cup buttermilk

For Dipping:

1 cup unsalted butter, more as needed

2 cups sugar

2 Tbsp cinnamon

  • Put a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. In a stand mixer or a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just mixed in. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Combine the milk and buttermilk. With a wooden spoon, mix a quarter of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Then mix in a third of the milk mixture. Continue mixing in the remaining dry and wet ingredients alternately, ending with the dry. Mix until well combined and smooth, but don’t overmix. Grease and flour a standard-size muffin tin. Scoop enough batter into each tin so that the top of the batter is even with the rim of the cup, about 1/2 cup. (A #16 ice-cream scoop gives you the perfect amount.) Bake the muffins until firm to the touch, 30 to 35 min.
  • Melt the butter for the dipping mixture. Combine the sugar and cinnamon. When the muffins are just cool enough to handle, remove them from the tin, dip them into or brush them all over with the melted butter, and then roll them in the cinnamon sugar.

Make ahead tip:  You don’t have to bake all the muffins right away; the batter will keep covered and chilled, for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

What I love about these heavenly smelling muffins:  After you dip them in the sugar and cinnamon mixture they sparkle!  So pretty, so yummy, so, so good!

What I hate about these heavenly smelling muffins:  The words hate and doughnut should never be in the same sentence…except for this one.

#8 Cocoa Banana Muffins

Today’s new recipe is a muffin that sounded scrumptious, but turned out to be unexciting.  They had practically no flavor at all.  I thought about not even including the recipe because it just doesn’t seem to be worth it at all, but decided I would let you decide for yourself if you wanted to try it.  Should you decide to give it a go, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I noticed on the recipe that it states you need to use VERY ripe bananas for the flavor to be there, and mine were literally black, so I don’t know what else to do to get some flavor to burst out of these little muffins.  This is the risk you take in trying new recipes.  Sometimes they turn out, but it’s not a good recipe to begin with, so even following directions perfectly doesn’t help.

I was completely distracted today.  Life’s heartache got in my way several times, and I just had trouble concentrating on anything.  Tomorrow is a new day, with new mercies from Jesus, and more grace than I deserve.  And definitely no cocoa banana muffins. 🙂

Cocoa Banana Muffins (recipe courtesy of The Modern Baker)

Makes 16 standard size muffins

1 1/2 cups flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 medium bananas, peeled and mashed with a fork to make 1 1/2 cups**

1/2 cup sour cream

12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

3 large eggs

  • Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  • Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir well to mix.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together the mashed bananas and sour cream; set aside.
  • Combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed until well mixed and a little lightened in color, about 1 minute.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating smooth after each addition.
  • Decrease the mixer speed to low and beat in 1/2 the flour mixture.  Stop the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to scrape down the sides.  Beat in the banana mixture and once this is well absorbed, add the rest of the flour mixture and mix well.
  • Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to give a final mixing to the batter.
  • Divide the batter equally among the muffin cups in the pan.  Bake the muffins until they are well risen and feel firm to the touch, about 30 minutes.
  • Cool the muffins in the pan on a wire rack.

**For the best banana flavor, make sure to use very ripe bananas.  Their peels should be covered with dark brown, if not black, speckles.  If the bananas are not ripe enough, these will taste no better than cocoa potato muffins.

What I liked about these muffins: Absolutely nothing.

What I hated about these muffins: Absolutely everything.