Thursday, October 31, 2013

Do You Know the Muffin Man?

One of the children's most irritating "ear worms" when they were little, I have some bananas going south this week so I asked my lovely bride when I was auditing the church books on Tuesday to make me some banana muffins. I came home to none as she thought I was joking. I never joke about food.

Yesterday I stopped (fed my obsession) on the way home to pick up what I needed (yogurt) to make these "skinny" muffins. They are actually quite good and have no oil and surprising little flour that makes them almost healthy.  I had some whole wheat pastry flour on hand anyway. These were tender and rose high in the pan. I added walnuts and chips to the batter and did not frost them. Great with a glass of skim milk in the a.m.

I am not the family baker but these don't look too bad
The recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction:

Skinny Peanut Butter Chocolate chip Banana Muffins

  • 2 ripe large bananas, mashed with no chunks
  • 1/4 cup honey 
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup 0% Plain Greek Yogurt (or regular yogurt, any flavor/fat content)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened milk 
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 and 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, melted
  • 1/2 Walnuts  ( I added this and skipped the frosting)
Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Spray 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray ( I used another 6 count pan too as this made about 18 muffins). Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, honey, brown sugar, yogurt, egg, and milk together until combined.  Whisk in the peanut butter and vanilla extract until smooth and thick. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and chocolate chips together (if using).  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and lightly whisk until combined.  Try not to over stir the muffin batter or your muffins will have a tough (not soft) texture. Stir as little as possible until no flour pockets remain.
Fill the muffin cups practically all the way to the top. Between 3/4 full and all the way full.  Bake for 5 minutes at 425F degrees. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350F and continue to bake for 12 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Drizzle muffins with melted peanut butter if desired. Muffins stay fresh at room temperature for 3 days. Muffins without peanut butter on top freeze well, up to 3 months.

About 120-130 calories each with little fat and 19 Carbs. Not bad for a lower carb, low cal breakfast/ snack item. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Weekend of New Beginings

 This was a busy week and weekend for the household. Trying to coordinate dinner for every one's schedules, meeting a new beau and a grand wedding.

For the Wednesday night introductions to Mackenzie's new guy, Christian, we had various cheeses, wine and Chicken Milanese who's recipe is on the blog already. A night of conversation and laughter with a table full of nurse's and conversation not for the faint of heart and positively disturbing at times.

I tried a new appetizer that was a big hit. A cast iron skillet full of Fontina cheese seasoned with Rosemary, Thyme, Salt and Pepper and a glug of olive oil. Baked at 450 for about 20 minutes till hot and bubbly and slightly browned, we sopped this up with a nice crusty baguette. So good,  this is a keeper. My buddy Dan added a little garlic and upped it notch. Not a bad idea.
Not my photo but it sure looks the same

We were kind of lazy Thursday as neither of us was particularly hungry and we ate late in the evening. I believe grilled cheese was on the menu for us. Simple and unassuming, it gave me a chance to use a lot of that sliced cheese that was growing older in the fridge.

Friday was Jeff and Emily's wedding day (Mackenzie's best friend). The festivities got us out of the house at about 4:30 and down to the church on time. The service was grand and long so everyone got their money's worth and then just a block or so up the street was the reception venue, our very own Joslyn Museum served as a back drop for a glorious occasion. Great band, fine food and nice company. A beautiful celebration for a charming couple that we just love. A late evening for sure but time well spent with all our kids and their respective dates.

Saturday, Brenda had an early class to attend with left me alone to my own devices. I roasted a slab of ribs for snacking later in the day and spent most of the day nursing my sore jaw (a long story and no, no one hit me) and tending to the pond for winter bedding, chasing off squirrels who happen to love my freshly planted tulips and general this and that around the house. Currently between commissions, I am enjoying the leisure of not having a deadline to meet.  The ribs were fall off the bone tender and delicious. We stayed in and enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Sunday was church and lunch and dinner with Mackenzie and Christian. Lunch at Wheatfield's and great steaks and fantastic seasonal squash with Mackenzie's prerequisite "Killer Bread" (recipe also on the blog) for dinner.  Chatting and laughing again till it was past our bedtime, we woke a bit groggy this a.m.  I need another weekend to recovery fully.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Apple Pie contest winner

  Part of the purpose of my blog is to archive recipes for future use. I have not made this pie but it looks like a winner to me.

Val Fennell's Our Family's Apple Pie

Crust (makes 1 double crust):
• 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• ½ cup cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
• ½ cup frozen butter flavored Crisco cut into small pieces
• ¾ cup ice water
• 1 large whole egg
• 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Apple Pie Filling:
• About 2 pounds large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into ¼-inch slices
• 1 to 1½ pounds Royal Gala, Gala or Jonagold apples, peeled, cored and sliced into ¼-inch slices
• ¾ to 1 cup sugar depending on the tartness of your apples
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
• 2 tablespoons unbleached flour, divided
• 1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
• Zest of one small to medium lemon
• 1 tablespoon low sugar Pectin
• 4 tablespoons cold butter in tablespoon size pieces
• Juice of the lemon

Egg wash:
• 1 egg yolk or whole egg
• 2 tablespoons milk, half-and-half or cream
Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixing bowl or a medium bowl. Mix the dry ingredients for about 30 seconds just to combine. Then add the Crisco and butter and mix on medium speed until it looks like very coarse crumbs or small peas. Do not over mix. If combining by hand use a pastry blender with blades rather than wires.
Make a well in the center of the mixture.
Combine the wet ingredients and beat well. Pour into the well and with a fork mix until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix. If your dough seems a bit too wet sprinkle in a bit more flour but no more than one tablespoon. It will not be dry for sure.
Divide dough in half, then pat/shape into two disks, wrap snuggly in plastic food wrap and chill for about 20 to 30 minutes.
While the dough is chilling ready your apples:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel and slice apples and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples and toss well. Cover with plastic wrap.
Remove the first disk of crust from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured counter or Silpat mat. Lightly roll your dough in one direction, turning it to make it round and about 12 inches in diameter. Place the dough in a 9½-inch deep dish pie plate. With scissors, trim the crust to about ½ inch below the rim of the dish. Remove the next portion of dough from the refrigerator and repeat rolling.
Place 1 tablespoon flour into the bottom of the pie plate and gently spread around. Add 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg to the pie plate.
In a small bowl combine the remaining sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and pectin.
Rinse the apple slices and drain well. Toss the cinnamon sugar mixture with the apples and place into the bottom crust, being sure that the apples are solidly in place. Add lemon zest over the top of the apples.
Evenly sprinkle the remaining flour over the top of the apple slices and slightly shake into the apple pile. Place butter slices over the top of the apple mixture.
Cover with the top crust. Trim to about 1½ inches below the edge then fold over the lower edge and crimp the edges together.
Egg wash the top crust.
Make decorative vents in the top crust. If you have sanding or coarse sugar, dust or sprinkle the top crust lightly.
Bake for 15 minutes on a parchment lined baking pan, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees until the juices bubble in the center of the pie and the apples test tender in the center as well.
Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting/serving.
Combine with a fork until smooth, then gently brush onto the top crust of the unbaked pie. After egg wash, you may sprinkle with sanding sugar if you wish.
The egg wash makes the crust a golden, shiny finish.
— Val Fennell

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Back from Mexican Nirvana

All year we look forward to that week we spend at our favorite resort in Mexico. This past week we achieved our ultimate relaxation and forgot everything going on at home for a brief period. Our batteries are recharged and we are ready to face another year.

Things have not changed much in Mexico. The staff is still friendly, the food excellent and the service is even better but this year we went with some special friends and just had the best time. They are our kind of folks. Laid back, chatty and relish alone time as well as together time. A match made in heaven. We sampled lots of different foods. Had way too much to drink. Enjoyed the bands and sultry Mexican evenings. Mat is very outgoing so we met lots of other folks too. We laughed a lot. Never ate breakfast together, sometimes ate lunch together and always had dinner together. We are so fortunate to have such great friends that are more like family to us (I believe Brenda and Lori are sisters on some level).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Icon Commission from the Church

A few months ago, when Fr. Alex came we had to say good bye to Fr. Nick. He was so gracious and kind to us as we transitioned from our old priest to our new one. The church anted to have a special event for him and commissioned me to paint the church's patron icon for him. I also fund out that the board plans to use the icon for all our letterhead and marketing. I tried my best, as the panel was small for so many figures, to get as detailed as possible. The icon is finally finished and we have to have a high resolution photo done before I varnish it to keep down the reflection.
Here it is unvarnished and ready for photos. I hope it shows well when enlarged. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

St Thomas Sunday

Coming right up this first Sunday in October is St. Thomas Sunday. My and Ben's nameday I had painted this icon for him so long ago I had forgotten what it looked like.

Happy Name Day to all the Thomas' out there.


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