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Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I will be featuring a few chocolate recipes this week.   Of course a little breakfast chocolate is the perfect way to start off any week.  These muffins are more than just a little breakfast chocolate though.  They are chocolate on chocolate.  A chocolate muffin studded with chocolate chips topped with chocolate chips.  What could be better?  Well, they come in under 200 calories and are low fat – a true breakfast treat! 

The original recipe uses red wine vinegar and water, which I thought was intriguing.  Red wine vinegar in baked goods?  I had to try it!  I did, and it was good.  BUT…I have since revised the recipe to replace the vinegar/water with buttermilk.  Nothing compares to the flavor and texture that buttermilk gives to baked goods, and in these muffins that is no exception.  I also replaced some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat in order to bump up the nutrition level a bit.

For a little variety, it is fun to change up the chips with different flavors (peanut butter chips anyone?) but I always find myself coming back to the mini chocolate chips.  Mini chips give the illusion of more chocolate per bite since there are more bits throughout.  A little more for less kind of thing. 

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Muffins
Yields 12 muffins

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners (or spray muffin tin with cooking spray).
  2. In a large bowl, mix flours, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg.  Stir in 1/4 cup chocolate chips.
  4. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, gently folding until just combined.
  5. Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups.  Sprinkle tops with remaning 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Cooking Light

no-bake chocolate peanut butter bars with rice krispies

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Bars

In several posts I have talked about my grandma.  I have shared about her love of baking (and her grandchildrens’ love of her baking!)  I have shared one of her recipes.  I have also shared that these Peanut Butter Bars are my favorite of her recipes, which is a bold statement considering all of her ‘Grandma Goodies’ were superb!

Many years before she died, my grandma wrote out several of her recipes and gifted recipe boxes to my brother and to me.  I am so grateful she included the recipe for these bars.  As a child, little did I realize how quick and easy these are to make.   These delicious bars have a simple ingredient list and require no baking.  A reason to love them even more!

If you’re looking for a last minute treat to whip together for the Super Bowl, these couldn’t be any easier.  And your friends will love you!

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Bars
 
Easy, no-bake peanut butter bars made with Rice Krispies and topped with chocolate. This is one of my favorite recipes that my grandma used to make.
Yields: 16 bars
Ingredients
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter, chunky
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1½ cups Rice Krispies cereal (or other puffed rice cereal)
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat peanut butter and melted butter until fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar, beating until blended.
  3. By hand, stir in cereal.
  4. Put mixture in 8" or 9" square baking pan and use waxed paper to press mixture to fill out pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Melt chocolate chips (in microwave or stovetop) and pour over peanut butter mixture. Spread until evenly covered. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour.

Chewy Sugar Cookies

Everybody needs a go-to recipe for a classic sugar cookie.  While these Chewy Sugar Cookies will never trump my grandma’s melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookies, this is the ultimate chewy sugar cookie recipe.  The texture is chewy (obviously), the flavor is unbeatable, they have that perfect crackly top, and they’re easy to make.  Can’t beat that!  The key to making these chewy is to be sure to flatten to no bigger than 2-inch diameter and not to overbake.  Otherwise you may end up with a crispier sugar cookie, which frankly is really not a bad thing.  The flavor of these cookies is so incredible, they are good chewy or crispy.

Chewy Sugar Cookies
 
Yields: 24 cookies
Ingredients
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups sugar, plus ⅓ cup for rolling
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 12 pieces (I used ⅓ less fat cream cheese)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and hot
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk (I used skim)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place ⅓ cup sugar in a shallow bowl and set aside (this will be used for rolling).
  2. In a medium bowl, whick the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, add 1½ cups sugar and cream cheese. Pour butter over sugar and cream cheese and whisk to combine (some small lumps may remain). Whisk in oil until incorporated. Add egg, milk and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix with rubber spatula until dough forms.
  4. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Using hands, roll dough into balls. Roll balls in reserved sugar to coat and place on prepared baking sheets, 12 balls per sheet. Using bottom of drinking glass, flatten balls until 2 inches in diameter. Sprinkle tops evenly with sugar remaining in shallow dish (discard any remaining sugar).
  5. Bake 1 tray at a time until edges are set and beginning to brown, about 11 to 13 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

Source: The Best of America’s Test Kitchen: Best Recipes and Reviews 2012

Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes with Pink Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting

It seems we save cupcakes for a special occasion – to celebrate a birthday, a holiday, an accomplishment, etc.  When I made these cupcakes, I didn’t have any particular occasion in mind.  I decided to make these Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes ‘just because.’  Just because it’s been a while since I last made cupcakes.  Just because there is always a reason to celebrate something.  Just because citrus is aplenty right now,…let’s try something new!

These cupcakes are really easy to make and a unique way to enjoy grapefruit.  The cake alone has a subtle citrus flavor – just enough grapefruit flavor without being overpowering.  When topped with the grapefruit cream cheese frosting, it becomes dangerouly good.  The cream cheese gives the right amount of tang to balance the grapefruit flavor and brings it all together into a sweet and delicious cupcake.

Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes were fun to make, fun to eat, and fun to share…all just because. 😉

Pink Grapefruit Cupcakes with Pink Grapefruit Cream Cheese Frosting
 
Yields: 12 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup granulates sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt (nonfat or 2% reduced-fat)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons pink grapefruit zest (1 softball-sized grapefruit yielded approximately 1 tablespoon)
  • Frosting:
  • 4 ounces ⅓-less-fat cream cheese, chilled (block)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pink grapefruit zest
  • 2 teaspoons pink grapefruit juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs; mix until smooth.
  4. To the butter mixture, add half of flour mixture, and combine; repeat with remaining flour mixture. Add yogurt and vanilla, blending with a rubber spatula. Fold in zest, mixing until just combined.
  5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (about ⅔ full). Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  6. To make the frosting, place cream cheese in a medium bowl and baet on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add powdered sugar, vanilla zest and juice, beating until smooth. Frost cupcakes as desired.
Notes
If not serving immediately, cupcakes/frosting should be refrigerated, otherwise, the frosting gets too soft. When serving, let cupcake sit out for 10-15 minutes at room temperature.

Adapted from Health

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

Bring on citrus season!  When life gives me a bowl of lemons, you better believe I’m going to make some muffins!  And perhaps some lemonade to wash them down, but that’s another post all together.  For now it’s all about muffins, as these Lemon Ricotta Muffins definitely deserve the spotlight.  They are bright, perfectly sweet and bonus – they’re low in fat, though you would never know it.  The ricotta cheese gives the muffins a moist, soft texture, and the flavor goes perfectly with the lemon.  The taste is reminiscent of delicious lemon ricotta pancakes, only a bit more portable.

With the wonderful citrus bounty upon us, over the next few weeks I will be sharing several recipes using citrus fruits.  In the meantime, grab those lemons and give these muffins a try!

Lemon Ricotta Muffins
 
Yields: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoons salt (optional)
  • ¾ cup low fat ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare 12 muffin cups with paper liners or cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta, water, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, egg, and vanilla until blended.
  4. Fold the ricotta mixture into the flour mixture until just blended.
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the tops of the muffins.
  6. Bake for 16 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let muffins sit in pan for 5 minutes and then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Cooking Light

Coconut Cranberry Muffins

I had been craving something with coconut for some time, and it occurred to me that coconut paired with cranberries would be a lovely combination.  Cranberries are so wonderful in the wintertime. They add beautiful, seasonal color, as well as a delightful zing to any dish.  Of course, my next thought was…let’s make muffins! 

The sweetness of the coconut was the perfect counterbalance to the tangy cranberries.  The whole family loved these, especially Adam (though at first, the cranberries were a bit too surprising).  Adam asked for coconut cranberry muffins every day for weeks.  Quite frankly, an almost 2 year old saying ‘coconut cranberry’ anything is quite possibly the cutest thing ever.  As if you didn’t need another reason to make these…they are just plain good!


Coconut Cranberry Muffins
Yields 18 muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut, for topping

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare 18 muffin cups with liners or cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir flours, sugar, coconut, baking powder, baking soda and salt, until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
  4. Add buttermilk mixture to flour, gently folding until combined.  Fold in cranberries.
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan.  Sprinkle with remaining coconut.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Adapted from Food.com

Linked to Sweet as Sugar Cookies: Sweets for Saturday #50

Grandma’s Peanut Blossoms

Peanut Blossoms are a holiday cookie staple around our house, as well as many others.  This popular peanut butter cookie topped with a Hershey’s Kiss is not only delicious, but it is such a cute addition to the cookie plate.  There are countless versions of this type of cookie, but today I have a special treat for you.  Today I am sharing with you this recipe from my grandma!  When she was alive, one of her favorite things to do was to make dozens of types of cookies, bars, candies, cakes, etc. for the holidays.  She put such care in the execution of each recipe she made.  It was impressive, to say the least.  She was always so excited and proud to show us the vast array of goodies she made for us each year.  So as I sit here right now, sharing one of my favorite Grandma recipes,…I know she would be excited and proud to share it with you as well.

Happy Holidays!

Grandma’s Peanut Blossoms
Yields 3 dozen cookies

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) light butter (or regular butter, per the original recipe)
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
granulated sugar, for rolling
36 chocolate Hershey’s Kisses candies, unwrapped

  1. In a small bowl, sift flour, baking and salt.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter until blended. 
  3. Gradually add granulated sugar and brown sugar to peanut butter mixture – cream well.  Add unbeaten egg and vanilla – beat well. 
  4. Blend in dry ingredients gradually (Note: I do this step by hand using a wooden spoon) and mix thoroughly.  Chill dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (Note: I typically chill overnight).
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Shape dough into balls using a rounded teaspoonful for each.  Roll balls in granulated sugar and place on baking sheet. 
  7. Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Top each cookie with a Hershey’s Kiss candy, pressing down firmly so cookie cracks around edge.  Return to oven and bake 2 to 5 minutes longer until golden brown.  Move cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Reindeer Snack Mix

What happens when you cross peanuts with pretzels and Reese’s peanut butter puffs cereal? This Reindeer Snack Mix, that’s what! Each ingredient on its own is fabulous, of course. When mixed together with some melted white chocolate, you have a snack mix that is really too good for words. Yes folks, I am speechless. Or maybe I am just too busy stuffing my face with more snack mix. 🙂 Either way, I will simply leave you with this. It’s the holidays. You are bound to have guests or to be a guest. Here is a fun and easy little snack that will leave everybody singing your praises this holiday season!

Reindeer Snack Mix
 
Yields: about 3 quarts
Ingredients
  • 4½ cups Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs
  • 4 cups miniature pretzels
  • 12 ounces lightly salted peanuts
  • 12 ounces white chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine cereal, pretzels and peanuts.
  2. In a microwave, melt the white chocolate chips; stir until smooth.
  3. Pour melted white chocolate over cereal mixture and toss to coat.
  4. Immediately spread onto waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Let stand until set, about 20 minutes. Break into pieces and store in airtight container.

Source: Taste of Home: Cookies and more!

Banana Graham Muffins

One of the reasons I often make muffins or quick breads is so that Mike can take breakfast on-the-go.  With this lastest muffin creation, I wanted to make something that Adam would love as well.  It definitely did not take me long to come up with this one.  It is no secret that toddlers love bananas and toddlers love graham crackers.  So why not put the two together in a muffin to create the ultimate toddler treat!

I must confess that Adam is not the only banana and graham cracker lover in this house ~ yours truly is a huge fan as well.  These muffins definitely did not disappoint!  The crushed graham crackers definitely add a tasty spin on an otherwise simple banana muffin recipe.  In fact, they ended up being a nice combination of the two flavors.  They were not overly graham cracker-y but also not like banana bread.  I added some cinnamon, which ended up very subtle in this recipe.  That amount could be doubled if you’re looking for something cinnamony to go with your banana and graham.

So did Adam love them?  He sure did!  In fact, we all did, and I hope you do too!

Banana Graham Muffins
 
Yields: 12 muffins
Ingredients
  • 1 cup crushed graham crackers
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 medium overripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tin with paper liners (or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the graham crackers, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, combined the mashed bananas, oil milk, egg anv vanilla.
  4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients, folding gently until combined (be careful not to over mix).
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Adapted from Baking Vintage

Pumpkin Cornbread

On Monday, I shared my favorite chili recipe of all time and gave you a preview of today’s post.  What goes best with chili – cornbread!  As I am sure you have noticed, we are all about pumpkin over here these days.  So we put the two together to make Pumpkin Cornbread.

This recipe is super easy to make, and the sweet cornbread was the perfect complement to the spicy chili.  The leftovers were a great quick breakfast on the go, while Adam enjoyed it most as a snack in the car after a trip to the zoo.  Versatile and delicious, these Pumpkin Cornbread recipe is definitely a keeper.

Pumpkin Cornbread
 
Yields: 16 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 8x8" baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar and cornmeal; set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, lightly beat eggs and then stir in the pumpkin, oil and molasses until combined.
  4. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and fold until just combined. Pour the batter into the pan (smooth the top, if needed).
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Slightly Adapted from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

no sugar healthy whole wheat pumpkin banana pancakes for toddlers

Pumpkin Banana Pancakes

Here are the Pumpkin Banana Pancakes I alluded to in yesterday’s post.  Thankfully I did not lose the eggs and was able to make them.  It’s a good thing too.  I was excited to try a new spin on an old recipe, and Adam absolutely LOVED them!  Similar to Pumpkin Banana Bread, these definitely taste like a cross between pumpkin pancakes and banana pancakes.  Not a bad thing if you ask me!

The recipe made around 50 small-ish pancakes.  I typically make a huge batch for the freezer and package them in groups of 6 (enough for a few days in each bag).  I figured Adam would eat 1 or 2, and I would have the rest to use for pictures during nap time.  Well…that morning he ate 4. Then he asked for another one for snack.  This left me with 1 pancake for pictures.  I couldn’t quite take a picture of just 1 pancake, so I decided to do pictures the next day and took out another 6-pack from the freezer.  Of course, what did Adam do the next day?  He ate 4 pancakes!  I feared having fewer, so I made do with the 3 that remained.  I’m just so glad he likes them.  I hope you do too!

Pumpkin Banana Pancakes
 
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 cups milk (whole, skim, 1%, whatever you like)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Cooking spray
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, stir and sift flours, baking powder and pumpkin pie spice.
  2. In another bowl, beat eggs with pumpkin, banana and vanilla. Add milk and oil and mix until smooth.
  3. Fold pumpkin mixture into dry ingredients. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat griddle to medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
  5. Drop pancake batter by the generous tablespoonful onto griddle. Cook until bubbles appear (about 2-3 minutes). Flip and cook until set (about 2-3 minutes). Repeat.
Notes
These freeze really well. I store them in a plastic baggie in groups of 6, with each pancake separated by wax paper squares. I then put all of the plastic baggies in a freezer bag.

Layered Pumpkin Loaf

Layered Pumpkin Loaf is a delicious and easy recipe for pumpkin bread with a cream cheese swirl in the middle.

For the longest time, Mike and I would get ‘Pumpkin Loaf’ from everybody’s favorite coffee shop (you know, the one with the green logo).  While that bread is good, I dare say that I prefer this Layered Pumpkin Loaf.  Perhaps it’s the moist and flavorful bread, or perhaps it’s the cream cheese layer resting in the middle.  Regardless of the reason, this is just plain good.

I substituted buttermilk for the skim milk in the original recipe, and I added extra cinnamon in addition to the pumpkin pie spice.  I also added the chopped pepitas on top.  Pepitas are tasty, add some crunch, look pretty, and go perfectly with this bread.

If you will be hosting out of town guests over the holidays, or simply hosting a breakfast/brunch, Layered Pumpkin Loaf would make a lovely addition to your table.

Not sure if you noticed, but I like pumpkin just a little bit. 🙂 This bread is certainly no exception.

Layered Pumpkin Loaf
 
Yields: 9x5 loaf, approximately 16 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 egg whites, divided
  • ½ cup low fat buttermilk
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 package (8 ounces) Neufchatel cream cheese (1/3 reduced fat), softened
  • ¼ cup pepitas, chopped (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, stir pumpkin, 1 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, 3 egg whites, buttermilk and oil, until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Add to pumpkin mixture and fold gently just until moistened.
  4. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, remaining granulated sugar and remaining egg white until well blended.
  5. Spoon half the pumpkin batter into a 9x5-inch loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray. Spread the cream cheese mixture in a layer over that batter. Top cream cheese layer with remaining pumpkin batter (You will want to spread the top pumpkin layer a little bit with a silicone spatula, but it is ok if a little cream cheese is still visible).
  6. Sprinkle the top layer with chopped pepitas, if desired. It helps to gently pat the pepitas into the batter
  7. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Loosen bread from sides of pan; cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack; cool completely.

Adapted from Kraft

Peanut Butter Surprise Muffins

It has been far too long since I have made something with peanut butter.  I thought these Peanut Butter Surprise Muffins would be a good way to curb any peanut butter withdrawal.  You know anything with ‘surprise’ in the title is going to be something special (good or bad I suppose, but I promise only good things for you).

First you have a peanut butter muffin, which by itself would be quite delicious.  Add a surprise in the middle (in the form of a mini peanut butter cup), and you have something that is just plain fun and tasty too!

Peanut Butter Surprise Muffins

Yields 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
3 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt (optional)
2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
12 miniature peanut butter cups 
1/4 cup chopped peanuts (optional, for topping)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prepare a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, which together eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Stir into flour mixture until just moistened.
  4. Combine butter and peanut butter.  Fold into batter (do not over mix).
  5. Fill each muffin cup 1/4 full with batter.  Place a mini peanut butter cup on top of each.  Cover with remaining batter.  Sprinkle tops with chopped peanuts, if using.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to wire rack to cool completely.

Adapted from Taste of Home

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Adam’s nap cycle is pretty predictable.  He typically naps for 2-3 hours each day, but occasionally goes through week-long periods of 1 hour naps.  Sometimes it’s due to teeth, sometimes it’s due to growing, and sometimes who knows.  We have been through it enough to know that it passes in about a week.  So when we found ourselves through week 2 of short naps, it was a little disconcerting (and tiring) for all.  Fortunately, we did made it through the latest short-nap phase, and these Pumpkin Apple Muffins are a result of those extra 2 hours I was not expecting.   

I have been working on a recipe for Pumpkin Apple Muffins for quite a while.  When I found myself with extra apples from other recipes and several cans of pumpkin puree, it was clearly time to execute my vision.  The combination of my two favorite fall flavors was just so appealing.  The result is a moist, flavorful muffin that is a perfect blend of pumpkin and apple.

After Adam’s blissful 3 hour nap, I decided we should split a muffin for snack.  Before he could even finish his first bite, Adam said ‘more muffin.’  Over and over, ‘more muffin for Adam’ until he finished nearly 3/4 of our muffin.  His enthusiasm says it all…these are fantastic!   

Pumpkin Apple Muffins
Yields 12 muffins

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 eggs (or 1 egg and 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed plus 3 tablespoons water – see note)
1/4 cup applesauce
1 medium apple, cored and shredded (any variety)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line 12 muffin cups in a standard muffin tin.  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and baking soda until combined.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, mix pumpkin, oil, eggs, applesauce and apple until combined.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently fold until combined. (note: batter will be thick)
  5. Divide batter evenly amongst 12 muffin cups.
  6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes and then move muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Note:  I only had 1 egg, so I used ground flaxseed as a substitute.  1 egg = 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed plus 3 tablespoons water.  Mix flaxseed and water in a bowl and let sit for about 2 minutes.  Add just as you would an egg.

    Adapted from Low Fat Cooking @ about.com

      Pumpkin Banana Bread

      An overabundance of overripe bananas is never a bad thing.  We all know those little black bananas mean that in the near future, some sort of banana treat will be made.  Banana bread is always a safe bet, but this time of year I find myself wanting to make something with pumpkin as well.  What better way to combine the two than to make Pumpkin Banana Bread.   

      This Pumpkin Banana Bread is very easy to make.  Made with part whole wheat flour and less sugar, it becomes a healthier option.  The bananas add natural sweetness, which along with the pumpkin, yield a moist and delicious bread.  It’s not quite banana bread and not quite pumpkin bread, but a delightful combination of the two.     

      Pumpkin Banana Bread
      Yields 3 small loaves

      1 cup all-purpose flour
      1 cup white whole wheat flour
      1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
      1 teaspoon baking powder
      1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      1 teaspoon cinnamon
      1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
      2 bananas, mashed
      1 cup pumpkin puree
      1/4 canola oil
      2 eggs
      1 teaspoon vanilla

      1 tablespoon brown sugar (for topping, optional)
      1 teaspoon cinnamon (for topping, optional)

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 3 small loaf pans with cooking spray.  Set aside.
      2. In a large bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. 
      3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the bananas, pumpkin, oil, eggs and vanilla. 
      4. Add the dry ingredients to the banana-pumpkin mixture, and gently fold until combined.  
      5. If using, combine sugar and cinnamon for topping. 
      6. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired.  Bake 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Remove bread from pans to a wire rack to cool completely.   

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        Adapted from Low Fat Cooking @ About.com

        healthy chocolate peanut butter oat coconut bites

        Healthy Peanut Butter Balls

         

        Healthy Peanut Butter Balls are an addictive, no-bake snack, made from simple ingredients found in your pantry.  

        It is no secret that I love peanut butter.  So you can imagine my excitement when I was selected to participate in the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with the National Peanut Board.  The task was to create a snack recipe using peanut butter and incorporating other ingredients found in most homes. Easy enough!

        I wanted to make something healthy, convenient and easy.  I also wanted to make something with oats.  It was time to roll up my sleeves, grab ingredients from the pantry and experiment.

        After adding a little here, a touch there,…voila! I finally got the results I was looking for, using simple wholesome ingredients found in my pantry.

        This healthy snack could not be any easier to make. The recipe requires no baking; simply measure, mix, roll and chill. The mixture may seem a little dry at first, but as you continue to mix it comes together (or add a little more honey or peanut butter to moisten the mixture to a consistency that works for you). Rolling the balls in a coating as optional. It makes the balls a little less sticky on the fingers, and also is a fun way to vary the flavors, but it is not necessary.

        Healthy Peanut Butter Balls are a healthy and delicious snack, or even a quick breakfast on-the-go, featuring one of my favorite foods of all time…peanut butter!

        Healthy Peanut Butter Balls
         
        Yields: 16-18 balls
        Ingredients
        • 1 cup peanut butter, natural is preferred (chunky or creamy)
        • 2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)
        • 1 cup rolled oats
        • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed or wheat germ
        • 2 tablespoons sweetened flaked coconut
        • cocoa powder, wheat germ, powdered sugar, chopped peanuts, (optional) – for coating
        Instructions
        1. Heat peanut butter and honey in the microwave until easily mixed, about 15-20 seconds. Stir until blended.
        2. In a separate bowl, mix oats, flaxseed and coconut (if using) until combined.
        3. Add peanut butter mixture to oat mixture and stir until incorporated. (Mixture may seem a little dry at first…just keep mixing).
        4. Form a rounded tablespoonful of the combined mixture into a ball and place on a plate. Repeat until all mixture is used. Now, if you do not want to coat the balls, skip to step 6.
        5. Roll each ball in whatever coating suits your preference. Cocoa powder, powdered sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon sugar and chopped peanuts are some ideas.

        Disclaimer: As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was provided with 2 jars of Planters peanut butter, from the National Peanut Board, for free.  The details of my experience are exclusively my opinion, and I was not otherwise influenced or compensated.

        Brown Sugar Brownies

        Back in college, I had a recipe for Brown Sugar Brownies.  They were honestly the best brownies I’ve ever had (aside from my grandmother’s of course). I still remember them, but that was ages ago, and sadly my dear recipe is long gone.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I was in the middle of baking and ran out of brown sugar.  Mike went on an emergency brown sugar run for me.  When he set the bag down on the counter, it happened to be recipe-side up (hmm…do you think that was intentional?).  What did I see?  Brown Sugar Brownies!

        Quick and easy to prepare, this recipe makes a delicious brownie that is more fudgy than cakey.  In fact, they are light and airy and almost melt in your mouth.  Now, I used dark chocolate that I received from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program with Ghiardelli.  This would be delicious using unsweetened per the original recipe, but I was pleasantly susprised at the results with what I used.  I also used light butter, which has half the fat and calories of regular butter.  I like using light butter when I can, because if it works why not, right? 

        Now for the best part.  If I told you these brownies were under 115 calories each, would you believe it?  I hardly believed it myself!  I did the calculation a few days after making them (and after I had already eaten a few bars).  I was eating half a brownie each time because I expected they would come in a lot higher.   I did the calculation once, checked it again.  It’s true.  These babies clock in around 112!

        Brown Sugar Brownies
        Yields 16 brownies

        1/2 cup (1 stick) light butter, melted and cooled
        1 cup brown sugar
        2 eggs
        2 ounces unsweetened OR dark chocolate (such as Ghirardelli Twilight Delight), melted, cooled slightly
        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
        1/2 cup all-purpose flour
        powdered sugar (optional)

        1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 9 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
        2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until combined.
        3. Beat in eggs, adding one at at time. 
        4. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla.
        5. Gently fold in flour, until combined.
        6. Pour mixture into pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely.  Cut into squares, and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

        Adapted from back of sugar bag (recipe found here here)

        Disclaimer: While this is not my formal write up of my experience with Ghirardelli chocolate, I feel obligated to disclose the following:  “As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program, I was provided with Ghirardelli chocolate for free.  The details of my experience are exclusively my opinion, and I was not otherwise influenced or compensated.”  I will be sharing a full write up of my experience later this week. 

        Brown Sugar Coconut Blueberry Muffins

        The hunt for tasty ways to use the remainder of our blueberries continues.  It’s not a bad problem to have, that’s for sure.  We have been happily enjoying Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, lots of blueberries in Greek yogurt, and many other treats.  But it was time to make something new.  I already have several blueberry muffin recipes that I love, but when I found a blueberry muffin recipe using brown sugar and buttermilk, I knew it would become an instant favorite.

        While the recipe looked nearly perfect as-is, I decided to add a little twist and use coconut oil instead of canola oil.  This was my first time using coconut oil, but I had high hopes it would be the perfect addition to these muffins.

        The coconut oil imparts a delicious coconut flavor to the muffins, which works beautifully with the tangy blueberries.  The muffins are incredibly moist as well.  Score for the coconut oil, and score for another fantastic recipe for blueberry muffins!

        Brown Sugar Coconut Blueberry Muffins
         
        Yields: 12 muffins
        Ingredients
        • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
        • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
        • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
        • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
        • ⅓ cup coconut oil (or canola oil)
        • ⅓ cup buttermilk
        • 2 large eggs
        • 1 teaspoon vanilla
        • 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
        • 2 teaspoons brown sugar, for topping
        • 2 teaspoons sweetened flaked coconut, for topping
        Instructions
        1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
        2. In a large bowl, stir flour, sugar and baking powder.
        3. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until well blended.
        4. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stirring gently until just combined.
        5. Gently fold in blueberries.
        6. Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups. Top each muffin with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a sprinkle of coconut.
        7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and then move to wire rack to cool completely.

        Brown Sugar Coconut Blueberry Muffins
        Yields 12 muffins

        1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
        3/4 cup packed brown sugar
        1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
        1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
        1/3 cup coconut oil (or canola oil)
        1/3 cup buttermilk
        2 large eggs
        1 teaspoon vanilla
        2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
        2 teaspoons brown sugar, for topping
        2 teaspoons sweetened flaked coconut, for topping

        1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
        2. In a large bowl, stir flour, sugar and baking powder.
        3. In a medium bowl, whisk together oil, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla until well blended.
        4. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stirring gently until just combined.
        5. Gently fold in blueberries.
        6. Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups.  Top each muffin with a sprinkle of brown sugar and a sprinkle of coconut.
        7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for 5 minutes and then move to wire rack to cool completely.

        Adapted from Babble

        PB Ball Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins

        Yesterday I shared with you Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins.  If you haven’t baked with cinnamon chips before, I suggest you go out and get some.  They are so good, especially in this banana muffin recipe.  As I also mentioned, that’s what I made with half of the recipe.  Today I am going to share with you what I did with the other half. 


        When I was conjuring up a purpose for the cinnamon chips, banana muffins were the first thing that popped into my head.  But then I got to thinking – what if I added something more…something delicious…something like…a peanut butter ball? 

        So today, part 2 of yesterday’s Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins, I present to you PB Ball Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins.  The muffins alone deserve the spotlight, because they really are spectacular.  Add a peanut butter ball to the center, and they become something extraordinary. 

        PB Ball Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins
        Yields 24 standard muffins

        1 1/2 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
        1 cup powdered sugar

        1 recipe Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins

        1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 24 standard muffins cups with paper liners.  Set aside.
        2. Beat peanut butter and powdered sugar together until blended. 
        3. Roll peanut butter mixture into 24 evenly-sized balls and place in the paper-lined muffin cups.  
        4. Make Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins per the recipe.  Divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, covering the peanut butter ball. 
        5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until muffin is set.  (You can do the toothpick test, obviously just don’t test through the peanut butter ball).  Let muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

        Adapted from Picky Palate

        Triple Chocolate Malted Cookies

        The baby was asleep. The husband was out to dinner. What’s a girl to do? Make Triple Chocolate Malted Cookies, of course!

        I haven’t made cookies in ages, and these just happen to be one of Mike’s favorites. Actually, after one bite, they quickly become everybody’s favorite. These cookies are soft, chewy, and chocolaty with a hint of malted milk flavor.

        The dough is quite sticky, but becomes much more managable after chilling it in the refrigerator. It is also key to either line your cookie sheet, or spray it with cooking spray. Otherwise the cookies have a tendency to stick. 

        Despite the minor challenges presesented by a sticky dough, these cookies are worth every effort. They are delicious and the perfect accompaniment to a cold glass of milk!

        Triple Chocolate Malted Cookies
        Yields approximately 30 cookies

        1 cup brown sugar, packed
        6 tablespoons chocolate malted milk powder
        5 tablespoons butter, softened
        3 tablespoons chocolate syrup
        1 tablespoon vanilla extract
        1 large egg
        2 cups all-purpose flour
        1 teaspoon baking soda
        1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
        1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

        1. In a large bowl, combine sugar, malted milk powder, butter, syrup, vanilla and egg; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy.
        2. In a medium bowl, combine flour and baking soda.  Gradually add flour mixture to wet ingredients, stirring (or beating at low speed) until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.
        3. Chill dough for 30 minutes to overnight.
        4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
        5. Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  [Cookies will appear puffy when first taken out of the oven]  Cool on pan for 2 minutes or until firm.  Remove cookies and cool on a wire rack.

        Adapted from Cooking Light

        Zucchini Bread

        Childhood summers, playing in the vegetable garden, my 3rd birthday “cake”, that’s what this zucchini bread tastes like. 

        Throughout my childhood, my parents had a vegetable garden.  I remember they grew cucumbers, green beans, various other vegetables, and of course zucchini.  Zucchini plants are the gift that keeps on giving.  Even better, lots of zucchini meant lots of delicious zucchini bread!

        My mom said she got this recipe from an old relative of my dad’s.  Isn’t that the way it is…the greatest recipes are the old tried and trues?  Classic zucchini bread…one of the best simple pleasures.

        Zucchini Bread
        Yields 4 small loaves

        3 eggs, lightly beaten
        1 cup canola oil
        2 cups granulated sugar
        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
        2 cups grated zucchini (with peel)
        3 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups all-purpose and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour)
        1/2 teaspoon baking powder
        1 teaspoon baking soda
        dash of salt
        1 teaspoon cinnamon
        Cooking spray

        1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray 4 small loaf pans with cooking spray (or grease/flour).  Set aside.
        2. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Sift dry ingredients.
        3. In a large bowl, beat eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla until creamy.  Add zucchini and stir until combined.
        4. Fold the dry ingredients in with the wet ingredients until combined (do not over mix).
        5. Evenly distribute batter among 4 small loaf pans and bake for 60-70 minutes.  Let cool in pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

         

        Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins

        Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins are a healthy muffin recipe made with buttermilk, brown sugar and topped with chopped peanuts and chocolate chips.  

        When I boldly declared Whole Wheat  Peanut Butter Muffins as my favorite muffin of all time, Mike was not surprised in the least.  Not only do they have peanut butter, which I love, but they also have brown sugar and buttermilk, two of my favorite baking ingredients. Chocolate chips and chopped peanuts don’t hurt either. 🙂

        Today I am sharing with you a muffin recipe that I thought was lost forever. Many years ago, I bought a bag of whole wheat flour, and featured on the back was a recipe for peanut butter muffins.  I decided to give the recipe a try and was blown away. The muffins tasted just like a peanut butter sandwich only in muffin form. They were incredible.

        Fast forward years later, after many moves, the recipe sadly got lost in the shuffle. Until now! I googled away and found my beloved recipe at A Tasteful Garden. I had all of the ingredients on hand, so immediately got to work.

        I decided to swap canola oil for butter and add chopped peanuts on top.  I also used mini chocolate chips.  I like that with small chips, it seems as though you get more chocolate per bite.  As with most quick breads made with whole wheat flour, these muffins are dense and hearty.  I find they are best enjoyed with a big glass of milk.

        These muffins are even better than I remembered, and now thankfully will never be lost again!

        Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins
         
        Yields: 12 muffins
        Ingredients
        • 2¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
        • 1 teaspoon baking soda
        • 1 teaspoon baking powder
        • ½ teaspoon salt (optional)
        • ¼ cup canola oil
        • ½ cup brown sugar
        • ¾ cup peanut butter
        • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
        • 2 large eggs
        • ¾ cup buttermilk
        • 1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (optional)
        • ⅓ cup chopped peanuts, for topping (optional)
        Instructions
        1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with cooking spray or muffin liners. Set aside.
        2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
        3. Cream together the oil and brown sugar. Add the peanut butter and mix until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Scrape sides of the bowl often to make sure everything is evenly mixed.
        4. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix until moistened. Add half of the buttermilk, mix until combined. Add the remaining dry ingredients and remaining buttermilk. Fold in chocolate chips, if using.
        5. Divide batter evenly between prepared muffin pan. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if using. Bake until golden brown, 22-24 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then move to wire rack to cool completely.

        Adapted from King Arthur Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins, found on A Tasteful Garden