Monthly Archives: May 2013

Muffin in a Mug

It is confession time, my friends. Seven months of baking and blogging have taken their toll. Well it really isn’t the baking or the blogging, it is the over-consumption of the baking that has led me to today’s post.

I have pretty much always lived a healthy and balanced life. Exercising, sleeping well and eating right kept me on track. I have never had the luxury of being able to eat whatever I want in whatever quantity. I have always had to be mindful of maintaining a healthy body and weight. And for the most part, I always have – with a few slips here and there like when I spent the majority of my twenties living low-fat/high-carb and obsessively exercising. I was skinny but very unhealthy inside and out. Thankfully, my body (and my husband and my mom) forced me to come to my senses and I found balance again.

Taking good care of yourself isn’t hard when you only have you to think about. Add a husband to the equation and it doesn’t change things too much as they are usually fairly self-sufficient and the nurturing required in their care leaves a decent amount of time to maintain some personal focus. My husband is rolling his eyes.

Enter motherhood. Ahhhhh, motherhood, the game changer. And for me, not just motherhood but children with special needs and the deep wounds and challenging behaviors of severe trauma and loss. Every bit of my time and energy was focused on their healing and needs. My life was no longer my own and changed dramatically.

So did my habits.

I have always loved to cook, bake and eat but my kitchen became my therapy and my escape. Food became my comfort. It also became an important way for me to nurture and comfort the little people in my life.

Fast forward a few years, over 40, well over my ideal weight, not sleeping enough, out of balance again.

I have no regrets.

I love being a mom, even on the hard days.

Every sacrifice is worth it and leaving “all about me” behind is a journey we all have to take as we mature and gain perspective.

Especially if we become parents.

Unfortunately, what we tend to do is completely forget about ourselves. We accept the expanding waistlines, dark circles, wet ponytails and stretchy black yoga pants as part of motherhood. An outward sign of our personal sacrifice. After all, it isn’t about us anymore.

Or is it just me?

Still no regrets but it is time for me to find balance again. My children are healthy and happy, healing and thriving and growing up. I don’t have babies anymore. My youngest will start kindergarten in August and I will just be with me again a lot of the time. Well, Ethel’s youngest starts kindergarten too so I’ll be with her at Zinc Bistro lunching on French food. And I’ll probably be in Nathan’s classroom a lot just so I can be near him helping out. But you get where I’m going with this.

It is time to find and focus on me again.

This blog has been a huge step in that direction and I love it so much. I love sharing family recipes and stories with you and that will continue but I do have to make some changes. My body is demanding change and balance.

At the risk of giving you way more information than you could possibly ever want to know, I will tell you that I have a pretty significant wheat sensitivity that I like to ignore. I tested negative for Celiac but it is still an issue for me. It isn’t too big of a problem for me if I am careful but I can be reckless … my high-carb/low-fat 20’s and now the somewhat obsessive amount of baking I’ve been doing since I got my hands on my grandmother’s recipes.

Reckless.

I also have to tell you, crazy things happen to you over the age of 40 and your body doesn’t bounce back and recover like it once did. At least mine doesn’t. I needed to start listening and being more mindful of my health and longevity. It is amazing what we take for granted and can get away with when we are younger.

A friend recommended an incredible book to me that I can honestly say has opened my eyes to health and nutrition in new and inspired ways. It has also spurred me on to do further reading and research into a low glycemic and gluten-free lifestyle.

Many of the principles in this book are not new to me as over the years I have read just about everything published on diets, health and nutrition. But this is different. This is not a diet or a fad. This is biblically based and just makes sense to me; a “where have you been all my life” kind of sense.

It is how I truly like to eat and how my body feels and functions best and I am adjusting to the loss of flour and sugar. Counting and tracking calories, fat grams, carbs, points, etc. and logging every morsel I put in my mouth throughout the day; I hate that and I won’t do it. That is about weight loss – this is about a strong, well-nourished, healthy body and a healthy weight is a happy side effect.

Listening to my body and making a few small changes to nourish and care for it. That I can do. That I have to do.

So, I have made a few small changes and I have been gluten-free/sugar-free for almost two weeks now and I feel like a new woman. And I have to tell you, almond and coconut flours are incredible. I am still working out the “sweetener” to my liking but have a few recommended Stevia products on order that should be better for baking.

I promise, I will still post traditional recipes but will be working on healthy tweaks and modifications as options. And I and will soon have pages atop my blog with indexes for traditional recipes and low-glycemic recipes (as I test and post more and more of them).

For now, I would love to share with you one of my favorite discoveries from Trim Healthy Mama by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett – you didn’t think I was going to forget to give you the name of the book did you? – Muffin in a Mug.

The best thing about these muffins is that my kids LOVE them and are eating them just about every morning. They are so simple to make and are loaded with flax meal. It makes me feel great knowing that with every bite, they are filling their bodies with healthy life-giving foods that taste like a treat. I have taken the basic recipe in the book and tweaked it into two versions that we absolutely love, pumpkin and chocolate.

Sugar-Free/Gluten-Free Muffin in a Mug

Pumpkin

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Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp. golden flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. almond flour
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 packets Truvia or other Stevia based sweetener (adjust to your sweet-tooth)*
  • pinch of kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened pure pumpkin puree

*Note on Stevia – the small amount of Truvia used here does not leave the bitter aftertaste that it does when baking in larger quantities. I’m still working on that.

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Crack the egg into the bottom of a coffee cup and whisk with a fork.

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Add your dry ingredients.

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Add then the pumpkin puree and mix ingredients together vigorously until well combined.

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Here’s the crazy part. Put it in the microwave for one minute.

I know.

I’m still trying to get my head around it.

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Turn it out onto a plate and you have a pumpkin muffin. An ugly pumpkin muffin, yes but a healthy and delicious one. Add a little whipped cream and berries and it gets prettier.

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My husband and my kids LOVE the pumpkin muffin and I think it is delicious but the chocolate – it tastes like cake. Truly, like rich chocolate cake.

Chocolate

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This muffin is made the same way but with a slight tweak to the ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. golden flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. almond flour
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (I added this as I love what a hit of cinnamon does for chocolate)
  • 3 packets Truvia or other stevia based sweetener
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of kosher or sea salt
  • 1 level Tbsp. coconut oil

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Add the ingredients in the same way you did for the pumpkin muffin and pop it in the microwave for 1 minute.

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It is so good, I promise. The coconut oil adds a little more fat and calories than the pumpkin puree but it is a good healthy fat. Coconut oil is something I have been reading up on and I am impressed. Take a look at The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife if you want to learn more about this incredible super food.

Flax and almond flour can be found at most grocery stores now and they are just the beginning of the incredible possibilities available in gluten-free cooking and baking. I can hardly wait to experiment and share more with you!

Enjoy!

And be sure to let me know what you think!!

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My Boy is a Bear

Yesterday, the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift a ban on openly gay youth. Read the article by Miranda Leitsinger and Jason White of NBC News by clicking the link above.

Scouts is a huge part of our life. My boys are still very young so we are involved in Cub Scouts which is for first grade through fifth grade boys. At the end of fifth grade, Cub Scouts cross over and become Boy Scouts. We love the values and skills that Cub Scouts teaches as well as the friendships and fun it offers!

I was David’s Tiger Den leader when he was in the first grade and I am now the committee chair for our pack working to coordinate the dens, plan pack events and keep paperwork in order. It adds a bit to my already full plate but it is worth it. I love my boys and I love what they are learning through Scouts. I love Scouts.

I also make the cupcakes.

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Nathan isn’t officially a scout yet but he loves “Hub” Scouts and can’t wait until he becomes a “Tiger” in first grade.

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I can’t imagine someone telling him he couldn’t be a Scout because he was different or he wasn’t what they deem acceptable. His heart would be broken.

This post is not about debating morality or gay rights.

It is about compassion.

I am thankful and proud to be an American. I believe in the constitution and the principles this nation was founded on and am deeply blessed to enjoy the freedoms that we have in this country.

Those freedoms are for ALL. Whether we agree on everything or not. You can disagree with me. It is okay. Many people I love and respect will disagree. I will still love and respect them. My heart is led to err on the side of compassion and love. To welcome and walk along side my neighbor. Some details I will leave to God.

America needs Scouting! Boys need Scouting. We need to be reaching out and sharing the adventure, not pushing people away.

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David and some of his “Wolf” buddies.

Tico Perez, the BSA national commissioner summed it up well when he said “there were divisions about how to serve kids. If we have disagreement, if we have discomfort, we are going to talk through it. America needs Scouting. Our singular focus moving forward is serving more kids in Scouting, and we believe this resolution is going to do that.”

One parent had this to say “we’re very disappointed. I will compare it to a funeral.” His son expressed concern about being allowed to remain a Scout. “I hope I can continue,” he said. “It depends if my parents feel safe to let me stay.” I find that so unfortunate and very sad and I hope very much that he gets to continue on his journey as a Scout.

A boy scout who is gay is not a threat to my boys.

Allowing my boys to think they have a right to be exclusive or elitist or can turn their backs on people because of differences is the threat.

It is my job to teach my children what we believe and it is my job to teach them to walk in love.

It is my job to “show” others what I believe in the way that I act and live my life.

I will teach my children about a dream where people are judged by the “content of their character”. Remember that dream?

I will teach them to be compassionate, even in disagreement.

Every night at the dinner table we ask each of our kids “how did you show your Jesus today?”

How did you show love, compassion, humility, grace, mercy, hope?

How do we “show our Jesus” if we exclude, push away and turn our backs?

I think yesterday, the Scouts “showed their Jesus” and I may just start sportin’ one of those “I’m proud of my Cub Scout” stickers on the bumper of my ride.

Which is a mini-van. Oh yes, I am a Scout mom.

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And I make a mean cupcake.

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Last week, my boy became a Bear. He completed all of his achievements and graduated from the second grade rank of Wolf to the third grade rank of Bear.

Here are a few photos from our Advancement Ceremony …

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David receiving his recognition and awards from the Wolf Den leader, Eileen. I like to call her Ethel – take a look at my Scout Halloween Party post if you want to know why.

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Part of the Wolf badge ceremony. I sure wish I had a picture of the looks on their faces when they had to drink wolf’s blood. Well it was V-8 juice but I think it may have actually been more palatable to them had it been actual wolf’s blood. I truly thought it was coming back up with a few of them – which would have made the ceremony all the more exciting.

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Our Cub Master and our youngest Scouts, The Tigers, getting ready to become Wolves.

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Our Bear Den getting ready to move up to the rank of Webelo.

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We didn’t promise it would be without peril.

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I love that members of our local Boy Scout Troop conducted our ceremony. They help us out with a lot and it is good for the younger boys to interact with the older Scouts.

If you have a boy of scouting age, I hope you will consider Scouts. The boys can join anytime and will automatically be placed in the appropriate rank for their age. Don’t worry if your boy didn’t start as a Tiger, there is a place for him and he will transition in easily.

If you are interested in learning more about Scouting, please visit the BSA Website or contact your local Cub Scout Pack or Boy Scout Troop. There is also Venture Scouts which girls are welcome to participate in. I promise you, adventure, friendship and fun awaits!

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Look, my boy is a Bear and is beyond excited to leave soon for camp with his dad – who will be the Assistant Cub Master next year because his wife volunteered him.

Lucky for me, he’s a good sport and loves Scouts too.

I Take Thee Banana Bread

Finally, the Banana Bread Post.

This another of my grandmother Ibby’s wonderful recipes and I absolutely love it. It feels very old fashioned to me and it always comes out perfect.

My grandmother did a lot of catering in the 1960’s and 70’s for the women’s circle at her Presbyterian church, the Whitworth College Music Department (Spokane, WA) and numerous weddings and showers and dinner parties for regular clients. She used this banana bread recipe often, making lovely little tea sandwiches with an orange cream cheese spread.

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This is my grandma Ibby with my mom and my stepdad at their wedding, which my grandma catered.

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There are the banana bread tea sandwiches with the dark crusts on the platter upper right. They made an appearance at a lot of weddings and bridal showers. This picture is from my mom and stepdad’s wedding reception. I take thee banana bread. Get it? Remember, I have a cold. My intellectual capacity is diminished.

Incidentally, my mom and stepdad were brought together by me. I found him. My sister owes her existence to me. She’ll read this so I just wanted to remind her.

He was the Mountain Manager at the ski area my mom worked at and would always say hi and stop to chat a moment with me when I was outside playing at the condominiums we all lived in. I took a shine to him; he was quite a catch. He was a widower 18 years older than my mom and I got three pretty great step-brothers in the deal. And my little sister of course but she came later. My dad passed away in 1995 and I miss him so much but I am so very thankful for all the years I got to spend with him.

My parents would have celebrated their 40th Anniversary this June.

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Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad.

Recently, I made my grandma’s banana bread tea sandwiches, just as she always did.

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The china, linens and pink depression glass came from my other incredible grandmother, Eileen. The one who let me eat Froot Loops before bed. Remember? Grandmas are the best!

Grandma Ibby’s Banana Bread

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Ingredients

Banana-Bread-Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add and incorporate the eggs (one at a time) and the vanilla.

Mix in the dry ingredients and then the bananas and chopped nuts.

Note: I don’t mix the nuts in but instead, sprinkle them over the top before baking. They look nice and are easy to pick off for anyone who doesn’t like them. Skip the nuts entirely if you are going to make the tea sandwiches as the bread slices up more cleanly.

Pour into a 9×5 loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

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Orange Cream Cheese Filling for Tea Sandwiches

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  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • And just a little freshly grated nutmeg

Blend all ingredients together in a mixer and spread between banana bread slices.

Banana-Bread-Tea-SandwichesCut the crust off of both ends and then slice into four finger sandwiches by slicing in half and then slicing each half in half.

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And then, it’s time for tea!

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This recipe also makes wonderful muffins.

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I sprinkle the nuts on top just like I do with the loaf option.

It will make 12 muffins and bakes for 20-25 minutes.

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This is a treasured recipe and is something I will always associate with my grandma Ibby. Especially the tea sandwiches which were just so her.

It is moist and perfectly textured with just the right banana flavor. I have been cutting out the sugar and recently (this morning) baked the muffins with Truvia sugar substitute and they turned out great! Next, to try them with almond or coconut flour. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Enjoy!

Backyard Visitors

On Friday, I mentioned the unwanted spring cold that has taken up residence in my sinuses. Thank you so much to everyone for your lovely comments and “feel-better” messages. I am feeling a little better after a busy weekend that didn’t allow for as much rest as I should have made time for. But I am still behind. Is it just me or are spring and summer colds the worst?

Slowly but surely, I am putting the banana bread post together and should have it up tomorrow. I decided last minute to bake up a batch of banana nut muffins to add in and have again set myself back. Honestly, I think I am way more excited about this post than anyone else could possibly be. I need to get it up so I can stop thinking about it.

But today, just for a quick check-in to say hello, I thought I would share with you a few pictures of my favorite backyard visitors. We have a lot of interesting visitors to what we call the “Brewer Nature Preserve” and it often feels like we never need visit a zoo again. Well, we don’t have tigers and rhinos (and I am most happy about that) but we do have lots of coyotes, javelinas and the occasional bobcat sitting on the fence or trotting casually through the driveway.

I know. It took me a while to get used to it too.

My two favorite visitors are the bunnies and the quail. They are sweet and peaceful and are always there nibbling on the grass or scratching for seeds when I first look out the kitchen window in the early morning.

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I look forward to seeing them.

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I love that the quail are always in pairs. Do you see the second pair in the background behind the orange tree? We are just starting to see the “mommies and daddies” with a long trail of babies scrambling along after them. So precious.

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The bunnies are usually in pairs too. This guy heard me coming as I interrupted his breakfast; I though I was being so sneaky and quiet.

He stopped for just a moment, listening.

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And then he and his buddy were off for the back gate. But he did make sure to take his breakfast with him.

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Often times the bunnies will be just outside the gate running around chasing each other, playing in the tall brush. So much fun to watch!

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The bunnies and quail are definitely welcome company. And while they might be slightly more terrifying company, I do have to admit it is pretty incredible to see a bobcat just hangin’ out on your back fence post.

Or even up in a Saguaro …

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This is not my original photo, I found it on-line and borrowed it. 

It is amazing to me that these cats climb up and then sit atop these sharp spiny cacti.

Before I go today, I just want to extend my thoughts and prayers to all who were affected by the horrific tornado in Oklahoma yesterday. We lived in Altus, Oklahoma when we were stationed there for two years and absolutely loved the area and the local people we met. They are kind and strong and will overcome.

We have a lot of family in Oklahoma as well and are so incredibly thankful that they were not in the path of the storm and are all just fine. We are praying for those who were not as fortunate.

The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

Spring cold I don’t need you in my life and I want to break up!

Earlier in the week, I promised you I would be posting my grandmother’s banana bread recipe today.

Earlier in the week I was only incubating the spring cold that has now taken up residence in my sinus cavity.

My denial of the “I don’t feel so great” signs has finally proven futile and this morning’s efforts to edit photos and string thoughts together has resulted in me finding myself staring at the computer screen only to periodically “come to” and wonder how long I have been staring at the computer screen in my head cold fog.

I am calling it a day – at 8:27 am. Pillow. Blanket. Couch. Coffee.

Hot tea would be more poetic and would seem more soothing but black coffee runs through my veins and is my comfort.

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All is not lost!

I get to lay on the couch and watch movies all day – except for the Target run I have to make, the kids I have to pick up from school, the daughter I have to run to a pool party after school and then pick-up two hours later and the pizza order I have to place for dinner. Hey, when your head feels like it weighs 500 pounds and is being squeezed in a vice, the “super mom reserves” run out quickly.

My youngest will get to play far too much Skylander Giants on the Wii and while you won’t get banana bread today, I am going to share coffee cake with you.

Well, you have to make it yourself. But that’s part of the fun. And you don’t want my germy self making coffee cake for you anyway.

I’ve shared this recipe before, not too long ago but it is worth repeating.

My blogging friend Kenley over at Green Door Hospitality mentioned my Salted Pecan Coffee Cake on her blog today – THANKS KENLEY! This recipe originated with my grandmother and I added a few special touches – think Fleur de Sel and maple glaze.

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I thought this might be a good substitute for grandma’s banana bread for anyone who might have missed it or wants a delicious idea for the weekend.

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Salted Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

I promise I’ll get the banana bread post up next week. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful weekend enjoying a little coffee cake with someone you love.

As for me, there is a couch and a cup of coffee calling my name.

 

Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

Last week was teacher appreciation week at my children’s school. We have some pretty incredible teachers in our lives so it was important for me to let them know how much we appreciate them in a special and personal way.

No, I did not painstakingly craft and then artfully frame their initials in crayons. It’s all over Pinterest, you should check it out. That is over the top, even for me.

Nope, I baked (and stuck in a gift card on the side).

Each teacher received a dreamy lemon blueberry muffin, made extra special by the rich and velvety lemon cream cheese icing piped on top. I had a little fun and packaged the muffins in colorful plastic bowls and tied on a note of appreciation with some colorful ribbon.

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Just one muffin but a perfect muffin made and presented with appreciation and care.

I love homemade gifts.

And gift cards.

I’ve been working on this recipe for a while now, obsessed with determined with getting just the right tart and tangy lemon flavor and dense but moist muffin texture; and now, finally, I am in love and happy, no eager to share.

Happy and eager. I hope you love them.

Especially since it will take me untold hours on the elliptical machine to burn off all of lemon blueberry muffin taste testing that was necessary. My husband was kind enough to recently fix the once broken elliptical and now I have no excuses. Although I still seem to find one or two.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 cup blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin or line with cupcake papers.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add the sugar to the dry ingredients and mix together with a whisk.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vegetable oil, milk, lemon juice, beaten eggs, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest.

Note: I was hesitant to use the lemon extract because for some reason, it feels like cheating to me. Especially when I have fresh lemons in abundance. But I just wasn’t getting the depth of lemon flavor that I wanted so I tried the lemon extract and it was just what I was looking for. Sometimes you just gotta’ go with your gut!

Make a well (an indentation in the center) in the dry ingredients and then pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients.

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Mix until just fully combined.

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Coat blueberries with a sprinkling of flour which will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins as they bake.

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Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.

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Fill the muffin cups using a standard ice cream scoop for consistency.

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Bake for 20 minutes (25 minutes for the jumbo muffins I made). Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 regular muffins, 9 jumbo muffins or 24 mini-muffins.

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Eat them hot out of the oven, just as they are or let them cool completely and then frost them with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing for an extra special touch.

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Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

  • 8oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 pound powdered sugar

Cream the cream cheese and butter together for several minutes. Mix in the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. Add the powdered sugar slowly and on low-speed. Once the powdered sugar is mixed in, scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat the mixture on high-speed for 3-5 minutes until you have a smooth and creamy icing.

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Spread or pipe onto cupcakes …

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A large star tip fitted into a disposable piping bag will give you a fancy swirled design.

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Or for a simpler look, just fill the piping bag, snip the end and pipe a smooth swirl of icing.

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Top with a few fresh blueberries.

Cream cheese icing is very soft so be sure to refrigerate the muffins for an hour or more to set the icing, especially if you will be travelling with them or giving them as gifts.

Because my muffins were gifts, I did a little fancy packaging.

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I found these little bright-colored plastic bowls in sets of four at the grocery store.

The perfect size for a muffin. I was very excited!

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I made a simple little note of appreciation on the computer and then punched two holes for the ribbon to thread through. I also mentioned that the muffin recipe could be found on my blog. You know, just in case. And thankfully now, five days later, it can be.

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I gathered  a piece of cellophane wrap around each cupcake.

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And secured it with a piece of ribbon knotted with enough room to keep the muffin from getting squished.

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I threaded each end of the ribbon through the holes in the note and then tied it off, finishing with a decorative snip on the ends.

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Pretty simple stuff but a fun, delicious homemade gift from the heart.

Enjoy!

I’m off now to make about a million cupcakes for Cub Scouts tomorrow. After I hit the elliptical machine, of course.

Wink. Wink.

Mother’s Day Blessings and Memories

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there who love everyday in big and small ways. In ways that are noticed and acknowledged and in so many ways that are not but will be felt, remembered and cherished. Generation after generation.

I know I am a little behind on sharing Mother’s Day sentiments but I had a busy Mother’s Day myself; enjoying church with my family, doing a little antiquing on my own, and then watching The Avengers and Captain America with my husband and kids.

Yes, those were my movie choices.

What? Well we couldn’t watch Thor, we’d just seen it a few days ago.

Then yesterday, my husband and youngest took me out for sushi and to browse the bookstore and enjoy a treat in the café. So today is the first chance I’ve had to share Mother’s Day with you.

While Mother’s Day is a day for watching action movies … what? … it is also a day for reflection and celebration of the women who have mothered us. The women who have nurtured us, stood by us, been both patient and frustrated with us, disciplined and molded us, mentored us but above all, loved us. Always.

Everyone’s story is different. But I hope with all my heart that you had or still have a mother or mother figure in your life to remember and be thankful for. Whether you are able to hold her hand or just her memory.

I am blessed to have some wonderful women to celebrate on Mother’s Day …

Mom-and-MeMy fabulous mom who was always in my corner.

I am so thankful for all she taught me (and all she put up with from me in the process). Self-sacrifice, the reward of  hard work, the ability to do a lot with a little, dinner at the table as a family, cooking, gardening, homemaking – homemade is best, anything after 1am is just going to get you into trouble and to pray, attend church, read and study my bible and look to God in all things.

I also got her sassiness, temper and eye rolling death stare. It’s true.

And if you ever wonder why I am a little “over-the-top”, this was my 4th grade Halloween costume …

Marie-Antoinette-for-HallowMarie Antoinette

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She made the whole thing.  The dress. The powdered wig.  I got “over-the-top” from her.

And I love her for it!

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I celebrate my Aunt Andi (my mom’s sister) too. She’s fun, independent and tenacious!

And I still look at her like that sometimes.

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And my grandma Ibby. I’ve told you a lot about Grandma Ibby and her incredible recipes have been the subject of many of my blog posts. I’ll be posting her delicious banana bread recipe on Friday. You won’t want to miss it! So much of what I learned from my mom came from the lessons and example of her mother, Grandma Ibby. She is deeply missed.

Grandma,-Great-Grandmas,-Mo

I love this picture of me with my great-grandmother Rose, my great-grandmother Clara, my grandma Eileen (my first best friend) and my very own super-mom! It is a blessing to have known two of my great-grandmothers. I will share their stories one day. But I do hope you will click the link just above and read about my grandmother Eileen. She was such a huge part of my life and I have so many wonderful memories of her. A love of antiques and making all that is old new, beautiful and loved again comes from her. Plus she let me eat Fruit Loops (banned and forbidden by my health conscious mother) before bed. Which was awesome.

So now, I am a mom too. I have learned from the best. Not how to be June Clever perfect  but how to give everything I have, to keep trying when I fail, to say I’m sorry when I need to, to love the Lord with all my heart and to pray for my children in all things.

I received some pretty incredible gifts this Mother’s Day. Gifts that let me know my kids love and appreciate me, even if I don’t always think they show it.

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Ask any mom, that is what she wants most and the simple gifts made by her kids are the most precious!

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Nathan gave me a sweet card and poem and “mom’s helping hands” with the things we like to do together written on them.

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Purple was my favorite color as a child. Sara knows that and made a purple necklace for me. Her sense of humor came through with a piece of paper with the word “PEACE” written on it. Whenever they ask me what I want for my birthday or Mother’s Day, I always answer “peace” as in a peaceful relaxed day with no kids fighting or arguing. So, she gave me peace.

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David made a book for me at school which was filled with his creative writing and story art all the way from the beginning of the year.

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This is a picture of him in his Halloween costume. He was a Ninja and that is exactly what it looked like right down to the “spider” treat bag and the “fluf pads” muscles. So cute!!

No, I did not make it.

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He answered questions about me. He knows me. I love that!

He also said my favorite TV show was “Beerfoot” which is Barefoot Contessa. My favorite hobby is cooking. My favorite book is a cook book. My favorite restaurant is “all” restaurants. I enjoy cooking. And that if there were four extra hours in a day, he would spend them cooking with me.

I’m sensing a theme, maybe I need to expand my horizons a little.

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He also listed three reasons why “you are special to me.”

You love me.

You say prers (prayers) with me.

You love me more than I can love you.

And then he wrote this. And I cried.

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I’ll never forget the time you “never gave up to adopt me.”

And that is what being a mom is. We never give up. Not ever, no matter what. We are always there for our kids. Fighting for them. We sometimes fail and we often regret but we never give up.

Mother's-Day-2013Because our mom, or someone who loved us like a mom, was always there for us.

Fighting for us.

And just when you think your children don’t realize or appreciate it, they come out of left field with just what you needed to hear.

“You never gave up …”

Of course I didn’t, I’m your mom.