Tag Archives: Healthy Eating

How to Make a Bran Muffin Look Pretty

Grandma Ibby’s Bran Muffins are not pretty. They are delicious but they are not photogenic. Not at all. They are also not overly exciting as far as culinary creations go. In fact, I saw many a similar recipe in the church/fundraising cookbooks I have been combing through lately and am pretty sure they were another 1960’s-70’s homecook’s staple.

So, now that you are intrigued and can hardly wait to make them, I will tell you that while they may not be pretty or exciting, they are delicious. D.E.L.I.C.I.O.U.S. My mom made them for us often and usually served them with a light, crisp Waldorf salad – I will most certainly have to tell you about that soon. And that Waldorf salad/bran muffin combo is by far one of my absolute favorite childhood meal memories.

So while I am excited to tell you about these muffins I do have to say, they were a challenge to photograph. Who says hummus and oatmeal are the hardest? I’m telling you, its bran muffins. I actually considered trying to artfully arrange some of the bran cereal with the other ingredients but a shot of flour, one egg, baking soda and a pile of shredded bran is about as exciting as the wall in the doctor’s office after 45 minutes of waiting; just staring at the mint green wall.

Making these bran muffins look pretty was important to me. Add that to the long list of comments that in my career driven 20’s I could never have imagined myself making. Get off of your brother’s head. Why are you standing on the table? No, NO Legos in the toilet. Don’t bite your toenails. You get the idea. Sorry, that last one might have been a little gross for a food post; unless you have boys, then you get me and are no longer grossed out by much.

You see, I have really been working on my photography skills, particularly my food photography skills, and my knowledge of the Nikon D3100 that is just begging me to use it to its full potential.  So, I am reading, studying and learning all there is to know about how to photograph food. Not because I want to be a professional photographer or because I’m obsessive or because I think everything needs to look perfect but because it is fun! Okay, so it is also because I like it when things look sort of perfect. Okay, and I’m a little bit obsessive. Do you think they make a bumper sticker that says “I ♥ Depth of Field?” No?


All-Bran Muffins


  • 3 cups 100% Shredded All-Bran
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter and flour or spray with baking spray, 2 muffin trays.

Mix together 1 cup of the All-Bran and 1 cup boiling water and set aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Add in the egg and mix to incorporate. Add the buttermilk and wet All-Bran mixture, mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and then mix the dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in the remaining 2 cups dry All-Bran.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Yield: 24 muffins.


So, I am still a novice photographer and have a long way to go but I’m sure having a good time. I am absolutely inspired by so many of the photographs of my fellow bloggers; food, nature, architecture, landscape, you name it, you guys are amazing. Photography is such a true individual expression and I love that when I sit down to go through my reader, I can almost always tell who’s post I am about to read, just by looking at the featured photo.


I would love it if you would share with me any tips, thoughts or ideas you have for taking great photos. Or even if you’d just like share what you love about taking pictures; whether you consider yourself a photographer or not.


I did my best with the bran muffins. But really, it was the blackberries that stole the show!


Favorite Family Dinners – Meatloaf

With the start of the New Year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction of my blog and how to best present all of the interests, recipes, happenings, goings on and musings that encompass my life and may be of interest, benefit or encouragement to those of you who are so kind to stop by now and again.

Where to start? How about … meatloaf. It is always good to start with the basics.


Actually, I am really starting with a new category “Favorite Family Dinners”. I love to try new dishes and am always looking for new recipes but for regular weekday cooking, where I need to get a healthy and yummy meal on the table for dinner quickly and easily, I have a several go-to favorites.

And yes, meatloaf or “meat stuff” as my 8-year-old used to call it is definitely a favorite around here. “Mommy, can you make that meat stuff? I really like that stuff.” Anytime I hear something like that from one of my kids, a mental note is made and a sticky note is triumphantly placed in the cookbook.

Meatloaf. I know, it can be scary, bringing up images of bad cafeteria fare dry and smothered in cold brown gravy. There was a time when my husband swore he hated meatloaf (this is the same mid-western boy who hates casseroles) but this meatloaf is so yummy, even he has been won over. Here’s the really good news; it is a healthier version of traditional meatloaf. The recipe comes from Ellie Krieger’s cookbook “The Food You Crave”;

Notice all of the sticky notes "sticking" out the side? I wasn't kidding.

Notice all of the sticky notes “sticking” out the side? I wasn’t kidding.

but of course, I have made some modifications according to personal taste so I will give you the link to the original recipe and then share with you what I do.

Mom’s Turkey Meatloaf


First, I don’t usually make it with turkey. I use lean ground beef because we like the flavor better but ground turkey is a great option.


Meatloaf-EssentialsMeatloaf Essentials


Ellie calls for the addition of red bell peppers and chopped onion. I omit the peppers and saute the onion until it has a little bit of color and is softened up. Then I throw in a minced garlic clove, which is not in the original recipe, and saute for another minute or so. Let the onions cool before putting them in the meat mixture.


I love Worcestershire Sauce so I add an extra splash (or teaspoon) beyond what the recipe calls for. I mix with my hands, being careful just to incorporate and not over-mix which can make the meatloaf tough.


I shape it into my favorite meatloaf dish and then


top it with the tomato sauce and thinly sliced onion – but only on one side as I have little people who still think onions are gross. Please don’t tell them about the onions concealed within the meatloaf.

Bake for about an hour and voila …


Here is why I love this meatstuff, I mean loaf …

It is moist, tender and flavorful despite being lower in calories (only 205 per serving if you use turkey and lean beef doesn’t add a lot). The oatmeal is the perfect binder (whole grain and good for you) and pretty much disappears into the finished product but helps make it very moist. I love the tomato sauce on top rather than ketchup as it is a little more subtle and has great flavor.

I serve the meatloaf with either mashed potatoes (or smashed – skins on) or baked potatoes and my favorite frozen green beans from Archer Farms. The only other thing I can recommend is to sit down at the table with your family and enjoy it together!

Give it a try. And, as always, be sure to let me know what you think. Even better, try it your way and tell me what you did to change it up a bit. I’d love to hear from you.

Future Favorite Family Dinners to watch for … Chili Stacks, Flank Steak, Pesto Grilled Chicken and Roasted Loin of Pork.