Chocolate Chip Muffins

Since my flight from Boston got in so late last Saturday night, I wasn’t feeling up to making a big Easter brunch on Sunday. Instead we met some friends at Broken Yolk (I can’t resist the California Breakfast Burrito, drool). We expected that they would be pretty packed and were pleasantly surprised to get a table almost right away. The staff must have also been expecting long waits because they were carrying around trays of mini-chocolate chip muffins for people waiting to be seated and waiting for their food. I, of course, snagged one and for the next 2 days I couldn’t stop thinking about them. Needless to say, I recreated them at home just 2 days later.

Let’s be serious for a second. These do not make a nutritiously sound breakfast. They are glorified chocolate chip mini-cakes, with no real redeeming nutritional value. But… they make an absolutely perfect second breakfast (ya know, that meal between first breakfast and lunch) for this 5-month pregnant lady. 🙂 And a delicious evening snack for anyone.

 

Love Muffins? Me too!

Easy Cinnamon Roll Muffins
Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins
Blackberry and Lemon Muffins
Banana Oat Muffins

 

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

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Ni hao! I made it to China. That was one really long flight. 13 1/2 hours to be exact. Then after all that we had to taxi for 25 minutes before pulling up to the gate. By that point I was really ready to get off the plane and stretch my legs. But it was so worth it! Suzhou is awesome. The people have been very friendly. Though I have not done much exploring outside of the hotel yet, we did go out to dinner with 2 local girls that Jesse works with and that was a great experience. I let the 3 of them do all the ordering and I was a good girl and tried it all. I didn’t really not like anything, though I only ate one piece of the chicken because I have a hard time getting past the bones. My favorite was a stir-fry like dish with cabbage, green peppers, spicy red peppers and green garlic scapes (which I had never heard of but were amazingly delicious). I don’t think I will have any problem finding food to enjoy while I’m here. I’m just going to remain open minded and remind myself that anything I don’t like I can just skip next time.

Before I left I stock piled some recipes and pictures so I would be able to continue to post while here. So for the next 5 weeks it will be a mix of China updates and recipes. I hope you stick around and I’d love to hear about any experiences you’ve had or advice you have for a first time international traveler, as well as comments on recipes. I love comments! (nice ones of course :))

I made these scones for a quick and easy breakfast while my parents were in town. I prepared the dough a few days in advance, then I shaped the scones and froze them. It was so easy and they tasted like I had just made them. Give this a try the next time you have company coming in town and want to spend more time visiting than in the kitchen!


Strawberry Vanilla Scones
(Adapted from Sugarcrafter)

Scones

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
3 cups unbleached flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar*
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
6 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and finely chopped

Glaze

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Left over vanilla bean
2-3 tbsp milk

To make and bake right away, pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. To freeze and bake later gather saran wrap and a gallon sized ziploc bag.

Start by splitting and scraping the vanilla bean. In a large measuring cup whisk together the eggs, milk, half and half, vanilla extract and beans from the vanilla bean. In a small bowl take the sugar and remaining vanilla bean “skin” and rub together between your fingers, until the sugar starts to become fragrant, then remove the bean. Place the bean in another small bowl (or ziploc baggie if you plan to freeze scones and bake later) and mix with the confectioners sugar. Set aside for later use.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Using a pastry blender (or 2 forks) incorporate the butter chunks into the dry ingredients until it starts to resemble wet sand and there are no butter chunks bigger than a pea. Using a wooden spoon mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then carefully fold in the strawberries.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and kneed with hands for 1-2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and then flatten into a large circle. Cut the circle into 6 even wedges.

To bake now, place the wedges on a baking sheet fitted with parchment paper about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

To bake later, set scones uncovered on a plate in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Remove from the freezer and wrap each scone in saran wrap and place in a gallon sized ziploc bag, then return to freezer. When you are ready to bake remove from freezer and saran wrap and follow directions above only baking for 18-20 minutes.

While the scones are baking, rub the vanilla into the confectioners sugar then remove the beans and discard. Add milk 1 Tbsp at a time and blend with fork until the glaze has the consistency of thick syrup.

Drizzle the glaze over the scones and serve warm or room temperature.

*Vanilla beans can be expensive so I made sure to really get my moneys worth out my bean by rubbing it into both the granulated and powdered sugar. I think it really added to the vanilla flavor but these steps can be skipped. If you have enough time to plan ahead, vanilla beans can be purchased on Amazon.com for a much more reasonable price.

Weekend Breakfast

One of our favorite weekend past times has always been going out for a good breakfast. We like to take our time and I enjoy a cup of coffee and Jesse enjoys his Coke (breakfast drink of champions, haha). We have done this since we were living in Ohio. When I first moved to San Diego we continued on the tradition. We ate at several San Diego favorites like Broken Yolk, where I have to order the California breakfast burrito, and Hash House a go go, where the portions are huge and my breakfast came out in a cast iron skillet. Other times we went for familiar comfort and just had Ihop. The thing is, this fun habit can become rather expensive especially in San Diego where the sales tax is 8.75%. It wasn’t long before we decided to shift our tradition and start enjoying breakfast at home.

At least once a weekend I make a big breakfast complete with eggs, from scratch biscuits, and bacon. The boys (Jesse and Sean) love waking up to breakfast and I think the biscuits might be their favorite. I have quickly learned that I better make the full batch and not try cut it in half. But a few weekends ago I mentioned making cinnamon rolls and they have not let me forget. Last weekend I finally made them.
Even cut in half, this recipe makes a ton. I filled an oval casserole dish and a round cake cake pan. But that worked out perfectly because I baked one and froze the other for this weekend. What’s better than freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning? Freshly baked cinnamon rolls in the morning without the mess in your kitchen from making them the night before. Just take the the pan out of the freezer the night before (and put it in the fridge) then in the morning let it rise on the counter for 30 minutes before baking.

Cinnamon Rolls
(Adapted from: The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

Ingredients

DOUGH
2 cups Whole Milk
½ cup Vegetable Oil
½ cup Sugar
1 package Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
4 cups (Plus 1/2 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
½ teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
½ teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
½ Tablespoon (heaping) Salt

FILLING
1 Stick melted butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon

MAPLE FROSTING
2-3 cups Powdered Sugar
1 tbsp Maple syrup
½ cup Milk
¼ cup Melted Butter
⅛ teaspoons Salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the milk, vegetable oil and sugar in a pan. Scald the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point). Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but NOT hot, sprinkle in the Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 4 cups of all-purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.
After rising for at least an hour, add ½ cup more of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together.
To roll the dough; sprinkle the rolling surface generously with flour. Form a rough rectangle with the dough. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle 1/2 to 1 cup melted butter over the dough. Sprinkle on the brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon. (you can premix this in a small bowl)
Starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough towards you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the roll to seal it.
Spread 1 tablespoon of melted butter (or spray with non-stick spray) in a seven inch round foil cake or pie pan. Then begin cutting the rolls approximately 1 inch thick and laying them in the prepared pans.
Let the rolls rise for 20 to 30 minutes, then bake at 375 degrees until light golden brown, about 18 minutes.
For the frosting, mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls.