Banana Oat Muffins

 

These muffins are the product of some really really hard work I did in China. I spent hours scouring food blogs and drooling, I mean researching new recipes to try when I got home. It was hard work, but some one had to do it, and in the end the hard work paid off in the form of Banana Muffins.

After recently discovering that yes, in fact, I do love banana bread, I needed to branch out and try some other recipes. So when these were posted in July, I knew they were at the front of the baking line when I got home. Now here’s a fun fact about these muffins. They are actually still tasty if you are sick while baking and completely forget to add the sugar. They just taste more like regular bread. Of course they’re better with sugar, like way better. But hey, if you’re ever in the mood for not-sweet banana bread at least now you know. Not that anything like that ever happened when I was baking…

Since I mentioned it, what is it about international flights that makes it physically impossible to NOT get sick when you get home. Jesse and I both got some wicked head and chest colds within a few days of being home. I mean, what is up with that? Being sick is never ever ever fun, but being sick in the summer, in San Diego after being gone for 5 weeks (or 3 1/2 months for Jesse), is just cruel. Good thing I didn’t let it stop me from attempting to bake 🙂

Banana Oat Muffins

(Adapted from So Tasty So Yummy)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup steel cut oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup mashed banana
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp oats, optional for topping

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin by lightly spraying each cup with cooking spray (You could also use liners if you prefer).

In a medium bowl combine all of the dry ingredients (flour through cinnamon) and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together the mashed banana, buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla, and eggs.

Pour the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and stir together until well combined.

Evenly fill each muffin cup (I sprinkled the tops with extra oats) and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the muffin tin for 15 minutes before removing.

Cinnamon Rolls

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I think I have found the last Cinnamon Roll recipe I will ever need to try. I’ve been searching for a long time and I’ve tried several. In fact I posted a recipe on this blog not too long ago. But this recipe is exceptional. The dough was an absolute dream, smooth, sturdy, and elastic. I was worried at first because the dough seemed sticky, but I’m quickly learning that usually when I think a dough is too sticky to start it’s perfect after a good long first rise. A long rise may seem daunting, but think of all things you can do during that time. While waiting for this particular batch to rise I went shopping and had a slice of pizza at my new favorite pizza place, Hoboken (if I’m not going to make my own pizza at home, this is where I want to go!!). See how productive that time can be?

The other upside of this recipe is that it can be made ahead of time. I made these on Wednesday evening and froze them, Saturday night I set them out on the counter to defrost and rise. Makes me want to keep a batch in my freezer at all times, just for the those days when I need a cinnamon roll.

But the best part about these rolls is the final product. The roll itself is as close to perfect as the world will allow you to get. Texture, flavor, sweet to spicy ratio, it all gets a 10 in my book.

Buttermilk Cinnamon Rolls
(Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, originally from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Handbook)

Rolls-
3/4 cup buttermilk, warm (you can warm this in the microwave at 50% power for 1 minute)
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs
4 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt

Filling-
1 stick (8 oz) butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Frosting-
Disclaimer – I’ve never followed a strict recipe when it comes to cream cheese frosting. I start with cream cheese and butter and I add sugar and other flavors to match whatever I am making the frosting for. Sometimes I add brown sugar sometimes I don’t. For these rolls this is flavor combination I came up with and I thought it went perfectly with the rolls. I taste along the way and work until I like the flavor and consistency. Please use this ingredient list as a guide and create your own perfect frosting.
1/2 Block (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp buttermilk
1-2 cups confectioners sugar (depending on how runny/stiff you like your frosting)
1/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the warmed buttermilk and butter. In the bowl of a standing mixer (fitted with a dough hook), combine 4 cups of flour, sugar, yeast and salt. With the mixer still running on low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and eggs. Run for 2 minutes until well combined, then increase the speed to medium and allow to knead for 10-15 minutes. If after a few minutes the dough continues to stick to the sides of the bowl add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, just until it stops sticking. The dough will still feel slightly sticky to the touch.

Remove the dough from the bowl and set aside on a lightly floured surface. Wipe out, then spray the mixing bowl with cooking spray, or rub lightly with oil, return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 2 to 2 1/2 hours in a draft free warm place (I turn the light on in my oven and keep it in there with the door closed).

When the dough has doubled in size remove from the bowl and place on a clean floured surface. Knead with hands for 2-3 minutes and then allow to rest for 2 minutes (during this short rest combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl). After the short rest shape the dough into a rectangle then roll out to approximately 16 inches by 12 inches.

Spread the softened butter on the dough leaving 1/2 inch border all around. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture over the butter and use hands to lightly press the sugar into the butter.

Beginning with the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a tight log. Once rolled, even out the log by pulling gently and patting in the edges.

Cut 1/2-1 inch off of each side of the log to even the ends. Then cut the log in half with a serrated knife. Cut each half into thirds and then each third in half, so you end up with 12 even rolls. (In the illustration below, red, then orange, then green)

Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by placing a sheet of fitted parchment paper in the bottom of dish and spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Place rolls in pan, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 1 hour. This is also the point where you can freeze the rolls. Just be sure to cover tightly with plastic wrap and foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes, until the rolls are lightly golden on top and cooked through but not overly browned.

For the frosting, beat together the cream cheese, butter, and buttermilk. Starting with a slow spead, add the brown sugar, confectioners sugar, and salt, and beat until well combined. Stir in the vanilla.

Add the frosting to the rolls while they are still warm so the gooey goodness starts to absorb into the rolls.

Broccoli Slaw Quiche

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This is another recipe I used during my parents visit to San Diego (I’m getting a lot of mileage out of that, huh?). We had this for breakfast on Sunday, along with the most amazing cinnamon rolls (will be posting next week!). The only thing I regret is not getting a better picture of this Quiche because it was so incredibly good and the picture just doesn’t do it justice. The smooth and creamy custard paired perfectly with the slightly bitter and subtly spicy slaw. Even my dad, who was skeptical of eating Quiche, enjoyed this.

It worked out perfectly that we ate such a big breakfast that day because we went out exploring and didn’t have time for lunch. Friday, we had gone to see the Cabrillo National Monument, which has an absolutely amazing view of San Diego. We walked all around the eastern portion but didn’t have time to explore the west side of the peninsula which overlooks the Pacific ocean. Sunday, we decided to go back and explore the tide pools and navigate some cliffs. We all appreciated the good breakfast and full bellies we had when we were doing all of that walking down and then up cliffs. Much like life you can walk as far down as you’d like, just don’t forget the climb back up is 10x harder!


A side note, this picture was taken within a few minutes of the other pictures, this one is facing east and the others are facing west. Isn’t the change in the color of the sky amazing? One minute there are a few clouds the next the sky is covered. All 3 pictures are unedited!

Broccoli Slaw Quiche
(Adapted from Tidy Mom)

4 large eggs
1 cup half and half
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp nutmeg
A few drops hot sauce (I used Franks, but Tabasco would be good)
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust *
1 1/2 cups Broccoli Slaw
1 1/2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven and a cookie sheet to 375 degrees. Rack should be positioned in the middle of the oven.

In a medium bowl (with a pouring spout, if you have one!), whisk together eggs, half and half, garlic, nutmeg, and hot sauce.

Carefully transfer the pie crust dough to a 9-inch pie pan.

Place the Broccoli Slaw on top of the pie crust then pour the egg mixture over top. Sprinkle cheese over the top.

Bake 30-35 minutes. Cool at least 20 minutes.

* I had initially planned on making my own pie crust, but time got away from me so I used a store bought one I had in my freezer. This was not a good idea! The crust did not have the texture/flavor I was looking for which was disappointing because the quiche itself was so good. Once before I made quiche with a pre-made crust that was already in tin pan and that was better than this crust, but I will still make my own next time!

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.