Muffins for My Muffin

Alternate titles: Don’t Call Me Muffin. Money for Muffin. Muffin But a G-Thang. This could go on and on and on…

I first made this recipe riiiiiight before I returned to school (and started sending Hadley back to his grandma’s house). We hadn’t really dabbled into the world of sending solids along too much beyond baby food-ish stuff before the summer, but he got SO into eating real food, I knew it was time to start sending some along. He’ll eat leftovers, defrosted/heated frozen veggies, cheese sticks…okay, almost everything.

I heard through the grapevine that he really has a thing for these muffins, so I made another batch to freeze-and-pull to keep the little guy happy. It’s good to know he already enjoys “real food.” And hopefully you will, too!

The recipe is pretty much this one, which I made pretty much to the T (two versions, one with applesauce that I admittedly used a tad too much of, and the other with blueberries), adding an extra sprinkling of cinnamon to the top before mixing them in. So, please know that this recipe isn’t one of my “started with this recipe, made it my own” recipes; I’m literally passing along 100 Days of Real Food’s recipe, which I know comes out nummy. 🙂 

Fruit, Nut, or Berry (or whatever you want them to be) Whole-Wheat Muffins

Serves: Makes 12 Muffins

Ingredients
  • 1½ cups whole-wheat flour (I used organic white whole-wheat flour)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup oil (I used coconut oil; melt it in the microwave first, then measure)
  • ¾ cup orange juice or apple juice (I used organic apple juice)
  • About 1 cup of total filling (berries, fruit, nuts, etc. – see below for details)
  • Muffin/Cupcake liners (I used silicone muffin trays, so I didn’t need these)

Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl with a fork or whisk mix the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.


  3. Make a well (hole) in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the eggs, honey, vanilla, oil and orange juice. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together – do not overmix.

    For those who may not know what coconut oil looks like (melted), here it is…with some flour in it.


  4. Now here is the fun part. If you are in a hurry just add 1 cup of blueberries, mashed up banana & nuts, or other filling of your choice. If you have 5 or 10 minutes extra (and some anxious helpers) do not add anything to the muffin batter before continuing with the next step.
  5. Line a muffin pan with liners and fill ⅔ to ¾ of the way full with batter. If you didn’t already add your filling, sprinkle 1 – 2 teaspoons of whatever you would like (from the list below or from your own creation) onto the top of each raw muffin in the pan. Then gently mix each one with a fork or spoon.
    Here are some options to consider for the fillings:
    – blueberries
    – diced strawberries
    – peeled and diced pears
    – applesauce
    – either diced or mashed up bananas and chopped walnuts
    – raisins and chopped pecans (I add an extra pinch of cinnamon to the muffins with this filling)
    – grated carrot and chopped walnuts
    – orange or lemon zest (only add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of zest per individual muffin)
    – a mix of dried fruit bits
    – jelly

  6. After the filling has been mixed into each muffin slide the tray into the warm oven and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature and freeze some for a later date.  

    Like I said, I used a bit too much applesauce (only use a teaspoon or even less) and I think the fact that the blueberries were frozen this time made them look a bit different (although they’re just as tasty). It could be one of my ingredients, but I’ve found that these do best stored in a freezer bag in the fridge (or freezer) until you need them.

    I’m particularly pleased that there are only two tablespoons of sweetener — and a naturally-produced one, at that! (You could also use maple syrup, I’m sure. Mmm. I might have done that the first time, actually.)

    Here some eye candy I took after our first batch to end for today…

    Side note: Today’s World Animal Day. For some ideas on how to celebrate, check out the Green Child Magazine article I wrote for the occasion.

Autumn Decor – A Modern Mismatch

So, my attention had been diverted from any and all thoughts of autumn decor with our little guy’s health scare. Things are getting back to usual around here, though, and it’s nice to have a little mental break, so I’ve decided I need to join a party — a link party!

Today’s post is the mantel zshuzshing theme. Since I’ve only got a fake mantel (actually a relatively small shelf), I did some accessorizing there, as well as on the nearby “awkward places” that separate our living room and dining room. Uuuummm, yeah. The pictures help explain that a lil’ bit.

Since I haven’t been able to hit up the craft stores with going-on two weeks of family illness creating homebodies out of all of us, (and our grocery store only carried cruddy orange pumpkins…some already painted! What’s the fun in that??), I didn’t have the items I wish I had to accessorize. I know. Excuses, excuses.

So, instead I decided to work with what we have BUT to keep it simple…for once. 😉 Given that I DID have Clementines on hand (Vitamin C!!!), I did end up with a punch of color.

I did realize that I mixed some metals, in faux mercury glass hurricane vases and some brassy accessories, and I’m surprised that I actually like the effect. I still don’t feel comfortable wearing my white gold ring with my brassy necklaces, but I’m getting over it. Am I the only one??

The “mantel” itself has a mix of textures: the shiny brass on the school bell, shimmering glass of the mini-hurricane and clock, earthiness of old wine corks and wood tones, softness of my gloves (I have another antique pair of leather ones that I’m considering switching out)…and it’s all grounded by the vintage books.



As far as the “awkward spaces”, I kept it vintage yet clean and unfussy. So, in a weird way, it comes off as modern. Scary. It’s like I planned it or something. Don’t believe it!

The left side has a project that I completed a few years ago — an old skeleton key glued to some nice textured fabric in a frame, easy peasy — as well as a simple vignette of a stack of old mags, an old mustard yellow book, a hurricane vase…and a couple of oranges to finish it off. Simple but nice.



The right side has some layering from one of my textured scarves (use whatchya got!), a vintage cake stand, another hurricane vase (to balance both sides from afar), a brassy cup filled with oranges (probably a candle holder), my spiky white urchin, and a tiny antique print. Again, a mix of old and new that somehow comes across as modern. Well, whadya know about that?





I’m sure I’ll add something here or there when I finally get out to grab the crafty items I was hoping to grab (and as I work on the other projects; rotations happen, people. That’s autumny, right? Substitutions? Football?). So, there we have it! What’re you doing to fall-ify your place?
Linking up at Thrifty Decor Chick (love her!).

Upgrades

We’ve had a couple little…okay, not so little upgrades happening at the ol’ homestead lately. Without further ado, here’s my old kitchen sink.


Fun, right? Just a cruddy old not-horrible-but-not-pretty sink. As a pre-baby/birthday present last year, my mom purchased and painted (and painted and painted and painted) the new base cabinet, so this year she and my stepdad insisted on getting a new sink to accompany it. Wasn’t that sweet?


Free strainer? Don’t mind if I do.

That last picture there (don’t worry; I strategically cropped) is the main reason we went with a nice, deep one versus the 6 incher we had before. #that’swhatshesaid Good, ol’-fashioned sink baths! Of course, he’s been getting bothersome during them lately, so I foresee a jump to big-boy-baths soon *tear wipe* but it’s just as good for shoving lots of dishes and pots and pans into. It’s all good.

Oh, and yes, we have a dishwasher. Two, actually. They’re called Meg and Dave. 😉


They also gave us some cash to go towards our new washer/dryer. I think that was mostly to calm Mom’s worrying mind (okay, and mine, too); the dryer took FOREVER to dry and got extremely hot, and the washer was starting to leave black (grease?) marks on clothes. Oh, and it also had gotten into the nasty habit of…y’know…STOPPING. Mid-cycle. Full of dirty, soapy water and our awesome, awesome clothes. (Our clothes aren’t awesome. I just felt like they were when I saw them sitting in the untouchable washer. And, okay, Hadley’s clothes are pretty darn awesome on their own.)

We originally wanted to include all appliances with our house when we leave one day (they were all hand-me-downs; we were very lucky), but since we’re not seeing that in our future anytime soon, we had to take the plunge…so to speak.

I don’t have a “before” shot of the washer and dryer that went to live with all the other well-used washers and dryers in the sky. They were both Hotpoint…which makes me wonder how they’d lasted as long as they had, anyway. Hotpoint?! I dunno. Maybe the brand’s okay, but it makes me think of a toaster or cooking implement; not a device for cleaning and drying highly-flammable stuff like clothes. Can’t wrap my head around it.

So, anyhoo, this is what we ended up selecting.

Chicka bow wow. I love ’em. While I’m sure a fancier kind would cut it down to just a one-trip thing, I now only need to take two glorious trips to the basement (our horrible, ugly basement; we’ve got problems down there, y’all, and I’m not even Southern) to do Hadman’s diapers. The washer has an extra rinse cycle that lets me work on other stuff sit on my butt a little longer. They also cut everything in half, time-wise, and get the job done wonderfully. #hoorayforwrinklecare I also had lived without an obnoxious buzzer reminding me that there’s work to be done and pants to be folded. In all seriousness, I appreciate the reminder.

They’re GE. #JackDonaghyFTW! They’re relatively energy efficient (we got a gas dryer, which my stepdad — master of all things handy — hooked up for us; and the washer is Energy Star rated) and, no, they’re not front-loading. I have enough fears when we one day move that my INTO EVERYTHING son will find a way to shove a younger sibling (or dare I say a cat?!) into the washer. Plus, I’ve heard and read a lot about the smells and stuff, and nobody got time for that. Maybe one day I’ll grow up and find an awesome deal on a fancy schmancy front-loader that smells like french lavender all day, everyday, but for the time being this suits our needs.

Oh, and we also purchased from a local store (Robinson Brothers in Mohawk; how shocked was I that they had a website, albeit a tad outdated); the price was comparable to Lowe’s, plus there was free set-up and removal, plus they service your appliances for years to come. It was the only stipulation my mom had throwing money into the pot, and I’m totally cool with it. Buy local! (And is it weird that it’s still eerie to drive and park and spend time so closely to where the shootings happened? Okay, I said it. That is all.)

So, what do you think? Are you pro-front loader? Or do you go against the flow of traffic and reside in the top-loader camp?

Easy

With an impending blogiversary coming up here at MAO (yes, that’s a real word), I get to thinking about the direction of my blog. I’m sure I’ll get into that more when the time comes (April 22nd!), but for the time being, I can’t help but think: What the heck AM I writing?

I enjoy blogging, of course, but when I’ve asked in the past what my readers would like me to do, I get one of those crickets chirping, glazed-eyed-students responses (believe me, I’m quite used to THOSE responses at school *winky wink*). Then, I ask, “No, really!” Finally, a few kind-hearted souls pat me on the back and tell me to just keep doing what I’m doing, that it’s fun to read, blah-dee-blah-dee-blah. And, believe me, I do GREATLY appreciate that feedback. It’s helpful in its own confidence-building way. Really! (And a low self-esteem girl like myself needs all the help she can get.)

But, when I sit back and look objectively at the whole thing, it makes me scratch my head. Mind you, the general lack of organization and all-over-the-placeness of MAO reflects the person writing it to a tee. I’m pretty hard to pin down, and my interests hop all over the place (and often change in a second…a little ADD when it comes to some stuff). It’s a curse that often bums me out. Heck, 9 times out of 10 Dave and I experience a challenge trying to figure out where to go out for dinner.

And, yet, a big goal in our household is the oh so easier-said-than-done concept of “simplification.” It’s a noble challenge. We’re actually getting closer and closer to this in the physical sense, although we’ve still got a way to go yet. But, mentally (ie what I’m thinking for my little chunk of the blogosphere), I’m still cluttered to the hilt.

So, surrounded by my mental pea soup, a quite simple thought presented itself, as if by internal dialogue: Easy.

Hmm. Easy, huh? Isn’t that the thing that I’ve grown up to see as “evil”? Isn’t nothing in life ever truly easy? Doesn’t easy equal lazy? Yes, perhaps, maybe.

For example, growing up, we (meaning my siblings and I – but for the most part, my sister and I) performed a lot of chores on a weekly basis. Let’s just say that pretty much every week, the house was newly clean. I admire my mother that her standards were/are so high. I also love the concept that “It doesn’t matter how much or little money you have; your belongings can always be taken care of and clean.” So, the guilt sinks in when I realize that my house hasn’t been vacuumed in weeks, or that I’d never be ready for a surprise visitor at any given moment. I just can’t keep up with it – so, am I being lazy? Perhaps. Can I find an easier way to clean everything (and with a more realistic timeline) so that I’m happy with the state of array AND the little time I need to spend doing it? There MUST be! Yes! There’s nothing wrong with finding an “easier” way.

So, linking simplification with my new-found admiration of “easy,” I’m able to at least look at the direction of the blog with a tad more clarity. Sure, I’m sure I’ll still be writing all over the place (what the heck do I use for a label? Personal blog? Green living? Family life? DIY? It’s none of those things…and a little piece of each of them, too), but a philosophy of not letting life whack us over the head with the HARDEST solution time after time while attempting to live a simpler life sounds like a nice starting point.

After all, one of the biggest challenges is coming down the road…and who wants to make it harder than it HAS to be? (Yes, I’m still planning on cloth diapering…why do you ask? ;-))