morning superpowers muffins

1 morning superpowers muffin half sweet potato 2 roasted sweet potato skinned in foil 3 ingredients morning superpowers muffins 4 empty batter bowl with scoop 4 ready to bake morning superpowers muffins 6 morning superpowers muffin in tinIf ever a muffin were meal-worthy and meaty, this is the one.  It begins with a mashed sweet potato and ends with a team of ‘superfoods’ encased in the batter.  This is the type of muffin that you throw in your backpack before a hike or grab on the way out the door to make up for breakfast.  Or better yet, have it for breakfast, toasted and topped with peanut (or other nut/seed) butter, and you will face the day as a force to be reckoned with!  The recipe below is a riff on a paleo inspired recipe for Morning Glory Muffins.  My version includes dried blueberries, walnuts, flaxseed, and coconut.  Did I mention that there is no butter, oil, or refined sugar in them; they really are super muffins.

Morning Superpowers Muffins

1/2 cup mashed sweet potato (one small-medium sweet potato)
1/4 cup honey
2 eggs (slightly whisked)
1/2 cup all purpose flour (3/4 cup almond flour for GF version)
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t cardamom
1 t vanilla extract
1 t baking powder
1/8 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
1-2 T flaxseed
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup raw walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl (in three steps) until fully blended.
  3. Coat muffin tin with cooking spray or papers and divide batter evenly.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool completely.  Even better the next day.  Makes 6 big ones!

apple bacon monkey bread minis

Monkey bread for all seasons is what I’m talking about.  And while we’re at it, let’s add a few extra food groups to the mix and make them in individual servings.  Of course you can make your own bread dough, but I went the quick route and used canned biscuits.  I find it most satisfying to cut through the buttery biscuit dough with kitchen shears.

Once the dough is divided, coat the pieces generously in cinnamon and sugar (shake ’em in a bag!).  Chunk up a few apples (I used Gala this time) and break apart baked bacon pieces.  Load up the popover tins in layers of cinnamon sugar dough, apples, and bacon, then spoon about 2 teaspoons of melted butter and brown sugar over the tops.  Bake for about 20 minutes at 350-degrees.  These monkey bread packages are most delicious straight from the oven.

The flavors were inspired by one of my favorite autumn meal pairings of pork barbecue sandwiches and cinnamon apple cobbler.  The little bakers twine bow and parchment paper package was inspired by these brown paper (CAKE) packages tied up with string.  Happy Fall, All!

yeast-raised pancakes with ginger syrup & oranges

I never met a pancake I didn’t like, and I met a tasty new one this weekend. After flagging the recipe at SweetFineDay over a year ago, I finally got around to making Mark’s Yeast-Raised Pancakes. I remember reading the entry from the Pastry Chef of Whimsy & Spice and thinking to myself, those sound too good to be true: lighter, fluffier, slightly-yeasty pancakes that are ready to cook when you wake up?

Believe it, folks. Whip up the batter before bedtime and by morning you will find that your recipe has raised overnight! All that remains is cook time.

I burned the first few, because my skillet was too hot. After turning the dial down to between the 2 & 3, the pancakes puffed up and cooked throughout while staying golden on the tops and bottoms. The addition of ginger syrup and oranges to the yeasty pancake plate was reminiscent of a Belgian White beer brewed in orange peel. Welcome to the breakfast table at Summerflavorville.

blackstrap molasses bran muffins, honestly

BM, BM? I did not plan for such initials when I wrote the recipe title, but it’s fitting. Filled with fiber and the honest everyday stuff that doesn’t get much fanfare on blogs (the bowels!). Creating this recipe coincides with a topic of “reality” on blogs that resulted in the recent initiative: Things I’m Afraid to Tell You.

Based on this blog, you may think that my life is all shiny nail polish and sugary cupcakes. The fact is that I struggle with a lot of the everyday stuff that many of you do. Heartbreak, disappointment, complacency, uncertainty, insomnia, and migraine headaches, to name a few. In fact, I started this blog at a particularly uncozy time in my life. The point was to focus on the GOOD TIMES. Of course, life is not always cozy, but I wanted to put my good memories together in one spot so as not to dwell on those things that are beyond my control. I wanted to share with people who might care. “Maybe it would help make their life cozy,” I thought.

It warms my heart up that there are people out there that appreciate what I put on this site, because sharing can only add to the joy in life. This blog is personal in the sense that these are honest pictures I take and thoughts I have. The pictures are minimally (if at all) edited, and my copy isn’t edited either (if you studied English, you have gathered that by now).

We all have to go to the bathroom. We all have a heart and a soul and a mind. Timing can seem like our best friend or our worst enemy. Life is not always going to be cozy, but let’s do our best. Let’s celebrate and share the good times, and eat some bran muffins every once in a while for the sake of regularity.

Blackstrap Molasses Bran Muffins

Preheat 375-degree oven.

Prepare muffin tins. Makes ~12. Keep for several days.


1 cup skim milk (non-dairy friends, use water, soy, or rice milk)
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1 egg, beaten (vegan friends, use egg replacer)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup applesauce


2 cups bran flakes cereal (gluten-free friends, use your cereal)
Let soak.

In a separate bowl, whisk or sift:

1 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free friends, use rice flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey (depending on your sweet tooth)

At this point I would like to recommend adding 1/2 cup of dried cherries or dark chocolate chunks to the mix for indulgence. Add-ins are not necessary, as these muffins are particularly moist and flavorful in their own right. This day my muffins were without, but you could certainly add your favorite dried fruits.

Combine everything, fill muffin tins. Bake 20 minutes, until toothpick tester comes out clean.

P.S. I learned about putting peanut butter on bran muffins from Anne Truitt. She is one of my heroes, and in her memoirs she records an evening meal of split pea soup and a toasted bran muffin with peanut butter. (Nut allergies – sunflower butter is just as tasty!)

beignets in bourboned butterscotch

I would like to thank Louisiana and Kentucky for the French donut and the distinctly American spirit, respectively.  Without you, this dish of pillowy fried squares of sweet sorcery would have never been possible.

Beignets: You can make them from scratch, but Cafe Du Monde conveniently produces a boxed mix.  I got to visit the original Café Du Monde location in New Orleans this past summer. Though it was the afternoon and felt like 100-degrees outside, I still thoroughly enjoyed a plate of fresh french donuts and a Café Au Lait and chickory under the giant porch fans.  The ground at the outdoor café was practically covered in white powdered sugar, just like the donuts! This weekend our ground was covered in white, powdery snow – the perfect time to whip up some piping hot beignets.

I did a little more than beignets by deconstructing a dessert that I read online from Annisa Restaurant called Pecan and Salted Butterscotch Beignets with Bourbon Milk Ice (be still, my heart).  I looked up Chef Anita Lo’s new cookbook, Cooking Without Borders, and sure enough, the recipe was detailed inside!  I found out that she mixes pecans in the dough and then fills the fried donuts with butterscotch.  Homemade bourbon milk ice is served alongside the dish.

First, I made the bourboned butterscotch sauce so it could cool and thicken.  Then, I made the plain ol’ beignets and sprinkled them with powdered sugar.  I stacked them up, drizzled them with sauce and topped them off with whipped cream and pecans.  It was a butter pecan donut sundae cup!

My Bourboned Butterscotch Sauce Adapted from Anita Lo

1 C light brown sugar

3 T butter

1/2 T salt

1/2 C light corn syrup

2 T bourbon

1/3 C heavy cream

Plop together brown sugar, butter, salt, corn syrup and bourbon in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, mix ingredients together and lower the heat to med-high.  W/o stirring, let cook.  Once sauce is syrupy, remove from the heat and stir in cream until consistent.  Let cool.  Put some in a squeeze bottle for topping, and/or put in a small cup for dipping!

three ingredient lemon biscuits

Knowing that I would have to extract myself for work this weekend, I had a holed up day yesterday that started with the easiest, tangiest biscuits on the planet. Last week my mom asked me, “have you ever used self-rising flour?” Me: Yes, in a supereasy baby food cupcake recipe. “Well, this biscuit recipe calls for just two ingredients: self-rising flour and sour cream.” Two ingredient (I suppose you can argue the case that self-rising flour is more than “one ingredient” but humor me) biscuits?! Say no more. I tried it out with an added lemon kick. They were so tender and tart and comforting with raspberry jam and hot tea. I have all sorts of plans for this biscuit base now.

Three Ingredient Lemon Biscuits
Enhanced from the recipe in Endangered Recipes
Makes 10 or so

Preheat oven to 425-degrees

(Using a fork) mix together 1 C self-rising flour, 1 C sour cream, juice & zest of 1 Lemon

Turn out onto floured surface and roll to preferred thickness (sticky dough – just keep extra flour on hand)

Bake about 12 minutes

You too can prevent recipe extinction!

jingle balls brunch

The holidays are a great time for brunch, don’t you think? This year I put together a brunch where the menu items (except the eggs and beverages) were ball-shaped! It was fun to come up with flavor combos using that shape limitation, and I do believe the meal “made spirits bright.”

Kumquats with Chèvre rolled in Brandied Pecans / Aged White Cheddar & Brown Sugar Bacon Monkey Bread / Twice Baked Mini Mashers / Roasted Cappellini Onions and Grape Tomatoes / Macaroons with Tart Cherries & Key Limes.

Half of the food was prepared in advance. Day before: bake mini mashers once, bake bacon in oven, roll goat cheese balls, make macaroons, wash fruits & veggies. Day of: bake bacon cheddar monkey bread, hollow out mini mashers, roast mini mashers, onions & tomatoes, stuff mini mashers with filling, make eggs.

Black Diamond & Brown Sugar Bacon Monkey Bread (Amy’s Adaptation)

2 Tubes crescent roll dough, balled up (a revelation in semi-flaky monkey bread)
12 slices good bacon, baked with dark brown sugar, broken up (bake your bacon!)
One little block Black Diamond aged white cheddar, chunked up (I used to live on little shrink wrapped packets of this cheese)
Half stick unsalted sweet cream butter, melted

lightly grease loaf pan.
coat each dough ball in butter and fill bottom of pan with dough ball layer.
sprinkle bacon and cheese over the layer.
repeat a few times.
finish with a dough ball layer.

takes about 35 minutes in 350-degree oven. let cool in pan for about 10 minutes before transferring to plate.

day old donut hole bread pudding

Inspired by a menu item from an old restaurant on Indiana Avenue in Indianapolis over 50 years ago called Doyle’s Eat Shop, I made bread pudding from day old donuts. I happened to have a few leftover glazed applesauce donut holes from Heyerly’s Bakery, so I used those as the bread and made up my recipe based on what I had at my apartment. I learned about the magic of cardamom in bread pudding from my friend Lindsay, who could make her recipe blindfolded. Since the donut holes were glazed I didn’t use too much sugar and decided that butter was unnecessary. I also sprinkled a few walnuts over half. These would be good with a white chocolate sauce. I heated up some peach and raspberry preserves to top the warm, spicy, sweet substance.

For the puddin:
half about 2 dozen donut holes and stack in loaf pan / whisk together 2 eggs, 1 c cream, 1/8 c dark brown sugar, 1/2 t cardamom & pinch of nutmeg / pour over top of halved donut pile and press down till soaked / bake about 30 min in 375-degree oven or till loaf is springy to the touch

applesauce donut clouds

I have wonderful memories of running around orchards in Indiana on days like today, when the clouds, white as apple blossoms, float in the sky like they are felt cutouts on a fictional flannelgraph board. The sun is warm on your face, though the air is cold enough that a sweater is wanted; the clouds sift through it, and the trees temper from stormy to golden and back in a matter of minutes.

My sister, who does Fall Cleaning instead of Spring Cleaning, and cannot get to sleep on “September Eve” like it is Christmas Eve, shares my giddiness for the upcoming season. Last weekend her family picked 20+ lbs of apples, and she went nuts making appley goodies, including an applesauce spice drop donut that I had to try for myself.  The recipe I started with is from All Recipes (I like this site, because they do math for you if you want to make less/more).  She used her homemade applesauce, but I just used a little cup of Motts. Instead of buttermilk, I used milk and apple cider vinegar. Instead of dropping them I rolled them out, because I thought it was the perfect excuse to use my handmade cloud cookie cutter from the enchanting Herriott Grace.  Applesauce donut clouds have the taste of an apple fritter without the chunky texture.  You bite into them and they scream, “Get Thee to a Fall Festival!” Good thing Johnny Appleseed is this weekend.