12 Oct 2019 Coconut-Banana Muffins
A whole pan full of Coconut Banana Muffins! What better way to start a day? Leftovers keep well, too!

I love muffins and I love all things coconut. I can’t think of anything better on a cool Sunday morning than a warm coconut muffin, a hot latte, some social media, an old fashioned magazine or newspaper, jammies, fluffy slippers…

This recipe makes 12 delicious muffins. The muffins are dense and sweet, the top is crunchy, the banana and coconut combination is heavenly. These muffins keep well on the counter for a few day. Warm muffins today, room temperature muffins tomorrow. Yes, please.

Coconut-Banana muffin for one.

Coconut-Banana Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (probably about 3 small/2 large bananas)
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract (optional, but a nice to have. Rather than running around all over town for coconut extract, I order on-line)
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (divided use)
  • 1-2 tablespoons granulated or coarse sugar
  1. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper muffin cup liners.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  4. In another bowl whisk together mashed bananas, melted butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, optional coconut extract, and ¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut.
  5. By hand, fold flour mixture into mashed banana mixture and stir until just combined and all flour has been moistened. Don’t overmix.
  6. Portion batter into the 12 prepared muffin tin.
  7. Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of the remaining ¼ cup coconut and a sprinkle of granulated or coarse sugar.
  8. Bake muffins at 375 degrees until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes.
  9. Cool slightly before serving.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. See you again soon!

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02 Oct 2019 Fresh Corn Soup
Fresh Corn Soup with Roasted Poblano Chilies, Queso Fresco, and fried corn tortilla strips.

This is such a plain and simple recipe, it’s hard to believe such a good tasting soup comes out of it!

The ingredient list for this soup is so ordinary that it’s hard to imagine how exceptional the soup tastes.  Been there, thought that. I was wrong. This soup is beyond the sum of its parts. Fresh Corn Soup is divine, and creamy and rich, but it’s not a hearty soup so it needs something else to go with it to make a full meal. Soup-and-sandwich anyone or, even better, a soup-and-enchilada combo?

I like to have this Fresh Corn Soup when the seasons are just beginning to change , just when cooler temperatures heighten the desire for soup and when the end-of-the-season corn-on-the-cob is still available. The original recipe said this soup can be made with frozen corn, so score one for simplicity! I always make things hard on myself though. I strip the corn kernels off six ears of fresh corn and then proceed with the recipe.

The toppings make this soup exceptional. Top each bowl of Fresh Corn Soup with a few corn tortillas cut into strips and fried in a little oil until crisp, a few crumbles of Queso Fresco, and a tablespoon or so of charred, peeled and diced poblano chilis.

This soup can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth, or by not using broth at all and using milk as the liquid ingredient.

Fresh Corn Soup

4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 6 ears of corn) or 4 cups frozen corn kernels, defrosted.

1 cup water

4 tablespoons butter

2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or milk

2 cups of milk

½ teaspoon table salt or 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

  1. Mix corn with water and place in blender, process until the water and corn combine into a smooth paste.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add corn puree and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour chicken broth (or veggie broth) plus milk into pan with corn mixture and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer soup for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and cool slightly.
  6. Don’t skip this step! I did once and it was not nice. Pour the soup into a fine mesh strainer. Retain the liquid and discard the solids.
  7. When ready to serve, gently reheat and serve with all three of the toppings below.

Makes about 6 cups of soup. Leftover soup freezes well.

Garnishes

2 Poblano Chilies

3 corn tortillas

Queso Fresco

  1. Char the poblano chilies over an open burner. When completely charred and black, place in a brown paper bag to cool. When cool enough to handle, rub the burned skin off with a paper towel, cut away the stem, seeds and membrane and then finely chop the remaining flesh.
  2. Cut the three corn tortillas into thin strips. Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a small fraying pan. When hot add some of the strips and fry until light brown. Repeat with remaining tortilla strip.
  3. Open the package of Queso Fresco and crumble the cheese.
  4. Add ½-1 tablespoon of diced chilies into bottom of the bowl along with approx. 1 tablespoon crumbled Queso Fresco.
  5. Ladle hot soup over the chilies and cheese.
  6. Top with crispy fried corn tortillas
Fresh Corn Soup made with white corn, topped with fancy corn tortilla shapes and Queso Fresco. Made and photographed by my daughter, Abby.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.

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18 Sep 2019 Cafe Mocha Pinwheels

I love cookies! These are fun, a bit different, striking, and feature grown-up flavors of mocha and espresso. I found the original recipe in the Taste of Home publication, ‘Fall Baking 2019’. After my first try, following the recipe perfectly, I changed the recipe a bit. I added more flour to one portion of dough (after the dough is divided) to make both doughs even (why didn’t TOH do the same?). Also, as the mocha flavor was strong in the original recipe and the espresso was loosing out, which I found to be unacceptable, I upped the espresso! The resulting cookie is crisp, pretty, and full flavored.

Making the pinwheels is the tricky part, so let me help with that a bit. One, don’t stress. Two, on a large piece of parchment paper, roll the first dough out to a rectangle of only the approximate size. Don’t be a slave to the ruler, it doesn’t matter that much! Three, using another piece of parchment paper, roll the second dough into approx the same size as the first rectangle of dough. Four, put one dough on top of the other dough and remove the top piece of parchment paper. Five, now trim and patch and press to fit! If you have extra dark dough, put it where there’s some extra pale dough, and vice-a-versa. Keep working at it until all the dough is used and more-or-less on top of one another. Five, gently roll over the two doughs with a rolling pin to make the doughs stick together and to remove any lumps or air pockets. Six, roll up tightly and slice as per the directions below. You’ll have beautiful pinwheel cookies!

Café Mocha Pinwheels

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (375 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (Hershey’s is fine) (50 grams)
  • Additional 50 grams flour (about 1/3 cup)
  • Additional 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and espresso powder to combine. Gradually beat flour mixture into creamed mixture.
  4. Divide dough in half. Beat cocoa into half of dough. Beat additional flour and additional espresso powder into other half of the dough.
  5. Divide each color into 2 portions.
  6. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll out, about 1 hour.
  7. Roll each portion into a 9×7-in. rectangle, approx. (Roll on parchment paper to make the whole job a lot easier.)
  8. Place a chocolate rectangle on top of the coffee rectangle. Fussy cut and finagle to shape dough into rectangles of matching size and shape.
  9. Roll up tightly jelly-roll style, starting with a long side, and using parchment paper to help with the rolling. Mold the dough into a smooth roll. Securely wrap dough in plastic wrap; repeat with remaining dough. Freeze 1 hour or until firm.
  10. Preheat oven to 350°. Unwrap and cut dough crosswise into 1/4-in. slices. Place 2″ apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. 
  11. Makes 4 dozen large cookies

Freeze option: Place wrapped logs in an airtight container; return to freezer. To use, unwrap frozen logs and cut into slices. If necessary, let dough stand 15 minutes at room temperature before cutting. Bake as directed.

From Taste of Home, ‘Fall Baking, 2019’ (but has been posted elsewhere on the internet since 2016).

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09 Sep 2019 Sweet and Cinnamon-y Apple Bread
Sweet and Cinnamon-y Apple Bread

Bread baking is my Everest, meaning I haven’t conquered it yet.  I’m not even at base camp so the bread recipes that appeal to me are easy and pretty much foolproof.  Here’s one of them! The recipe is easy… I see you shaking your head. Is it because you’ve already noticed the 22 steps? Granted, that seems like a lot, but there are 22 because I broke each step down into tiny increments. You can do this! You can have a loaf of Sweet Apple Bread ready to eat in about two hours! For a fancy, fruit-filled, yeasted bread, that’s a pretty quick turnaround time! The two hours is not all hands-on work either, that time includes two periods of rest for the dough to rise AND the baking time! The resulting product is delicious and impressive. Around here the aroma of this bread baking reliably gets sleepyheads out of bed and ready to face the day with a smile on their faces!

The bread is not burned! Darned filter!
I bake better than the I take pictures.

I didn’t create this recipe; I am not nearly that smart. I found it in Better Homes and Garden, Fall Baking at the same time as my daughter, who found it online. Then I googled it, and the recipe is all over the Internet, so I don’t know who or where it first came from first, but it’s a good one, a keeper, and almost infallible.  I did have it fail once, though. I didn’t measure the apples.  I wanted more apples and more apples, so I probably ended up with double the apples and one soggy, flat, never-did-bake loaf, so don’t do that! Measure the apples! I have made this bread with both cinnamon and Apple Pie Spice and I prefer it with Apple Pie Spice. If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, order it from Penzey’s Spices.

My daughter’s first loaf of Sweet and Cinnamon-y Apple Bread

While looking for this recipe on line, my daughter came across an almost identical recipe made with pumpkin. Unbeknownst to each other, we both made it, on the same afternoon, and we both thought it needed some upgrading, so we’ll work on that. Look for an enhanced pumpkin bread soon but until then, make this one! It’s a winner!

Sweet and Cinnamon-y Apple Loaf

For the dough:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 package (2 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (divided use)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup melted or very, very soft butter
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups peeled and finely chopped Granny Smith apple (usually one very large apple)
  • 3/4 cup (75 grams) packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Apple Pie Spice or Cinnamon

For the icing:

  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened (optional)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
  1. In the microwave, heat milk until just until lukewarm, approx. 105°F to 115°F, about 30-60 seconds, depending on the wattage of your microwave.
  2. Combine warm milk, yeast, and ½ tsp of sugar in small bowl. Stir until yeast is dissolved. Let stand 5 minutes.
  3. In bowl of electric mixer combine egg, 1/4 cup melted butter, the rest of the granulated sugar, and salt. Beat for 30 seconds.
  4. Add yeast mixture to egg/butter mixture. Beat with mixer on medium until combined.
  5. Add half the flour to mixture in bowl. Beat on low 30 seconds, scraping bowl as needed, then beat for 3 minutes on medium.
  6. Stir in remaining flour. Beat for another 2 minutes or so.
  7. Shape dough into ball (dough will not be smooth).
  8. Place dough in greased bowl; turn once to completely grease surface of dough.

Note: To make ahead: prepare as directed up to this step. Do not let dough rise. Cover bowl and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

  • Cover the dough with greased plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until nearly double in size 45 to 60 minutes (longer if dough has been refrigerated).
  • Grease 9×5-inch loaf pan, or line with parchment paper.

Note: Here comes the tricky part but it just sounds as if it’s tricky. Don’t stress it at all. The measurements are just approximate. Even the number of slices in the stacks are approximate. Eyeball everything! Have fun with it! Do. Not. Stress! This is a free-form bread. You can’t make a mistake. Go for it!

  1. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Roll dough into 20×12-inch rectangle (approximately, jagged edges are no problem).
  2. Brush dough with 1/4 cup melted or very soft butter then sprinkle with 1 tsp. white sugar.
  3. In a small bowl, combine chopped apples, brown sugar, and apple pie spice or cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture equidistantly over the dough.
  4. Cut the dough rectangle in half lengthwise to make two 20×6-inch strips (approximately)
  5. Cut each strip vertically into five 6×4-inch strips.
  6. Carefully make 2 stacks of 5 strips each. Cut each stack lengthwise into three 4×2-inch pieces.
  7. Now lift the stacks, and loosely stagger stacks in pan, cut sides up. You’ll have to push and pull to make all stacks fit. This is not a problem.  Lightly push down on dough to fill corners and level the top of the loaf.
  8. Cover loaf with greased plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until nearly double in size (40 to 45 minutes).
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake loaf for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted near center registers 200°F.
  10. Cool in pan 10 minutes.
  11. In a medium mixer bowl combine ingredients for icing: room temperature cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Beat in enough milk to make a glaze of drizzling consistency. (NOTE: I usually make the icing without the cream cheese)
  12. Remove loaf from pan and drizzle with icing. Cool at least 20 minutes more before eating (but bread will keep well for a few days).

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! Happy baking!

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