Cranberry Grapefruit Muffins

Here are just a few ways you can tell I’m no baker.

  1. I measure things in “handfuls,” “bunches,” “splashes,” and other oh-so-specific terms.
  2. I (always, always, always) eat the batter.  Even pancake batter.  Raw eggs, bring it on.
  3. After the first round of pancakes/muffins/coookies/insert-the-baked-good, I will often end up with just enough dough or batter to make just one GIANT insert-the-baked good.  I always go for it.

Despite being no baker, I don’t let a little thing like recipes get me down.  I had a grapefruit going bad and I didn’t want to do the healthy thing and just eat it for breakfast on its own, so I added sugar and butter and sour cream and flour and all sorts of things that are absolutely no good for you, and THESE turned out.  They were absolutely delicious.  I even measured along the way, so I could try to replicate them some time in the future.

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Cranberry Grapefruit Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • ½ tsp of baking soda
  • ½ tsp of salt
  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar
  • 2 medium-sized eggs
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • juice from one grapefruit (about 1/2 cup)
  • zest from 1/2 grapefruit
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • about a cup dried cranberries

**I bet these would be awesome with added almonds, coconut flakes, etc.  Since I don’t want to be the only ones eating them (as in, the Husband isn’t a fan, and baby is on a milk-only diet), these versions did not include those.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Lightly butter or add baking liners to a muffin pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, add sugar and the 2 eggs.  Whisk together, then add the vanilla extract, milk, grapefruit juice and grapefruit zest.  Slowly stir in the sour cream.  Finally, whisk in the room temperature butter – you don’t want overmix or you’ll make it a little heavy, but you want the butter throughout.
  4. Slowly (slowly) add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, careful not to overmix.  Add the cranberries (and any other extra ingredients) at the end and give everything a stir.
  5. Evenly divide the mix to the muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes.

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The Verdict:

So when I made this batter, I made exactly enough for 13 muffins.  That’s right.  One full tray…and then one more go-round in the oven for just one more muffin.  It’s lucky 13 for me, though: I could eat one and no one ever has to know.  Which is a good thing, because your family is going to want the other 12.

 

Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve gained new appreciation for lots of things I’d never before considered before I became a walking dairy cow mom.  Showers, for instance.  I didn’t know I was such a proponent.  (In fact, I am pretty sure I was on the low end of the shower bell curve.)  No longer, my friends.  I am PSYCHED when I get to shower.  Ramps are another biggie – our first bout of activism: lobbying our condo board association to reinstall a lobby ramp.  Chairs with arm rests – helpful to have something to push off of when trying to stand up.  My friends, who brought us lunches and dinners and sent me funny Bitmojis and fruit to the hospital.  My mom.  Oh, my mom.  My mom was everything those first few weeks.  Cook, grocery shopper, house cleaner, baby changer, bottle washer, life giver.  At one (let’s be honest, very low) point, I found myself breastfeeding my baby in a Wendy’s parking lot, my mom spoon-feeding me a Frosty, and I realized: this is motherhood, and it is NEVER. GOING. TO. END.

I also have a new appreciation for one-handed meals.  And a fast and loose definition of what “meals” entail – these cookies, for instance.

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Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, brought to room temperature
  • 1 super ripe banana
  • splash vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 – 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • optional – pecans, almonds, your preferred nut.

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl.  Slowly beat in the egg, banana and vanilla.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and fluff it all through with a fork; slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture.
  3. As a last step, stir in chocolate chips, coconut & (optional) nuts.
  4. Use an ice cream scoop to measure out about half a scoopful onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake for about 9-12 minutes, depending on your oven.

 

The Verdict:

Goodness these are delicious and I am pretty sure that’s not just because I am always ravenous.  Fluffy and light, they don’t keep longer than a day or two before they start to lose their texture…which wasn’t a problem around here.

 

French Onion Mac + Cheese

Probably exactly what you need, right after the new year starts, is a recipe that combines two of the most wonderful, cheese and carb-laden treats known to humankind into one unholy meal.

Well, I can say that at least around here, “losing x pounds” didn’t make it to the resolutions list this year.  #pregnancyperks

I won’t lie to you: this recipe takes a while (about 2.5 full hours, from start to finish).  BUT, it’s worth it.  And not just if you’re pregnant.  So let’s get to it.

French Onion Mac + Cheese

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for the bechamel

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk (or cream, if you’re into that sort of thing)
  • salt & pepper
  • crushed reds
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar

for the onion mixture

  • butter/olive oil
  • 3 large yellow onions, sliced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • a dash of honey
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups beef stock (to make this veggie, obviously, just use veggie stock instead.)
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme (you might want to tie these up into a bundle)
  • 1 bag arugula
  • 1 box pasta (I used cavatappi, which winds its way so delightfully around each onion slice, each delightful bite of cheese)

for the topping

  • about 1/2 cup panko
  • about 1/2 cup parmesan
  • (a little parsley, if you have it, would be nice right at the very end)
  1. Start your onions, which take the longest.  Heat a bit of butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Add onions, cover, and cook down, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.
  2. While the onions are going, start your bechamel.  Over low heat, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan; add flour and stir constantly to combine for 2-3 minutes.   Increase heat to medium, and slowly add the milk or cream; stir until thickened (this takes about 5-6 minutes; add more flour if you need).  Lower the heat, & season with s+p and the crushed red peppers.  Fold in the gruyere and cheddar until the sauce is melty and delicious – set aside and try not to eat.
  3. To the onion mixture, add garlic and dash honey.  Cook another 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions start to caramelize.  Add wine and beef broth and stir, scraping up the bottom bits.  Add the thyme and let the mixture cook down, until the liquid is almost gone.
  4. The previous step will take a while, so this is is a good time to start your pasta water boiling and to cook according to directions.  Drain and set aside when done.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a baking pan.  In the onion pot, mix together the arugula, pasta, onions, and bechamel.  Make sure it’s thoroughly combined before you pour into the baking pan – snag the bundled thyme as you do so.
  6. In a small bowl, toss together the panko and parmessan, and then spread this over the top of the pasta/onion mixture.  Pop the whole thing into the oven for 35 minutes.

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The Verdict:

You can taste how long this takes to make (in a good way, I promise).  It’s got serious flavor, from first bite to finish.  It’s two of the best meals ever, on one plate – how could you not love it?  Just make sure to serve with a side salad – you’ll want something a little…lighter.

 

Homemade Granola.

Turns out when you’re pregnant, you wake up at night.  Repeatedly.  As far as I can tell, this is due to three main reasons:

  1. Baby throws all night “how hard can you thrash around” ragers.
  2. My bladder is now the size of a shelled pistachio.
  3. At some point around 4AM, my stomach realizes it hasn’t eaten in SIX WHOLE HOURS and the situation needs to be rectified, ASAP.

I have therefore spent far too many 4AM time slots contemplating what I will eat for breakfast.  After I made this for the first time, I’m happy to report my contemplation has changed from “what” I will eat, to “when” an appropriate time to go eat might be.

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Homemade Granola

  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • slightly less than 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • big pinch of salt
  • about 1/3 cup honey
  • slightly less than 1/4 cup vegetable, canola or coconut oil
  • dash vanilla extract
  • you can customize anyhow you like, but for my part, I like slightly more than a 1/2 cup each of the following ingredients:
    • unsweetened shredded coconut
    • slivered almonds
    • dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats, sugar, cinnamon and salt.  Set aside for a moment.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, and a dash of vanilla.  Slowly mix together with the dry ingredients, until all oats are coated.
  4. On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread the oat mixture in a thin, even layer.  Bake at 300 for 15 minutes.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together your add-ins: coconut, cranberries, and almonds, in my case.
  6. Remove the oats from the oven and gently mix in your add-ins, so they’re evenly distributed in the pan.
  7. Pop the whole thing back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the oats are golden brown.
  8. Remove – and as hard as it is – let cool for about 10-15 minutes before stirring and breaking up the crumbles.  It’s worth it, trust me.

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The Verdict:

I can’t believe how late in life I came to this epiphany: granola is amazing.  Serve on top of a big bowl of plain Greek yogurt (I find the granola sweet enough) and berries, and watch your hunger dissipate for at LEAST 2-3 hours.

Apple and Cheese Curd Scones

My sister came to visit last weekend from Minneapolis (key player in gathering of the 32.8 pounds of apples).  Just before she boarded her plane, she texted my husband and me that she was bringing a special surprise.

Of course, we should have responded that her visit was special enough and yada yada.  Which of course we didn’t do.  Almost in unison, Husband and I texted back: “Jucy Lucys!?!?”

These are the kind of people we are.  We assume that bringing a burger stuffed with hot, melty cheese  across state lines is perfectly normal.  My sister kindly noted that these probably wouldn’t be delicious by the time she arrived, but promised she was bringing something equally tasty.

Holy (bag of) cheese curds.  My sister knows me all too well.  We adapted a Smitten Kitchen recipe and made a (small) dent in our 32.8 pounds of apples.

IMG_4106Apple and Cheese Curd Scones

  • 3-4 tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks/slices
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar plus a bit for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • bag of Minnesota cheese curds…or about a cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 large eggs

**NOTE: We doubled the recipe (single recipe listed here)…which I don’t really recommend, unless you have a standing-bowl mixer or a very, very large food processor.  It made the dough sort of hard to manage.

  1. Position a rack at the center of oven and preheat oven to 375 °F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Placed peeled and chunked apples in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them until they take on a little color and feel dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. . Let them cool completely but leave oven on.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together and set aside. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, along with cooled apple chunks, cheese, cream and one egg. Sprinkle flour mixture over the top and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix (you may need to get handsy here, as we did.  This dough can be sort of gloppy and wet.)
  4. Generously flour your counter top and place the scone dough on top of it, sprinkle with more flour.  Use a rolling pin (you may want to actually cover the dough with saran wrap, to minimize stickiness) to roll the dough out.  Use a glass or circular cookie cutter to cut the dough into cookie-like scones.
  5. Transfer cookie/scones to a baking sheet ined with parchment paper. Leave at least 2 inches between each scone.
  6. Make your egg wash: beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle them with remaining tablespoon of sugar.
  7. Bake scones at 375 for about 30 minutes. Devour.

IMG_4046The Verdict:

These scones/cookies/whatever they are…they’re amazing.  Amazing.  The dough, which seems so unpromising, turns into the perfect combination of savory, sweet, and just…carby goodness.  Good thing they’re so deliciously addictive: they get less flaky as the days wear on, so feel free to eat them all up, and quickly (we stored about six, unbaked, in the freezer.  SERIOUSLY looking forward to them.)