Chock-Full Muffins

Chock-Full Muffins 14

The thing I like best about muffins is that, while they’re pretty picky about how you mix them, there is no exact science as to what you mix into them.  This means that every time I make a batch, I try my hardest to cram everything I can into each one.  How many things?  All the things.

Chock-Full Muffins 2

Let’s DO this.  Preheat your oven to 400°F and grease a muffin tin or line it with paper liners.  Greasing might actually work better in this situation, as I found the baked muffins were hesitant to come out of their liners.

Chock-Full Muffins 1

In a bowl, whisk together 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder,  and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

Chock-Full Muffins 3

Then plop in 1/2 cup bran and 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut and stir that as well.

Chock-Full Muffins 5

Melt about 1/2 cup butter and add it to a bowl with 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup yogurt (your choice), 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 2/3 cup brown sugar and give that a stir.

Chock-Full Muffins 8

I actually used coconut sugar, because I had it on hand.  I like it because it’s not super sweet.

Chock-Full Muffins 7

Grab a few handfuls of dried fruit and nuts, if you’d like, about 1 1/2 cups.  Here we have dried versions of cranberries, cherries, blueberries, grapes (raisins, duh), and apricots.

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Now here’s the trick with muffins: don’t mix the wet with the dry until you’re ready to plop the batter in your baking tin.

Chock-Full Muffins 10

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until just barely combined.  Now you can add in your fruit and stir just until it’s evenly distributed throughout.

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Drop the batter into your muffin tins.  I ended up completely overflowing mine because these puppies don’t expand too much.

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Bake for about 17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre muffin comes out clean, and let cool for a few minutes.

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So good with butter!

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Peanut Butter and Cherry Cookies



Happy birthday Krystopf!Peanut Butter Cherry Cookies 9

More cookies for Papa John.  And that man loves himself some peanut butter.  We have actually made him flavoured peanut butter and given it to him for two Christmases in a row. Chances are high that it will be another request this year.  This again has been adapted from Everyday Food, and has the same base as the coconut lime oat-y cookies posted on Monday.

Preheat the ol’ oven to 350°F and line some baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

Peanut Butter Cherry Cookies 1

In the bowl of an electric mixer, plop in 1 cup butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 3/4 cup packed brown sugar and beat that up for about 4 minutes or so, until it’s pale and fluffy.

Peanut Butter Cherry Cookies 2

Add in 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons vanilla, and 1 cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, it’s up to you).  Beat that up for a spell.

Peanut Butter Cherry Cookies 3

Slowly add in the flour and mix until fully combined, then plop in 1 cup dried cherries and mix that up as well.

Peanut Butter Cherry Cookies 4

Use a soup spoon to plop the dough onto the baking sheets and bake, rotating the pans halfway through, for 12-14 minutes.

Peanut Butter Cherry Cookies 5

Allow the cookies to firm up on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely, then store in an airtight container — if there are any left!

Peanut Butter Cherry Cookies 6

Chocolate-Filled Eggs

Happy Easter!  And happy birthday to Kª, no longer the Lady Downstairs, but now the Lady in Russia!

Chocolate-Filled Eggs

I never do things and post them in time for the holidays, so this post is coming from you from the distant past … Easter 2012 to be precise.

I wanted to have a bit of a take-away goodie for our Easter dinner guests, and a cute little place-marker in the bargain, so I thought, why not give everyone a chocolate egg — inside a REAL egg?  There are lots of great tutorials out there on how to do this right: both Martha and Not Martha have good ones worth checking out.  Me, on the other hand?  I didn’t look at any of them, except to find out what not to do.  So your options here are simple: you can do it the right way, or you can do it my way.  This is your choice.  Let the chips (of eggshell) fall where they may.

Dyeing the Eggs

Start with 12 large eggs.  You may break one or two, so work with more than you need.  Using a sharp paring knife, give the bottom of one of your eggs a hard poke.  Not hard enough to puncture the egg sac, but enough to chip through the shell.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Once you’ve got a wee hole, start enlarging it by prying up bits of shell until you have a hole about the size of a dime.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly circular, and don’t worry if you get a few hairline cracks.  It will all work out in the end.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Peel up that layer of membrane as well.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Once you’ve got a decent hole, take a syringe with a long tube attached (ear syringes and irrigation syringes work well here) and poke it through the egg sac.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Flip the egg upside down and push air through the syringe into the egg so that it expels all the goo into your waiting bowl.  Save those egg innards for something later on.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

When your eggs are all empty, you’ll need to give them a quick rinse to get rid of anything left behind inside.  I poured a bit of hot water into each egg, enough to fill it about half way, and then gave it a good shake to dislodge anything grody inside.  Empty that out and you’re ready for the next phase.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Now, if you’re going to do this the right way, you’re going to sterilize your eggs first and THEN you’re going to dye them.  This is because agitating your eggs during the dyeing process will result in a mottled appearance in the dye.

I, however, actually wanted to have a mottled look, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone and dye my eggs while they were sterilizing.  Easy peasy.  So I filled a large pot with water and added a cup of white vinegar.  I submerged all the eggs, making sure to let each one fill completely with water so it wouldn’t float.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Then I added the dye — I used food colouring here, some green and some blue to create a turquoise colour.  Then I boiled it for about 10 minutes, making sure to give it a stir to agitate the eggs really well.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Make yourself a little drying rack by poking skewers into the bottom of your now-empty egg carton.  Tada.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Using a slotted spoon, remove each egg and drain it of dye before sliding it onto a skewer to dry.  Leave that overnight to make sure that everything is well-set.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

See that nice spotting? I like it.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Everything was great until I dropped a spoon on the eggs and smashed two to smithereens.  And then there were ten.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Filling the Eggs

This is the fun part.  You can go crazy and fill your eggs with whatever you want.  I am looking for some kind of fruit and nut combination in my chocolate.

First, weigh a whole egg to figure out approximately how much stuff fits inside it.  Then take that number, multiply it by the number of eggs you have, and that’s how much stuff you need to go in the eggs.

So for me, my average egg weighed in at 60g.  So I needed 600g of chocolate, fruit, and nuts to make this work.  I actually needed more than that, so I suggest you up the chocolate amount significantly.  It’s amazing how much an egg will hold.

I used cashews and a dried fruit combination of cherries and pineapple.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

I blended that sucker in the food processor to turn it all into tiny bits.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Using a serrated knife, chop up your chocolate.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Melt it in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water until it’s smooth and glossy.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Mix in your minced goodies.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Pull your eggs off your makeshift drying rack and line them up inside the carton again, hole-side up.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Now, set a piping bag or a regular plastic freezer bag in a tall glass or pitcher so that one of the ends points down.  Fill that sucker with your melted chocolate.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Snip the end, and, working quickly, fill each of the eggs to the top with your chocolate goo. You may need to use your fingers to encourage the solid bits to go through the bag if there’s a bottleneck.  Allow to cool and set completely.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Just make sure to clean the chocolate off the shells before it sets. If you’re at all like me, there will be chocolate everywhere.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

I was also a little bit of chocolate short, so I melted more (just plain this time) to fill the last little space in the bottom of the egg.

Chocolate Filled Eggs

Now feel free to decorate them any way you wish.  I used some acrylic craft paint to paint each guest’s name on the eggs.  It’s hard to have good penmanship when you are writing on eggs. Apparently I am incapable of following around in a straight line. It always came up slanted every time.

Chocolate-Filled Eggs

Then I set each one in a wee “nest” made out of a cupcake liner and some mini chocolate eggs.  Surprise!

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