Whole Grain Sweet Potato Muffins


Food52 asks for recipe testers from time to time, and I thought that these sweet potato muffins were something I’d be likely to make anyway, so I might as well try the recipe for them. I’m so generous

Josh has been on a sweet potato strike for close to a year, but I caught him sneaking a second muffin into his lunch bag for work this morning. Can there be any praise higher than that?

I love the hearty nuttiness that came from using whole grain flour, and also love that these muffins don’t veer into “sickly sweet dessert muffin” territory. I wound up using a few splashes of heavy cream at the end to get the dough wet enough, and I think I need to remember that for the next batch!

Whole Grain Sweet Potato Muffins- from this recipe

  • 2.5 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground, if possible)
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c. melted butter
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil (next time, I’ll use coconut oil)
  • 1 c. mashed roasted sweet potato 
  • egg
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk, or milk soured with one teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice, plus extra as needed

If you haven’t done so, roast your sweet potato. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, prick the skin of the sweet potato several times with a fork, and place on a foil lined baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, or until very soft. Let cool, mash, and set aside.

Set the oven to 375. Line 12 muffin cups with paper lines and set aside. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, making sure to break up any large lumps of brown sugar. In a smaller bowl, mix the remaining ingredients until smooth. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. The batter will be very thick, and it might be necessary to add a few more splashes of milk/buttermilk to get all of the ingredients fully incorporated.

Fill the muffin liners about 3/4 of the way, and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops have started to brown slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, and then either turn on their sides in the muffin tin or remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Grab at least one while still warm, cover in butter, and eat, standing in the middle of the kitchen.


Salty Honey Pie



While this summer was all about yeast, and my love for it will continue to grow (as yeast does so well), I thought that pies might be a fun little project this winter. I mean, what’s more cozy than pie?

This pie… this pie is what the southern classic chess pie wishes it could be. A simple sweet pie is the foundation, but with the addition of a vanilla bean, honey, and a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt, it’s  just taken to a whole other glorious level.

While I, wretch that I am, cheated and went with a store-bought crust this time, I will absolutely make the crust from scratch next time, as I’m sure that the pie even is more heavenly with tons of buttery, flaky goodness

The recipe, and all of her pie crust technique, can be found on Joy the Baker’s website.

I’m thinking it might even need to replace pumpkin pie on our Thanksgiving table.


Double Banana Chocolate Chip Bars

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I’m always interested to see what Josh picks on weeks when I tell him to go crazy and pick all of the meals. Most weeks, we each decide on a few meals, so it’s a good balance, and we both try to keep the budget in mind. He did a great job, budget wise, staying easily within our limit.

His choice for snack this week? These bars, which are always a favorite, and since we usually have most of the ingredients on hand anyway, they wind up being insanely cheap as well. Easy to make, hearty, and delicious. It’s really just a win/win.

Double Banana Chocolate Chip Bars (recipe from Eat Live Run)

  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1/3 c oil, preferably coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 c quick cooking oats
  • 2/3 c chopped banana chips (we use unsweetened)

2/3 c dark or semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 8×8 pan and set aside.

In large bowl, smash the banana until it’s just a mushy pulp (appetizing, right?). Add the oil and brown sugar and stir until completely combined, with no sugar lumps remaining. Note: if your kitchen is cold, or you use a cold banana, sometimes the coconut oil will start to harden. The few times that has happened to me, I placed the mixing bowl into a large bowl of hot water and let it warm up, then stirred it again.. Nothing to worry about!

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and oats.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined, then fold in the chocolate chips and banana chips.

Pour this mixture into the 8×8 pan and pat down evenly. Bake until the edges are golden, about 25 minutes.

Let cool, and enjoy.

Rosemary Focaccia BLT

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So this week’s tackling of yeast involved focaccia, and holy crap, it was amazing. Also, incredibly easy. No kneading, no worries. The recipe says you can let it rise in the fridge for anywhere for 8 hours to two days, and due to the way our schedules worked this week, I wound up letting it go for the full two days. In that respect, it’s perfect for serving when you have friends over for dinner, because most of the work is done days before.

My modifications included using half bread flour and half AP flour, since that’s what I had on hand, and I scattered chopped fresh rosemary over the top before baking (a step I highly recommend).

When it was still warm from the oven, I cut myself a piece, layered on some chipotle mayo, lettuce, bacon, and tomato, and then had a moment of silence to celebrate just how perfectly simple a good meal can be.

She recommends eating it all day of, which unless you’re feeding a large group, isn’t possible. I sliced the rest of the bread into individual servings, wrapped it in plastic wrap, placed it in a ziploc bag, and put it in the freezer. I have faith that it will make fantastic toast.

Here is the complete recipe: Saltie’s Focaccia 

Edited late to note: It really does makes fantastic toast, pulled from the freezer and toasted under a low broiler for a few minutes. I seriously want to always have some of this bread in my freezer. Perfect side for some soup, too!

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins

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The running joke in our house is that once blueberries are in season, a pint of them won’t last a full day before being inhaled. They are, by far, Josh’s favorite fruit, and one of the only ways I can convince him to let me do something with them (besides eating them by the handful) is to tell him that I’m going to make these muffins. That is the power of these muffins.

Honestly, what’s not to love? Fresh blueberries, folded into a not overly sweet batter, laced with nutty browned butter. All very, very good things.

The original recipe calls for a streusel topping as well, but we like them best when they’re simple and unfussy. The batter is thick, and I wind up having to gently mush it into the muffin liners with my fingertips, taking care not to burst the blueberries.

Go find some fresh blueberries (raspberries would work beautifully as well!) and experience them for yourself.

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins (recipe from Joy the Baker)

  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

Place you oven rack in the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 375. Grease or foil/paper line your muffin tin.

Melt the butter in a small pan over medium-low heat. It will get all crackly and it might stress you out, but that’s a happy sound. Once the crackling starts to subside, the fat pieces turn a nice golden brown, and it starts to smell nutty, it’s ready to take off the heat. You really need to watch it closely, because it WILL burn. Stressed again?

Combine the eggs, milk, and vanilla and whisk well.  Slowly stir in the browned butter.

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Carefully fold in the blueberries.

Divide evenly among the muffin cups and spread them out until the tops are flat. I usually wind up doing this gently with my fingertips because the batter is definitely on the thick side.

Bake for about 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.  Let cool for at least 15 minutes.  Best eaten still warm with some extra butter. Butter makes it better.

Corn Zucchini Lime Pizza


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This pizza was so good! It was covered with corn, zucchini, red onions, jalapenos, cilantro, goat cheese, and lime juice. I always love a pizza with unusual toppings, and these just worked so well together. It tasted like summer, and considering how much I love summer, that is quite the compliment.

This is the second pizza dough I’ve made this summer in my yeast challenge, and not only was it a lot faster and easier to make than the last batch (though I did need to add a little extra water), I think we really wound up preferring the flavor and texture as well. The crust was so nice and crunchy, and incredibly easy to work with after it rose. Also, one batch of dough is enough for two large pizzas, which means I have a pizza crust sitting in my freezer right now, just waiting to be cooked. Now I’m brainstorming toppings for next week.

You can find the pizza recipe here at Shutterbean. Our only modification was to use goat cheese instead of the other cheeses she has listed. Either way, it’s going to be delicious!

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

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I told Josh last weekend to choose a random special recipe that he’d like me to make as a treat. I was really curious to know what it would be. A slow simmered short rib meal? A big vanilla cake? I was open to anything. When he told me he wanted this double chocolate banana bread, I was thrilled. I mean, I’m still not feeling 100%, and it doesn’t get much easier than a one bowl, no yeast bread. Now I’m sooooo glad that he requested this, because dang, this bread is delicious. So delicious that I have a feeling that it will be a new favorite in our rotation of snacks, and I’m totally fine with that. I mean, it has fruit, so it’s totally a health food, right?

Fun fact: If you don’t have super ripe bananas, you can place whole, unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast at 300 degrees for 1 hour. This will soften and sweeten the bananas to the perfect flavor and consistency. Yay, science!

Double Chocolate Banana Bread (recipe from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 3 medium-to-large very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (I used light because that’s what I had, but dark would be just fine)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c cocoa powder
  • 1 c semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips (I used semisweet chips)

Heat your oven to 350°F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Place baking soda, salt, cinnamon, flour and cocoa powder in a sifter or fine-mesh strainer and sift over wet ingredients. Stir dry and wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks or chips.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free.  Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Possibly hide from your coworkers while eating it. Too good to share.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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I made a fancy addition to my yeast project this weekend: cinnamon swirl bread! Words cannot describe how glorious this bread smells while baking. Forget chocolate chip cookies before a house showing, because everyone should just have this bread in the oven.

I was a little intimidated by all of the rolling and envisioned a blob of random cinnamon sugar and dough with no swirl to speak of, but it actually turned out really well. Unlike last week’s oatmeal sandwich bread, this one has no bread flour, resulting in a very soft and fluffy loaf. Perfect for toast with some butter. Easy breakfasts are always a win.

The entire recipe, with a million step by step photos, can be found on The Pioneer Woman’s blog.

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

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So far in my yeast challenge, I’ve successfully made both pizza and soft pretzels. I’ve tried and failed to make a wild sourdough starter and buttery buns (which were delicious, but flat in a way that no one wants buns to be. I think my kitchen was too hot). I figured that I should make my first loaf of bread to eat as breakfast this week. I mean, if there was ever a classic yeast recipe, it’s bread.

It might come as a shock to… no one? that there are countless bread recipes. I started to poke around to find one that wouldn’t be overly complicated and be great for toast. Bread for toasting requires a certain density. I don’t want the bread to fall apart when I’m buttering it or adding copious amounts of orange marmalade (me) or strawberry jam (Josh). There is a science to this, people.

This Oatmeal Sandwich Bread from Orangette is exactly what I wanted. The molasses gives it a complex sweetness and a darker color. The loaf is huge and perfect toasted under the broiler, since it was way to big to fit into our toaster.

I wound up using AP flour as opposed to whole wheat, and I did all of my kneading by hand since our mixer is in storage back in TN, but I highly, highly recommend this recipe, and I look forward to eating it again tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, today is my birthday and the beginning of my last year in my twenties, so I’m off to celebrate! Maybe I’ll sneak in an extra piece of toast.

Soft Pretzels


So, I’m still working on my yeast fears. Josh decided to help me along by suggesting that I make soft pretzels.

My initial thought? You must be crazy. I mean, yeast, dough, hand kneading, hand shaping… Talk about out of my comfort zone! But since I have such a hard time saying no to him, I decided to jump in feet first and go for it.

The result? Amazing pretzels! And my house smelled like Auntie Anne’s! These were the ideal soft pretzels: slightly crunchy on the outside, soft and perfectly dense on the inside. Eating one right after pulling them out of the oven is practically mandatory. I still need to work on my shaping skills, but that just requires practice.

This was a win on soooo many levels. Plus, now I feel like I can tackle anything. So much baking in my future! Already planning next week’s experiment.

Until I have more experience with yeasty things, I’ll just keep posting links to the original recipes I use, since I definitely won’t be improvising, nor should I be the person you come to for technical questions. Unless your questions are more along the lines of the best way to eat them, in which case I have ideas. So many ideas.

So go here and learn how to make pretzels. You won’t regret it.