Monday, June 27, 2011

Apple Streusel Muffins

I know, I've been a little lax in my posting recipes. Not that I have been bored- far from it. Just got a little caught up in the cake fun for a while. I have one more cake to share with you, but for now I thought I would give you an intermission of sorts from all that sugar. This is a really great apple streusel muffin recipe- very basic, and sort of no-frills. Its a real crowd pleaser at brunches, barbecues and picnics. And if I haven't sold you on them yet, they are just pretty darn good. And heeeeeeere it is:

Apple Streusel Muffins
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled, shredded apples
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.
      In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
        In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugar and eggs until smooth. Mix in vanilla. Stir in apples.  gradually blend the apple mixture into the flour mixture. Make sure to do this by hand- if you use a mixer, it tends to get overmixed, and you will land up with rubbery muffins. Spoon the mixture into the prepared muffin pan.
          In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over tops of mixture in muffin pan.
            Bake 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to sit 5 minutes before removing muffins from pan. Cool on a wire rack.

            Monday, June 20, 2011

            Z-Monkey's Birthday Cake

            Yep, don't say you weren't warned. Little Z is seven! I'm not going to go all cliche on you guys and say how I can't believe its been seven years since my little baby boy started charming the world. Nope, even though its true. You guys all know it anyways. Z Monkey is my right-hand man, my cutey, my Little Man, my Perfect Oldest, and an all around tough skinned, soft hearted, Mama's Boy. 
            And I love him.
             But you guys knew that already. I bet you are just waiting around to see what the cake looks like. But you are just going to have to suffer through my proclamation of love to my Boy who Loves to Please. My Boy who....
            Oh dear, I am getting lost in cliches here... 
             So for this year's cake, I asked Z-Monkey what type of cake he wants, as I do every year. And to this he answered:
             "I want a surprise." 
            Hmmmm....adds an aura of mystery to the Journey of Finding the Perfect Cake. So I tried thinking of all the "things" he's into right now. 

            The first things that came to my mind were:
             A. Playmobil. ( Not a chance. Lego is as far as I will go.) 
            B. Perplexus ( This came to my mind for a second. Actually a split second. The thought rested in my mind for a half a second, until my Common Sense said NO WAY and kicked it out.)
            C. The Magic Treehouse Books. (Hmmmm, this might work.)

            Now, for anyone who is not familiar with The Magic Treehouse Books, you probably do not have kids in grades 1-3. These books are written by Mary Pope Osborne, and they have my kids spellbound. Anyone who can have 2 monkeys sitting for 2 hours straight, listening to books on CD gets an award. Mary Pope Osborne packs all sorts of random useful information into her books, while the kids don't even realize that they are actually learning! D-Monkey knows who Leonardo Da Vinci is, where he lived, and what paintings he painted. Z-Monkey can tell you where Thomas Alva Edison lived (Menlo Park, NJ) and what he is famous for. (Bet you didn't even know his middle name!) But besides for that, the books are always on the edge exciting, with original story lines. Really, truly amazing books. And another thing I love about her books are the adorable main characters- Jack and Annie. It is so unusual to find books or tapes nowadays (yes, I know I sound old school. And I'm not even thirty yet!) that mimic good manners but Jack and Annie are so cute, and polite to each other, I can't help but smile. 
            So back to the cake- 
            I was really excited to do a cake on the theme of  The Magic Treehouse. I was not disappointed. I think as my kids get older, and the themes of their cakes get more mature, the cakes get more fun to make. I know I say this with every cake, but this cake was really fun to make! And of course Z-Monkey loved it. 

            Now let's let the pictures do the talking:

            See Jack and Annie peeking out?
            The rope ladder rungs are fondant, threaded through twine.
            I think I fell in love with my leaf cutter about 20 times while making the cake. Don't tell Big D.

            Actually Big D. Don't worry. 
            I said I was going to dedicate part of this post to you. 
            So here it goes:
            Big D, in my mind, this is you:

            My Knight in Shining Armor who arrives on his White Horse 
            to save his Damsel In Distress (that's me) from drowning in dishes.
            And for that I am truly thankful and forever indebted. 

            And bringing this back around full circle. Happy Birthday Z-Monkey. We love you!

            Wednesday, June 15, 2011

            My Tuna Melt Tossed Salad

            Notice the "My" here. That was not a mistake. This entire bowl is meant for me. And me only. Its the least I can do for myself to fill my hunger after a nice long day of dieting....

            Toasted Whole Wheat Croutons
            Dice 4 slices of whole wheat bread into small cubes. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Spray generously with Pam/cooking spray. Sprinkle on salt and garlic powder. Bake at 350° for 10-15 minutes, until toasted through, but not burnt. 

            Goes with Anything Salad Dressing
            1 cup mayonnaise
            1 tsp garlic powder
            1/4 cup distilled vinegar
            1 tbsp. yellow mustard
            1/2 cup sugar
            salt and pepper to taste

            Combine everything together, and mix until thoroughly combined. Lasts up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. 

            Monday, June 13, 2011

            Little D.'s Big Idea

            I love when my kids take an interest in the food they eat. And no, I don't mean when they request to eat pizza and noodles every night. I mean when they stop and think "Hey, this will taste good together!" This is exactly what happened last week, when  Little D, and I hit the local Costco. We always buy bananas there because they are awesomely cheap. I noticed Little D. was deep in thought
             (as deep as you can be at the ripe old age of 4 1/2.) 
            He turned to me and pipes up "Ma, can you make me a banana pie?"
            Awww...just warmed my heart. Not only does he take the time to think if bananas will be good in a pie, but he has complete faith in his Ma that I can make him a banana pie. Warmed my heart to a golden brown

            Chocolate Banana Cream Pie

            One recipe Pat A Pie Crust

            • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
            • 1/2 cup water, divided
            • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
            • 3 egg yolks
            • 1/4 cup sugar
            • 1 cup whipping cream or Rich's Whip, whipped

            3 ripe bananas, sliced in circles
            1/2 cup peanut butter
            1 cup whipping cream or Rich's Whip, whipped

            Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare pie crust according to instructions. Pat into pie pan, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool while you prepare the chocolate cream. 
            In a microwave or double boiler, heat chocolate, 1/4 cup water and butter/margarine until the chocolate and butter are melted. Cool for 10 minutes. In a small heavy saucepan, whisk egg yolks, sugar and remaining water. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture reaches 160°F, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat; whisk in chocolate mixture. Allow to cool. Fold in whipped cream. Spoon into the pie crust.  Put in freezer to set, approximately a half hour. When set, arrange sliced bananas on surface of the pie. Microwave the peanut butter for 60 seconds. Drizzle over bananas. ( It doesn't have to be perfectly spread, just drizzled over the top.)  Spread remaining whipped cream over peanut butter. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with chocolate sprinkles or chocolate syrup. 

            And passed the test. Little D. licked his plate clean. Phew!
            .....Now Z-Monkey has started brainstorming....stay tuned for his great idea!
             ( Not to be confused with Z-Monkeys birthday cake debut which will be posted next week. Can you believe its been a whole year since his Lego cake?! We are planning on topping that one, so stay tuned- it should be fun!!)

            Monday, June 6, 2011

            Flower Power~

            Happy Shavuos everyone!
             Hope your flowers are nice, cheesecake is yummy, and the kids behave!

            Wednesday, June 1, 2011


            Should I start with my groveling apologies or my ode to pizza?
             Well, lets get the apologies out of the way. 
            I am so sorry that Real Food Wednesday as been sporadic at best, non-existent at worst. I have a seasonal job. (Yes, I have the best job in the world. And not only because my boss reads my blog.) But now is the busiest time of the year. 
            Seriously, I make busy bees look lazy. 
            Anyways, there's my lame excuse for not posting as 
            consistently as a food blogger should.
             ( How often is that you ask? I do not know.) 

            And now...on to 


            Hands down, a universally favorite food. If it happens to not be your favorite food, run along now. I've been eating a lot of pizza lately, and I couldn't be happier. Since Big D has started his year long journey through night school, I have been making a lot of single portion suppers. ( Little Monkeys like to eat noodles and fish sticks every night, and that goes against the very grain of SparkPeople.)
            Pizza as it so happens, works out very well with this arrangement. 
            About once a month, I make one recipe of  pizza dough, and divide it into five.
             I freeze each ball of dough in a ziploc bag, and defrost as needed.
            Voila- instant pizza!
             Here is my favorite dough recipe. It has amazing elasticity- even after its frozen. It does need to rise for an hour, but I find that by the time I eat supper, when the Little Monkeys are put away for the night, it has risen more than enough. 

            Pizza Dough
            1 tsp yeast
            3 cups flour
            2 tsp salt
            1 cup warm water
            2 tbsp. olive oil
            1 tsp sugar

            Pour water and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add yeast and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Knead dough with the dough hook for about 10 minutes. Cover dough with a damp towel and let rise 1 hour. When you are ready to make the pizzas, divide dough into 5. Let rest for five minutes to make it easier to roll out dough. Roll the dough into a 8 inch circle. Spread pizza or marinara sauce on top. Top with pizza cheese and toppings. Bake at 450° for 15-20 minutes. 

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