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Cheesecakes Do's and Don'ts Muffins Stuff Your Parents Would Like

Leggo My Holiday Depression. That Was Bad. It’s A Post About Waffle Cookies.

Guys. I am so unmotivated that yesterday I decided to randomly take an IQ test to see how much dumber I’ve gotten over the years. Guess what? I’m not dumber at all! I’m smarter by a FULL POINT! And according to the scale, I’m “gifted but too freaking lazy and unmotivated and whiny to do a damn thing about it.” That’s an actual quote from the test! No it’s not! But it might as well be! So, it would be very easy to take the results of that test and beat the crap out of myself. It would, in fact, be the easiest thing. But I’ve slowly started to realize a few things. Maybe it’s the holiday season that’s warmed my cold heart. Maybe it’s the free Glen Hansard show that I creepily found out about and subsequently attended (it was life-changing and mind-blowing, thanks for asking!). Maybe it’s just maturity…but probably not that, since about an hour ago I had a long, angry conversation with my younger sister over a grudge I’ve been holding against a relative who dismembered my Zack Morris doll when he was five. The Zack Morris doll has been replaced. The emotions have not.

This is our Christmas tree. It may not seem like much, but it brings me a disturbing amount of joy.
This is our Christmas tree. It may not seem like much, but it brings me a disturbing amount of joy.

I think this is the time to try and live life as fully as it can possibly be lived. I’m not going to get any younger than I am right this second, so I think it’s time to just will myself to start. I have a habit of waiting– waiting for things to get better, for life to get less stressful, for more money to come in, for my life to measure up to the lives of others, for the fun to just start already. And thanks to that terrible habit, I know I have missed out on some great things. I once read that it’s really, really important to celebrate every good thing that happens to you, because once it’s gone, it’s gone, and you won’t have any way to remember how wonderful you felt if you don’t take even just a moment to be grateful, be surprised, and be happy. So I’m going to try to stop and celebrate every now and then. I figure that I spend so much time and energy complaining (91 posts and counting, guys! How are you all still reading this blog?), that I have some to devote to trying to be happy. I hope you’ll all join me, or at least try to. You know what would help? Waffle cookies. Waffle cookies would help for so many reasons. The first reason is they consist of three of the most awesome things known to man and woman: waffles, cookies, and chocolate. If there is a better triple threat to be found, tell me. But for now, let’s work!

Chocolate Chip Waffle Cookies (makes one dozen cookies)

adapted from How to Simplify

1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of white sugar (omit if you want a deeper flavor)

1/2 cup of butter, melted (browned if you want a nuttier flavor, which I did)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 cup of chocolate chips

Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)

You need one. I promise.
You need one. I promise.

Now, grease and preheat your waffle iron. If you do not have a waffle iron, please purchase one immediately. It will change your life in only the best ways. Combine your sugar, butter, egg and vanilla and stir until mixed. Stir in flour and baking soda and continue until batter forms. Fold in chocolate chips, then drop batter onto iron by the tablespoon. Close iron, and heat for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the cookies are a golden brown. Very gently lift cookies using tongs, and place on wire racks to cool. Dust with confectioner’s sugar if you’d like. SONY DSC   SONY DSC     Now, if you have a waffle iron, these will be ridiculously easy. If you do not, these will be impossible, so I’m very sorry and I’d be happy to drop some off at your place if you’d like. Really, I would, because these are so easy and fast and make other people very, very happy. I brought these to work as part of a holiday bucket o’ cookies, and two separate people have asked me to make them again. Now that’s something to celebrate. Speaking of celebrate, I hope you’ll all join me in supporting a good cause this holiday season. No Kid Hungry is a wonderful organization that provides hot meals for children across the country. Did you know that 1 in 5 American children lives in poverty? Twenty percent!!! That breaks my heart. If you can, please donate. If you can’t, please share the link, and either way, have a lovely, lovely holiday season.

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Muffins

You’re Going To Love Me/Be Sick Of Me Soon Because It’s Pumpkin Season And Also Because I’m Craaanky

Yeah, sorry but it’s all true.

Wait…before I continue, ya’ll need to see this! It’s the latest shiny beautiful wonderful spot from Monsieur Igloo! It was yet another amazing team effort that I am immensely proud of, even though most of the hard work was done by pretty much everyone but me (and most of it was done by the ridiculously talented writer/director).

Thoughts? Feelings? Emotions? I’ve got a ton of all three of those things that I’m willing to share rightthissecond, but would really love to hear from you instead of hearing from myself, because that happens so often that it’s getting sad. 😦

Speaking of the sads, I got ’em! As many of you know, moving is one of the most stressful life events one can experience, and we did it two weeks ago. As many of you also know, I often handle stressful life events quite poorly. You have no idea how many times I wrestled with ideas like, “Who really needs this stuff? Or any stuff? I hate things. Let’s have no things! I’m going to cry now, so let’s talk later. Bye.”

So, ok, now we have a beautiful new place to live with a lovely kitchen that I often gaze upon lovingly/smear chocolate on by accident. But it was pure Hell getting to this place. It. Was. Hell. There was the paperwork and the interviews and the U-Hauling and the moving and arranging and boxing and carrying and not dropping and GETTING BITTEN IN THE FACE MULTIPLE TIMES BY MOSQUITOES and the venting to people who had generously (and bravely) offered to help and the unpacking and the moving and just the anxiety of it all. Oh, and it all happened the week before my birthday, which depresses and inexplicably freaks me out anyway.

Oh, and it’s not my age that freaks me out so much as my dismay at having gone another year without accomplishing a lot of the things my fat baby self had imagined I would by this age. That’s something that I’m still struggling with, and maybe will always kind of struggle with. I don’t know. I have a nice apartment and a TEE-rific person to share it with and I’m still breathing. So maybe let’s stop talking now and make some pumpkin muffins, yeah?

Now, originally, these were going to be doughnut holes. Rhea Mol had sent me the recipe after she’d successfully (as if she’s never succeeded, girl’s a genius, duh) made these as minis. I made these right before we had moved and had to make do with a regular-sized muffin tin. Now, I would never ever complain about having larger versions of small desserts, but if you’re looking for the real deal, try a mini-muffin tin instead of a regular one.

Pumpkin Spice Donut Holes That In My Case Are Muffins (makes 24 minis or 12 regular)

1 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon of allspice

1/3 cup of vegetable oil

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

3/4 cup of pumpkin puree

1/2 cup of skim milk

Full disclosure: The original recipe also adds a coating that involves a stick of butter and some other stuff. I was not down for that, but if you are, have at it, comrade!

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a muffin or mini muffin tin. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and spices. In a separate larger bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, egg, pumpkin and milk until smooth. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet and mix just until combined.

So…mix a little more than this…
Like this. This is good.

Divide the batter evenly among your cups and send into the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of these comes out clean.

Let ’em rest in the pan for about 5 minutes before taking them out to cool completely on a cooling rack.

I’d initially experimented with making a pumpkin butter/cream cheese filling for these. I say “initially” because the second thing that happened after I tried to fill one was that one of these muffins kind of exploded. So… ix nay.

But seriously, these things need no companions. No fillings or coatings or buttons or whatever else you’d think to dress these up with. They’re just perfect on their own…sweet, but not cloyingly sweet, with just a hint of spice to prep your brain–well, my brain– for all of the pumpkin that is to come in the next few months. Prep yourselves, readers!

Categories
Classic Favorites Desserts with Fruit Muffins

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. Most Good Deeds Are Very Awkward. Let’s Make Muffins.

Saturday morning I went for a run through our pretty, pretty neighborhood with my boyfriend. Usually, after these jogs/walks/eventual gasp-filled staggers, I try to persuade him to steal someone’s copy of the New York Times for me (jokingly, lest anyone in my ‘hood suspect their stolen papers have been brought to my lair). Of course, he never complies, beacon of morality that he is.

Can someone help me with this crossword? I’ve been working on it since Saturday. Now you can all see how cultured I am, and how cultured I am not. I’ve barely filled in a third of this thing 😦

So, on this particular morning, we happened to pass a neighbor who was retrieving her copy from the doorstep and noticed that she had received two papers for some reason. We alerted her to this and she was generous enough to give us her second copy. Nice, right? We introduced ourselves, and eventually to show my gratitude I offered to make her some muffins.

I’m sure none of us took me very seriously (yes, I am including me). Still, Sunday morning, I awoke with the intention to bake. Like I said, I’ve missed it. And I’m trying to be a woman of my word these days. And she gave us the Sunday Times! She deserved some baked goods. Blueberry baked goods at that. My new favorite cookbook once again assists.

Blueberry Muffins (makes a dozen)

3/4 cup of milk

1/4 cup of vegetable oil or melted butter

1 egg

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup of fresh or frozen blueberries (this says you can also use canned blueberries but…gross)

2 tablespoons of coarse sugar or granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400°F and grease the bottoms of a 12-cup muffin tin. You know what I found out from this very book? Greasing the sides of pans when making muffins or breads can actually burn and crisp up the sides, giving an unwanted crust on your goods. So only grease your bottoms. That was weird, I realize this.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, oil or butter and egg until fully mixed. Then, all at once, stir in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Now, and this is important, stir until you’ve got a lumpy mess. Do NOT try to smooth this batter out. Stir just until the flour has all been moistened, or you’ll come out with a dozen dry blueberry rocks. Not delicious.

Lumpy batter.

Next, very carefully fold in your blueberries. Try not to upset the batter too much, as we don’t want to overmix. Evenly distribute among your muffin cups, and sprinkle the tops with coarse or granulated sugar.

Send these into the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, and remove when the tops are golden brown.

Gooey Sunday Breakfast

Let these cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then pop out and eat while warm. Oh, please eat them warm.

Obviously we had to keep a few  six of these behind to test them. All six passed. 😉

Now, you’re probably wondering about the title of this post. So, once I was done making these muffins, my boyfriend asked how I planned on delivering them to our neighbor. I very casually stated that I was planning on leaving them at her door with a nice note, ringing the doorbell…and then running away. In his mind, said note would have looked like this:

Dear Neighbor,

Your generous gift of the Sunday Times did not go unnoticed. Here are some muffins. We’re even now. Don’t smile at me on the street. 

Regards,

Sybil

Har har.

Confession time: I am a painfully shy human being who often comes off as uptight, mostly because I try not to engage people… mostly because I’m afraid people will hate me once I engage. Really. Many of the people I’ve grown close to over the years have said that when they first met me, they thought they’d hate me. I bet some of them even did hate me until I decided to open my mouth and my heart (awww, precious). It’s something that I’m still working on correcting, but for anyone who reads this before meeting me, I swear I’m nice, and I’m sorry I scowled at you.

BF helped me muster up the courage to deliver the muffins in person. I can’t say I wasn’t uncomfortable and super awkward about the whole thing (I tend to do this weird, nervous laugh that I can’t suppress, and that I am fairly certain I’ve inherited from my father), but I am happy that I kept that promise. I’m also glad we got to know our neighbors, and happy to report that as far as I know, they don’t hate me! Hooray!

Categories
Cakes Holiday desserts Muffins

It’s Thanksgiving, So We’re Talking About Stuffing [One Dessert Into Another]

Guess what I did on Monday! I went to see Chris Cornell perform at Carnegie Hall! Guess how terrible my seats were! THIS terrible (my arms are stretched WAY out)!

photo(4)
photo(4)

And yet, the show was pretty perfect. I’m happy I decided to go instead of scamming someone else into buying my nosebleed, second-to-last row seats. That man has got a VOICE, and that voice has got some power. He’s also got some serious Soundgarden fans: on the long elevator ride up to our seats, my show companion observed several long-haired devotees packed into our car and stage-whispered “take me to 1994!” Yes, I did lose it. And no, I obviously did not make friends at this show. Still, in the spirit of a holiday that’s supposed to be about being happy and grateful, I thought I’d start with a night that actually made me feel those things. Especially since I’ve been such a lame downer lately. Let me make that up to you with more sweets, dear people.

As you guys probably know by now, I like stuffing awesome things into other awesome things to create super desserts. I mean, why have one tasty, amazing and butter-filled concoction when you can have two? And why have them separately when you can just smush them together? Aren’t you always so bummed when you only have room on your plate for a few desserts, so you have to start piling cookies on top of pie slices on top of puddings? I know you all do that too, so don’t even play.

Enter the Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake. Yes, kids, it’s for real and it’s fabulous. It’s also not healthy at all, so if you’re looking for something pumpkin-y that’s low-sugar and low-fat (Mom and Dad), feast your eyes on my previous post on doughnuts. For the rest of us champions, there exists this glorious, fat-laden monstrosity that deserves a spot on your Thanksgiving treat table. It also just deserves a spot in any other void in your life. What I’m saying is that this cake will solve all your problems. Trust me, I’m a Reverend.*

I turned these into muffins because I’m an evil human being intent on giving these away to unsuspecting friends and family, and muffins make this so much easier. If you would rather make this as a cake, you can use a 10″ spring form pan for easy removal.

photo(3)
photo(3)

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake Muffins (makes 18 muffins)

For the coffee cake

2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3/4 cup of butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 egg

3/4 cup of sour cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the filling

8 ounces of cream cheese or neufchatel cheese

2 cups of canned pumpkin (again, NOT pumpkin pie filling, that ain’t right)

1/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

Pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Let’s start with the coffee cake portion of this death trap. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Throw in your cubed butter and start mixing with clean fingers until it’s formed into little lumpy balls. This might take you a while, and it might feel a little like that pottery scene from Ghost. Don’t go there, though. Instead, set aside 3/4 cup of this mixture for the topping.

photo
photo

In a separate bowl, mix together the sour cream, egg and vanilla, then stir into your flour mixture to create a loose dough (don’t overmix). For muffins, mold these into the bottoms and 1 inch up the sides of your tins. It might take a while because the dough gets sticky, so pace yourself.

Then, in a medium-sized bowl using a hand mixer, mix together your cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt until smooth. Pour the mixture evenly into your muffin cups, over the coffee cake dough.

photo(1)
photo(1)

Sprinkle the crumb topping you’d reserved over each cup, making sure to evenly cover them as best you can. Then send the pans into the oven for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating pans halfway through for even baking, until the sides are lightly browned.

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

Mine came out a little more than lightly browned, because I didn’t check on them at 55 minutes. Don’t be like me. These were still pretty amazing, though, based on all of the “taste-testing” I did. I also gifted one to my coworker and friend, Afshan, and stood behind her going “bite into it! Bite into it” while she picked it up (I realize how creepy that is now, but did not at the time. My bad, friend). She gave it a thumbs-up too, even though I am a creeper.

Anyway, since it’s Thanksgiving and one of the only times of the year I grow a soul, I’d like to just take a minute to let you people know how grateful I am that you actually read this thing. It’s funny and touching to hear someone say “I read about it on your blog,” because I’m still sometimes convinced that I’m the only person who sees it. So thanks for making this even more fun than I thought it would be when I started causing trouble in the blogosphere earlier this year. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. We’ll be back to our regular soulless, untouchy, unfeely programming shortly.

*Obviously I am joking yet again. Just because I’m a minister doesn’t make anything I say gospel (har har). Except that this dessert is amazing. That’s for real.

Categories
Cakes Holiday desserts Muffins

It’s Thanksgiving, So We’re Talking About Stuffing [One Dessert Into Another]

Guess what I did on Monday! I went to see Chris Cornell perform at Carnegie Hall! Guess how terrible my seats were! THIS terrible (my arms are stretched WAY out)!

The little human-shaped blob standing on the classy-looking rug is Chris Cornell. Just believe me.

And yet, the show was pretty perfect. I’m happy I decided to go instead of scamming someone else into buying my nosebleed, second-to-last row seats. That man has got a VOICE, and that voice has got some power. He’s also got some serious Soundgarden fans: on the long elevator ride up to our seats, my show companion observed several long-haired devotees packed into our car and stage-whispered “take me to 1994!” Yes, I did lose it. And no, I obviously did not make friends at this show. Still, in the spirit of a holiday that’s supposed to be about being happy and grateful, I thought I’d start with a night that actually made me feel those things. Especially since I’ve been such a lame downer lately. Let me make that up to you with more sweets, dear people.

As you guys probably know by now, I like stuffing awesome things into other awesome things to create super desserts. I mean, why have one tasty, amazing and butter-filled concoction when you can have two? And why have them separately when you can just smush them together? Aren’t you always so bummed when you only have room on your plate for a few desserts, so you have to start piling cookies on top of pie slices on top of puddings? I know you all do that too, so don’t even play.

Enter the Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake. Yes, kids, it’s for real and it’s fabulous. It’s also not healthy at all, so if you’re looking for something pumpkin-y that’s low-sugar and low-fat (Mom and Dad), feast your eyes on my previous post on doughnuts. For the rest of us champions, there exists this glorious, fat-laden monstrosity that deserves a spot on your Thanksgiving treat table. It also just deserves a spot in any other void in your life. What I’m saying is that this cake will solve all your problems. Trust me, I’m a Reverend.*

I turned these into muffins because I’m an evil human being intent on giving these away to unsuspecting friends and family, and muffins make this so much easier. If you would rather make this as a cake, you can use a 10″ spring form pan for easy removal.

This is to show you what a hot mess I am in the kitchen, and what a beast I am during Thanksgiving. It got worse, I just thought I'd spare you.

Pumpkin Pie Coffee Cake Muffins (makes 18 muffins)

For the coffee cake

2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

3/4 cup of butter, cold and cut into cubes

1 egg

3/4 cup of sour cream

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the filling

8 ounces of cream cheese or neufchatel cheese

2 cups of canned pumpkin (again, NOT pumpkin pie filling, that ain’t right)

1/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

Pinch of salt

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Let’s start with the coffee cake portion of this death trap. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Throw in your cubed butter and start mixing with clean fingers until it’s formed into little lumpy balls. This might take you a while, and it might feel a little like that pottery scene from Ghost. Don’t go there, though. Instead, set aside 3/4 cup of this mixture for the topping.

In a separate bowl, mix together the sour cream, egg and vanilla, then stir into your flour mixture to create a loose dough (don’t overmix). For muffins, mold these into the bottoms and 1 inch up the sides of your tins. It might take a while because the dough gets sticky, so pace yourself.

Then, in a medium-sized bowl using a hand mixer, mix together your cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, spices and salt until smooth. Pour the mixture evenly into your muffin cups, over the coffee cake dough.

Sprinkle the crumb topping you’d reserved over each cup, making sure to evenly cover them as best you can. Then send the pans into the oven for 55 to 60 minutes, rotating pans halfway through for even baking, until the sides are lightly browned.

Mine came out a little more than lightly browned, because I didn’t check on them at 55 minutes. Don’t be like me. These were still pretty amazing, though, based on all of the “taste-testing” I did. I also gifted one to my coworker and friend, Afshan, and stood behind her going “bite into it! Bite into it” while she picked it up (I realize how creepy that is now, but did not at the time. My bad, friend). She gave it a thumbs-up too, even though I am a creeper.

Anyway, since it’s Thanksgiving and one of the only times of the year I grow a soul, I’d like to just take a minute to let you people know how grateful I am that you actually read this thing. It’s funny and touching to hear someone say “I read about it on your blog,” because I’m still sometimes convinced that I’m the only person who sees it. So thanks for making this even more fun than I thought it would be when I started causing trouble in the blogosphere earlier this year. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. We’ll be back to our regular soulless, untouchy, unfeely programming shortly.

*Obviously I am joking yet again. Just because I’m a minister doesn’t make anything I say gospel (har har). Except that this dessert is amazing. That’s for real.