Apple Streusel Muffins

It’s funny the way the mind works. This morning before breakfast I thought about the nice bag of MacIntosh apples that we’d bought a day or so ago, then remembered that we still had two Granny Smith apples in the fridge from even earlier, at which point my brain just interrupted itself to yell “Apple Streusel Muffins!” So, not wanting to cause any internal conflicts so early in the day by struggling with that thought, I found a recipe online and dashed to the kitchen.

I made some adjustments to the original recipe which I think worked out well – here’s the final Apple Streusel Muffins recipe (below) that I worked from. Came out looking and tasting delicious, if I do say so myself. Of course, the other samplers I had on hand also seemed to like them, so there’s more than just my opinion, if you were worried – LOL.

apple streusel muffins

Apple Streusel Muffins

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped apples
1 1/2 cups shredded apples

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, softened

In mixing bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.

In large mixing bowl mix butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and mix. Mix in shredded and chopped apples and vanilla. Gradually stir in flour mixture until well mixed. Batter will be thick.

To mix topping, combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter in a small bowl and mix with a fork to get smallish crumbly chunks.

Grease regular-sized muffin tins (or use paper liners) and fill each space with muffin batter. Then, sprinkle about a half teaspoon of streusel topping on each muffin.

Bake at 375F for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Makes about 16 muffins.

Chocolate Ganache – Easier Than I Thought

A while ago, I had an impulse to try making chocolate ganache. For a long time I’d thought ganache to be this tremendously tricky thing (probably because the word ‘ganache’ SOUNDS complicated, although apparently it comes from the French word ‘jowl’, which makes sense, but suddenly makes it seem NOT so exotic anymore – heh), but when I found a recipe, I was pleasantly surprised and thought, “Hey, even *I* could make this!”

I used the chocolate ganache recipe from (minus the rum – that just leaves heavy cream and chocolate chips), and poured the finished product over a single layer of a chocolate mayonnaise cake that I had made earlier just for this experiment.

It is recommended pouring the ganache on top of the cake when the cake’s on a baking rack so it doesn’t pool and the sides look smooth, but I did it right on the plate because I didn’t feel like messing with the rack, but in the future, I’d recommend the rack method. (You can see a bit of the pooling in the image above.)

Anyway, it came out nicely, I think. Next time, however, I’m going to add a touch more chocolate than is recommended and wait a tad longer for the ganache to cool, as it was a little thin when I poured it on the cake.

Also, if you whip the ganache in a mixer for about 5 minutes I hear you’ll get fantastic frosting, although I haven’t tried this myself yet.

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Vanilla Ice Cream with Fudgy Bits

What do you do with those few pieces of leftover chocolate walnut fudge? (Leftover fudge? Such a thing exists?) You chop it up and add it to a new batch of homemade vanilla ice cream, of course!

It was very tasty, although the coldness did take away some of the intense flavor of the fudge. Still, the textures went very well together. I’ll consider it a successful experiment.
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Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

John did a wonderful and horrible thing over the holidays – he gave me an ice cream maker! *grin*

The ice cream maker is a Donvier (made in Canada), and has a metal cylinder you freeze in the freezer (no rock salt required) and has a manual handle to churn the ice cream, which is very satisfying, and easy to do while watching tv or reading food blogs.

Since we’ve acquired this magical piece of kitchen equipment, we’ve been doing a lot of experimentation, and I’m finally getting around to posting about it – sorry it took so long – ice cream coma!

We’ve learned that we definitely prefer the ice cream that’s made with the cooked custard-like base with eggs, as opposed to the non-egg recipe that’s also not cooked. The custard-base ice cream turns out SO smooth and creamy, and while the non-cooked, non-egg one is also very good, it’s a little more ‘ice crystally’ and not as smooth and creamy – your mileage may vary.

The first cooked ice cream that we made was based on a basic ice cream recipe we found on the internet and adjusted to our own taste – see below.

For this batch, though, we went overboard, and instead of JUST adding cocoa, we also added 3 ounces of finely chopped dark chocolate, which melted into the custard base before it cooled. The ice cream was ALMOST (I said ALMOST), if there is such a thing, TOO chocolatey, but was magnificent and decadent!

Needless to say, it didn’t last very long.

Stay tuned for more ice cream experimentation results, including frozen yogurt, and what to do with leftover fudge (wild guess?).

Homemade Ice Cream

Basic recipe is for vanilla, with chocolate additions added optionally.

3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. salt
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
ice cream maker

If making chocolate, also
1/3 cup cocoa

Place egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine sugar, milk, and salt (and 1/3 cup cocoa if making chocolate) in a saucepan over low to medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer.

Pour 1/3 of this mixture into the egg bowl and stir, then pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Heat until thickened, but do not boil, and stir constantly. When done, mixture will cover the spoon/spatula thickly (instead of being too liquidy and not sticking to the spoon at all.)

Remove from the heat. (To make extra decadent chocolate, you can add 2 ounces of chopped semisweet chocolate chips at this point – stir until melted.) Pour into a bowl and refrigerate for about two hours until completely cold, stirring occasionally.

After it is completely cooled, stir in the 2 cups heavy cream and the vanilla until nicely blended. Then pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to directions.

Papa Murphy’s Cinnamon Buns

Our favorite pizza is Papa Murphy’s Take-n-Bake Chicken Garlic Pizza. It’s got their homemade white garlic sauce, white meat chicken, green onions, diced tomatoes, and lots of gooey cheese. And the last time we went to Papa Murphy’s we had a coupon for a free tray of their cinnamon buns.

They came out looking terrific, as you can see in the delicious photo above. The cream cheese frosting was a bit thin and whipped, but tasted fine. But overall, the buns were a bit doughy, and just not as tasty as we’d hoped. A might flavorless, actually – could just be a slightly old batch or could be the norm. In any case, we probably won’t be getting a tin of these next time we go back for the chicken garlic pizza, but we won’t hold it against them.
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Jam & Cheese Loaf Recipe

For some reason I had a little extra time on the day before Thanksgiving, so I decided to make a Jam & Cheese Loaf for breakfast the next day. It’s essentially a biscuit base, cream cheese filling, topped with the jam of your choice. Really easy and really tasty, and it looks pretty neat too, since you braid the dough over the filling:

I basically halfed this recipe since the full recipe makes a pretty large loaf. We finished it off in no time.

Jam and Cheese Loaf

1 package hyperactive, dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
2 1/2 cups packaged biscuit mix
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup desired jam or preserves

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in biscuit mix, egg, and one tablespoon sugar. Turn out onto surface dusted with additional biscuit mix. Knead gently 20 strokes. Place dough on a greased 15 1/2 x 12 inch baking sheet. Pat into a 14 x 9 inch rectangle.

For filling, stir together cream cheese, the 1/2 cup sugar, and lemon juice until smooth. Spread lengthwise down center third of rectangle. Make 3 inch cuts in dough at 1 inch intervals on both sides of filling. Fold strips alternately over filling. Cover. Chill Overnight. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Spoon desired jam down center of loaf. Bake 5 minutes more or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes. Makes 1 loaf.

Chocolate Fudge

I told you (or at least I think I told you) that we had a backlog of images/experiences to share – this is one of those posts – heh.

So, over the holidays I’m in the habit of making a nice big batch of this REALLY smooth fudge. You have to keep it refrigerated, but it’s SO worth it!

It’s really easy to make too – I highly recommend it. And actually, it’s a good thing you have to keep it in the fridge because the extra step makes it last a LITTLE longer… possibly. (The recipe is from my friend’s Mother!)

Sal’s Fabulously Smooth Fudge

1/2 pound butter
3 6 oz. bags Nestle Chocolate Chips
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups chopped walnuts
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 can Carnation EVAPORATED milk

In large bowl, put butter, chocolate chips, vanilla, and walnuts. Set aside.

In large sauce pan, combine evaporated milk with granulated sugar. Bring to a rolling boil, and stirring continuously, boil for 6 minutes. Then, pour hot mixture into chocolate chip mixture, mixing until chocolate chips and butter are completely melted.

Put mix into buttered pans (at least one 9X13 and a 9X9 may be enough), so that fudge is one inch thick, and let sit in refrigerator to set. When totally set, cut into bite sized pieces and store in a tin or plastic container lined with wax paper, in the refrigerator.

Makes about 5 pounds. *** KEEP REFRIGERATED***

Homemade Brownies

A number of months ago we bought some fair trade, unsweetened cocoa from Sweet Earth Chocolates

…and I just recently found an excellent ‘from scratch’ brownie recipe on the web (all over the web, actually, it seems to be a very popular recipe!) that just begged to make use of this cocoa stash of ours!

The recipe (below) is very simple and easy to put together. All of the ingredients dissolved into a wonderfully deep chocolate brown goo, to which I also added a cup of chocolate chips just to be excessive. The brownies turned out to be, hands down, the richest, most delicious brownies we’ve ever eaten!

I know the photo’s a little dark, but I realy wanted to convey the richness of these brownies! All but the center cut brownies had that nice flaky top, and the center cut ones were just a little moister, but didn’t collapse after being taken out of the oven. I don’t think I could ever go back to box mixes after having these.

Homemade Brownies

3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup melted butter, divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts or dark chocolate chips (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan with cooking spray or vegetable oil.

2. In the mixing bowl, combine cocoa and baking soda. Add 1/3 cup melted butter and the boiling water and stir on low until the mixture thickens.

3. Stir in sugar, eggs, and remaining 1/3 cup melter butter. Mix until smooth.

4. Add the flour, vanilla, and salt, and mix completely. Stir in nuts or chips, if desired.

5. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until brownies pull away from the sides of the pan, but watch them carefully after 30 minutes to make sure they don’t over bake. Cool completely in the pan. Cut into bars.

M&M/Mars Not Going to Cheat on Their Chocolate!

YAY! In this article, Mars (makers of M&Ms, Milky Way, etc.) says, “it will continue to use 100 percent cocoa butter in its U.S. chocolate products, bucking an industry campaign to allow cheaper vegetable oils to be substituted.” Woo Hoo! Now if we could just get them to use fair trade chocolate too – I’d pay extra for a fair trade version of a Milky Way Midnight – you betcha!

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