get crackin' . . .

Aren't these eggs gorgeous? I adore the beautiful color arangement and contrast, almost too pretty to break open . . .almost.

There are so many things I want to make this weekend. Top of my list is cookies. Rich, dark chocolate cookies that hide chunks of ooey-gooey chocolate that melt in your mouth. I have a couple new recipes I've been looking at, so I think I'll try one or two of them out. Then I'll take them to work and test drive them on my co-workers to see which they prefer.

My nephew is a big fan of cupcakes. I've been toying with the idea of taking our family's Chocolate Buttermilk Sheetcake recipe which makes a lusciously moist and fluffy cake, and using it to make cupcakes instead. The recipe uses dark Dutch process cocoa instead of baking chocolate and I usually bake it in a 13x9 inch baking dish. When it's done baking, I cover the top with mini marshmallows and place it under the broiler for a couple minutes just to a toasted gloden color, then remove the pan and drizzle with melted chocolate. Talk about sin city . . indeed!

Also in consideration for this weekend is a cheesecake. I have three packages of cream cheese in the fridge that are calling out . .."cheesecake . .we want to be a Cheeeeeesecaaaake !" And with all the fresh berries in season, this is a great time to make one.

So it looks like a happy weekend of baking is ahead.

a little birdie told me ....

Today I came across this cute little guy from one of my favourite sellers on Etsy.

And I do maintain this is a "little guy" by his facial expression. A mixture of a little miffed, a little confused, a little bothered. Perhaps he is miffed and bothered because he is confused . . . or perhaps he is confused because he is miffed and bothered.

It reminds me of the young birds in our backyard right now that are learning the ups and downs of spreading their wings while trying to steer clear of the cats.

I've seen the same expression when a squirrel is sitting in the bird feeder and the birds can't get at the seeds.

You can find "Mr. Miffey" and his handmade friends created by Seapinks on Etsy.

Mmmmmm . . . . . muffins !

One of my favourite things to do on a Sunday morning (besides sleeping) is to bake. Usually, it’s something quite simple like scones of muffins. The benefit is that we get to enjoy these fresh baked goodies with a lazy morning cup of tea.

The recipe I use for muffins is very simple and quite flexible. These muffins stay quite moist because they incorporate yogurt, though I have used sour cream in a pinch.
For a lighter, fluffier muffin, I add the baking powder and baking soda to the egg/yogurt/melted butter mixture instead of the traditional route of sifting it with the dry ingredients (sifting? Who has time for sifting?) The baking powder and soda cause a chemical reaction with the cultures in the yogurt and cause it to froth . . think grade 5 science project with the home made volcano.

I like this recipe because you can really use your imagination when it comes to the add-ins. This past Sunday I made two batches; one with dried blueberries and the other with chopped fresh cranberries. I also like to throw in a handful of either oat bran or wheat germ for a bit of a nutty texture and for added fibre. The end results were Blueberry Oat Bran and Cranberry Wheat Germ . . . and a very good grab-and-go breakfast for my daily train commute.

I can’t remember where this recipe came from and over the years I have made several changes. From memory, the ratios I use are:

½ cup melted butter
1 large egg
1 cup yogurt (I like French Vanilla, Pineapple or Field Berry)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda

Mix all the above ingredients in a medium sized bowl until well incorporated. Set aside, mixture should become frothy.

In a large bowl, stir together:
2 cup all purpose flour (you can substitute ½ cup whole wheat flour)
¾ cup sugar

I toss my add-in (diced apple, dried fruits, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, left over candied Christmas cherries) into the dry ingredients before forming a well and pouring the butter/egg/yogurt mix into the center. Gently fold together until just combined. Too much mixing and the muffins won’t rinse as nicely and will be tough and riddled with tunnels.

Spoon into prepared muffin tins, about ¾ full. I use silicone ones because they are flexible and easy to pop the muffins out without using muffin papers or having to grease the tins; and washing them afterwards is much easier.

Bake for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. I wait about five minutes before removing them from the pans. If I remove them right away I find they are too soft and the bottoms get grid marks from the cooling rack. If I leave them in the pans too long, they start to sweat.

Once out of the pan, I usually have one hot with a little butter or soft cream cheese. The rest I let cool before storing in a large plastic freezer bag. I keep the bag in the refrigerator for easy snacks when I’m rushing around, or throw it in the freezer for later.