Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cranberry Oat Muffins

I feel like I should start this blog with an apology... another Muffin Recipe.. whoopdie doo, right?  Well, the thing with muffin making is 1] they're quick and easy 2] they satisfy my need for something scrumptious to go with my morning coffee AND 3] I usually always have everything on hand to whip these out in a rush.  So, ANOTHER Muffin Recipe :)

Cranberry Oat Muffins


  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar (heaping)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup+ fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans [optional]

  • Directions:

    • In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a small bowl, beat the egg, milk, banana and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in cranberries and pecans.
    • Grease muffin tin; fill two-thirds full with batter. Bake at 400° for 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm. 
    • Yield: 9 muffins (regular) or 6 muffins (large)

    Bonus:  Less than 200 calories per [regular] muffin :)



So, blogging... I'm really into it.  Probably because most of my loved ones live seven states away and I feel that this is an easy way for them/us to stay connected.  Secretly, I wish more of my close friends and family were bloggers, but I understand that there is only a certain amount of time in a day!  Hopefully, I can inspire more of them to jump on the bandwagon - it's just SO fun!!!

So, a few days ago, a fabulous friend from college highlighted my blog with "The Beautiful Blogger Award."  Aww, thanks Becca!  So, part of the deal for receiving the award is to 1] make a short list of things you may not know about me and to 2] pass on the award to a few new blogs!  Here goes:

New (?) things about Me you might not yet know:

I always order my drinks with no ice.  Why?  Because it's very confusing to try to open my mouth and drink, and likewise not have the ice enter and therefore resulting in a choking me.  I do know that this could be easily solved with a straw, however, what a waste!  That bit of plastic, used for a few minutes, then tossed; shame.  So, room temperature drinks, it is.  

I bake when I'm stressed.  I suppose that's only one measly step away from eating when I'm stressed, BUT I do find that baking, trying new recipes, making a mess in the kitchen, .. is all somehow gratifying and satisfying and healing for tension.  I also rarely bake or cook the same thing twice.  How boring!  I am always attempting something new in the kitchen and my sweet husband endures eats all of my creations :)

In the last year, flying makes me totally nervous! Okay, so I have NO IDEA where this is coming from... I have flown ALOT and OFTEN and on VERY LONG FLIGHTS for YEARS... and yet, just recently, I find my heart racing and my blood pressure rising every time there is some sort of bump or movement midair.  I imagine myself in this metal tube, thousands of miles in the air, in a row of seats, thinking how odd this would look if you took away the shell of the plane and left a hundred people sitting in nice rows, gliding effortlessly through the blue expanse... and I totally psych myself out.  Get a grip, Brooke!!!

I am a country girl.  Now that I live in the city, I know FOR SURE I am a country girl in my depths.  I miss the quiet, the trees, the peace, the serenity, the walks, the no leash laws, the simplicity of life.  I was not meant for this fast paced city, stressed out life and light/noise pollution!  LA is never dark, truly black dark.. and you can always, ALWAYS hear SOMETHING, a car alarm, a horn, babies crying, dogs yapping, school bells, bands practicing, thumping bass, screeching tires, a mariachi band, people arguing, people cheering for "the game", ahhh!  Many times I just want to stand on my patio and scream SHHHHHHH!  But, then I would be just one more noise contributing to the problem.

I am a coffee snob.  This is new.  It started with buying some gourmet beans, grinding them myself and then pressing them in my own glass, French press.. and now I just simply cannot return to Folger's or Starbucks or The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.  It's quite a shame and bit excessive and ridiculous, but I now prefer my own coffee preparation to any java joint or coffee shop around.

Now, on to highlight some of my FAVORITE blogs:

Bicycle Basket. My friends, Michael and Kristyn and their newly adopted son, have shared their tales and stories of the whole adoption process and now their everyday life with little Gunyea.  Kristyn is artsy and creative and her love for life inspires me daily.  Mitch is funny and endearing and sometimes it makes me a little teary eyed seeing how much he loves his son.  I really look up to this family.

101 Cookbooks. Yum.  This is a fabulous blog for whole food, natural and organic recipes.  When I'm feeling stuck in a recipe rut or wanting something extra special, I go here.

Bate's Klog.  An everyday blog with bit's of Kate's life, and it makes me smile.  She is a high school art teacher with a great sense of humor and a knack for finding inspiration and creativity in everything.  I admire the fun she has with her husband and her willingness to love and be just who she is.


Angels vs. Dodgers

This week, my friend Anne Anthony (doesn't she just have the coolest name?!) and I went to watch a little Los Angeles rivalry in the field of baseball... Angels versus Dodgers.  First of all, I think it's quite humorous that our boys stayed in, and the girls went out to the game... ha.

So, a few highlights:
Anne had GREAT club seat tickets - cheers to cushy chairs and servers!
Some random guy bought us two Pacificos - cheers, again.
Most Dodger fans sound like this when they yell: "Go Doyers!" Haha, love hispanic ethnicity :)
The Angels came back in the bottom of the 6th and WON!!!

Here are a few shots from the game :

And I quote from Anne, "Some random guys bought us drinks...we made sure we flashed our wedding rings before we took the drinks, but of course we took the drinks! =)"

Angels v Dodgers -----> I'm sorry about accessing these photos, they are being temperamental!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Strawberry Pie

I had the best intentions of healthily eating the large carton of fresh strawberries I bought last week.. you know, a few sliced with some plain yogurt for breakfast, blended with a banana for a smoothie or just eating chilled as an after the pool snack.  

Well, my great intention did not come to fruition.  My carton of fresh strawberries sat untouched in the fridge for a few too many days.  Instead of resorting to freezing them all and be left with the only option of future smoothies, I made a pie.  Haha.  A very non-healthy alternative to my first wishes, but a tasty one, none-the-less.

Strawberry Pie Crust
1 1/3 cp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cp shortening
3 Tbs ice cold water

In a food processor, blend flour and salt.  Add shortening, blending until course crumbles.  Add the ice water and blend until dough forms.  Chill in fridge.  Meanwhile, I de-stemmed the strawberries and halved into a large bowl while the dough chilled.  After 30 min, remove dough, roll out on floured surface.  Place in pie pan, pinching edges to form even, decorative crust.  Bake at 425 for 15-18 min.  Let cool, before adding strawberry mixture.

Strawberry Pie
Prebaked 9 in pie crust (see above)
1 qt fresh strawberries
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cp sugar (or less)
3/4 cp water
1/3 cp chocolate chips (melted)

First off, melt chocolate and "paint" inside cooled pie crust (strawberry pies are notorious for becoming soggy, and by having a chocolate lining, no more wet crust!)

Pour a fourth of the berries, cornstarch, sugar and water in a small pot.  Cook on med-high heat until mixture boils, stirring constantly!  Allow mixture to boil 2-3 min, until thick and gel like.

In cooled crust, place the remaining (3/4) berries and top with stove top, berry mixture.  Spread evenly in crust and refrigerate for a few hours.  (You can check if it's chilled through by feeling bottom of pie dish).

Top with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle if desired.  Serve with dark espresso roast coffee.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Fabulous Date

When I got home from work yesterday, my sweet husband had this waiting for me.  Nothing like cherries, sweet red wine and brie cheese to relax after a day in the office :)

And his sweetness didn't stop there.  We drove to Huntington Beach and played in the water and sand with Taiga.  We saw TONS of dolphins playing in the surf and a handful of surfers catching waves from the incoming tide.  We also met this European dude with these amazing wolf hunting white dogs, one of the most bizarre breeds I have ever seen!

I think we are both finally mellowing out and having fun now that summer is here and school/work is out!  I am looking forward to many more evenings of sunsets on the beach, cheese & wine and time with my man over the summer.  Yes, we made it, Summertime, we made it!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Banana Oat Muffins

Muffin success this morning!  My fabulous friend, Heather, came over this morning for coffee, and after noting the browning bananas on the counter, we decided to try out a new recipe...  And it was so tasty.  
These muffins go great with Vanilla Nut Coffee.  
Banana Oat Muffins
1 cp oats
  • 1 cp flour
  • 1 tbs rolled oats
  • 1/2 cp chopped walnuts or almonds
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cp butter, softened
  • 1 cp white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cp+ mashed bananas 
  • 1 tsp vanilla 
  • 1/2 cp plain yogurt or sour cream
  • Muffin Topping
  • 1/3 cp rolled oats
  • 4 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs butter, chilled or frozen
  • 1/4 cp chopped walnuts or almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 6 large muffin tin.

Place 1 cup oats in a food processor and process until ground. In a large bowl, combine ground oats with flour, 1 Tbs rolled oats, chopped nuts, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, then stir in banana and vanilla.  Finally, add yogurt or sour cream. 

Mix dry oat/flour mixture into wet mixture. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.

For Topping: In a small bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; stir in nuts. Generously sprinkle muffins with topping.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Lonely Weekend

Welp, here I am.  Kinda bored.

Jarod has been gone since yesterday morning on a 3 day climbing trip to Idyllwild, CA.  I am very happy for him to get to be outside on some rock - he hasn't been in over two months and I was watching the frustration build!  I am hoping that he had found a good future partner as well.  He went to Idyllwild with the guy that we bought our tent from, (Mr. Amazing, that put up new routes on k2)  So, fingers crossed that he is enjoying himself and is pleased when he gets back.

Meanwhile, back at the fort, I finished up another week of work - God has been really faithful to provide an additional month's work for June through my Drug Intervention job.  I ran Taiga this morning before work, so no fun outings with her tonight.   But she is pretty mellow today, anyway.  We had her friend Margot here for about a week, so today she's just been sleeping and recuperating.

Right now, I have cooking on the stove my favorite soup (Chicken Mushroom) these days.  I am emailing the photos we shot for my brother's wedding to him, two files at a time.  And, my high ambitions for tonight are to read/finish Cold Mountain for my book club and maybe post up a photo blog of some non-wedding pictures from our trip to Florida.  And, yup, that's about it.

Oh, I did go get my nails done/fixed about an hour ago.  After the potatoe peeler accident, I needed some help.  My nail was cut down the center already, but then I nearly tore it off earlier today.  So, before I screamed any more obscenities about the pain coming from every bump to my broken nail, I figured I needed a trip to my favorite manicure place, Square Nails.  They fixed me up with a little glue and acrylic powder.  Ahh, no more pain!  And, they look VERY NICE.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Pie Sort of Day

Today I was back to baking in the kitchen.  Was feeling the "pie" mood, so I made Spaghetti Pie for dinner and a Blueberry Pie for dessert.  I think we have some winners.

First off, Blueberry Pie - it needs time to cool, so it takes priority.  Jarod has brought up pies quite frequently over the past few weeks, so I thought I would surprise him after a long day grading papers, with a home baked, old fashioned pie! 

The recipe for the pate brisee (pie crust) was surprisingly easy with the help of a food processor. 

Pate Brisee (Short Crust Pastry)

2 1/2 cps flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
1 cp chilled (frozen) butter, cubed
1/4 cp - 1/2 cp ice water

Directions: Spoon dry ingredients into food processor, pulsing a few times to mix ingredients.  Add butter, pulse until dough resembles crumbles.  Add water, a tablespoon at a time until dough stays together when pinched. Do not over process (30 sec. max)  Divide dough.  Refrigerate to relax gluten and chill butter.  Roll out into 12'' circle. (To prevent sticking, roll from center out to edge, turning quarter of a turn each time).  Place in 9'' pie pan.  Return to fridge.  Take second dough, roll out into 12'' circle.  Cut out stars.  Place stars on wax paper on cookie sheet.  Place in fridge.  

Blueberry Filling

4 cps blueberries
1/2 cp white sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs lemon zest

Directions: Mix sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest.  Add blueberries.  Stir until berries are covered with sugar mixture.  Pour mixture into bottom pie shell.  Cover with stars.

Egg Wash

1 egg yolk
1 tbs cream

Directions: Beat yolk and cream together.  Use pastry brush to paint over stars and edge of crust.   Place pie in 400 degree oven on rack on the bottom third of oven.  Bake 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake additional 45 minutes or until juice is bubbling and thick and crust is golden brown.  Cool several hours.

Now that the pie was cooling and my oven was freed up, I started my entree, Spaghetti Pie, which should have also been in a pie plate/pan... however, I thought I owned more than one.  So, next best thing - Pyrex!

Spaghetti Pie


  • 1 lb ground beef 
  • 1/2 cp chopped onion
  • 1/4 cp chopped green pepper
  • 1 cp canned diced tomatoes, undrained *
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste 
  • 1 tsp oregano *
  • 3/4 tsp salt *
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder *
  • 1/4 tsp pepper *
  • 6 ounces spaghetti, cooked and drained
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cp Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cp cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cp mozzarella cheese
  • * items can be omitted and replaced with about 2 cps jar spaghetti sauce if need be
Cook beef, onion and green pepper until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, salt, garlic powder, and pepper (or spaghetti sauce); set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the spaghetti, butter, egg whites and Parmesan cheese. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-in. deep-dish pie plate. Top with layer of cottage cheese and beef mixture.

Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and filling is heated through. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting. 
Yield: 6 servings.

It was a busy day in the kitchen, and I did not make it through unscathed.  There was one injury and one fire.  However, all is well.  My fingernail was sliced open by the potato peeler while I was digging for the pastry brush. 
And then, I managed to lay the wooden spatula in the fire on the front range of the oven.  After seeing 5 in flames and smelling something burning, did I then think to move the spatula.  But, phew, I made it.. and we had a pretty fantastic meal! 

Saturday, June 5, 2010


WOW! What a fabulous, FABULOUS time on the Gulf Coast. Jarod and I just spent a week celebrating the wedding and marriage of my brother, Austin and sister-in-law, Amy. SO FUN! We stayed with my parents in St. Petersburg, Florida, at her best friends place. Her friend's house is actually in the neighborhood my mom grew up in - so it was super fun to see my mom's old house, the lake they would swim in, and my great-grandparents house across the street. We spent four pre-wedding days floating in the pool, sipping margaritas and sunning at the beach.   

Then, the day of the Kelley - Crowder Wedding finally came!  It was such a BEAUTIFUL ceremony and the whole process of destination wedding truly did seem to fit my brother and Amy.  It was so simple, relaxed, and their One-Stop-Wedding-Shop seemed to make it very hassle free :)  So at sunset on June 2nd, 2010, on the beach of Indian Shores, Florida,  Austin and Amy were officially united as one!  Amazing!  I am so proud of my brother and my family and I really am excited to gain a sister.  Austin and Amy are just perfect for each other.  Enjoy a few highlights from my little point & shoot camera of the ceremony.

Congratulations Austin and Amy!!! LOVE YOU GUYS!