Mug Muffins

I’m really obsessed with the idea of a mug muffin, a single serving tasty treat ready in only minutes, fresh from the microwave. I’m also not really a big fan of breakfast. Sometimes I really love to dig into the whole big breakfast, but on a day to day basis, not so much.

My idea of the perfect breakfast starts with coffee, ends with coffee, with something sweet with no redeeming value somewhere in the middle. Like donuts, scones, cookies, toast. Pretty much anything I can stick in my face that requires no effort, just to keep the coffee company. I know I should be ashamed, but hey, it is what it is.

I am trying to be better though, working on the challenge of having a healthy breakfast, a little tasty treat, while making as little effort as possible. Voila! Enter the mug muffin.

This sounds like a great solution, but execution has proved to be difficult. If it tastes good, you might as well eat a cupcake. If it’s healthy, you might as well eat cardboard. I finally gave up trying other people’s recipes and came up with a banana nut mug muffin that’s easy, healthy, gluten free, and best of all, Mr Man actually LIKES it! Hey Mikey! (If you don’t get that, you’re not old yet.)

So I submit my recipe for a banana nut mug muffin. It firms up a little as it cools off, but who can wait that long? So you pretty much have to eat it with a spoon. It’s soft, moist, sweet, and pretty darn good. It would even pass as a dessert, maybe with a little cream cheese frosting or vanilla glaze. So much for healthy!

Happy Birthday Grandma!

It was Mr. Man’s mother’s birthday, so I fixed dinner for the family and transported it 30 miles. I get ridiculed for my ginormous collection of cooking paraphernalia, but I really do use all this stuff. I have a group of three serving crock pots, a big crock pot, two small crock pots, and two teeny tiny ones. And I need them all, till death do us part.

I also have one of those portable coolers that keep food hot or cold, depending on which way you flip the switch. I imagine they’re not much good at cooling, but I have ice chests for that. I need it to keep food hot, sometimes for hours.

So I put some salisbury steak and mashed potatoes in the heater. Filled the bank of crock pots with three different veggies, and we had our own version of Meals on Wheels.

Seems fitting I let Grandma choose the cake, since it was her 89th birthday and you should get some perks for being that old. (I don’t think there are very many, just sayin’.) She picked a good old fashioned carrot cake, which luckily everyone likes. So…I pass the recipe on for posterity.

On Men In The Kitchen

I welcome men in the kitchen. I welcome anyone who wants to cook for me because I hate to cook. If the dog could whip up breakfast for me, I’d let him go for it.

Unfortunately, around here Man + Kitchen = Disaster. Today I have no work I have to finish, so I thought I’d make some cookies. Well, Mr. Man got a bug up his nose to make cinnamon rolls last weekend, and I’ll have to say they were pretty good. Better than mine. BUT…..Bobby Flay he’s not.

He tried to mix up a giant batch of bread dough using a little hand mixer. Are you kidding me? Even the Cuisinart couldn’t handle it so he had to give up and knead the dough by hand.

And once that little hand mixer was out of sight, it was also out of mind. (We all know men simply cannot multitask.)

So today I took out the mixer to whip up some sugar cookie dough and this is what I found…

I had to pick dried up bread dough out of the holes before I could stick the beaters in. Sigh!

And it’s a good thing I’m pretty rational, or I’d swear we had a Poltergeist in the house. I’m always finding cabinet doors standing wide open. And every time I need to use something like a measuring spoon, it becomes a treasure hunt. Because even though those spoons have been kept in the same drawer for years, somehow they materialize in random drawers with no rhyme or reason. And what’s the aversion to washing a pot or pan by hand? If it won’t fit in the dishwasher, Mr. Man WON’T wash it.

OK, I feel better now…..

Back to making sugar cookies, in January, using a Christmas tree cookie cutter. Because I put all my cookie cutters away. Somewhere. In what I’m sure is a very good place. And someday I’m going to figure out just where that place is.

 

Here Comes The Bride!

Tomorrow we’ll be the proud parents of a bouncing baby girl. Fully grown! No sleepless nights! One more chance there will be somebody to feed us when we’re old and drooling!

Angela’s been part of the family for years but tomorrow it becomes official. She’s had more than enough time to figure out what she’s getting into but she’s marrying Jace anyway, and we go along with the deal. All I can say is she’s a brave girl.

The kids didn’t want traditional wedding cake. Angela is a girl after my own heart. She’s having an ice cream bar. Jace wanted his favorite strawberry swirl cheesecake with strawberry sauce. I just finished making the last two. (Insert sigh of relief) But I say there’s no such thing as too much dessert, so I made some rum cakes too. Just in case we’re feeling a mite peckish after all that dancing.

This rum cake is no family secret. It’s the old Bacardi Rum Cake recipe that’s been around forever. And yet, I’ve never seen anyone else made it. That’s really a pity because this is the most awesome go-to holiday dessert ever. It’s really moist, so it keeps for days. You can make it a day or two ahead of your holiday party, or a month ahead and just stick it in the freezer. It freezes really well. Best of all, everybody loves it.

I always make it with Bacardi rum. It’s the least I can do to pay them back for all the years of tastiness.

rum-cake

My Favorite Apple Pie!

This isn’t just my favorite apple pie in the whole world, it’s the only apple pie I’m allowed to make for the rest of my life. I’m always trying to improve on perfection, but my last attempt at making a better apple pie was my last, period.

Son Jace was soooo looking forward to apple pie because it’s one of his favorite desserts. Sadly, I was trying a new recipe. He took one bite and looked at me like I’d just ripped the ears off a kitten. He was horrified, disgusted, disappointed, all in one very expressive look I’ll never forget, and will never live down.

He wanted to know what was wrong with the pie. I told him I was trying a new recipe. He said, “Why would you do that”? Why indeed. Every time I serve apple pie now, the family teases me about the horrible apple pie debacle of 2013 and I have to relieve the horror all over again. Lesson learned. You just don’t mess with perfection.

This was not the first time apples got me in trouble with Jace by the way. It all started when he was still really little, less than two years old certainly because he was sitting in his high chair eating lunch. Apparently he had done something that displeased me, don’t remember what now. I remember I delivered what I thought was a very eloquent lecture designed to induce immediate attitude adjustment, which I concluded by saying in the time honored words handed down by my mother, “So, how do you like them apples?”. He just looked at me and said, “No, Mommy. It’s not THEM apples, it’s THOSE apples”. Sigh! It was then I knew I was in over my head, and I’m still trying to keep my parental head above water. Lesson #5,652: don’t mess with his apple pie.

So this is what perfection looks like. It tastes even better! Plus it’s EASY!!!

Apple Pie

When A Pie’s Too Much….

When a whole pie is just more than you want, or making a pie is just too much trouble, don’t do without, make a galette! Nothing could be faster or easier, especially if you use a ready made pie crust. (I should have stock in the Pillsbury company.)

galette done

The nectarines are getting ripe on our little tree, so Mr. Man brought some in and left them sitting on the counter. Yeah, I can take a hint. But I could not possibly put out less effort making anything than it takes to make a galette, and he’ll be a happy camper. That’s what I call a win, win.

Of course most of the time we want some nectarines, we have to resort to buying them at the store or some local fruit stand. Either way, you’re apt to be looking at fruit that was picked before it was quite ripe and put into cold storage. So I’ll pass along some advice I got from a fruit inspector. Look at the nectarine right around where the stem was attached. You’re looking for a nice warm, golden yellow color. Those will be the ones that were ripest when they were picked. OK, there are white nectarines, and I can’t help you there, but those aren’t the ones you usually see at the grocery store.

You can make a galette with nectarines, peaches, plums, apples, whatever you have on hand. I’m ashamed to admit that it’s not really a problem for two of us to polish off a whole galette of an evening. But, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it makes a nice and rather elegant dessert for four.

Summer’s here and fruit’s ripe. Now’s the perfect time for a galette!

Cheesecake

basic cheesecake

Last night’s dinner was a success. Our guests went home porked to the gills and we didn’t have to order pizza. Merl’s brisket was fork tender. I tried suggesting some manly big time outdoor grilling become a Sunday ritual, but he’s not buying what I’m selling. It was worth a shot.

The cheesecake I made for dessert came out just like it’s supposed to, no gaping wound. So, I’ll get that recipe posted this morning before I begin another boring and stressful work day which could stretch through the entire week. I just never know.

But first, here’s a nice basic cheesecake for Danelle and whoever else needs it. Enjoy!

 

The Big Birthday Dinner

I did it. Bit the bullet and cooked “The Big Birthday Dinner” for Merl’s big day. Well, birthdays really aren’t all that exciting when you get past a certain point. I don’t remember where that point is, because we passed it soooo long ago. But, we try and drum up a little enthusiasm anyway because having another birthday is better than the alternative, and if nothing else it’s an excuse to pig out.

You always have to consider your audience, so I made this dinner heavy on the meat and starch. The only thing that would have made him happier would have been gravy, but I couldn’t figure out how to work it in there. There’s always next year.

Merl loves him some pork ribs, so I we had some of those. Future daughter-in-law doesn’t like pork, so I cooked a couple game hens in the old Showtime Rotisserie oven. That way Merl didn’t have to spend much time at the grill, and both my ovens were otherwise occupied, and I was already at my multi-tasking limit.

He loves baked beans, so we had those. Others would rather have potatoes, so we also had some hasselback potatoes too. Thought I had green beans but didn’t, so we had corn on the cob and some broccoli, just so there would be an actual veggie in there somewhere. We did have salad with creamy cilantro dressing, which is kind of like a Pollo Loco salad. AND, I made some Parmesan rolls from scratch. Then we topped that all off with some chocolate waffles for dessert. Whew! I don’t think I should have to cook for at least a week after all that. I may never get the kitchen clean again.

I’ve already posted my rib recipe and the recipe for my favorite dry rub, which I used on the game hens. Corn I just boil for ten minutes, then brush the ears with butter and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Broccoli gets steamed, then topped with butter and seasoned salt. No magic there. But I’ll give you recipes for baked beans, hasselback potatoes, parmesan loaves, creamy cilantro dressing, and chocolate waffles.

Enjoy! I’m taking a nap!!!

Something Sweet

oatmeal pecan chip cookies

Life is nothing without dessert, right? Ice cream is my favorite, but cookies come in a close second because they go great with coffee and coffee just rules my world.

I’m partial to crunchy, buttery cookies. Others like soft, chewy cookies. These loaded oatmeal cookies have a little something for us all, chewy oatmeal AND crunchy pecans…plus chocolate chips, because who doesn’t like those? Or you can add raisins instead, even though I can’t imagine why.

Comfort Food

salisbury done

Salsibury Steak smothered in gravy, so tender Grandma can eat it without her dentures. Mashed potatoes smothered with more gravy. Or not, so you can mix them into your peas and make a real mess. Now that’s what I call comfort food.

We did that last night. Everyone was happy. End of story.

Not enough fruits and veggies for you? Well, I made some carrot cupcakes and they even had pineapple in them. So, we had fruit and veggie for desert. Boom! That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

Carrot Cupcakes