A Tale of Two Muffins

This morning I woke up, made myself a cup of coffee, and watched the 8:30 a.m. episode of The Pioneer Woman – pretty standard Saturday morning so far. Ree made her precious family  some cinnamon sugar muffins to kick off some hard work on their beautiful Oklahoma farm. And then it happened. My eyes widened…my caffeine-induced energy spiked…and I wanted to bake. There was no stopping me. I turned to Sean…

Me: So I wanna bake something. I think muffins.

Sean: Chocolate chip and banana.

Me: No bananas.

Sean: Chocolate chip and cinnamon.

Me: Hmmmm….I was thinking about apple cinnamon. I’m pretty sure I want apple cinnamon.

Sean: Chocolate chip…and….chocolate chip…….chocolate…….chip.

Hehe. He’s pretty cute. But oohhh it was ON! Who was gonna win this battle? Luckily – brilliance stepped in.

I researched a few simple apple cinnamon recipes scattered online and decided to adjust the basics to my own variation for the batter and then split it into two separate bowls right before adding the final key ingredient. Problem solved! One dozen muffins – 6 apple cinnamon, 6 cinnamon chocolate chip.

As Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, says, “Here’s the cast of characters:

Flour – 1 1/2 cups

White Sugar – 1/2 cup

Light Brown Sugar – 1/4 cup

Baking Powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons

Ground Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

Ground Nutmeg – 1/8 teaspoon (or…just 3-5 sprinkles if it has a filter)

Milk – 1/2 cup

Unsalted Butter (melted) – 1/2 cup

Salt – 1/4 teaspoon

1 Egg (slightly beaten)

1 Apple (pealed, cored, and diced up into little cubes)

1/2 cup of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Penzeys Spices

I’ve gotta add a little shout out here to my girl Jeanne for her contribution to this recipe. For my 30th birthday back in February she and her husband, Travis, gave me some AMAZING Penzeys spices. You better believe I packed these bad boys up carefully when we moved from MD to OK last month. It was time to break out the Penzeys nutmeg and cinnamon for today’s little tale. Jeanne’s fellow blogger who loves to try new recipes, so be sure to check out her delicious recipes here: Jeanne’s Kitchen!

And there you have it! The entire “cast of characters” needed for my own little adjusted recipe for 6 apple cinnamon muffins and 6 cinnamon chocolate chip muffins. Be sure to PRE-HEAT your oven to 375 degrees. Now, here’s how “the tale of two muffins” unfolded:

STEP 1

Combine the flour, white sugar, light brown sugar, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl/mixer.

STEP 2

Add in the milk, melted butter, and slightly beaten egg to the dry ingredients. Stir slowly, or have the mixer on low. Combine until it looks all fabulous…like this:

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STEP 3

Are you on the edge of your seat!?! Here’s where the magic happens. Separate the batter evenly into two bowls. In one bowl add as much chocolate chips as you’d like. In the other, yes – very good, add the diced up cubes of apple. I didn’t use the whole apple by the way. I only really used like, half of it. You can use as much as you’d like…but be mindful of how the apple will create way more moisture in the muffins depending on how much you add.

STEP 4

Grease or spray a 12-cup muffin pan. Fill 6 with the apple cinnamon batter and the other 6 with the chocolate cinnamon batter. Then, into the oven it goes for 18 minutes.

6O9C1974STEP 5

Check on them periodically, but 18 minutes at 375 degrees should definitely do the trick. Take them out and let them sit for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt a tablespoon of butter and brush it over ONLY the six apple cinnamon muffins. Then…sprinkle over a little sugar! Tehe!

STEP 6

Woooohoooo! Enjoy. We sure did. We each thought our original preference was the best. Sean loved the Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Muffins, while I loved the Apple Cinnamon Muffins.

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The beauty of this recipe is that you can add anything to it. There are so many possible variations to the key ingredient that you could play around with, like…blueberries with a little lemon or orange zest thrown in there? Heck yeah! Or maybe go a little crazy during the holidays and make some white chocolate chip and cranberry muffins with this batter. Ooohhhh the possibilities 🙂

Happy baking, friends!

 

Poached Eggs

Oooohhhh yes I DID! Your friend Katherine learned how to make poached eggs.

I don’t really know why but learning how to poach an egg tends to be something that many people shy away from. True story for this girl. I love poached eggs. You know who has some of the best poached eggs that I’ve had in the D.C. area? Northside Social in Arlington, VA. It’s by far my favorite coffeehouse in the area with heavenly food and even heaven-ly-err coffee. Add it to your D.C. restaurant bucket list. Every egg item on their menu is poached to perfection. But back to my kitchen the other morning – it’s true that there are some very important steps in making the perfectly poached egg, but if you have some time to practice – you’ll get it.

I went online and looked into a ton of different tutorials and here were two of my favorites: The Culinary Institute of America, and Alton Brown/The Food Network.

Thanks to those awesome videos and 2 cups of coffee, I was ready to roll! That morning I practiced with tons of eggs and ended up making one…finally. One beautifully poached egg was created in MY house! I was so proud. Still am. I also decided to fry up a rosemary potato hash with a side of strawberries to serve along with it. Here’s what the end result looked like:

poached egg

It was SO good. So good that I had to tell you all about it…which required making more eggs to document the process. If you are well aware of how to make a perfectly poached egg and find this post a little boring, well then put a rose on your nose. Mmmkay? Just kidding…I’d actually love your suggestions on how to make it better – I’ll take any suggestions I can get! But seriously, if you have been wondering how to make poached eggs and wanted an easy tutorial…Katherine to the rescuuuueeee! Here’s what I learned:

  • FRESH eggs (however many you want to make…then multiply that by 2 or 3 since you might make a few mistakes at first)
  • a saucepan (non-stick is recommended)
  • small bowls/ramekins
  • white vinager
  • salt & pepper
  • slotted spoon
  • paper towels
  • water
  • cooking/meat thermometer (optional)

Here’s the process:

Step 1:

In a 2 or 4-quart sauce pan, fill water about halfway and bring to a simmer with a pinch or two of salt and about 2 teaspoons of white vinnegar.

Step 2:

Crack an egg into a ramekin/small custard cup. When the water temp reaches 180 degrees -ish, then take a spoon and stir the water/salt/vinegar mixture to create a little whirl pool. Carefully lower the egg into the water mid-whirlpool to get the yolk to fold in onto the egg.

IMG_7996IMG_7995IMG_8002Step 3:

For 4-6 minutes (depending on how “done” you like your eggs) let it cook in the simmering water. About 2 minutes in you can turn off the heat to keep it from cooking too fast. Feel free to keep the water spinning from time to time to help keep the egg whites folding over onto itself.

Step 4:

If you have a slotted spoon – fabulous! I just used what was nearby for these photos (wooden spoon), but a metal/rubber slotted spoon is best. Carefully remove the egg from the water with your spoon and place it on a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. Let it sit for about 2 mintues to cool, then serve immediately or feel free to set it in ice water to be used later!

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And there we have it. Poached eggs! That wasn’t so bad, right? You got this. And when you do it right and you’re all excited to tell the world about your culinary success, will you do me a favor? Add in my new hashtag so that I can see how well it turned out! Here it is:

#newlieliving

IMG_8018Enjoy these bad boys over toast, the delicious potato rosemary hash that I created in the first image above, or even over a nice little bed of spinach.

I loved learning how to make this. Hope you do too!

Big hugs,

Katherine

Day Off (Part I)

Ever need a day to yourself when the rest of the world is working? One that frees you from work, an agenda, and permits your heart and soul to truly define the day?

Today is my day.

That’s right! I have the day off. “HOLLERRRR!” What to dooo!? Well, last weekend was spent in both Westchester County and Long Island, NY for work, so I intend to smush a weekend full of my wish list adventures into today. Special shout out to my AMAZING team (Andrew Bunting, Daniel Zimmet, and Mark Mansdoerfer) who I traveled with. Our mission was to host two admitted student receptions in those areas over the weekend. It was a TOTAL success!

Today’s post will come in two parts:

1) Part I: What I want to do with my day.

2) Part II: What I actually accomplished (both productive, and delightfully unproductive). I’ll deliver Part II after New Girl tonight, so stay tuned. Both for that show (9 p.m. on Fox) and for my little day off report that is 😉 And just because I’m excited…let’s take a little looksie at a preview of tonight’s show:

A day off is typically a day to sleep in and do nothing if your schedule allows for it, am I right? Well, not today. I have a wish list of all-things-delightful to accomplish, and I intend to takle it head-on. Not an agenda…just a wish list:

  • My day-off breakfast. Tales of this deliciousness coming soon.
  • Target time! I’m convinced that shopping at Target is one of the greatest things in life. I have things to buy, Starbucks coffee to enjoy, discounts to get excited over, and new decoration ideas to be inspired by.
  • A clean house. I adore coming home to a clean home…and call me old fashioned, but seeing the smile on Sean’s face when he comes home from work and the entire house is clean (this only happens when I’ve had the day off – don’t be fooled), is priceless.
  • Running with Stella. Remember when I was a rockstar last weekend? If not, read my last post! I need to keep up the athleticism, and today just so happens to be beautiful again. SO beautiful, in fact, that the sunshine just smacks a smile right on your face the moment you step outside. It’s time to exercise.
  • Wedding Wishes. 9 months from our wedding day may seem like an eternity, but the list of things to both plan, and RE-plan is growing by the minute. News on that later.
  • Pinterest. I mean let’s be honest, we all know it’s going to happen. Might as well add it to the list so that I can feel especially productive later!
  • Cupcakes! I love to bake. Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, anyone? I think it’s gonna happen. Work friends at Mason’s Office of Admissions – if you cheer me on in this task… you’ll be “sweetly” rewarded when I return tomorrow!
  • New recipe. I’m loving the ideas in one of my new recipe cookbooks. Tales of this deliciousness coming soon as well.
  • Cute new dress. I LOVE dresses, and would love a new one. Let’s see if I can fit this task in as well.

Oh my…it’s already 10:43 a.m….time to go. Who’s excited!? THIS GIRL!

Stay tuned.