Category Archives: Just for Fun

This Week’s Muffin: Apple Cider “Donut”

I was skeptical about these because they have no fat in them whatsoever—well, except the melted butter/cinnamon sugar coating. But they turned out scrumptious. Of course, like most low-fat recipes, they make up for it in sugar, which is no better nutritionally. Oh well, the apple cider has some fiber in it, right? Don’t tell me differently.

I messed up the cinnamon sugar step. Instead of dipping them in melted butter, THEN rolling them in cinnamon sugar, I mixed it all together and coated the muffins. So what should have looked an elegant dusting of snow on each muffin ended up looking like this:


However, I’m sold on the “mistake.” The topping became a nice glaze when it cooled. Yum.

Last thing before the recipe: Don’t forget the girls’ fundraiser. We’re on our way to $1000, and Carol of the Bells is sounding very good!

Apple Cider Donut Muffins

Recipe available at Baked by Rachel.

When you get to the last step, consider following in my absent-minded footsteps by combining butter, cinnamon and sugar and coating the muffins with the glaze.

Muffin of the Week: Glazed Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal



1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 c powdered sugar
3 T apple cider
(you can also combine applesauce and powdered sugar to make the glaze, but I had cider to spare)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease your muffin pans. This recipe made 12 regular muffins and 12 mini-muffins.
  2. In a large bowl, mix by hand flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix sugar, oil, eggs, yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla, then stir into dry ingredients until just combined.
  4. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake for 10-15 minutes for mini-muffins, 15-20 for regular muffins, and/or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and whisk together the glaze ingredients.
  6. When the muffins have cooled for a bit, remove from the pan onto a cooling rack and spoon the glaze over the top. Allow the glaze to set before slicing.

Recipe adapted from this lovely site.


photo credit: kPluto via photopin cc

Link Love: Rosetta Celebration Edition

Congratulations to everyone involved with the Philae probe! There have been some bumps and snafus with the landing, but that doesn’t diminish the achievement: a human-made object has made physical contact with a comet for the first time ever.

Say what you will about the Internet—and there’s plenty to critique—but it’s a wonderful tool for cultivating awe and wonder. Of course, there’s the ability to watch things like the Rosetta mission unfold in real time. But I’m a sucker for a good space video. Here are a few of my favorites.

(These two videos have soundtracks that detract, in my opinion—watch with the volume turned down, or put on your favorite musical accompaniment.)

Then there’s Neil deGrasse Tyson explaining the “cosmic calendar”: the entire timeline of the universe, mapped to one year on the Gregorian calendar. I can’t find a video that encapsulates the whole thing; here’s a short video that outlines the concept, plus a partial transcript. Spoiler alert: every person we’ve ever heard of occupies the last 14 seconds of the year.

And here’s one I just discovered this week—a page in which you can scroll to view composite photos from the International Space Station. Don’t miss the set of aurora borealis images.

I’m awed by that thin membrane of atmosphere that makes all of life possible:

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What’s your favorite image, page or video that helps you cultivate awe?

Muffin of the Week: Pumpkin Streusel

This is not a food blog, but I am the Muffin Maven, and it’s definitely muffin season, so every so often this fall I’ll share what I’ve made. This week: pumpkin streusel.

Many food blogs will give you several photos of the dish in various stages of preparation, no matter how simple. I even saw an animated GIF the other day of chicken broth being poured into a crock pot. Really people, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. This isn’t rocket science, it’s home cooking.

Instead of photos of preparation, how about a photo of the most sincere pumpkin patch I could find?


Ahhh… nice.

I also don’t like overly chatty food blogs, in which the author gives you several paragraphs about her life you have to scroll through. But it seems to be required, so here’s my autobiographical tidbit: when I was in sixth grade I lost the district spelling bee on the word “streusel,” a word my dad had quizzed me on just that morning.

Now that that’s done… here they are:


adapted from this site

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 egg

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons soft butter
1 tsp. cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat muffin pan(s) with cooking spray or use paper baking cups.

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, butter, sour cream, egg, and pumpkin.

Pour wet into dry and mix until just incorporated. Don’t over-mix.

Topping: Combine ingredients until well mixed and crumbly. Pastry cutter works well. (I like doing this step before the previous one so the batter doesn’t sit once you’ve combined it.)

Scoop muffin batter into pan, filling 3/4 of the way full. Distribute topping amongst all of the muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until they spring back to the touch. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool further for storage, or serve warm. (These refresh nicely the next day in a 375 toaster oven for 5 minutes.)



photo credit: `James Wheeler via photopin cc

A Simple but Heartfelt Thank You

I ran across this exchange on Facebook today, kinda by accident:

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I know Mary from way back, but it still freaks me out when I stumble upon people I don’t know who’ve read my book. There’s a big part of me that still thinks the readership consists of close personal friends and everyone my mother knows.

Sabbath in the Suburbs turned two last week. People are still buying it—not hordes, but a steady stream. And folks are still write the occasional review too, which makes me happy—even when they aren’t great reviews. (The most recent review on Amazon was three stars because it “didn’t live up to the hype.” That tickled me to no end. I have hype?!?)

Even more fun, I get to come and meet so many of you who want to explore this book with your church small groups, young families, women’s groups and the like. Though that travel is slowly morphing into events for my next book, Spirituality in the Smartphone Age, the topic of Sabbath is still quite vital and important for lots of you. And that makes me happy. And grateful.

So thank you for reading. In a world crammed with words, your attention is both an honor and a gift.