Category Archives: Just for Fun

This Week’s Muffin: Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes, in Honor of the Muffin Runners

11947565_10153525264597969_462372193102116566_nA year ago in early August, I joined Moms Run This Town for my first group run. It was at 5 a.m. and was affectionately called the Muffin Run, because the host would bake muffins for everyone as an enticement for them to come out so ungodly early.

On my one-year anniversary of that first MRTT run, I was running on a tibial stress fracture without knowing it. So yeah, it doesn’t always work out nice and neat. But that’s running for you.

The host of the muffin run host still bakes every week, which is amazing considering we can get upwards of 30-40 people. And while the snacks are nice, folks don’t need the enticement anymore. There are 5 a.m. runs (and earlier) almost every day of the week.

Our family moves on Friday, so today was my last muffin run as a Springfield resident. I’ll still run with these ladies often, but it’ll mostly be long weekend runs. Although, I’ve already told the group that my first run post-injury will be with the 5 a.m. track babes. Yes, I will drive down for that triumphant (I hope) half mile.

IMG_8250This week I asked to be the muffin-maker. Since I can’t run, I biked around the neighborhood, which may be a first for the group. I brought these decadent beauties, adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything. These are fun and easy. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

  • cooking spray
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1½ cups brown sugar
  • 24 maraschino cherries
  • 1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple–reserve the juice
  • 1 package yellow cake mix (and oil and eggs called for on the package)
  • 1⅓ cups pineapple juice (you just need as much pineapple juice as water called for on the cake mix package – see note)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 24 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Line a work surface with parchment or waxed paper.
  3. Spoon 1 teaspoon melted butter into the bottom of each sprayed muffin cup.
  4. Spoon 1 tablespoon brown sugar in each muffin cup.
  5. Press a maraschino cherry into the center of the brown sugar in each muffin cup.
  6. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of crushed pineapple over the cherry and compact it with the back of a spoon into an even layer.
  7. Mix cake mix according to the package directions, replacing the water with pineapple juice. This may vary according to which cake mix you use. In large bowl with electric mixer on low speed until moistened, about 30 seconds. Turn mixer speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes.
  8. Pour pineapple cake batter into the muffin cups, filling them almost to the top.
  9. Bake in the preheated oven on the middle rack until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  10. Allow cupcakes to cool at least 10 minutes before inverting muffin cups onto the waxed paper to release. (Unfortunately some of the topping stuck to the muffin pans, and I needed to spoon it back on. Still looked and tasted fine though.) Serve with pineapple and cherry sides up.

This Week’s Muffin: Athlete’s Special (Blueberry Banana)

It’s been a sporty summer for the Dana clan. All three kids are on the swim team this year. That sounds hectic, and it is, but I love that our sport is something that they can participate in together. Good family-building, easier on the parents.

Last night was a crazy meet though. It rained off and on, and the area around the pool was mainly grass, which quickly turned to mud. But the kids dropped times, and they all placed in breaststroke, which is apparently the Dana family stroke.

Last night’s forecast. Yeah that’s the stuff:

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As for me, marathon training has begun. I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon in October, and because I’m certifiable, I’m also running the Houston Marathon in January. I would’ve loved to run just the half in Houston, but the full marathon runs by my alma mater, the church where I was married and ordained, and the street where I grew up. How could I resist?

I’m calling these muffins “Athlete’s Special” because they were our recovery breakfast this morning after I gave the kids the day off from practice. I also wolfed mine down because I ran seven hill repeats with some girlfriends this morning. (Hill repeats: Warm up, ending your warm up at the bottom of a hill. Run up the hill, wishing you were dead. Jog down. Repeat.) They do have bananas in them, which have lots of good things, and blueberries are chock full of antioxidants. But whatever your sport, you’ll like them.

Adapted from this Buttermilk Banana Blueberry Bread recipe from Damn Delicious.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar (I subbed in some brown sugar out of necessity–but try it just because!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed (I used two–they were large)
  • 1 cup blueberries

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat 16 muffin cups with cooking spray or use liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat in eggs, buttermilk and vanilla until well combined. Beat in bananas until well combined. Gradually add flour mixture to the sugar mixture at low speed, beating just until incorporated.
  4. Add blueberries and gently toss to combine.
  5. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Place into oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before inverting the cake onto a wire rack.

 

This Week’s Muffin: Strawberry Streusel

Robert and I always look forward to May with a special joy, because the farmers’ markets open again. Of course it often takes us a few weeks to get our schedules straight to visit, but when we do, we are rewarded with strawberries.

I bought a bunch, and have been making lots of refrigerator jam to freeze. Nothing like a cup of spring in the middle of January.

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We were out of granulated sugar but I can report that powdered sugar works fine–for fridge jam, anyway–and the cornstarch helps it set up even more quickly.

I also made strawberry streusel muffins. I don’t think I baked them quite long enough because they are more gooey on top than crumbly. But if you store them in the fridge and heat them in your toaster oven they are just lovely.

I got the recipe from this source. It says the recipe makes 18 but I got 12 normal-sized muffins. (Could be why I underbaked them slightly.)

Muffins:
  • ¼ cup Butter (softened)
  • ¾ cup White Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1½ cups Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • ½ cup Milk
  • 1½ cup Fresh Strawberries (chopped)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ tsp Salt
Crumble:
  • ¼ cup Butter (cold)
  • ½ cup Flour
  • ¼ cup Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat over to 375 F.
  2. Line muffin pan.
  3. Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  4. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  5. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.
  6. Slowly add milk and flour mix, alternating between until incorporated in the butter mix.
  7. Beat until completely combined.
  8. Add about 2 tbsp of batter to each muffin liner.
  9. Load up the muffins with strawberries.
  10. In a mixing bowl, use a pastry cutter to combine crumble ingredients until it is uniform and small pea-sized pieces.
  11. Sprinkle crumble over the strawberries.
  12. Bake muffins for 18-20 minutes.

The original recipe says to reduce oven temperature to 350 before baking, but I like a hotter oven for muffins, personally.

This Week’s Muffin: Basic Banana

Almost this green.

Almost this green.

Bananas have a very thin zone of palatability in our house. They must be slightly green, with no spots yet. What most people call a ripe banana activates the gag reflex in the kids (and in me, though I can usually choke down a peanut butter-banana sandwich on race mornings). We may get two breakfasts’ worth out of a bunch, but that’s pushing it.

Thankfully bananas freeze well and are great in smoothies, and of course muffins. Here’s a good garden-variety banana muffin recipe.

Adapted from The Ultimate Muffin Book. I made 16 with this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups flour (I use half all-purpose and half white whole wheat)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 large ripe bananas
2 tablespoons milk or half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare muffin pan(s) with cooking spray or liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
  3. In another medium/large bowl, cream butter and sugar with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, beating until incorporated.
  4. Slice ripe bananas into sugar mixture and beat with mixer. Add milk, vanilla and vinegar and combine.
  5. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a spoon until just combined.
  6. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

 

photo credit: Banana cluster via photopin (license)

Last Week’s Muffin: Apple Pie

ApplePieSpice2These were a big winner. The recipe calls for pumpkin pie spice, but we’d received a sample of apple pie spice in a Penzey’s order this winter, so we were able to use that.

I love recipes that make more than 12 muffins—this makes 18, all the better to share. I made these before I left town for preacher camp and got an email from J’s teacher on Monday: “Thank you so much for the delicious muffin!” I had to respond that I had nothing to do with the gift. It made me smile though because while J can be an ornery first grader sometimes, I think he’s sweet on his teacher.

Apple Pie Muffins, adapted from My Baking Addiction

INGREDIENTS

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons apple pie spice (pumpkin pie spice is fine)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 cups peeled, chopped Granny Smith Apples

Topping:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter, melted

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line 18 cup muffin cups with paper liners or use cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Topping: In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, rolled oats, and cinnamon. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of melted butter, mixing until well blended.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 1/4 cups flour, apple pie spice, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, 1/2 cup melted butter, vanilla and 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved.

4. Pour butter mixture into the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in apples. Use a large scoop to fill each muffin well, filling the cups to the top. Sprinkle topping on each muffin.

5. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins spring back when lightly pressed.

6. Cool on wire rack. Store at room temperature.