Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Best Bran Muffins

Finally. A bran muffin I can get behind.

But really. As delicious as they are, they still fall squarely into the mid-week breakfast, guiltless toddler snack, "healthy muffin" category. Definitely not the "cream the butter with the sugar", unfrosted cupcake kind of muffin. With a 2:1 bran to flour ratio they also carry some heft, but I'm telling you, they're the best I've baked to date. Don't skip the sprinkling of sugar just before baking, and you kinda sorta have to plan ahead if you're going to make these, since the batter has to rest overnight.   

Best Bran Muffins  
from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook
*Note: I skipped the currants entirely with delicious results.


1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces/70 grams) dried currants
3/4 cup (6 ounces/173 grams) water
1 1/2 cups (7 1/4 ounces/206 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups (4 ounces/115 grams) bran, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 medium ripe banana
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 1/8 ounces/200 grams) canola oil
2/3 cup (5 ounces/142 grams) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces/63 grams) molasses
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces/340 grams) buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Raw, granulated or crystal sugar for sprinkling


1. Combine the currants and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over med-high heat, and cook until very soft, 10-15 minutes. Reduce the heat as needed to keep the water at a simmer. Drain, transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temp. *As I mentioned above in my note, I skipped the currants and this step.*

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and baking soda into a large bowl. Stir in the bran and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, mash up the banana (you should have about 1/3 cup) very well with a fork. Add the eggs, oil, brown sugar and molasses. Whisk the mixture until well blended, and then mix in the buttermilk and vanilla.

4. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients and pour in your banana-buttermilk mixture. Add the currants at this point if you're using them. Gently fold everything together just until everything is combined. If you over mix at this point, your muffins will be tough and rubbery. 

5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in the fridge overnight.

6. When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 375. Scoop the batter into a paper lined muffin tin, using about 1/2 cup batter per muffin. The recipe says this makes 12 muffins, but I ended up with 16. Sprinkle the tops with some bran flakes and a generous scattering of raw or granulated sugar. Bake for 24-26 minutes. They should be golden and baked through. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before attempting to take them out of the pan.

Best eaten the same day, but they keep for a day or two. I keep them through the next day and toss whatever is left into a ziploc bag and into the freezer. You can reheat at 12 second intervals in the microwave for a quick breakfast on one of "those mornings" or an afternoon snack.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Berry Cobbler with Cornmeal Dumplings


I've been trying for weeks to get this posted, but life had other plans. We've mourned the loss of two friends who left this world much too soon, and celebrated Sam's return to work after 5 months on disability. In the midst of everything, I managed to make this Berry Cobbler with Cornmeal Dumplings three times. Though, that's really not as ambitious as it sounds since, as it turns out, this cobbler is the perfect dumping grounds for all of those berries you bought on sale, but never got around to using. Which is...the story of my life. As I sit here now, I'm pretty darn sure I could gather up another 6 cups of sad looking berries and throw this together during naptime.

It's also a great dessert for anyone going through chemo or who has a compromised immune system right now. The summer months can be tough when fresh fruits and veggies are off-limits. Not only is this packed with vitamins and nutrients, but it can be enjoyed by everyone. An added bonus in our house.

And yes, I know, I could freeze all those berries before they reached the point of despair. But even if I was capable of that sort of forethought, freezer space in my house is coveted and reserved these days mainly for breastmilk, popsicles and emergency dinners. In that order.

Mixed Berry Cobbler with Cornmeal Dumplings


 For the Filling:
6 cups (about 2 pounds) mixed berries- raspberries, blackberries, blueberries 
   (go easy on the strawberries since they're so watery when baked)
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar

For the Dumplings:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream


1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Make the filling. Mix the berries, flour and sugar right in a 2 quart baking dish. No need to dirty up an extra bowl. Put this on a baking sheet to catch any drips and bake for 25-30 minutes, until it's bubbling at the edges. 

3. Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a medium sized bowl. Add about half of the cream, give it a few stirs, then push the mixture to one side of the bowl. Pour the rest of the cream into the bowl and gently fold it all together just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

4. When the filling is ready, use two spoons to drop lumps of dough, about a heaping tablespoon each, all over the hot fruit. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the dumplings are nice and brown.

This can be served hot, warm or at room temperature. Whipped cream or ice cream are always nice.

recipe source: Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich (love this book)


Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Very Happy Father's Day!

Sam was released from the hospital just in time to celebrate Father's Day. And by celebrate, I mean nap on the couch all day. But that's fine with us. We're just glad he's home.

Happy Father's Day to all the step-dads, uncles, granddads and dads out there. Especially this one.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Back in the Hospital

Sam woke up very sick early Friday morning, and, after a brief ambulance ride, was admitted to the ICU. Another pseudomonas infection (now cipro resistant), but this time it jumped into his blood stream and sent him into septic shock and acute kidney failure. He was released from the ICU yesterday, and is now on the cardiac floor for an irregular heartbeat. Lots of stuff going on. Bottom line- he was very sick, but he's going to be OK.  If you haven't heard from either of us during the last few days, this is why. We'll likely be here all week. A big thank you to my sister-in-law, Charlotte Tripson, for helping me out with the night shift so I can be with my babies.

And speaking of babies~ let's lighten the mood here with some pictures. It's almost time to try some solids so we've been practicing sitting in our seat.

Alice Ann, almost 4 months old

Jack, almost 4 months old

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

White Chicken Chili

A good friend of mine recently sent me Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. It grabbed my attention from the first paragraph, and by the second, stole my heart. I LOVED this book. (thank you, thank you, thank you Carrie Cowen!) I wish I could wipe out my bank account and send a copy to all of my friends. It's just that good. If you love food. If you love wine. If you fight to maintain strong relationships with friends and family. If you're a little too familiar with the joy and heartbreak of trying to conceive. If you're yearning for an honest voice that will leaving you laughing out loud and wiping away tears, Shauna Niequist is your girl. I love her. And I want to be her friend.

It's not your typical cookbook. No glossy food porn photos or any of those action shots of the author "cooking" in the kitchen. Just a compilation of short stories and treasured recipes. They all sound delicious, but I was particularly drawn to the White Chicken Chili. Only four ingredients? Ready in about 30 minutes? Um, yea. Just one bite and I knew I was adding this to our summer dinner rotation.

White Chicken Chili


1-1.5 lbs chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces (white or dark meat, doesn't matter)
1 (16 oz) container of fresh salsa (you can use jarred, but fresh tastes better)
2 cans white beans (she calls for 4, I like 2)  
4 cups chicken broth

Top with sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, crushed tortilla chips (I have a current love affair going on with Late Summer brand Hint of Lime. Hey. I'm breastfeeding), whatever you want really.


1. Heat a dutch oven to medium heat and cook the chicken until almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the salsa and beans, including the bean liquid, and broth.

2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally.

3. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Monday, May 12, 2014


Sam was discharged from Moffitt late Friday afternoon, just in time to celebrate our 5th year anniversary with some spaghetti on the couch. My mom kept the kids, and it was a wonderful, quiet night at home. He's still in a substantial amount of pain from the inflamed area in his lung were the pseudomonas has settled in, but the doctors have assured us that this will subside. We want to thank you all for your prayers and your offers to help during this past week.

5 years ago, one hot May day at Oak Alley Plantation. A gospel choir sang "Oh Happy Day!" from the balcony as we walked up the aisle.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In the Hospital

So Sam was admitted to Moffitt yesterday with a high fever, awful sore throat and shortness of breath. He had about 10 straight days of feeling pretty good, but things started tanking over the weekend. He has pneumonia, likely brought on by a stubborn pseudomonas infection that seems to have taken up residence in his right lung. They did a bronchoscopy this morning to gather more information in order to treat him better. He's been in a fair amount of pain and not really able to eat. But he has access to great pain meds and a whole assortment of smoothies blended up right here on the transplant floor. We're hoping he starts feeling better soon so we can be out of here before our anniversary on Friday (5 years!!). We wanted to go away for a night, but this wasn't exactly what we had in mind. As always, thanks for all the love, prayers and support.