Banana-Blueberry Muffins

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It’s kind of serendipitous that I’m posting a banana recipe today. Yesterday, I submitted my recipe for Banana Blondies to Serious Eats’ “Share Your Sweets” weekly column. And since looking back on that recipe, I can’t get those Blondies out of my head! (Mostly because they would be so perfect right now to invoke the feeling of Spring and shake off this cold and dreary winter.)

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As I’d confessed in my Blondies post, I’m a banana hoarder. I love bananas, but there’s a small window in which I’ll eat them before they end up in the “banana wasteland”. Then I save them for baking. Because of my banana surplus, I’ve come up with a few really good recipes over last few years. And now I have one more to add to the list!

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I threw together these muffins on a whim last week, when I had a jar of mashed banana and a quart of blueberries in the fridge and a hankering for blueberry muffins. And they turned out okay… The flavor was there, but they were dense and chewy. So I went back to the recipe I scribbled out and tweaked a few things.

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And the result was a perfect muffin: not too sweet, fluffy but substantial, and loaded with blueberries. They’re also pretty low in fat (with only a small amount coming from sour cream) and egg-free. You can also make them dairy-free by using vegan sour cream (made with tofu) or soy yoghurt!

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

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Homemade Jelly Donuts

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Holidays, to me, are a great opportunity to cook up something special for breakfast. While I’ll occasionally make pancakes or waffles on a regular weekend, the extra time of a holiday morning means I can get up early and start a more extravagant breakfast. This year, I decided to try my hand at homemade donuts.

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I’ve been mulling over donuts for a long time. The boyfriend and I made apple cider donut holes when we first started dating over 4 years ago, and they were amazing! Since then, the thought of donuts occasionally pops back in to head. (The store-bought donuts just don’t compare, especially down in the states, where I don’t have access to Tim Horton’s regularly!)

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Now that I’ve started making homemade jams and jellies, I decided that I needed to make donuts filled with amazing homemade preserves! So I made up a batch of dough, based on a recipe from Bon Appétit and pulled out a jar of Strawberry Hibiscus Jam and a jar of Blackberry Merlot Jelly. And the result was absolute bliss!

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These donuts are crispy on the outside but soft and cakey on the inside, with a gorgeous center of tasty jelly. If you don’t have homemade preserves, feel free to use store-bought. The dough for these donuts can also be made the night before. After the first rise, refrigerate the dough for up to 8 hours. In the morning, let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and cutting. Then proceed with the second rise and fry as normal.

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After spending the night ringing in the 2014, these donuts made an amazing New Years’ brunch. Make then on a holiday or when you have extra time on the weekend. Or make them any normal day of the week to make it feel special! The donuts are just that good. 🙂

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

Download the recipe!

Mixed Berry Coffee Cake

It’s summer in DC, and with that comes the inevitable time when I buy WAY too much fruit before heading out of town. This time, it was too many berries… My fridge was full of beautiful strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries right before I left my house for 5 days. I really didn’t want to come home to a fridge full of over-ripe or spoiled food, and I knew I couldn’t eat all those berries before going camping! So I needed to come up with a way to use them…

I cracked open one of my favorite cookbooks, to a recipe I’d bookmarked to try out: a Blueberry Crumb Cake by Dorie Greenspan. As I’m want to do, I modified the recipe slightly, doubled it to make a big pan of coffee cake, and went to work!

And this coffee cake is to die for! It is just sweet enough, chock full of fresh berries, and topped with a delightfully crumbly topping. It’s great as a breakfast cake but also perfect for dessert. The cake is also extremely versatile! I’ve made it with just blueberries and raspberries and with chopped strawberries thrown in. Make it with whatever berries you have or can find, depending on your preference!

If the recipe quantify is a little daunting, feel free to halve it. Or bake the whole thing and store half of it in the freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap, for later this year when fresh berries are no longer in season. Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Sour Cream Pancakes

Happy Pancake Tuesday!! I know some of you may be scratching your heads wondering what Pancake Tuesday is… Well, Pancake Tuesday (aka Shrove Tuesday) is known to most people in the States as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday refers to the practice of eating richer, fatty foods on the last night before Lent. In the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, it is tradition to eat pancakes on Fat Tuesday!

As a kid, I remember my mom occasionally making me and my sister pancakes for dinners on Pancake Tuesday, and it always felt like a very special dinner. In college, I threw Pancake Tuesday dinners for my housemates and friends. And, as an adult, I still use Pancake Tuesday as an excuse to have breakfast for dinner. (Or an excuse to bring my electric griddle in to the office and make pancakes for breakfast, as my coworkers enjoyed today!) 🙂

Today, I share my favorite recipe for pancakes! I stumbled on the recipe one weekend morning when I’d promised the boyfriend pancakes for breakfast. The one small problem was that I didn’t have any baking powder! I’d already sent the boyfriend to the store to pick up toilet paper, but he forgot his cell phone on the kitchen table… So it was up to me to make it work!

I found a recipe online from Epicurious that ended up working out perfectly. It calls for baking soda instead of powder, and I was able to use some of the leftover sour cream I had in my fridge! I’ve modified the recipe slightly, after making more pancakes than I can count! The recipe can easily be doubled (or tripled, or quadrupled) and makes great leftovers. My favorite tradition is to save one pancake for dessert later in the day, topped with Nutella and strawberries! Mmmmm 😀

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Carrot-Raisin Muffins

Carrot-Raisin Muffins

Last week, with some leftover carrots, I decided to bake up some carrot-raisin muffins.  Along with blueberry muffins, carrot-raisin muffins tie as my favorite!

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To me, carrot-raisin muffins are always an interesting balance. I want a muffin that’s sweet and dense, but not too oily or too much like carrot cake. While I love carrot cake, eating it for breakfast usually feels like a bad choice… 😉

These muffins include both all-purpose and whole-wheat flour. The whole wheat flour gives them a little boost of extra nutrients and makes them dense without feeling too heavy.

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Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Banana Bread

Banana bread has always been one of my favorite comfort foods. As a kid, I remember my mom always keeping a bread basket of over-ripe bananas above the fridge to use for banana bread or banana chocolate chip muffins. As an adult, I got in to the bad habit of buying bananas, and then forgetting to eat them. And that’s when banana bread became one of my favorite go-to recipes. (Although now I buy slightly splotchy bananas on purpose and save them for banana bread…)

I love bringing banana bread to work or an early morning get-together with friends. It’s moist and delicious, with a strong banana flavor. And as the boyfriend’s former roommate once told me after she went to put cream cheese on a slice for breakfast, “this is Emily’s banana bread, it doesn’t need any stinking cream cheese!” (Which, by the way, was one of my favorite compliments to date!)

The secret to this recipe is to keep bananas long past the point of wanting to throw them away. The best flavor comes when the bananas are so brown that they’re almost black. If they’re squishy on the inside (not bruised), that’s even better. Just don’t let them grow mold, and watch for signs that they have cuts in the peel because you don’t want to attract fruit flies.

Banana bread is best served the day after you bake it and will last in a sealed container for about a week. If you have extra bananas on hand, the recipe doubles beautifully. Just be sure to space them at least 6 inches apart to allow heat to circulate in your oven. And if you don’t like pecans, you can substitute walnuts or even chocolate chips! 😀

Click below for the recipe. Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Grand Marnier French Toast

Last weekend, the boyfriend and I sort-of-celebrated our 3-year anniversary. About a week earlier, we decided to go up to Baltimore for the weekend for a small vacation. We’ve been wanting to go to Baltimore together for a while. However, even though it’s so close to DC, we never seem to find the time to get away! We don’t get a chance to go on vacation much because of both of our work schedules (his job and consulting on the side and my job plus baking and blogging on the side).

So, we finally did it! And it was the perfect weekend: we weren’t missing any plans in DC, and it was the 3-year anniversary of when we first met! I found a fabulous hotel room deal on Priceline, and we made transportation work even without a car. (It’s still in the shop, grr…) The weekend was amazing!

Since it was a special weekend, I wanted to start it off with an extra-special breakfast. The boyfriend really likes custard-style french toast, but it’s not something I’ve ever made for him. I usually shy away from french toast in favor of pancakes and waffles, even though it’s one of my favorite breakfast foods as well! So, the obvious answer to our extra-special pre-vacation breakfast was Grand Marnier French Toast! 🙂

I assembled this recipe using Grand Marnier (you can substitute orange juice if you don’t like or don’t have Grand Marnier) and toasted almonds. The macerated strawberries are just the little bit of extra icing on the top of the cake! This recipe is great for special occasions because it will definitely impress your friends and family. As an added bonus, you can also assemble everything the night before, and stick it in the refrigerator for the next morning!

Click below for the recipe. Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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