Tag Archives: muffins

The Perfect Muffin for Chocolate Lovers

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The holidays are here! Sorry for the shortage of posts lately: I spent the last few weeks braving REAL winter and cavorting through the chilly climes of Cancun…

Just kidding! Cancun, as you can probably imagine, was amazing, winter weather included. We spent our early December days simply basking under the tropical sun at our seaside resort, dipping our feet in the warm Caribbean waters, and trekking through some of the gorgeous intra-cavern rivers that wound their way through the old Mayan ruins in Xcaret. Needless to say, I was spoiled silly and am making a rather graceless transition back to my California reality even as I type.

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The beachfront view from our resort in downtown Cancun.

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Now that I’m back and bundled up again in this nippy weather, though (yes, east coast folks, you may now roll your eyes), nothing sounds better than curling up with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book. Nothing, that is, except maybe freshly-baked chocolate muffins in the wee cold hours of the wintry morning, which is exactly what I’m sharing with all of you today. What I love most about this recipe is that it skips all of the tedious separate-and-mix steps required in most muffin recipes: all you need to do here is whisk together dry ingredients, whisk together wet ingredients, fold them all together, and throw that batter into the hot piping oven!

As if simple baking couldn’t get any better, these muffins are perfect for the chocolate lover in your life.  The unique combination of yogurt AND milk in this recipe keeps the muffin absolutely moist and fudgy with a hint of cakiness, while the extra chocolate chips that you toss in right before baking add morsels of molten chocolate richness in every bite. Not bad for an innocuous-looking breakfast food!… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates, Muffins

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

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There are no “foodies” in Italy–there’s simply food. As I quickly learned during my week-long stay in Putignano, food is a way of life, not simply a packaged bar of high fructose corn syrup that you snatch while dashing out the door for work. While food has always been a central part of my Chinese family and culture–think lazy Susan’s groaning under the weight of 15 or 20 dishes, chopstick wars over the last piece of fried tofu, literal battles between relatives over who is going to pay the bill–being in Italy felt like landing on an entirely different food planet altogether: one made of family friends, 10 o’clock dinners, and lots–I mean LOTS–of cheese.

Aside from enjoying homemade meals with Alessio’s family, I was invited to taste (quite literally) a whole sampling platter of Italian dining experiences throughout the week. One of my favorite meals happened on my second night in Putignano, when we drove over to the countryside home of one of their family friends for a pizza party. No, not a pizza party of 90’s Chuck E. Cheese glory–we’re talking 2 kilos of homemade pizza dough, dozens of fresh meats and vegetables, authentic brick oven right on the patio, the whole shebang. Better yet, we went through something like six courses (a crust “test run,” individual pizzas, dessert pizza with Nutella, gelato, fruit, and cake), so that by the end of the night I thought my stomach was going to burst straight through the too-snug button on my jeans. Seated along a long table that seated all 15 or 16 of us, everyone seemed content to sit and eat and chat as the early evening faded into evening proper, then late night. The pace of Italian life during the summer offers an incredible contrast to the hustle & bustle of American day-to-day, and as someone who spends half of her solo meals typing away at the computer, it was amazing to be granted this glimpse into a truly mindful culture of eating.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cookies, Muffins

Mini Churro Donut Muffins

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If you love churros, donuts, and the excuse to justifiably eat them both for breakfast–trust me, these sugary babies are for you.

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Mini Churro Donut Muffins are, as their name implies–ahem–the perfect balanced breakfast food. Okay, so they’re rolled in glorious cinnamon sugar post-baking, and maaaaybe they’re more like a donut/cake than a muffin–but they’re baked instead of fried, which has got to count for something…right?

And that makes them okay to consume for breakfast.

And lunch.

And dinner.

And maybe dessert, if your stretchy pants are feeling particularly stretchy.

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We’ve been having a lot of sweets around here lately…and I mean a lot. The boy is a chronic snacker with an enviable metabolism and I’m always catching him rummaging through my kitchen for freshly baked sweets. Last week, I baked a batch of these donut muffins for my students, tucked them away in tupperware, went to the bathroom…and emerged again to the sound of a hastily closed plastic lid and smacking lips.

The upside of smothering all your baked treats in cinnamon sugar (besides the obvious): you’ll always catch the culprit. And this particular culprit agreed that the donuts were very good indeed.

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As with all great things, you’ll need to coat the donut muffins in melted butter before proceeding to roll them in a snug, cozy coat of cinnamon sugar goodness. The butter-meets-sugar combo is what gives these breakfast treats extra crunch on the outside, so don’t skip this step!

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My students, friends, and friends’ coworkers all RAVED about these Mini Churro Donut Muffins, and really–who can blame them? I recommend making a double or even a triple batch.

You know, just in case someone in the kitchen happens to eat half of them before they make it out the door.

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Who’s the biggest sweets snacker in your house?Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Breakfast & Brunch, Muffins

Orange Raspberry Muffins–And one kooky Children’s Literature Conference!

I get questions all the time from readers about what I do as a children’s literature researcher in an English PhD program, so today I’m taking the opportunity to tell you all a bit more about my lovely, non-blogging job!

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I spent last weekend at my first ever Children’s Literature Association conference in South Carolina. And excuse my language when I say lordie oh lord: after five amazing days with this bunch of nonsensical ninnies and silly scholars, I am unofficially allowing ChLA and all its wonderful members to adopt me. These people are like human versions of these muffins I’m sharing with you today: the funnest, brightest, warmest, most unique bunch of (raga)muffins I’ve ever met!

This conference primarily features scholars, professors, and the occasional grad student. We present our research and findings on various aspects of children’s lit at this four-day conference through a series of panels, talks, and banquets. We are a kooky, Kool-Aid kind of cult, minus the cult and probably minus the Kool-Aid (we prefer tea and fun muffins like these, though I do recall someone making a Kool-Aid reference at one point). I was hugged more times by complete strangers at this conference than I have been by the academics in my English department for my entire three years as a grad student (at one point, the chair of the ChLA award committee turned around, gave me a giant bear hug, and then shouted to the room, “It’s a new one!”) . We basically staked out an entire hotel in Columbia, dominated its conference rooms, and sat back to enjoy a 4-day carnival that involved lots of networking, lots of meeting & greeting, lots of brilliant (or at least interesting) research, and a heck of a lot of food.

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If you know anything about academic institutions, you’ll know that academia can be both an awesomely intelligent field and a frigid rat race.… Read more

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Hawaiian Banana Coconut Streusel Muffins

One of dearest professor’s spouses passed away last night.

I think all of us had a hard time staying focused after hearing the news. I know my mind was full of a whirlwind of thoughts.

What happens when it’s somebody who’s really close to you?

I can’t even begin to imagine. I thank my lucky stars that I can’t, but I can’t. I can’t. Period.

Sometimes those moments creep up on me and everything suddenly stops. Maybe I’m in the middle of scanning Beowulf. Maybe I’m standing in the kitchen half-listening as my mom chatters away at me while she’s making ma po tofu. Maybe I’m just sitting there thinking about something completely unrelated, like how I really want to make marshmallow Tigger Tails for Halloween.

The spoon stops stirring. The scanning is suspended. Whatever I’m doing, stops.

My parents aren’t going to be around for the rest of my life. Neither are my grandparents, or brother, or friends or mentors or cousins or aunts or uncles or all the people I know and love so dearly.

Wallflour Power: “Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.” –Mark Twain

I have a really, really hard time wrapping my mind around that. I always thought I could handle the thought of it when the time came, in theory, but now I’ve been thrown off by something so removed from myself that I just. Can’t. Imagine.

And here I am, uploading photos and writing and trying to sort it all out.

It’s always a sign of how much somebody is respected when everyone around him or her feels the blow almost as keenly as if it had happened to them.

Another incredibly difficult thing I never had to think about was how you say you’re sorry when somebody has just lost their life partner, their significant other, their soulmate.… Read more

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Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes, Muffins