Monkey Muffins

Last week I was on vacation with Cody’s family, and man do I need a vacation from that vacation!

It was so relaxing, and I ate everything, and drank…everything.  Driving home on Sunday was hell because we were stuck in traffic for HOURS! And when we finally got home all I wanted to do was make a home cooked meal and hit the hay. After a much needed 12 hour sleep, I woke on Monday refreshed and antsy. I wanted to do something, I needed to do something.

It wasn’t that I didn’t have a to do list – like any one when they come back from vacation, with the unpacking, and the laundry and the mentally preparing for returning to work.  To be honest I was looking forward to getting back to our regular routine. In order to assist with getting back into the rhythm of things, I decided I was going to make muffins for my muffin (aww ?.. no? ew?) to have for breakfast for the next week. I took a traditional recipe and made it my own. They are peanut butter and banana muffins!

Ingredient list: 

2 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 table spoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup of chunky peanut butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 eggs

3/4 cup milk

Before you start getting messy pre-heat the oven for 375 degrees F, then go over to your mixer and talk sweet to it. Let it know you are going to use it, but its going to like it. Whoa – did it just get a little spicy in here?

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Look at that bad ass bitch!

In a large bowl add all your dry ingredients starting with the 2 cups flour.

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Then the baking powder (note I used magic baking powder, you can only get this from going to your local witch or wizard, and trade them your magic beans for this! Don’t tell them I told you!)

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Then the brown sugar. I used dark brown sugar, because Julia bought it for me and it was in my pantry. Also she told me that it has better flavor than the light kind.. who knew? Now you do!

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And finally the salt! (for all those wondering, my nail polish colour is called pool party, I highly recommend this sassy splash of summer)

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Mix the dry ingredients together until blended, and combined. I didn’t take a picture of this because I am only one person, and give me a break. If you need a visual then you don’t belong in the kitchen!

Next add all your wet ingredients into your mixer bowl in order to prepare them to make a delicious baby with the dry ingredients!

First comes your chunky peanut butter. I used chunky because I like a little bit of a surprise when it comes to my PB&J, but please use smooth, regular or which ever kind you would like.

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mmmmm chunky!

Next comes the oil, vegetable oil. Nothing fancy.

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Dos eggs (dos means two, I learned this from my grade 10 Spanish class where I was named Eva – but according to  my niece, Dora is a great Espanol tutor)

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Add your milk. Fun fact: Cody is lactose in tolerant, so we never have milk in the house. We do however have cream, so I used 1/2 a cup of milk and then the rest of the required amount I used water. Which you could totally use cream for the whole amount if you are not worried about calories. (Also how about we agree on not telling him that I used milk in this recipe…K? K!)

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Then your ripe banana’s.  I got mine out of the freezer so they look especially delicious. Why did I get them out of the freezer you ask? Well because when I buy Banana’s I always buy enough that some will go ripe, and then I freeze them so when Cody or I have a craving for Banana bread I can bust out these bad boys and be a freaking super hero!

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Once all your wet ingredients are combined, then slowly add your dry! I did get a picture of this, because I became a photographer for a moment, and then pulled a muscle, and cut that shit out!

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Once everything is combined, add your liners to your muffin/cupcake pan. I like to tell my muffin mixture it is about to get thrust into adulthood so its not a surprise when they are put into the fiery inferno that is your oven, but hey – to each their own! Just don’t blame me when your muffins are all dry and not delicious because you decided not to give them a little warning.

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Pay no attention to the messy oven…

Now set your timer for 25 mins and relax… I like to crochet or annoy my dog with my love and affection. Or you could clean up the mess you made, but cleaning is for chumps!

After your lovely timer rings and sings the songs of peanut butter choir – run, don’t walk to your oven. GET AN OVEN MIT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD and take out your Monkey Muffins!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….. 

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Now… the secret to ANY good muffin is…Nutella! Mmmmmmm and enjoy!

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~ Jacqui

Instructions:

In a large bow, mix together the flour, brown sugar, baking power and salt.

In a separate bowl beat together the peanut butter, oil, eggs, milk and bananas.

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until just moistened.

spoon the batter into 12 large muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 mins, use a tooth pic in order to confirm that they are cooked all the way through.

Mmm-mussels

With all this lovely (read: disgusting – winter can eff off now) cold weather we’re having, I thought a yummy, satisfying and simple recipe was just the ticket for this post.

While I am no chef, my mussels do have my household’s stamp of approved foods we crave often and have been a hit with many of our friends.

Personally, I love seafood, shellfish in particular, which is an issue for anyone who doesn’t live on a coastal town with fresh catch being brought in daily – it’s often pricey due to transport and shelf life tends to be iffy. I’ve found I can usually count on Caudle’s Catch in Kitchener for a decent price and fresh product; however the live mussels from Costco are hard to beat in both price and freshness and that is where I end up purchasing them the majority of the time.

Source: awesome Costco sale blog www.adventuresinnevyland.com

Source: awesome Ontario Costco sale blog www.adventuresinnevyland.com

Live mussels are easy to prepare for cooking and can be whipped up in 20-30 minutes once you’ve got a solid recipe down pat.

To start, you will need to clean and debeard the mussels as well as check them for quality. To do this I place the mussels into a colander in the sink and tap the slightly open ones to make sure they’re alive and good to eat – if they are, the shell will slowly seal shut; if they’re not, the shell will stay open. Throw out the mussels that stay open. The mussels from Costco don’t usually need a lot of cleaning or scrubbing and very little debearding, so I give them a good rinse and then debeard the few that may need it.

Source:  www.noshon.it

Debearding – Source: www.noshon.it

Once the mussels are clean, I set them aside either in the fridge or add in some loosely packed bags of ice to the colander to keep them cool.

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Depending on your personal taste buds, the next part is subject to your liking – the basic requirements are the same, though with a liquid for steaming and vegetables and/spices for flavour. Personally, I love to keep it simple with white wine, fresh cherry or canned tomatoes (side note: to speed up the flavour I’ve noticed a bolder presence with canned, diced tomatoes and the juice from the can), garlic, onion, fresh parsley and sometimes a bit of celery if I’ve got it.

To the ratio of two-packages (they come attached) of Canadian Cove farmed live blue mussels, which works out to be roughly 5.6lbs, add:

  • 1 large onion, (I prefer Sweet or a Spanish onion), chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 3-4 cups of white wine (keep some extra on hand for ‘taste testing’ *wink* *wink*)
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh parsley

Because when I cook I have to feed an army, this usually feeds 3-4 adults comfortably and then some if it’s being served as a main. As a side, halve the recipe and mussels.

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Broth before steamy pre-boil

I place all of the above ingredients, minus the mussels, into my trusty Starfrit 6qt deep pan with a vented glass lid and slowly bring to a steamy temperature, just before any signs of a boil then add in the mussels using a slotted spoon. I give the dish a good stir in, ensuring the mussels are well coated in sauce and then replace the lid, allowing the steam to build and the liquid to boil without getting out of hand (a gentle simmer, not a hard boil). I let it cook for about 10 minutes, making sure to stir the mussels into the broth every once in a while to even cooking and flavour infusion. You will know the mussels are done and ready for serving when the shells open.

Slowly starting to open, indicating 'ready' status!

Slowly starting to open, indicating ‘ready’ status!

Be sure to not overcook them or they will become rubbery and, while still edible, not nearly as enjoyable.

I like to serve them in deep bowls with a bit of broth and some nice crusty french bread for dipping. To up the ante, I whip up some garlic butter, give the bread a good spread then light toasting in the oven…mmm…I’m drooling at the thought.

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Looks like I know what’s for dinner tonight at my place!

~ Toni