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.

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara

An absolute favourite in our home, Spaghetti alla Carbonara originated in Italy – Rome to be specific and is a pasta dish traditionally consisting of egg, cheese and bacon.

I was first introduced to this recipe by Michael. It was his go-to dish to impress me with when we first started dating long before I knew how simple it was to whip together, as its richness in flavour would make you think it took ages to assemble. Over time it has become one of my personal favourites to whip up and Michael assures me that he’s met his match in the Carbonara game – an accolade I am proud to have earned.

Michael’s mom, Pina was the first to share with me the origins of the dish, explaining that the village would feed the Charcoal workers this hearty meal as it was filling,  easy to cook in large batches and fairly inexpensive to make as pork based meats, cheese and pasta are in abundance in Italy.

While there are many variations and versions of Carbonara – including the cream based sauce, chicken and garlic additions of the western world, and Michael’s and my very own mushroom and onion versions – the best in my opinion is the basic, traditional version.

To start you will need:

A good cut of bacon – if I’m not able to get to our local butcher, I prefer President’s Choice, naturally smoked bacon. You can also swap the bacon out for pancetta, or add in chicken breast in addition to the bacon.

Parmigiano Reggiano – not Kraft Parmesan (aka salt), REAL Parmigiano Reggiano, wax case and all. As this is a staple in our home, I usually buy a fair size piece and then grate it myself – however if I’m tight for time I cheat and buy the pre-grated container at the local butcher, Dipietros. You can also request to have it grated at most meat/deli counters in your local grocery store.

Parmigiano Regiano

Parmigiano Regiano

Eggs – the rule for quantity required is one egg per serving or person eating, plus one. So if I am making enough pasta for 4 people, I would need five eggs for the sauce base.

Pasta – traditionally a spaghetti dish, however many types of pasta can be used in this recipe and it works well with fettuccine or linguine. I however prefer tradition and usually use spaghetti.

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To begin, you will need to cut your bacon into roughly one inch chunks and then separate the slices onto a plate.

I use kitchen scissors as I find it a bit easier and faster

I use kitchen scissors as I find it a bit easier and faster

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Once this is complete, cook your bacon until it is the perfect texture of almost crunchy, but with a little bit of flex to it still. I use a deep pan for this to avoid splatter.

A tip for dealing with the bacon grease: line a bowl with tin foil and drain off the grease into the bowl. When the grease is cooled, you can wrap it up in the tinfoil and throw it away, minimizing the mess and clean up.

Mmmmm bacon

Mmmmm bacon

I drain off the grease as I go to avoid 'boiling' the bacon in its own fat and to cut down on splatter

I drain off the grease as I go to avoid ‘boiling’ the bacon in its own fat and to cut down on splatter

Perfect!

Perfect!

Once the bacon is done cooking, drain off any excess grease and pat dry with paper towel, setting it aside. This is where I start the pasta, bringing the water to a boil, adding in the spaghetti, a pinch of salt and about a teaspoon of olive oil to avoid sticky noodles.

Once the pasta is started, I grate the Parmigiano using a hand grater.

A gift from Piña, my favourite grater.

My favourite grater.

You will need enough cheese for the sauce - one scoop per serving - as well as to garnish/ taste once plated.

You will need enough cheese for the sauce – one scoop per serving – as well as to garnish/ taste once plated.

Now, for the base of the sauce! In a separate bowl, crack your eggs using the rule of one egg per person/serving, plus one.

A serving for four = five eggs

A serving for four = five eggs

To keep the eggs from congealing from the heat of the pasta, add a small splash of extra virgin olive oil – less than a teaspoon.

Just a splash!

Just a splash!

Using a fork, beat your eggs with the olive oil until combined.

The blur is my hand and the fork - I'm so fast!

The blur is my hand and the fork – I’m so fast!

Once the egg and olive oil is ready, add in your Parmigiano using the same rule as the egg. As I am a Parmigiano addict, I make sure mine are heaping scoops.

Mmmmm Parm...

Mmmmm Parm…

To finish the sauce, add in your bacon and stir.

Mmmmm bacon...

Mmmmm bacon…

Ready for the pasta

Ready for the pasta

When your pasta is ready, drain, rinse and return it to the pot. Pour in your sauce and stir – based on the type of pasta I use, I usually use a pair of tongs to turn over the noodles in the sauce to avoid ruining the integrity of the noodle. The heat of the noodle will slightly cook the eggs, with the oil keeping it creamy and rich.

Your pasta is now ready for plating! Be sure to garnish with a few more scoops of Parm and a bit of cracked pepper to taste.

Voila!

Buon appetito!