Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Yankee" Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

My dad is the king of pulled pork sandwiches.  He's from Memphis, so it makes sense that he would be.  He has a very authentic way of preparing them.  He hickory-smokes the pork shoulder for hours and hours.  And hours.  He makes cole slaw.  He serves the sandwiches on buns with spicy Memphis barbeque sauce, and the cole slaw right on top - not optional.  While I would love to be able to make these sandwiches, since just thinking about them makes me mouth start to water, I don't have a smoker, or my dad's eternal patience to keep adjusting the coals and checking the pork to make sure it's at the right temperature.  So I settle for another preparation of a pork shoulder, which does the trick in a pinch: the slow cooker.

Dad would call this Yankee pulled pork.  It is.  It doesn't come with cole slaw, and it's doused in a thick, sweet sauce.  It's not authentic at all.  But it still tastes freaking amazing.  Because it's still PORK.


"Yankee" Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

1 3- to 4-pound bone-in pork shoulder

1 12-oz. can Dr. Pepper
1 onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/3 cup bourbon
1/2 can chipotle peppers in adobo (or chipotle salsa, if you didn't read the label)

Spice Rub:
5 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Coat the outside of the pork shoulder with the spice rub, really rubbing it into the meat.  Place it in a dish or ziploc bag, and refrigerate it for 2-3 hours or overnight.  Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, and brown the meat on all sides.  Place onions and garlic in a layer in the bottom of the slow cooker.  When the pork is browned, place it on top of the onions.  Pour Dr. Pepper, bourbon, and chipotles over the pork, place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook for 4-6 hours on high, or 8-10 on low. 

Remove meat to a plate, discard any bones, and use two forks to shred the meat.  Then strain some of the extra fat off of the liquid in the slow cooker.  You can do this a couple of ways.  If you have a lot of time, you can put the liquid in the fridge, and allow it to cool completely.  The fat will sit on top in an orangey-yellow layer, and you can just scrape it off and throw it away.  But if you just got home from work, and want to eat the pork as soon as possible, you can just use a big spoon to carefully skim the fat off the top.  

Once the extra fat is skimmed, adjust the seasonings in the sauce to taste.  I added some barbeque sauce, ketchup and apple cider vinegar, stirring and tasting until it was the way I like it.  Play with it until you get it right, and then add the shredded meat back in and keep it warm until you're ready to eat.  Pile it high on toasted buns, and top with pickles, onions, cole slaw... whatever makes you happy.

Double Chocolate Muffins

Happy birthday to my husband!

Double Chocolate Muffins

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon oil (canola/safflower/vegetable)
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  In a measuring cup, combine remaining ingredients, whisking together to combine.  Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring just until mixed (don't overmix!).  Pour into paper-lined muffin cups, sprinkle liberally with raw sugar, and bake 20 minutes, until tops are dry and crackly, and a tester inserted in the center comes out with only melted chocolate chips, not gooey batter.  Cool for a few minutes in the pan, and then remove muffins and cool on a rack.  Put in a birthday candle, and sing happy birthday to someone you love. 

Yield: 1 dozen standard-size muffins, or 6 jumbo muffins (increase baking time slightly).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Steak 'n' Bacon Tacos

As I was standing in the kitchen beginning to prepare this dinner, the Coppertop Guy munched on some tortilla chips and asked me,

"Can you think of a savory food that would not taste better with bacon?"

I thought for a second, and said that I couldn't think of one.  And then he proposed that we add bacon to our dinner.  Our dinner of steak tacos.  It's your week, baby, why not?

This is a great way to use leftover chicken or steak.  Just cut it into small pieces, add some Mexican flavor, and you've got yourself some fantastic tacos.

I love to heat tortillas over an open burner.  You have to be quick, or you'll burn your fingers, but they get all scorched and hot and delicious that way.  Keep flipping every 5-10 seconds or they'll burn, and when they get blistered and hot, transfer them to a foil packet to keep them warm.

Steak Tacos

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 already-cooked lean steak, cut into small cubes
1/2 small can fire-roasted green chilies
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a skillet over low heat.  Add cubed steak, chilies, and spices and toss until steak is warmed through.  You want to cook it as little as possible so it still retains its color and flavor.  Fill warmed soft corn tortillas with steak, and top with your favorite toppings.  If you're the birthday boy, that means sauteed red peppers, shredded cheddar cheese, and bacon.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hot Tomato Sunday Brunch Salad

At church on Sunday, we started the service with a hymn-sing.  People in the congregation request their favorites, and we sing a few verses!  It's pretty fun.  In the second service there was a little boy, maybe 3 or 4 years old, and he had his hand up to make a request even before anyone announced the hymn-sing.  He was the first to be called on, and he said in this loud, clear voice,


Which, in our hymnal, is Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.  Oh my gosh.  It was so cute.

When I got home I was starving, and I've been doing everything I can think of with tomatoes.  I will beseech you once again, please eat some tomatoes.  They're incredible.  Eat your fill of tomatoes now, and then IGNORE THEM IN THE WINTER!  They'll look at you, all fake-red and tasteless from the grocery aisle, and you'll be tempted, but if you remember what summer tomatoes taste like, you'll go sailing by!  So eat some tomatoes.

Here is another way to eat a tomato a day until they're gone.

Hot Tomato Sunday Brunch Salad

Chop one gigantic heirloom tomato into bite-size chunks.  Heat some oil in a skillet over medium-low heat, and then toss the tomatoes into the pan for a while with some salt and pepper.  Meanwhile, mix a few tablespoons of cream cheese with a few grates of lemon zest, a tablespoon of capers, and an assortment of fresh herbs: mint, parsley, basil, chives, whatever you've got.  Place the hot tomatoes into a bowl, and dot the top with the herbed cream cheese.  Slice some smoked salmon into thin slivers and lay them on top of the cheese.  Top with a fried egg and garnish with chopped chives.  Serve with a piece of buttered wheat toast.

Let the birth-week begin!

This weekend was flawless.  Sunny, not too hot, and filled with lots of friends and food.  On Saturday, we watched the series premiere of The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network!  It was all I could have dreamed.  The horses, the cowboy hats and boots, the cute kids, the food!  Ah!  Then we ran some errands, and made a couple of additions to our deck garden  A yellow hibiscus (which I didn't even know existed until I saw it at the store) and a pink phlox.  They add a lot more visual interest and color, and even though they're late-comers, they're perennials, so we'll get to enjoy them for several summers to come.

 I also harvested my garden's first tomatoes!  Tiny sweet pear-shaped yellow heirlooms.  

And on Saturday night, we began the 7 nights of feasting to celebrate my husband's birthday!  First on the menu: broiled steaks, cheesy mashed potatoes, and green beans.

I was being cheap, so I got these bottom round steaks that were on sale.  A little tough, but still pretty good!  I wish that ribeyes had been on sale, though.  I really do.

Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Fair warning: these are not low-fat.

2 pounds russet potatoes (about 6 medium), peeled and cut into chunks
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup half and half
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 pieces of bacon, cooked until crispy, chopped into bits

In a large pot, cover potatoes with at least an inch of water.  Bring to a boil, and boil for 5-10 minutes, until a sharp knife inserted into a potato comes out very easily.  Drain, and return to the pot over low heat.  Mash with a potato masher.  Add butter, half and half, and sour cream, salt and pepper, and continue to mash together.  Add cheese and keep on mashing.  When it's all combined and melty, serve alongside steaks and green beans topped with more cheese and bacon.

Serves 4.

Friday, August 26, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday


I love the album One Quiet Night by Pat Metheny.  I was a nanny for a summer sometime in college, and the family had this CD, and that summer I think I played the CD every day.  When I went back to school, I bought it, and ever since, it is has been the most reliable way I know of to go to my happy place.


I can't believe that this is the last weekend of summer!  Next weekend is Labor Day, college football starts, and even the last hold-out school districts will be back in session.  The days are getting markedly shorter, and there are already apples at the farmer's market.  I'm holding out until it's actually September for those, though.  I'm still plowing through a few pounds of peaches every week.


Sliced tomatoes are an unbelievably delicious meal right now.  By themselves, they are pretty much enough.  With a little fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil, or roasted and tossed with heirloom beans and pancetta for a salad, they are out of this world.


What are you doing for back-to-school?  For me, September is a more compelling time to make resolutions than January.  Maybe it's because my birthday is January 2, so any resolutions I make about eating better are instantly foiled by birthday cake.  Or maybe it's because I always loved going back to school.  Brand-new shiny notebooks, freshly sharpened Ticonderoga pencils (what, don't you have a favorite brand of wooden pencil?), new books filled with exciting new things to learn.  Now that I'm out of school, I still try to give myself self-improvement or learning projects.  I'm trying to figure out what I will do to send myself "back to school" this fall.  What about you?


I just want to tell you about these muffins again.  You should really make them before all the millions of zucchini are gone from gardens and markets.  I took one from the freezer this morning for my breakfast, and it was even better than I remembered it.  Make them.  You have a whole weekend to do this for yourself, and you deserve it.


Tonight, I'm not cooking.  Instead, we are heading to our friends' house to take care of their baby boy while they have a date night.  We're going to order Thai food and watch the Kenneth Branagh version of Hamlet.   Well, maybe not the entire thing.  But we will start it.


Coppertop Guy's birthday is next week, and in order to celebrate, I will be cooking seven of his favorite dinners... in a row, starting tomorrow night!  There will be a lot of meat.  There will be pizza and burgers and cheesecake.  It will be well-documented, and you will want to be here.  So I hope you'll come back over the next seven days and celebrate with us!  We are sending this summer out with a bang.

Have a fantastic weekend, and head over to Jen's for more quick takes!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pie oh my.

I've been going through some stuff.  When I'm not feeling like myself, and having to lean on friends and family more than usual, cooking grounds me and reminds me of who I am again.  There is such comfort in putting together simple elements and turning them into great food.  It's a sort of alchemy.

You can't lose with peaches like these.

I had been having a losing streak with pie crusts before this one.  But my mom happened to be in town, so I asked her to give me a lesson, since she is the queen of predictably delicious and flaky pie crusts.  Sometimes you just need to watch a master at work.

So I got myself this beautiful new enameled deep-dish pie plate, 5 pounds of ripe peaches from the market, and this lattice-top how-to from the August issue of Bon Appetit.  Oh my goodness.  If I had only known how easy it was to accomplish this wonderful, so-super-fancy-looking top, I would have been doing it forever.  You must try it. 

I mean, look at that!  Who wouldn't want to take that to a Labor Day party?

Peach Pie
adapted from Bon Appetit, August 2011

I used my brand-new shiny 10.5-inch deep dish pie plate, but this recipe will work in a standard 9-inch one.  Just use a little less fruit, but leave everything else the same.

For the crust:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Combine flour, half of butter, shortening, salt and sugar in bowl of a food processor.  Process until ingredients are well incorporated.  Add remaining butter, and pulse a few times, until the remaining butter is in pea-sized pieces (this is the secret to the flakiness).  Add apple cider vinegar and a few tablespoons of ice water and process in short pulses until the water is incorporated, adding one tablespoon at a time and continuing to pulse until the dough comes together in a cohesive ball on the blade.  Be very patient, allowing each tablespoon to completely incorporate before adding more.  The exact amount of water you'll need will differ each time you make it.  Remove from the processor and divide in half.  Shape each half into a disc about 5 inches in diameter, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.  In the meantime, prepare the filling.

For the filling:

5 pounds fresh ripe peaches (or other ripe stone fruit), pitted and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/2-cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
5 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 large egg, beaten to blend

Place peach slices into a large bowl, and sprinkle with sugar.  Toss to coat, and let sit at room temperature for an hour.  Strain liquid out into a bowl.  Whisk together 1/4 cup of reserved liquid with cornstarch and nutmeg, and pour back over the peaches, tossing to coat. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out half of the dough into a circle on a floured surface, working patiently and starting from the outsides of the disk, repairing small cracks as you go along.  It should be about 1/8-inch thick.  Gently roll the crust up onto the rolling pin and place it into the pie plate.  Pour the prepared peaches into the bottom crust.  Roll second crust into a 14-inch circle, and use a pizza wheel or sharp knife to cut it into 1-inch strips.  Using half the dough, arrange parallel strips over the surface of the pie.  Working one half at a time. lift up every other strip and place a new strip perpendicular to the others.  Replace them over the new strip, and continue until the whole pie is covered in lattice.  Trim edges of strips, and fold overhang of bottom crust over.  Crimp edges decoratively.

Place pie onto a baking sheet that is lined with parchment, and bake for 20 minutes at 400.  Decrease the heat to 350 and bake for another 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is deeply browned.  Allow to cool completely before serving.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Spiced Zucchini Muffins

Anyone else seeing monster zucchini like this one in your gardens or farmers' markets?  I bought this one for a dollar last week!  A dollar!  It's gigantic.  I assume that it was so cheap because the farmers have a harder time unloading the huge ones - maybe people are intimidated by them.  But never fear - now when you're at the market and you see a zucchini the size of your head, you will know what to do with it!

Crystallized ginger!

I found this recipe on 101 Cookbooks.  Heidi Swanson is one of my favorite food bloggers.  She takes the most lovely photos, and her recipes are seasonal and delicious.  They're also all-natural and vegetarian!  I'm on a bit of a muffin kick right now, so I adapted her zucchini bread recipe for healthy, satisfying muffins.  As I said before, it is a great treat to make these over the weekend and then freeze them for quick, hearty weekday breakfasts.

Spiced Zucchini Muffins

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups grated zucchini

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oat flour or finely ground old-fashioned oats (you can use the blender or food processor for this)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together walnuts, lemon, and ginger in a small bowl and set aside.  Cream butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add sugars and blend until smooth.  Scrape down sides of bowl and add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Add vanilla and blend.  Add zucchini and blend.  Sift together dry ingredients and add to butter mixture in two additions.  Add walnuts, lemon zest, and ginger and mix just until combined.

Grease muffin tins or line with paper liners.  Fill 3/4 full, and bake for 20-25 minutes (for regular-size muffins), or 25-30 minutes (for jumbo muffins), or for 2 loaves, for 45-50 minutes.  The tops should look dry, and a tester inserted in the middle should come out clean.

Cool for a couple of minutes in the pans, and then remove and cool completely on racks.  Spread with cream cheese and enjoy!

Friday, August 19, 2011


Man, have I been in a funk lately.  Things in the kitchen have been blah.  I tried to make crispy oven-"fried" chicken earlier in the week, and it was gross.  I should have just skillet-and-oil for reals fried it.  But I was trying to be healthy.  Might work better on chicken with skin and bones... I'll have to keep working on that.  I've been really unmotivated to clean up after myself in the kitchen, which means that every time I go in there right now, I have to clean up before myself.  Not as fun.

Last night I tried to make BLTs for dinner, including from-scratch homemade bread, after work.  Pipe dream?  A little.  I got home at 5:15 and immediately started mixing the dough.  The thing with homemade bread, though?  You can't make it go faster.  It has to rise and rise again, and you just can't force it to adhere to your timeline.  So we ate a little late, and were grumpy, and the sandwiches were good, but would have been better on bread that had had time to rise properly, cool, and then get toasted before being put to work.


On to more positive things!  Now that the farmers' market is very nearly overwhelming in its bounty, I'm trying to get better at planning my trips so that I use up everything I buy before it goes bad.  In the works for the next few days: cherry jam (4 quarts of tart cherries have been pitted!  I deserve a medal.), zucchini muffins, stuffed peppers, and avocado soup.  It's exciting!  Also on my list for tonight: CLEAN ALL THE THINGS.  Seriously.  Every surface in our apartment is covered in stuff, and there's nowhere to sit down and calmly do ANYTHING.  It's time for a flying tornado of clutter destruction.

You know how when you were a kid, you had your parents to make sure you did things like take a shower, clean your room, eat your vegetables, and not watch too much TV?  As an adult, there is no one around to make you do anything, so you have to impose rules and goals and systems on yourself, lest you collapse into:
  • credit card debt,
  • obesity,
  • illness,
  • living in squalor, and
  • being an antisocial hermit,
among other things.  We have recently imposed monthly spending limits on ourselves like responsible adults.  I don't like it.  Last month, we were super close, but because we didn't reach our goal, we're not getting a new camera.  Until next month.  And only if we meet the goal next month.  And even though I'm the one who made/agreed to these rules, I am super disappointed!  I guess it's all a part of being an adult, which basically just means parenting yourself well.

Have you eaten a tomato lately?  I will be eating at least a tomato a day until they go out of season, because I just can't get over the taste.  It's time to do a lot of things with tomatoes - that's coming too, I promise.

So anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm sorry I haven't been here much.  I really appreciate you people who come and read what I write, and I'll be back in force next week. And I may even have a giveaway for you.  Because I'm happy you're here!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ratatouille Niçoise

I only lived alone for one year of my life.  I lived with roommates in college, and then for one year I lived in a tiny little studio apartment, and then I got married and moved in with my hubby.  I loved that one year.  I loved having the total freedom I had there.  If I wanted to watch TV or practice or listen to music late at night, I wasn't bothering anyone.  That space was one hundred percent mine.  I lived a couple of blocks from a Whole Foods, and once in a while, I took myself on little dates.  I would walk over there and buy a bottle of wine, some cheese, bread, and whatever else looked good, and bring it home to make dinner for myself.  Then I'd take a long, hot bath and read a book.  Far from being lonely, those evenings by myself were soul-nourishing and wonderful.

The kitchen of my tiny studio.

One of my favorite things to make on such nights was ratatouille, which is a traditional Provençal vegetable stew.  My family spent three weeks in Nice when I was six years old, and I assume that's when this recipe made its way into my mom's regular rotation.  The longer I'm away from home, the more I realize how incredibly spoiled my sister and I were by the food my mother consistently put on our dinner table.  Warm and fragrant, with the heady scent of herbs and red wine, a big bowl of ratatouille and a slice of crusty French bread spread thickly with soft goat cheese is comfort food at its finest.

Ratatouille Niçoise

The amounts and ingredients in this recipe are pretty flexible.  Just play around with it until you find something that you love.  And like most soups and stews, this gets better with time - the flavors blend and mellow and make magic together.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 sweet bell pepper, chopped
2 medium summer squash, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch half-moons
2 medium zucchini, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch half-moons
1 large or 2-3 small eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
1 28-oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

Heat the oil over medium heat in a soup pot or dutch oven.  Add the vegetables as you chop them, stirring in the next addition as it comes.  When all the veggies are in the pot, cook them until they are beginning to brown and soften.  Add wine and let cook for a minute or two.  Then add herbs and tomatoes, and stir well.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until all the vegetables are soft, but not falling apart.  The eggplant takes the longest to soften - taste a piece, and if the skin is still tough, give it another 10 minutes or so.  Serve as a side dish with roasted chicken, or as a sauce for pasta, or my favorite way: by itself, with a piece of French bread and goat cheese.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Down Home Turkey Burgers

Want a great way to show someone you love them?  Make them eat dark leafy greens, but make them taste so good that they won't even complain.  Serve these burgers with sweet potato fries, and they'll be so busy munching and saying "yum" that they'll hardly notice that this meal is as healthy as it is! 

Down Home Turkey Burgers

Pickapeppa sauce, if you've never used it before, is a Jamaican-style barbeque sauce that my dad loves.  When I was growing up, he would pour a bunch of Pickapeppa over a chunk of cream cheese, and we would eat it with crackers.  It's delicious.  Grab a bottle (you can find it at most grocery stores) and try it that way, or in these burgers.

4 slices smoky bacon
1 bunch fresh dark greens (collards or turnips)
1/4 cup chopped onions
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
1/2 red pepper, minced
3-4 tablespoons your favorite barbeque sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the bacon in a skillet until crispy.  Remove to a paper-towel lined plate, cool, and then chop into pieces.  While the bacon is cooking, rinse the greens, remove the tough stems, and slice into 1/2-inch ribbons.  Drain all but two tablespoons of the bacon grease from the pan, and add the greens.  Add about 1/2 cup of water, stir, cover and steam for about 3-5 minutes.  Check the greens, add the onions and more water if the pan looks dry and the greens are starting to scorch.  Cook for about 15 minutes total, adding water and stirring until the greens are dark and thoroughly wilted.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove and let cool for a few minutes, then chop into smaller pieces.

In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, barbeque sauce, bacon, chopped sauteed greens, red pepper, and lots of black pepper and salt to taste.  Shape into four patties, and cook in a skillet or on a grill over medium heat, about 4-5 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through.  Serve on soft whole wheat buns with pickle, onion and mustard.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Soul Food

I first met Alex when he was studying voice with my mom when we were both in high school.  He was already an accomplished artist, with a deep, velvety jazz tone and a sensitive way of bringing music to life.  Last year, he shared with our family an early version of his debut album, Commit Me, set to be released this year on Jive Records, and I can't say enough great things about it.  His music brings to mind John Legend, Justin Timberlake, and Usher, but is by no means a copycat.  This is a truly unique and soulful voice, and he is sure to take the music scene by storm.  Alex Boyd is one to watch.  Er, listen to.

Go to Alex's website to sign up for e-mail updates, follow him on twitter (@alexboydmusic), like him on facebook, download the single on iTunes, and most importantly, share his music with other people!  In a sea of mediocrity in the music industry, Alex Boyd's is a singular talent, and he deserves all the fame and success that I'm sure is coming to him.  Bravo, Alex!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Morning Muffins

As I've said before, I have a lot of beliefs about breakfast.  I believe that breakfast is one of our inalienable rights, and should not be denied.  (Sorry, we've been watching John Adams.)  Seriously, though, I love breakfast.  I rarely eat the same things two mornings in a row, and while I do have some old standbys (yogurt and granola, avocado toast, leftover veggies and scrambled eggs), I like to try new things.  But last week, when I stopped to treat myself to a muffin on the way to work, I was pretty disappointed in the cakelike, sickly-sweet banana nut muffin I got saddled with.  I made it my mission, right then and there, to create for myself a worthy banana counterpart.  And friends, I have succeeded.

Behold, the perfect Monday (or any other) morning muffin.  It has:
  • 100% whole wheat flour,
  • oatmeal,
  • walnuts,
  • bananas,
  • ground flaxseed,
  • raisins,
  • and love.

Monday Morning Muffins

I actually made these muffins on Saturday night, because I'm really cool.  Who needs to go out to a bar when you can watch TV on the couch and bake?  Once the muffins are fully cooled, you can freeze them, and then take them out one at a time each night so they'll be fresh and ready for you in the morning.  If you have one of those coffeemakers with a timer, it's almost like someone else made you breakfast.  And what could be better than that on Monday?

Note: I made jumbo muffins, but if you're making regular-size ones, you might need to decrease the baking time a little.  Check them after about 18-20 minutes.

2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
2 large, overripe bananas, smashed
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup raisins, soaked in hot water and drained (to plump 'em up)
1 cup chopped nuts
3/4 cup oatmeal

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray, or line with paper liners, or if you want loaves instead of muffins, grease and flour 2 standard loaf pans.  Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and beat.  Add bananas and milk and mix.  Add remaining ingredients, and mix until just combined.  Spoon batter into tins, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  For loaves, the cooking time will be between 45 minutes and an hour. 

Yield: 8 jumbo muffins, 16 regular-size muffins, or two loaves.