Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting

I have made a lot of cupcakes recently. A. LOT. Over 130 two weekends ago and 90+ this past weekend. I prefer to make cakes honestly as they have more of a “wow” factor but cupcakes seem to be the in thing these days. Besides Nathan loves that I make them because then he gets to taste test as I frost unlike a cake. Pretty sure no one misses a devoured cupcake but would notice if a slice of cake was missing.

So just putting the word out there- could someone order a cake next time instead of cupcakes? Or order cookies. Or bars. Or brownies. I am cupcaked out.

On to the cake recipe- in my quest for the perfect chocolate cake I have made more than I care to count. None hold a candle to this recipe. It tastes like box cake mix- in a good way. It is light, fluffy, has a good crumb and dirties exactly one bowl. Not to mention a well stocked kitchen should have all the ingredients on hand at all times.

This recipe comes from my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. I picked it up at a local used bookstore years ago. I love it to pieces. If you want to challenge yourself as a baker pick it up. I have only dared to make some of the recipes but everything comes out perfect on the first try. This cupcake recipe along with her pate brisee and swiss meringue buttercream are some of my go-tos in this book.

And the frosting- well it is ok. I don’t love this frosting but it gets good reviews. It is a bit soft when pipped so keep that in mind. Don’t set these out in hot weather. It takes advance planning since you have to let the base cool completely. Its one redeeming factor is that it looks stunning. Oh and it is easy (although time consuming) to make.

Simple. Tasty. Enjoy!

chocolate cupcake with vanilla bean frosting

Chocolate cupcakes (makes about 30)

1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add eggs, warm water, milk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 1/2 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.
vanilla frosting
Vanilla Bean Frosting (Makes about 4 cups)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2  scraped vanilla beans (or 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, cut into 24 pieces and softened at room temperature

In a medium sauce pan, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. It should thicken considerably. Cook for 3-7 minutes tasting often (carefully!) to make sure that the flour is completely cooked.

Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature. If it is even slightly warm, the frosting won’t beat up properly. I made mine in the morning, left it on the counter, then finished the frosting in the afternoon. You could refrigerate it but let it come to room temp before proceeding.

Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature, beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until all the butter has been incorporated fully. Increase the speed to medium-high. Beat the frosting for five FULL minutes, until it is light and fluffy. Let the frosting sit at room temperature until it is a bit more stiff, about 1 hour. Chill 30-60 minutes before piping.

Amazing Chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean frosting


My favorites- #1

Once a week I will be posting things I have either made or want to make that I have found online. I hope you enjoy and might find something tasty!

I am obsessed with French Macaroons. I am horrible at making them. My very first attempt they came out beautifully and since then… I will master them fear not but will most likely not post the recipes here. Honestly they are impossible to replicate. It is a matter of feel and what the weather is doing that day and if you do quarter spin to the left at the right moment. It is voodoo I tell you. Either way I tried this recipe for chocolate macaroons from Cannelle et Vanille. They were delicious although a complete failure in execution again.

I am making these vanilla bean cupcakes from The Sisters Cafe for a fundraiser a few weekends ago. I found the vanilla bean cupcake with the vanilla bean frosting to be too much vanilla so I am using a different frosting (probably chocolate) and using this frosting on chocolate cupcakes. Also I used this frosting to fill the macaroons mentioned above. That was divine.

I can’t wait to try this salted caramel shortbread from Sweet Tooth. Enough said. Want to come over when I make them to save me from eating them ALL? There will be coffee….

Who doesn’t love Smitten Kitchen? I have made many of her recipes and they are flawless every single time. Sunday morning Little woke us up way to early (as he often does). The morning was saved by these strawberry scones and two lattes before 9 am. They were a little bland so I would double the strawberries and increase the sugar by 50%. All around tasty though.

Peanut butter pie (of sorts)

I have a confession. You say birthday I say cake. As in if I hear it is your birthday, your dogs birthday, your half birthday, etc I consider it an occasion to make you a cake. Nothing says I love you (to me at least) quite like homamade loveliness covered in frosting lovingly (although poorly) decorated. Precious little brings me as much joy as being part of a special occasion and being able to bring that person a whole pile of sugar love.

Aaron with Peanut Butter CakeSo last week when I heard it was Aaron’s birthday the first words out of my mouth were “Can I make you a cake?”His response was “Well I certainly am not going to turn you down so if you want to…” He requested peanut butter and chocolate. I was set out to make a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Have I mentioned I must be the one person on the planet that doesn’t like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate? However the birthday boy requested it so that was the kind of cake he was going to get.

And somehow this isn’t a cake. Well it is of sorts because it comes out of a springform pan but it more pie like. There is a graham cracker crust and a filling. I did make my very first parchment piping bag to drizzle chocolate over the top. It wouldn’t be a special occasion if I didn’t pipe something on to it. It actually looks ok for a change. I stumbled onto this recipe at and couldn’t resist making it.

Happy birthday Aaron. I hope you enjoyed it.

 Peanut Butter Cake

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

8 ounces chocolate graham crackers
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mash up the graham crackers in to a fine powder (food processor, in a bag with a rolling pin, in a bowl with the bottom of a cup). Combine melted butter and  crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9 or 10-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Notes- The crust was a bit crumbly. If I were to remake it I would do one of two things- instead of just melting the chocolate and spreading it on I would add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to make it a ganache which I think would hold the crust together better. The other thing to try would be to add an extra tablespoon of butter. Just my two cents.

A Slice of Peanut Butter Cake

Lemon blueberry Cake (and giveaway winner)

Brooke you won the bag of red fife wheat flour! I’ll get it to you soon. Message me on facebook and we will work out a time. Congrats.

If you didn’t win, go make the cake below. It will make you feel better. Guaranteed.

Some dear dear friends, who live in an hour away, had a baby girl (Darling) just three months before we had Little. I love them to pieces and wish they lived closer. We joke all the time that Little and Darling will be each others first dates- once they turn 16. They are so so so cute together.

I was honored when I was asked to make a cake for the grown ups to eat at Darling’s first birthday. Honored and nervous! What if it doesn’t turn out? What if no on likes it? What if something happens to it in transit? What if? What if? What if? As usual though, I tackled a recipe I had never made before (why do I do that to myself!?!).

The frosting job left something to be desired in my opinion but the cake itself was delicious. I hope to take a cake decorating class sometime in the near future. In the meantime we will have to settle for taste not looks.

Happy Birthday Darling. We had a lovely time at your party. Thank you for the snuggles and giggles. You are becoming a beautiful young lady!

Lemon blueberry Cake

Lemon Blueberry cake

2 cups plus 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened about 20 minutes out of refrigerator
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8″ round cake pans with parchment paper, butter and flour. Sift dry ingredients into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to larger bowl. Add fresh blueberries and toss to coat them with flour. Set remaining flour mixture and blueberries aside.

Stir whole milk, sour cream, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest in small bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar, until pale yellow and very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, until well combined. Mix in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Divide batter equally among 8″ round pans.

Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks for about 10 minutes, then invert onto racks until completely cool.

Frosting (this is hands down one of the best frostings I have ever tried)

1 cup soft unsalted butter
2 teaspoons lemon zest
5 cups icing sugar (or 6 cups for sweeter version)
3 tbs fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons whipping cream (35% cream)
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
pinch salt
a drop or two of yellow food coloring

Cream butter and lemon zest in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, about 3 minutes. Slowly add icing sugar, mixing on low speed for about 2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and beat on med-high for 3-4 minutes until very fluffy. If using color gel, add a drop or two, then beat until blended. Yields enough to frost outside of three layer 8″ round cake.

Lemon Curd (make a double batch):

3 large egg yolks, strained
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk to combine. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure to stir sides and bottom of pan. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter, one piece at a time, stirring with the wooden spoon until consistency is smooth.
Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to avoid a skin from forming; wrap tightly. Let cool; refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour.

A few notes: First- I made the cake and lemon curd three days in advance and refrigerated it. Nothing was lost in taste, moistness, or texture as everything was tightly wrapped. A total time saver, especially when I can generally only bake when Little is in bed. Second the lemon curd is SO strong. I would make 1.5 frosting recipes next time and only one of the lemon curd. I would then cut the lemon curd with the frosting and use that as the filling rather than straight lemon curd. Makes sense? Let me know if you try this and how it turns out.

Lemon blueberry CakeLemon blueberry Cake


Sausage, ricotta, and spinach stuffed shells

Remember all that lovely ricotta I taught you to make last week? If you missed it go here and check it out. This recipe is best made with your own yummy homemade ricotta. Add a little extra salt to the milk as it is heating up as you will be using it in a savory recipe. I would say 1 to 1 1/2 tsp.

This was a tasty Sunday night dinner I lovingly made for my sister and brother-in-law. I threw this together on the fly so I hope I have remembered everything I did. It was oh so very good and made excellent leftovers.

Sausage, ricotta and spinach stuffed shells (serves five to six depending on how hungry the boys are)

25 jumbo shells (this is more than you need but I always make extra to account for broken shells)
1 lb package of Italian sausage (mild or hot your choice)
3 cups baby spinach
1 recipe homemade ricotta or roughly 4 cups ricotta
4 tbs butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp garlic powder
fresh ground black pepper
fresh ground nutmeg (don’t argue with me on this one. Get a whole nutmeg and a microplane. The powdered stuff is yucky)

Pasta: Cook the shells according to the package. Make sure the water is plenty salty. Drain, rinse.

Prep for Sausage, Ricotta, and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Filling: Meanwhile brown the sausage over medium high heat in a large pan. Break it up in to little pieces as it cooks. Drain the oil. Put in a large bowl. Return the dirty pan to stove over low heat. Throw in the spinach, toss to coat with the leftover oil. Cover and leave over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Once completely wilted add to the same bowl as the sausage. Mix the sausage, half the ricotta, spinach, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, and some fresh ground pepper in a large bowl.

The Roux for the Stuffed Shells

Sauce: In a large sauce pan (or the pot you boiled the noodles in or the pan you made the sausage in if you want to dirty fewer pots) melt the butter over medium high heat. Once completely melted add all the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk a little at a time whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Once the sauce reaches a batter like consistency you can add the rest of the milk- all while continually whisking. Add 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, about 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and a few grinds of black pepper. Allow to boil and as it does it will thicken. Remove from heat and mix in the rest of the ricotta. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Placing The Stuffed Shells

Sausage, Ricotta, and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Assemble: Preheat oven to 350. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the sauce and pour the rest in the bottom of a large baking dish. Take a shell, scoop about 1 tablespoon of filling in to the shell, then nest it in to the sauce seam side up. Repeat till you are out of shells, filling, or both. Dollop a spoonful of the reserved sauce over each shell. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn on broiler, move dish under broiler, and let brown for 2-3 minutes.


Ps. There is still plenty of time to enter my giveaway for a bag of teff. Go here to see how to enter (and learn what the heck teff is).

Sausage, Ricotta, and Spinach Stuffed Shells

Teff polenta (new ingredient and my first giveaway!)

On my list of 30 things to accomplish before I am 30 number 23 is use 23 new ingredients. Alton Brown did an episode of Good Eats a while back where he remarked that the average American home cook has a repertoire of 100 ingredients from which they rarely stray. I have made it my mission to bring new things in my kitchen and decided my 30 by 30 list was a great place to include this challenge.

So far I have used coconut oil, paste food coloring (I know that might be a stretch), dried garbanzo beans, quinoa, rutabaga, sucanat, and now teff.  I love using new ingredients and have been working on trying new things since I saw that episode. I expand my cooking skills and often, as is the case with teff, fall in love with something I would have otherwise never eaten. Often I find these new ingredients at the local Farmer’s Market.

Teff Polenta Fixings

I escaped to the Farmer’s Market recently without Little or Nathan. Alone! Bliss! I could peruse at my pleasure! I bought some produce for the week and some hazelnuts as a treat. Lastly I swung by Camas Country Mill’s  stand- a stop I ALWAYS make. They are the mill on a third generation farm here in the Willamette Valley. Local, delicious, friendly. I love all their products and love when they have something new for me to try. This Saturday they were sampling teff. They used the grain to make a polenta and the flour to make a brownie. Both were amazing. Best part is the Camas Country Mill folks had a printed recipe on hand. Did I mention I love theses people? I bought a bag and knew we would be having the polenta for dinner.

Since making this recipe I did some background research on this amazing grain. Ok, to be honest I have read the wikipedia page on Eragrostis tef and that’s about it. But I have learned that it is mostly grown in Ethiopia and Eritrea and is actually a grass. It is also gluten free. It is all manner of good for you like most whole grains are. All I know is that it is delicious.

Brown Teff Grain from Camas Country Mills

So where can you get this wonderful grain? Visit Camas Country Mill’s site to see their list of retailers. Or you can win a bag right here on this blog! They gave me a bag of teff to give away to my readers! You can enter this giveaway three ways (each person may enter once per way):

  1. Leave a comment on this post. Tell me what new ingredient you have used lately.
  2. Pin this recipe or any other recipe from Leave me a comment letting me know you did this.
  3. Share this post on facebook. Leave me a comment on this post letting me know you did this.

I will draw for and announce the winner Friday during Little’s mid-morning naptime. Entries accepted till Friday 6/15/12 at 9 AM PST.

Ok, back to cooking. I loosely followed the recipe acquired at the market. Nathan loved it and Little wolfed it down- garlic and all. I couldn’t stop talking about it all night. Seriously. This is up there in the top three things I have ever made.

Brown Teff Polenta in Bowl

Teff polenta (makes three entree or six side dish servings)

1 cup teff
4 cups water
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs butter
1/4 cup Parmesan
2 zucchini chopped in to bite size pieces
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
olive oil
1 medium tomato chopped
2 tbs basil chiffonade
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup cheese (I used Monterrey jack although Cheddar or Gruyere would work lovely)

Put water in a sauce pan. Add salt and bring to a boil. Slowly add teff while stirring to prevent clumping. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes ish stirring often to prevent lumps. Taste often and turn the heat off when it reaches your desired level of tenderness and thickness. Stir in butter and Parmesan.

In another pan saute garlic and zucchini till almost done. Add tomato to the pan and cook till the tomato releases its juices. Sprinkle with basil and season.

Place the teff polenta in the bottom of a bowl. Top with the veggies and cheese. Enjoy.

Note- This could be made with regular polenta as well. Follow the package direction then top with the veggies.

Brown Teff Grain

Chewy chocolate chip cookies

I love baking (does that go without saying?). I  love trying new recipes and finding something that is just right. However, somehow, a few recipes have snuck in to my repertoire that are sub par. I have always felt my chocolate chip cookies were this way.

I want rich, chewy, big, golden cookies. What I usually got was a mixture of cakiness, toughness, and blah. What on earth? I can produce a stunning three tiered cake but am defeated by a recipe on the back of a little yellow package? (not naming names here)

Oatmeal cookies I have down pat. In fact I can vary my recipe and it comes out spectacular every time. Ribbon winning at the local county fair good. I accidentally just ate seven cookies in a row good. Impress new friends good. But plain Jane everyday chocolate chip cookies eluded me. Till now.

chewy chocolate chip cookies

I stumbled on to this recipe just recently and was struck at how odd it was. Melted butter? So much brown sugar? That many chocolate chips? How much vanilla!?! As per usual I whipped up the recipe verbatim the first time. The batter was odd but into the oven they went. And when they came out- Oh my! There is the cookie I always wanted to make!

So what did I do? I messed with the recipe. I added fewer chocolate chips. I tried using whole wheat flour. Results- disastrous. Ok well that is overstating things. They were mediocre. Better than the little yellow package but not the out of the world cookies that came out of my oven the first time.

So if you are a crunchy cookie person, sorry these aren’t for you. But if you want a cookie that is still ooey gooey three days later (if they last that long) then here is your perfect recipe.

chewy chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Homemade Ricotta

I want you to make your own ricotta. It is easy. I promise. It is not something just the Martha Stewarts of the world make. Everyone can (and should!) make their own ricotta.

We make this at least once a month. The taste and texture of homemade ricotta doesn’t even begin to compare to what you can find in stores. Make this once and you will never ever buy it again. Also it is infinitely cheaper to make your own.

A few years ago Nathan and I took a cheese making class at Cooks, Pots, and Tabletops. It was a riot. We pulled mozzarella, learned to make marscapone, and were introduced to the simplicity of homemade ricotta. We haven’t attempted the marscapone or mozzarella since but I can’t count the number of times we have made ricotta. We will be making mozzarella sometime soon though and I promise to share that adventure.

Here is the recipe followed by a  picture by picture tutorial.


1 gallon whole milk
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp salt (to taste really but 1 tsp is a good place to start)

Ingredients for Ricotta

It is three easy ingredients. Salt, milk, and white vinegar. Use whole milk. The flavor comes from the cream. It is worth the calories. Make sure the milk is just pasteurized not ultra-pasteurized. It will say on the box which it is.

Pouring Milk in Pan

Rinse a large non-reactive pan with cold water (will help prevent the milk from scalding), add milk and salt. Stir. Place over medium heat.

Thermometer in Milk

Place a thermometer in the milk. We rig up a system with some foil. Make sure it doesn’t touch the bottoms or sides. A probe thermometer works great although a candy thermometer will do as well. Heat to 180 degrees F stirring occasionally.

Adding Vinegar
Stirring Ricotta

Remove from heat add the vinegar and stir for one minute and one minute only using a metal spoon (not wood). Use an up and down motion rather than stirring around and be gentle. We are encouraging the curds to form so we don’t want to break them up.

Covered Ricotta Pot

Once done stirring cover with a clean dry towel and allow to sit undisturbed for a few hours. We have made it in the morning before heading to work then strained it when we got home or even made it before bed and strained it in the morning.

Removing Ricotta from Pot
Ricotta in Baskets

After it has sat for however long (at least two hours) get a straining basket or line a colander with a damp cheesecloth (a thin kitchen towel will work great, a couple of layers of paper towels will work in a pinch). With slotted spoon gently ladle the curds out either in to the colander or basket. Let it drain freely for a couple of hours or so depending on how creamy you want your cheese to be.

Finished Ricotta

Once it is done draining unmold and place in a sealed container for up to 7 days. Refrigerate. It does not freeze well so use right away. Makes roughly 4 cups.

That’s it! Simple right?

Note- If making ricotta to use in a desert or a sweet application reduce or omit salt. You can replace 1 pint of the milk with 1 pint of whipping cream for a more decadent, creamier cheese. The longer it sits the more separated the curds will become. Let it sit 3-4 hours for a creamier cheese, 6 or more for more cottage cheesy like texture.

A recipe for what to do with all this cheese will follow next week!

How to Make Ricotta

Blueberry Muffins

When Nathan and I got married nearly seven years ago (that long already!?!) we had just arrived home from our honeymoon and woke up that first Saturday morning hungry. Wanting to be the perfect new little wife I asked him what he would like for breakfast. He surveyed the pile of gifts still in our living room and eyed our new waffle iron.

“Are you going to make waffles?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“Are WE going to make waffles?” I asked.

He shook his head.

“Am I going to make waffles?” I asked.

He nodded enthusiastically. (He can talk by the way…)

Waffles  take work. I was not going to make waffles for just the two of us. So I called my sister and her boyfriend (now her husband!) to see if they wanted to come over. And they did! So then started the tradition of Saturday morning breakfasts. For nearly four years. Every Saturday morning we would tidy the house, whip up waffles, and serve them hot at 10 am (9 am if there was a noon kickoff football game. Priorities people.).

We had as few as just Nathan and I and one other person for breakfast and as many as 14. I used to live in a tiny apartment and then a tiny house. We ate in shifts. It was wonderful. I loved it.

Over time the tradition ran its course and we have all gotten busy, some have moved away. I miss a house full of family and friends. I can’t wait till Little has sleepovers and I get to make breakfast for a flock of sleepy boys.

After years of cooking every Saturday morning I still feel the need to DO something when I get up. Saturday mornings at my house still mean family time. It used to be a broad definition of family will all kinds of family and friends swooping in to devour plate after plate of waffles. These days, with Little, Saturdays start early. Much earlier than any human being should be up on a Saturday. Instead of waffles I make other things- muffins, pancakes, french toast. Mercifully, these muffins come together in a flash and, thanks to picking and freezing blueberries every summer, we always have the ingredients on hand.

I hope these blueberry muffins bring love and joy to your weekend mornings like they do to mine.

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour (or you can use 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and omit the all-purpose)
3/4 cup white sugar (or you can use 3/4 sucanat- an unprocessed sugar)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup melted and cooled butter
1 egg
1/3 cup milk (approximately)
1 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (ok to add frozen)
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Pour the butter in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add the egg then add the milk to fill to the cup. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ones. Stir till combined (10 stirs). Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups (greased if you aren’t using liners) about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes till light brown and toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Makes about 12 regular size muffins.

Oh and they won the blue ribbon at the local county fair. Not that I am bragging or anything.

(Note- if you use whole wheat flour and sucanat the muffins will come out quite dark although just as tasty. I would recommend using frozen berries as they add a tid bit more moisture and the “real” food version can be a bit drier. Still just as good though!)