Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blueberry Pecan Muffins with Toasted Millet

I can't even begin to tell you how surprisingly happy I am with these muffins. They are really, really good.

I've had several of you ask me if I've tried Pamela's Products Artisan Flour Blend and until recently, I hadn't tried it - nor was I that anxious to try it. However, I've been doing a lot with sourdough these days (I'll share about that at a later date), and making actual bread loaves with the starter has been posing a challenge for me with the flours I'm trying to combine, as well as blends that I normally purchase for use in other baking. I started thinking this particular blend might work a bit better, but I haven't tried it with the sourdough yet. Seeing it available as a single bag purchase through Amazon's subscribe and save program, however, gave me the incentive to go ahead and purchase a bag.

The first thing I tried with this flour blend was pancakes. I mostly followed the instructions on the bag, with a few of my own tweaks. I have to beg of you in the name of all that is good to NOT make pancakes with this flour blend. My daughters found them edible, but not as tasty as other pancakes. I, on the other hand, could barely gag them down. The texture was terrible. Very gummy and heavy. The batter was thick and slimy. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

So it was with much trepidation that I made muffins out of it, following the basic recipe on the bag but making my own adjustments that I felt would give the batter a better chance of turning out something edible. I wasn't disappointed, and am looking forward to making them again this week. The toasted millet adds a lovely crunch and flavor you don't want to skip out on!

I feel better about trying it with the bread soon. I'll let you know how that goes.

Blueberry Pecan Muffins with Toasted Millet
(Printable Recipe)

Projected Prep Time: 15 min; Projected Bake Time: 15-18 min; Makes 14-19 muffins (regular size)

2 cups Pamela's Products Artisan Flour Blend
1/2 cup almond flour
1 Tbsp. gluten-free baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
8 Tbsp. melted butter, unsalted
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup toasted hulled millet (see directions)
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
2/3 cups pecan pieces

Place 1/3 cup hulled millet in dry pan and cover with lid. Heat at low-medium heat for a few minutes, shaking pan often, until millet is hot and toasted. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tin with baking cups.

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl with a fork.

Whisk together melted butter and milk (room temperature will keep butter from getting firm again), then whisk in eggs and vanilla.

Pour liquids directly into dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Mix in toasted millet. Fold in pecans and then blueberries.

Drop evenly into muffin cups (the batter made 19 muffins in my regular size tins).

Place in oven (top rack if gas oven) and drop temperature to 375 degrees. Bake 15-18 minutes or until done. Cool on wire racks. Store leftovers in airtight container in refrigerator, bringing to room temperature or warming back up just a little to eat.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Comforting, Simple ... Pumpkin Pie Snack Cake

Dear readers ... Is it over? Are you still here, reading once in a while? Did 2013 end? Did it really end with my last post on another pumpkin recipe more than two months ago? I'm not sure I even have enough good recipes from 2013 to do my annual "top 10" list!

Was 2013 a good year for you? Oh, how I pray it was! If not, would you like to join me in a toast to 2014 with high hopes of a much, much better year?

I've started to type out a post or a recipe for you on several occasions, but I have to admit my heart wasn't much in it. My blog's biggest fan no longer here, and all I've been doing trying to juggle my work schedule around a first-time home school schedule and just LIFE these days ... it's been hard some days to do anything but *not* feed (again) my family grits and eggs, or eggs and toast, or cereal, or pancakes, or a casserole that lasts several days - so the times when I have made a meal or a treat worth sharing and then actually remembered to take a photo of it or write the recipe down have been limited.

My youngest sustained a traumatic injury the day after Thanksgiving and spent three days in the hospital, as well as a few hours in surgery. The weeks following were a blur of little to no sleep, going between shaking my fist at heaven and being so incredibly thankful that it wasn't worse, and just generally trying to keep my head above water. We are so thankful that she is okay. She will need a little more work done, but she is OKAY. She is healthy and happy. We are blessed.

But ... I'm SO TIRED of saying, "This too shall pass," secretly wondering in the moment if it really will, while at the same time feeling guilty because I know so many have it worse. So. Many. Have. It. Worse.


It's too much.

I'm ready for unending moments of saying, "I don't want this to pass." Moments I want to sit in and savor. I know life doesn't work that way with those moments unending, but I wish it did. And I guess if I'm honest with myself, I realize it's up to me to acknowledge the little daily blessings that I can make into little moments worth savoring for a while, even if it's just a minute or two here and there.

(What do you do to help with your daily perspective on this? I'd love to hear.)

I'm hoping I will this year gain inspiration once again to list my blessings and to deliberately find beauty, whether it's in the form of pen or photo, or both. It's not something I need inspiration for, I guess. I just need to do it.

Baby steps.

I find beauty in my family. The small hands that draw sweet pictures and make messes and sneak snacks.

There is much to be thankful for. And I've needed simple lately to keep it in perspective.

This cake is simple. It's wonderfully easy and delicious enough for this entire huge pan to not last a full day. (I've made it more than once.) Yes, it's pumpkin and yes, it could be used as a holiday treat. But who cares? It's still cold outside and it's yummy. And would be equally yummy on a hot summer day. Maybe topped with ice cream.

It's not that "healthy" for your body, but it is comforting for your soul. It was born out of a need one morning to find "comfort food" out of ingredients I had on hand without working too hard for it. One of those experiments thrown together with nothing else but a thought that it might work. A little of this, a dash of that and a lot of expecting to open the oven door to a gooey disaster. It was anything but.

Easy Pumpkin Pie Snack Cake
(Printable recipe)

2 large eggs
15 oz. pureed pumpkin
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped (if you have a stand mixer, let the mixer break them up for you - see below)
1 1/2 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Dash of allspice
Small pinch of cardamom

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 9x13 baking pan.

Into small mixing bowl, sift together baking mix and spices. Set aside.

Into large mixing bowl, add eggs, pumpkin, condensed milk and brown sugar. If you are using a stand mixer, also add pecans if they are whole and use the paddle attachment to mix everything together at low speed and let the paddle break up the pecans. If you have pecans already chopped, leave them out for now.

Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and mix well until all combined. If you haven't added your pecans yet, do it now.

Pour into baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Cool in pan on wire rack. Enjoy warm or room temperature.


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