Friday, September 27, 2013

Good Morning Muffins

Hello there! How have you been?

Me? A little Pinterest pinning, of course. And learning new recipes. Mostly discovering new things, reorganizing old things, re-prioritizing important things. Food blogging time has ended up on the back burner for a while. Just the natural ebb and flow of life.

Beautiful tablescapes
May meant a trip to Oxford, MS for a perfect weekend wedding. A.m.a.z.i.n.g. weather -- mild temps and low humidity. I'm all about dry, fluffy hair and crisp linen outfits. Absolutely beautiful rehearsal dinner under a tent on the lawn at William Faulkner's home, Rowan Oak, followed by a simply elegant wedding and lively reception Lots of Southern food at every event and two good restaurant discoveries. A visit to the famous Square Books nurtured the bibliophile in me -- I just love it there! I never would have guessed I was in normally hot and drippy Mississippi over Memorial Day weekend. A truly marvelous Mississippi weekend.

Two days - two bracelets
I was in New Hampshire in June to learn beading from a friend of a friend who visits once a year and is an accomplished bead weaver -- an a.m.a.z.i.n.g bead weaver, in fact. Two friends came along for a delightful learning opportunity and a relaxing great time with old and new friends -- and eating lobster!

Summer is also prime time for company at Prairie Wood. Fourth of July was the 9th annual cookout for my family and my dear friend Robin and all of her family -- two lifelong friends, two families and forty of us for the four generation Fourth! Beautiful weather, good food and lots of fun, as usual.

Granny glasses would look better
Also in July, I had a makeover. I was channeling my inner child of the 70s for a few weeks -- but not because I thought wearing a bandana would make me young again. I had another little kissed-by-the-sun spot removed on the top of my head. Sixteen stitches! Put a hat on your children and grandchildren every single day -- sunscreen in your hair is too messy. Lucky for me I live in a college town and there are more than a few hippies left from my bandana-sporting college years, so I was not as noticeable as I might have been elsewhere. Anyway, the stitches and bandana are gone now, but I'm left with a tender pink spot on top of my head that will always require a cover -- or bandana -- when I go outside.  

Annual 17th Street Barbecue dinner
August means the annual visit with our good friends Dannie and Bill from NC. Cooking, eating, talking, laughing, Pinterest pinning, Etsy shopping, beading, pool floating, Martini Lounging with the neighbors, -- and an unseasonably mild August night, complete with a fire for S'mores. Also a day trip to St. Louis jammed packed with something for everyone -- Lumiere casino, Viviano's Market on The Hill, Lady Bug Beads and the Apple store. Last stop -- a meet-up with #1-son and his girlfriend for dinner at The Block in Webster Groves -- a butcher shop and a restaurant in one ... more delicious details to share soon!

Otherwise -- I've been creating a healthier lifestyle with all that a change for the better involves. Making the commitment and learning to create new healthy, palate pleasing meals. Time consuming. Mind boggling sometimes.

Room for new smaller sizes
Good news - lots of great blogs with tons of delicious ideas just a click away. Down side -- lots of great healthy eating and lifestyle bloggers are already out there. Not necessarily a place where my novice voice has much to add. Up side -- I'm content to try new recipes, stay focused, track my progress and enjoy each and every subtle change and measurable success. Best news - while learning to navigate that old-dog-new-tricks conundrum, I've revisited the less-is-more philosophy. It's so very satisfying to have to downsize clothes twice in one season and it's been a great incentive for clearing out and reorganizing my closet!

And even though I may not have been blogging about everything on Cora Cooks, I've added new dishes to my culinary repertoire, new crafts have been attempted and old ones rediscovered. Staying busy at something not food related is definitely key to a healthier lifestyle success.

Today I suddenly decided it was time to share a little - beginning with some really good muffins. I have been making them almost every week and they have become part of the new line-up for breakfast, but are even good enough for a snack or dessert too. Dense, chewy, moist, fruity, easy, convenient to store and microwave-reheatable, without turning into little hockey pucks. Best of all -- they are only 4 or 5 Points Plus (P+) for Weight Watchers (WW), depending on optional additions. And I haven't even touched on all the options! Nuts! -- why haven't I tried nuts?

That's just a bit about what's up around here. I know some serious make-a-living-blogging friends would not agree with taking such a long leave of absence from blogging, but it's not a job for me -- it's journaling, exploring, contemplating and connecting. And along with the less-is-more lifestyle, I firmly believe in letting enough be good enough for me.

So if it's OK with you, I'll just ease back into blogging with more healthy lifestyle cooking, the occasional special treat recipe and some creative non-food crafting and shared thoughts. Maybe I'll add some books I'm reading or would like to read. Anything is possible. Clearly, I have not lost my ability to create a too-long post.

For now, I'll just share these muffins, as evidence that I am alive and well ... and still cooking. I think I'm going to have to add food photography skills to my list of lifestyle improvements after seeing this picture. Instagram small screen photos are so much more forgiving.

More to come.

Good Morning Muffins

My Basic Muffins:
2 cups All-Bran cereal
1 ¼ cups skim milk
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 mashed banana
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

My Optional Additions*:
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup dried cherries
¼ cup dried, shredded coconut
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix All-Bran and milk in a small bowl; let stand for 10 minutes. Stir All-Bran and milk mixture; add egg whites, vanilla, applesauce, banana and brown sugar; mix thoroughly. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, kosher salt and cinnamon. Add shredded carrots, dried cherries, coconut and optional chocolate chips to flour mixture and toss to coat. Add dry ingredients to All-Bran mixture; stir just until blended. Spoon muffin batter into greased muffin tin. I use Baker's Joy to spray. I also use and ice cream scoop to put batter into muffin pan. Bake for 15 - 17 minutes. Test with toothpick to be sure they are baked through. Allow muffins to cool. Store In a zip bag in refrigerator or freezer. Microwave for 30 second if refrigerated, or a bit longer if frozen. Makes 12 regular muffins.

 *5P+ as written here. To choose your own favorite optional ingredients, remember to re-calculate the recipe for Weight Watcher Points Plus.


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