Double Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Double Chocolate Cherry Muffins

I don’t always take my son grocery shopping with me even though he LOVES to go. He pushes the cart and is generally excellent in the store considering he is a 6 year old kid; the only downside is that my cart mysteriously fills up with lots of “extras.” It is really hard to say no to a kid who is asking for a pineapple even if it is the 12th fruit he has asked for in the last 8 minutes of walking the produce department. I end up basically buying half of the produce section and am left with a Chopped-like basket of ingredients to deal with that week.

This week, among many, many other things, a bag of cherries ended up coming home with us (look! Mom! FIRST OF THE SEASON! CHERRIES!).

choppingcherries

Don’t get me wrong–I like to eat cherries right out of the bag but considering we have a lot of other fruit to get through this week, I knew these were destined for muffins. Chocolate cherry muffins. DOUBLE chocolate cherry muffins.

These muffins really blur the line between muffin and cupcake. They are very chocolatey so if you aren’t looking for something indulgent for breakfast, you should look for another cherry muffin recipe. If you are like me and could easily eat cake for breakfast, this is right up your alley.

Batter

These turned out really well and my kids have already asked for seconds. I think I would actually like them to be even more cherry filled since the chocolate is pretty overwhelming. I upped the cherries from the original recipe but I still don’t think its enough. Next time, at least another half cup of chopped cherries and maybe some cherry extract instead of the vanilla.

Double Chocolate Cherry Muffins

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped fresh dark sweet cherries
1 heaping cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tins with foil muffin liners (I got about 18 muffins from this recipe).

Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate large bowl. In your mixer, combine sour cream, milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until well mixed. Add the flour mix all at once and mix on the lowest speed until just combined (some streaks are ok). Fold in the cherries and chocolate chips. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full

Bake until a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.

muffin half

The Search for Sourdough

finished

I’ve had a sourdough starter for quite a few years now and, amazingly, I’ve never made sourdough bread with it.  Most of the time, I just use it to make amazing sourdough waffles.

My starter needed some reviving last week which means several days on the counter producing extra starter that mostly went to waste. I saved some of it for my first attempt at a real sourdough loaf. I used the recipe from King Arthur Flour: Sourdough Baguettes. I love that I can change their website from volume to weight measurements.

Rise, RISE, Yeastie bubbles!!

yeast bubble

For daily bread and pizza crusts, I rely on the no-knead technique from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. Its amazing bread but, sometimes, you just need to knead something, you know? Instant stress relief and, as a bonus, you get flour all over yourself so you can feel like a legit baker all day.

kneading

I divided it into 6 pieces. I used a serrated knife here but it was a bit of a pain. Ill be sure to get a dough scraper/knife thing before I try another set of loaves.

six pieces

Shaping it was the difficult part. They make it sound as simple as rolling out some play-doh. But the reality was that my dough was as sticky as cheap movie theater floor. Shape it how? Should I add more flour? I did my best by just kind of stretching it out into a longish shape and they looked pretty terrible.

shaped kind of

I was hoping the final rise would even out my loaves uniqueness and it mostly did. I didn’t bother doing the fancy slashing since you can’t polish a turd.

Final rise

By the time they were baked, they looked pretty acceptable even though they were woefully flat.

sliced

They actually tasted delicious but I’m not where I want to be with this recipe yet. More kneading? More flour during shaping? I have a few ideas to try out as I work on my sourdough loaves.

Spicy Meatballs

Meatballs.

Meatballs

MEATBALLS.

Meatballs are something I only really came around to later in life when I married Mr. Piehole. I was a seriously picky eater and since I didn’t really know what was in them, I just opted out. Plain spaghetti with red sauce for me.

Meatballs are now often one of the first things I can make from ingredients from the garden. Before any of the other vegetables are ready, I can steal enough herbs from the small plants to make up a batch.

Herbs

I don’t always use the same herbs since it depends on how my plants are doing. Its always some kind of basil, lots of oregano (I used two kinds here–greek and italian), thyme, and a new “globe basil” I am trying for the first time this year.

I follow a pretty classic meatball method: breadcrumbs, egg, seasonings, and a little milk.

bowl

Mix all of this up first so you don’t have to overwork the meat. I use a 90% or so beef for mine. Sometimes I use ground pork or veal mixed in. I had ground beef to use up, so today it was 100% beef.

Raw Balls

Shape them into balls–either small or large–your preference. These are about golf ball sized.

Browning

Brown ’em up! Nothing beats cast iron here. NOTHING. You just can’t convince me that your oven browned meatballs are better. Brown them in a skillet. It’s worth the time and extra dirty pan. Singing “On Top of Spaghetti” is optional but encouraged.

If I make small meatballs, I usually don’t put them in the oven since the browning stage cooks them through but the big guys go in the oven for a few minutes until they reach about 155 degrees.

In sauce

Time for a swim! I nestle mine in the sauce while my pasta is cooking.

finished

Dive in! I’m not a purist when it comes to pasta shape, clearly. If you must have spaghetti, then go for it. I usually opt for ziti or penne.

Spicy Meatballs
Makes about 18-20 large meatballs

2 pounds of ground meat. All beef or a mix of your choice.
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
A mix of herbs. I end up with maybe 1/3-1/2 of a cup chopped
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
salt and pepper
(coconut oil for the pan)

Preheat oven to 350-400.

Mix everything except the meat together in a large bowl. Add the meat and combine, taking care to not overwork the meatballs.

Shape into golfball sized meatballs and brown over medium-high heat. I like to use coconut oil here since it has a high smoke point but vegetable oil or bacon fat would also work. You’ll need to do a few batches to give the meatballs room in the pan. Don’t futz with the meatballs at this point or they will stick a little. Once they brown, they will release from the pan. Do your best to brown on as many sides as possible.

Stick them on a sheet pan (if you line it with parchment, it will be super easy to clean up!) and put them in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 155-160. They will still be slightly pink in the middle.

Either add them to the sauce or put them directly onto the pasta and top with sauce.

Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

Banana Muffins

My kids are muffin fanatics. We often eat breakfast in the car on the way to school and most other breakfast foods simply fail to deliver here. Syrup for pancakes is too messy, the girl child doesn’t like granola bars, and the boy doesn’t love cereal the way the girl does.

bamuffpan

Muffins solve all of my problems, folks. I can even sometimes convince the kids they are getting cupcakes for breakfast when I try a new recipe. If that isn’t winning, then I don’t know what is. It also gets my kids in the kitchen to provide child labor help Mom.

bamuffassist

My husband has a deep-seated love of breakfast smoothies, so we always have excess bananas around the house. As soon as they start to look a little mushy, I start making plans for them. I have a few recipes for banana muffins that incorporate various levels of banana-iness. This one is a fairly minimal–requiring just 4 bananas for a big batch of 33. These freeze extremely well but it could easily be halved if you aren’t as muffin crazy as we are.

This recipe uses the creaming method that is similar to a basic cookie: Beat together butter and sugars, add eggs, then alternate wet and dry ingredients. Add mixins at the end. I love this method for muffins because it makes multiple batches in the stand mixer easy as pie. You also end up with a nice light fluffy muffin so you don’t even have to feel guilty about having two.

bamuff2

Banana Muffins
makes 33 muffins

5 cups of all purpose flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp nutmeg
4 Large mashed ripe bananas
½ cup whole milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup softened butter
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1.5 bags chocolate chips

Bowl 1: flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg

Bowl 2: bananas, milk, vanilla

Mixer: sugars and butter. Beat for 5 minutes, add eggs. Alternate ½ dry and half wet.

Add chocolate chips by hand.

Scoop with a large ice cream scoop into liners.

Bake at 350 for 23 minutes

bamuff3

Zucchini with Fried Onions

Zucchini was pretty much absent from my childhood.  I don’t know if it is a general midwestern thing or just my family’s general dislike of vegetables. Whatever the reason for my zucchini-barren upbringing, I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life making up for lost time.

Years ago, I came across a recipe for Zucchini Parmesan Crisps in one of those 4 ingredient/15 minute magazines by the checkout. It is completely delicious but, honestly, kind of a pain in the ass. “Dip each round into the Parmesan mixture, coating it evenly on both sides, pressing the coating on to stick, and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.” Ain’t nobody got time for that when we all want a pile of these things on our plate.

Enter the tart pan and french fried onions.

Zucchini

I’ve made some modifications to the original recipe in this photo but I’ve also made the original breadcrumb/parmesan topping and added it to the tart pan arrangement and its quite delicious as well.

My Lazy Zucchini:

2-3 Zucchini, depending on size
3 tblsp Zesty Italian dressing (or olive oil)
French Fried Onions
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 450.

Cut the zucchini into 1/4 inch rounds and line them up in circles in the tart pan, overlapping them slightly.

Drizzle with the salad dressing or olive oil. (I recommend the salad dressing. Its easy and adds a lot of spices and flavor.) Add your salt and pepper as well.

Crush up the onions a little bit and sprinkle on top. You can use as many or as few as you like–basically whatever is left in the can after everyone eats a handful.

Throw it in the oven. It won’t take long to cook–maybe 10 minutes? I pull it out when I can stick a knife into a zucchini without a lot of resistance and the onions are nicely browned.

These don’t keep well but you probably won’t have any leftovers anyway.

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