Monday, June 24, 2013

A BIG Batch of Buttermilk Raisin Bran Muffins

Summer up North means going to the cabin.  If you don't own a cabin, you probably know someone that does. Your parents, your brother, an uncle, some good friends, a really nice neighbor.....  Eventually, you'll get invited.  This week we are hanging out with my in-laws.  Seventeen of us.  (Some of them couldn't come.)  My brother-in-law has a habit of picking out remote locations.  Locations without cell phone reception.  Or Wi-Fi.  Communication may be spotty.  Which is why I brought muffins.  Well, muffin batter, to be exact.  This is the perfect recipe for bringing to the cabin.  You make it in advance in a gallon ice cream bucket and it stays good in the fridge for at least a week.  

What I really like about this recipe, besides the fact that the muffins are delicious, is that it uses up key ingredients.  Like a whole quart of buttermilk.  And an entire box of Raisin Bran.

Just bake a fresh batch as needed!  Like after a long morning fishing.

Or during an especially competitive game of Uno.

You'll be glad that you brought a little bit of homemade goodness along!

Buttermilk Raisin Bran Muffins
Makes 6 Dozen

1 15-ounce (more or less) box of Raisin Bran
5 cups flour (I like white whole wheat)
3 cups sugar
5 tsp soda
2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 quart buttermilk

Mix dry ingredients in a 5 quart ice cream pail.  Add liquids and mix until combined.  The batter can be refrigerated for up to a week.  

When ready to bake, fill muffin tins 1/2 full and bake at 400 degrees for 15 - 18 minutes.  

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Do you know what Maple Bacon Cupcakes taste like?  Breakfast.  There's just no getting around the fact that when you put two cups of real Maple syrup into cupcake batter, it just brings you back to stacks of pancakes at the cabin. And do you know what stacks of pancakes at the cabin remind me of?  My grandpa.  When he was a young man, he worked as a lumberjack and the fuel of choice was stacks and stacks of pancakes.  And what goes with pancakes? Bacon. It's the perfect garnish for these breakfast-y tasting treats.

I'm still baking my way through Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book!  Despite my concern about putting a full two cups of maple syrup in the batter, I was not disappointed.  The cupcakes have a delicious, but not overpowering maple flavor.  Rather than Martha's Maple Buttercream (which involved egg yolks and candy thermometers), I made a maple cream cheese frosting because cream cheese frosting goes with everything and I'm in love with it.

I thought these were manly enough for Father's Day, 
but would also be great on a leave raking, fire crackling fall day!
But let's not talk about fall, yet. Tomorrow's the first official day of summer!

Maple Cupcakes
Based on a recipe from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
Makes 24 Cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 cups pure maple syrup ( I used grade A)
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, cream butter.  Add maple syrup and continue to beat.  Add eggs, one at a time and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Add flour mixture and beat until combined.  Add milk and vanilla and beat until combined.

Divide among 24 lined muffin tins.  Bake for 17 - 20 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool before frosting.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes enough to Frost 24 Cupcakes

2 8-ounce packages Cream Cheese
1 stick Butter
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon Maple Extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Mix Cream Cheese and Butter until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla, extract and salt.  Continue beating. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until smooth and cream.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Easy Father's Day Decoration Ideas

So maybe this is a bit too easy to be blog-worthy, but I love ideas that are sweet, simple and to the point!  I'm hosting 20 of my favorite in-laws for Father's Day tomorrow and needed to set up three tables.  I've seen edible centerpieces.  Why not drinkable ones?

Dad's Root Beer needs no explanation or further ornamentation for the Father's Day theme and I love the fact that they still come in these cute old-fashioned bottles!  These inexpensive centerpieces will do double duty.  After dinner, we'll have Root Beer (Or Orange Cream) Floats for dessert!

 Don't forget these cute paper napkins and paper straws from Target!

To change things up a bit, put small glass jars inside the cardboard carrier and fill them with wild flowers.

I'm also displaying these framed 8 x 10 posters which you can down load HERE

and HERE!


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wild Flower Vases

Whenever my mother-in-law comes to visit, she always brings me a little something.  She's thoughtful like that. Recently she arrived with a beautiful wildflower arrangement.  Even more than the flowers (they were beautiful), I just loved the vases! Three little bottles inside a chicken wire basket. I refilled them with some lilacs from our yard.  I will definitely be using these all summer. 

I always find that the tricky thing about wild flowers is getting enough of them to make a statement.    By filling little bottles contained in a basket, the flowers create a presence suitable for any table!  My entire kitchen now smells like lilacs.  Ahhh...... Spring!


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rita's Strawberry Salsa

My SIL, Rita, came over for dinner recently and brought this amazingly fresh and summery Strawberry Salsa.  Of course, being the good blogger that I am, I immediately took a picture of it and asked her for the recipe!

Bits of jalapeno and red onion balance out the sweetness of the strawberries and a cream cheese base gives it a rich and tangy edge.  Serve it with Lime Tortilla Chips for a delightful, summery appetizer!

Rita's Fresh Strawberry Salsa

1 pound strawberries, diced
9 Tbsp uncooked red onion(s) – (½ Large red onion)
9 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, chopped – (1/3 bunch)
3 Tbsp jalapeno pepper(s), minced – (1 large seeded jalapeno)
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp lime zest, finely grated – (I grated ¾ lime)
½ tsp kosher salt 
½ tsp ground cumin

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Enjoy!

Optional version – spread 1 tub light whipped cream cheese on a platter then top with salsa and garnish,

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Girl's Birthday Party in Scandinavian Style

I just love it when I run across a mom that is creative, inspiring and thinks outside the box.

Case in point, this adorable Scandinavian inspired birthday party!

When Violet turned eight,  her mom invited all the second grade girls to a Scandinavian brunch,
 complete with traditional Dala Horses.

Second grade girls are definitely big enough to use real silverware and drink from goblets.
Avoiding paper products is eco-friendly and definitely Scandinavian!
So much nicer, too, don't you think?

Brunch consisted of Swedish Pancakes with fresh berries, Lingonberry Butter and bacon.  
A squeeze of lemon is also very Scandinavian.

A traditional celebration cake was a show-stopper with layers of cake, fresh whipped cream, fresh berries and mint.

Oh, so delicious!

Beautifully wrapped party favors awaited guests.

Inside, a useful Dala Horse Cookie Cutter!

Can't wait to use ours!

Happy Birthday, Violet!