Healthy Apple Muffins

Happy Friday!

The other day, I asked my friend Laurie to babysit Jade on Saturday while Ward and I went out with some friends. In return, I asked her what she wanted me to bake her and she requested something healthy. I gave her a list of options and she chose Healthy Apple Muffins!

Having the word “healthy” in the title is definitely new for me and this blog, haha, though I like to think that everything I make, because it’s homemade, is slightly better than something store-bought!

I started by prepping the apples. One apple was grated and another I cut into small cubes.

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I then mixed the dry ingredients of wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl I mixed the wet ingredients which consisted of olive oil, maple syrup, eggs, greek yogurt, applesauce, and vanilla.

Once the apples were mixed with the dry ingredients, I added the wet ingredients and stirred until it became a thick batter.

I sprinkled the batter with turbinado sugar and then placed them in the oven for 14 minutes.

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They smelled soooo good while they were cooking! It smelled like apple pie was baking in the oven!

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These were wonderful! Moist in the middle and the apples were well cooked. The muffin tops (my favorite part of a muffin) was nice and brown and sweet. Yummmm!

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Sweetly,

Simona

Chocolate Rainbow Cupcakes

I made a few cupcakes…

A few dozen that is!

I started baking late Tuesday night so I completely forgot to document the process until the cupcakes were out of the oven – oops! I just wanted to bake, bake, bake and was having fun doing it so documenting completely slipped my mind.

I did, however, learn to make my own buttermilk! Just a tablespoon of lemon juice, then enough milk to make a cup of liquid. Stir it up then let it sit and voila. I also learned that it’s okay to replace vegetable oil with melted butter.

After baking for 20 minutes, the cupcakes came out wonderfully round with a slightly crisp bottom and moist inside.

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I had made an easy sugar frosting made of (mostly) powdered sugar. I considered piping it to make pretty cupcake tops but since it was already late at night, I opted out. To make them a little more fun though, I decided to add food coloring to the frosting.

They were maybe not the most gorgeous cupcakes but they were fun and delicious!

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Sweetly,

Simona

Chocolate Pudding & Lemon Curd Mini-Pies

Everything is better in mini!

The second dessert I made for Ward’s birthday were mini-pies. I didn’t want to be baking up until the moment of the party and didn’t want to worry about continuously warming them up for people so I decided on two no-bake filling pies. I went for a chocolate pudding filling and a lemon curd filling for those who do not love chocolate – gasp!

I made the pie crust the night before and made both fillings while the crusts baked.

I used a 4 inch bowl to cut the pie crusts after rolling the dough out as thinly as possible. Since these pies were mini, I wanted to make sure that the crusts were the perfect thickness so as not to be too overbearing or so as not to take away from the filling.

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After greasing the muffin tin (I also greased the top so there would be absolutely no sticking), I placed the rounds of dough inside. This part was a little stressful for me because I knew I had to work fast and touch the dough as little as possible so as not to warm the butter too much. This was hard because I had to press the dough onto the sides of the tin and make sure there was a little edge sticking over the top.

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I was glad that these were mini pies because I knew that I would have enough pie weights to really make a difference.

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I put them in to bake for 25 minutes and I was so happy with how they came out! They were perfectly golden and crispy and most of them had deep enough centers for a lot of filling 🙂

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Now it was time to make the pie fillings! I started with the lemon curd because the wait time for it to be ready was longer.

To begin, I squeezed lemon juice and made lemon zest.

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I added the zest, juice, eggs, sugar, butter, and salt into a bowl and mixed until incorporated. I then placed it into the fridge to set for 4 hours.

For the chocolate pudding filling, I heated sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk, and egg yolks over the stove.

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As soon as it began to boil, I pulled it off the heat and added the chocolate chunks, vanilla, and butter.

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At this point, the pie crusts had cooled so I began to pour the chocolate pudding into half of them. I waited until just before the party to fill the other half with the lemon curd.

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I even had enough leftover to make some bowls of pudding!

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The chocolate pudding mini-pies were a big hit and they went really fast! People were loving them 🙂

I was a little less thrilled by my lemon mini-pies because the curd never fully set. I must have done something wrong or need to alter my recipe. The taste was right on but the consistency was off. I still served them and people did eat and enjoy them but they were messy.

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All in all, I think the pastries were a big hit and I’m really glad I made them for such a big audience! It definitely gave me a nice boost of confidence and I think the birthday boy really enjoyed the sweets as well!

Sweetly,

Simona

Snickerdoodle Puffs

Saturday was the finale to Ward’s big birthday week! 

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I spent most of the day on Saturday baking for his birthday get together. He had asked for cookies, and I also decided to make mini pies. I’m going to separate the two into different blog posts so hold tight for the mini pies!

When Ward asked for cookies, I asked him to specify and gave him some options and he decided on snickerdoodle. These are also one of my favorite kinds of cookies so I was excited to make them. Since I’ve struggled with cookies before, I did some research and learned that cream of tartar might help. I found a recipe that used it to make thick cookies so I gave it a try.

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I made a cookie dough that was like a sugar cookie dough, but with cinnamon added to the mixture. It was a little crumbly but it stuck together when I pinched it. I rolled it into small balls of about 1 tablespoon of dough each and then rolled them through a sugar and cinnamon mixture.

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They were baked at 375° F for 11 minutes.

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They came out round and puffy (which made me very happy) and I used a spoon to press the middles down on each a little bit.

They were soft and sweet, as they should be! At the time of the party, the cookies became more crunchy than soft but they were still very tasty!

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For an added sweet treat (besides the mini pies), I also made a lemonade spiked punch! Yummy!

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Sweetly,

Simona

The Science of Cooking

I’ve taken a few days off from baking…

The beginning of this week was chock-full of baking and Saturday is going to be another full day of it, so I haven’t baked anything in the last couple days.

That being said, my days have not been completely void of it. I listen to this podcast called Inquiring Minds which is hosted by a professor I had (and greatly admired) at USF, Indre Viskontas. I’ve fallen a bit behind on the episodes, and on Tuesday I found myself listening to their episode about the science of cooking.

Since I started my baking endeavors, I’ve been really interested in how the smallest alteration in an ingredient can completely change your baked good. I’ve experienced this with my pie crusts but most notably with my cookies. It really is a science.

Though this podcast focussed on cooking and not baking specifically, it all applies and I’m sure The Food Lab: Better Cooking Through Science includes baking as well.

Take a listen if you’re interested! The part about cooking in science begins at the 9:00 minute mark.

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Sweetly,

Simona