earl grey & poppy seed muffins

Let’s talk about tea.

IMG_4692

I’m a tea girl, through and through. Coffee is delicious, but its real time and place are at 11 pm in the library when I still have 7 pages of a paper left to write before class the next morning.

IMG_4689

Tea, on the other hand, comes in so many enticing varieties that it can be consumed at any time and for any occasion: English breakfast with a morning omelette, an iced berry tea to toast a warm afternoon, mango green tea for post-workout hydration, lavender or chamomile at night, and even something crazy like red velvet cake tea for dessert. Give me a time of day, and I can find you a cup of tea for it. (Unfortunately, this also makes me a bit of a tea snob. Forgive me, please. We all have our thing.)

Of course, if we’re sitting down with a steaming mug for a moment of peace, we might as well make an event out of it, snacks and all. And what better to pair with a cuppa than a piping hot Earl Grey & poppy seed muffin?

IMG_4704

This is one of those recipes I just keep coming back to, again and again, whenever the craving strikes me. They’re quick, easy to make in small batches, and perfect for breakfast or a snack, even on the go. Earl Grey is a pretty subtle flavor to begin with, so when I first made these muffins, I was worried that the tea flavor wouldn’t come out. As it turns out, I had absolutely no reason for concern. With no vanilla or other strong flavors to fight it, the milk-steeped Earl Grey peppered with poppy seeds is apparent in every bite. Steph over at raspberri cupcakes, if you’re reading this, you’re a genius with this flavoring.

And while we’re at it, I’d like to direct all of my readers to her blog, which is home to not only some fantastic recipes, but also some of the most aesthetically pleasing food photography ever. Everything is dainty and perfect and if you find yourself spending even a little bit of your life perusing food photos on Pinterest, you will enjoy her blog.

Now back to the muffins.

IMG_4665

You start very simply with all of your dry ingredients in a bowl. (Don’t you love that contrast?)

IMG_4667

Then steep some Earl Grey tea in milk. I halved the recipe this time, so I only used 2 tea bags and a 1/2 cup of milk. One day, when I actually have plain Earl Grey in the house, I’ll try making these with looseleaf. Or maybe with a different flavor of tea. Let me know if you’re experimenting and come up with any cool combinations! 🙂

IMG_4669

Add the tea, melted butter, and eggs to the dry ingredients. Mix away! I didn’t have to pull out my blender or even a second bowl. Everyone’s happy if we can avoid cluttering the sink.

This time, I also went with Steph’s cute idea of using parchment squares instead of paper liners. I definitely struggled a bit before getting the hang of fitting the paper in–what’s that they say about fitting a square into a circle?–but I think they still came out alright. Parchment is cheaper than using paper liners, looks fancier, and actually peels off the muffin more cleanly after baking. I might do this for all my muffins from now on, and save the shiny and colorful liners for cupcakes. 😉

While the tray was in the oven, I brewed my tea.

IMG_4673

IMG_4680

Since the original recipe suggests apricot jam for the muffins, I like to pair them with the Alice in Wonderland Mad Tea Party Blend, a ginger-peach-apricot black tea that I picked up in Disneyworld last summer. (If you’re interested, you can find most of the Unbirthday Tea flavors on Amazon.) Any black/red tea would probably taste fantastic–especially more Earl Grey!

IMG_4695

Serve them hot and fresh, and you’ll never be disappointed. They’re soft and buttery and will just melt in your mouth, releasing all that great, milky tea flavor. 😀

For a long time, my problem with these muffins was the way that they would crumble after sitting out for a day. Even zapping them in the microwave wouldn’t help. As it turns out, the issue was not with the recipe but with how I was measuring my flour.

Heed this warning, friends: Measure your flour using the spoon and level method! This means that instead of scooping flour out of a container using the measuring cup, grab a spoon and use that to scoop flour from the bag to the measuring cup. Don’t shake the measuring cup! When it’s full, use a knife (or the other end of the spoon, or any level surface like that) to brush off the excess flour. This will give you a much more accurate measurement than scooping. My muffins were moist on days 2 and 3, and after a quick burst in the microwave, they were almost as good as the first day.

Honestly, this is why we should all use gram measurements for our dry ingredients. So many poor cookies and cupcakes and muffins would be saved a sad, dried-out fate. Alas, I have no kitchen scale either, so the spoon and level route is the best alternative.

IMG_4712

Regardless of flour issues, these muffins are undoubtedly the best when hot out of the oven. So treat them like scones: make small batches, make them often, and serve them fresh! 🙂
If you want some added stickiness and flavor, slather one with a fruity jam, like apricot, peach, or strawberry-rhubarb.

IMG_4716

These have been my snack for like three days now. I can’t help it.

IMG_4722

Even my dad enjoyed one with his staple third cup of tea for the day. 😀

Let me know if you’re a tea person, what kind of teas you like, if you enjoyed these muffins, if you want more healthy recipes like I’d been doing this month–any and all things!

Happy almost-Friday!

Advertisements

healthy banana berry crepes [blogilates]

I warned you guys about this health kick.

I’m super psyched about today’s recipe! I love brunch foods because 90% of the time, they can double as desserts. Crepes definitely fall firmly into the brunch/dessert category for me–especially if we’re talking about Nutella-and-fruit-stuffed crepes. Unfortunately, no human body can sustain itself on chocolatey crepes forever, so I turn to a less deadly alternative.

I’ve made these several times already, and they’re just so quick, and easy, and most importantly delicious. Yes, these banana berry crepes courtesy of Blogilates are my current favorite way to switch up breakfast with something fun–and a little bit fancy. 😉

IMG_4622

The ingredients are simple. All you need for the crepes themselves are rolled oats, milk (dairy or non-dairy), one egg, half a ripe banana, and some ground cinnamon.

Yes, I am aware that my cinnamon is not ground despite what the bottle says. My blender works really well at times like this. 😛

Feel free to fill the crepes with whatever you like. The original recipe calls for half a banana and a few strawberries, all sliced up. I decided to grab some Greek yogurt and a few raspberries that I froze earlier last week. (By the way, super handy way to take advantage of the awesome in-season berries: buy in bulk, wash and freeze, enjoy for ages.)

Blend the oats and cinnamon to form a fine flour, add the wet ingredients, blend once again, and heat up your pan!

IMG_4625

I made four medium-sized crepes, simply because they’re easier to flip than the large ones. But y’all do whatever floats your boat. I let my crepes brown far more than a French chef would find acceptable, but I like that slight crisp with the softer underside.

I definitely could’ve eaten these plain, but they taste better with a little extra moisture. If that means a healthy slathering of Nutella to you, by all means, go for it! I stuck with some honey Greek yogurt and the raspberries since I was going for a healthy breakfast. You can also just drizzle plain honey over them, or opt for whipped cream, blueberries, a layer of melted peanut butter inside, perhaps some butterscotch–anything you can think of.

IMG_4628

I felt like I was being so decadent with breakfast, but the whole process honestly takes under 15 minutes. And with minimal cleanup, too!

Which left me with plenty of time to sit down with this lovely plate and many, many reruns of The Office

 IMG_4630

Such a pleasant morning. 🙂

Anyway, that’s all for today, folks! See you next week!

oatmeal & peanut butter cookies [jen-fit’s playground]

Today, I give you something…different. Something this blog has yet to see, yet something that is going to appear more and more often, especially over the summer.

Today, I give you something…healthy.

(Gasp! -cue threatening music-)

Okay, okay, all kidding aside: I tried a healthy cookie recipe! The original recipe comes from Jen-Fit’s Playground and is for oatmeal and peanut butter ricotta cookies. I went with a modification somewhere in between her original and Cassey Ho’s version on Blogilates.

Let me warn you up front: these have neither the texture nor the flavor of a standard cookie. If that’s what you’re looking for, just go eat a cookie. Seriously. It won’t kill you. But if what you’re looking for is a sweet, flavorful, healthy snack, this is a solid recipe.

So here’s how it happened:

IMG_4605

IMG_4610

Well that looks deceptively unappetizing.

IMG_4612

Like breakfast, except it’s becoming COOKIES.

IMG_4616

 

Oatmeal & Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Jen-Fit’s Playground and Blogilates
Makes 5 cookies

Ingredients
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1 T peanut butter
1 egg white
3-4 pitted dates
a dash of cinnamon

Instructions

+Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease or line a small baking tray with parchment paper.
+Blend together cottage cheese, peanut butter, egg white, dates, and cinnamon. Chop the dates if your blender doesn’t break them up. Chunks are fine.
+Mix in oats and baking powder.
+Spoon 5 cookies onto prepared baking sheet.
+Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until firm and the tops begin browning.
+Cookies will keep for a few days in an air-tight container, but they’re best when eaten fresh.

IMG_4620

Ta-da! They have an interesting glossy finish to them. To be honest, I don’t know how Cassey and Jen got their cookies looking the way they did. I think next time, I’ll just mix with a fork like Jen recommends, to keep the texture.

Cassey…you just work magic in a kitchen, I’ll tell you that.

Also, use all-natural peanut butter like Jen says. Just do it. It’ll taste so much better. I wish I’d had some handy.

Anyway, they tasted pretty good, and I definitely didn’t feel bad eating them!

More healthy recipes are in your future–but I promise I’ll test them out a couple times before posting them! Don’t worry 🙂

Happy almost-4th-of-July!