Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice!

I was inspired to organize my spice rack this week, and by that I mean create a spice rack. I tend to buy spices in bulk so it’s often hard to keep track of all of these baggies of spices – not to mention they often spill plumes of yellow/red/green dust all over my kitchen when it turns out I didn’t twist them closed with a twist-tie.

So I was motivated this week to organize my spices into a semi-organized system,and by that I mean in labelled clear containers so I can see what is inside and grab them when I need them – (I know exposure to light is terrible for spices but I have accepted convenience over quality… at least I am cooking things instead of eating out!)

After organizing my spices, I whipped up a batch of banana chocolate chip muffins for my lab meeting the next morning. I started by mashing up 2 very very ripe (brown and easily mushable) bananas. I ended up tossing in a third because my bananas were on the smaller side, but use your judgement. 3 medium sized bananas would be ideal I think.

After the bananas have been thoroughly mashed, add 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil, 1/2 cup sugar (white or brown is OK here – I went with white – might be nice to experiment with honey?) and 1 tsp salt. Mix this together until blended, and then add 1 beaten medium/large egg and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.

After mixing in the egg and vanilla, sift in 1.5 cups all-purpose flour and 1 tsp baking soda, mix just to incorporate.

Add 1/2 cup chocolate chips – walnuts might be a good addition here too.

Set your oven to 350F and divide the batter evenly into a muffin tin. I used PAM on the tin so I didn’t need to buy liners. This recipe just managed to get 12 muffins (filled at least 3/4 of the way up)

Then they went into the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes. After 15 minutes I checked them to see how they were doing. The tops didn’t look shiny or wet anymore, but they also didn’t look totally done. I pulled them out for a second and lightly brushed the tops with butter to help encourage them to brown. After a couple of more minutes in the oven these guys came out looking beautiful!

As a non-banana-bread-eater I can actually say that I really like these guys. The banana isn’t overwhelmingly banana-y and the sugar level is also not cloyingly sweet. It’s probably be better with nuts, and maybe even with dark chocolate chips instead of milk… but those are recipes to try on another day!

I wanted to also whip up a batch of muffins for non-banana-bread-eaters. I decided to tackle the Donut Muffin, a popular (at least on food blogs) excuse to eat cake for breakfast. I settled on following a recipe from Baking Bites.

I started by whipping together 1 egg and a 3/4 cup of sugar.

Once that became light I sifted in 1.5 cups all purpose flour, 1.5 tsp baking soda, and 0.25 tsp salt.

On the way home I picked up some whole nutmeg from the grocery store, it was my first time working with whole nutmeg, and I am not going to lie I was pretty excited.

I just grated the guy over the bowl, until there was a decent sprinkling of brown specks in the bowl. Since I don’t have a microplane, or a citrus zester, I just used my normal box grater and it worked fine.

The inside of nutmeg reminds me trying to crack a walnut out of it’s shell, or the twists and turns and folds in someone’s brain. mmm brainnnnssssssss

I mixed in the dry ingredients until they were pretty well incorporated.

I added 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and because I didn’t have any milk on hand, I used 3/4 of a cup of the yogurt I made earlier instead.

I mixed everything until it looked a lot like pancake/thinned out cake batter.

Because I thought these guys would be best served a little warm, I tossed the batter in the fridge for baking the next morning.

In the morning I divided the batter evenly between 12 muffins, and baked at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.

They came out looking beautiful!

I melted a little butter in the microwave, and dipped the tops in melted butter and then in a cinnamon-sugar mixture. These guys are seriously addictive! so yummy! You should try them someday.

Here are some condensed versions of the recipes:

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 medium sized ripe bananas
0.25 cups canola oil
0.5 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 medium sized egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
0.5 cups chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mash ripe bananas together and add oil, sugar, and salt. Blend until well incorporated and there aren’t giant chunks of banana left.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Sift in flour and baking soda and mix until it forms a thick batter. Fold in chocolate chips and spoon batter into a muffin tin (make tins about 0.75 full). Bake for 15-20 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

Doughnut Muffins

0.75 cups sugar
1 egg
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking soda
0.25 tsp salt
0.5 tsp nutmeg (give or take – use freshly grated if possible)
1 tsp vanilla extract
0.75 cups yogurt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
0.5 cups white sugar + 1 Tbsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together 0.75 cups sugar and egg until light yellow. Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix to incorporate and grate in nutmeg. Add vanilla extract and yogurt and mix until it resembles runny pancake batter. Divide amongst muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes until a tester comes out clean. When cool enough to handle, dip the tops in melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar. Enjoy!


About Helen

I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. I love teaching and learning alongside my students. When I'm not in the classroom I'm exploring Philadelphia. I also like knitting, baking, crafting, reading, running, cooking, and brewing beer. I have a one-eyed dog, and Ms. Frizzle is my hero.
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