Baking Powder Biscuits

When I was a kid, I always looked forward to my grandmother’s baking powder biscuits. We’d eat them with butter and lots of homemade jam, and life was good.

Her recipe eventually became the base for our breakfast pizza, and it’s been one I’ve carried with me in life. Odd, because I don’t tend to use recipes at all… and when I do, I usually tweak the crap out of them each time!

This is a recipe that doesn’t need tweaking, though. Sure, there are minor variations I’ll do – sometimes I’ll use milk (as she did), sometimes I’ll use buttermilk. If I don’t have shortening (as she used) or if I want a richer flavour, I’ll use butter instead. It’s all good!

As long as you don’t over-handle the dough, these biscuits bake up light and fluffy, and are easily split in half. This makes about 6 good sized biscuits, but is easily doubled.

Enjoy!

Baking Powder Biscuits
Makes 6 biscuits

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking Powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup shortening or butter
3/4 cup milk or buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking powder,and salt.

Measure shortening/butter into the same bowl, and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork(s). The idea is to work it in until it’s evenly distributed throughout, in very small pieces.

Add milk/buttermilk, stir just until dough comes together. Don’t over stir or beat it. If dough is too crumbly, add a small amount of extra milk. If the dough is sticky, add a small amount of flour.

Pull dough together into a ball, place on a lightly floured work surface. Gently roll dough out to about 3/4 – 1″ thick, and cut into rounds with a drinking glass. (I like to use about 3″ diameter).

Arrange biscuits on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Serve hot!

Chewy Chai Blondies Recipe

Chewy Chai Blondies

1 cup dark brown sugar (well packed!)
1 cup granulated Sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 tbsp instant tea
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Cardamom
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup melted Butter

Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare 9 x 13 pan ( or two 8 x 8” pans) with pan spray or shortening.

In large mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Add beaten eggs and melted butter, stir until dry ingredients are well incorporated and wet.

Spread batter into prepared pan(s), Bake for 20 – 25 minutes for 8 x 8” pans, or 30-35 mins for 9 x 13” pan. Blondies are done when knife inserted into center comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Enjoy!

Raspberry-Nectarine Muffins Recipe

Another Friday, another weekend brunch / baking recipe!

I actually made last week’s Breakfast Corn Muffins at a “Sweet Corn Spectacular” cooking class that I taught yesterday, and they went over *insanely* well with the sold-out crowd. We’d made the sausage variation – my favourite!

Today’s recipe is a batch of muffins I made last week, to use up some of the raspberries we’d picked the day before. A you may have noticed on our wood slice garden pathway tutorial, our raspberry bushes were ridiculously prolific this year, really filling up every bit of space they could. We had more raspberries than we knew what to do with!

Well, almost. We love raspberries enough that we’re always finding uses for them, whether making homemade liqueur, wine, a big Pavlova… and now, muffins!

I combined our fresh raspberries with my other current favourite fruit, nectarines. I swapped out some of the granulated sugar of my base muffin for honey… oh, these were so good!

As they were baking, the whole kitchen smelled like I had raspberry jam cooking on the stove – amazing. Hope you enjoy these!

Raspberry-Nectarine Honey Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
1 nectarine, chopped
3/4 cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners, or spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In another bowl, combine eggs, milk, honey, and melted butter, whisking until honey is well incorporated. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy.) Gently fold in the nectarine and raspberries.

Divide batter between 12 prepared muffin cups, filling each to almost full.

Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 20 to 22 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm.

Breakfast Corn Muffins Recipe

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I’m on a “blog an amazing recipe suitable for a weekend brunch every Friday” kick recently, and do I EVER have a treat for you today: These are my breakfast corn muffins, from my latest cookbook, “Sweet Corn Spectacular“!

They’re less a “cupcake without icing” muffin, and more of a “entire breakfast in the palm of your hand” kind of muffin – especially with the sausage version – and a great way to make use of the fresh sweet corn that is popping up at farmers markets everywhere. Because corn is such a versatile ingredient, the possibilities for these muffins are endless. (See below for a few suggestions to get you started!)

Not only are these great fresh out of the oven, they make a great make-ahead breakfast for eating on the go for the rest of the week. Enjoy!

Breakfast Corn Muffins
Makes about 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
2/3 cup milk
2 ears fresh sweet corn, husks removed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare muffin pan with cupcake liners or grease well.

Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt, stirring until well combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and honey until light and fluffy. Add eggs and milk, stirring carefully until well incorporated. Mix in the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut kernels off the ears of corn. Stir corn into batter, just until distributed.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Variations:

• Blueberry: Add 1 cup fresh blueberries along with the corn kernels.

• Peanut Butter and Banana: Decrease sugar to ½ cup. Add ½ cup peanut butter when beating the butter and sugar mixture and 1 chopped banana with the corn kernels.

• Jalapeño, Bacon, and Cheese: Decrease sugar to ¼ cup. Add 1 finely chopped jalapeño, 6 crumbled slices crispy bacon, and 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese along with the corn kernels.

• Sausage: Decrease sugar to ¼ cup. Add 1 cup crumbled or sliced cooked breakfast sausage, ¼ cup finely chopped onion, and 1 cup shredded cheese along with the corn kernels.

• Sour Cream and Onion: Decrease sugar to ⅓ cup and milk to ¼ cup. Add ½ cup sour cream with the milk and eggs. Add ½ cup finely sliced green onions with the corn kernels. This combination is also tasty with bacon!

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Chai Cinnamon Rolls

Blogging can be such a funny thing.

When it comes to writing recipes out, I have no difficulty putting words to paper… err, screen. I have my little hand scrawled notes on ingredients that made it into the dish, and I write down what I did to turn them into the food in the photos. It’s very straightforward – “Do this. Then, do this..”. Not a whole lot of thought or effort, I get kind of robotic about it.

When it comes to writing the blurbs that precede the recipes, sometimes I run into a bit of writer’s block. For some recipes, I have a funny story, or recollection of something to do with that recipe, or I can wax poetic on one of the ingredients. It’s more creative writing than the technical-type writing of the recipes themselves, so I kind of have to be in the mood for it.

However, here I am, with little to say about this recipe. I dreamed it up while I slept, woke, and made it a reality for breakfast. That’s… about it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic – cinnamon buns are always great, and chai was always my most popular cake offering back in the day, of COURSE marrying the two will be fantastic – my brain is just elsewhere. I mean really, Convergence is just a couple days away, and I’m loading up a few blog entries to post in my absence, haha!

So yes. Make these. They’re awesome. Excuse my lack of focus on this blurb … Nerd Camp is almost here!

Enjoy!

Chai Cinnamon Buns Recipe
(Makes 12 rolls)

1 1/2 cups warm, strong tea – NOT hot!
4 tsp yeast
3 Tbsp sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp instant black tea (unsweetened – JUSt tea!)

Glaze:

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp instant black tea
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp hot water
~2 cups powdered (icing / confectioners) sugar

Stir yeast and sugar into warm tea, allow to stand for 10 minutes – it should get very bubbly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture, stir well to combine. Dump dough out onto a floured surface, knead until soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes.
(OR: mix it in a stand mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes or so!)

Once dough is fully kneaded, place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Once dough has doubled in size, roll dough out on a floured surface. Aim to make it a large rectangle, say 15 x 20″ or so.

Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter all over the dough – you might not use it all, that’s ok.

Mix together the sugar, spices, and instant tea, sprinkle evenly over the melted butter, reserving a few Tbsp of sugar mixture.

Starting with one of the longer edges, tightly roll the dough up.

Generously grease or spray a 9x 13″ baking pan. Pour any remaining butter in the bottom, spreading evenly before sprinkling with remaining sugar mixture.

Using a very sharp knife, slice the roll into 12 even rounds.

Carefully place each roll into the pan, spacing them evenly.

Cover pan with plastic wrap, allow to rise one more time – about 45 minutes. While waiting for the buns to rise, heat oven to 350F.

(This is what they looked like after the final rise!)

Once final rise is over, pop the pan in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and perfect.

Allow to cool for a few minutes while you make the glaze:

Mix together softened butter, tea, vanilla extract, hot water, and about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, whisking until smooth. Add remaining powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, until you have a thick, smooth paste.

Spead over hot Chai Cinnamon buns, allowing it to melt and ooze a little.

Enjoy!

Breakfast Pizza

A few weeks ago, some postings that my friend George made about his new Cleveland area pizza restaurant – 3 Brothers Pizza – had me craving breakfast pizza.

It was something I hadn’t made in a long time, but was a favourite when I was growing up. This recipe is based on the one I grew up with, which was a bit of a bastardization of my grandmother’s baking powder biscuits recipe. It’s a fun way breakfast… Kind of complex tasting and definitely hearty breakfast, but relatively easy to make. Great way to start a weekend!

It was beautiful, delicious, and hit the spot, so I posted a teaser photo to Facebook… and promptly forgot about my promise to post the recipe soon. WHOOPS! Was reminded of it the other day, so here we go!

The recipe mentions the toppings that we had on hand that morning, but feel free to add whatever you’d like. Tomato and onion slices would work well, as an example. So would ribbons of fresh basil.. yum!

Breakfast Pizza Recipe

~1 lb bacon
3-4 eggs
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking Powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
Baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1-2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 450.

Chop bacon into 1/2″ strips, cook til almost crispy. Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from pan and set aside, reserving drippings for other uses (May I recommend our “Epic Popcorn?).

Whisk eggs and scramble just until set. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and oregano.

Measure shortening into the same bowl, and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork(s). The ideal is to work it in until it’s evenly distributed throughout, in very small pieces. Add a handful or two of the bacon, stir gently to distribute.

Add milk, stir until dough comes together. Don’t over stir or beat it.

On a greased cookie sheet or pie plate, spread dough out, forming a crust that is of even thickness – between 1/2″ – 3/4″ thick. Evenly distribute scrambled egg over the crust, and top with mushrooms, green peppers, and remaining bacon (use whatever amounts of each that you like). Scatter cheese over the entire pizza.

Bake for 12-15 mins, or until dough is cooked through.

Healthier Apple Oatmeal Muffins

In the past couple of months, I’ve gotten back in the habit of making a fresg batch of muffins for my husband (almost) every weekend, so he has breakfasts for most of the week. (Pina Colada Muffins and Cardamom-Pear Streusel Muffins have been some of the biggest hits lately). It’s a lot of fun to run wild with it, creating new recipes for him.

We’re talking about cleaning up our diets and aiming to get healthier in the coming months, and breakfast is a great place to start. I created this recipe to suit a few of his requirements – low fat, ease up on the sugar, and raise the fiber content.

One of the things I’ve done with this is substitute a lot of the all purpose flour with oats – both in rolled and flour form. In addition to being very heart healthy (Thinking of you, Mairlyn Smith!), oats are lower in carbs than all purpose flour, lower glycemic, have fewer calories, AND contains more fiber. Plus, it adds flavor – Score!

In addition to the flour substitutions, I cut the amount of processed sugar, relying on natural sweetness from the apples and oats. The butter in my normal muffins was swapped out in favor of apple sauce.

What this gives you is a wonderfully moist, dense muffin with a ton of great flavor. It sounds so cliche, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that it’s “diet” from eating these… SO good!

As my husband puts it:

“They’re super good, they’re not just a healthy version of something, they’re something good that happens to be good for you :-)”

Enjoy!

Healthier Apple Oat Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup oat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup flax meal
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of ground cloves
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 apple, peeled and grated
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners, or spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flours, flax meal, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and cloves. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In another bowl, combine eggs, milk, apple sauce, grated apple, and vanilla extract. Add wet mixture all at once to the flour mixture.

Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy.) Divide batter between 12 prepared muffin cups, filling each to almost full.

Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.

MasterChef Guest Post – Dahlia Abram’s Orange Mango Banana Poppy Seed Bread (Gluten Free)

Today’s guest post comes from another one of my fellow MasterChef survivors competitors, Dahlia Abrams.

Dahlia is one of the people THAT I didn’t really meet in LA, but have come to know since returning to the real world. You may have heard me mention her on one of my Youtube videos… probably this one, with Matt Orsini. Basically, they’d cooked similar dishes back to back, she got an apron, he did not… so my new baby sister – Christine Kim – and I made a pact right then and there. We HAD to get aprons (you know, because we hadn’t been focused on that before, right?), just so we could somehow “take Dahlia out”.

Christine and I went home the next day, no aprons! LOL, so much for THAT plan, huh?

I still feel a little guilty for the pact… I hadn’t met Dahlia, and had nothing against her personally. I’d JUST found out that Matt had gone home – no goodbyes! – while I was required to go shopping. Trauma and grief will do weird things to a person, LOL!

Luckily, Dahlia seems to be a forgiving person… so here is her guest post! Enjoy!

PS: Be sure to check Dahlia out on her blog – Detroit Tokyo, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

I’ve always loved food but really started cooking three years ago. My passion for it has since grown into an all consuming one. Cooking is my meditation, creative outlet, and the way I express my love for those I share it with. I started my blog two years ago to share that love with you!

“Health food”… Sounds like dirty words. Let’s add “diet” to the list too. When we talk about food, why can’t we just talk about food? As with everything, food is about balance. Balance of flavors and textures surely but also balance in nutrition for balance in your body.

My philosophy on food is strongly influenced by a digestive disorder I suffer from. I do have to mind what I eat but I never want to feel like I’m missing out on what I love. So, I don’t! I do not have Celiac, nor a wheat allergy. Limiting my wheat intake, however, has been beneficial. It could be for you, too! I’ve found brown rice flour to be a great substitute.

Yes, this recipe is gluten free. Yes, this recipe is low-fat. Yes, it is all natural. If those terms put you or those you’re sharing food with off, I’d just advise you to try it for yourself and see how delicious and satisfying healthful eating can be.

Orange Mango Banana Poppy Seed Bread

3-4 small bananas – very ripe, mashed but not pulverized
1 egg
1/2 cup 0% plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup orange mango juice
1 tbsp orange zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Glaze:
2 tbsp orange mango juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Yield: 1 loaf/3 mini loaves/12 muffins

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare muffin tin with liners and/or loaf pan(s) with cooking spray.

Place bananas in a large mixing bowl and mash, but don’t pulverize. Add egg, yogurt, sugar, agave, juices, zest, and vanilla. Mix to incorporate. In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add half of dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and repeat. Gently fold in poppy seeds, be careful not to over-mix!

Pour batter into prepared tins/pans and fill 2/3. Place in middle rack of oven and bake:

– For 1 large loaf, bake 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

– For mini loaves, bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

– For muffins, bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and transfer to cooling rack. As they cool, combine juice and sifted powdered sugar. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle or spread onto tops of cooled bread(s)/muffins.

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Savory Shortcake

Back when I was preparing and training for MasterChef, I spent a good deal of time thinking about potential ingredients, challenges, etc. I brainstormed about unique ideas I could put forth, that may bring an edge to my game.

Today’s post is one of the ideas I came up with – just a fun, summery appetizer: Savory Shortcake!

I almost feel guilty about posting this today, just a day after my Sushi Cake yesterday. My roomie from MasterChef ended up posting about it, saying that I have this “thing” about making savory dishes look like dessert. I thought “What? I’ve done it like.. twice now. What?”… and now, this. Ok, three times! (The first time being my Buffalo Chicken Buns!)

Anyway, this savory take on shortcake starts with a savory baking powder biscuit, topped with a cheese infused whipped cream, and crowned with jewel like cherry tomatoes, basil, and balsamic vinegar. SO GOOD.

This would be great served as a light lunch, appetizer at a garden party, or with tea. Also, as the result of weird schedules being subject to my whim.. I can tell you that this makes a great breakfast, too! Enjoy!

Savory Tomato Shortcake

Tomato Topping

1-2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar of choice*
Salt and pepper
~ 1/4 cup basil leaves, sliced into thin ribbons

Toss tomato slices with balsamic vinegar until well coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste, the add in as much of the basil leaf ribbons as you want. Cover and chill until use.

* I like to use a light colored, lemon flavored balsamic for this.

***

Biscuits – makes about 6 large biscuits

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch cayenne powder
1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 green onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and cayenne powder.

Measure shortening into the same bowl, and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork(s). The ideal is to work it in until it’s evenly distributed throughout, in very small pieces. Stir in cheese, garlic, and green onion.

Add milk, stir until dough comes together. Don’t over stir or beat it. Gently compress the dough slightly, then roll to about 1/2″ – 3/4″ thick. Use a glass or round cookie cutter (about 3 – 3.5″ in diameter) to cut biscuits.

Gently arrange biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 10-12 mins, or until golden brown. As the biscuits are baking, prepare your goat cheese whipped cream.

***

Goat Cheese Whipped Cream

2 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup heavy whipped cream

In a small food processor, blend together goat cheese and ricotta until smooth. Add a little whipped cream – about 1/4 cup – blending once again, just until incorporated.

Add remaining whipped cream, process until mixture is at least doubled in volume, and reaches a consistency that you like – it will be thicker than normal whipped cream.

***

To Assemble:

Split each biscuit in half, top with a generous dollop of goat cheese whipped cream. Use a slotted spoon to garnish with tomato mixture, serve immediately.

Pina Colada Muffins

When I about 11 or 12, I spent a summer at the CalAlta Figure Skating Club in Calgary. Loved the rink, had a really nice coach…

… but the rink and the coach aren’t what inspired this blog entry. It was the giant muffins that they sold there.

I’m pretty sure they were from Costco.. each was way too big to be eaten in one serving. My favorite was the pina colada muffin, which I’d never seen before then. Upon my return to Winnipeg, searches of Costco failed to turn up these muffins, much to my dismay at the time.

Anyway, last weekend I woke up from a dream about those skating days, and with the muffins included. I decided to design a recipe around the idea of them. I wouldn’t be going for authentic, as their muffins were actually pretty dry.

So, here we are. Moist, tender pina colada flavored muffins! One of the tweaks I made to the source content was to top the muffins with coconut flakes prior to baking, which would allow them to toast up in the process. Pretty AND tasty!

Pina Colada Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups coconut flakes (sweetened or not), divided
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup coconut cream (Canned type, not milk replacement type)
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 cup pineapple puree*
1 tsp. rum extract

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners, or spray with baking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, 1 cup of the coconut, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In another bowl, combine eggs, coconut cream, melted butter, pineapple puree, and rum extract. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture.

Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy.) Divide batter between 12 prepared muffin cups, filling each to almost full. Sprinkle remaining coconut over muffin batter in cups.

Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden and a wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove from muffin cups; serve warm. Makes 12 muffins.

* For pineapple puree, I drained a 20 oz can of pineapple chunks, then pureed the chunks. You can use crushed pineapple if you would like, just drain it really well first!