Pears + honey + fall spices = Honey Pear Spice Muffins! by Nikki

It's Autum... and time for muffins!

It’s Autum… and time for muffins!

It is officially Autumn. The seasons have changed from warm Summer sunshine to crisp, cool Fall mornings. It is the time of year when the pumpkins and other squash varieties show up in the grocery store. The farmer’s market is full of deep, rich colors as the end-of-summer growing season has been recently harvested and is now available for our purchasing! When the daylight hours grow shorter and the rain begins to fall, I crave time in my kitchen, and I crave muffins. I LOVE muffins!  Experimenting with my basic muffin recipe brings my taste buds (and my friends) a lot of joy! A little flour, a few spices, one egg and a variety of “fillings”, and you have got yourself a tasty baked treat.

Thanks for the pears friends...

Thanks for the pears friends…

I have a new teaching colleague on our Kindergarten team this year. I am really enjoying working with and getting to know T… as well as her husband and family! In the first few weeks of school, T showed up in my classroom with a handful of pears that her husband, D had stopped to pick while on a bike ride with their daughter. I always appreciate good, fresh fruit… and these pears were gladly accepted! Combined with honey, fall spices and my favorite baking ingredient- buttermilk, these pears turned my standby honey spice muffin recipe into a pear-y good experience. And with only a 1/2 cup of sugar (and a whole lot of honey), these muffins were sweet with a hint of spice… and the verdict was they were  oh, so, nice!

Pear-y delicious

Honey Pear Spice Muffins

dry ingredients: 2 cups spelt flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon

wet ingredients: 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 egg, 1/4 cup butter (melted), 1/4 cup honey, 1 cup buttermilk

fruit: 1 cup pears (peeled and diced)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C or 375 degrees F and line a muffin tin with muffin papers, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients then set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until well blended.

Pour over the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon.

Gently fold in the pears.

Spoon batter into the muffin cups until each is 3/4 full.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown or a knife comes out clean from the middle of the muffin.

Let cool for 5 minutes then serve warm with a pat of butter.

Store muffins in an air-tight tupperware for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months!

ENJOY!

These Zucchini Muffins are Jussssst Right! by L

The Chosen One

The Chosen One

On Fridays, at the Andel Farmers’ Market, there’s a stand I find a bit daunting because I haven’t mastered the Czech language. The vendor sells different kinds of bio flour, as well as a wide selection of bio dairy products. When I say “different kinds,” we’re talking about 7 varieties, from spelt to rye to whole wheat. However, it’s not just plain ol’ “Whole Wheat.” There are three to choose from and yes, I bought them all: “Hruba,” “Polohruba” and “Jemne Mleta.” I’d like to be able to ask a thousand questions about the range of available flours. Unfortunately, actually I should say embarrassingly, (after 8 years of living here) I can’t speak Czech well and so I am limited to the language translator app on my iPhone. My trusty translator tells me that “Hruba” is the coarsest of the three, “Polohruba” is medium coarse and “Jemne Mleta,” is finely ground.

One of these days I’m really going to have to get the skinny on all these flours. Many of the recipes I use call for whole wheat flour, but never do they specify how coarse the grain should be. Here in Prague, I have yet to find an all-purpose whole wheat flour. The unfortunate result has been a number of baking disasters and wasted hours in the kitchen. I kind of feel like Goldilocks, trying to find out which flour is “just right.” If anyone in the Prague area is an expert in flours, please feel free to rescue me!

P2060507

Ours come in Mommy size and Toddler size

I’ve been on the hunt for a healthy zucchini muffin that I could share with my two tots. One that uses whole wheat, a natural sweetener and of course it had to be both delicious and moist inside. I took a gamble and tried this new recipe using the whole wheat polohruba flour. Luckily, my muffins turned out “jusssst right!” My girls and I have been enjoying these for breakfast and snacks on the go. It’s perfect!

Just Right Zucchini Muffins (adapted from Weelicious)

1 cup all-purpose flour (for our Prague readers: I used hladka white flour)

1 cup whole wheat flour (for our Prague readers: I used polohruba whole wheat)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, whisked

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup vegetable or any other neutral oil

2/3 cup honey

1 1/2 cups zucchini, shredded (about 2 small zucchini)

(If you aren’t worried about nuts or added sweeteners, feel free to add a 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or almonds or chocolate chips.)

P2060510

These didn’t last long in the muffin jar!

Preheat oven to 180/350 degrees.

Grease or line your muffin tins.

Place the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture.

Stir until mixture is well combined.

Pour the batter into large or small muffins cups. (I made 24 mini’s and 5 in large silicone baking cups)

Bake 15-17 minutes for small muffins and 20-25 minutes for large ones.

Cool for 10 minutes and then serve.

First Day of School Jam and Bread by Nikki

apricots- delicate and sweet

In the Spring, I purchased a couple of canning books from amazon.com. I intended to use part of my summer to make my own jam. Somehow I only found time to make Apricot Honey Jam. Mid July, I bought these lovely, sweet apricots at the farmers market and used a new recipe from the book Tart and Sweet I love this jam because its taste really is both tart and sweet!

Homemade Apricot Jam

Today was the first day of school, and it was a really great day. There is something special about walking into the classroom at the beginning of the year and knowing that new adventures, inspirations, and relationships are about to transpire… but the first day is also exhausting. Tonight, I needed something simple for dinner. It has been too hot to turn on the oven and after being on my feet all day, I decided I didn’t even have the energy to stand over the stove- that is how easy I needed my dinner to be. So, on my way home I thought about what I really wanted- carbs, bread to be exact! So I stopped at my local PAUL’s Bakery and bought a couple mini, pumpkin seed bread sticks.

“I’m-too-tired-to-cook-dinner

When I arrived home, I quickly changed into comfy clothes then made my way into the kitchen. I sliced one of the breadsticks then slathered it with soft cheese and apricot jam. Tart and sweet food always tastes good to me- especially in an extreme heat wave! Maybe it is not the best or most balanced dinner, but it sure did hit-the-spot. And tomorrow morning, I am looking forward to enjoying the same thing for breakfast before the second day of school… enjoy!

tart and sweet