Honey Corn Muffins

This weekend the boy and I rented a canoe, put it on a lake, pitched our tent and said BYE to technology.

We spent the days reading, canoeing on the lake, making s’mores and loon hunting, and boooooy was it nice! During the week I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed with all the things that need to get done – and I realized something this weekend. HALF of these so called “important” things that need doing aren’t important at all! In fact, no one would even notice if I didn’t do them.

I don’t NEED to do my laundry
I don’t NEED to make a meal plan for the next month
and I certainly don’t NEED to read food blogs for 2 hours a day (although I love it).

So here we are. Back to basics. And with that thought I’d share with you an old and simple favorite of mine. Cornbread, baby.

To make these, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan. In a medium bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Then whisk in the buttermilk, honey and butter until combined and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, both sugars and salt.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and fold the dry into the wet until just combined.

Fill each muffin cup about three quarters full.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes and enjoy! Slathering warm muffins with butter is a must!

Honey Corn Muffins
Adapted From: Baked Explorations
http://www.amazon.com/Baked-Explorations-American-Desserts-Reinvented/dp/1584798505
Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray making sure spread evenly along the bottom and up the sides of each cup.

In a medium bowl lightly whisk the eggs. Then whisk in the buttermilk, honey and butter until combined and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder, both sugars and salt. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and fold the dry into the wet until just combined.

Fill each muffin cup about three quarters full. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 10-15 minutes and enjoy.

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Honey Bee Cookies

Do you listen to audiobooks? Last summer while doing field work, I went through tens of books just listening to my ipod. It’s such a great way to get through a book when you’re too zonked in the evening to read for very long, and also helps pass the time.

One of my favorite books from last summer was Wicked, and since then I have been waiting and checking the internet like a crazy person to see when the show would come to Ottawa. Well, it turns out it came!! AND I went last night. It exceeded my expectations and I absolutely loved it!

After the show I came home to some cookies. Even with this crazy heat and no air conditioning, I still need a good cookie once and a while. A cookie to hold up and yell “Take THAT 60 hour work weeks”! They really are a necessity….and a great way to celebrate after a musical.

To make these, preheat the oven, and then beat together the butter, brown sugar, honey and egg in a medium bowl until smooth, scraping the sides occasionally.

Stir in all remaining ingredients.

Mix together. This dough is unreal.

Drop spoon fulls of dough onto a greased or lined baking sheet.

Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are set and the edges are beginning to brown. The cookies will still look shiny when they’re done.

Allow them to cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!

Honey Bee Cookies
Recipe taken from A Cozy Kitchen
Makes 18-20 cookies
Only 4 Weight Watchers Points + per cookie

Ingredients:
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup honey
1 egg
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Beat together the butter, brown sugar, honey and egg in a medium bowl until smooth, scraping the sides occasionally. Stir in all remaining ingredients.

Drop spoon fulls of dough onto a greased or lined baking sheet. Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until the cookies are set and the edges are beginning to brown. The cookies will still look shiny when they’re done.

Allow them to cool on a wire rack and then enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Honey Popcorn

During exam time I find myself on the hunt for snack food. I’m ravenous for it! The more sweet and salty the better – anything to get my mind off of studying, really.

With this massive snack craving, and with little time to make anything too wild, I thought of putting some of my favorite flavours together on some air-popped popcorn.

It was a good idea. Such a good idea that this popcorn lasted only two days! The peanut butter and honey come together to make an almost caramel-like consistency on the popcorn. I’m in heaven.

To begin, place wax paper on a large baking sheet and spray with baking spray. Pop your popcorn either with an air popper, on the stove top, or with bagged popcorn.

Place popcorn in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and honey. Bring to a rolling boil.

Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth.

Add vanilla.

Pour peanut butter syrup over popcorn and stir to coat.

HELLO!

Spread out on to a cookie sheet to cool for a few minutes.

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter and Honey Popcorn
Makes 8 cups (serves 6-8)

Ingredients:
8 cups popped popcorn (air popped or unbuttered microwave popcorn)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Place wax paper on a large baking sheet and spray with baking spray.

Pop your popcorn either with an air popper, on the stove top, or with bagged popcorn.

Place popcorn in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and honey. Bring to a rolling boil.

Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth. Add vanilla.

Pour peanut butter syrup over popcorn and stir to coat.

Spread out on to a cookie sheet to cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Oat Breakfast Milkshake

Who gets excited for breakfast?! Lordy, before bed every night and sometimes a week in advance I plan my breakfast out, and become extremely excited for morning to come. My typical breakfast rotation includes: steel cut oatmeal, granola and greek yogurt, soft boiled eggs and smoothies.

Smoothies are definitely my breakfast favorite, even though I rarely blog about them. I think it’s because I wake up when it’s still dark outside…I’m an early morning wild child (I don’t know what that means). This smoothie is filled with so much goodness. Honey + Oats + Ground Flax + Banana Goodness. Yes, please!

To begin, grind flax and oats together with a mortar and pestle (or with a spice or coffee grinder).

In a blender combine your choice of milk (I used 1% for this), banana, peanut butter, ground flax and oats.

Add in your delicious honey. Blend until no banana chunks remain, and the mixture is thoroughly incorporated.

Enjoy! This is so easy and delicious. I wish I had more…

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Oat Breakfast Milkshake
Recipe lightly adapted from Joy the Baker
Makes 1 large or 2 small portions

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups milk (soy, almond, or regular milk)
1 banana (frozen is ideal)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 heaping teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon flax seeds, ground into meal
2 teaspoon old fashioned oats, ground fine

Directions
Grind flax and oats together with a mortar and pestle (or with a spice or coffee grinder).

In a blender combine your choice of milk (I used 1% for this), banana, peanut butter, honey, and ground flax and oats. Blend until no banana chunks remain, and the mixture is thoroughly incorporated.

Pour into a glass and enjoy immediately.

Costa Rican Black Beans and Butter Honey Plantains

Anyone else ready for summer? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good winter ski, snowmobile ride, or outdoor hot tub party, but I am missing the beach!

I grew up in a little town in Ontario where beaches are everywhere. In fact, my Grandparents (where I spent most of my time) live on a beach, my cottage is on a beach, and my high school was in 5 minutes walking distance to a beach. Geeze…just writing that makes me homesick!

Luckily, my vacation in Costa Rica brought some darn great ocean views. Tropical wise, I’ve only ever been to Cuba (two times) and Mexico, but Costa Rica has by far the best beaches.

To make me feel sexy like a Costa Rican tropical again, I threw together this awesome Costa Rican meal! Saucy black beans, brown rice, and some scream worthy butter honey plantains. You need to make this. Like now.

To begin, get your brown rice cooking and get out your ingredients: black beans, onion, lime, tomato paste, oregano, cumin, veggie broth, chili and garlic (I guess it’s missing in this photo!)

After about 10 minutes, start cooking your black beans by first heating a medium skillet over medium heat and adding canola oil. Once shimmering, cook your onion until translucent.

Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, and bay leaf until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste has cooked off a bit, about 30-60 seconds.

Add the beans to the pan and using a wooden spatula, smash about half of the beans.

Stir in the veggie broth, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until flavours meld and most of the broth has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Stir in lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper as needed.

The plantains only take about 10 minutes so these can be made right after you start your beans. First, melt butter and add plantains in a single layer.

Cook plantains on each side, for about 3 minutes, or until they reach a caramelized brown color. Drizzle with honey just before they are ready. Transfer to a plate covered with paper towel and allow to drain for a minute.

Now you can get to plating. Add a scoop of brown rice on your plate. Add half the black beans. Add half of the plantains and you’re done! If you want to be fancy (or awesome) you could add some chopped scallions or cilantro. My boy loooooves cilantro so of course he threw a giant handful on top and mixed it all around.

Costa Rican Black Beans
Recipe adapted from Smells Like Home
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
4 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaf
2 cans (15 1/2 oz) of black beans, ( 1 can drained and rinsed, 1 whole can)
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
Juice of 1 lime
Chopped cilantro (optional, for garnish)

Directions:
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat, and add the canola oil. Once shimmering, cook the onion until translucent. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, and bay leaf until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste has cooked off a bit, about 30-60 seconds.

Add the beans to the pan. One can should be drained and rinsed and the other should be put in juice and all. Using a wooden spatula or potato masher, smash the beans until about half are mashed up. Stir in the veggie broth, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Your beans should be “soupy” and that is a GOOD thing! Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until flavours meld and most of the broth has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper as needed.

If desired, sprinkle cilantro.

Butter Honey Plantains
A Warm Vanilla Sugar Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ripe (almost black) plantain, peeled and sliced in 1 inch slices
2 tablespoons butter
Drizzle of honey

Directions:
In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt butter.

Add plantains, in a single layer. Cook plantains on each side, for about 3 minutes, or until they reach a caramelized brown color. Drizzle with honey just before they are ready.

Transfer to a plate covered with paper towel and allow to drain for a minute.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

I’m baaaaack! From beautiful Costa Rica. Another world, really. Filled with various monkeys, butterflies, spiders, flowers, and sea creatures. Much different from the winter wonderland I’m experiencing here in Ottawa.

Although I had the time of my life, after a two week vacation it’s good to be home.

There’s nothing quite like coming back to your own space, your own cooking, and all the little familiar surroundings.

Like soup. Comforting, warm, and tasty. This soup in particular is thick with a hearty dose of curry that is all kinds of awesome.

To begin, preheat your oven and place squash halves, cut side up, onto a baking sheet and place one tablespoon of butter and sugar into the cavity of each.

Roast squash for about 1 hour or until the flesh has softened.

Allow the squash to cool for 15 minutes before scooping the flesh into a bowl. Discard the skin.

Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes.

Add thyme and chives and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, and squash and stir until just combined.

Pour the broth over the mixture and stir. Simmer soup for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour mixture into a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth. Pour the soup back into the pan and adjust seasonings. Simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat. Whisk cream into soup. Add desired amount of honey to taste.

To garnish I like to drizzle about 1/2 tsp of cream on top with some chopped chives. It really makes the bowl look pretty!

Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe from Spoon Fork Bacon
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 medium butternut squash, halved and seeded
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter, divided
4 tsp light brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon thyme, minced
2 teaspoons chives, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ¼ cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
honey to taste (I used about 1 tbsp)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Place squash halves, cut side up, onto a baking sheet and place one tablespoon of butter and sugar into the cavity of each.
3. Roast squash for about 1 hour or until the flesh has softened.
4. Allow the squash to cool for 15 minutes before scooping the flesh into a bowl. Discard the skin.
5. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes.
6. Add thyme and chives and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
7. Add curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, and squash and stir until just combined.
8. Pour the broth over the mixture and stir. Simmer soup for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
9. Pour mixture into a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until smooth.
10. Pour the soup back into the pan and adjust seasonings. Simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat. Whisk cream into soup. Add desired amount of honey to taste.

To garnish I like to drizzle about 1/2 tsp of cream on top with some chopped chives. It looks really pretty!