berry cream-cheese muffins

Happy Thursday, friends! Can you believe it’s only a week until Thanksgiving?! Where has November gone? I’m trying to savor each day as much as possible, but I’m also really excited to see my parents and brother — and Mr. Mur-dog! 🙂

murray paws

In the spirit of Thanksgiving baking, here is a delicious and easy muffin recipe that I whipped up the other day when I had some blueberries to use up. I think these would be great with any kind of berry! The sweetness of the berries combined with the cream cheese in the center really makes these muffins a star.

blueberry cream cheese muffins

blueberry cream cheese muffins

adapted from this recipe at healthy food for living

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar or agave
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pint blueberries {I used fresh, but I’m sure frozen would work just as well}
  • 1/4 cup neufchatel {1/3-less-fat cream cheese} at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin, or line with muffin cups.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour & coconut flour, coconut sugar, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, oil, and vanilla extract {and agave, if you’re using it}.

4. Toss the blueberries with the flour mixture. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until incorporated.

5. In a small bowl, stir together the neufchatel and maple syrup.

6. Divide the batter evenly amongst the prepared muffin cups. Make a small well in the center of each. Fill each well with 1 tsp of the sweetened neufchatel. Sprinkle each filled cup with a bit of the sugar.

7. Bake for 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean {cream cheese sticking to the toothpick is fine, but no raw batter!} Cool in pan for 5 minutes; transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

blueberry muffins

Hope you enjoy! These were the perfect combination of sweet and savory… a decadent-seeming treat that is pretty dang healthy! This would be a great holiday breakfast item. Thanksgiving brunch, anyone?

If you liked this recipe, you might also check out:
apple banana oatmeal muffins
peach streusel muffins
chocolate-chip banana muffins
triple berry muffins

pumpkin spice cupcakes w/cream-cheese frosting

Well, the Giants got a smack-down last night. It was pretty pitiful.

But Dana and I still had a fun time chowing on deep-dish pizza, catching up {we ended up talking more than watching the game, since the game was so depressing} and playing with her adorable new kittens, Sadie and Hunter! They are so inquisitive, full of energy, and TINY! Here’s a photo I snapped of Sadie cuddled up on Dana’s lap.

sadie

So soft and fluffy! I couldn’t stop petting her.

One good thing about the evening was that at least we had yummy baked goods to help ease our sorrows!

baseball cupcakes

These cupcakes might not have been very lucky, but they sure were delicious! And super easy to make. I got some requests on Instagram for the recipe, so I thought I would share it on here!

My secret weapon: Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread mix. This stuff is amazing! Hands-down my favorite baking mix ever. And it’s seasonal, so stock up while you can!

trader joes pumpkin bread

I’m sure you could use a different pumpkin spice baking mix in a pinch, or make pumpkin muffins from scratch — here’s a recipe I love from Snixy Kitchen.

pumpkin spice cupcakes w/cream-cheese frosting

– 1 package Trader Joe’s pumpkin bread mix
– 2 eggs
– 1 cup water
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 4 oz cream cheese, softened {I used 1/3 reduced-fat kind}
– 1/4 cup butter, softened
– 1 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, combine baking mix, eggs, vegetable oil and water. Mix until well combined.

3. Pour batter into a muffin tin lined with paper cups. In order to make these rounded baseball cupcakes, I filled the cups all the way to the top with batter. If you would like flatter cupcakes, fill the cups 3/4 of the way full.

4. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from the muffin tin and set on a rack to cool.

5. While cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting: using a mixer, beat together the softened cream cheese and softened butter until smooth and well-combined.

6. Slowly add the powdered sugar, combing well after each addition. I used approximately 1.5 cups, but you can increase or reduce the amount depending on desired sweetness.

7. If frosting is too thick, you might need to add a little heavy cream or milk to thin it out, but I love my frosting thick, so I didn’t add any.

8. When cupcakes are completely cool, use a knife to generously spread them with frosting. To make baseballs, use a red gel frosting to make dotted lines in two half-moons, like the threading on a baseball.

baseball cupcakes

ENJOY!

In the meantime, I’ve got my Giants spirit going all day today! Game 7! Let’s go, San Francisco! 🙂

giants spirit

Questions of the day:

  • Are you watching the World Series? Who are you rooting for?
  • What is your favorite autumn dessert?

fabulous friday #20

Happy TGIF! Can you believe it’s already May? I am in awe of how quickly this year is flying by. A reminder to make the most of each and every day we are blessed with!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The gorgeous, summer-like weather we’ve been having around here … warm and sunny, the days are long, and I can sit out on the porch with a book and a glass of iced tea reading even after dinnertime. On Wednesday Allyn and I went to a Giants game and I didn’t even need a jacket! I didn’t know San Francisco EVER got that warm, especially down by the water. It was glorious! And I love the energy and happiness in the air at this time of year, like everyone is more carefree and open to the world.

giants game

2. The latest collection of short stories, The Color Master, by one of my favorite writers {and people!} Aimee Bender, author of the previous best-selling novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Aimee was my professor at USC and she is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. She definitely was, and continues to be, a huge influence and inspiration for my own writing. I am savoring her new book–the stories are by turns delightful, dark, funny, serious, and always surprising. I would highly recommend putting this on your summer reading list!

the color master

me and aimee

3. I wrote a short story that has been published in the online literary journal Superstition Review! I’m so excited and honored to have my work featured as part of this publication I have long admired. You can read it here. {Note: the story is fictional, and a little dark/sad… just be warned!}

4. These berry + cream cheese muffins I made a few days ago and have been enjoying as breakfast, snacks, and dessert … zero refined sugar, zero white flour, and absolutely delicious! I will be sharing the recipe on here next week, stay tuned!

cream cheese muffins

5. This picture, shared by my dad on Facebook:

reason someone smiles

BONUS: Vote for my friends Mike & Bob Bryan, who are amazingly kind and generous Philanthropists of Giving and are in the running to win $100,000 for their charity! You can vote up to 3 times a day and it takes less than a minute! https://givkwik.com/campaigns/2014-asu

red velvet cupcakes with coconut cream-cheese frosting

I like to bring my students baked goods as a surprise at the end of the term {that is, if they’ve been a good class — which so far, they always have been!} I had an especially wonderful creative writing class this summer so I decided to eschew the usual cookies or brownies for a special treat: homemade Red Velvet Cupcakes with this fabulous coconut cream-cheese frosting you might remember from my carrot cake recipe last month.

{Here are the finished cupcakes all ready to go to class:}

I have made Red Velvet cupcakes to great success from a boxed mix before — I like substituting applesauce for the oil to make them a little healthier while still retaining moistness. I am a big fan of the Duncan Hines Red Velvet boxed cake mix.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, like I was, here’s a recipe I was excited to find on the wonderful site Annie’s Eats to make Red Velvet cupcakes from scratch:

Ingredients:

for the cupcakes
– 2½ cups cake flour
– 1½ cups sugar
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
– 1 tsp. salt
– 2 large eggs
– 1½ cups vegetable oil {I substituted 1 cup applesauce}
– 1 cup buttermilk
– 2 tbsp. (1 oz.) liquid red food coloring
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 1 tsp. distilled white vinegar

for the frosting:
– 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
– 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
– 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 1 tablespoon heavy cream
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring {optional}
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt; whisk to blend.

3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, vegetable oil {or applesauce}, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Beat by hand or with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.

4. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Beat until the batter is smooth.

5. Fill the cupcake tins about 3/4 of the way full.

6. Bake 15-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Let cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

8. While cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, alternating with heavy cream. Beat in the salt, coconut flavoring, and vanilla extract. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and spreadable. Add additional confectioners’ sugar if necessary to thicken the frosting, or more cream to thin. Stir in the coconut.

9. Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, use a knife or a spatula to spread the frosting onto the top of each.

10. {Optional} I like to refrigerate the cupcakes for twenty minutes or so to let the frosting solidify.

Happy Friday! Have a wonderful weekend!

Always,
Dallas
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Time spent: about 1 hour {including bake time}
Cost: $5-$7

carrot cake with coconut cream-cheese frosting

I don’t know about you, but I loooooove cream-cheese frosting. I had never attempted to make some myself {I’ll admit it: I was intimidated} … whenever I made a cake I always chickened out and opted for the store-bought kind. But whenever I got a piece of red velvet cake or carrot cake from a bakery or restaurant, and the cream-cheese frosting was obviously homemade, it always tasted a million times better.

So, for Mike’s birthday, when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted me to make, he requested carrot cake … with cream-cheese frosting, of course! And I knew I had to try making the good homemade frosting for my sweetie.

I am SO glad I did! It was way easier than I expected, and sooooo delicious. This is now my go-to frosting for any cakes, cookies, cupcakes — you name it, I’ll frost it with coconut cream-cheese goodness.

Here is the recipe for both the carrot cake and the frosting. The carrot cake is relatively healthy as far as cake goes: no oil or butter; egg whites, applesauce, carrots. The frosting is not healthy in the least, but it is worth it!

carrot cake with coconut cream cheese frosting

cake:
– 6 egg whites
– 3/4 cup sugar
– 1 cup applesauce
– 1/2 cup skim milk
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/2 tsp ground cloves
– 1 tsp ground nutmeg
– 2 tbsp cinnamon
– 2 tsp baking soda
– 2 cups flour
– 2 cups shredded carrots
– 8 oz can crushed pineapple with juice
– 1/2 cup raisins {though I left them out because I don’t like raisins}
– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts {if desired}

frosting:
– 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
– 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
– 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
– 1 tablespoon heavy cream
– 1/4 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring {optional}
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg whites. Slowly beat in sugar, then applesauce, skim milk, and vanilla. Stir in cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda, and flour.

3. Stir in, one ingredient at a time, pineapple (with juice), carrots, walnuts, and raisins.

4. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. Your cake is done when a fork inserted in center comes out clean.

5. While your cake cools, make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese and butter in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time, alternating with heavy cream. Beat in the salt, coconut flavoring, and vanilla extract. Continue beating until mixture is smooth and spreadable. Add additional confectioners’ sugar if necessary to thicken the frosting, or more cream to thin. Stir in the coconut.

6. Once the cake has cooled, spread the frosting evenly over it with a knife or spatula. If you can bear the wait, pop the frosted cake in the fridge for half an hour or so to give the frosting time to set. I think this cake tastes even better the next day, after spending a night in the fridge!

Upon taking his first bite, Mike declared:

“BEST. CARROT. CAKE. EVER.”

Hooray!

Happy weekend & happy baking!
-Dallas

———————————-

Time spent: about 1 hour
Cost: $8.00