My 3-B Muffins…

No photos with this post. Just a quick little recipe that I made up. I whipped up a batch this afternoon, and I’ve gotta say, they’re FABULOUS!!! I call them my 3-B Muffins ’cause they include Bananas, Blueberries and Blackberries.

Jen’s 3-B muffins (Banana, Blueberry & Blackberry)

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

6 large mashed bananas

2/3 cup melted butter

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup fresh black berries

1 cup fresh blueberries

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Line muffin pan (recipe makes 16 muffins).

In large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (except the sugar), and set aside.

In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (plus the sugar). Whisk until well combined.

Pour the wet ingredients into a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and mix just until everything is combined. The trick to tender muffins is not mixing the batter vigorously. Gently fold in the fruit and mix just to combine. Fill muffin cups and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until tester comes out clean and tops are golden brown.

tipsy lemon meringue pie…

PIE & JUG

Tipsy Pie

Project 365 Photos: #42 & #43

Hang on…just have to unbutton my jeans.

Almost too fat to post today!!!! I’ve eaten so much lemon meringue pie that I kinda don’t ever want to eat pie again. Bah…that’ll wear off in a couple of days and I’ll be right back to my old pie-o-phile self  (almost didn’t put “that” word in the post…I think you know why).

I’ve got a long, sordid history with pies. My husband loves them, but I’ve been a lousy pie baker, like forever! One morning, years ago, I might have even thrown the third batch of pie dough in-a-row across our apartment so hard that it hit the living room wall where it exploded. All I heard was my hubby putting down his newspaper, and asking if everything was alright. No, it bloody wasn’t (keep in mind I have the temper that goes along with red hair)!!!

Fast forward to this weekend when I discovered a brilliant recipe for tender, tasty, fool-Jennifer-proof pie crust dough. Secret ingredient…no wonder I love it….VODKA!!!!! Apparently, too much water makes pie dough tough ’cause it promotes the formation of proteins (um…I think). But too little water makes it IMPPOSSIBLE to roll the dough out, and it ends up flying through rooms. So the answer appears to be vodka, which doesn’t allow the chemical bonds to form, and quite a bit of it evaporates in the baking process. Et voila!!!!

You’ll find the recipe on allrecipes.com here. My own personal tip…use a double-insulated metal pie pan or tart pan (which is what I used). No soggy pies.

PIE & FORK

Vodka Pie Crust

 

 

The Next Best Thing…blog hop

The Next Best Thing…blog hop

I really enjoy finding new blogs to follow, and I love sharing them too. So I was delighted to receive an invitation to participate in “The Next Best Thing” (TNBT) blog hop. Hopefully you’ll enjoy getting to know a little more about me and some of my favourite bloggers.

Alana Agerbo–Hazy Shades of Me–invited me to participate in TNBT. She’s a writer out of Vancouver, BC, Canada, and I always look forward to her posts—they’re brilliant exerpts of her skillful ability with words!

Her blog was launched in March 2011 in an attempt to pin down the words skittering through her mind. It inspires her to write on an almost daily basis. She has a dusty old manuscript lying in the drawer, complete with, more than a few, letters of rejection. Alana’s hopeful to see her work on a shelf one day, not a speck of dust to be found.

Some of Alana’s work is published on Ezine.com, and can be found here

(http://my.ezinearticles.com/profile/)

She blogs here

(http://hazyshadesofme.com/)

(http://thewroughtwriter.wordpress.com/)

She tweets here

(https://twitter.com/HazyShadesofMe)

She hosts a writer-inspired facebook page here (https://www.facebook.com/HazyShadesOfMe)

As part of TNBT, I get to share a little about myself:

What is your blog about?

Coffee and Couch is an extension of my creative life. I’m a painter and a photographer, and I love to write–it’s the perfect creative storm! C&C is my playground where I get to share my day-to-day pleasures. But I don’t want to be phony, so I also pepper it with some of my gripes and grouchy moods—I don’t have time for blogs that aren’t authentic. Life just isn’t always perfect, and that’s what makes us interesting!!!

How did you come up with the name Coffee And Couch?

I start every morning sitting on my couch with a cup of coffee beside me and my laptop on my knees. It’s my favourite part of the day. I am fascinated by people’s stories and I learn lots of new things every time I hop on the world wide web (my kids gasp when I say it that way). I get to live vicariously and be immersed in inspiration.

I’ve been blogging for three years, and like most bloggers, I got burned out, and my posts became sporadic. I just didn’t feel inspired and uncertain about whether anybody cared about what I was publishing. Rather than stop blogging, I decided to use C&C as a forum for my photography practice, and I started a 365 photos project. It’s a great exercise that “forces” me to use my camera every day. A happy consequence is the fact that my blogging is way, way more consistent and I feel so much more connected to my readers.

Have you always been creative?

Art is in my blood. My grandmother was a talented artist and poet, and so is my father. One of my earliest childhood memories is painting rocks as a five-year-old in my back yard. I was lucky to have parents who really encouraged me to create stuff. I remember my excitement any time my mom bought me a new pack of Crayola crayons or a roll of newsprint paper from the local newspaper.

What is the best part of your photography?

I absolutely love finding great shots. I’m constantly walking off the trodden path to find an obscure fern growing out of a stump, lying down on a sidewalk to get a new perspective on a manhole cover, or standing on a crowded street with my camera pointed straight up at a crow on a telephone wire. There’s nothing worse than boring photos with standard poses. If I can’t make it interesting, I’m not interested.

Where do you find inspiration?

Colour is my seductress. Every day I find spellbinding colours in nature, grocery stores, clothing, interior design, artwork…everywhere. My Pinterest account is a testament to my colour inspiration hoarding.

I’m also inspired by light. The play of shadows and light is what tells a great story in photographs. It’s the same in my paintings. I do most of my photography using natural lighting, and I love the clarity it brings to my pictures.

Everyday items can inspire a whole set of shots. A stack of coffee cups, or a sudsy bar of soap might stop me in my tracks. It’s an exciting challenge to make something beautiful out of something mundane.

That’s all about me, now comes the fun part—some of my fave blogs…

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot:  https://whiskeytangofoxtrot4.wordpress.com

Kimberley Laing is a talented photographer based in White Rock, BC, Canada. She divides her time between raising her kids, enjoying her horses and wielding her camera in an intensely creative manner. She has a keen eye for the beauty in otherwise overlooked day-to-day items.

Pinecone Camp:  http://pineconecamp.blogspot.ca

Janis Nicolay is a renowned photographer based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Her work graces the pages of various national shelter magazines. Her latest shots are of beloved Vancouver Canuck, Trevor Linden (hubba hubba) in his Whistler, BC home.

She pins at: http://pinterest.com/pineconecamp/

She tweets at: @PineconeCamp

Her shop: http://market.poppytalkhandmade.com/author/janis-nicolay/

Click It Up A Notch: http://clickitupanotch.com

This blog is one of my guilty pleasures. I could sit all day long on my couch with my coffee reading this amazing resource for photographers. It’s fantastic. Courtney, the founder of the blog, was a teacher but now she spends her time at home with her three children and her photography practice. She also has a group of fantastically talented women helping her host the blog, and I get so much information and inspiration from all of them.

Smitten Kitchen: http://smittenkitchen.com

Part of my creativity is my passion for cooking. I’ve been a foodie since I was ten years old and baking choux à la crème on my own, seriously. This amazing blog is hosted by Deb Perelman, a gastronomic genius whipping up her creations in her, “…puny 42 square foot circa-1935 sort of half-galley kitchen with a 24 foot footprint, a single counter, tiny stove, checkered floor and a noisy window at the end to the avenue below.” There’s nothing pretentious about her food, but it is so lovingly created that you can’t help but fall in love with every dish.

mom’s not herself…

GREEN TABLE

beignet heaven

Project Photo 365: #21

My teenaged son came home from school yesterday afternoon and just about collapsed when he saw the batch of mouth-watering beignets I whipped up for him. He’s quite concerned about my mental health, because ever since the beginning of January, I’ve been trying out new recipes and, I quote, “actually making really good stuff”.

Poor kid. What he doesn’t know is that the urge to deep fry only hits me once every two or more years, and passes pretty quickly, once I get a whiff of the greasy smell in my kitchen–even after I’ve cleaned the kitchen. Yuck!

gingersnap cookie dreams…

Never fails! I declare I’m cutting something out of my diet, and within a day, I’m baking with said ingredient in large quantities! So here it is, plain and simple: I’m a flour junky! Apparently I’m not alone, according to Wheat Belly, the book I just read, there are millions of us out there. So I’m cutting bread (and wicked bagels) out of my diet. And that’s why I’m baking gingersnap cookies, duh!

I used my The Back In The Day Bakery Cookbook, and I’ve got to say their gingersnaps are delicious. I’m having company over for dinner tomorrow night, so I doubled the recipe and I’m keeping the dough in the fridge to bake some right before they arrive. Mmmm…the house will smell like a gingersnap factory (I can’t help it, I used to be a realtor).

The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook
And voila! The finished product. I cooked them a little longer than suggested, because I love a crunchy gingersnap. Mmmmmm.

gingersnap cookies

Thanksgiving, eh!

What’s one thing that goes perfectly with Thanksgiving? You got it. Low-fat Pumpkin flan!!

It has been one of the most amazing Canadian Thanksgiving weekends I can remember, weather wise. The sun has been loving us for some time now and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon (Watch. Now that I’ve said it, we’ll have non-stop torrential rain ’til April!!!!). I’m cooking the turkey dinner today, because half of my little family has been away visiting another part of the family, and we couldn’t all be together until this evening. Don’t worry. There’s no drama. Just couldn’t all be in the same place at the same time–we’re all speaking to each other LOL.

I spotted this light pumpkin flan recipe on allrecipes.com and just had to give it a try. I’ve made some alterations, but I’ll tell you everything I did. It turned out quite well–yes, I ate the one I photographed, for breakfast!!!

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Flan

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Flan — the light version

I love pumpkin pie, but I don’t love the crust and I’m pretty sure it’s mutual, ’cause I always gain weight when I eat it!!! So this flan seemed like a good plan…I should charge extra for poetry.

Low-Fat Pumpkin Flan

ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground allspice
  • 1 pinch ground mace
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (The flan isn’t very sweet, so if you like sweet desserts, I’d add about 1/4 cup more sugar)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 3/4 cups low-fat milk (I used 2 percent milk, not skim. The normal flan recipe calls for heavy cream)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out and reserved
  • 2 tablespoons hulled toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
  2. Set eight (5 1/2 ounce) ramekins into a large baking dish.
  3. Stir together 1 1/4 cups sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat; cook and stir until dark amber, about 10 minutes. (watch it carefully)
  4. Quickly divide the caramel among the ramekins; set aside. (you’ll need to work quickly to swirl the caramel around the bottom of the ramekins)
  5. Whisk eggs, cinnamon, salt, cloves, ginger, allspice, mace, and 1/3 cup sugar (or more) together in a large bowl. Stir in pumpkin puree until smooth.
  6. Heat milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it starts to gently bubble and steam. Remove from heat.
  7. Place vanilla bean seeds and pod (I only had liquid vanilla available so I used 1 tsp) in milk. Allow to soak for 10 minutes. Slowly strain hot milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk to form a thin custard.
  8. Divide the custard evenly among the ramekins, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top of each.
  9. Fill baking dish with hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  10. Bake in the preheated oven until the flan is just set, 45 to 50 minutes.
  11. Remove ramekins from hot water to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least four hours. (it’s really best to leave it overnight in the fridge)
  12. Run a knife around the inside edge of each ramekin and place an overturned plate on top. Invert and release the flan. Garnish with light ice cream or whipped cream and serve.

This is the colour that the caramel should be. When it’s getting close to the colour, take it off the burner, because it will still keep cooking and can burn quickly. I’d ask someone to help you in the kitchen at this point to swirl the caramel after each pour:

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Flan

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Flan caramel

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