Friday, February 20, 2015

Muffin Madness

It's been a long time since I've spent all day in the kitchen baking for fun! Today has been a blast! I had a pantry and fridge full of random ingredients to use up and four hungry kids that are always begging for a snack. So I pulled out my favorite Better Homes and Garden Cookbook (circa 1996) and got creative with the basic muffin recipe to make healthy and delicious muffins. I tried four different interesting flavor combinations, outside my comfort zone, and to my pleasant surprise my kids loved them:
Banana Coconut, Cherry Cheese, Lemon Fig, and Orange Coconut Plum

Here's my revised basic muffin recipe:
1 Tablespoon flaxseed meal with 3 Tablespoons water (this replaces the egg in the recipe)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cooking oil
Add fruits/flavors (see my list below)

Add to wet mixture:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons wheat germ

Mix well. Spoon into paper baking cups (or greased muffin tins). Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes. Remove from pan, let cool at least 5 minutes. Enjoy!!

Flavor combinations that I tried today:
Banana Coconut: 1 mashed banana, 1/4 cup shredded coconut
Cherry Cheese: 3/4 cup chopped cherries (I used thawed frozen cherries), 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (next time I will probably use shredded cheddar)
Lemon Fig: 2 drops Lemon Essential Oil (or 1 teaspoon lemon extract), 1/4 cup fig jam
Orange Coconut Plum: 2 drops Orange Essential Oil (or 1 teaspoon orange extract), 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/4 cup plum jelly

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Review: Since You've Been Gone

Since You've Been Gone is a  fast-paced, intense story,  where author Mary Jennifer Payne deals with hard teen issues like bullying and abuse in a realistic way. Fifteen year old Edie moves with her mother to London to escape an abusive father.  Her mother promises that this move will be different, a place they can be safe, but that dream is shattered when Edie's mother disappears. Too scared to go to the police, Edie and her unlikely friend are determine to solve the mystery of her mother's disappearance.

Although I felt like the story had an abrupt ending and wrapped up too quickly, it was entertaining and kept my interest throughout the entire plot line. The main characters were well developed - I didn't always understand why Edie acted the way she did, but her background explains a lot of her irrational decisions. I also appreciate how the author dealt with difficult teen issues without being overly graphic or inappropriate for teen readers. This would be a good book for high school students who like thriller/mystery fiction.

*Special thanks to Dundurn through for sharing this book in exchange for my honest opinion.