Coffee Cake Muffins

Muffins are delicious, so I felt like eating some. I turned to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything for a simple recipe and that’s exactly what I found. He provides an easy base recipe that you can alter in endless ways. I had some leftover walnuts that had been sitting in the fridge forever and it was high time I used them, so I opted to make some coffee cake muffins.

Base muffin recipe:

3 tbsps melted butter
2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsps baking powder (I used 1.5 tsp baking soda instead)
1 egg
1 cup milk

Coffee cake mixture:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used much less, maybe a 1/4 cup)
1 tsp grund cinnamon
1 cup finely chopped walnuts, pecans or cashews
2 tbsps melted butter

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the egg, milk and butter, then combine with the dry ingredients. Fold the batter until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Mix together the coffee cake ingredients and add half the mixture to the main batter, and sprinkle the rest on top before baking. Bake in a greased muffin tin at 375 F for about 20 minutes or until the muffins are nicely browned. So yummy!

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House in the Snowy Woods

Here is a pencil drawing I have been working on for two weeks:

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I usually draw original scenes, or things I have photographed myself, but once in a while I draw something based on another artist’s work. This house was inspired by one of the pictures in the yearly calendar we receive from our realtor. Unfortunately, the photographer’s name was not provided in the calendar. The source is stated as maxX images, however I was unable to find the photograph on their website; perhaps they have since given up the rights to sell it. 

I chose to make a different background as I wanted the house to be the focal point of the drawing. Some of the angles and spaces are a little off because I mostly “eye-balled” it instead of properly measuring everything. I also had to improvise a few bushes here and there because I spilled some tea which left brown stains and warped the paper. Oops!

Here is the original photograph if you wish to compare…

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Dairy & Egg Free Peanut Butter Cookies & Coconut Crisps

I have a friend who recently developed a severe egg allergy, and her daughter is extremely sensitive to dairy,  so as long as she’s nursing she will be avoiding dairy as well. We try to get together once a week for a playdate so I’ve been on the hunt for egg and dairy free dessert recipes. I looked online and found a peanut butter cookie recipe at godairyfree.org.

Here is the recipe:

1/2 cup peanut butter (I use organic 100% pure peanut butter)
1/2 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp honey
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Mix the flax seeds with the water and let it sit for a few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix in the chocolate chips last. Using a tablespoon place the batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 F for about 8-10 minutes.

The result was surprisingly tasty, but I obviously wasn’t thinking when I made them because I used regular chocolate chips…which contain milk! So my poor friend humoured me by eating around the chocolate chips.

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The following week I tried again. I perused my cookbooks until I found and egg and dairy free coconut crisp recipe in my ever handy copy of Martha Stewart’s Cookies.

Coconut Crisps:

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 salt

Stir together all the ingredients and add approximately 5 tablespoons of water to form a stiff dough. Shape the dough into a rectangle, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick and transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate once more for 15 minutes. Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut the dough and space the cookies at least 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 F for about 11 minutes.

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I overcooked them a little, but they were still a nice light snack with a cup of tea. Only this time I forgot the cookies at home! I left the house in such a rush in the midst of the “everyone leaving for work and school mayhem” that I forgot my daughter’s diaper bag, in which I had packed the cookies. My friend had spare diapers for us but alas, no cookies. I will be seeing her again this week and this time I am going to make sure she gets some cookies!

Dilapidated Flat in Istanbul

I have decided to alternate between desserts and drawings; one week I’ll post some art and the next some dessert. My main motive for doing so is to shed the remainder of my pregnancy weight. Baking a delicious treat every week hasn’t been doing me any favours, especially since I’m home with my daughter all day and therefore am the one who ends up eating the most of whatever I’ve made! So this week there is no dessert, but here is a drawing I have been working on for over a month:

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Eight years ago while visiting my grandmother in Istanbul I took a photo of an extremely rundown flat inbetween two beautifully renovated ones. Places like this always intrigue me; I imagine what the inside looks like, if anyone still enters the building, and what will become of it in the long run–will it ever be renovated to match it’s neighbours?

The photograph of my drawing isn’t the best quality, but I must say I’m quite pleased with my work. I toiled over it for many hours and am very happy with the end result.