Tag Archives: sweets

Pistachio-Chai Muffins

Dear Faithful Readers,

I know it’s been a while since I’ve last posted, but I have a confession to make.  After March Maple Madness a couple of unintended side effects took hold.  First, and foremost, I was coming dangerously close to disliking maple syrup.  Oh, the horrors!  What would I pour on pancakes if I didn’t like maple syrup anymore?  More importantly, would my dad disown me (I mean, he was pretty upset when I told him I don’t like cows milk…thankfully Grandma stuck up for me on that one)?  So, clearly, I had to take it easy on the syrup for at least 2 good reasons.  Second, I was just plain sick of blogging.  I’m glad I took part in my 20 day experiment of daily blogging because it gives me new appreciation for those who blog day in and day out.  I just don’t have enough linguistic fodder to pull that off on a daily basis.  Sorry, folks.  The final unintended consequence, though not wholly unpredictable, was that my pants no longer fit comfortably.  Despite my morning swims, all those maple goodies caught up with my waistline.  And though I did spend copious amounts of money on a new spring wardrobe, apparently my pocketbook does have its limits.

So, for the past two weeks I was doing a modified version of the Fat Flush to reboot my system.  My mom introduced me to the Fat Flush a couple of years ago and I like to do it when I’ve had just a little too much sugar.  Like my dad, I don’t have one sweet tooth, but rather a whole mouth full of sweet teeth, and though I love sugar, I know it won’t love me if I over do it.  Anyway, the Fat Flush was a success, and though the recipes are good, many of them are not VVG and thus inappropriate for this blog.

What is appropriate however, is this muffin I made today to kick off a new era of non-maple recipes.  This is my “I’m back” recipe!  I promise that more will be coming!

Pistachio-Chai Muffins (from May, 2011 Cooking Light)
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 chai tea bags, opened
1 c. low-fat buttermilk
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1/3 c. shelled dry-roasted pistachios, chopped
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. water

1.  Preheat oven to 375.
2.  Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Cut open tea bags and add to mixture.  Make a well in the center of the mixture.  Combine buttermilk, butter, 1 tsp. vanilla, and egg in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.  Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture, stirring until just moist.
3.  Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.  Divide batter evenly among tins, filling about 2/3 full.  Spring nuts evenly over batter.  Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cook for 5 minutes on a wire rack.
4.  Combine remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla, powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp. water in a bowl until smooth.  Drizzle over muffins.

Pistachio-Chai muffins on plates

Thanks to Michael Diener for the picture!


Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

You know what’s VVG?  My grandma’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies.  I haven’t made one of Grandma’s recipes in quite a while so I decided it was time to break out my little recipe box and dig out a gem.  And dig one out I did!  I forgot about how wonderful these are!

I like to think that in addition to being a tried and true Grandma VVG* recipe, these cookies also turned out well because I made the peanut butter myself.  That’s right – I made peanut butter!  No, I did not shuck the peanuts and roast them myself, nor did I manually grind them into a fine butter, but I did go through the painstaking process of pouring a bag of roasted nuts in my food processor and turning it on to watch the magic of electricity and sharp blades work it’s magic.  That counts for something, right?

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
1 c. shortening or butter
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 c. peanut butter
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 c. oatmeal

Mix ingredients together. Drop dough on an ungreased cookies sheet.  Bake at 375º for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

A note from Grandma:
I bake all drop cookies at 375º. Depends on your oven.  Since Grandpa replaced a spring in my oven door, it doesn’t close tight – so it’s baking by guess and by gosh!

I wish I had a picture of Grandma baking by “guess and by gosh” to share with you.  She was pretty cute perched on her stool watching the progress in her oven!!

Jar of Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies










*All of Grandma’s recipes are tagged VVG (and a few of Aunt Pat’s).  You can just type in VVG in the search field at the top of the screen and you can see them all!

Spicy Almond Cashew Maple Popcorn

I was talking to my dad earlier today and he asked me what I was going to have for supper – “Something healthy, I suppose.”  This was not said in a “Good girl, we raised you to eat healthy meals” sort of way, but rather in a disapproving “where did we go wrong with you?” tone of voice.  I could just picture him, rolling his eyes as he said it.  I replied saying I might just have popcorn.

A diet of popcorn probably isn’t that healthy.  It doesn’t really hit all of the 4 basic food groups, according to the USDA.  However, according to Buddy the Elf, I hit about 1 and a half of the food groups, candy (0), candy canes (0), candy corn (+1/2) and syrup (1).  Not too shabby, in my book.

Spicy Almond Cashew Maple Popcorn (adapted from Dec. 2010 Cooking Light)
1/2 c. cashews
1/3. c. almonds
1/4. c. dried currants
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 T. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1.  Pop popcorn in a large stockpot.  Let rest after popping.  Stir in nuts and currants.
2.  Bring sugar, maple syrup and remaining ingredients to a boil.  Let cool about 1 minute.
3.  Pour hot sugar goodness over popped corn.  Toss to coat.
4.  Spread the popcorn on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Let cool and enjoy!

Maple Popcorn

Chai Tea

It’s been a busy week.  Yesterday I finally went to the doctor to have my aching back checked out.  It’s been hurting since June and I finally decided that my “ignoring the pain and it will go away” strategy was failing.  I went in hoping to get a referral for physical therapy.  Check!  But I got a little more than I bargained for with the additional prescription for muscle relaxers.  Though the doctor said they would only last 8 to 12 hours after taking them, I think what she meant was that they would only last 8 to 12 hours after you wake up from 8 hours of drug-induced sleep.  In a word, I was completely unproductive yesterday because I was, well, relaxed.  But in a zombie-like way of being relaxed.  Not in a lazying about on the beach sort of way.

Anyway, being so “relaxed” didn’t help me grade any papers yesterday (to be fair, writing this blog post isn’t helping either).  So today, I opted not to take the muscle relaxers and instead brewed up a batch of chai tea, now known as “grading juice”.

I don’t drink coffee.  Or soda.  The only caffeine I ever have is in chai tea and let me tell you – IT WORKS!  Should you have your own pile of essays to grade, I highly recommend brewing up a batch to help you through the seemingly never ending pile of fun that awaits you.

Chai Tea
1 inch ginger root, sliced
6 – 8 cardomon pods
12 whole cloves
12 peppercorns
3 – 4 c. water
1 c. milk
3 – 4 black tea bags (caffeine, baby!)
1/8 c. maple syrup

Place spices in a bag and slightly crush.  Put spices and ginger in water and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes.  Turn down heat.  Add tea bags and steep for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add one cup milk.  Warm again as needed.  Add maple syrup.  Enjoy!!
*Note:  All the amounts are approximate.  Adjust to your tastes!

chai spices