Coffee Crunch Muffins

Breakfast is the best. Are you with me?

I mean, I still want to eat well, what with the start of the new year and all, but I want something more exciting than plain cheerios for breakfast!

So let me tell you a little secret: Homemade muffins can really be quite healthy. With only ¼ cup oil in the whole recipe, they are very low in fat. Not to mention that if you spike them with coffee, they will pack a cool caffeinated kick (and be dairy free)!

Let’s make breakfast—we’ll be done in a jiff!

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Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf

When I was little, I hated pumpkin (gasp!). So the first time my mom made this bread, I absolutely refused to eat it under pain of death, which was pretty ridiculous, given that it tastes just like chocolate cake. How silly we can be as kids, cycling through our untested fears and strengthening them without cause…

This quickbread, like all quickbreads, sounds like it might be good for you because it has a vegetable (er…fruit) in the title. While this trick used to fool moms, I think we all know the truth: we are eating cake for breakfast!

So put on your blinders, grab your sugar and chocolate chips, and let’s make a pumpkin laced, lightly spiced, bread-shaped chocolate cake that will go over like gangbusters, even with the crazy kids that think pumpkin is gross.

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Ricotta Muffins

Muffins are pretty much my favorite food. Well, make that all breakfast baked goods. But muffins, my friend, top the charts.

I’ve had my eye on these muffins for a while now, and I’m glad I finally made them! The flavor is rather mild, but the hint of spices and the pecans on top give each bite something special, and occasionally reminded me a little bit of pecan pie. Because of the yogurt and absence of eggs, these muffins are dense, like a bakery muffin with half the fat. But by far and away the best things about these muffins is the sweet, crunchy cap and the subtle, creamy filling.

The main drawback to these muffins is that they are not the simplest breakfast food in the world (unlike oh, say…almost any other muffin). They require a lot of hands-on effort, and while none of the components are actually tricky, these are definitely best for  a plan-ahead or weekend breakfast treat.

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Cream Scones

So when Dave and I were in London, we took high tea at Harrod’s. We stood at the entrance to one of their many restaurants for 5 minutes, studying the menu, before we realized that the tea service included scones and clotted cream. Sold!

Before this trip, I basically refused to drink tea. I called it “weak water.” But I wanted to be proper, so I ordered a pot of jasmine tea and then waited anxiously for the tea caddy to arrive. When it did, it was full of tiny tea sandwiches, raisin scones, and British-style finger pastries.

I patiently picked all of the raisins out of my scone so that I could properly enjoy a scone slathered with clotted cream.

Oh my Lord. Clotted cream is good stuff. Too bad it’s so hard to find unpasteurized cream in the States, because I would just love to have a supply of clotted cream at my beck and call whenever I want it.

So this week, my sister-in-law get together was a tea party. And since I can’t stop thinking about tea at Harrod’s and cream scones, I decided to whip up a batch and bring them to tea. I even went to 3 grocery stores to track down pre-made clotted cream. The scones were delicate and sweet and buttery, and together with the clotted cream, they were simply divine.

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Spinach Frittata

Well the past two weeks have been incredibly hectic for me as I finished out the teaching quarter. Unfortunately, I’ve had very little time to bake or cook much of anything. Instead, I spent all of my free time grading papers and quizzes and writing an English proficiency test for the school.

But happily, I am now (more or less) free for the summer! And I had the privilege to kick off my summer with brunch with my sisters in law! I decided to make a frittata, which also allowed me to reward myself with a new skillet!

This dish was such a winner. It’s healthy and delicious, full of my favorite vegetables. It’s quick to make, and actually a great way to do eggs for brunch—more exciting than scrambled eggs, and even if you have to travel with it, the skillet keeps the eggs warm. Plus, it serves about 8 people for brunch (depending on how much other food you have, it could serve more!).

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Cereal Muffins

Okay, okay, these are really bran muffins…but I wanted to lure you here, and I know how many people are afraid of the word bran. Also, if you are smart and try these muffins out some time, now you will have a euphemism at the ready!

A few weeks ago, my very own copy of Super Natural Every Day arrived in the mail. I have been on a healthy kick lately, and I love Heidi’s blog, 101 Cookbooks, so I was sure this cookbook would be a hit–full of hearty vegetarian eats that would make my insides smile. I carried the book around with me…I put little yellow post-its on almost every page to mark the recipes I wanted to make…I decided to start with a breakfast food…but even I was a little afraid of the word bran before I finally got myself up early to make these muffins.

Let me just assuage your fears: these muffins are fantastic. They are crumb-y and flavorful, more filling than your average white flour muffin, but no less delicious. They are full of great ingredients to start your morning off right. In fact, my husband woke up to the smell of these muffins in the oven and broke his no-breakfast tradition to eat two of them.

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Breakfast for dinner!

Yesterday I went to my brother- and sister-in-law’s house for dinner and games. And it was glorious…because we had breakfast for dinner!

I made zucchini bread at the last possible second…which is a good trick, since it bakes for an hour! It is really more of a cake than a bread–it’s moist and sweet, but not too sweet, which makes it ideal for breakfast. Despite its name (and like most similarly named treats), this isn’t a particularly healthy breakfast, but it sure is delicious.

Zucchini bread is very easy to make, and I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand. I love bringing this to friends, because it requires almost no effort and it’s always well received. When I brought a batch in for my students recently, they devoured it in 10 minutes flat and were quite surprised to discover that the “green stuff” in it was a vegetable!

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Dad’s Poached Eggs

I’m not really sure when Easter was reduced from celebrating the life and resurrection of Jesus to dying eggs with vinegar…and even further to stuffing plastic eggs with sugary treats…but I think that slippery slope has had an everlasting effect on Americans. Eggs and Easter are alliteratively associated (haha…ya like that?…I’m an English teacher, give me a break. Okay, I’ll stop).

So a few days ago on Easter, I woke up very early so that I could poach myself and my husband some eggs for breakfast before church.

When I was growing up, one of the most exciting breakfast treats was my dad’s poached eggs. This was a collaborative effort between my parents, and it was a highly elusive breakfast, because my mom had to make bread AND then my dad had to decide to poach some eggs, all in the same weekend. But when it happened, it was so great! In fact, I like this breakfast so much that it’s what I requested on the day I got married. (Weird, right? You’d think I’d go for chocolate chip pancakes given my choco-obsession…)

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Zesty Wheat Scones


I have been on a mega scone kick lately. It all started a few months ago when I got together with several of my work friends for brunch. I brought cinnamon swirl scones…and loved them so much that I made them again the next day. And then I made scones again the week after that. And then it was clear that I was obsessed.

I first became interested in scones after a trip to England a bit over a year ago. I had seen several references to scones with clotted cream on cafe menus, but somehow I never managed to try them (maybe because the word “clotted” doesn’t strike up a lot of confidence within me…). But when I began my recipe project, making the perfect scones was high on the list. I tried to make clotted cream, too, but after several lengthy and failed attempts, I gave in to the cold truth that the right kind of cream (unpasteurized) is simply not sold in the U.S., and you can’t make proper clotted cream without it.

The good thing that came out of all that disappointment was a fantastic recipe for scones, compiled from a lot of reading and several different recipes.

Scones are a great treat for any time of day (as I proved to myself repeatedly during my manic scone-making phase); the only problem is that they are not exactly the healthiest baked good on the block. So when I was tasked with bringing snack to one of my MEd classes, I decided to tinker with the scone recipe I usually make and try to improve its health factor.

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