Banana Blueberry Muffins

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I love muffins!  I’ve been making them for years and am always adapting and tweaking my recipes – the variations are endless. They are super easy to make, you can pack them with fruit and feel great about serving them for breakfast or snacks at any time.  Lately, I start with a basic banana bread recipe and have adapted it to add even more fruit, or sometimes chocolate chips, depending on what I have on hand.  You can go even further and add a lemon icing – delish! I’ll share my basic banana blueberry muffin recipe here.  Enjoy!

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Sometimes I use paper mini loaf pans instead of muffin tins!

Banana Blueberry Muffin Recipe

  • Muffin/Cupcake paper liners
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 – ½ cups blueberries
  • 1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar, if desired
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tin with paper liners
  2. Beat together the butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a standing mixer until well blended. Add the bananas and mix until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the mixer.
  4. Place 3-4 blueberries in the bottom of each paper liner. Add most of the rest of the blueberries to the batter, mixing with a wooden spoon. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups and place remaining blueberries on top.  Sprinkle with a spoonful of granulated sugar on top if desired.
  5. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, watching closely towards the end. Make sure a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool and serve.

For variations, add chocolate chips instead of blueberries or add a mix of fruit – raspberries, cherries, blackberries.

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Banana Blueberry Muffins with Blackberries

 

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

Anisa Sabet – The Truffle Farm

Black truffles have an earthy, slightly woody, intense flavor.  They are hard to find and usually require a dog or animal with a good sense of smell to sniff out the delicacies, which grow under a certain type of tree in the roots, then the truffle hunter must dig them up.  I love truffle oil and the hint of fresh truffles in savory foods.  Anisa Sabet shared photos from The Truffle Farm in Canaberra on her blog in her Shoot Diary and I will share some of them here.  They are lush and gorgeous.  Truly works of art.

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All photos by Anisa Sabet

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Slow Roasted Tomato Ketchup

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It’s grilling season and when planning what to grill for your next gathering, it’s fun to also think about special condiments for your table.  In keeping with last week’s post about summer fresh tomatoes, I thought it would be fun to share Anisa Sabet’s Slow Roasted Tomato Ketchup recipe.

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Anisa Sabet is one of my favorite bloggers and instagram accounts to follow.  She is a photographer and stylist and her photos and settings are just gorgeous.  She also creates recipes, which are amazing.   I have made my own tomato jam in the past and nothing beats homemade ketchup, which can be used at your next cookout or as a special sauce paired with cheeses on bruschetta.

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Recipe for Slow Roasted Tomato Ketchup by Anisa Sabet.

Ingredients (makes 500ml):

  • 1kg ripe tomatoes (anything goes), halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt & pepper
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 cup vermouth or white wine
  • Dash Worcestershire
  • To season: sea salt, pepper, bit more brown sugar

    Method:

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Toss tomatoes in olive oil, with the sugar, tomato paste, garlic, sea salt, pepper & basil, then spread over prepared baking tray. Bake for approximately 90 minutes until slightly charred.

2. Pour roasted tomatoes into saucepan with wine / vermouth and cook until reduced (about an hour).  Add the Worcestershire, and more sea salt, pepper & brown sugar to taste. Pour into a sterilized jar.

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All photos by Anisa Sabet.

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

 

 

 

Ode to the tomato and easy recipe ideas

Photos above by @Tartinegourmande

If you’ve ever tasted a fresh picked, ripe tomato right off the vine, with it’s delicate scent and sweet juices, then you have tasted happiness.  During the summer, when local tomatoes are prolific, you can be creative as the tomato is very versatile and easy to use.   I’ll highlight a few favorite recipes…

Krister’s Aunt Liz reached out to me over the weekend, saying she enjoyed reading the post about Cantaloupes,  and wanted to share that one of her favorite sources for finding recipes is Southern Living.   Since it’s tomato season they had recently posted 47 Ways with Fresh Tomatoes.  Liz’s current favorite from the list is Tomato, Watermelon, and Feta Skewers with Mint and Lime.  I can’t wait to try it!

Also from Southern Living’s list of 47, these Open-faced Tomato Sandwiches with Creamy Cucumber Spread look simple and delicious!  According to the Southern Living Test Kitchen, cut your tomatoes with a serrated knife so that you do not damage the flesh when cutting the skin and lose the juices.

These remind me how easy it is to make variations on this for summer cocktail parties.  You will never go wrong with the super combo of fresh tomatoes and basil on toast, bruschetta or crackers.  Drizzle a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top with a sprinkling of sea salt and oh my.

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Photo by @brookelark

I have always loved making a tomato pie and this recipe on the Southern Living list looks gorgeous – Tomato, Cheddar and Bacon Pie.  You can always leave out the bacon if you wish.

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Photo by Hector Sanchez Tomato, Cheddar and Bacon Pie Recipe

One of my favorite recipes to make year round is Cherry Tomato Tartlets Tatin by @tartinegourmande and her cookbook La Tartine Gourmande.  You slow roast the cherry tomatoes before assembling the Tatin to bake.

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Cherry Tomato Tartin made for my love on Valentine’s Day!

With this recipe I often have leftover roasted cherry tomatoes and they are delicious on their own or added to other recipes.

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Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes by Plan Simple Meals

Thomas Jefferson was one of the first Virginians to grow and eat tomatoes.  Since tomatoes are in the nightshade family most Americans were afraid they were poisonous and did not eat them. Legend has it that Thomas Jefferson first ate them in front of a crowd near Lynchburg, VA at his retreat Poplar Forest and later in 1806 served them to guests at the President’s house which led to their popularity as an edible fruit in addition to a decorative planting.

“Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love and home grown tomatoes.”

John Denver, ‘Home Grown Tomatoes’
(from a song written by Guy Clark)

 

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Cantaloupe – How to pick the perfect one

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Summertime for me means warm, sunny days, flip flops, digging bare feet into the sand or walking across the freshly mowed lawn, picnics, ice cream and of course an abundance of fresh fruit and veggies.   One of my favorite summer fruits is fresh cantaloupe, but you need to know what to look for for ripeness or you’ll be disappointed as they do not ripen further once off the vine.

I have distinct memories growing up of time spent every summer with my grandparents at their place on the Chesapeake Bay.   They had a huge vegetable garden and always grew cantaloupes.  Many mornings when we were called to the breakfast table there would be cold slices of sweet cantaloupe sprinkled with salt waiting for us.

Last week when I was at the market I was holding a cantaloupe and smelling it, trying to pick the perfect one.  A woman approached me and asked how do you know which one will be good?  I figure perhaps there are others of you who also could use a few tips.

The best way to pick a cantaloupe is by smell. The fruit should have a sweet, slightly musky scent. If the smell is too strong, it will be be overripe.  A good cantaloupe feels heavy for its size, should feel firm but not hard, and should never feel mushy.  Next look at the color.  Cantaloupes have a rind that resemble raised netting and the ripe ones have a golden hue.  Finally the stem end should yield slightly when pressed with your thumb.

You can eat cantaloupe on it’s own or sprinkled with salt, put it in smoothies, salads and even grill it.  Here are a few ideas…

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Gather – Flowers for your table

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Wildflowers collected from our fields in White Stone, VA

I firmly believe that when you gather friends and family at the table you should always have fresh flowers there too.  They elevate the experience and can be done simply and inexpensively from gathering wildflowers in various shapes and sizes to pulling together one flower, in one color, to make a statement.

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Wildflower arrangement by Jamie Campbell for Decoratop

You can pick one vase to fill for a center arrangement or find various jars, cups and vases in varying sizes to place organically around the table and house.

When I have a special event, dinner or meal and want that extra help I love collaborating with a florist in order to get more unique flowers than are readily available in the yard or at the local market.

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Photo by Will Hawkins / Flowers by The Wild Bunch

It’s also fun to add in fruit and vegetables as part of the table decor.

Think about what season you are in and pull from what is growing at that time.  Lilacs are my favorite flowers and I love to fill vases of them in the spring all over the house for their soft color and lush scent.

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Mason Jar Vase and Lilacs by Country Living 

If you have a large group, it’s fun to have flowers run down the entire table so that everyone gets to enjoy them like I did last summer for a large family gathering in the photo below.  I worked with Cindy at The Wild Bunch in Kilmarnock, VA.  She does amazing work.

If you do not have a garden or yard to pull from, visit your local market or grocery store.  When in Boston, I love what Trader Joe’s keeps in store year round and look for groupings of one type of flower to mix and match colors as opposed to the prearranged bouquets.  Another favorite – peonies…

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Peonies / Photo by Amber Lilyestrom

When creating your own arrangements, you must strip the stems of all leaves for the part that will be below the water line.  This slows up any bacteria growth and keeps the water clean longer.  I like the flowers to be cut shorter in the vase, so that the flowers are poised just above the top of the vase and often tie the vase or jar with twine or a ribbon.  Cut each flower individually to fit your vase in order to have various heights and place them loosely for the look you want.

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Flowers by The Wild Bunch

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

July 4th – what are you serving?

Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and freedom in all just pursuits.
   ~ Thomas Jefferson

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It’s that time of the year when we come together to watch fireworks and commemorate America’s independence. I thought it would be fun to share images and recipes that are inspiring me as I plan our festivities for next week, and hopefully give you some inspiration too.  So… let’s jump into picnic mode, fire up the grill and hoist up those Stars and Stripes in celebration of the 4th of July!

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Photo by Yossy Arefi

July 4th is the ultimate way to officially kick off the summer and bring together friends and family around your table, whatever form that may be – a picnic blanket or backyard BBQ, while adding in lots of fresh fruits and veggies as lush displays and recipe ingredients.

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Rose Sangria with Peaches and Raspberries by College Housewife

It’s always festive to have a special drink or cocktail in addition to your other drink offerings in the cooler.   We’ll be mixing up pitchers of this Rose Sangria with peaches and raspberries from the College Housewife blog.

Appetizers and The Table
For me the menu planning goes hand in hand with thinking about the way you want your table to look.  Think about the overall effect, including flowers, tablecloth, napkins, and decorations.  I love to have a broad display with a fruit, veggie or cheese board that makes your table look lush. Sorella Collection in LA makes the most amazing Graze Boards.  Mix and match veggies, fruits, herbs and dips for a big impact.

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Sorella Collection Graze Boards


Oysters

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Oysters at Merroir

Since we’ll be in White Stone, VA for our 4th of July celebration we will definitely be shucking oysters fresh from the Chesapeake Bay.  Every time we come home to White Stone we eat oysters at Merroir, one of our favorite spots right on the banks of the Rappahannock River.

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Krister at Merroir


What’s on the grill?

The Dog Days of Summer… you can have a variety of hot dogs from beef, chicken, sausage links to veggie dogs, and go crazy with your toppings with a topping station.

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Creative toppings for your dogs by the Sun Chronicle

Chicken is an easy option for the grill.  Marinate chicken breasts any number of ways and grill or go for barbecue, one of my favorites.

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Photo by Deb Lindsey for the Washington Post July 4th recipes

What is a 4th of July celebration without corn?  Here are four ways to grill those ears

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Photo by Scott Suchman for the Washington Post July 4th recipes

Something for everyone
In this day and age of wide spread allergies and varied food preferences, you’ll want to make sure you have something for everyone on your table.  For the vegetarian and vegan friendly entree in addition to the standard veggie hot dogs and burgers consider Barbecue Jackfruit Sandwiches  that I found on the Better Homes and Gardens site and if you are not familiar with the fruit they also give you the Jack Fruit Basics.

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Who’s your sidekick?

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Spring Potato Salad by Mississippi Vegan

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Firecracker Green Beans by Mississippi Vegan

Sweet Inspiration
I love fruit!  Fruit on it’s own as dessert, fruit in a pie, fruit in a crisp, fruit in a cobbler.

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Various berry pies by Martha Stewart

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Blueberry Cobbler by Mississippi Vegan

With all the fruit pies, crips and cobblers I like to serve ice cream, both dairy and non-dairy options.  I also think I’m going to try this gorgeous vegan strawberry ice cream pie.

So these are the things I’m thinking about.  What are you thinking about serving? Let us know.  Meanwhile, we’re getting things ready and just hung our new flags…

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Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here.