Monthly Archives: March 2014

Muffin Monday honored as a Top Food Blog

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ritaLOVEStoWRITE.com’s Muffin Monday feature was just asked to join Mytaste.com as a Top Food Blog “because of the quality of the recipes.”

“At Mytaste.com you can search for recipes from all the larger American food sites and blogs.” It is followed by chefs and home cooks throughout the world.

Check them out at www.mytaste.com or click on the icon in the column to the right.

 

out of the oven 2

 


Maryland, My Maryland — thoughts on Maryland Day

 

 

The Maryland Flag proudly flying over my abode.

The Maryland Flag proudly flying over my abode.

 

The State of Maryland is 380 years old today.

 

On March 25, 1634 two small ships, The Ark and The Dove,  carrying 140 English settlers landed on St. Clement’s Island in the Potomac River. They’d left Cowes on the English Isle of Wight four months earlier with a charter from King Charles I to settle a new colony in North America (the third English colony in North America.)

 

English: Postage stamps and postal history of ...

English: Postage stamps and postal history of the United States|History of the United States government|American Revolution|Maryland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It was a rough journey. Three days out of port they hit a severe storm and the two ships were separated. The Ark, the larger ship assumed the Dove was lost and …

 

continued its journey, following the European coast south to the Fortunate (now Canary) Islands. From the Canaries, the Ark sailed due west across the Atlantic, touching land at the island of Barbadoes in the West Indies on January 3, 1633/4. There, the ship’s weary travelers stayed three weeks replenishing provisions, and there the Dove reappeared, having weathered the Atlantic voyage alone. At other Caribbean isles they also landed, and then sailed north. They reached Virginia on February 27th, gathered more supplies, and navigated Chesapeake Bay north to the mouth of the Potomac by March 3rd. [maryland.gov]

 

After negotiating with the Native American Conoy tribe the settlers finally landed on Blackistone Island (they renamed it St. Clement’s Island.)  Father Andrew White, a Jesuit priest, said Mass, and the group celebrated a day of thanksgiving. Leonard Calvert, younger brother of Lord Baltimore who had received the Charter from the King, and first governor of the colony erected a large cross.

 

English: View of Commemorative Cross from Blac...

English: View of Commemorative Cross from Blackistone Lighthouse, September 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) [This cross is in roughly the same location as Calvert’s Cross, but it, obviously, isn’t the same one that was planted in 1643]

Two days later, on March 27, 1634 the sailed about six miles up the river and established their first permanent settlement on a buff overlooking the St. Mary’s River.  The location had been a Yaocomico village, but the Indians “were more than willing to turn their home over to the Englishmen.” [Maryland.gov “Maryland: At the Beginning”]  When half the Yaocomicos left the English took over their bark huts as temporary dwellings. A “pallizado” (fort) was constructed and the colonist sowed the fields the Indians had already cleared. The countryside and river proved bountiful with game and fish. Relations between the Yaocomicos and the settlers was amicable and fair.

 

the natives supplied the English with corn and fish and were ready to teach them how to make corn bread and hominy, show them what herbs and roots could be used for medicine and dyes and cooperate in other ways. The English, for their part, paid the Indians for their land and supplies and the leaders wrote of the natives with respect.  [Ibid]

 

St. Mary’s City became the capitol of the new colony, and the first Maryland legislative assembly took place the following winter (1634-35). A Court House and Jesuit Church were erected.

St. Mary's City became a National Historic Landmark in 1969. Since then Archeological Digs have uncovered 800 acres of the colonial town and major buildings, like the State House, have been rebuilt.

St. Mary’s City became a National Historic Landmark in 1969. Since then Archeological Digs have uncovered 800 acres of the colonial town and major buildings, like the State House, have been rebuilt.

Maryland Day was created in 1903 to commemorate the landing on St. Clement’s Island. It became a legal holiday in 1916 in the state.

 

More facts about Maryland:

  • Nickname: Old Line State
  • Flower: Black-eyed Susan
  • Tree: White Oak
  • Bird: Baltimore Oriole
  • Sport: Jousting
  • Fish: Rockfish
  • Dog: Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Boat: Skipjack
  • Population: 5,828,289 (as of 2011) [Info from Maryland.gov]

 

 

Largest City: Baltimore

Downtown Baltimore City from the Harbor.

Downtown Baltimore City from the Harbor.

 

Capital: Annapolis — Maryland’s capital moved up the Chesapeake Bay in 1694.

Downtown Annapolis. The State House tower is center.

Downtown Annapolis. The State House tower is center.

 

 

 

[All images were taken by me, unless otherwise noted]

 

 

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Muffin Monday: Stawberry Almond Banana Muffins

Running a little late in posting my Muffin “Monday” blog. I picked up some voice students and wanted to share the muffin lovin’ with some friends at the studio. Here goes…

 

Fresh from the oven.

Fresh from the oven.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1¼ c. Whole Wheat Flour
  • ½ c. + 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 large Egg
  • 2 large Bananas mashed
  • ¼ c. (4 tbsp.) Butter melted
  • ¼ c. Buttermilk
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Almond Extract
  • 3/4 c. diced Strawberries
  • 1/2 c. sliced Almonds

DIRECTIONS:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prep muffin cups spray.
  2. In a large size bowl, combine together Flour, Baking Soda, and Salt.
  3. In a medium bowl mix together Sugar and Butter. Add Egg.
  4. Mash Bananas on a plate using a fork. Add Bananas to the Butter-Sugar mixture.
  5. Beat until smooth.
  6. Add the Buttermilk and Almond Extract.
  7. Add the diced Strawberries.

    Looks like soup, doesn't it?

    Looks like soup, doesn’t it?

  8. Add the wet to dry and mix until well incorporated.
  9. Fold in Almond slices.
  10. Divide evenly into muffin cups.

    Ready to bake.

    Ready to bake.

  11. Bake for approximately 23-26 minutes, until muffins are golden brown and pass the toothpick test.
  12. Let cool for 10 minutes, then transfer muffins onto wire rack to cool completely.
ymmmm.

ymmmm.

I was worried that these would be too moist. (The batter was very moist.) But they turned out great. I think letting them finish on a rack (verses in the baking cups) helped, so definitely do that.

Kathy, one of my new testers, really loved these. I believe her reaction was “amazing.” I’ll take that. 🙂 Bill really liked them too. So I guess this recipe will go in the cook book.

 

Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Cheers,

Rita

 

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Secondary Character Saturday: Moist (Dr. Horrible)

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (soundtrack)

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (soundtrack) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have I shared my love of the strange and  wonderful Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog? If you don’t know what I’m talking about you should  Click Here for Act One, Here for Act Two, and Here for Act Three. [And when you want to buy your own DVD click HERE] There are three main characters in this groundbreaking mini musical, web series, The Doctor, Capt’n Hammer and Penny… and then there’s Moist.

If Dr. Horrible is a failed super villan, Moist is a failed side kick. His super power is that he makes things moist. That’s it.

WHO: Moist

FROM: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

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BY: Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen

PRODUCED: 2008

PROS: Down to earth, funny, can seal an envelope for you with out any trouble at all. Member of the Henchman’s League. Loyal friend to Billy/Dr. Evil.

BEST QUOTES: “Do you need anything dampened or made soggy?”

“Look at me man,”(when asked if he could kill some one to get into the Evil League of Evil) “I’m moist. At my most bad ass I make people want to take a shower.”

WHY I CHOSE HIM: Moist is played by  Simon Helberg (aka Howard from Big Bang Theory) to comic perfection. In a strong cast of delightful over the top characters Moist holds his own, and makes me laugh. He’s even got his own Web Comic… Moist: Humidity Rising (available on Amazon)

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, and my favorite secondary character in the whole crazy

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“Muffin Monday” Irish Soda Bread

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I decided to step away from muffins and make some Irish Soda Bread today. I opted for the sweeter version of Soda Bread. I hope you like it.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ¼ cup Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Currants
  • 3/4 cup Golden Raisins
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 cup Greek Yogurt

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment or silicone mat. (I used my new fancy silicone mats.

2. Mix the Flour, Salt, Baking Soda and Sugar in a large bowl.

3. Add the Currants and the Golden Raisins.

4. In a smaller bowl combine the Egg, Buttermilk and Greek Yogurt.

5. Add the wet to the dry to form a dough. Make into two balls.

6. On well floured surface need the dough about 10 times. Form into loaves.

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7.  Place onto baking sheets and bake for about an hour, until knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

8. Cool a few minutes before enjoying.

We had the bread as part of our St. Patrick’s Day feast, and it was delicious.

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The Irish Soda Bread takes center stage on our St. Patrick’s Day spread. We had mussels, baked fish, and colcannon (mashed potatoes and cabbage).

Check out these other Irish Soda Bread recipes:

 

 

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Irish Blessings and Toasts (St. Patrick’s Day 2014)

Last year I did a profile of the man himself on St. Patrick’s Day. (Click here for that bio-blog)  Today I thought I’d share some Irish Blessings and Toast I’ve been collecting.  Thanks to Laurie, MaryPat, Bernie, Shannon, Kelly and Jane for contributing to this post.

Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.
But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.

May you never forget what is worth remembering,
or remember what is best forgotten.

May your troubles be less
And your blessing be more
And nothing but happiness
Come through your door.

May those that love us, love us.
And those that don’t love us,
may God turn their hearts.
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts,
may he turn their ankles,
so we may know them by their limping!

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven
half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

May the roof above you never fall in,
And those gathered beneath it never fall out.

May the roof over your heads be as well thatched
As those inside are well matched.

May you be rich in blessings,
poor in misfortune,
slow to make enemies,
quick to make friends.
But rich poor, slow or quick,
may you know nothing but happiness
from this day forward

May peace and plenty be the first to lift the latch on your door,
and happiness be guided to your home by the candle of Christmas.

Health and long life to you,
land without rent to you,
a child every year to you,
and death in Old Ireland.

May I see you grey and
combing your grandchildren’s hair.

We drink to your coffin.
May it be built from the wood of a hundred year old oak tree
that I shall plant tomorrow.

Ach! Its snowing in Maryland so it is. So I thought I’d add some weather specific toast as well.

Here’s to health, peace and prosperity.
May the flower of love never be nipped by the frost of disappointment,
nor shadow of grief fall among your family and friends.

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

————————

Alas non of the photos were taken by me. Please follow the links to real photographer’s sites and pay them homage. They did a fine, fine job.

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Muffin Tuesday: Cherry Peach

Yeah… I’m running late. I blame Day Light Savings Time. 🙂 So with apologies for my tardiness I bring you the delightful…

Cherry Peach Muffins

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 1/2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 cup Oat Meal  (uncooked)
  • 1/4 cup Oat Bran
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 cup Skim Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 cup Oil
  • 1/2 cup dried Cranberries (I used Craisns Pomegranates)
  • 1 cup thawed Frozen Cherries
  • 1 cup drained and chopped canned Peaches
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Sugar to garnish

IMG_7249

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prep 15 muffin cups by spraying with baking spray.

2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir until well mixed.

3. In a smaller bowl beat the Milk, Eggs and Oil.

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until incorporated.

5. Gently fold in the Cranberries, Cherries and Peaches.

IMG_7250

6. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups.

7. Sprinkle on the Garnish Sugar.

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8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until muffins pass the Toothpick Test.

9. Let cool for 5 minutes before enjoying.

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My tasters for this week were Bill and Andrew. (Thanks guys, I know it’s a burden). Bill really liked these muffins and said they were especially good warm and right out of the oven. Andrew enjoyed the combination of fruit inside and the crunchy top.  I love the combo of Cherry and Peach.

I will say these are best consumed with in a day or two of baking, when the tops are still at their crunchy perfection. After that they get a bit moist (despite my adding — as noted — a 1/2 cup of flour to the source recipe.) So I would not recommend these as a “travel” muffin. Put them in the fridge if you aren’t going to finish them off after two days. I think they’ll freeze well too, when you are ready to eat ’em pop them back in the oven for 10 minutes.

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Secondary Character Saturday: Jayne Cobb (Firefly / Serenity)

Jayne_Cobb_3_quarters_sm

WHO: Jayne Cobb

FROM: Firefly / Serenity

BY: Joss Whedon

ORIGINALLY APPEARED: 2002

PROS: If you need a good man in a fight, Jayne’s the man for you — if you’ve lined his pockets with enough money, that is. Other wise… good luck.
Lets see… he’s devoted to his mum, and cherishes the hat she knit him. He also loves his guns especially “Vera”. He’s a survivor, he can read a bad situation and form a quick escape plan (albiet usually for himself, but also for the good of the other crew members.)

Jayne_Cobb_orange_hat

CONS: Obnoxious, selfish, rude, misogynistic, mercenary, oafish, unreliable and just a hairs breath away from mutinous.

BEST SHINING MOMENT: In Jaynetown he is (mistakenly) glorified as the hero of Mudd Town (Canton).  Although it is a mistake (He really got caught robbing the rich robber baron of the town and had to jettison the money — and his partner) Jayne takes on some of the heroic responsibilities.

Jayne_Cobb_with_statue

LEAST SHINING MOMENT: Betraying Simon and River in the episode “Ariel”, endangering the rest of the crew at the same time. Low Jayne, really low.

But you’ve got to give Jayne, he’s got a way with words. In fact he gets most of  the series’/ movie’s best funny lines. Here are my top five Jayne quotes:

  1. “You know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I get to beat you with until you understand who is in ruttin’ command around here.”
  2. “Not as deceiving as a low down dirty deceiver.”
  3. “Ten percent of nothing is — let me do the math here — nothing into nothing, carry the nothing — still nothing”
  4. “I’ll kill a man in a fair fight, or if i think he’ll start a fair fight”
  5. “Dear diary: Today I was pompous and my sister was crazy. Today we were kidnapped by hill folk, never to be seen again. It was the best day ever!”

Jayne_Cobb_Adam_Baldwin

WHY I CHOOSE HIM: I don’t really know. I like every character on the show much more than I like Jayne. I don’t like Jayne at all. But there’s something about the guy that just says “Secondary Character” So, with apologies to Kaylee, Book, Simon, Inara, Zoe, Wash, and especial River… I had to go with Jayne.

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Muffin Monday double header: S’More Muffins and Mandarin Orange Choc. Chip

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I was lucky enough to see both sides of my family this weekend.

My lovely niece Annie came for a visit at the top of the weekend, and we had a birthday reunion on Sunday. Annie shares my love of baking so we went right to work on a double batch of muffins for the Sunday gig. She’d heard about S’More Muffins and, since I had a box of lo-fat brownie mix and some marshmallow fluff in the cupboard (doesn’t every one?) I thought we could give it ago. The second recipe combines two of my favorite flavors, Orange and Chocolate.

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S’more Muffins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 boxes Lo-Fat Brownie Mix
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 tablespoons Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • 5 tablespoons of melted Butter
  • 1 1/2 cup of Marshmallow Fluff (approx.)

DIRECTIONS:

Forgive me dear reader for using a box mix, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.  And since we didn’t know how these little suckers were going to turn out I wasn’t going make the brownies from scratch. It should also be noted that I hardly consider these confections MUFFINS. But when one’s sweet, darlin’ niece makes the suggestion one goes with the flow. One must make sacrifices in the kitchen of Auntly Love.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with 24 large paper muffin cups  and prep each with a generous amount of cooking spray.  Set aside.

2. Prepare the Graham Cracker Crust by mixing the Graham Cracker Crumbs and the Butter in a medium bowl.

3. Using a small scoop put a heaping tablespoon of the crust in the bottom of each of the muffin cups, dividing the crust evenly. Using the back of a spoon push down firmly and smooth out.

Graham Cracker Crust added to the muffin cups (top) and smashed down and ready to  (bottom.)

Graham Cracker Crust added to the muffin cups (top) and smashed down and ready to (bottom.)

4. Prepare the Lo-Fat Brownie Mix as directed on the back of the box.

5. Using a larger scoop put a generous scoop (enough to cover the bottom crust) into each muffin cup. (You’ll need to reserve at least enough to cover the tops of the muffins, so don’t put in too much on the bottom.)

6. Clean out the small scoop and employ it again for the Marshmallow Fluff. Place a dollop of white wonderfulness in the center of the muffin cup.

Marshmallow in place (top) and covered over with the top layer of brownie.

Marshmallow in place (top) and brownies with top layer of chocolate (foreground.)

7. Dividing the remaining Brownie batter evenly top the muffins.

8. Bake  for 30 minute until the muffins pass the toothpick test. Let cool before eating. (HINT: If the papers stick to the S’More Muffins — as mine did — dampen a paper towel, wrap it around the entire muffin, pop it in the microwave for no more than 15 seconds then gently unpeal the wrapper.)

IMG_7221

Mandarin Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 1 teaspoon Orange Extract
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup of Milk
  • 4 tablespoons  softened Butter
  • 1  11oz. can of Mandarin Orange segments
  • 1/2 cup mini Chocolate Chips

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Prep 15 muffin cups with baking spray.

2. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients until smooth. (I like this recipe because there’s none of this pesky mix the dry  then add the wet business. Just mix it all at once and make sure it is well incorporated, thank you very much.)

3. Divide evenly into the 15 muffin cups.

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until tops are golden brown and the muffins pass the toothpick test.

THE VERDICT:

The S’Mores were a bit complicated, but ultimately tasty. I’m not sure how they’ll do when they travel because they were pretty much scarffed up at the party. I thought the Graham Cracker Crust part was too dry, and I would add more butter. I hate to sound like Paula Dean, but really, they did need more butter. So give them an extra pat or two. However,  my taster Mary thought they were lovely. Her only suggestion is that you freeze half the batch as soon as they cool. That way you  wont be tempted to eat them all at once!

As for the Mandarin Orange Chocolate? Those were more my cup of tea. In fact, they’d be perfect with a nice hot cup of tea. Good lift (so they aren’t gooey or dense), but still hardy enough for a substantial breakfast muffin. The flavor profile of Orange to Choc was spot on. And the touch of Almond from the extract made it just a bit warmer some how. I really liked them.

This just in: Taster Andrew S. texted to let me know that the orange chocolate chip muffins rated a “delicious” while the S’mores were “AMAZING.” And Debbie M. (who was at the party on Sunday) wrote in to say: ” Mandarin choc chip muffins were soooo yummy! Thanks for bringing them to Dad’s party!”  Thanks for the feedback guys!

Well done Annie!

The delightful Annie expertly adds Marshmallow Fluff to the S'More Muffins, proving that many hands make light work in the kitchen.

The delightful Annie expertly adds Marshmallow Fluff to the S’More Muffins, proving that many hands make light work in the kitchen.

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