#MuffinMonday: Strawberry and Chocolate Muffin Hearts

Muffin Monday It’s time for another Monday filled with muffins!

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins to brighten their Mondays. There isn’t a theme to #MuffinMonday posts so anything goes, as long as it’s a muffin!

You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday can be found on our home page.

I’m keeping the Valentine’s Day spirit alive with my February #MuffinMonday submission. Muffins shaped as hearts! And involving both chocolate and strawberries together. Who doesn’t want to start their morning with a little love in a muffin cup?

IMG_6145As part of our Valentine’s themed school unit, I thought it’d be fun to bake muffins with the boys. It was the perfect way to end the lessons

Bonus points – the boys now have added marbles to their toy collection. I taped an octagon (because who can tape a circle?!?) on the carpet with painters tape and we played a game of rolling the single larger marble into the “circle” to get marbles out of the circle. Firecracker is really into this game. Treat prefers to just kick and stomp through the circle, dispersing every single marble across the floor. If you have other good marble games to play, please share them in the comments!

Treat even took a nap the day we baked these muffins so I was able to put in a little extra photography effort with the help of Firecracker, who really wanted to be in the pictures.

This recipe makes 24 muffin hearts.

Strawberry and Chocolate Muffin Hearts

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 10 oz frozen strawberries, thawed, chopped, and drained
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 C buttermilk
  • 1/2 C canola oil
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Add the strawberries, tossing to coat and distribute evenly.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, oil, sour cream, and vanilla until combined.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring to incorporate. Fold in the chopped chocolate.
  5. Fill muffin cups halfway with the batter. Gently tuck back the liner and put a marble between the liner and the tin (not in the batter). Bake 20min, until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly.

*This recipe is adapted from Averie at https://www.averiecooks.com/2014/01/strawberry-chocolate-chip-muffins.html, the method from Getty at http://www.gettystewart.com/does-using-marbles-to-make-heart-shaped-muffins-really-work/*

Strawberry and Chocolate Muffin Hearts for #MuffinMonday from Sew You Think You Can Cook

And don’t forget to check out these other muffin recipes:

Bouchon Bakery Style Carrot Muffins from Karen’s Kitchen Stories

Cocoa Beet Chocolate Chip Muffins from Farm Fresh Feasts

Lucky Charms Muffins from Palatable Pastime

Morning Glory Muffins from Food Lust People Love

Rice Cereal Apple Muffins from A Day in the Life on the Farm

Strawberry and Chocolate Muffin Hearts from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Fondue Recipe Round-Up

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

When we got married we were given two electric fondue sets as wedding gifts. We decided to keep both of them. And for four years they were both used once a year, on Valentine’s Day. It became our Valentine’s tradition to have fondue that night, and because we had two pots, we could do one cheese fondue and one chocolate fondue without having to worry about clean up between courses.

After Firecracker was born we still managed to make fondue his first Valentine’s Day. That was three years ago.

Those poor fondue sets have been sitting at the top of cupboard in SoCal for two straight years. They’ll probably continue to sit there until we leave here in 2020. Maybe February 2021 (wow that looks weird!) the boys will be old enough to be trusted around warm devices?

Or maybe, this round-up I’ve created will inspire us to have a date night at home the next Parents’ Night Out hosted at our wonderful church!

Cheese Fondue

Cheese Fondue Round-Up | Sew You Think You Can Cook

  • You know that fondue I mentioned having made back in 2015? It was this one from Tara’s Multicultural Table – Caramelized Shallot Gruyere Fondue. My photos of the night were lost in camera fiasco of 2018, but I assure you, Tara’s are much better anyway.
  • Chef Markus discoverd the secret to authentic Swiss Cheese Fondue and has shared it with his readers at Earth, Food, and Fire.
  • Traditional cheese fondue is typically made with gruyere cheese, which can tend to tip the grocery budget. Shari, of The Root Family Review, developed a Frugal Cheese Fondue using shredded Monterey Jack and Parmesan. I’m all for saving some money and still delivering on taste!
  • When I think about fondue I tend to think of a romantic candlelit dinner, typically geared towards the ladies. I know because, while my husband does enjoy fondue, he’s typically still hungry after the meal. Erica hit it out of the park with these Beer Brats in Blankets and Smoked Gouda Fondue!
  • Rachel pulled out all the stops for her Valentine’s Dinner with a Surf and Turf Cheese Fondue. I always pair cheese fondue with bread, chips, veggies, and apples. Why didn’t I think of using meat or even shrimp!?

Chocolate Fondue

Chocolate Fondue Round-Up | Sew You Think You Can Cook

  • Chocolate lava cake is a classic Valentine’s dessert, and Gretchen turned it into 3-Ingredient Chocolate Lava Dip. Seriously, I’m sold!
  • Even if you don’t like dark chocolate, you need to go read Mystique’s post about taking full advantage of all five of your senses while eating. It will make you want to make some Dark Chocolate Fondue for Two and shut out the world!
  • Can you even have a section about chocolate and not mention its soul mate peanut butter?! Michelle figured out a way to make fondue night happen with her kids with Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue. Now, I don’t know how old her two boys are, but I’m definitely hopeful again!
  • White chocolate tends to be a sensitive topic when it comes to chocolate discussions, but I’m all for it! Especially if that white chocolate is paired with champagne and turned into fondue! Thank you, Blair, for sharing this White Chocolate Champagne Fondue with the Internet.
  • There can be fondue for everyone thanks to Laura’s Dairy-Free Chocolate Fondue – unless your Valentine can’t have coconut – but for all the rest of you out there, grab a strawberry and dig in!

M&M Cookies

I’ve been homeschooling Firecracker (and by proxy, Treat) this school year, which is why things have slowed down quite a bit around here in the blog-o-sphere.

But I’ve really been enjoying it!

I’ve been following a curriculum I purchased last summer, but mixing it up somewhat drastically to fit certain themes or occasions in our lives. For example: We actually started with units 9 and 16 instead of 1 and 2. We actually just did unit 2 in January!

And now that we have somewhat of a routine with how the units are organized, I’ve been venturing out and creating my own units, too! All of the units I’ve developed are centered around the holidays.

We’re currently on, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day!

And I’ve been getting really into this least favorite holiday of mine. I’ve been cutting their sandwiches and cheese slices into hearts for lunch and we’re crafting up a storm.

We even made Valentines for our long distance family members. (The photo below was sent from my beautiful sister-in-law and shared with her permission.)

img_2202

I found the idea for the Valentines on Pinterest. The boys loved having me paint their hands, saying it tickled. (Mega crafting milestone for my boys!) I cut the yarn to be the length of their arm span. The boys each picked the background color for each of their Valentines depending on who they were being sent to! It was fun to watch their little minds work in decision mode.

img_2158-2

Inside their Valentine boxes were a couple of appropriately colored M&M cookies. We sent so many cookies that there was only one cookie leftover for the 4 of us to share. (I ran out of brown sugar to make more – tragedy! Seriously. I have got to hit up a grocery store, like, ASAP, so I can make more of these cookies for us!)

M&M Cookies | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

I don’t think I’ve ever baked cookies that involved melted butter before, I was skeptical. But using melted butter made the mixing of these cookies insanely easy – no stand mixer required! I love the use of brown sugar in cookies, I think it gives the cookies a great depth of flavor. And of course, holiday colored M&Ms provide the perfect texture to these soft and chewy cookies.

This recipe makes approximately 21 cookies.

M&M Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 C M&Ms

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with silicone baking mats, parchment paper, or spray with cooking oil.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the melted butter and sugars until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing until fully incorporated.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, switching to a spatula for easier mixing. Fold in the M&Ms.
  5. Spoon onto prepared baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let cool on baking sheets.

*This recipe is adapted from Kristyn at https://lilluna.com/giant-chewy-mm-cookies/*

M&M Cookies perfect for Valentine's Day | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

Boston Crème Blondies

Sometimes I’m really on top of it.

And sometimes I’m posting one year’s football fare the following January.

I’ll let you decide which way this post is leaning!

Do you even remember who played in THE pro football game of 2017?

I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the food photos still stored on my camera.

The answer: New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons. The winner: New England Patriots with a score of 34-28. No, I did not remember the result of the game, thankfully the Internet knows everything.

To celebrate the big game, I thought it’d be fun to cook something associated with each team. For Atlanta, I went with something peach. (Peach Chipotle Meatballs you’ll be seeing next week.) For New England, Boston Crème Blondies!

blondies (Wal)

Just look how little that baby boy is!!

Boston Crème Blondies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/3 C softened butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, divided use
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp sugar, divided use
  • 4 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 C milk
  • 1/4 C semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 C heavy cream

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8″ x 8″ baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the brown sugar, butter, and 1 tsp vanilla. Add the egg and mix until combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the creamed butter mixture and mix until incorporated.
  4. Press blondie batter into the prepared pan and bake 20-22 minutes. Cool.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 3 tbsp sugar, and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Add the cornstarch and whisk until smooth.
  6. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and 3 tbsp sugar. Bring to a gently boil.
  7. Temper the egg yolks by adding 1/2 C, slowly, to the egg yolks, stirring constantly. When warm, pour the eggs into the saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Spread over the blondie base. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
  8. Make the ganache: Put chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 20 second increments, stirring, until the chocolate is melted. Allow ganache to cool only slightly, pour over the blondies. Let set before cutting into bars. (Option to cut squares first and drizzle with the chocolate.)

*This recipe is adapted from Holly at https://www.spendwithpennies.com/boston-cream-bars/*

Boston Creme Blondies | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

Hot Cocoa Cookies

I was going to take my sweet time in writing the blog post for these cookies, until last Thursday happened.

Last Thursday I attended a cookie swap mom’s night out with my MOPS group. <link>

There were prizes awarded for best decorated and best tasting.

Guess who brought the best tasting cookie?

If you’re thinking, “Well if it wasn’t you than this is a terrible story.” You’d be right. It was me!

I had shared a Facebook video of some chocolate cookies with marshmallows and chocolate icing and sprinkles on my Facebook page with the caption “I know what I’m making for this year’s cookie exchange!”

And I did! And they were fantastic! They literally taste like a rich cup of hot chocolate, the real stuff.

So now I’m typing this post up on my phone in the Whole Foods parking lot while the boys take a late afternoon nap.

This recipe makes 39 cookies.

Hot Cocoa Cookies

Ingredients for cookies:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 bag (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 C brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Mini marshmallows (2-3 per cookie) or 20 large marshmallows

Ingredients for icing:

  • 2 C powdered sugar
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/4 C hot water
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sprinkles

Steps:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat melt the butter and chocolate. Let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until combined. Add in the melted chocolate and mix well. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients. Refrigerate an hour to over night.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with silipat mats.
  5. Using a tablespoon measure scoop batter and roll into balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets and gently flatten. Bake 12-15 minutes, until they just start to set.
  6. Meanwhile, cut marshmallows in half.
  7. Remove cookies from the oven and press 4-6 mini marshmallow halves or 1 large marshmallow half on top of each cookie, cut side down. Return to oven for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Allow cookies too cool on the baking sheets.
  9. Make the icing: Combine ingredients and spoon over cooked cookies. Decorate cookies with sprinkles before the icing sets. Allow the finished cookies to cool 30 minutes before storing and serving.

*This recipe is adapted from Glory at http://www.glorioustreats.com/2013/12/hot-cocoa-cookies.html*

Hot Cocoa Cookies | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

Blackberry Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies #DarkRecipes #SolarEclipse

Are you in the path of totality for the solar eclipse today? If you are, I am so incredibly jealous!

The pastor of our church actually headed out of town back to her home state of Nebraska where her family farm will experience the magic and wonder. I’m kind of wondering why we didn’t think to make a vacation out of the once-in-a-lifetime event.

I’ve been nervous though about protecting my children.

the boys

I know the approved solar eclipse glasses are not exactly kid approved – definitely not toddler approved! My children don’t exactly keep things on their faces anyway.

My mom shared some great pinhole projector ideas, one of which involves making one of out a box large enough to stick your head into. That definitely seems like the safest bet for my rascals – just stuff their head in a box and that should protect their eyes!

The local library has an event going on and I was super pumped to go to it. But the more I thought about it, the more I figured it probably wouldn’t be the safest idea. Could I really keep an eye on my two high-energy boys amidst a sea of over 100 people and get a chance to view the eclipse through glasses? I have to go with the non-selfish vote of “no.”

Our balcony doesn’t get sunlight in the morning, when the partial eclipse is supposed to happen for us in SoCal, so using a colander to project the shadows onto the ground isn’t going to work well, either.

We might be able to go to the playground. It’s not like my children look up at the sun on a regular basis anyway. And they are so young that they’re not going to understand the beauty of the event. Only problem for me is that I won’t have glasses (I was counting on using those provided by the library!).

Watch it be cloudy anyway and all my fretting is for nothing.

If you haven’t caught the eclipse frenzy you can fake it with some dark recipes. Kind of like that big football game you pretend to care about just for the food. Thanks to Sue of Palatable Pastime for coming up with and hosting this event!

Blackberry Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp chocolate extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 C cocoa powder
  • milk, if needed
  • blackberry jam

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, chocolate extract, and salt until smooth.
  3. Add in the flour and cocoa powder and beat until the dough comes together. If it is too dry, add in a tablespoon or two of milk.
  4. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball, place on a prepared baking sheet, flatten slightly, and press your thumb (or a small spoon) in the center.
  5. Bake 15-17 minutes, until set. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack. Once cool, fill thumbprints with blackberry jam.

*This recipe is adapted from Grishma and Vikas at http://www.feastie.com/recipe/zaika-zabardast/blackforest-thumbprints*

Blackberry Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies for #DarkRecipes #SolarEclipse

Be sure to check out these other Dark Recipes for the Solar Eclipse:

Chinese Mooncakes (Snow Skin Mooncakes) by Caroline’s Cooking

Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies by Palatable Pastime

Eclipse Pizza by Amy’s Cooking Adventures

Homemade Moon Pies by Family Around the Table

Ramen and a Martini from the Abyss by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Sweet Dark Cherry Crepes by A Day in the Life on the Farm

Triple Chocolate Cookies by The Freshman Cook

Cocoa Carrot Cake from The Chef Next Door

Two months ago I reviewed  The Migraine Relief Plan by Stephanie Weaver and I loved the assignment of digging into a cookbook to really understand the author and explore more than one recipe at a time.

My friend, Tara of Tara’s Multicultural Table, does a lot of cookbook reviews in serious detail and so, I decided to give cookbook reviewing a trial session before jumping into it on an official scale.

I decided to take to my personal cookbook selection and review those I already own. To start off, I chose The Chef Next Door by Amanda Freitag.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

You probably know Amanda from her roles on Food Network as a judge on Chopped and a contestant in Next Iron Chef America. She is a highly talented chef and a successful restaurateur.

She opens her book with a very heartfelt introduction admitting her insecurities when it comes to cooking at home. For her, the kitchen comfort zone is her busy restaurant kitchen with a loud atmosphere, staff, and countless kitchen tools at her fingertips.

To help the reader learn to feel more comfortable in their own home kitchen, she provides tips and skills that any cook can learn to call on. Spoiler alert – none of them cost a dime.

The book is broken into 9 chapters and even has a section with menu suggestions for special occasions. Each recipe includes a miniature story including tips before the ingredient list. To really help out the home cook, Amanda has included the steps for prepping each recipe before the official list of steps on how to complete the dish. There are also photographs to accompany each recipe.

Because it’s Easter week, I’m featuring her Cocoa Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. The frosting is incredible – cream cheese icing is usually my go-to, but her version features far less sugar than my grandmother’s and I’m sorry, Busia, but I like this cheesier alternative better. As for the cake, it’s a rich, dark cake chocked full of carrots and walnuts.

Cocoa Carrot Cake | Sew You Think You Can Cook | http://sewyouthinkyoucancook.com

This recipe will make a 10″ round cake or a 9″ round cake and 10-12 cupcakes.

Cocoa Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients for cake:

  • 2 C packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 C vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 3/4 C flour
  • 1/4 C cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 lb walnuts, chopped

Ingredients for icing:

  • 3 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 3 8 oz pkgs cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 C powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cake pan with parchment paper and then grease with nonstick spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine brown sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs two at a time, mixing well.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Slowly add it to the stand mixer, mixing until combined.
  4. Fold in the carrots and walnuts.
  5. Pour batter into prepare cake pan. Bake 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly. Allow cake to cool slightly before turning out of the pan onto your hand and flipping again onto a cake stand to cool completely.
  6. Make icing: In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese and butter with an electric hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, mix on low to start. Mix until smooth.
  7. Frost the cooled cake. Decorate with extra chopped walnuts, if desired.
  8. Keep in refrigerator at least an hour. Allow cake to come to room temperature before serving.

Cocoa Carrot Cake | Sew You Think You Can Cook

One of Amanda’s tips is to not be afraid to veer from the recipe. If you’re missing an ingredient, figure out something else that would work. All it takes is practice in the kitchen to become comfortable understanding the purpose of each ingredient in the recipe.

Following that advice, I made her Puerto Rican Pernil using a boneless pork shoulder and my slow cooker instead of the oven. I made Salmon with Peas, Pearl Onions, and Mint taking advantage of frozen pearl onions instead of peeling fresh ones myself. I also made Cornmeal-Crusted Chicken Thighs with Jamaican Spice, reducing the cayenne to appeal more to the little ones in my home.

The Chef Next Door cookbook review | Sew You Think You Can Cook