recipe || homemade granola

I never mind when the granola jar gets low because that just means more needs to be made, and there's little else that makes the house smell as good as it does when we bake granola. 

This is a recipe from my sweet momma, as so many of our favorite recipes are, and it continues to be passed on and on. It has become a staple in many of our friend's homes after they've tried it here. It's so simple to make and easy to add your own spin to so it can please every palate. And you can double or even triple it if you want to gift some of it or use it as favors for a shower, as we did for my little sister's wedding shower earlier this year. I mean, how cute are little mason jars filled with granola and tied with a bit of twine or ribbon?? 

So, my friends, welcome to our kitchen again. I hope that this granola feels just as cozy to you each time you make it as it does to me.

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Homemade Granola

4 cups rolled oats

1-2 cups nuts (chopped pecans, shaved almonds, walnuts)

3/4 cups shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup wheat germ (optional)

2-4 tsp. milled flax seed (optional)

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. dark or light brown sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. real maple syrup

1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 tsp. salt

1-2 tsp. vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, wheat germ, and flax seed. In a separate bowl combine the maple syrup, oil, salt, and vanilla by whisking together well. 

Pour onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even color.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Add dried fruit, chocolate chips, or whatever else you prefer.

Revel in the glorious smell and enjoy!

recipe || blueberry streusel muffins

In all my kitchen love, one thing I have always struggled with is buying a perishable ingredient for one specific recipe, forgetting about it, and letting it go bad rather than utilizing all its goodness to the fullest extent. 

So, when I had to buy a large amount of blueberries for that (delectable) blueberry pie I made last week I was determined to use all those tiny balls of blue, and not just as the topping to my morning granola and yogurt, as good as that it. Hubby put in his vote for streusel-topped muffins, so I pinterest-ed for 1.5 minutes and found this gem of a recipe.

The result:

The most delightful blueberry muffins and not one blueberry wasted. I feel proud.

Bakery-Style Blueberry Streusel Muffins*

2.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 cup milk (I used whole)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1.5 cups blueberries

Streusel Topping

1/4 cup sugar

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tsp unsalted butter, melted

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray or line a 12 cup muffin baking pan.** Prepare the streusel topping by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, whisk the melted butter with the sugar, add the eggs, mix, then add the milk and vanilla, mix again. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently combine using a rubber spatula until moistened. Fold in the blueberries until just incorporated. 

Divide the batter into the 12 muffin cups, top with streusel and bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.***

*recipe via little sweet baker

**I actually got 16 muffins out of the batter.

***The timing she described here worked perfectly for me, too. They were completely baked through, but still moist and fluffy.

These are happy little muffins, bursting with blueberries and perfect with morning coffee.

Happy Baking, lovelies!

recipe || this years birthday cake

Each year the question comes, "what kind of birthday cake would you like this year, my Love?" And each year, I answer differently. I don't have my one special cake, the one and only that I want to have year after year. I just love cake too much to not want to try all the kinds. So each year, I give it some focused thought and see where the cravings lead. 

This year: chocolate.......chocolate on chocolate. I've had several "best" chocolate cake pins adorning my sweets pinterest board for a while now so one was chosen and that became this years birthday cake. 

And to just brag on my J a bit......he made one darn good chocolate cake. The man is multi-talented, never ceases to impress me. He and AK put the whole thing together and, truly, that has made every piece even better. They even put sprinkles on the top just because they know I love them. The frosting on this cake, especially, was so fluffy and decadent, a bit of what dreams are made of, I think. It's just a really good chocolate cake. 

Thank you, my loves. You make everything more wonderful.

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Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

For the cake: add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk together to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.

Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.

Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

Frost cake with......

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks), softened

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

5 cups confectioner's sugar

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

Directions

Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.

Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.

If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner's sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Original recipe via Pinterest

And as one little extra piece of goodness: if you like the chocolate, peanut butter combination, then dollop a little scoop of creamy peanut butter onto the plate of your chocolate cake and eat them together. I assure you, life as you know it will be better. You can thank my mama for that.

Enjoy your indulging, friends.