Mother’s Day

Emma here. I thought I would share a few tidbits about this past weekend, mother’s day, and several cooking adventures. It began Saturday morning with a whining puppy. I didn’t want her to wake up the whole household, so I got out of bed, pitter-pattered into my parent’s room, took her out of the crate and into the backyard, the grass already sparkling in sunshine. It was then that I decided it was a good morning for blueberry muffins. As quietly as I could (not very), I grabbed ingredients, bowls, and measuring cups, and I whirlwind of flour, sugar, blueberries, and sour cream ensued. These muffins are delicious, but let me warn you – they are addicting. It took my father a matter of minutes to consume four of them. Yikes. That is a lot of muffins.

Blueberry Muffins

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 12 standard muffins

2.5 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened, plus 2.5 tablespoons coconut oil (You can use butter or coconut oil for all 5 tbsp, I split half and half and the texture was just right.)
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces or 191 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon (7 grams or 1/4 ounce) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces or 105 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t bother defrosting)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then sour cream and zest. Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries. The dough will be quite thick, closer to a cookie dough. Bake for 22 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean.

*Note: These freeze great! I had taken one out of the freezer yesterday morning, and by the time I got back from my AP Government test (thank goodness, it was the last AP test I will ever have to take) the defrosted muffin was perfect with a cup of coffee!

After a beautiful mid morning surf session on Saturday, I returned home to fully sprouted quinoa and buckwheat draining in glass jars over the kitchen sink. My attempt at sprouting grains which had begun the night before was now complete! I turned the oven on to a low 115 degrees, spread out the sprouts onto two baking sheets, and added soaked dried blueberries and pumpkin seeds in addition to agave syrup and coconut. Fast forward six hours later, and I had crunchy, raw, sprouted granola!

This granola is just as addicting as the blueberry muffins, but hopefully a slightly healthier addiction. I have had it three days in a row for breakfast, once with Straus yogurt, then with slightly warmed homemade cashew milk, and this morning on top of an acai bowl made in my mom’s new Vitamix blender (her mother’s day gift from the dog). Look for the recipe in an upcoming post!

The last cooking (more like baking) adventure of the weekend occurred spontaneously on Sunday afternoon after a Mother’s Day brunch. I was left to entertain my sister and seven-year-old cousin and was brainstorming things to do. I asked them what they wanted to do, and my cousin piped up that he wanted to bake something, and his favorite cookies were ginger. What better way to pass some time, then, than to whip up a batch of those ginger molasses cookies I made a few months ago? I had two great little helpers all the way through the baking process, but unfortunately lost their attention a little while later to Mario Kart Wii. Oh well, short attention spans yield more cookie dough for me I guess. I am telling you, I am really surprised I haven’t come down with a severe case of Salmonella yet.

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“Backyard” Bowls

Emma here again. With only two days of summer left and a quiet afternoon with nothing to do, I thought that I might as well get another blog post in. Once school starts, most of these rare afternoons will be unfortunately spent doing homework. This posting is about one of my favorite inventions ever – well, I didn’t invent it, but I was able to recreate it pretty well at home. A couple of years back after a swim meet in Santa Barbara, my friend Bethany introduced me to Backyard Bowls, an unassuming smoothie shop next to Santa Barbara Roasting Co. in downtown Santa Barbara. What could be better than a thick smoothie topped with granola and wayyyy too much honey? Nothing can beat it, especially on hot summer days, coming or going from the beach. Every time we make the trip 30 minutes north up to SB, my dad (the acai monster) and I have to make a pitstop at Backyard Bowls. Our addiction got so bad that I started shrieking one day when we were at Lassens, a local health food store, and I saw Sambazon acai packets in the frozen section. At $7.19 for 4 small packets (2 make a large bowl), they are definitely not cheap; this usually means that dad, not mom, has to be the grocery shopper in order to get them. They make heavenly, quazi-healthy treats, almost as good as Backyard Bowls.

Here are our adapted acai bowls. I will give several variations/add-ins to suit everyone’s palate.

To make the smoothie part:

  • 2 Sambazon acai packets (unsweetened)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • a large handful of other frozen berries
  • a dash of apple juice (to add sweetness and aid the blending)

Several optional additions include:

  • frozen mango (highly recommended!)
  • substitute almond milk or coconut milk for the apple juice (my favorite way, makes it a little creamier and a little less sweet – dad and sister prefer apple juice though)
  • flaxseed or chia seeds
  • scoop of protein powder (I use vanilla flavored hemp protein) This makes it a little thicker too!

This recipe makes one large bowl or two smaller ones. Once everything is blended, pour puree into a bowl and add none, some, or all of the following toppings:

  • granola
  • chopped almonds or pecans
  • coconut
  • chocolate chips (my mom’s favorite)
  • sliced bananas and strawberries
  • goji berries (the new superfood! and quite tasty)
  • honey (Olivia loves this part!)
  • a dash of yogurt (European style Straus is my pick)

Backyard Bowls has several options as to ingredients and toppings. My dad and sister love the Berry Bowl – simple acai, banana, berries, and apple juice topped with granola, goji berries, banana, strawberries, and honey. I love the Island Bowl and Green Bowl. The Island Bowl is made with mango and coconut milk on top of the basic blend and topped with granola, coconut, bananas, and honey of course. The Green Bowl blends veggies, ginger, and lime into the acai base and is topped with granola and honey. I always add yogurt to my bowls.

I hope you enjoy this delicious dish as much as we do. If you have ideas about possible additions or toppings, let us know!