Wednesday, February 13, 2013


We've been on a very early schedule these past few weeks, waking up before the sun to get our workouts in and prepare for the day, so the days have felt long...I love that early morning hush though...and the fact that I can pull myself together before I have to take care of everyone else.

It's been hard to find the motivation to write when I'm this busy and tired, so here are some snapshots...

Getting ready to make Cowboy Candy

Dabbling in jewelry making at the bead store...

Running errands with friends and apples...

I adore black and white
Preparing a tea-tree/coconut/castor oil hair mask (I do this once a week to help my hair grow stronger and faster, as well as condition my scalp which gets really flaky in the winter -- takes 3x shampoo to get it out, but my hair is amazing after!!)

Valentine's Day wreath


New glasses

Hanging out with a supercute baby and making bandana headbands



I pin headbands to my hair in the back (and in this case, the top as well to keep the knotted ends tucked under) and it keeps them in place the whole day without slipping.

Bandana headbands -- such a quick project, even with my Little Helper hitting the "reverse" lever, relieving my machine of it's bobbin case, and smearing banana around the desk as we worked.  Yay!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Sugar-topped Gluten Free Banana Muffins

Have you ever walked by the same Cheerio 16 times, each time stepping over it carefully so that it won't crush into the floor (which, of course would make more work for yourself later)?  And then post about it on Facebook? neither.  Never.  That would never be me.


Moving on.

Muffins!!  I love them.  SO much.  However, last year I did something of an elimination diet, and discovered that I am sensitive to wheat.  It makes me tired, feel depressed, and gives me a headache for about an hour after eating a slice of bread and blah blah blah blah.  No one cares.  ANYWAY, I've started eliminating most of the wheat from my diet and I feel better.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

When I first started baking this way, it was a huge mystery.  So many different kinds of flours, etc., and I felt really overwhelmed.  Then I realized I could simply buy a gluten free "all purpose baking flour", and sub it into almost any cookie or muffin recipe for "all purpose wheat flour" and call it done.  Oh, and also add a 1/2 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum (I use this stuff: Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum, which I can find at my local grocery store -- I've also seen it at WalMart in cheap little packets).  The Xanthan Gum helps to approximate the gluey way that the gluten in wheat flour holds everything together.

Here's the two all-purpose gluten-free flours that I've tried:
Gluten Free Banana Muffins

I prefer the flavor of the King Arthur brand, because it is really hard to tell that it's something other than regular white all purpose flour.  However, the Bob's Red Mill is a whole grain flour made with good-for-you stuff like whole millet and brown rice.  So...I guess I would recommend going half-and-half, as though you were using half white and half whole-wheat flour.  Ok.  Enough!  Let's get to the recipe.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

(P.S. If you just want to use regular wheat flour, sub out the GF for All Purpose Wheat Flour, and don't add the Xanthan Gum.)

Sugar-Topped Gluten Free Banana Muffins 
Yields: 30 regular-sized muffins (or about 5 dozen mini-muffins)
Adapted from a recipe by our dear family friend Mary S.

These tender little muffins have a delicate, plush crumb, thanks to the addition of both butter and sour cream (or full-fat yogurt).  Their cracked, sparkly sugar tops makes it hard to eat just one...

Secondary note: eating gluten free does NOT necessarily make something "healthy" per say (we've still got a bunch of butter and sugar going on in this deelio here).  Just thought I'd throw that out there.  Now let's bake!!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 scant cup sugar (a little less if your bananas are black-ripe)

Beat in one at a time:
2 eggs

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (approximately 2 large or 3 small)
1/2 cup sour cream or whole-milk yogurt

Sift together and add to the wet:
2-1/4 cups Gluten Free all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

Mix in gently:
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Fill papered or greased muffin tins about half-way with batter.  Sprinkle with your choice of sugar (our favorites are sugar-in-the-raw or coconut-palm sugar).  If your family is divided on the nuts/no nuts issue, simply press chopped nuts into the tops of some of the portioned batter and leave the rest plain.  Bake for 12 minutes for mini-muffins, 15 minutes for regular-sized ones, or until a sharp knife pricked through the center comes out clean.

Allow muffins to cool in the muffin tins for a few minutes until safe to handle, then gently remove from tins and finish cooling on a rack.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins

I like these best the first day, with a bit of good butter, but they stay good (although the sugar-topping will soften and may weep a little) for up to 4 days -- a little longer if you refrigerate them.

Gluten Free Banana Muffins