Tuesday, January 29, 2013

{ Banana Streusel Muffins }


Confession: I'm a Crazy Cat Lady.

Well, I mean, can you be a Crazy Cat Lady with one cat? I think you can. Therefore, I'm pretty sure I meet the criteria.

Our cat is nearly 12 years old. We got him when the Bean was four. The Bean had, at the time, a little black cat that lived outside. His name was Sam. Sam had a best friend. He was a bunny named George. I know that sounds unlikely and weird, but it's a true story.

We would let George Bunny out of his cage and he and Sammy would play. They were just the funniest lil things.

Well, Sammy was young, George Bunny was old. George passed away. The hubs and the little Bean put George in shoebox and buried him in the backyard. Sammy followed them and meowed the whole time. Then, when they were finished Sam laid on George's grave. It was so sad. That evening, Sam went across the road, which he had never done ever, and got ran over. I'm convinced the cat committed suicide. It was the most bizarre thing. Extremely tragic for our 4 year old as well.

A couple months later, we found a lady giving away kittens at the county fair. The Bean picked out a kitty and his heart was just set on him. Only him. I just had to let him have him. That is where our kitty, Fairley (middle name Bueller, haha) came from. The Fair. Fairley. The Fair cat. We love him.

He is the sweetest cat on the planet. I might be biased, nah, that's crazy talk, he really is the sweetest cat on the planet. I love him. I love love love love love him.

I'm on instagram. I post photos of my cat. Too. Much. TOOOO MUCH.

I AM a crazy cat lady. 

Recently, I've started posting pics of him on my lap at night while we watch TV together.

I'm crazy.

Here are photos. There are lots.

I'd say I'm sorry, but I'm not.

 Pretty Fairley
Fairley at Christmas (see the stockings?)
He's JUST SO FLUFFY!
Here we are watching Downton Abbey
 FRIENDS here.
 Watching a little Glee
Some Firefly
Downton Abbey again!
 Gilmore Girls! Fairely loves Gilmore Girls.

We were watching Bunheads last night. This photo is is from yesterday. I'm doing Geek Photo A Day through Instagram #geekphotoaday , check it out! You can follow me and all of my cat adventures. I'm SugarBeanBakers.
I'm also slightly unstable.
KITTY! <3

CRAZY. CAT. LADY.

We should really talk about something else. ANYTHING else.

How about Banana Muffins? Or better yet, Banana Streusel Muffins.


The original recipe for the muffins (without streusel), I THINK is from the old Betty Crocker cookbook. I've used it so long though, I am not positive.

We love banana muffins around here, but you know what makes em better?

Streusel.

So, Banana Streusel Muffins is it.

Just mix up the ingredients for the muffins, put in muffin tins, sprinkle the stresuel on top, and bake.

I think precious few things make your house smell better than banana bread.


Yummy.

Tina



I'm sorry. I tried to stop myself from posting another. But... with this face??? Resistance is futile.



Banana Streusel Muffins
adapted by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers


Muffins
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1/3 Cup Butter, Softened
1/3 Cup Water
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 mashed RIPE bananas*
1 2/3 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup chopped Walnuts or Pecans (optional)

Streusel
1/2 Stick Butter, cold
1/3 Cup packed Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Quick Oats
1/2 Cup Flour

*the riper the banana the better the bread. The ones in the photos above are not nearly ripe enough for me. Brown to black bananas make the best bread.

For the muffins:

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Add in the water, eggs, and mashed banana. Mix well. Add in dry ingredients and mix slowly until well combined.

Grease a muffin pan, or use paper liners, and fill cups 2/3 full.

For the streusel:

Cut the dry ingredients into the butter using a pastry cutter or a fork (or a food processor) until the mixture looks like peas.

Sprinkle over muffins (you may have slightly more than you need for this recipe).

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes (check at 20). A toothpick will come out clean from the muffin, but a bit of streusel may still cling to it. Makes approx. 16 muffins.


 



Saturday, January 26, 2013

{ Chokladbollar: Swedish Chocolate Balls }



Do you know how to say that word up there?

Yeah, me either.

I've gone through my phonics trying to work it out. Chalk-lad-bowl-are?
Chock-laud-bow-ler? Chuck-lah-boo-lur?

I have no idea, but it sure is fun to try. Go ahead, you know you wanna.

You ever notice some words sound weird if you really think about it?

Ok, if you REALLY think about it, MOST words sound weird.

Muck. Burlap. Squirrel. Toes. Corn. Squishy. Purple. Skillet. Turtle. Chair.

Even weird sounds weird.

Weird.

ANYWAY... (<---------how weird does that word sound? Oh my gosh. I think I need medication. med-ih-ka-shen).

Recently, while trolling the web for ideas to use the Pearl Sugar I had left from my Vanilla Bean Liege Waffles, I came upon this little Swedish treat. Now, actually, this takes Swedish Pearl Sugar (Swedish recipe, Swedish sugar...go figure) and I only had Belgium, but hey, we'll make do eh?  You really don't need pearl sugar at all, it's just a fun finish.

These are quick and easy. No cooking. No baking. Made from things you probably already have at home.

SCORE.

I found them on the blog (blog. LOL), She Simmers. Fun site. I'd never been there before. I love her category listings on the side. Check 'em out.

She got the recipe from a reader of her's named Mikael, who is Swedish. This is his recipe for Chokladbollar, so they are authentic Swedish Chocolate Balls, not Americanized*.... yet. See below ;)

This took 2 minutes to mix up and about 10 minutes to roll. That's IT.

The Chokladbollar have a yummy mocha taste to them. The Bean, not a coffee fan, labeled them "Interesting", but good. "Just interesting" (his words).

I like 'em. Yes, yes I do.

*However.... Being a born and bred Buckeye, I'm already plotting to remove the coffee and and insert some peanut butter. Or, hey, maybe some Nutella.

Yes. I think so.

You can roll these in Pearl Sugar, regular sugar, or coconut. I enjoyed the coconut most.

I also used Pure Cane Sugar on some of them.

You could use colored sanding sugars as well.


These would be great for holiday get togethers & for gift giving!



Click here to go to She Simmers for Mikael's recipe!

Chaulk- LAD- Buller?

Bueller?

Bueller?

Anyone?

Bueller?

Tina

P.S. Yesterday was my friend Darla's 3rd Blog Birthday! She's got a great giveaway, you can win $50 to ModCloth! Go check it out, and see her delicious Triple Layer Strawberry Cream Brownie Cake too! Deadline for entry is Jan 30, 2013, 9 PM PST. Click HERE to go to Bakingdom!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

{ Buckeye Cheese Ball }




I think I've mentioned in the past that I'm basically a child in adult clothing.

I have toys. I like dollies. I love stuffed animals. I play video games.

Like  Lego Harry Potter.

I recently, as in last week, discovered that you can play Lego HP ONLINE with a friend.
What, what? It didn't seem like an online game, so I never even really thought about it.
 Also, when I say *I* discovered it, I totally mean the Bean did, and I'm trying to steal his thunder.

Whatevs.

The discovery came about when Darla and I were iMessaging that we had both just booted up Lego HP to play.

I literally typed, "I wish we could play online together".

That was when the Bean flipped the case over and proclaimed that you could!

Wooty woot!

When Darla joined the game, I was in the boy's dorm in Gryffindor Tower.
What did we do? We both, immediately, started jumping on the beds.

So. Mature.

We also like to cast spells at each other, chase each other around, and knock each other down.

Really, folks, we are grown ups. I swear.

We now send each other texts that say things like, "Hey, wanna play Legos?", "I'm all done with my chores, so I can play Legos now!", etc.

It's like we are 5.  Maybe we are.  Adult clothing, remember?

In the words of Chili Davis:

"Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional."

Playtime is good.

Know what else is good? Buckeye Cheeseball.


This recipe popped into my head last week after making Chocolate Chip Cheeseball.

The Bean has recently discovered that he LOVES it. However, he loves peanut butter and chocolate together even more. I started thinking about my Chocolate Frog filling & by combining it and the Chocolate Chip Cheeseball, this was born.

As I've said before, being from Ohio, anything chocolate and peanut butter gets the automatic BUCKEYE stamp. It's like a law or something I think.

So, Buckeye Cheeseball it is.


This is easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Beat the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar together for a couple mins. Throw in the rest (except chips) beat a little more. Stir in chips.

TA DONE.


 I took a batch to youth group. I came back with zero.

It was a massive hit.


Oh, gotta, go..

I think I hear a Lego shaped Hogwarts calling my name.

Tina

P.S. If you haven’t already,  you can ‘like’ my Facebook page here, and follow me on twitter here, and you can follow me on instagram here.

Buckeye Cheeseball
recipe by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

1 stick butter, softened
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened*
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chocolate chips**
1 cup creamy peanut butter


Add butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar into a mixing bowl. Beat for a couple minutes until well mixed. Add in the corn syrup, vanilla, peanut butter, & powered sugar. Mix until combined.
Stir in chocolate chips.

Cover and chill for 2 hours, then form into ball, or spoon into serving dish and chill.

Serve with graham crackers, vanilla wafers, chocolate cookies, etc.

Promptly refrigerate leftovers.

*you can use fat free or Neufchâtel cream cheese
they will just result in a different consistancy. I used Neufchâtel for the recipe pictured.
Whole fat cream cheese would have resulted in something that you could shape into a ball better.
**mini chocolate chips are best, but I only had regular size and they work just fine too, cause... chocolate.




Monday, January 14, 2013

{ Banana Nutter Poochies: Treats for Pups }



When I'm in the kitchen, I have an audience.

Pretty much always.


I don't mind when they sit and watch, but they are not allowed inside the kitchen walkway.

Tripping hazard. Bad for me, bad for them.

So, they sit past the bar and watch.

And wait.

Just in case something hits the floor.

Our dogs, Jingle Bella (laying), and Luna Rosa Lovegood (nerd name!) are 8 & 4 respectively.

Fun story about Jingle (who was a Christmas present for the Bean when he was in 1st grade). She's camera shy. I'm NOT joking. Get out the camera, and she's GONE. It's totally weird. Who knew animals could be camera shy??

Luna, on the other hand, could care less. You'll see a lot of her in my Instagram feed, because, well, she's there. She's a big ole lapdog. Cannot be without person. She's my shadow. Jingle is very independent and happy to cuddle on her bed alone. Luna, is a scaredy cat. Can I legally call a dog a cat? I hope so, cause I just did (don't get me started on our outside cat, Arnold (named after Ginny Weasley's Pygmy Puff!), who I call Arn Dog. I have no idea why, I just do. Luna is afraid of everything. Plastic bags, the vacuum, fast movements, loud noises, etc. Ironically, she's NOT afraid of thunderstorms. Odd. Dog.

I told the pups I was going to bake them something. I had totally planned to make them homemade treats for Christmas, but I never got around to it. Oops.

So, it was finally time.

As I baked, here is what I saw.

" Hey, hey, watcha makin?"

"You done yet?"

(btw, this is the BEST photo I've gotten of Jingle in FOREVER!)

Once finished, I gave them a cookie.

They went BAZONKERS.

They would NOT stand still for me to get photos. Here is what happened.

(Prepare for very bad photography)






I guess you could say they liked them!


For the cookies, I went with doggy friendly ingredients.

You can see in this list here, that oats, eggs, and peanut butter are listed A-OK for doggies.

Mine are cr-razy for Peanut Butter.

I also went with Bananas, which are listed by the ASPCA as good for dogs.

Brown Rice flour easily digestible & easier on doggie bellies than white/wheat flour. 
(Plus my Luna is allergic to wheat.)

There's a bit of cinnamon in there for flavor. That is listed as non-toxic by the ASPCA.

 And those are all the ingredients!

Dogs don't need sugar, so there is none in these, however, I added a teeny bone shaped sprinkle (leftover from Halloween) to a few of them.

Mix 'em up, roll into balls, smash with glass, and bake!

I made mine tiny for my tiny dogs. 

 
You can make yours larger, but you'll need to adjust baking times.





My dogs are just stupid crazy over these. Hope your furry friends are too!

Bonus?

You know exactly what is in these, so you won't have to worry when they recall dog treats, like just happened a couple days ago.

Package these up pretty & they make a great gift for the dog lover in your life!

Tina


Banana Nutter Poochies
recipe by Tina @ Sugar Bean Bakers

1  1/3 cup Brown Rice Flour*
1 large banana, peeled, and mashed
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 egg, beaten


*you can also use White or Whole Wheat flour if you aren't worried about gluten, but
Brown Rice Flour is a little easier on doggy bellies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add all ingredients to a mixer and mix until well blended.

Roll into small balls, about 1".

Place onto a parchment paper or slipat lined baking mat.

Flatten with the bottom of a glass. Once flattened they will be about 2".

These won't rise or spread, so you can fit lots on one sheet.

Bake for about 20-24 minutes, so they will be crunchy.

No matter how much begging happens, cool completely before giving the Poochies to your pooches.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

If you won't use all of them in that time, freeze half. Allow to totally thaw before giving to your dogs.

Feed treats sparingly, of course.

The ASPCA recommends that treats should make up only 5% of your dog's daily food intake.

Different dogs are different however, so let your doggie sample one treat to make sure it doesn't upset his belly :)





Monday, January 7, 2013

{ Gooey Cheesecake Squares }




Ever have one of those trippy moments as an adult where you are just like, "Wait... whattttttt?". You know, the ones that leave you feeling as confused as Bill and Ted on their Excellent Adventure?

"Whoa... duuuuuuude."

I had one of those a few weeks ago.

I was out to lunch with my friend Jackie. She was one of my best friends at church growing up. She recently moved back home and we try to get together about once a month for lunch. 20 years had passed since Jacks moved away & we lost contact, but when she moved back, it felt like yesterday.
We always have way too much fun together.

Jacks and I were sitting there talking about the good ole days of Sunday School. We LOVED our teacher. Kids could not wait to hit Jr. High so they could be in Joyce's class. Joyce was legendary. She was just generally great. We loved her parties and other all her other fun activities. Her Sunday School lessons were never boring. She made coming to church fun at an age when it, let's be honest here, often isn't. Grades 7-12 were the primo time to be a kid in Sunday School at our church, thanks to her.

I am now the Jr High/High School Youth Leader/Sunday School teacher (along with our Associate Minister, Robby). Now, I don't wanna sound big headed or anything, but the kids love me. The main difference, however, is my maturity level. Joyce was very mature. I'm a 3 year old. Ok, fine, I'm a 13 year old. I geek out over the same things the kids do. I listen to the same music. I watch the same shows. I read the same books.

And apparently... they like that.

Except Bieber. I'm sorry. That's where we part ways.

I'm still the adult, but I'm just cool like that. ;)

Plus, I bring them baked goods.

Surely, that's not why they love me though. 

Right? 

RIGHT??

Anyway, as we were sitting there talking, it all hit me.

"Jacks! I'm JOYCE!"

Jacks: "Yes, you are."

When did this happen? When did I become a grown up? Who let me be in charge of other humans? WHY did they let me be in charge of other humans?? Are they SURE they want me to be in charge of other humans???

It's all so... well... trippy.

What you need to know upfront here though, is that our youth grouppers are amazing. I'm not sure how we got lucky enough to get the group of kids we got, but we did. They are smart, witty, well behaved, and just generally phenomenal kids.

And since I promised them mention:

Eric, Gabby, Caitie, Jarrett, Emily, Danny, Seth, Alyssa, Lauren, Dare, Alex, Tate, PJ, and Katrina... and also to our newbies:

Robby and I love you guys. Thanks for being awesome.

Ugh. Mushy stuff. Grody.

Moving on.

What does that all have to do with this recipe?

Very little.

Except that I got this recipe from one of the Bean's old Sunday School Teachers.




This is a very rich and tasty little treat. It goes FAST whenever I make it. Even people who don't like cream cheese love this puppy.

It's fast. It's easy. You'll wanna make it.


Often.

So, thanks, Sharon!

Gooey Cheesecake Squares

Base:
1 box Yellow Cake Mix
1 stick butter
1 egg

Topping:
1 package cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350.

In a mixing bowl, add the cake mix, melted butter, and 1 egg.  Beat until it forms a dough.
Press this into a lightly greased 9x13 pan or dish. This will be a play-doh consistency.

In mixing bowl again, add the cream cheese and eggs. Mix until well combined. Add the powered sugar, mix on low until incorporated.

Pour over the dough layer.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until the edges are brown.

Dust with powdered sugar.

Allow to cool & then cut into squares.



~Joyce

Wait. I mean Tina. Yes, yes, I'm Tina.

~Tina






Friday, January 4, 2013

{ Vanilla Bean Liege Waffles }


Ever heard of Liege Waffles?

No?

How about Belgian Pearl Sugar Waffles?

No?

Never???

Really????

Yeah, me either.

Until a couple months ago when I saw this recipe posted. Soft. Caramely. Crunchy bursts of sugar.

I needed these in my life.

ASAP.

Of course, then came the holidays, and so much to do. I had bought the Pearl Sugar and planned to make them on Christmas Day.

Then I didn't.

After the world calmed down and all peace and order was restored here post holidays, I decided, I MUST make these.

And so, I did.

I did a little research about these delectable lil puffy bites of goodness.

Here is what I found:

The Liège waffle is a richer, denser, sweeter, and chewier waffle. Native to the greater Wallonia region of Eastern Belgium - and alternately known as gaufres de chasse (hunting waffles) - they're an adaptation of brioche bread dough, featuring chunks of pearl sugar which caramelize on the outside of the waffle when baked. It is the most common type of waffle available in Belgium and prepared in plain, vanilla and cinnamon varieties by street vendors across the nation. Via Wikipedia


I love that this is actually a street vendor treat. According to what my more 'citified' friends are telling me, Liege Waffles are now becoming quite popular with Food Truck vendors. Of course, being in the middle of rural nowhere, I've never even SEEN a food truck.

So, I have to make my own waffles.

Whatever.


Fortunately, it's not hard. Takes a while because the dough has to rise, but, it's not hard at all.
Unlike most waffles, this is not a batter. It is a dough.  This is what it looks like on the iron.


See the vanilla bean?
The white chunks are the pearl sugar. It looks like this:


 They are not really pearl shaped at all. They are more like crystals. Like large salt.


Where do I find this magic sugar you ask?

Specialty stores, natural food stores, and, of course, online.

They sound expensive, right? They really aren't bad. My box (from a specialty store in my area) was under $5.




This is what they look like when they are done. They are beautiful and rustic.
That don't look like no eggo!

Thank goodness.



You can see the sugar pearls here. And the shiny parts? Caramelized sugar.

Yum.


Vanilla bean freckles.


Stack 'em up!


Add some syrup!

Or eat plain! You don't even need it. They are very sweet!

Dig in, they are worth the wait.


Vanilla Bean Liege Waffles
Recipe adapted from Gingerbread Liege Waffles by Darla of Bakingdom

1/3 cup  hot milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean*
2 cups bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoon (or 1 packet) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Belgian pearl sugar

*you can also use vanilla extract (in place of the vanilla bean) to make regular waffles verses vanilla bean waffles
 
In a medium bowl or measuring cup, heat the milk until it’s hot enough to melt the butter. Stir the butter into the milk, stir until melted. Add the eggs, whisking lightly. Split vanilla bean down the middle, scrap out the caviar. Stir into the milk mixture, set aside.

In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer with the dough hook attached, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Turn the mixer to low, and slowly add the warm milk mixture in a slow steady stream. Increase speed to medium, beat until the dough barely sticks to the bowl, this will take about about 7 or 8 minutes. Scrape sides as necessary. Lightly oil a bowl, place the dough in there. Cover & allow to rise until double (about 1 hour).

Once doubled, turn on the waffle iron. Knead the pearl sugar into the dough. Set aside to rest while the iron heats.

Divide the dough into 7- 4 ounce pieces. One piece at a time, spread the waffle dough into the hot iron. Cook until golden brown (about 2 to 3 minutes). Let sit for about 1 minute before serving (the melted sugar will be HOT). Serve warm, plain, or with syrup or with other garnish.


Be very careful not to burn yourself : 1. with the hot iron, and 2. with the melted sugar.
Someone MAY have done this. Someone MIGHT possibly have a blister on her thumb.
I have no idea who. *looks around and whistles*
Dang that delicious melty sugar!

PS, don't throw out your vanilla bean pod. Make some Vanilla Sugar!
(yes, the recipe calls for the caviar, but you can use just the pod).





Wednesday, January 2, 2013

{ Memory Jar }


Remember this?

It was one of my first posts of 2012.

I got the idea from, of course, Pinterest. It seemed like such an awesome idea.

I did one and the Bean (aka, sentimental hoarder, he'll be on the show one day) did his own.

Little did we know what all would happen in 2012.

 A trip to Disney? We had no clue.

Meeting one of our favorite authors & YouTube stars? You're kidding?!

Monthly "game nights" weren't even in the plan at the beginning of 2012. We managed to get in 10 of them though! I even posted about a few.

My long planned for, much talked about Harry Potter party, would it happen this year?

Yeah, yeah it did!

Speaking of Harry Potter, we finally made it to the Wizarding World!

It's kinda crazy what all you can stuff into a jar. The rule here was, once in, not out until Jan 1, 2013.
So, we'd forgotten about some things. A fortune cookie fortune from our January game night, the Valentines I made in February, Mardi Gras beads from our Murder Mystery Party in February, Finger Lights from the Bean's birthday bash in May, and so much more!

It really was a lot of fun to go through. We're shopping for our new jar today!

Bring on 2013!

This was a really fun new tradition. We take our Christmas decor down a few days after Christmas, but we leave up the tree, which we swap over to a New Year's Eve Tree. 

So, we didn't have much in the way of taking down decorations, but putting the tree away is always the saddest part. A pick me up, after it was away, and everything was back to normal, was to open our jars and relive the year in memories.

Here are a few photos.

My jar stuffed with 2012 moments and memories

The Bean reading the "Nerdfighter Note" we found in a John Green book
(John Green fans leave notes in his books)

Piles of memories. Here you can see "Pensive Memories" from my Harry Potter party (the plastic diamonds), Mardi Gras
beads from our Murder Mystery party, finger light from the Bean's birthday, Magic Kingdom guide map, there is also a ticket from when we saw "A Day in Pompeii", Valentines, movie stubs, the ER bracelet from when I cut my foot open by dropping a dish on it on Valentine's Day, Ren Faire map, items from assorted game nights, Wizarding World Map & tickets, Magic Kingdom tickets, and so, so, so much more!



Here you can see a playbill from the Bean's Summer Drama Troupe, his induction to the National Honor Society, and a lot of the other stuff I already named off .

I can't wait until I have a shelf full of these jars.

Can you imagine how much fun THAT will be going back through?

*

Love, cupcakes, and memories be yours in 2013,

Tina
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