Yes, I know it’s a bit late, but both the holidays, and the subsequent catching up with everything else after the holidays, have been an absolute whirlwind. But I can’t be sorry. Too many wonderful moments and memories led me to let go of the reins a bit and just absorb, and relish, and enjoy, and be so quietly, but genuinely, thankful for…well, for everything.
The holidays have always been a busy time, a time of revelry and noise. But in the past few years, I’ve really started to take a step back and reassess what the holidays mean to me. And to realize what, really, I value and find important. I suppose, in my old age, I’ve also realized that I can choose what it is I invest my time and care in during these special days…and indeed during all my everydays. And so the holidays may not have been as noisy as they were in the past, but they have been that much more meaningful: Quality time spent with those I love most. Minutes and hours of undistracted cuddling with my children. Catching up with family and friends. Time to do nothing but stare at the sea and the sky. And quiet time to reflect on the year that passed…and the one to come.
2015 was a year of ups and downs. It definitely had its trials, the times that it tested me, pulled at me relentlessly, times when it took all that I had to see the shimmer of light at the end of dark and jagged tunnels.
But. But…it was also a year of much true happiness, many things that I am grateful for. Little H turned 2, and has become the most adorable, wild, uncontrollable gremlin I have ever had the pleasure and pain of falling in love with. My little C turned 6 and amazes me each day with her unique personality, and drama-queen-worthy mood swings…and the way we can connect without even saying a word. And my C, my steadfast, stalwart rock…the safe harbor to which I cling when turbulent times blow in, and on whose strong shoulders I doze contentedly when times are not as tempestuous. My team. Of all that I have, I am most grateful for that…for this simple unit of individuals that make up our family.
2015 was also a year when I was more mindful about investing time and efforts into my passion for food and cooking and eating. I re-launched this little blog of mine with this spiffy new design (thank you Pat!!). I worked with the lovely Martine who helped me breath new life into this site. I met so many amazing and inspiring people who in one way or another share this passion of everything food…preparing it, eating it, photographing it, and just crazily thinking about it every waking moment. And for all that, I am truly thankful.
And now…looking forward. 2016. I certainly have plans, have goals, have hopes for this new year. I won’t go through them here…at least not now. I’ll hold them to my heart a little bit longer. But know that this blog will also and always be part of any plans I make!
And of course, food…always something delicious hopefully just around the corner. Let’s start with muffins…
Chocolate Oat Muffins
(originally Nutella Oat Muffins from A Bountiful Love)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup low fat milk
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 bananas, mashed
– Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.
– In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add the milk, oil, vanilla extract, and the bananas. Stir until combined.
– Add the dry mixture onto the wet mixture. Stir until just combined taking care not to over mix!
– Pour the batter into your paper-lined (or greased) muffin tins and top with a teaspoon of your favorite chocolate or nut-butter spread.
– Using a toothpick, slowly and gently cut and swirl the chocolate or nut-butter in the batter.
– Bake for 17 minutes in a 350F pre-heated oven, or until the toothpick comes out clean.
This recipe originally uses Nutella…and I would too, Nutella being one of my favorite things in the universe. However, I had a bottle of swanky French chocolate hazelnut praline in the fridge and thought, “It’s a new year…let’s be fancy!” So there you have it. This will work though with any of your preferred chocolate-nut spreads, or, in that same vein, any favorite nut-butter as well.
This is definitely a muffin, vis a vis a cupcake. More dense, heftier because of the oatmeal, but still nice and moist thanks to the banana. I sent these off to my daughter’s school for her class’ New Years party and so far no complaints so I’ll take that as a good sign! I like these with coffee for breakfast with a bit of fruit, or, if you are feeling indulgent, as I often am, torn in two and spread with a little bit of butter.
So here we are, at the first month of this new year, filled with hope and good intentions. I’m so looking forward to sharing much more with you this year…food, recipes, treats and goodies, life, random musings. Perhaps we’ll even meet? I hope you’re looking forward to that too. Let’s make this the best year ever troops!