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Monday, April 22, 2013

Banana, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Chip Muffins

I know things have been really quiet around here lately, too quiet. I have a confession to make. I have moved. Well...sort of. I have spent the better part of the last four months trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, at this point I might as well say "if I grow up". I knew I didn't want to go back to "professional" life. The idea of spending the rest of my working life in a position where I only get two weeks off a year, and being totally stressed out about my job those whole two weeks was definitely something I was not eager to return to. I thought that I could possibly make this space earn enough income that I wouldn't have to go back to work. I'll let you in on a little secret, it takes some seriously hard work to make a living as a food blogger. I'm happy to be at a place where this space provides a nice supplemental income, and I think if I had another six months to work on it, I may just have made it. I thought about moving to Maine, I applied for another Executive Director job here in Alaska. Neither felt "right". Something was calling to me, something I couldn't really explain. I really wanted to return to Denali National Park. I had worked here years ago, and the place has always pulled at my heartstrings. So, I decided to take a seasonal position with a non-profit right outside the park. I'm hoping that it will possibly lead to something more permanent. Right now I am just enjoying testing the waters. I'm still only a two hour drive from Fairbanks, so I am sure I'll be spending some weekends in our Fairbanks home. I'm also looking forward to doing some exploring on this end of the park. The last time I worked in Denali I was 90 miles west of here. Right now, I am just settling in. It's still the off season, so no running water or real kitchen facilities are available right now. Once I get back in the swing of things I hope to post more often.
I made these muffins on a trip back to Fairbanks last weekend. When I got home there some pretty brown bananas sitting on the counter. I would normally just make my standard banana bread, but because I was leaving and  it would be up to David to eat it after I left, I decided that I would have to make something with chocolate in it. If I were to make these muffins again, I probably would make them right in the pan, rather than use cupcake papers that you see in the photos. They were really good, but they really stuck to the paper. You can also spray the paper if you really want to use them. The thing I liked about these is despite the additions of peanut butter and chocolate, they weren't overly sweet. They still felt like a good choice for breakfast.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ginger Syrup

Last year this time I was totally in love with Masala Chai. I was drinking it three times a day. I loved the fresh, spicy ginger flavor of the drink. I still drink it often, but the novelty has worn off and now it's only a few times a week. This year I have a new spicy, gingery love. It comes in the form of a cold beverage this time. I had always heard how much better homemade ginger ale was than the store bought stuff. I guess I never took much interest as I was never a huge fan of store bought ginger ale. Sure, if you have an upset stomach, a can of ginger ale is nice. I have always found that ginger ale comes in two forms; weak ginger flavor and very sweet, or totally overpowering ginger flavor. That is the beauty of making your own homemade ginger syrup. You decide how strong/sweet the flavor will be. The recipe below is just a starting point. If you like it more sweet, add more sugar. Super Spicy? More ginger.
The syrup can also be used for cocktails, hot tea, or even baked goods. I love the flavor of fresh ginger in baked goods and hope to try adapting a few recipes for ginger syrup soon.
Are you a fan of ginger ale? Do you like it super spicy, or are you into the classic Vernor's version? What are your favorite gingery cocktails?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Key Lime Cheesecake Fool

Don't forget it's April 1st, it's easy to be fooled. I would say it's exceptionally easy to be fooled when the weather forecast is calling for snow, that might be the biggest prank we see all day. If you find yourself being fooled, I recommend a little Key Lime Cheesecake Fool to brighten your spirits. This one is so easy, any fool could make them. I added some graham crackers for dunking, but you could crush them up and add them directly to the dessert, of course it would no longer be a fool. Crushed cookies added to a fool is technically a Mess. A fool or a mess, or how about a foolish mess? Does it really matter, as long as it tastes good? These definitely do. 
I tried these both immediately after making them and then again after they had time to sit in the fridge. Eating them immediately gives you a much lighter dessert, the consistency of whipped cream. Making them ahead and letting them set up in the fridge allows the whipped cheesecake part to set up, making it more the texture of a soft cheesecake. If you are going with the latter method, don't mix in the graham cracker crumbs as they will get very soggy if allowed to sit in the mixture for too long. 
I did prefer them after they had some time to sit. They really great both ways, but I preferred the texture after waiting. You all know how much I hate to wait to eat dessert!
Have any good practical jokes planned for today? Let me in on the secret. I won't tell. Happy April!
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