Thursday, January 27, 2011

Banana Streusel Muffins

I pulled this out of Better Homes and Gardens a few months ago. The original recipe is for a loaf, but this morning I made them into muffins.

Muffin Batter
2 cups flour (I used a fine ground whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed banana (4-5 medium, I used 3 large)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/4 chopped walnuts, optional

Streusel Topping
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In large bowl, combine dry ingredients; set aside.
In mixing bowl, combine eggs, mashed banana, sugar, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in walnuts.
To make streusel: combine brown sugar and flour, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, sprinkle over batter.
Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.
Scoop batter into pans two-thirds full.
For mini size muffins, bake about 13-15 minutes. For regular size muffins, around 18-20 minutes.
Remove from oven, let sit in pans for a couple minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool.

Some Hints:
* I keep a bag of frozen bananas in my freezer, they thaw well, and I've read they add more flavor.
* Use a cookie scoop to fill tins two-thirds full, for my scoop that's 1 scoop for mini size, 2 1/2 for regular size. This makes for even cooking and is so much easier than trying to pour it in.
* If you want the streusel to have more crunch, try adding streusel five or so minutes into baking while batter is still thin, if you wait too long, it will just fall off.
* I always err on the side of underdone, rather than overdone, muffins will continue to cook out of the oven, but I must admit, I've had my fair share of sunken muffins.
* Remember to remove muffins from their tins after a few minutes, they can get overcooked sitting in hot pans.
* Use light colored pans. Dark, non-stick pans will yield dark pastries. I read this a long time ago and as weird as it sounds, it is true.
* Whatever is not eaten immediately, should be put in the freezer the same day. Baked goods thaw really well,  in fact, I think it seals in the moisture, I don't have the science to back it up, just something I've noticed.
* If you want to make this into bread, increase cooking time to 55-60 minutes, may need to cover with foil the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vashon Island

The Puget Sound gems are it's islands with their picturesque harbors and town centers.  Vashon and Maury make up the largest island in the south sound.  You can get there by ferry from Fauntleroy in West Seattle, Point Defiance in Tacoma or Southworth in Port Orchard. It is most convenient to take your car. We have gone on foot with our bikes, it is a pedestrian friendly place with a metro system, just be prepared for steep hills and a long ride. There are more than a dozen parks, including the Point Robinson Lighthouse with a beautiful view of Mount Rainier.  The town of Vashon is charming with small shops: Books, Local Art, Quilting, Gifts, Home Decor, Coffee and Tea, and several independent Restaurants and Burger joints. Thriftway is great grocery store for packing a picnic, they have a fun selection of bottled sodas. There are a number of small businesses along Vashon Hwy SW, take the time to stop, they are delightful. 

  Picnic at Dockton Park. We were able to pick up a map 
in town which had more information than Google Earth.

Disc Golf at Burton Adventure Recreation Center

Jeremy and Locals agree this is the best coffee on the Island.

 The largest selection and best designer fabric I've seen.

Our traditional cup of coffee at Cafe Luna.

Probably my favorite spot on the island,
the drive between Tahlequah and Burton along the water.

Oh, and be sure to notice the Deer signs!

For Ferry Schedules and Fares:
For Events, Shopping and Dining on Vashon:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Saturday Morning Pastries - Downtown Tacoma

While I was sick a few months ago, my husband  brought home an issue of South Sound magazine which featured all the "Bests of..." in our area. I took note of the Best Bakery Category and added it to our "Things to-do on Saturday" list, so this weekend we had the opportunity to check it out ourselves.

I would love to have this sign hanging in my kitchen!

Who doesn't get excited to see a row of cakes?!?
The one that caught my attention was the Aztec: chocolate cake with
cinnamon, cayenne and ginger and garnished with dried chilli peppers.

I guess we were too excited to take pictures
before tasting these award winning scones.

For an excursion in funky downtown Tacoma, be sure to visit this popular pastry
shop with chocolate brown walls that make you feel cozy and welcome the
moment you open the door. Don't hesitate to order your favorite latte for the
richest espresso you can get in Tacoma, roasted by Valhalla Coffee Co. It is excellent.

Broadway is just a couple blocks away with several Antique shops,
including a kitschy mall with one of the largest used book collections I've seen.

An old parking garage on Broadway.

Directions to Corina Bakery
From I-5 South:
Take Exit 133
This will put you on the 705
Get off and turn Left on 509 / S 21st St
Turn Right on Pacific Ave
Left on S 11th St
Right on Court E
Corina is on the corner of Court E and S 6th Ave

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kanaskat Palmer State Park

I didn't  realize the Green River was so beautiful until we came here and saw the rushing waters, jagged boulders and lush maples. If you're unfamiliar with the location of the park, think of it as where East Kent would meet North Enumclaw.  Our first trip here was spent mountain biking, there is a wide dirt trail that winds along the river, good for beginner bikers, or if you're on foot, a very scenic walking trail.  Our next trip here was the day the rivers opened up for fishing, we headed out after work, got some Safeway Deli Sandwiches and the only thing we came home with were some great photos.

For directions or camping information visit:

If you're able to, the drive from Kanaskat to Enumclaw on Cumberland Kanaskat Rd SE is beautiful with rich farmland at the foothills of the Cascade mountains.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Arboretum

When visiting the Arboretum, you can see the Japanese Gardens or you may be lucky enough to catch the cherry blossoms in full bloom,  but in any season the waterfront trail is a very unique, very Seattle experience. This three mile loop, begins with a dirt/bark trail, leading to a wooden floating walkway, and heading back to the parking lot is a grassy field, you can explore Marsh and Foster Islands which for some reason feel adventurous. Plan for an hour and a half to enjoy the whole route.

 Montlake Bridge

After your outdoor excursion you may want to get a cup of coffee. Depending on which direction home is...

North - University Village
Work your way towards 520
Go North on Montlake Blvd E
This will become25th Ave NE
The University Village Entrance will be on the right.
There are a couple of Starbucks.

South - Madison Park
Head South on Arboretum Dr E
Left on Lake Washington Blvd E
Left on E Madison St
Continue East and you will begin to see gift shops and cafes
There are many coffee shops in the area to choose from; we like The Essential Baking Cafe, who are known for their award winning pastries.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Port Townsend

As a little girl I loved going to Port Townsend for family events, seeing the Victorian homes and dreaming of moving there someday and opening a Bed and Breakfast. A few years ago we drove there on a spring Saturday and set out to find the best coffee and cafe in town. We walked up and down, back and forth, in and out of every coffee shop and restaurant and finally decided on a single room, second story pizzeria, which I cannot guarantee, but according to Google maps, and I am pretty certain is called "Waterfront Pizza". They had Trivial Pursuit cards on every table to play while you waited for your order. The coffee shop we HAD to sit in because of their cool barstools at the window, was Tyler Street Coffee House, which served Cafe Vita, one of our favorite roasters.  There is a great kitchen shop, and a completely organic store. Who knew clothes could be organic?? I didn't.
 Be sure to drive a few miles north to Fort Worden State Park to see Point Wilson Lighthouse and a West side view of the Sound.
 You can take a ferry across to Whidbey Island from the downtown.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Fairhaven, Bellingham

We came upon Fairhaven by accident on a weekend camping trip up north.  This old district of Bellingham has the artsy and historical charm of a university town. Coffee, Stationary, Bead and Yarn Shops; Gift and Clothing Boutiques, Gourmet Restaurants and Cafes will keep your afternoon and tummy full! On our first trip, we had a light dinner at Flat's Tapas in a cozy brick building, we got to sit in the loft! I don't remember which tapas we ordered, I just remember the little bowl of roasted Marcona almonds they brought while we looked at the menu, so simple and so classy. On another trip we got warmed up with a vanilla latte at Tony's Coffee, we sat by the little black stove and played Skip-Bo. Good memories.


From I-5
Exit 250
Head West on Old Fairhaven Pkwy (Hwy11)

Scenic Route

From I-5
Exit 231
Head West on Chuckanut Dr (Hwy 11)

You have to take Chuckanut Dr either coming or going with views of the sound, dreamy homes and deciduous trees that are beautiful no matter what season. Be sure to stop at Larrabee State Park for an amazing sunset, cool rock formations and short hikes.

For camping information visit: