Brown Sugar Oatmeal & Pecan Muffins

When you say you love me, know I love you more.

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Life can be such a challenge somedays. I barely remember the troubles I had as a teen, much less as a kid, and now problems seem to weigh down on me like the weight of the world.

It will be six months this month since I said I do and agreed to share my life with the most amazing man I know. I’ve always thought I was such a young bride, such a young wife. Even today, I caught myself sulking over something trivial like a spoiled child. In so many ways, I’m still a child at heart. If I had it my way, I never wanted to grow up.

But I’m so thankful and blessed to be married to the person I am with now. We stayed up this past weekend sharing a beer and a cigarette on the balcony of our townhouse. It was almost 3 in the morning and it was so cold but there was something calming about the still of the night.

When the cold was too much to bear, we stepped inside. I sat on the edge of the bed with him across from me. We were troubled and worried but most of all, scared. With no plans or ideas or means even, we stayed awake and stared at the ceiling like it was the sky, both lost in our thoughts. When I did decide to speak, I said it in whispers, afraid to break the quiet, as I laid next to him.

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I’ve had times when I was alone, afraid of the future because it was like treading into the unknown. This time, however, I knew I had someone else by my side. I knew those vows would manifest themselves someday and this was it. At least one of it. For better or for worse. I’ve promised this man my heart and my life and I have to honor that. 

I remember hearing his soft breaths as he succumbed to his tiredness. We have a future ahead of us but no idea where we’re headed and that’s ok. Instead of taking adventures on my own, I have Mark to share them with now. I feel like I’ve been beating myself up over the predicament we’re in these past couple of days but there’s always a silver lining to every situation.

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Today however, I was feeling blue and a little mopey, so I tried turning to the kitchen and oven for some warmth. Or maybe I was just looking for something to occupy my time with. Either way, these look absolutely comforting and I’m sure Mark wouldn’t have any complaints of how I utilized my time today.

Brown Sugar Oatmeal & Pecan Muffins
Yields 12

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup oatmeal, cooked and at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions: 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin pan with 12 muffin or cupcake liners.

In a bowl, whisk eggs, oatmeal, canola oil and vanilla extract together until well-combined. In a large mixing bowl, measure flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder together. Mix well.

Fold in wet ingredients into mixing bowl and incorporate everything until evenly mixed. Using two spoons or an ice-cream scoop, scoop batter into each muffin cup, about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for about 20 minutes. You’ll know that muffins are done when you prick one with a toothpick and it comes out clean. Let cool and rest for 10 minutes before taking them out of the pan.

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Beef Stew with Red Wine // Homemade Crusty Bread

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My house is so silent during the day. Sometimes, like today, it is comforting seeing as it is cold and dreary outside once again, but other times, it can get pretty lonely.

In the past couple of months of change and adaptation, I think I’ve learned how to live with the silence and find things that will complement it instead. Like getting lost in the pages of a book or writing a posts like this to share on the Internet. When I really can’t stand it anymore, I turn on the television for a little background noise or the music player when I am motivated enough to clean and potter around a part of the house.

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Right now, Mark and I are playing the very challenging game of waiting. Each day seems slower than the one before and I grow so impatient, so quickly. They say everything is slower by the water and the living is easy, and I can’t disagree. It is to many extents. But now, I crave the intensity that life can bring. Some aches, soreness and true tiredness that people complain about so often. I must sound ungrateful but I suppose I miss having a purpose.

Somehow, I’ve managed to channel most of my energy to spending more time in the kitchen. From starting out as a novice college cook to finally accomplishing to baking my own bread, I’m not hesitant to give myself a small pat on the back for this tiny yet significant achievement.

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For Sunday supper last weekend, I wanted to fix a dish that would compliment my Sunday baking project, which was a homemade crusty loaf of bread. So I thought what better way to eat it with a rich hearty stew. Mark and I were more than content with the result. I lit candles all around the living room while the stew gently simmered away in the kitchen like a pot of liquid gold and the bread rising wonderfully in the oven.

I was ecstatic when everything came together so perfectly. We poured ourselves a glass of Merlot each, cozied up on the couch and watched episodes of House of Cards on Netflix while dipping bits and pieces of the bread into our bowls and savoring it’s deep flavors.

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Beef Stew with Red Wine
Recipe adapted from Food Network

1 pound beef, cut into cubes (I used some cuts of steak and it worked fine)
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken or beef stock
1 cup red wine (I used Merlot, but recipe suggests dry red wine ie. Pinot Noir)
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian parsley for garnish (optional) 

Directions:

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in Dutch oven or deep pot. Brown cuts of beef until almost cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to bowl.

Add remaining butter to pot. Stir in onions and carrots and cook until onions are translucent. Add bell pepper and incorporate flour to the vegetables and mix well. Stir in beef and pour chicken stock, wine and rosemary to pot. Turn heat up until mixture comes to a boil and then lower heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for about an hour partially covered. Stir occasionally.

Add potatoes to pot and cook covered for another 45 minutes until potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.

Homemade Crusty Bread

I followed instructions from Simply So Good for this recipe and it’s the best. She does an excellent job at explaining everything to a tee and even giving solutions or alternatives. My bread turned out great despite using active dry yeast instead of the instant kind. Mark loved it, and so did I.

Banana Granola Muffins

I’ve been approaching life with the same negative outlook for as long as I can remember.

I remember the growing pains that came as a low-esteemed 14-year-old. The angst I had as a confused 17-year-old and then the depression in my late teens and early 20s. Unwillingly, I had carried some of the pain throughout the years into adulthood and today, I’ve decided to get rid as much of it as possible.

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Somehow, someway, I must have done something right to have met a man who loves me for who I am. And though it is still taking me time and effort to accept this fact, I can say today that I am the best I have been in a long while.

My day today comfortably ended with a cup of chamomile tea and a pleasurable bite into one fresh banana granola muffin. It’s nice how certain foods bring you that sense of familiarity even in a sea of change. Banana muffins have always been one of my favorite breakfast foods and being able to make it from scratch in my very own kitchen makes it that much more satisfying.


Life has been mundane but not mediocre for me lately. I left my job a month ago and moved to live with Mark in Havelock, NC — a small military town right outside of a Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. He found a cozy townhouse where he works in and right now, it’s just me and him. I have yet to get a job here but am actively looking for one. There is still what seems to be a mountain of paperwork I have yet to complete but I’m doing the best I can and hopefully, I will have it all filed before the end of the year.

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Other than that, living with my significant other has been a challenging yet exciting adjustment that I’ve made. Before this, Mark and I were in, what I would call, a “short” long-distance relationship. Long enough that we didn’t get to see each other as frequently as we would like, but short enough that we could make it to each within a day’s drive.

We lived three hours apart and got to see each other only over the weekends, so our relationship consisted of a lot of texting and FaceTime dates. We took turns visiting each other over, which got old (and expensive!) really fast.

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I would be lying if I told you that the transition went smoothly. I think it has been harder for me simply because I was moving again to a new town, losing my income and friends but I’ve been coping. Mark has been incredibly supportive of my needs and I’m sure that it’s just a matter of time before I feel at home again.

Today, I tried my hands at some baking and the results were pretty satisfactory. Mark isn’t that much of a picky eater, so I’m lucky I get to try out recipes without wasting any food either. I might make some adjustments to the recipe in the future but I’m glad I have these banana granola muffins to look forward to for breakfast this week.

Banana Granola Muffins
Recipe adapted from Kelly Senyei, from Just A Taste.

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup granola of choice
2 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup vanilla non-fat yogurt
6 tbsp butter or margarine, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and baking soda. Then mix granola. In a separate bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, eggs, butter, yogurt, vanilla.

Slowly fold in the wet mixture to the dry mixture, adding in batches until both mixtures are combined.

Scoop batter into the muffin pan, and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick or knife inserted into the muffins comes out clean.