Birthday and Recipe

So, Friday was my birthday! Yippee! Last year to be in my twenties and I’m starting it out right – married! Such a different way of life than I’m used to, but I’m loving every minute of it. Except when the Huz is working 3rds and I have to sleep by myself. That part isn’t so much fun.

But back to the birthday.

A day early, my dad stopped by my work to give me a gift from him and my step-mom. It was very appropriate for me. in fact, I believe I remember seeing a similar one elsewhere, perhaps at the Cox Arboretum gift shop.

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Sadly, I had to work most of the day Friday. But when Huz got home, he had brought flowers and my gifts in. They were pretty fab gifts. It’s like he knows me or something.

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Yep, that’s birdseed and a bat house. I absolutely cannot wait to get the bat house and the “Space available” sign up. I love bats so much. Now, don’t go thinking that I’m crazy or anything. Bats are incredibly helpful! One North American Brown Bat can eat a pound of mosquitoes EACH night! I don’t know about you, but I can’t stand mosquitoes. That automatically puts them up on the list. Although, spiders are good for mosquito catching…but spiders don’t have sweet little, almost puppy-like faces.

You cannot tell me that that face isn’t cute 🙂

We have to find a good place for the house. They like high locations with easy access and in direct sunlight for most of the day (they like it hot in their homes…probably another reason why I like them some much). I think I’ll need to call the OSU Extension office here soon. Besides, I have to figure out what we’re going to do with our weeping cherry tree.

Saturday is a free day. Huz will be sleeping until about 3 and then we can run around and go see a movie, maybe buy me a new computer (we have leftover wedding money) – one with a number pad…and Microsoft Office. Sigh…that would be so nice. It’s my excuse for not putting together a house budget yet. Maybe I should postpone a little longer….hmm.

Oh, Thursday night, I decided I wanted to bake and make the house smell yummy. I picked up some strawberries and came home to get started. The plan was to make strawberry muffins, but that quickly changed into a strawberry loaf. Same concept, just wanted to break in the new Pampered Chef stone loaf pan we got as a gift. I’m so glad I did. It turned out super yummy. Because it was muffin batter, it was a little dense (think Amish friendship bread) but it was great and when lathered with a layer of cream cheese….yum!

I had some friends request the recipe I used, so here it goes. The “putting together” part is a little tricky, but I haven’t had a bad batch using this method. I’ll put the instructions for the muffins or the loaf.

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Strawberry (or other fruit) Muffins or Loaf

IngredientsIMG_20130614_214955

Wet
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

1 cup chopped fruit

Dry
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 or 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional…but always recommended!)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400*F (205C) for muffins or 375*F (191C) for a loaf.
2. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. If making a loaf, grease the inside of the pan (stone pans don’t need to be greased unless they haven’t been used often).
3. In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients (oil, milk, egg, vanilla). Beat lightly.
4. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cinnamon).
5. Toss in fruit and coat with dry mixture.
6. Pour wet mixture into the dry and stir together.
7. Spoon batter into cups or pour into loaf pan.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Tops should bounce back from touch. If making a loaf, bake for about 45-50 minutes. Use a toothpick to determine if the center is finished baking.

Here are a couple of variations to consider:

* For a crunchy top, sprinkle sugar over batter before baking. It’s important you do it before you bake…it just doesn’t work if it’s after. Trust me. *facepalm*
* For a sweeter top, spread raw honey over the top of muffins after baked (still warm). I haven’t done this with the loaf, but I imagine that it would taste about the same. Love that raw honey!
* Chunky Monkey Muffins – I made these in Japan and they were sooooo good! Substitute the whole cup of fruit with this mixture: 1/2 cup chopped banana and another 1/2 cup of small marshmallows, nuts (I think I used crushed walnuts), and mini chocolate chips (you’ll have a total of 1 cup fruit+extras, not a 1/2 cup for each of those items).

Enjoy!

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I’ll leave you with a couple other shots.

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Isn’t she pretty? I still don’t have a name for her. I need a name people. Help a lady out here!

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I think the best thing about having silverware all different colors is that when I pull them out of the dishwasher, I can easily grab all of the same kind and put them away more quickly. And…it’s pretty to look at.

Have a great rest of your weekend and, oh yeah, Happy Father’s Day!

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