Muffins, Memories and Mom!

My mother was always creative with breakfast when I was growing up. She felt it was the most important meal of the day.  Poached eggs, pancakes, cut grapefruits, fresh squeezed orange juice were some of the highlights on our kitchen counter each morning.  

My favorite was a homemade honey bran muffin.  I can remember loving each bite and hearing her reminder of how healthy this high fiber muffin was for my brother and me to enjoy on occasion. While it does have sugar in it, it’s  filled with so many nutritious ingredients as well.

Have fun taking the time to make these and I hope your family enjoys them.
Thanks, Mom for muffins and my childhood memories that I reflect upon so often as I raise Morgan and Brandon. I love you.
Glaze
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoon honey
3 tbl. boiling water

Muffins
3 cups raisins or 3 cups dates, 3 cups prunes pureed in food processor.
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup flax seeds 
1 cup wheat bran
3 cups all purpose flour
2.5 teaspoons baking soda
1.5 teaspoons salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.Make the glaze first and use a brush to coat the bottom and sides of muffin tins generously. (Use all of the glaze)
3. Begin the muffin mix by mixing the fruit, honey and oil until smooth.
4.  Beat in eggs, then buttermilk and bran to mixture.
5. Add flour, baking soda and salt.
6. Beat until just combined
7. Fill tins 3/4 full
Bake 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through
Cool 2 minutes and invert onto a rack for cooling.

Recipe makes 12 muffins.

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Watch my garden grow!

This past March I celebrated turning 40.  My husband built me a garden. A square, completely fenced, where I watch Mother Nature create some of the most delicious produce. Each one of my friends contributed to this gift by giving me the seeds to plant, shovels, gloves, hats, gardening shoes, and even bags for the produce labeled with my name. Only a few months later, my family is eating lettuces, striped zucchini, squashes, cucumbers, a variety of heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, green peppers, and soon, corn!

Happy Summer! Are you growing anything fabulous this summer? If so, please share!

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Freshen up your cooking with beautiful homegrown herbs!

Whether you love to garden, have the space to plant or simply just love to cook with Mother Nature’s finest, there is nothing quite like fresh herbs.  This season make a pot full of fresh basil, spearmint, rosemary and chives and don’t forget fresh cilantro.  The combination of all four look gorgeous together and will give you a variety to choose from all summer long.

Fresh basil with tomatoes and cucumbers…yum.  Spearmint sprigs in your favorite iced tea make it a most refreshing afternoon beverage.  Rosemary can be added to most roasted veggies, chicken and fish dishes, and chopped chives are always great to have on hand.  Summertime guacamole is extra special with cilantro.  Not to mention, once all of these are ready to harvest, they look beautiful in a vase (instant centerpiece) adding an aromatic freshness to the air….

Try it — you’ll see just how fulfilling it can be to take ingredients from the earth and bring them directly to your table…..with a bath in the sink first of course. Enjoy!

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Heart of Gratitude!

Generally my blog is recipe bound or spiritually based.  This one is a little different.
It’s about me.  Next month marks five years since I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma.
For those of you who did not know – yes, in my medial right thigh.  A small freckle that grew like an octopus down through my muscle.
It was excised, surrounding hip lymph nodes removed and I am stronger today because I had cancer.  I’m a better person, a better wife and mother. A better friend, teacher and runner.  And not a day goes by where I don’t thank God for my mind’s strength and my body’s health.  My leg sings to me daily and I’ve spent five years trying to find the right recipe for settling the aggravated nerves around the incision cite.  There is no recipe; rather my ache serves as a daily reminder of just how fortunate I am to be living.  I push through and have bought stock in Ben Gay.  Now you know why the studio smells like menthol often.
Doctors say you need five years clear to diminish your chances for recurrence.
I’m here….Five years!
Clean! Strong! Healthy and filled with gratitude.

With love,

Stephanie

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Invigorating Winter Fun! Go For It!!!

Look at that sky. Look at that snow. Look at the stream of moving water running through the ice.

Breathtaking!

This photo was taken during my first snowshoe expedition along the golf course at Mount Kisco Country Club. Wow, what great winter fun. Through the laughter of my friends and the sounds of crackling snow it was an afternoon of great memories as we lifted our feet through snow and ice.

Let me tell you, it was harder than I thought it would be, especially uphill!

For those of you with snowshoes, look for large open spaces where you can walk for hours and savor Mother Nature’s winter with friends outdoors.

Here’s to many more moments of Centerpeace! Thank you Paula, Karen, Sande, Amy and Jane for my new shoes!! I can’t wait to wear them again and again.

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It’s a Delicious Time of Year!

Okay, so typically I stick to healthy whole foods especially for my blog.
However, with this recipe I make an exception.  Last night I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s annual “Cookie Party.”  I arrived and walked into a house decorated from top to bottom with Christmas and holiday decor.  Lights sparkled, friends mingled and in the dining room were forty (40!) different holiday cookies beautifully displayed. Each year someone wins the award for best cookie.  Hands down, this chocolate
toffee bark won thanks to Lydia Altman’s gift of making bark.  I had to share it with all of you after I indulged in its decadent flavors. Trust me, it was worth every bite.  Thank you Michele for a warm, wonderful evening filled with good friends, yummy treats and your loving kindness.

Chocolate Toffee Bark

Makes about 40 pieces

10 0unces bittersweet (not unsweetened), dark or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (optional: + extra for drizzling on top)

7 ounces good quality white chocolate (Ghirardelli, Lindt or Baker’s), coarsely chopped (optional: + extra for drizzling on top)

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (do not use old-fashioned style or freshly ground)

Toffee chips or chopped Skor or Heath bars to taste

8 ounces good quality milk chocolate (Ghirardelli or Lindt), chopped

Turn large baking sheet upside down. Cover tightly with foil. Mark a 12×9 inch rectangle on foil.

Stir bittersweet chocolate in medium bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water until melted (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch the water). Pour melted chocolate onto marked rectangle on foil.  Using icing spatula, spread chocolate to fill rectangle. Refrigerate while making peanut butter filling.

Stir chopped white chocolate and peanut butter continuously in heavy medium saucepan over med-low heat until mixture is melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 10 minutes.  Pour over bittersweet  chocolate. Working quickly, spread to coat bittersweet chocolate completely. Sprinkle generously with toffee chips. Chill until very firm, about 20 minutes.

Stir milk chocolate in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) until chocolate is melted. Remove and pour chocolate over toffee chips, spreading quickly to cover. Sprinkle with more toffee chips.

Optional: warm additional bittersweet and white chocolate (separately). Dip spoon in bittersweet chocolate and drizzle lines over toffee chips.  Repeat with white chocolate. (This can be done using a pastry bag or plastic zip-loc bag).

Chill bark until firm enough to cut, about 20 minutes.

Lift foil with bark onto work surface.  Cut crosswise into 5 2-inch-wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 sections, and diagonally into 2 triangles.

Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Keep chilled in airtight container.

ENJOY!!

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Be Thankful

Thanksgiving could be my most favorite holiday;  cool temperatures outdoors, crackling fireplaces, the sweet smells of delicious foods and the love of family togetherness.  I am always reminded of just how lucky I am each Thanksgiving, and the poem shared below is a constant reminder of attitude and the role that it plays in conscious daily living.  I’m hoping that you too will find great meaning in its message and share it with those that you hold close during this most special time of year.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with love, happiness, gratitude and Centerpeace!  Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired  and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your life’s blessings.

I’m thankful for all of you.
May your Thanksgiving be filled with love, laughter and Centerpeace.

Stephanie

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My New Favorite Cookie

This is my new favorite cookie…filled with delicious oats and sesame seeds providing that perfect carbohydrate/protein balance.

Pour yourself a hot cup of tea and treat yourself to these. Worth every bite and good for you!

Oatmeal Sesame Raisin Cookies

3 cups oats

2 eggs

1/2 cup honey

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup rice syrup

1/2 cup coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup raw almonds (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and drop by heaping tablespoon on parchment.

Bake 8 – 10 minutes, watching carefully. They burn quickly!

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May We All Be Coffee

A carrot, an egg, and a cup of coffee…

You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as when one problem was solved, a new one arose.
Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.
Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft.
The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.
Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”
Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
However, the ground coffee beans were unique. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg,or a coffee bean?”
Think of this: Which am I?
Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level?
How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

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Make the most of each and every day

While walking through Bridgehampton this past weekend, after taking an amazing class at Exhale….I came across this beautiful tag.  That’s right, a tag.  I was looking for something to buy in the store just to own the tag, when it dawned on me to photograph the tag so I could share it with all of you.  Something as simple as a tag summarized so beautifully the essence of living life to the fullest.  I truly believe in these words and do my best to live each day mindfully knowing that our time on this earth is limited.

And yes, that night, I did order dessert…..Soak up the heat of summer, drink lots of water and breathe in the season of slowing down!
Here’s to more Centerpeace!

Stephanie

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