Summer Heidi is in full swing! In the last month I watched my daughter walk across the stage of her high school graduation, supported my sons through standardized tests and final exams, said good-bye to my Kindergarten classroom, coordinated a family portrait for my family of 6, and threw a grad party. All fun, all part of my abundant life, but all part of Working Heidi (a.k.a. Paycheck Heidi). Now I get to slow my pace and live life at my leisure; leisurely waking up, leisurely walking my dog, leisurely organizing overstuffed drawers, leisurely chatting on the phone with family, leisurely drinking tea while reading, and leisurely cooking.
I kicked off my leisurely summer life with a pantry challenge. This is something that was passed down from my mother and entails organizing and cooking, two of my favorite things:). First, I take everything out of my pantry, one shelf at a time. Next, armed with a small bucket of sudsy water, I wipe each shelf and assess its contents before placing all of the edible items back in an orderly fashion. Last, I peruse my recipe box, cookbooks, and Pinterest pages to find recipes that utilize my newly organized pantry ingredients. I repeat this challenge with my refrigerator, freezer, and cupboards.
My most recent pantry challenge inspired me to create Pumpkin Muffins (I must have been planning for Y2K when I purchased cans of pumpkin last fall), Roasted Chick Peas (a new go-to snack for my husband), Chicken Avocado Soup (a recipe I recently found through a Facebook share), Lemon Cheesecake Pie (I love finding a use for that random can of evaporated milk I always seem to have), and Chocolate Muffins. Of course, my clan loves muffins, but, I must admit, during the school year I often resort to the boxed variety. Summer Heidi has time to leisurely prepare muffins from scratch.
My Chocolate Muffin recipe comes from Nigela Lawson. When my children were small and I was Stay-at-Home Heidi, I would corral all my little people into the basement family room, fold mountains of laundry, and watch cooking shows. We enjoyed Nigela's cheerful kitchen, soothing accent, and tasty recipes. Getting the actual recipes, however, was a bit of a challenge at the turn of the millennium. Without the advent of internet and smart phones, I had to check out Nigela's cookbooks from the library during one of our weekly treks to story time and then copy down the recipes that I wanted to add to my repertoire.
This recipe is particularly appealing because it can be served for breakfast, dessert, or a snack. It enhances any cup of tea or coffee. It also involves everyday ingredients like flour, unsweetened cocoa, and chocolate chips. A perfect Pantry Challenge recipe! I hope that this summer you will get to experience life at a leisurely pace and maybe even take the Pantry Challenge.
(adapted from Nigela Lawson's "Feast")
1 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 cup milk (whole or reduced fat, I used 1%)
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons oil (I used canola)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips, plus more for snacking and sprinkling (semi-sweet or dark chocolate)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and unsweetened cocoa.
- Mix together egg, milk, oil, sugar, and vanilla.
- Gently combine wet and dry ingredients. Batter will be lumpy. Try not to over mix although if you are cooking with children you will surely have some over mixing happening. It's okay.
- Fold in 3/4 cup chocolate chips.
- Fill each prepared muffin cup about two thirds full. Use an ice cream scoop to neatly and evenly distribute batter. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips on the top of each unbaked muffin.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out of the center of the largest muffin with only a few crumbs clinging to it.
- Cool slightly and enjoy. You may also stored cooled muffins in an air tight container for a few days.