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Monday, November 11, 2013

A Little Love From Home

The care package:  Ready to go, complete with a postcard note.
Kate loves being away at college.  She loves living in the dorms.  She loves going to her classes (most of the time), and she loves all her new friends.  She even loves eating in Commons.  So far as I can tell, the only thing she misses is our dog Pebbles and my cooking.  Hey, I'll take what I get.

The other day we were talking and she mentioned how much she missed her favorite muffins.   All I needed was that little bit of encouragement.  Before long, I was hard at work in the kitchen whipping up a care package to feed Kate plus anyone she happened to pass on her way back to her dorm room.

I included all her homemade favorites:  Frank's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, Banana Bread, and "Crack" Muffins.  There were enough baked goods to sink a ship, or in this case, to fill a large Priority Mail box.

I even threw in a pound of Kate's favorite rugulah from Corky & Lenny's.  I had picked up a pound when I was last in Cleveland thinking that I would have them waiting for her when she returned at Thanksgiving.   I even included some of her favorite sour gummy worms.  (Yuck!)

Anyway, I shipped off a big box of goodies.  Two days later, the box arrived to great reviews from Kate and all her friends.

Just a little something from home.

Recipe:  Frank's Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Cooks Illustrated)


2 1/8 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
12 tbl. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus one egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups chips (chocolate, Mini M & M's -- whatever you like)
3/4 cup toasted walnuts (optional)


Preheat the oven to 325. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and set aside.

Mix the melted butter and the sugars until blended. (I do this by hand.) Mix in the egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the chips and nuts, if using.

Using a small scoop, (about 1 1/2 inches) scoop the dough on to the prepared cookie sheets. I usually put 9 cookies on each sheet.

Bake, reversing the cookie sheets' positions halfway through the baking, until the cookies are golden brown around the edges, about 15-18 minutes. Cook on the cookie sheets for a few minutes and then transfer to wire racks.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Recipe:  Banana Mocha Muffins aka "Crack" Muffins
(Baking for Friends, Kathleen King, 2012)


2 1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. instant coffee (or 1 1/2 tsp. instant espresso powder)
1 Tbsp. boiling water
1 1/3 C mashed fully ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 1/4 C sugar
2 sticks salted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
1 C semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I did 350 degrees); grease a muffin tin tray.

Cream together the sugar and butter until fluffy.  Add the egg, mix again then set aside.   In another bowl add the coffee to the hot water; stir to dissolve.  Stir the mashed bananas into the coffee.  Add to the butter/sugar mixture and stir until incorporated; set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  By hand, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Divide the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tin tray.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan for 10 minutes, remove from pan then cool completely on a wire rack.

Recipe:  Banana Bread
(M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger)


1 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.

Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing.

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