Copycat Love Crunch Dark Chocolate and Red Berries Granola 

When I find something to eat that I love, I really LOVE it. I can eat it everyday for a month straight unlike Chris who hates the idea of repeating a meal two days in a row. Not me. I am a creature of habit when it comes to eating.

I recently discovered Love Crunch. I tried the Macaroon and Dark Chocolate and Red Berries. Both were good, but I became obsessed with the Dark Chocolate and Red Berries. 

I love the combo of coconut, chocolate and the freeze dried berries. Though It was a little on the sweet for my taste so I decided to make my own!  

I wish I could give some to Lyra but because it has honey and chocolate in it I’ll wait until after she turns one. She’s been a really adventurous eater! I basically feed her anything I’m eating. Lately she’s gotten into hummus, pizza (crusts only!), chicken, and kale. 

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YUM

Ingredients

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped freeze dried strawberries
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk melted coconut oil, maple syrup, honey and vanilla in a small bowl and pour over oat mixture until well combined.
  2. Spread granola on a baking sheet and bake for 45-55 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and stir in chocolate chips. Let cool for 1 hour. (This helps create clusters of granola!) Add in freeze dried strawberries.
  4. Store in an airtight container.
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Banana Wheat Germ Muffins

Side note: I accidentally published a blog post recently that I wrote as a cathartic release. It was a total rant. You know when you call up your bestie and start the convo, “I just need to bitch for 10 minutes.” Basically it was that. I’m done now. 

Yay the Broncos won! Lyra let me watch 15 minutes of the game. It was really nice of her.

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Watching SB50 outdoors at a friend’s…or trying to.

She also let me bake muffins this weekend. I’ve been on a heavy carb diet ever since giving birth. Breads, pasta, rice, noodles, etc…I crave them. It’s almost worse than when I was pregnant! Part of it is because I’m breastfeeding I’m sure, but another part of it is because I need the energy to keep up with Miss L. She is a handful no doubt and I feel like I’m prepping for a marathon each day. I started eating muffins daily too. Certainly not the good kind of carbs. I also thought of muffins as mini cakes. I don’t care if you add some blueberries to them and call them breakfast. Its still CAKE. Ugh, but I’m so into eating them lately and at this point YOLO (yes, I’m using that) and also, I have a baby so again, YOLO.

Though I realized buying a $3 muffin daily was just as bad as those $5 lattes (also guilty). Besides, I don’t really know what goes into these muffins and I want to still be somewhat healthy (most days). So I made a batch this weekend while Lyra napped using a recipe from one of my favorite cookbook authors for kids actually! Figured what’s good for them works for me.

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Banana Wheat Germ Muffins
Recipe adapted from Weelicioius.com by Catherine McCord
Makes 12 muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
3 medium ver ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 large egg
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup sliced almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line muffin tin.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Add in remaining ingredients except for the chocolate chips and almonds and mix with a spatula until combined.
  4. Mix in dry ingredients in 3 stages until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips and almonds.
  5. Evenly pour batter into muffin tin.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Everyday 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I made bread! And according to Chris, it “tastes like bread!” Ha.

I’ve made quick breads, bagels and laminated dough (for croissants) before but I was still a bit intimidated to try and make sandwich bread. But it was actually not as hard as I thought it would be. And it was fun!

I made two beautiful loaves of bread, so beautiful I almost didn’t want to eat them. (Is that weird?) Besides their stunning good lucks, they smell divine. My apartment smelled like a bakery after – it was awesome. Can you tell I love carbs?

My physical therapy is going well. It seems my knee is somewhat improving but I still haven’t been able to bend it completely straight. The therapist mentioned I might have joint problems or arthritis if I don’t get it straight soon. Ack! Just hearing the word arthritis in the same sentence as my name makes me shudder. Shouldn’t I at least get to 50 before anyone mentions the “a” word?

Well anyways, on to a “b” word that I very much adore. To make the bread, I used my digital scale to weigh out all the ingredients. I preferred doing this than measuring by volume with measuring cups for several reasons. The main reason was because I wanted to make a multi-grain variation, and needed to know exactly how much whole wheat flour to replace with quinoa and oatmeal. If you don’t have a digital scale, you can still make this bread – just pay closer attention to your dough and add more flour or water as needed to get a slightly sticky, pliable dough.

The bread is mostly hands-off to make after you mix everything and “stretch and fold” the dough. The “stretch and fold” method can be seen demonstrated here by the author, Peter Reinhart, himself. After I placed the dough in the refrigerator overnight to ferment, the next day I was ready to bake. Make sure you set aside half a day on baking day because the dough will need to be taken out at least 3 hours before baking and then there is also time needed for the dough to proof (rise) after you shape it. I made two shapes of bread – a sandwich loaf and a freestanding loaf. To be honest, I would have made two sandwich loaves but I only had one pan! (First world problems.)

I’ve been eating about four slices of bread a day now. It’s just too good to pass up! I like having some slices in the morning with either butter and cinnamon sugar or with peanut butter and sliced bananas. The bread makes for great sandwiches too. Get yourself some deli meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and pickles (a great sandwich always has pickles in my opinion) and pile it all between two slices of your new bread. Drool.

Everyday 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread
Makes 2 large loaves or many rolls
Recipe from Artisan Breads Everyday by Peter Reinhart

Get

  • 6 1/2 cups (784 g) whole wheat flour*
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons (2.5 oz/ 71 g) brown sugar
  • 1 egg (1.75 oz/ 50 g)
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz/ 56.5 g) canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz/ 283 g) lukewarm water (about 95 degrees F)
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 oz/ 283 g) lukewarm whole milk (about 95 degrees F)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (0.5 oz/ 14 g) instant yeast

*I made a multi-grain version of this bread and per the recipe guidance you can replace up to 156 grams (5.5 ounces) of the whole wheat flour. Here’s what I used below:

  • 70 g organic uncooked ground quinoa
  • 86 g oatmeal flakes, ground

Bake

Do Ahead
*In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and oil together. Separately, combine the water and milk, then whisk in the yeast until dissolved.
*Add the egg mixture and the water mixture to the dry ingredients. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for about 1 minute. The dough should be wet and coarse. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.
*Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, or continue mixing by hand, for 2 minutes. The dough will firm up slightly and become smoother. If it’s still very wet, add more flour; if it’s very stiff, add a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough should be very supple and slightly sticky. Continue to mix with the dough hook on medium-low speed, or mix by hand for 4 minutes more, increasing the speed to medium-high or stirring vigorously for the final 20 seconds to develop and organize the gluten. The dough will be slightly sticky but will also feel stronger and more elastic.
*Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface with a wet bowl scraper (I used a spatula) and knead by hand for a final few seconds, working in more flour or water as needed so that the dough is very supple and pliable and slightly sticky; then form the dough into a ball. Do a stretch and fold, either on the work surface or in the bowl, reaching under the front end of the dough, stretching it out, then folding it back onto the top of the dough. Do this from the back end and then from each side, then flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for 10 minutes. Repeat this entire process two more times, completing all repetitions within 30 minutes.
*Place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl large enough to hold the dough when it doubles in size. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, then immediately refrigerate over night or for up to 4 days. (If you plan to bake the dough in batches over different days, you can portion the dough and place it into 2 or more oiled bowls at this stage).

On Baking Day
*Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 3 hours before you plan to bake. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and divide it into two equal pieces for loaves or small pieces for rolls, about 2 ounces each. Shape the dough into sandwich loaves, freestanding loaves, or rolls. For sandwich loaves, place the dough in greased 4 1/2 by 8 1/2-inch loaf pans. For freestanding loaves or rolls, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat and proof the dough on the pan. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap, then let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, until increased to about 1 1/2 times its original size. In loaf pans, the dough should dome about 1 inch above the rim.
*About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If making rolls, brush the dough with egg wash prior to baking. (This isn’t necessary for loaves.)
*Bake loaves for 20 minutes, then rotate; rotate rolls after 10 minutes. The total baking time is 40 to 55 minutes for loaves, and only about 20 minutes for rolls. The bread is done when the top and sides are a deep, rich brown; the loaf sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom; and the internal temperature is above 185 degrees F in the center.
*Remove from the pans and cool for at least 20 minutes for rolls and at least 1 hour for loaves before slicing or serving.

Enjoy!

Overnight Oatmeal

My latest obsession: overnight oatmeal!

I love oatmeal and I was worried about trying this because I thought it would be weird eating cold oatmeal. I was SO wrong. It’s really, really good!

I decided to make these after getting back late this past Sunday night from spending time with my fam. My mom’s sisters and brother live in San Jose so we were mostly down in South Bay for the weekend. I was not feeling well after Kabul (I blame it on the dust) and I was fighting jet lag so it was a little rough but I was happy to see my mom, sis and cousin. It was nice hanging out with everyone. On Saturday we drove down along the coast making a stop at Montara Beach to see the Pacific Ocean and then headed to Santa Cruz.

From left to right: My sis holding her prizes, my sis and cousin, the beach at SC, the sea lions near the pier.

I won my sister a stuffed-Chococat from one of the carnival games on the boardwalk, woohoo! I was playing against three-year olds but that’s a minor detail.

We ended up in Palo Alto that night for dinner at the Palo Alto Creamery. It’s standard diner food but the only place on a Saturday night that could seat a party of 8. I had breakfast here before and it’s pretty good. For dessert we tried green tea shaved ice with green tea ice cream and red beans from Paris Baguette.

It was the size of my head.

On Sunday we were bopping around San Jose – had some dim sum, frozen yogurt and bubble tea. The highlight was dinner at Boiling Crab. We got there at 5:30pm and you know what the wait for dinner was? TWO AND A HALF HOURS. And yes, we were crazy enough to wait! My sister and I got a bit hungry about two hours in so we got some pizza and wings at the place next door. When we finally sat down to dinner, we were still able to do some major eating. It was glorious!

They have three different kinds of crab, shrimp, and oysters that are sold by the pound with your choice of seasoning. It comes in a bag and you just dig in. It got really messy! I guess that’s what the bibs are for. It was good but I don’t know if I would wait two and a half hours again. All in all, I had a fun but exhausting weekend. I’ve said this before but I wish NY and SF were closer. (Sigh.)

I didn’t make it back until late that night o SF. I knew I wanted to have something quick and easy for breakfast the next day so I immediately thought of trying to make overnight oatmeal. I adapted the recipe I typically use for hot oatmeal and crossed my fingers. It turned out so good that I have been making it every day this week for breakfast! You can swap in whatever ingredients you prefer just make sure your oats to liquid ratio is 1:2. I like PB and cinnamon in my oatmeal but other good additions would be raisins and brown sugar.

I added in bananas in the morning since I don’t think they would sit well in the fridge overnight. I also threw in a handful of Bear Naked Maple Nut Cluster Crunch cereal for well, crunch. Feel free to throw in whatever cereal or granola you have or just have the oatmeal with fruit. Either way, this is super easy and tasty.

Overnight Oatmeal
Makes 1 serving

Get

  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (could substitute regular milk)
  • 1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup frozen berries
  • sliced bananas (optional)
  • cereal (optional)

Make
*In a small container or bowl mix together oats, milk, yogurt, peanut butter, and cinnamon until incorporated.
*Place frozen berries over oatmeal mixture and cover container or bowl.
*Place in the refrigerator.
*In the morning when ready to eat, add sliced bananas and a handful of cereal if desired.

Enjoy!

Touched by Nature in Tahoe and Peaches and Cream Biscuits

Last-minute trip to Tahoe? Yes, please! Any trip out of the city is welcomed especially with the weather lately. I know I talk about the weather a lot. But it’s now “summer” here when SF is at its coldest. Al Roker says there is a heat wave sweeping the nation. Al Roker doesn’t live here. 

Our friends Steve and Scott went up to complete the Death Ride, a grueling 129-mile bike ride through five mountain passes with a 5,000+ feet change in elevation give or take. A bunch of us weaklings/non-death bikers went up to hang out. On Saturday we hiked to High Loch Leven Lake or as I kept referring to it, Liz Lemon Lake. It kind of sounds like it if you say the name really fast. 

It was gorgeous.

Absolutely beautiful.

But it was exhausting and rocky with very steep parts. The trail was about as difficult Mt. Diablo but much prettier and not as exposed. We showed up so unprepared. All the hikers we passed on the trail had on hiking boots, huge backpacks, camelbaks, walking sticks, etc. We were carrying small water bottles and a tiny Eastman high-school throwback backpack. 

The trail was split up with train tracks. We rested at the tracks for a bit trying to balance on the rails. Chris even put down pennies on the rails to see if a train would flatten them (we found two flattened pennies later that day!). And no, coins on the track do not seem to derail a train.

We also noticed that almost everyone had a dog but us! So unfair. We met this lovely woman and her dog, Spencer. Throughout the 3.6 miles to the lake we kept on leap frogging each other on the trail. Spence, as we came to call him, was such a trooper. It was very hot and dry that day so I can only imagine how awful it was for him.

But we all made it to the lake! It was so worth it. Chris, Jeanna and Kevin decided to take a dip in the lake while Courtney and I stayed back to make sure all the food gets eaten.

After half an hour or so we started to head back. At this point we were all pretty much down to our last drop of water. It took us about an hour and a half to trek the 3.6 miles that we came from. By the end when we finished, all of us were so dehydrated that not even a trip to Dairy Queen was that tempting since all we wanted was water. I mean, we ordered ice cream of course, but we didn’t really enjoy it. Obviously that is a lie.

In the evening Steve and Scott came back tired but elated to be done with their long day. For dinner we grilled up some chicken and beef tri-tip skewers, BBQ chicken wings, and corn. We also made a romaine salad with radicchio, strawberries, almonds and feta. For dessert, we went with something so easy a monkey or small child could make – a peach crostata. We cheated with store bought pie crusts and just threw in some sliced peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. It was super easy and fast!

We made some margaritas, enjoyed the hot tub and clonked out at midnight. It was a long day for all! Sunday morning, I really wanted to make some blueberry scones. I like making scones especially mixing the batter by hand because it’s fun to get messy. There was quite a lot of cream left so I also made peaches and cream biscuits with the leftover peach from the night before. See below for the peaches and cream biscuits recipe.

Steve made some scrambled eggs and bacon and we made a fruit bowl with any remaining fruit. It was a feast for sure. After we digested we headed out to Donner Lake. It was very picturesque. We played some tennis and beach volleyball, lounged a bit, and grilled some more. It was the perfect weekend in Tahoe with friends. Can’t wait to do it all again. 

Peaches and Cream Biscuits
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 12 biscuits

Get

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons, cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped very ripe peaches
  • 1 cup heavy cream, and some extra for brushing

Bake
*Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
*In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together. Add butter either cutting with two knives (which is what I did) or with a pastry blender, breaking it up until the mixture is crumbly with pea-sized bits of butter. Add the peaches and gently stir until coated, then add the cream and stir. Mix until everything is mostly combined making sure not to overwork the dough. Knead once or twice to gather all the pieces of the dough together.
*Generously flour your counter. Transfer your dough to the counter and generously flour the top of it and with your hands gently press the dough to a 3/4 inch thickness. Cut with a floured biscuit cutter pressing straight down and now twisting (this makes for nice layered edges). Transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheet, leaving a couple inches between each.
*Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the biscuits with cream. Sprinkle with sugar if desired. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until bronzed at the edges. Cool in pan for one minute and then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Enjoy!

Sour Cream Pancakes: Barefoot Contessa vs. Pioneer Woman

 

The Golden Gate Bridge turned 75! The city had a bunch of stuff going on this past Saturday and Sunday to commemorate the occasion. Last night we watched the grand finale fireworks at a friend’s house.

You can kind of make out the bridge if you squint.

I had a three-day weekend for Memorial Day and it was really nice to have that extra day. It makes such a difference! It gave me time to work on my quest for the best pancakes recipe (let me know if you have one I should try). I’ve made pancakes using oats, buttermilk, pumpkin puree, folding in whipped egg whites, etc, the list goes on. Recently, I really like sour cream pancakes so I tested out recipes from two different sources: the Barefoot Contessa and the Pioneer Woman.

Top: Sour cream pancakes from Barefoot Contessa;
Bottom: Sour cream pancakes from Pioneer Woman

Let the pancake battle begin!
First up are the sour cream pancakes from Ina Garten, aka Barefoot Contessa.

These pancakes had a nice amount of tang from the sour cream. They were light in texture and very cake-like. The recipe calls for bananas but I topped these with a cinnamon pear syrup mixture.

Sour Cream Pancakes
Recipe from Barefoot Contessa Family Style
Makes about 12 pancakes

Get

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar (I swapped in light brown sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 extra-large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • butter

Make
*Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream, milk, eggs, vanilla and lemon. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones, mixing only until combined.
*Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it bubbles. Ladle the pancake batter into the pan to make 3 or 4 pancakes.
*Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on top and the underside is nicely browned. Flip the pancakes and then cook for another minute until browned. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add more butter to the pan, and continue cooking pancakes until all the batter is used.

Next I tried the sour cream pancakes from Ree Drummond, otherwise known as The Pioneer Woman. This recipe is wildly different since it only requires 7 tablespoons of flour! But strangely it works.

Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes
Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
Makes about 8 pancakes

Get

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • butter
  • maple syrup

Make
*Warm up your griddle, iron skillet or frying pan. They need to be hot but not smokin’ hot.
*In a bowl combine sour cream with sifted dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda and salt).
*In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla together.
*Pour egg mixture into sour cream/flour mixture. Stir gently until all ingredients are mixed well.
*Melt a tablespoon of butter onto griddle. Using a ladle pour about 1/4 cup of pancake batter onto the pan making about a 4 inch in diameter pancake.
*Cook each side of the pancake for about 1 or 2 minutes, flipping when the edges start to brown and cake begins to bubble.
*Remove from heat and stack high, top with a pad of butter and drizzle with lots of maple syrup!

I topped mine with some diced strawberries partly because they are in season but, mainly because having fruit with my cake makes me feel a little less guilty. These pancakes were very light, fluffy and had a melt-in-your-mouth quality to them. The sour cream flavor was much more intense.

So which sour cream pancakes were better?!

Personally I liked Ree’s better whereas Chris liked Ina’s better. I guess I’ll have to find a third recipe for the tiebreaker 🙂 Any suggestions?

Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Muffins

http://assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.jsWe are back from our vacation!

I might need a vacation from our vacation however since it was not the relaxing-lounge-around-drinking-piña-coladas kind. Chris and I headed North for a ski trip to Whistler with visits to Seattle and Vancouver. It was my third time on a mountain and my second time snowboarding. It was fun but painful. Learning how to snowboard is not easy! My butt can attest to this.

I am still sifting through all the pictures and hope to post them this week. In the meantime, I want to post about these muffins we enjoyed for breakfast. They don’t require any eggs or butter! I adapted the recipe a bit by adding ground cinnamon and cloves for some spice. I also replaced grape seed oil with coconut oil for a more nutty flavor.

These muffins are super tasty and very easy to make. If you don’t have coconut oil, I would use canola oil or if you want something healthier, I typically like to substitute homemade applesauce to replace oil.

Banana Oat Chocolate Chip Muffins
Recipe adapted from Buttercream & Chantilly Factory
Makes 12 muffins

Get

  • 200g/ 7oz/ 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 100g/ 3.5 oz/ 1 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of cloves
  • 250g/ 8.8 oz/ 1 cup ripe bananas, mashed (about 2 medium)
  • 60g/ 2.1 oz/ 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 55g/ 2 oz/ 1/4 light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 55g/ 2 oz/ 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 60g/ 2.1 oz/ 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 85g/ 3 oz/ 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Bake
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12 muffin pan with cupcake liners or lightly butter and flour the pan.
*In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
*In a large bowl, mash the bananas (using a fork). Next add the sugar and vanilla until combined. Then add the oil and buttermilk and mix well.
*Fold in the chocolate chips.
*Fill each muffin tin 3/4 way full.
*Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
*Cool for 5 minutes in pan.
*Remove muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Enjoy!