No Hearts of Darkness Here! My 2013 Valentine’s Treats

My seventeen year old self would be disgusted with me. Back then, when my college dorm roomies suggested we cut out paper hearts and color them red and pink to decorate our suite for Valentine’s Day, I proceeded to color one black and wrote on it: “HEART OF DARKNESS“. Guess who was the most popular roommate. (Not I.) Fast forward a decade later, I listen to a lot less death metal, LOVE pink, and own a heart shaped muffin tin. Yikes.

Valentine's 2013 chocolate strawberries and muffins

I decided to start a new tradition last year: to spread the love on Valentine’s and make treats for everyone. Last year it was heart shaped chocolate chip cookies and homemade “Milano” cookies. This year I decided to make chocolate dipped strawberries, which is awkwardly sexual for my coworkers I guess, but I figured the weight-conscious people would appreciate an alternative to baked good. But I had to do some baking too, ’cause c’mon, that heart-shaped mini muffin tin is just too cute.

I even made some Valentine’s crafts. Take that, seventeen year old Iris.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I hope this day and everyday of your life is full of love. <3

Valentine's 2013 strawberries and muffins

Chocolate Cranberry Mini Muffins
Makes about 36 muffins

3/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing tin
10 ounces sour cream
3/4 cup chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Grease mini muffin tin with butter. (Bonus points if it’s heart-shaped one like mine, but a regular tin is just fine!) Put dried cranberries in a bowl and cover with very hot water. Set them aside to plump while you make the batter. Drain before mixing in with other ingredients.

Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg in a second medium bowl, then add the sugar and whisk until thick. Add the 4 tablespoons of butter and whisk to combine. Add the sour cream, whisking just to combine.

Add the chocolate and drained cranberries to the dry ingredients and gently mix to combine. Pour in the sour cream mixture and gently fold it in with a spatula or wooden spoon until the batter comes together and the chocolate and cranberries are evenly distributed.

Divide batter among the muffin cups. If you do have a heart-shaped muffin tin, I’ve found that filling each cup about 3/4 full gets you better heart-shaped muffins. Depending on the number of cups your muffin tin has, you might have to do the baking in a few batches. Bake until light golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan front to back halfway through the baking time. Check if they are ready by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin–it should come out clean. Invert onto a wire rack and let them cool for 5 minutes.


Mini Sweet Potato, Kale, and Egg Bake

I’m still learning the art of recipe adapting and substituting. To encourage people to start cooking, I always like reminding people how awful at cooking I was just two years ago, how far I’ve come, and how much more I need to learn. You learn from doing, messing up, and improving. You will get better at it. Trust me.

Running to the Kitchen is currently one of my favorite cooking blogs. I like that her stuff is healthy, not fussy, and tasty. And she’s a runner, holla. Her recipe for Kale and Feta Egg Bake has been my ultimate go-to recipe for a healthy, easy, and AMAZINGLY scrumptious dinner the past couple of months. (Go make it….now.) Last week Gina posted a recipe for Sweet Potato and Kale Bites that I thought I’d try.

I tried making it with a normal muffin tin as I don’t have a mini muffin tin, which the recipe calls for. I learned that I had to double the baking time, but still I’m not so sure if I got it right. Maybe a normal sized muffin tin is just too big to hold a clump of sweet potato together. (Suggestions, anyone?) But I topped a couple of them with eggs and baked them additional 10 minutes and the egg topped ones held together much better than the rest! Maybe the whites helped bind it all together.

Not the most mind-blowing thing I’ve ever made but tasty nonetheless. It’s a wonderful blend of flavors and I love dipping forkfuls of the sweet potato in runny egg yolk. It’s a super nutritious, easy to make breakfast. Until I get a mini muffin tin, I will be making these again and try tweak these mini egg bakes to perfection!