Monthly Archives: April 2021

Maple Walnut Muffins

Once again I was recently gifted with some homemade maple syrup from a family member.  The maple syrup was made from maple trees within the Grand Rapids area.  Some of the maple trees tapped were located on my daughter’s property.

Below are pictures of one of the tapped maple trees and the finished product: maple syrup.

Vermont leads the nation in the making of maple syrup (1.9 million gallons yearly), Michigan is in the top 10 U.S producers, usually around fifth place (producing around 90,000 gallons per year).  Although according to Michigan State University Extension, Michigan has enough trees to outproduce Vermont.  Only about 3 to 5 percent of the sugar maples are currently being tapped.  Source is mlive

When it comes to maple syrup, we must not forget our friends from the North.  Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of maple products ($381 million in 2016).

Maple syrup is great in cooking and baking and not just as a topping on pancakes and waffles.

I found a great recipe for Maple Walnut Muffins.  These muffins use real maple syrup to sweeten and flavor the batter.  The flavor from the maple syrup is more subtle rather than pronounced, and the muffins are not overly sweet.

Maple Walnut Muffins

  • Difficulty: easy
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1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup maple syrup, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a standard muffin pan with paper liners.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter until smooth, then gradually add the maple syrup and extract, beating constantly.  Add the sour cream and egg and beat until combined.

Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Stir in the walnuts.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cup about two-thirds full.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing.    Makes 12-14 muffins.

Notes:
1.  The butter and maple syrup did separate when I was combining the two ingredients, but everything came together once the flour mixture was added.
2.  Recipe adapted from New England Today Food and original recipe can be found here.

Below is a picture of a friendly Blue Jay that comes around often, always looking for peanuts.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

There used to be a steakhouse restaurant here in Grand Rapids that had a Chicken Pot Pie Soup on their menu.  That was my favorite menu item to order whenever we went there.  Instead of Puff Pastry, they topped the soup with pieces of baked pie crust.  It was delicious.

I have been making Chicken Pot Pie Soup for a few years now and it is a favorite of mine.  It is a creamy soup that has all the flavors of a chicken pot pie and made even tastier with puff pastry croutons.  It may just be my favorite comfort food.

Although it is spring here in West Michigan, we still have some cold days and a bowl of hot soup is always welcome.

The soup is very easy to make.  I used the chicken breast from a rotisserie chicken, frozen peas and carrots, and store-bought puff pastry, making for an easy preparation of the soup.

If you can find Wewalka European Bakery Style Dough Puff Pastry, I can recommend it.  It is refrigerated and not frozen.  It is made with butter and easy to work with.  If you can’t find the Wewalka brand, Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry is widely available in the frozen foods section of your grocery store.

The puff pastry croutons make a decorative topping for the soup and are also good as a snack.

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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For the Puff Pastry

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (if frozen)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoned Pepper
1/4 teaspoon seasoned garlic powder

For the Soup

3 cups diced cooked chicken breast
2 cups peas and carrots, thawed if frozen
1 cup pearl onions, thawed if frozen
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine (or additional chicken broth)

1 to 1 1/2 cups half and half milk

For the Puff Pastry

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small bowl beat the egg with the tablespoon of water and set aside.  Combine the salt, pepper and garlic powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Unfold the puff pasty.  Lightly brush with the beaten egg mixture.  Sprinkle evenly with the seasoned salt mixture.

With a cookie cutter, cut the puff pastry in to heart shapes (or desired shapes).  Transfer each piece of pastry to the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.

For the Soup

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, peas and carrots, and pearl onions.  Set aside.

In a dutch oven or large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add in the flour, salt, pepper, and thyme and stir until well blended.  Gradually whisk in the chicken broth and wine and whisk until combined.  Add in the chicken, peas and carrots, and pearl onions.  Bring the soup up to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Turn off the heat and add in 1 cup half and half and stir to combine.  If soup is too thick, add in the additional 1/2 cup half and half.

Serve the soup topped with the puff pastry croutons

With the rollout of the vaccines, hopefully there is light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic.  Be safe everyone.

Below is a tree that blooms in my yard every year.  I believe it is a wild crabapple tree.

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