Monday, October 17, 2011

Sweet & Simple's YouTube Channel

If you had told me two years ago, just before Sweet & Simple launched, that I would be sitting at my desk typing a blog post to introduce my new YouTube channel I would have called you bonkers and rolled my eyes. Seriously.

Over the summer, I needed some pictures of myself holding Sweet & Simple pre-packaged baked goods. I asked Sandra Downie and Melani Lust, with whom I worked earlier this year, if they could help me again. I also asked a friend (and neighbor) if he would join us and shoot some video footage of me talking about Sweet & Simple.

I had originally planned on one long-ish video to tell my story and promote Sweet & Simple, but that idea did not work out as well as I hoped. It turns out that telling my story to a camera is not that simple - but either is starting a small business! So, we came up with the idea of 7 mini-videos. My words were unrehearsed and unscripted which is pretty obvious. Together they tell the story of how I took an idea that started in my home kitchen two years ago and turned it into a wholesale cookie business.

Thanks for watching. And thank you, especially, for being part of Sweet & Simple - it has been an incredible journey and an extraordinary learning experience for me! I love my job.
This is me in my kitchen holding some of my Sweet & Simple pre-packaged baked goods.
Thank you, Mom, for the beautiful apron. I really do love it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chia Pumpkin Muffins

Sherwood Farm, Easton, CT, October 2011
Friends of mine recently started a business called Health Warrior - they sell premium chia seeds.  I’ve been enjoying their chia with yogurt and fruit for breakfast and was curious about using chia in baked goods.

It turns out chia seeds are practically made for muffins. If you’ve baked with poppy seeds, the slight crunch of chia in this recipe won’t deter you. And if you want a slightly healthier treat, this recipe is definitely for you.

I started with a simple and great recipe - Alton Brown’s Pumpkin Bread. I’ve been making his recipe as muffins for over a year, but I use canned pumpkin for convenience, omit the pumpkin seeds and add chopped chocolate or chocolate morsels.

For this adaptation, I used part white whole wheat flour, reduced the sugar, added non-fat yogurt, and a touch of ginger and vanilla. They are moist and delicious and my kids love them.

Chocolate Chia Pumpkin Muffins
As adapted from Alton Brown.
16 muffins

Preheat oven to 350°.
Prepare a muffin tin with liners and set aside.

1 cup (135 grams) all purpose, unbleached flour
1 cup (130 grams) white whole wheat flour
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup (161 grams) vegetable oil
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups (425 grams) canned pumpkin
1 cup (227 grams) non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup (120 grams) chia seeds
1/2 cup (113 grams) chopped semi-sweet chocolate or semi-sweet mini chocolate morsels

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Combine the dry ingredients with a whisk: flours, sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients with a whisk: vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Remove the paddle and work bowl.

Workly quickly, fold in the chia and chopped chocolate with a spatula.

Distribute the mixture evenly between the 16 muffin liners. I use a heaping 2 oz scoop for the muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the muffin tops bounce back when pressed lightly.

Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out on a wire rack to finish cooling.

I seem to be dusting all my baked goods with powdered sugar these days - they look nice with or without the sugar!

Giant pumpkin at Sherwood Farm, Easton, Connecticut, October 2011.