If you're at all like me (and let's hope for the sake of human kind, you aren't), you go a little nuts before you have house guests. I clean the house top to bottom, even the places I don't think anyone else looks besides me. All the cleaning would be quite enough work in and of itself, but I also like to have the house stocked with some quick snacks and a few meal components to make life easier on myself when mealtime rolls round. In the next week, I'll share a few of my favorite ways to prepare for house guests with some recipes and tips on making your guests feel right at home.
It's not often that we have house guests, but when we do, I like to pretend I run a bed and breakfast. Complete with guest baskets in the bathroom and fresh linens for a cozy nights sleep, it's all the fun of running an actual B&B minus the 'stranger danger' factor. The thought of having complete strangers sleeping in our house has always freaked me out, so this is sort of like playing house without actually having to pay the rent. We stock the pantry with homemade granola and the fridge with yogurt and fruit and rich hazelnut milk. I like to make the bulk of our meals ahead of time, that way, I keep my time in the kitchen short so I can spend time at the table, eating and drinking and catching up with our friends.
Breakfast is my favorite meal with house guests. There is something so inclusive about sharing a meal in your pajamas. Everyone begins the day on the same plane. No one is wearing makeup and we all have smelly breath and disheveled hair. We all need the exact same thing: a good bite to eat and a hot cup of coffee. Making breakfast for a group can be daunting since many items are made to order which can keep the cook in the kitchen until the last waffle is pressed or the last omelette is flipped. By that time, the bacon is gone, the coffee is cold and everyone is starting to think about hitting the shower. Instead, I like to set out a platter of baked goods, yogurt, fruit, granola and complimentary condiments. I find a big bowl of yogurt covered with granola, fruit, and a dollop jam to be just about the best. Add in a banana nut muffin with butter and a sprinkle of salt and I'm done. Just send me back to bed to dream sweetly of hazelnuts dancing on bananas in a sea of yogurt and honey.
This week I made hazelnut milk, just in time for our friends to fly in from Norway. It's just as good as it sounds and I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to buying nut milk in a grocery store. Not only was it incredibly easy, it was so darn delicious that I just don't think it can be topped. All that to say, I used the left over hazelnut pulp (what you're left with after you strain the milk out) in these muffins. It adds a nice texture and a subtle hazelnut flavor, a bit more than you would get by just using the chopped hazelnuts. If you happen to make hazelnut milk (do it!), go ahead and throw the pulp in when you whip the bananas and sugar together. If you don't have hazelnut pulp, just follow the recipe as-is and go make yourself some hazelnut milk to enjoy with your freshly baked muffins.
whole grain banana hazelnut muffins
makes 12 large muffins
(loosely adapted from this recipe)
- 2 cups whole grain pastry flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 overripe bananas, divided
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup walnut oil (or any mild flavored vegetable oil)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (no need to toast them)
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 12 cup muffin tin.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
- Mash two of the bananas with a fork and set aside. Add the other two bananas to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the brown sugar and beat on high speed until light brown and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the buttermilk, eggs, oil and vanilla extract and mix on medium speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the dry ingredients until just moist (do not over mix) and fold in the mashed banana and chopped nuts with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
- Fill the muffin tins 3/4 full and bake until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 18-20 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. They can be enjoyed warm from the oven, especially with a pat of butter.