Coffee Streusel Muffins for a New Attitude

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I’ve had one of those weeks where I wished I could just walk away from my life and escape. Run far, run fast and never look back.

I’ve been completely trapped inside my own head, drowning in self pity, incapable of acknowledging the fact that there are others working just as hard and floundering just as much, if not more, than I am. It’s not a good head space to be in.

So, I have a few personal goals that I want to implement. If I say them aloud to you, dear reader, perhaps that will instil a sense of accountability in me.

I need to start seeing the silver lining. Life is never as tragic as my manic depressive brain tells me it is. I have so much to be thankful for. 16 years ago (holy crow, 16 years?!?!?) Oprah talked about writing in a gratitude journal. List five things a day that you’re grateful for. She believed that by focusing on the positives and being thankful for what you have, you open yourself up to receive more goodness in life. It sounds cheesy but I believe it. I even started a gratitude journal of my own over a decade ago. I stopped writing in it almost as soon as I started but I still have the journal. Sometimes I’ll read through it and it’ll make me smile. Sometimes the little things have so much meaning, so much power. While I may not write down the things I’m thankful for, I need to start keeping them in mind whenever I start focussing on the negatives.

I can’t beat myself up for being imperfect. I look at my mom and feel so inadequate. She grew up in rural China during the brutal Cultural Revolution. She immigrated to Canada with my dad and sisters, leaving the rest of her family behind. She didn’t know any English, worked a full time job, and managed to feed and care for a husband, four kids, and two in-laws. She never complained. She never stopped. She never asked for anything. She’d start working from the moment she woke up at 5 a.m. to the minute she went to sleep at midnight. I’ll never measure up to her. I can barely handle my job and taking care of me, the Husband and a dog. Everyday this week I felt like I was drowning. I constantly feel guilty for not having it all together. But you know what?

It’s ok to ask for help.
It’s ok to voice my frustrations.
It’s ok to leave the dishes/laundry/whatever.
It’s ok to order take out.

It’ll all be ok.

I’m not a very vocal person. That’s not to say that I don’t love to talk – you can barely shut me up! It’s just that I hate confrontation. I hate talking about my feelings. Throughout my life, I’ve always found refuge in the written word. I’ll rant ‘n rave in my journal. I’ll write dark, depressing, morbid poetry. That’s how I work through my emotions. It frustrates the Husband to no end because when I fall into a funk, I clam up.

I don’t want to talk about it.
I don’t want to be judged.

I know it’s hard living with me when I become completely inconsolable. I really need a holiday.

Until then, I guess I’ll have to keep holding on.

And keep baking these ah-may-zing coffee streusel muffins.
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Coffee Streusel Muffins (source: Dorie Greenspan’s Coffee-Break Muffins from Baking From My Home to Yours, page 15. Slightly adapted)

2 cups AP flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp instant espresso powder (I used 2 packets of Starbucks VIA)
1 tbsp baking powder
2/3 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup strong coffee, cooled (I used 3 packets of Starbucks VIA)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 380 degrees F.

Butter, spray or line a regular size muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, espresso powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the brown sugar and make sure there are no lumps.

In a large glass measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the coffee, melted butter, egg and vanilla extract. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and gently but quickly stir to blend. You can leave a few lumps in the batter – don’t overmix.
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Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. I got exactly 12 muffins out of the batter.
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Coffee Cinnamon Streusel (my recipe)

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (you can use whatever nut you want)
1 stick butter, cool and diced
1 tsp cinnamon
1 packet Starbucks VIA instant coffee (approximately 1 1/2 tsp)

Mix everything together in a bowl. Using a pastry blender or you fingers, rub the butter together with the ingredients until the butter is in pea-sized lumps.
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Generously cover the tops of the batter with the streusel.
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Place into your preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. The muffins will be done when a cake tester comes out clean.
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Place the muffins on cooling racks.
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I really packed a lot of coffee into these muffins, more than what Dorie probably intended. I was buzzing a bit after eating one – I prefer the coffee flavour strong.
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The Husband and I both loved these. They were tasty right out of the oven but even better the next day after the flavour was allowed to intensify. The coffee taste really punches you in the mouth – it’s aggressive, with an edge. The muffins aren’t too sweet, even with the delicious crispy streusel on top. And as Dorie writes in her book, the texture of these muffins is gloriously similar to pudding cake: super moist and rich.
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I had a muffin with my coffee every morning this week which means, sadly, they’re all gone. So excuse me – I have another batch of muffins to bake!
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41 thoughts on “Coffee Streusel Muffins for a New Attitude

  1. Nancy, as usual I need a bib for your baked heavenly goodness! I LOVE coffee flavored baked goods and while reading the ingredient lists, 2 things popped out to me. One, a really strong use of coffee and two, not overly sweet. Then I read that you mentioned those two exact things later below. These are two reasons I love the recipe. Awesome job!! I bet they were fab!!!!

    • Thanks, Brandi! You’re always so generous with your compliments – often I don’t deserve them but I definitely appreciate them! These muffins were definitely fab – I couldn’t stop eating them. I love when I make a big batch of deliciousness that actually stays as tasty and even gets tastier as the days pass.

    • I know, we all have these feelings, especially women. I often feel like we’re trained from birth to feel nothing but inadequacy and guilt! Enough of my pity party, I’ve been having too many of those lately. Time to start showcasing a new attitude :)

  2. Your new attitude is fantastic my friend and its inspiration awesome!
    No more what you don’t want just putting that head down!
    And eat a delicious muffin to celebrate :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    • Thanks, Uru! I have you as my attitude inspiration – you are always so positive, bubbly and spirited. And needless to say, you inspire me in the kitchen all the time. I’m so glad to have met you.

  3. wow….i need one of those now.

    i have so many of those frustrating days/weeks. back in the day, i used to annoy the hell out of everyone with my woes.

    i’m better now about stepping back from the daily whirlwind not getting sucked into the vortex. it’s more critical now, now that i have kids.

    thanks for sharing!

    • “Getting sucked into the vortex” … you totally described exactly how I feel. Well, no more! Forget about annoying others with my woes, I’m starting to annoy myself! Not that I’m going to completely stop whining (that would just go against my nature) but I’ll definitely try to see the positives from now on ;)

  4. I want to stuff one of those IN MY FACE. Um excuse me while I go cry since I can’t make these muffins for about another week.

    So, this line: “It frustrates the Husband to no end because when I fall into a funk, I clam up.” THAT IS MY LIFE. When I’m mad/sad/depressed, I just stop talking and get in this mood where I want to just SULK. Until I feel better. And nothing you can say will make me feel better. And this is awful because Erik is the sweetest person ever and always tries to make me feel better or make me talk about it and I’m like gtfo. And then I feel even worse. Hahaa.

    Also Wilson Philips. That was my jam growing up. (My mom was a fan.) I love how it came on during the end of Bridesmaids and someone was like, “does anyone even know who they are?” And I was like “WILSON PHILLIPS DUHHH!”

    Anywhoo I love the idea of a gratitude journal–I might start keeping one! Keep on keeping on lady :) Your photography is looking great!!

    • Maybe it’s a woman thing, lol. You and I sound exactly the same when it comes to problem solving – which is running away from the problem, lol. I’m the hugest sulkiest baby in the world sometimes. And when I’m in a rage from a bad day, I need to be left the hell alone so that I can calm down. These poor guys. And waitaminnit – you’re Erika and your BF is Erik?! So cute – how’d that happen?

      Who the hell doesn’t know Wilson Philips and the musical masterpiece that is “Hold On?” That’s pure gold that continues to stand the test of time.

      Thanks for the compliments on the photography. I desperately want to get better at it and focus more on blogging but there’s even less time in my life now that before. It’s going to happen one day, dammit! I always look to you for inspiration on how blogging and photography are done right!

  5. Keep your head up pretty lady! Just remember that each day is a new day. :) I think that the gratitude journal is brilliant. Now that you bring it up, I’d love to keep one of my own, but like you, I don’t know how long I’d keep it going.

    These muffins sound amazing. I love that they’ve REALLY got the coffee aspect and not like 2 tablespoons of strong coffee. I’m definitely pinning this to add to my kitchen to-do list. :)

    • Thanks, Leah! I definitely appreciate the beginning of new days – they (usually) wash away the horridness of what happened the day before. And I wasn’t holding back when it came to the amount of coffee I put in these babies. The more the better I say!

  6. Dear Nancy,

    I can relate to your feelings about your mom. Although I’m a towheaded American I spoke only Japanese until age 5 and was primarily raised by my nanny. She had little education but was the most hardworking, loving, generous people I’ve ever known…
    But judging myself for not measuring up does not serve me well…So to change my focus, à la Oprah I also started a gratitude journal. I admire that you can read your past entries! (Mine are scribbled in late at night.)

    Bottom line: Besides your amazing coffee streusel muffins and eggnog cake-making abilities, you can be grateful that you are extremely witty, intelligent and bring smiles to the faces of readers like me =) And you have a cute adorable puppy dog!

    • You are so sweet, Kim. I don’t think I deserve all your praise! Just know that the feelings are definitely mutual. You’re right that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone else – there’s no point. We can only be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. As for reading the journal – my handwriting is atrocious. The Husband tells me it’s the worst he’s ever seen. In fact, I often can’t tell what I’ve written myself and have to stare at it for a long time until I figure it out.

  7. Nancy!!! I saw this post last night and just “liked it” . . with all the intention to come back last night and read it. . well, here I am tonight. I am so sorry that you are having a bad week. It’s Friday? Hope you can get some R&R this weekend and just do nothing.
    The gratitude journal actually sounds like an awesome idea. . I try to read a devotional every morning. . ( book with some bible verses) sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t . . but the mornings I do, always seem to go better.
    Totally relate to you 100% with re: to your mother. My mom was/is the same. We cannot compare ourselves to them. . only look up to them, love them, and appreciate them. Girl, don’t get so down on yourself. . Thank you for being so honest and open and I hope you get out of this funk. Baking is a good thing. I’m glad you’re doing that. and these look freaking delicious! Hang in there my friend! :) HUGS.

    • Alice, that’s exactly what I’ve been in – a “funk.” Well, I’m sick ‘n tired of it and things are gonna change up in here. I’m sure y’all are sick ‘n tired of hearing me whine. This darned disgusting rainy weather doesn’t help – I’m sure we’re staring out at the same grey wet world right now. But knowing that I have friends like you and reading all your encouraging words really makes me smile. Thanks for always being here, lady! And I CANNOT WAIT to start baking up some of the amazing chocolate recipes you’ve got on your blog. Guaranteed mood enhancers right there :)

      • We all go through stuff so it’s totally understandable. . but I am so glad you are determined to get out of it. . yes, the weather sucks majorly. . but thank God for the glimpses of sun that come out every once in a while. . without those, I would seriously be in a horrible mood. . I totally get now how weather affects how you feel etc. . PNW got us. and yes, eating lots of chocolate lately :) Baking is our therapy!

  8. No need to repeat this but I will- you really can’t compare. It was a different generation and completely different circumstances. I don’t feel like I know you well enough to get too deep. But maybe I will :-)
    The muffins look terrific and I imagine were a real mood booster.
    Best,
    Wendy

    • Aw, thanks Mandy, for the kind compliments. I could do a lot more with my photos – wish I had more time to spend on photography and blogging. But I’ll get there slowly. Your blog is so lovely and you, lady, are gorgeous! I covet everything that you feature. Whenever I need style eye candy, I know where to go.

  9. I haven’t read a post so personal and relatable in a while. Nancy can I tell you a secret? Sing with me..”The……… sun’ll come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun!…” A really good friend used to make me laugh every time I was in a funk and sing that song to me.

    You are perfectly imperfect. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what makes you beautiful. K? Comparison to mommy won’t do. Lift her up and praise her. Make her proud. But be you. There’s not a soul out there that has it all together 24/7. Sometimes the dishes will just have to wait. *shrug*

    I’m not a talker either. I’m very happy-go-lucky and free spirited. I can’t stand things or people that weigh me down with stress or drama. Life’s shorter than we think and I just want to LIVE. So whenever you feel overwhelmed with life, reach out to somebody. Continue to write. Listen to music. Dance! Take a deep breath and let it go. “It’ll all be OK” :-)

    Now these muffins will smack the sleep right out of you. Whooo! Coffee and espresso! My kind of muffin! :-D

    Have a fantastic week, Nancy!!!

    • Lyn, you rock, girl. Like I said in my Facebook message, this comment totally made me smile. I love Annie and whenever I hear that song, I’ll think of you. I’ll be sure to take all your comments here to heart, appreciate what I’ve got and make the most of out my life. There are so many things to be happy and thankful for. I’m so glad we’ve met.

  10. I’m sure these muffins were able to make you feel better. It’s normal to get in that funky mood sometimes, but I think you have found the perfect solution to feel better: just dance, take a deep breath, tell yourself that everything will be okay, and most importantly…treat yourself to these coffee streusel muffins! :)

    • I totally need to dance more! You’re not the first person to offer that wise word of advice and it’s true – listening to music and dancing like there’s no one watching always puts me in a better mood. Thanks for dropping and for the lovely comments.

  11. “The coffee taste really punches you in the mouth – it’s aggressive, with an edge. ” – Rarely does that happen with baked goods and I love that…good to know Dorie comes thru, again!

    And your thoughts in this post. Thanks for the brutal honesty. One day at a time, deep breaths, doing your best. That’s all any of us can do and it’s what I tell myself every day!

    • Thank goodness for Dorie! Her recipes never let me down. As for me – I’m all about brutal honesty ;) I look up to you all the time – if I could be half the woman, baker, blogger you are, I’d be so proud. Thanks for always inspiring me to be better. I’m so glad I discovered you and your blog!

  12. I need to make these for my knitting group…you can’t go wrong with one of Dorie’s recipes! I can’t resist a streusel topping!

    PS…I can totally relate to your feelings! I stink at opening up…even when writing. I need to follow your lead….

    • What are you talking about, Liz?! I love your blog and your wonderful way with words. I always look forward to your new posts so that I can read your thoughts and drool over amazing baked goods.

  13. Dear: Nancy, I know just how you feel as there are times that I feel the same and you are doing an amazing job of handling yourself. Keep baking, keep writing, keep believing – there is hope (I think). You have so many friends who love you. I see it in this blog of yours. It’s amazing how alike we are. I also compare myself to mom and how happy I would be if I could be 10% like her. I love her so much. I’ve always wanted to make life easier for her but I don’t think I’m successful at that because I still need her to help me with babysitting Stuart. Yes, I also write when I’m frustrated. It makes me feel better. I also write about how lucky I am and how grateful I am for all the things that I have and for all the great people in my life. Just wanted to say “it’ll be ok” and I love you.

    Your big sis (Sally)

  14. Hang tight, Nancy. You’re still AWESOME! So, keep on smiling, keep on thinking fabulous days ahead of you, and keep on baking! And do keep thinking that I (we) am here for you, so don’t shut yourself down.

    • Awww, thanks Linda, you’re too sweet. I can’t believe the outpouring of love and support I get from you and everyone else in our wonderful foodie blogging community. I think you’re all awesome too!

  15. Sometimes it’s hard to ask for those things, but once you learn to, you feel better for it. I struggle with the same thing. I’m missing something in my life, so I compensate with other things. I keep myself busy so I don’t have to think about it. I’m working through it, but it’s hard. Hang in there, Nancy. Keep baking; it’s the one thing that saves me from going bonkers. Walk the fur ball or hangout with the hubs. Or, let me send you some feel-better cookies. Cookies make everything better.

    • YES! to the feel-better cookies! I’ll message you my address and will expect a box of buttery, chocolatey deliciousness ;) Seriously, thanks for bearing with my whining and responding with kind, supportive comments. I know how you feel about feeling an absence in life and then compensating for it. The Husband at one time felt I was getting a bit too obsessive with the baking and blogging because he thought I was just using it to escape from and make up for other areas in my life. He was right to an extent, but I seriously do this because I love it. Besides getting to try and eat delicious things, I’ve always met amazing people like you.

  16. Hi Nancy, two things really stuck a chord with me (on your post,) the first is our mutual love for coffee streusel cake/muffins and the second is for your great family & background story. I can sympathise with those feelings you described.

    My parents too migrated from Hong Kong and life was incredibly tough and at times very, very difficult. What I noticed was back then, things were very different. It was easy to meet someone, get settled, start a family and work, work, work. People didn’t necessarily pursue other paths because that’s kind of (what they knew.) You had a happy, healthy family, you worked and it was good.
    How times have changed. Now we have to challenge ourselves, you achieve your goals and for some (now the Marraige/family) is the icing on the cake!

    Be proud that you come from an incredible family, where they worked so hard and by acknowledging them and all they did, you honour them too! :)

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