Celebrations Reflections

The Most Divine Recipes

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, my faithful and fun Back Porch friends! Many of you may remember a post I wrote last summer where I told y’all I was struggling in the kitchen. Baking in my new high-elevation home was not going according to plan.

My most divine recipes were not working. I wish I had taken photos of some of the epic failures so you could feel the heartbreak with me. They didn’t look appetizing, smell enticing, or taste right.

A few fun facts about altitude:

Did you know the boiling temperature of water is different in the mountains? Or that thinner air causes bakery items to rise more quickly? (And subsequently fall dramatically?) After wasting time and ingredients, I turned to the internet for suggestions.

I experimented to no avail. Eventually I reached out to you all to see if you had any tried-and-true high-altitude recipes for baked goods. I didn’t receive any which, on hindsight, makes sense because most people live closer to sea level.

Platers full of muffins and green embellishments.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! My zucchini bread turns out amazing in lower elevations. If anyone is interested in this passed down family recipe, let me know. (Photo taken a few years ago.)

I finally broke down and bought a high-altitude cookbook. And let me tell you – it has been a godsend! My first bite into a soft, moist, sweet blueberry muffin nearly made me cry. I had feared I’d have to grow accustomed to dry, crumbly, volcano-shaped baked goods for as long as I lived here.

The new divine recipes made me think.

The right recipes for my location made all the difference. I’m sure if I took my new high-elevation cooking instructions and tried them at sea level, it would be a whole other kind of disaster. (Is it strange that I want to try, just to see what sort of chaos it would create?)

But here is what I realized –

Sometimes I try the wrong recipes for my appetites outside of the kitchen as well. I want to satisfy cravings in other areas of my life. I desire some of the sweet stuff I see other people enjoying.

It is typically success of some kind. Accolades, money, adoration, beauty… these things call to me more often than I’d like. I apply my own recipes, attempting to cook up what I want.

The problem is, while recipes for such treats work for some people, in some places, they might not be correct for me, where I am. All they produce for me is a dry and crumbling mess that barely resembles anything I was working for. In a word, disappointment.

God has the most divine recipes.

But do you know what? God has a plan for me. He has a recipe, if you will, laid out for my life. He has already done the calculations, and it is right for who, where, and how He has me.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’.”

Jeremiah 29:11, 12

If I submit to His recipe, He will ensure I am baked to perfection. I will turn out exactly as He plans. When the timer goes off on my life, He will take me out of this oven I’m in (we all feel the heat, right?) and add the final touches to present me, faultless, to God our Father.

“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy.”

Hebrews 10:14

5 reasons God’s recipes are the most divine:

Just like my high-altitude cookbook has recipes for the height at which I live, Jesus calls me to live higher. His instructions meet me there. If I adhere to His recipe for my life,

1. I will not fall.

    “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

    Psalm 37:23, 24

    2. I will not boil over.

    “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

    Isaiah 26:3

    3. I will not be dry.

    “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

    John 7:38

    4. I will not burn (out.)

    “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had…”

    Isaiah 43:1, 2

    5. I will not be disappointed (or disappointing).

    “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

    Romans 8:28

    “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

    Psalm 32:8

    My dear friend, for what are you striving? Do your efforts continue to fall flat? Maybe the recipes you’re following are not right for you.

    Will you join me today in asking God for, and applying to our lives, His most Divine recipes?

    “The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.”

    Psalm 33:11
    Celebrations Recommendations

    Avoid Last-Minute Holiday Stress with a Sweet of the Season

    Does the word Christmas elicit warm feelings of love and laughter? Or are you instantly reminded of stressful holiday chores and feelings of inadequacy? For many years, I wondered why I couldn’t pull it all off with joy.

    I’m still working on it, to be frank. But I have discovered some tricks which have really helped me maintain my sanity. One of my secrets is the Present Box. Another of the best ideas I’ve tried is “a sweet of the season”.

    What is a Sweet of the Season

    Homemade treats are always popular during the holidays. Whether you get hit up for a last-minute bake sale or receive unexpected visitors, having a pre-decided sweet of the season can save you from bitterness. Simply purchase one set of ingredients and put them together on one day to be prepared the whole season long.

    My recipe for Crock Pot Candy is perfect! It makes a ton and saves for a long time. A couple of hours at the beginning of the season and you’ll be prepared for whatever arises.

    Another recipe I often use for my sweet of the season is Slice and Bake Butter Shortbread. I double or even triple this recipe, which has been passed down through through generations of my family. The dough can be made into cookie cutter shapes, pressed designs or slice and bake logs, as in the instructions below.

    Slice and Bake Butter Shortbread

    • 1 and 1/2 cups butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
    • 4 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 cup of sprinkles
    • plastic wrap
    1. Thoroughly cream butter and sugar.
    2. Add egg, vanilla and/or almond extract.
    3. Add flour and baking powder (sift if you like)
    4. Mix until smooth. Do not chill.
    5. Roll dough into a log approximately 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter.
    6. Spread sprinkles on a cutting board and roll log over them, starting at one edge of the cutting board and rolling to the other edge.
    7. Roll back and forth until the entire log is coated with sprinkles.
    8. Wrap sprinkled dough log in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. This log will easily keep for a couple of weeks, or can be frozen and kept longer.
    • You now have festive, homemade slice and bake cookies ready to be served fresh and warm at a moment’s notice.
    • They can be baked, as needed, in a 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.
    • These cookies are not overly sweet. If you prefer more sweetness, sugar the surface of the cookies before baking or frost them when they come out of the oven.
    • I make this frosting (below) when I make the dough and keep it at the ready alongside my slice and bake log:
    • 3 Cups powdered sugar
    • 1/3 cup butter, softened
    • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 2 tablespoons milk, approximately (Using an alternative milk might extend the fridge-life of the frosting. Make sure to check the date on the carton)
    1. Mix powdered sugar and softened butter until it forms a powdery paste. Add vanilla and then milk. Stir to a spreadable consistency. Add milk a tiny bit at a time, if you need more, to make the frosting to your desired thickness.
    2. This frosting can be colored but be aware that liquid food coloring will add moisture and you might need less milk.

    If you’re too busy and/or not the baker type, by all means, purchase the cookie dough. Whether you buy it or make it, whatever you don’t use can also be frozen for a few months, if it is wrapped well.

    Pro-tip: If you make the Slice and Bake Butter Shortbread, consider rolling some in red sprinkles only. That way, anything unused can be frozen and on-hand for Valentine’s Day.

    “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”

    Psalm 32:11

    I appreciate any workable ideas that simplify my Christmas chores and give me time to celebrate joy. A sweet of the season has helped me avoid last-minute holiday stress for many years. Have you ever done something similar?

    Let’s brainstorm together! What recipe would you use if you were to try this idea? Or what pre-made item would you buy to have on hand?


    Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Change-Up

    Surprise, I’m changing things up! This time, I’m asking for a few helpful little hacks of the hour from you. It’s my birthday, so I hoped maybe you’d be willing to indulge me today. What do you say?

    I’m particularly looking for input from parents, bakers, and world travelers. But I’d love to hear from any of you who have insight to share. I have full confidence in this Back Porch family. You all know a lot about a lot!

    Do you have helpful hacks for any of these 3 topics?

    1. Youth Ministry

    Wednesday officially kicked off the new year of youth ministry at our church. My husband and I volunteered after God used the huge spider and the word search puzzle to help clue us in. As we pray about the opportunities we have in the lives of these precious young people, I feel Jesus nudging me to pose a question to you parents.

    What kinds of things would you like another Christian adult to make themselves available to address with your kids?

    What topics do you think they might want to discuss? Where do they need Godly encouragement? For which of your efforts in their lives would you appreciate backup?

    When my kids were younger, there were truths they didn’t seem able to hear from their father or me. But when their youth leaders said essentially the same thing, it got through. I saw their relationships with Jesus flourish through those interactions and I pray to be useful in the same kind of way.

    2. High Altitude Baking

    I am desperately wanting baking hacks from those of you who live in high altitude. More specifically, I need recipes.

    A cake topped with candles and flowers
    Photo by Jenny Galloway on Unsplash
    My recipes will not tolerate the change in altitude. I’ll have to buy a birthday cake this year!

    I previously considered myself an adept baker, but my sea-level recipes refuse to cooperate with the change to 7000 feet. I’ve tried the modifications Google suggests with no success. If you have any tried and true recipes to share, I’d sure appreciate them!

    I’d love to make fluffy cakes, soft breads, and thick cookies again. If you’re willing to help, post your favorite high altitude recipes in the comments, or use the “Contact” button at the top of the page to email me. My family and I would be ever so grateful!

    3. Cork, Ireland and International Travel

    Wow, it feels completely unbelievable to me that I get to ask about this one. I’m traveling to Ireland this Fall! I work with colleagues across North America and Western Europe, and our next team meeting will be in-person (for the first time in years!) at our facility in Cork.

    My husband is able to join me, and we’ve extended our stay a few days beyond the business agenda. Has anyone ever been there? What do you suggest? Is there anything we simply must see? Any watch-out warnings?

    I’ve never been to Europe. In fact, I’ve never wandered outside North America. I’d love any wisdom you have to share! What helpful international travel hacks do you know? I want to hear them all! I’m a complete novice.

    A taxi on a wet road
    Photo by Brian Lazo on
    I’ve heard Uber and Lyft are not popular in Ireland, so we will mostly use taxi services.

    Precious friends, I praise God for you! As I reflect on my birthday blessings, you immediately come to mind. Thank you!

    I appreciate you for indulging my change-up and sharing your helpful little parenting, baking, and traveling hacks with me today. May God lavish the deep decadence of His everlasting love upon you!

    Wondering why am I publishing helpful little hacks of the hour? Read the Introduction and Intent post here.


    Brownies Fit for a Black-Tie Affair

    How are you feeling about the coming New Year? I find myself looking forward to it with more exuberance than usual. I don’t expect much to change with the tick of a clock at midnight, but I anticipate a new beginning – one that I intend to face with more realistic expectations than I did last year. I’d like to set myself up for 2022 according to some advice that I often give.

    If you expect very little, you’re unlikely to be disappointed, but perfectly poised to be pleasantly surprised.

    Mama Lava

    And speaking of pleasant surprises, I have a recipe to share. It is one which upscales box brownies to a level fit for a black-tie affair. And you won’t believe how simple it is!

    Fresh from the oven: A brownie fit for a black tie affair
    Brownies fit for a black-tie affair, fresh from the oven

    How are you going to ring in the New Year? Are you the type who enjoys fancy clothes and exclusive celebrations? Or do you prefer an intimate gathering of friends for your countdown? Maybe you’re like me and you enjoy sleeping through the whole thing so you can enter January 1st well-rested and ready to roll.

    Whether the black-tie affair you attend is real, or in your dreams, this brownie recipe will fit right in. But first, let me tell you the short story that goes along with it.

    You are already acquainted with my friend, Brooke. If you are not, you can find the humbling tale of how we met here. She introduced me to the incredible quiche recipe which has become a tradition in our house, and is sure to become a favorite in some of yours as well.

    Brooke is amazing. She loves extravagantly and entertains with her heart. She does everything top-notch. It is just who she is.

    One day, as I was scrolling social media, I came across one of her posts, announcing an event she was preparing to facilitate at a renowned location. She described the menu she had planned, and I saw my name near the bottom. It said “Also, the famous Brownie/York Pattie dessert, thanks to a recipe from my sweet friend, Mama Lava. She gave me the recipe many years ago and it’s a cherished favorite.” (Quote almost verbatim.)

    Brownie cut so that mint layer is visible: Brownies fit for a black tie affair!
    Brownies fit for a black-tie affair!

    You know what? I had all but forgotten that I’d shared the recipe with her. I had tried to put it out of my mind, I think, because I’d been embarrassed about it. I recalled the fiasco.

    I had made the brownies for a cookie exchange. (If you’re not familiar with cookie exchanges, I described one in this post.) These brownies are terrific on their own, but they were a terrible choice for the exchange. When they were plated with other goodies, their strong flavor tainted everything and ruined the more subtle flavors of the delicacies around them. I was dismayed that my dessert overpowered the hard work Brooke and our friends had put into their baked goods.

    I was blessed to read that God had made a favorite out of what I had considered a failure. I was thankful for the surprise that Brooke had been enjoying my recipe through the years. It felt like reciprocation for her quiche recipe that I appreciate so much. It was just like God to be so merciful with my mess and prove to me that He is good, even when I goof!

    Brooke was right about the recipe being fit for her black-tie affair. These brownies are meant to stand out and be noticed. They are sleek and decadent. And while they are impressive, they are also quick and easy to make.

    Whether your New Year’s Eve plans are extravagant in actuality, or just in your imagination, these brownies will fit right in! Here is the recipe.

    Brownies Fit for a Black-Tie Affair

    The Ingredients

    York Peppermint Patty bag: A brownie fit for a black tie affair
    Bite-sized York Peppermint patties

    The Instructions

    1. Preheat oven and make brownie batter according to box instructions.
    2. Pour half of the batter in your pan. (Use whatever size pan is called for on the brownie box. The most common sizes are 8×8 or 9×13-inch pans.)
    3. Unwrap York patties and place on batter, spaced evenly.
    4. Cover with remaining brownie batter.
    5. Bake according to box instructions.
    6. Let cool completely before slicing.
    Covering the mints with batter: Brownies fit for a black tie affairBrownies fit for a black tie affair!
    Place mints evenly atop first half of brownie batter and cover with second half of batter

    The Notes

    • When you cut your cooled brownies, you can slice through the mints to show them off, or you can slice through the brownie and let the mint be a surprise in the center. If you plan the size and preferred presentation of your brownies, you will be able to intentionally place the peppermint patties to accommodate your desired result.
    • You can also use Jr. Mints and make brownie bites.
    • If you prefer a double thick brownie, use two boxes. In the photos, I’ve used only 1.
    • Pro-tip: Did you know that cutting cooled brownies with a plastic knife prevents tearing?
    Topped with ice cream and sliced for a peek inside: Brownies fit for a black tie affair
    I chose to serve the brownies with the mints hidden, but I sliced mine open so you could get a peek.

    I served these after our town’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony a few weeks ago. I topped them with vanilla bean ice cream and a candy cane, but I was wishing I had pink peppermint ice cream. Mint chip works well too. And honestly, ice cream is not required! These brownies are incredibly flavorful on their own. They are decadent and delicious, and nobody will believe how little work you had to put in. I won’t tell if you won’t!

    I adore chocolate and mint together. York patties are one of my favorite treats. Adding the brownie around it is just fabulous. This recipe elevates any occasion and, at least for one blissful moment, turns it into a black-tie affair. What event on your calendar could you upscale with a pan of these peppermint brownies?


    How My Cookie Crisis Could Become a Bountiful Blessing from My Family to Yours

    Once upon a time, in a land far, far away… Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but this story played out a long time ago. My kids were small, my husband’s job required him to take long trips, and I was desperate thankful for adult interaction. I was beyond excited for the annual cookie exchange in which my friends and I participated every holiday season.

    I was downright giddy about the opportunity to get into the car by myself, listen to grownup music on the radio, talk to women in multi-syllable words, and sample cookies of all kinds. I had my recipe with the ingredients required and all that stood between me, and my dream afternoon, was the chore of baking 13 dozen cookies.

    My plan was to make the dough and begin baking the day before the event. That way, my cookies would be fresh and delectable, and I could finish up the morning of, if something came up unforeseen. Well, come up unforeseen, something did! I went to preheat my oven and… nothing. No heat. No heat at all.

    I may have panicked a little and I might have even cried. If I couldn’t make cookies, I didn’t see how I could attend the cookie exchange. Store bought cookies were unthinkable. The whole purpose of the cookie exchange was to trade homemade delicacies.

    Are you familiar with the concept of a cookie exchange? I think they are an amazing idea! They can be organized in several ways, but my friends and I did it the same way each year, taking turns organizing and hosting. Maybe you’d like to put one together? Here is the format we used:

    • Twelve people participated. It was important to have twelve. If you confirmed your spot, you were committed.
    • Each person baked 13 dozen cookies of one recipe (cleared with the organizer in advance to avoid duplicates) and packaged them by the dozen. They could be in bags, tins or covered plates, as long as each package contained 12 cookies.
    • Each person copied, printed or handwrote 11 copies of their recipe.
    • We all met up for one glorious afternoon. The hostess provided a huge table where we each stacked 12 of our cookie packages and our recipes.
    • On a separate table, we each opened and placed our 13th package. Also on this table, the hostess provided plates, napkins and beverages. This is where we got to sample each other’s cookies.
    • After a sweet afternoon of cookies and conversation, we went back to the first table and took one package of each kind of cookie, including our own. We took one of each recipe, excluding our own. This is the exchange by which a cookie exchange gets its name.
    • Where each baker arrived with 12 packages of 1 kind of cookie, they went home with 12 packages of different kinds of cookies.

    Personally, my tradition immediately following the cookie exchange, was to pack 12 tins, each with 1 cookie from each package. My kids loved taking these grand assortments to the neighbors and their teachers. It appeared like I’d done much more work than I had, since I gifted an amazing assortment, but only baked a single recipe. All of that was looking impossible this year.

    God to the rescue!

    Even, no – ESPECIALLY for busy moms, the cookie exchange was a lifeline. It was a simplified and fun way to get a giant check mark on a long holiday to-do list. Not only was I looking forward to it, but I was also committed. My oven breaking had me at my breaking point too. This was a crisis.

    But God. That is all I remember about how what transpired next came about. Somehow, I found a recipe. God brought it to mind. Honestly, I don’t remember if I went to the computer or if it is one I had tucked in my recipe binder prior. All I know is that I had never made “Crock Pot Candy” before that day. But boy have I made it many times since!

    Crock Pot Candy: How My Cookie Crisis Could Become a Bountiful Blessing, from My Family to Yours
    Crock Pot Candy with Sea Salt Topping

    God and Crock Pot Candy to the rescue. This recipe did not require an oven. I pulled out my slow cooker, raced to the store for the short list of ingredients, and this blessing came together in a fraction of the time it takes to bake 13 dozen cookies.

    You know what else? These were the star of the afternoon. Everyone raved! And it was such a nice touch to have a decadent piece of candy on each plate of cookies.

    My own family liked them so much that they have become one of our signature family dishes. My 25 year-old daughter, who was in preschool the first time I made them, called them “Nut Chocolates” and that is what they are to this day, in our house. She and I make them every October because that is her birthday month, and it takes us almost a whole month to eat them all. This recipe makes a bountiful plenty!

    Nut Chocolates; How My Cookie Crisis Could Become a Bountiful Blessing, from My Family to Yours
    Nut Chocolates for Days!

    I have not been to a cookie exchange in years. But that is ok. People love getting a whole bag of “nut chocolates” and I enjoy the simplicity of giving them. If you have an army to feed, or several people to gift, or a birthday month to enjoy, let my cookie crisis become a bountiful blessing, from my family to yours!

    What you will need:

    • 1 pound lightly salted, dry roasted almonds
    • 1 pound unsalted, dry roasted almonds
    • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 12 ounces white chocolate chips
    • 1 pound vanilla bark
    • 9+ feet of waxed paper


    1. Pour nuts into large crock pot. Add chips and bark. Cover and turn on low setting.
    2. Now go shower, fold your laundry, or write a blog. Come back in about an hour.
    3. Lay out the waxed paper. (You may have to weigh down the corners if the paper is too curly to lay flat.)
    4. With a large spoon, stir the now-melted chocolate into the nuts until the chocolates are combined and the nuts are well coated.
    5. Spoon the mixture onto waxed paper according to the size you want.
    6. Keep spooning – this is a bountiful recipe.
    7. Keep the crock pot on the low setting until all its contents have been spooned out.
    8. Once everything has been scooped out, unplug your crock pot and walk away again. Go back to your blog, play with your dog, or read a book.
    9. Let the candy cool until the chocolate hardens and it peels easily from the waxed paper.
    10. It will keep fresh in a plastic bag or airtight container for several weeks. But you might not be able to keep it around for that long. My family loves to share it as much as we love to eat it.


    • The original recipe calls for peanuts instead of almonds. I’ve done it both ways and, seriously, you can’t go wrong. My family just prefers almonds. I’m sure you could use other nuts too, if you have a different favorite.
    • In the photos I’m posting, you see sea salt sprinkled on top. This is the way my October birthday girl prefers her birthday treat. We have also experimented with toffee, sprinkles, and coconut. They are all amazing! I think the simplicity of the recipe is perfect and I prefer no toppings.
    • I adore dark chocolate. If I am making these according to my taste, I substitute some of the chocolates called for in the recipe and darken it up a bit. If the measurements of nuts and chocolates are the same as the recipe, you can change them out any way you like.
    • I have never had a batch not turn out. These are 99.9% fool proof. The reason I reserve that extra .1% is because you can overcook them. If you forget all about them and leave the ingredients in the crockpot for hours, the chocolate will burn around the edges. (Don’t ask me how I know!) Even still, you can use what is deliciously melted in the middle of the pot.
    • If you make these on a hot day, you may need to refrigerate them to encourage the cooling process. The best way I have found to do this is to cut the waxed paper into cookie-sheet sized rectangles and slide them onto the cookie sheets to place in the refrigerator or freezer (wherever you have room).

    There you have it. That is how my cookie crisis could become a bountiful blessing from my family to yours. I hope this recipe comes in handy for you this holiday season and beyond.

    Do you bake or home-make gifts? Do you have a preference between white, milk or dark chocolate? Does anyone do cookie exchanges anymore?


    How an Outrageous Act of Kindness Led to This Magnificent Muffin Recipe!

    The house was gorgeous! It sat on a corner lot and had tons of natural light. There were huge bay windows and extra-large sliding glass doors. Each room had several windows, and the cross breezes were heavenly. It was more than my husband and I had imagined when we decided to move with 5 small children between the ages of 1 and 8. We moved in, all giddy-like and wonder-eyed.

    And then night fell. None of those incredible windows had any blinds or window coverings. We felt like fish in a very clear fishbowl, visible to everyone. And we didn’t know what to do. My husband’s aunty came to our rescue with an outrageous act of kindness. I had no way to repay her, but to feed her. The following is the story that led to this magnificent muffin recipe.

    Plate of muffins next to a Bible: How to Repay an Outrageous Act of Kindness - Feel Free to Start with These Muffins!
    Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
    Bible study and magnificent muffins? Yes please!

    Aunt Jenny lived an airplane ride away. But she is a talented seamstress, and when she heard about our dilemma, she came. She stayed in our guestroom for weeks. She advised us and gave us style options. Whatever we could want, she could create. She took me to the fabric store and was extremely patient while I perused, touched and envisioned each pattern. She helped me to calculate and stay within budget.

    She was a Godsend! Aunt Jenny made a total of 3 trips to help us. That was three round-trip flights just to come sew all day, every day. If she took a break, it was to accompany me to the fabric or hardware stores.

    She crafted curtains for all our windows and even created sheer drape panels to hang from my girls’ three canopy beds. She made custom window seat cushions and throw pillows to match for each couch and bed. She didn’t stop until there was nothing more we could think to sew.

    I tried to repay her with treats whenever possible. I noticed how much she enjoyed the bran muffins at Starbucks. One day, while she was busy sewing, I busied myself where I had a bit of creative talent – in the kitchen. I recreated the Starbucks muffins and received Aunt Jenny’s heartfelt stamp of approval.

    I made other meals and goodies to spoil Aunt Jenny, but I think these muffins were her favorite. I made them by the dozens, and we ate them for more than just breakfast. In fact, even after her outrageous act of kindness was complete, she said she’d do it all again for these magnificent muffins!

    Muffin with wheat on a fall table: How to Repay an Outrageous Act of Kindness - Feel Free to Start with These Muffins!
    Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
    Magnificent muffins make good use of Autumn’s outrageous and bountiful flavors

    If you enjoy the satisfying textures of wheat and bran, the soothing spiciness of cinnamon, and the hearty sweetness of pineapple, raisins and carrots, this recipe is for you! I think they are best in the fall, warm from the oven. But truth be told, they are a wonderful treat any month of the year. And they smell absolutely heavenly as they bake!

    Mamalava’s Magnificent Muffins

    Servings: 24 – Prep time, 1 hour and 10 minutes – Oven temp. 400 degrees


    • 1and 1/2 cups Raisin Bran cereal
      (or 1 and 1/4 cups bran flakes and 1/4 cup raisins)
    • 1 cup milk
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable (or preferred) oil
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup white flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 1 pound carrots, grated
    • 2/3 cup pineapple (chopped, drained and patted dry)
    • 2/3 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)


    1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Stir together flours, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
    3. In a large mixing bowl, combine raisin bran, milk, and carrots. Let stand about 3 minutes or until cereal softens.
    4. Add eggs and oil and mix well.
    5. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, stirring only until combined.
    6. Stir in pineapple, and nuts if desired.
    7. Portion batter evenly into 2 and 1/2 inch muffin cups. (Can use silicone cups or tins coated with cooking spray or lined with paper.)
    8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
    9. Serve warm!
    I prefer to eat these just as they are. They are also amazing sliced and spread with butter and honey, or cream cheese, peanut butter – however you like!


    1. If you would rather make a cake or loaf shape instead of muffins, decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Exact baking time will vary according to size of pan. Cakes will need to cool for about 45 minutes and loaves for approximately an hour before slicing.
    2. You can change the pineapple or raisins for blueberries, cranberries or other fruit of your liking. This recipe was to mimic the muffins Starbucks was offering at the time, but it is customizable to suit your tastes.
    3. I imagine you can swap the sugar and flours for alternatives too, but I’m not an expert at those conversions.
    4. If you like seeds, they can be sprinkled on top of each muffin just before baking. Sunflower or pumpkin seeds are my most frequent choices. I’ve also been known to sprinkle these muffins with a pinch of raw sugar crystals for sparkle and crunch.
    5. This batter can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. I like to double (or triple) the recipe in advance and quickly bake fresh batches just before serving. If you’re baking cold batter, add 2-5 minutes to the baking time.

    Is there anyone you’d like to thank? Do you know someone who would benefit from an act of kindness? Is there someone you’d like to spoil? Maybe it’s you! This recipe is well worth your consideration. A basket of magnificent muffins is sweet to the taste, the appetite, and the heart.

    Make gifts meaningful by putting the time in creating them, whether baking and cooking, or in making arts and craft. It will all have more meaning for the giver and receiver.

    Lidia Bastianich

    “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord… since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

    Colossians 3:23a, 24