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My Go-To Blueberry Muffins

I have been all about fast breakfasts lately. I don’t know if I’m getting lazier or if we’re getting busier, but there seems to be less time in the mornings around here. OK, so maybe that has something to do with chilly mornings and my desire to hit “snooze” as many times as possible before getting out of bed, but still. There just isn’t always enough time for a bowl of oatmeal before work.

Even on my busiest days though, I still need some sort of fuel in the mornings. I can be somewhat unpleasant when I’m hungry. (Andy will vouch for this. Hangry Beth = no good to anyone.) Enter muffins. They’re portable. They taste good either at room temperature or warmed up, and honestly, the flavor combinations are almost endless. (Don’t believe me? You should see Kirsten’s list.)

Blueberry muffins are one of my favorite kinds, and they’re one of the easiest ones to put together, at least in my opinion. You don’t have to peel or chop the fruit, and odds are, all of the ingredients are hanging out in your pantry/fridge/freezer right now.

These are great with fresh blueberries, but they work just as well with frozen blueberries, which is helpful when a). it’s not blueberry season and b). you froze several pounds of blueberries last July. And like I heard last night on Cook’s Country: “Frozen fruit is always in season.” (Yes, I watch PBS, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.) 

I swap about one-third to one-half of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat pie and pastry flour, since this is breakfast, not dessert. I go heavy on the blueberries, since we’re kind of addicted to fruit around here. Finally, I add the lemon zest to the sugar and give it a spin in the mixer before creaming the butter and sugar together. I feel like that gives the muffins a better lemon flavor. Of course, that could all be in my head, since I get a big whiff of fresh lemon while I’m working.

I’ll admit that these are best fresh, straight out of the oven, but they keep fairly well in an airtight container for the few days that it takes us to polish off a batch. And since nine muffins just won’t cut it at our house, I always double the recipe, which are the amounts reflected below. That way, we have breakfast (and snacks) for the entire week, which means I can hit snooze one more time. Again. 😉

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins

1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt
3 cups AP flour (can substitute up to half with whole wheat pie and pastry flour)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
heavy 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw them beforehand.)

Preheat the oven to 375° and line a muffin tin with paper liners. (Alternatively, you could spray the tins with cooking spray, but that never works well for me. Besides, paper liners are so cute!) 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, then set them aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Mix on medium-low speed for a few minutes, or until the zest has been evenly distributed throughout the sugar and smells lemony. Add the butter and cream together until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs and beat well, then add the yogurt. Sift about half of the dry ingredient mixture over the batter and mix on low speed until just combined. Sift the rest of the dry ingredients into the batter and mix until the flour has almost disappeared.

Add the blueberries to the bowl and gently fold them in to the batter, which will be very thick. Make sure that the flour is fully incorporated into the batter when you’re done adding the blueberries.

Using a cookie scoop (or two spoons, if the spring on your scoop breaks halfway through the process…), fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full. Bake until golden brown and the muffins test clean with a toothpick, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: Approximately 18-20 muffins

From Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Breads, Muffins & Rolls, Breakfast

 

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Making Up With Pie

Last weekend, pie and I got into a fight. I spent most of Saturday making two lemon meringue pies, and by the end of the day, pie crust and I were not on speaking terms. I don’t know what it is about blind-baked crusts, but they do not bring out the best in me. Andy’s been known to flee the kitchen (or even the house) when I’m fighting with pie crust. Smart man.

In my search for the perfect lemon meringue pie, I stumbled upon something that sounded much better: Deep-Dish Rhubarb Cherry Berry pie. Why was I fighting with blind baked crusts and tempering eggs? I had all the necessary fruit in my freezer! I should bake this instead!

Well, I had to  make the lemon pie to share with our Sunday school class, but that didn’t keep me from thinking about the pie that should have been. And when you get stuck on a recipe, there’s really only one thing you can do: BAKE THE DANG PIE. So I went home and did just that, and it ended up being everything I’d hoped it would be.

It was the perfect combination of sweet and tart from the rhubarb, cherries and blueberries. The almond extract melded perfectly with the fruit, and (wonder of wonders) the filling thickened up perfectly. I had been a little concerned that we’d end up with a pie that was too runny, as the cherries released a LOT of juice as they sat in the sugar.

I had the pie crust all rolled out and ready to go when I realized that the recipe wanted me to brush it with a beaten egg white to help keep the crust from getting soggy. Well, I HATE recipes that just call for part of an egg. What was I supposed to do with the yolk? We’d already eaten lunch, and breakfast for dinner wasn’t on the menu anytime soon. (Ironically enough, lunch had been scrambled eggs. The perfect solution for an extra yolk. GRRR.) So I skipped the whole “brush with beaten egg white” step, and you know what? We didn’t have a soggy crust!

And it was easy, as far as pies go. Yes, a lattice top looks fancy, but it doesn’t take that much more time than a regular double-crust pie. And yes, I made my own pie dough, but that takes all of 15 minutes with the pastry blender. Really, as long as you’re not blind-baking a crust, pies are fairly simple.

So there you have it. Pie and I are friends again. For now. Or at least until Andy requests a chocolate pie. 😉

Cherry Rhubarb Berry Pie

OK, not the greatest picture. We were on our way out the door (with the pie), and it was getting dark. 

Deep-Dish Rhubarb Cherry Berry Pie

Pie dough for a double-crust pie (I like Smitten Kitchen’s All Butter, Really Flaky Crust.)
1 generous pint of sour cherries, thawed and drained if frozen (Sweet cherries or strawberries can be substituted if you weren’t lucky enough to put some Door County cherries in your freezer last summer.)
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided, plus extra for sprinkling
1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, thawed and drained if frozen
1 generous pint of blueberries
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375°. Place an empty baking sheet on the lower rack of the oven to catch any drips.

In a large bowl, toss the cherries with 1/2 cup of sugar. Set aside while you prepare the pie crust.

Divide the pie dough into two slightly even pieces. On a floured surface, roll the larger piece out into a circle large enough for a 9″ deep dish pie pan. Gently fold the dough into quarters and transfer it to the pie pan. Unfold the dough and press it into the pie pan. Trim the edges of the dough, leaving a small (1/2″ – 3/4″) overhang.

Roll the second piece of dough out into a 10″ circle. Using a knife (or pastry wheel if you’re fancy), cut the circle into 3/4″-wide strips.

Add the rhubarb, blueberries and almond extract to the cherry-sugar mixture. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining cup of sugar, cornstarch, salt and cinnamon. Sprinkle the sugar-cornstarch-salt-cinnamon mixture over the fruit and gently stir to combine.

Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pie shell. Place half of the lattice strips across the pie, parallel to each other, at about 1/2″ intervals. One at a time, place the remaining strips across the pie in the opposite direction, lifting the other strips to “weave” the strips together in a lattice pattern. Press the ends of the strips into the bottom crust and fold the edges of the bottom crust over the edge of the pie plate and crimp the edges. Sprinkle the lattice strips with sugar.

Place a large piece of foil over the top of the pie and place the pie in the oven. Bake the pie for 20 minutes, then remove the foil. Bake the pie until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.  (The book says this will take 30-40 additional minutes; mine took nearly an hour.) If the edges of the crust begin to brown too quickly, cover them with pieces of aluminum foil. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream if you have it.

Barely adapted from Classic Home Desserts

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2016 in Dessert, Pie

 

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Ready for Summer

A few weeks ago, I put a new salmon recipe on the menu. The salmon was tasty (probably a 3.75 on the Andy scale), but, for me, the dressing was the real winner. I love having something new for my salads, especially when it’s an easy as “cook, blend, stir, serve.”

The recipe called for fresh blueberries, but since I put several pounds of blueberries in the freezer last summer, I saw no reason to buy out-of-season, trucked-for-miles blueberries in the store. (Obviously, I did buy the out-of-season blackberries a few weeks later. They were on sale, and it’s a LONG time till berry season here, OK?) Per Annie’s instructions, I did remove a few tablespoons of blueberry sauce (to glaze the salmon) before I added the vinegar, but unless I’m making the fish again, I don’t think I’ll bother with that step. And since I’m still not the biggest fan of goat cheese, I opted for feta on my salad.

The result was a fresh, slightly sweet twist on a standard side salad, which will definitely come in handy when our lettuce is ready in a few weeks. (We planted seeds two weeks ago, and now we have the cutest little lettuce plants popping up in the garden!) Come on summer! We’re ready for you!

Blueberry Salad Dressing

Blueberry Vinaigrette

4 ounces of blueberries, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw if using frozen berries)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons of honey
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
kosher salt and fresh pepper

In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, oil and honey. Cook over medium heat, stirring every so often, until the berries are soft and juicy.

Remove the pan from heat and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until the berries are smooth. Add the vinegar and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Allow the dressing to cool before putting it on a salad.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (Mine kept for a few weeks without any issues.)

From Annie’s Eats

Click here for a printable version

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2015 in Marinades, Dressings & Sauces

 

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Back in the Kitchen!

I am officially back in action, and man, does it feel good! I’m still asking Andy to drain heavy pots of pasta for me, and I’m still a little slower at chopping things, but I am making dinner and (perhaps more importantly) dessert again. For which Andy is very grateful. He did say that he’s going to keep helping with the dishes, something I’m very grateful for. There’s nothing like a broken bone to make you appreciate the little things in life. 🙂

Last Saturday was the first day that I not only felt good enough to get back into the swings of things, but also had enough time to play around in the kitchen. I started the day with blueberry pancakes, made a lemon-asparagus-feta salad for dinner, whipped up some caramelized onion dip and baked some fantastic strawberry-rhubarb bars for dessert. The kitchen was a mess. It was fantastic. I was even able to take pictures of three of the four items! That’s a personal best for me! (The strawberry rhubarb bars didn’t last long enough for pictures. I know Deb says that you’ll get 8-16 servings, but I have to disagree. One 8″ pan feeds four adults, which is slightly embarrassing when you realize that those same four adults also did a number on the onion dip before they got anywhere near the bars. Ahem. Moving on.) 

So, let’s start at the beginning and talk about pancakes, OK? I’m normally more of a waffle or French toast girl, but for some reason, I really wanted pancakes Saturday morning, and not just any pancakes. Blueberry pancakes. So while Andy slept in, I hit up the internet for a good pancake recipe. Of course, we were completely out of buttermilk, so that eliminated an entire category of pancakes for me, since I didn’t feel like “faking it” with milk and vinegar. A little more searching turned up multigrain blueberry yogurt pancakes on Annie’s Eats, which led me to the original recipe over at Smitten Kitchen.

I liked the idea of a pancake that wasn’t completely like eating dessert for breakfast, but I didn’t have rye or barley flour in the house. Hmm. Then I noticed that someone had commented on Annie’s site and said that they ground up oatmeal in the blender and used it as “oat flour” instead. That sounded do-able, especially since Andy was awake by this point and wouldn’t be disturbed by the jet engine food processor in the kitchen. That was it. I was out of bed and in the kitchen.

The batter was really thick, which meant that my first few pancakes weren’t the prettiest, but they tasted fantastic, especially with maple syrup. I added extra blueberries (because there’s no such thing as too many blueberries in your pancakes). Between the two of us, we ate almost the entire batch. Maybe I’m more of a pancake girl than I realized. 🙂

Blueberry Pancakes

Multigrain Blueberry Yogurt Pancakes

2 eggs
1 cup Greek yogurt
4 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons melted butter, plus extra for the pan
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I didn’t measure this…) 
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats, processed into a powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 cups blueberries (I used some of my frozen blueberries and didn’t bother to thaw them.)

Whisk the yogurt, eggs and milk together in a large bowl. Whisk the lemon zest, vanilla and melted butter into the yogurt/egg mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk the flours, oats, sugar, baking powder and salt together.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the egg mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in about 3/4 cup of blueberries.

Unless you feel like a short-order cook, preheat the oven to 200 degrees and place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven. This allows you to keep the first pancakes warm until the rest of the batch is done.

Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or griddle over medium heat. (I used my cast iron skillet.) Melt a pat of butter in the pan. When the pan is hot, spoon a few tablespoons of pancake batter into the pan and flatten slightly with the back of a spatula. Sprinkle a few additional blueberries on top of the pancake batter. When bubbles have formed and the pancakes appear dry around the edges, carefully flip the pancake over. Cook the pancake until the underside is golden and the center is cooked through. (Here’s a plus for using the oven as a warmer: It will help finish any pancakes whose middles weren’t quite done on top of the stove. Win-win!) Remove the cooked pancakes from the skillet and place on the sheet in the warm oven.

Add more butter to the skillet as necessary and continue frying pancakes until the batter is gone, snacking on frozen blueberries while you wait. Serve warm with maple syrup.

Barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2015 in Breakfast

 

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Blueberry Goodness

Remember, back when I froze rhubarb, I said that the only thing easier was freezing blueberries? I wasn’t kidding! This was an easy enough (and fast enough) project where I knocked this out one morning before I left for work. I managed to get nine pounds of blueberries in the freezer for this year. (Yes, I know we bought 20 pounds. I only made a couple pies and cobblers with them. The rest of the blueberries were consumed by the bowlful. They’re like nature’s candy.)

Anyway… if you still have blueberries coming in, be sure to save some for those chilly winter mornings! They’re great in muffins, pancakes or pie. (What? You don’t eat pie for breakfast? Hmm.)

You’ll need: 
Blueberries (from the farmer’s market or even the grocery store!)
Ziploc bags
Measuring cup or food scale
Sharpie for marking bags

Step 1: Wash the blueberries and allow them to dry on a clean kitchen towel. (You don’t have to wait for them to dry completely if you don’t want to, but if they’re dry, they freeze as individual berries, rather than one giant berry cube.)

Step 2: Measure your berries into ziploc freezer bags. (I freeze them in one-pound increments, but feel free to use any size you like.)

Step 3: Seal, label, date and store!

Look at that, you’re done!

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Sweet Salsa

The more I cook, the more adventurous I get. Need proof? Look no further than here and here. Last week, I’d bought a mango (total impulse buy) without any real idea of what I was going to do with it. Well, a week had gone by, and this mango was at the peak of perfect. It needed using NOW. Not tomorrow, not sometime over the weekend, but NOW. Hmm. What was I going to do with the mango?

I didn’t have all of the stuff I needed for the mango salsa I normally make, and since we were having pork chops, I didn’t really think we needed another protein. I decided to throw caution to the wind and just wing it. Lucky for us, I managed to come up with a winner! (Like they say, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while.) 

I would have added a little chopped jalapeno, but since I didn’t have one on hand, that didn’t happen. (Which Andy was A-OK with, by the way. He seems to think I’m out to see how much heat he can handle. No clue where he gets that idea.) If you have the pepper, go for it. Make it even if you don’t have a jalapeno. It’s that good.

Mango Blueberry Salsa

1 mango, diced into half-inch pieces
1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped (pick your favorite, I used yellow because that’s what I had!) 
1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (if using)
Juice of half a lime
1/4 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed (used the ones from this week’s CSA!) 
pinch of sea salt
3-4 basil leaves, sliced into thin strips

In a small bowl, combine the mango, pepper and onion. Add the lime juice and stir to combine. Add salt to taste and gently stir in the blueberries and basil. Let sit for 15-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Serve over pork chops, chicken or fish. (Or, eat it straight from the bowl, like Andy did when I asked him to taste-test it.) Store leftover salsa in the fridge.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Marinades, Dressings & Sauces

 

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CSA Week #4

We are definitely tasting the rainbow this week! Between the blueberries, beets and that funky yellow squash, it’s a very colorful haul!

Here’s what you’re looking at: half a pound of sugar snap peas, one pint of blueberries, two zucchini, one cucumber, four beets, a bunch of garlic scapes and one goofy-looking yellow summer squash. They called it a ‘patty pan zucchini.’ Anyone have any ideas or suggestions for that guy? Should I just chunk him up, coat with some Italian dressing and grill him?

A quick update from last week’s CSA stash: I decided to roast (yes, even in this ridiculous heat) the kohlrabi. I found the inspiration at AllRecipes.com. I also gave In Her Chucks’ recipe for zucchini fries a whirl (in spite of Andy’s skepticism). Both recipes were a great success! Especially the kohlrabi – we went from being a little concerned that we’d received two of them to very disappointed they were all gone.

I also made a big batch of garlic scape pesto, which I’m going to work into dinner tonight with some pasta and shrimp. Yum!

Our garden is loving this crazy heat and going gangbusters! My basil is flourishing, and so is the Swiss chard. Plus, I picked a giant bunch of green beans this morning. If they keep going that well, I will be canning some later on!

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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