Monday, January 31, 2011

Blueberry Lemon Muffins

I bought four more cookbooks this weekend. But wait, these are really good ones! Oh, the others?...yea they're good, too. But isn't there always one special book out of the pile that seems to have it all? This time it's the book, "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes" by Todd Wilbur. You've heard of him, right? He's the guy who clones all the top recipes from restaurants and coffee houses. He's even cloned the Twinkie...and Starbuck's Cranberry Bliss Bar.

He's really a funny guy and his books are just really fun to read. The stories before each recipe are not only fun fact filled ( try saying that 3 times!), but he interjects his humor into each.

So what does that have to do with a blueberry muffin? Glad you asked! I noticed he had a recent article pertaining to a certain blueberry muffin mix that real blueberries! Wow, big surprise. But his real gripe was the fact that the photo on the front of the box shows real blueberries, when, in fact, the mix contains none. He calls it deceptive advertising, which I agree. And that...finally brings me to why this post is on blueberry muffins. His article got me to thinking how darn easy to make your own...and they taste a whole lot better!

This recipe is created from here and there with my spin on it by adding a lemon glaze and some lemon zest in the batter. I tried to show an easy and fairly basic recipe. I had a bag of frozen mixed berries, rather than all blueberries but I just picked out all the blues and had to add a few other berries to make up the cup amount but they came out great. Nice and light and with a great lemony flavor that goes so well with blueberries.

So, the next time you want to make your family blueberry muffins...I say, give 'em real berries and save the fake stuff for...oh, I don't know...maybe potpourri!

The easy thing about making muffins is that you combine the dry with the wet, mix the two together and bake.

So, having said that, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using a large bowl allows you more room to mix the batter.

In a glass measuring cup, combine the oil, egg and milk to reach a one cup amount.

Make a well in the center of the dry and add the wet.

Then mix just enough to combine the wet and dry and gently fold in the berries.
Scoop batter using a large cookie scoop...

And fill the muffin cups 2/3 the way full. (I ran out of regular size muffin liners but they came right out).
Bake 20 to 25 minutes.
While they're cooling, make the glaze but simply putting 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar into a small bowl and adding enough lemon juice to make a thin consistency.

Then, while the muffins are still slightly warm, drizzle the glaze over the top of each.
The glaze will kind of disappear but the flavor remains!
Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Makes about 9 regular size muffins
1 1/2 cups AP flour
3/4 cup sugar ( I would cut this down to 1/2 cup next time..but I think everything is too sweet)
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil ( I used canola)
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
lemon juice, enough to make a thin glaze
Preheat oven to 400. Using a regular muffin pan, place liners in cups or spray each cup with a vegetable oil spray.
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.
2. Place oil, egg and lemon zest into a glass measuring cup, then add the milk to make a full cup amount.
3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the wet mixture, mixing just til barely combined.
4. Fold in the berries, then scoop the batter into the cups, filling 2/3 full.
5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or til toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6. Cool about 5 minutes in pan, then transfer to a wire rack and drizzle glaze on top of each.
Mix confectioners' sugar with enough fresh lemon juice to make a thin consistency glaze.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Bread

I have the hardest time throwing out magazines. When I get the "bug" to clean and organize what always happens is that I wind up flipping through the magazines I haven't seen in a while... finding a recipe that sounds good... decide I can't live without the magazine..and keep it. Again! You know that feeling? I have an especially hard time with Martha Stewart's magazines...she has so much fun stuff to read about and just never know when you'll need that article for the best way to clean this...or how to make the cutest that! And those photos..oh, those georgous photos!

Anywho... this very scenerio led me to this recipe. And, finding at least 3 cans of pumpkin puree in my cabinet sealed the deal! There's probably more hiding way in the back. I got a little carried away Holiday time I guess.

I came across this Pumpkin Bread recipe in an October 2003 issue of Bon Appetit and thought it would be a great way to downsize my canned pumpkin collection. This bread is calls for butter, rather than oil, and it's very moist and the hefty addition of spices give it a wonderful flavor.

Great for afternoon tea..when you're poring over those older issues! Happy Weekending!

Whisk the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat butter til fluffy, then gradually add the sugar, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.
Then add the pumpkin puree, then the vanilla.
Beat in the buttermilk alternately with the dry ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry.

Stir in the walnuts and dried cranberries...

And pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with a tablespoon of sugar (I admit, I forgot to do this).
Bake for approx. 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Bread ( from Bon Appetit, October 2003)

Makes 1 loaf
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9 1/4" x 5 1/4" x 3" loaf pan.

2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice ( Made your own by combining 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. allspice or cloves)
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp.
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tbsp. for topping
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and lightly flour loaf pan.
1. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, spices, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
2. Im mixer bowl, beat butter til fluffy, gradually adding the 1 cup sugar and beat til blended.
3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
4. Beat in the pumpkin, then the vanilla.
5. Beat in the buttermilk alternately with the flour mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
6. Stir in the cranberries and walnuts and pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, sprinkling the tablespoon of sugar over the top.
7. Bake for approx. one hour and 10 minutes, or til a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool bread in pan on rack 15 minutes. Remove from loaf pan and cool completely on rack before cutting. As with breads of this kind, it only improves with age. ( I can relate to that!)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cheese Straws

Well, I never got around to making the muffins yesterday..these cheese straws won out!

And although I tried at different times throughout the day to post this recipe, my computer must have needed a nap..because it just wouldn't load the photos:(

But we're back today with Cheese Straws..easy to throw together using a food processor. Just three ingredients, really, not counting cayenne pepper, and the end good! Flakey, cheesy cheese straws..great with drinks or anytime you'd be wanting a little snack. My son, Kris, said they reminded him of cheez-its..they do!

The only problem... you can't eat just one!

The recipe says to grate the cheese using the attachment from the food processor (I was too lazy to try and figure out how to use it) so I just used my box grater.

Then just throw the flour, butter and grated cheese into the food processor...

And pulse til it begins to clump together.

Then place it onto some plastic wrap. I divided the dough in half to speed up the time before baking since the recipe says to chill the dough overnight, but I wasn't having any of that!
This half I wrapped in a disc...
This half I rolled out between 2 pieces of plastic, before I put it into the fridge so it would be quicker to roll out later.

Then after it takes a rest in the fridge, just take it out, (this is the prerolled one), and roll it a little more to get it between 1/8" to 1/4" thick.
Cut strips, using any zig zag kind of knife or tool you can find. Make the strips about 1" wide by about 3" long.
Then bake in a 400 oven for only 8 them so they don't brown too much.
Then just try not to eat them all... so good just out of the oven!
Cheese Straws (from Winerthur's Culinary Collection)

Makes about 4 dozen
1 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese ( use a good quality)
1 3/4 cups AP flour
3/4 cup of butter
A few dashed cayenne pepper
1. Grate cheese, either on grater on food processor or using a box grater.
2. Using the steel blade of your food processor, mix all ingredients together til it begins to hold together.
3. Place dough onto plastic wrap and wrap and chill overnight. (You can divide dough into sections to make rolling out easier and quicker later, see my notes above.)
4. Preheat oven to 400.
5. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out to 1/8" to 1/4" thickness. Cut with a knife or tool with serrated edge into strips 1" wide by 3" long.
6. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 8 minutes, or til they get puffy and lightly golden..but watch them to be sure they don't get too dark.
Note: You can freeze the dough to bake at a later time. Just roll out the dough to about 1/4" thickness between 2 pieces of plastic and wrap and place into a zip loc bag. Then let the dough thaw to cool room temp.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ready for Spring

Yea, I who isn't ready for Spring? With all this snow. It's only about 9 AM and already it feels like it should be noon!

Woke up to about a foot of more snow and the sound of my neighbor's snow blower..thank goodness for my neighbor! I'd be shoveling out all day if it wasn't for him! He takes his snow blowing very seriously...but that's okay with me!

Bundled up..grabbed the snow shovel..and tried to dig out the car...didn't last too long. That snow's heavy!

So since the only color outside my window is gray and white..they're not even colors!..I felt the need to dig into my archive of photos taken during this past summer and fall..just to remind myself of good things to come..warmer weather and all!

These first two photos I took while driving over the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge..ever take picture while driving? I don't recommend it! But I do love the views as you cross the bridge. These were taken in the Fall.

Haven't decided what to bake today..but I need to give cake a rest! ..Hmm..maybe muffins!

My sister's garden..Summer

And how could I not include the New Jersey shore..this is Sea Girt..grew up here. Best time for the shore is just after summer have the whole place to yourself!

And that brings us back to this morning!
Looks like a snowman ( a skinny one) sitting on that chair!
Ok..thanks..that's it..back to the kitchen!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pennsylvania German Chocolate Cake

This is another recipe from the "Winerthur's Culinary Collection" Cookbook. I have to be honest in saying that I've never made a German Chocolate Cake and because of the title of this particular recipe, "Pennsylvania German Chocolate Cake", I thought it was, maybe, a different kind of cake.

So having admitted the fact that I have nothing to compare it to, I can only say that this cake was easy to make, used ingredients I had in the house ( especially convenient for another snowy day!), and tastes great. It's a light cake, which I think is a good thing, considering the frosting is the "star", jam packed with all kinds of delicious ingredients, such as pecans, coconut and brown sugar.

And also considering I really made a major"goof" when making it, it really turned out great!
I was planning on halving the recipe ( we don't need a whole sheet cake for two people in this house!) so I measured all the ingredients correctly, cutting everything in half..but I messed up on the amount of buttermilk, adding in the entire I had to go back and add in the other half of all the ingredients all over again..after it was all mixed together! So, you see, it's a miracle it turned out great. And as for the whole cake...guess I better trudge through the snow to bring some to my neighbors. They won't mind!

Stir together the cocoa, butter and boiling water til it's all mixed and the butter is just about all melted.

If the butter is being stubborn and not melting totally, just place it over some hot water, stirring to help it melt.

Then throw in the sugar and mix it well.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, salt and baking soda.

Add the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk beginning and ending with the dry.

Beat well after each addition.

Add the vanilla and egg and beat about 2 minutes.

Then pour the batter into your prepared pan.

Make sure the batter is nice and even.
Bake for approx. 35 minutes.

After the cake comes out of the oven, start making the frosting ( or topping).
Melt the butter, then add in the brown sugar, milk, vanilla and coconut/nut mixture.
Give it a good stir, then spread it over the slightly warm cake.

Pop it under the broiler for just about a minute...til it bubbles and gets golden.
Keep an eye on only takes a minute!
Pennsylvania German Chocolate Cake ( from Winterthur's Culinary Collection Cookbook)

1/2 cup cocoa powder ( I used Hershey's regular unsweetened cocoa but next time I'd use something like Ghirardelli's or Valhrona)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup boiling water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups AP flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, slightly beaten
Broiled Coconut Topping:
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups coconut and/or finely chopped nuts or rolled oats. ( I used half coconut and half pecans)
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9" x 13" baking pan.
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together cocoa, butter and water til the butter is melted.
2. Mix in the sugar.
3. Sift ( or whisk) together the flour, salt and baking soda.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the cocoa mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating after each adition.
5. Add the vanilla and egg to the batter and beat 2 minutes on medium speed.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 35 minutes, or til toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Begin making the topping by melting the butter, then adding in the brown sugar, milk, vanilla and coconut and nuts( if using). Stir this all together, then spread on the warm cake.
8. Pop the cake under the broiler for about a minute, or til it's golden and bubbly.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Heirloom Gingerbread Cake

Flipping through one of the cookbooks I bought over the summer at the Farmer's Market, I decided on this one because the notes below the recipe read, "served hot, this makes a yummy coffee cake. Served cold, it is a velvety and delicious dessert cake". Well, that's good enough for me!
And if this cake turned out even half as great as the Carrot Cake I made from the book, then I couldn't wait to get baking!
Don't be fooled by the name..the small amount of molasses in the recipe gives a subtle gingerbread flavor, but just enough to make this cake a little bit different.. a little bit lighter and less intense than a traditional gingerbread. I also love the addition of some of the dry mixture sprinkled on the cake as topping.
This would be perfect with your morning coffee..but for dessert with a big dollop of whipped cream..delicious!

Begin by combining the flour, sugar, ginger and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Then cut the butter and shortening into the dry, using your fingers (which is what I used) or a pastry cutter.

Once the mixture is combined and it looks nice and crumbly, scoop out 1/4 cup and set that aside for the topping.

In a measuring cup, dissolve the baking soda and salt into the buttermilk. Give it a good stir.

Pour the beaten egg into the dry mixture...

Then add the 2 tablespoons of molasses...

And the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir.

Til it's nice and blended.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and sprinkle the reserved mixture over the top.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or til a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Heirloom Gingerbread Cake ( from "Winterthur's Culinary Collection")

1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or shortening ( I used 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
Scant tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8" square pan.
1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, ginger and cinnamon.
2. Cut in butter ( and shortening) with your fingers, two knives or a pastry cutter.
3. Reserve 1/4 cup for topping.
4. Add the beaten egg to the remaining mixture and stir in the molasses.
5. Dissolve the baking soda and salt into the buttermilk and pour into the molasses mixture, stirring to combine.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining dry mixture.
7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or til a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
8. Let the cake cool slightly in the pan before cutting, (if you'd like it warm), or let it cool completely in the pan to serve it at room temperature.


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