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Blueberry Muffin Recipe #2371

I was going to tell you that this will be about the 5,000th blueberry muffin recipe posted on the internet but I decided to check my facts and apparently it will only be about the 2,371st. I know there are plenty out there because a few years ago my mother-in-law typed “Blueberry Muffins” into Google, reached into the cyber bowl of hits and pulled one out. It turned out to be a winner. I kept the printed recipe and have modified it in the interim. This summer while my recipe box was in storage she and I wanted to make the same muffins. After about thirty minutes of shaking the Google bowl with different word combinations and reaching in to find it again, we realized that picking the same hit twice is nearly impossible. We came close, but it wasn’t exactly the recipe we remembered.

Here is my version of the right one.

2/3 cup softened butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 ½ cups vanilla yogurt

1 tsp lemon juice

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 TBSP baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1½ cups fresh blueberries rinsed and drained (if you need to use frozen, thaw them and toss them in flour)

375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Makes 24.

Directions:

Assemble the wet ingredients.

Start by mixing the butter and sugar, just like cookies. You have to love a muffin recipe that involves Darth Mixer!

Add the eggs, yogurt and lemon juice. Mix.

Then it’s time for the fluffy white ingredients.

Note that it calls for the capital T, tablespoon of baking powder!

Mix until you have a batter that looks a lot like cake batter, which reminds me of my friend Anita Cory telling me about a funny video on the American obsession with cake. The line I think of when I make these muffins goes something like “What is the difference between muffins and cake? Nothing! Muffins are bald cupcakes. We call them muffins because we don’t eat cake for breakfast.” (Our good friend Google can take you to the whole stand up routine if you type in “cake comedy Jim Gaffigan”. It’s pretty funny.)

Now, the blueberries are entering stage left but they cannot jump in the bowl with Darth doing the mixing!

They need to be dumped in last and folded gently into the batter.

Scoop into sprayed muffin pans.

This left-over batter will not see dishwater in my house. That’s what a good spatula is for – yummy.

Put them in the oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.

When they come out, spread some butter on their little tops while they’re hot…

…so that a sprinkling of sugar will stick. My children consider this the most important step.

Let them cool just a bit.

Pop them loose with a table knife or spoon.

I’m working with a new oven and I think I had the rack placed a little too high, so the bottoms are a little crispier than ideal. How embarrassing. Oh, well. Blogging perfection bites the dust again.

But, they were still very tasty!

I like these smooth cakey muffins but I think I’m also going to find a recipe with a crumble topping and more of a traditional muffin texture to add some variety during blueberry season. I’ll let you know when I come up with a good one. Of course if you’re reading this and have one to share, please send it on and save me from sorting through the 2700 options on the internet!

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Chicken Pasta Salad and Corny Chicken Pictures

My kitchen is unpacked and I have internet access again! Not quite ready to wow you with food from the new Kitchen Catwalk but I still have a summer salad to share from Molly and I can even throw in a couple of crazy chicken pictures.

The directions she emailed with the pictures went something like this: “I can tell you the ingredients for this salad and that it has become a family favorite but you really just judge the amounts by what you have available and what looks right.” She may not be including precise measurements, but as I’m about to start always saying – a picture is worth a thousand measuring cups.

Here’s what goes in the salad.

Start by cooking and draining a box of pasta.

Then you’ll need Cooked, cubed chicken breast (Often, we barbeque extra to use in the salad – any marinade or salt and pepper adds to the taste.)


Red grapes halved


Mandarin oranges drained


Diced Celery


and Diced Onion


Slivered almonds (toasted if ambitious)

Mayonnaise (Real Mayo…NO Miracle Whip at [Molly’s] house)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix and Chill….and there you have it!


I think I’m going to try this early next week. At our house it will have to be green onions and the celery probably won’t make the cut, but the combination of cold pasta, oranges, grapes, nuts and chicken sounds perfect in such hot weather.

I happen to have some chopped cooked chicken that I can use and even pictures.


None of you will be shocked that the first time I got out the camera in my new kitchen was because I was cracking up over how a couple of beheaded birds looked in the French oven! The commissary doesn’t have rotisserie chickens, which I routinely use in all sorts of recipes, so now I have to roast my own. In the past I’ve never had trouble fitting two into my beloved French roaster, but these guys were so big they had to sit on Coke cans – (thanks to Betsy for the tech line support on how that worked).

They looked so cute in their little boat and the spoons were right there, looking so much like oars!


Row, row, row your chicken, gently down the stream…merrily, merrily, merrily…

The tune has been stuck in my head for two days.

Okay, seriously I really think the left-over barbeque sounds better for the chicken salad!

Hope you’re all having a great summer and lots of fun in the kitchen!

Molly’s Summer Spinach and Rice Salad

I still don’t have a kitchen of my own, so I’m living vicariously through those who do and apparently, I’ve also been pestering my friend Molly about helping me with this blog for long enough that she got serious with the camera in the kitchen. She sent me some summer salad pictures and recipes that look great! As a moving special, I’ll share them with you before I try them out in my own new kitchen – which I will be occupying on Friday!

The first recipe looks delicious and I have another one up my sleeve for later in the week, so stay tuned.

Here’s Molly….

SPINACH RICE SALAD

“Random Notes” – I don’t know when I last followed the directions exactly for this salad. Usually I double or triple and add ingredients until it looks and tastes right but this is the recipe my mom gave me. Amend as needed.

We always make the Italian Good Seasoning Dressing for the Italian dressing… using red wine vinegar for both the vinegar and water portion. I am sure another Italian dressing would be fine. I just can’t guarantee it. 🙂 Usually, I use regular Soy Sauce but less sodium was all I had…worked out fine. I have never used Minute Rice either…always long grain or Jasmine.

1 c. rice

1 T. soy sauce

1/2 c. Italian dressing

1/2 t. sugar

2 c. fresh spinach, cut in thin strips

1/2 c. diced celery

1/2 c. sliced green onion

1/3 c. crumbled crisp bacon

Stage One:

Cook rice according to directions. Transfer rice to bowl. Cool slightly. – (No pictures, but they have directions on the bag!)

Combine dressing, soy sauce, and sugar (often left out).

Stir the dressings into the warm rice. Cover and chill.

Stage 2-

When the rice is cool and you’re about ready to serve…

Chop green onions,

bacon,

celery,

and spinach,

and toss it all into a bowl so that it looks pretty like this!

Fold the veggies into the rice just before serving. Enjoy!

Thanks, Molly! Can’t wait to try this myself. – Lisa

First Ever Ku-Ki-Do Apron Awards

I am currently confined to a kitchenette in a military lodging facility which means it’s a perfect time to take care of some posts that don’t require me to cook…like recognizing a few up-and-coming Ku-Ki-Do Masters.

The first award is an Advanced White Apron to Holly Diccico. Holly came to my house and made Classic Chocolate Chip cookies with my equipment but I kept my hands completely out of the project. Her results were very good. She will have her Yellow Apron once she tells me she’s made a couple batched on her own and that will have to wait a few weeks, because she’s in South America at the moment.

Holly’s Apron – The black border around the picture shows it’s an “advanced” apron.

Holly scooping Ku-Ki-Do

The second award of Yellow Apron goes to Megan Tilton. Megan watched Holly make cookies and has since attempted multiple batches on her own and sent me text message pictures of her results. Megan has demonstrated appropriate discernment regarding problems with dough consistency and is troubleshooting her way to perfection. Keep the cookie pictures coming Megan and you’ll soon be a Green Apron.

Megan’s Apron

Megan making cupcakes

The third award, a pair of prestigious Green Aprons, goes to the team of Nathan and Kara Johnson. They came over to make a batch with me late last spring and they’ve been working at home with Darth Mixer’s predecessor, The Little Clone Trooper, ever since. They were doing some pretty advanced troubleshooting by the time I left Pullman, even researching different kinds of baking stones. They are well on their way to mastery and I have independent reports that they are very close with the Classic Chocolate Chip, if not there. They will go on to Blue Aprons when they try a couple more cookie varieties and send me some pictures – there are some Snicker Doodle and Oatmeal Cookie lovers in the U.COME.UNITY group too. I’m sure I’ll continue to hear great things about how it’s going.

Kara’s Apron

Nathan’s Apron

Kara and Nathan making Ku-Ki-Do eyes at each other.  Aren’t they sweet!

Congratulations, Guys!

If anyone else is out there making and baking great Ku-Ki-Do, let me know, and you too can have an apron award. Of course, I’m making up these awards as I go, so no one really knows what I’m talking about – least of all me, but these guys will be able to say they were the first to earn these colors! The colors are going to go like my old Tae-Kwon-Do class White-Yellow-Green-Blue-Brown-Black. I got a green belt in Tae-Kwon-Do and it was hard. I don’t think I’ll ever get a black one, but I gave myself Ku-Ki-Do Black Apron straight off because I invented the whole Ku-Ki-Do thing. It’s nice to invent something once in a while, even if it is corny.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about with all of the apron nonsense, please go to my very first blog post ever: (click here)

Oh, and it wouldn’t be right to leave out a few honorary Ku-Ki-Do black aprons that I happen to know of!  They are: My Mom, Tracie Addyman, Molly Sears and Mrs. Fields.

If you’re wondering what I’m doing in a lodge with a lowly kitchenette, click on the Nomadlibs link at the top.

Happy Ku-Ki Baking!

Lisa

Mimi Mac’s Peach Cobbler

Tonight I had peach cobbler for the third time in a week.

That’s because, last week was spent with my in-laws in Thomaston, Georgia, where the hospitality and the peaches are in a league of their own. My father-in-law is a pillar of the community in his own right, but he also descends from a dignified line of peach farmers from that area. The family peach business is a thing of the past, but he grew up knowing peaches. On Saturday he and his brother drove to a nearby town (Woodbury) to track down what they considered a suitable box for me to take back to my brother’s house in Virginia the next day. They said the fruit would be ripe when I arrived and they were right. They are perfect right now and I’ve eaten so many that my mouth is sore.

This is the box they hand selected for me. Aren’t they beautiful?

During our visit, Charlotte (known to my children as Mimi) made two cobblers. She got going so fast on the first one that I missed getting any pictures of it. But I was on my toes for the second one, which included a few blueberries from Barney’s brother’s bushes. The recipe is from her mother, my husband’s maternal grandmother, who was a sweet and spicy little slip of a lady called “Mimi Mac” by her grandchildren.

She apparently made a mean cobbler. You can tell when a recipe card looks like this, that it’s pretty good.

Here’s the Ariel font version of Mimi Mac’s Cobbler

1 stick of margarine (butter)

1 cup self rising flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup “milk” 2 cups fruit

1 TBSP lemon juice

Prepare and sweeten your chosen fruit, then toss it in the lemon juice.

Peaches don’t stand a chance against a knife that size!

Melt the butter in a baking dish

While it’s melting combine the sugar and flour.

Then measure the “milk”. Now, does this next picture look like a picture of “milk” to you?

My dear mother in-law translates “milk” in his recipe as ½ cup of heavy cream and ½ cup of whole milk but even when asked, she still calls it “milk”. I told her that people might call that “half-n-half” but she shrugs and twists her hand in the air in this cute little gesture that she alone can pull off which roughly means “Oh, well!” She is so sweet! She will be downright adorable if she ever gets old but she’s in better shape than most people I know so she can just have her cream keep looking 20 years younger than she is.

Add the “milk” to the flour and sugar mixture.

And, whisk until smooth.

Let the baking dish with the melted butter cool slightly. Then pour the batter over the top. Do not stir it together with the butter. NO STIRING allowed! (Make sure your grandson understands!)

Drop the fruit evenly over the batter. Still, NO stirring.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Give it a few minutes to cool…then dig in.

I must say, that left to my own devices, the dish would have been twice as big and I would have had a big wallop of extra creamy vanilla ice cream on top, but Mimi looks as good as she does for a reason. Moderation is her mantra. So, I behaved with decorum and took an overnight break before I ate what was left in the pan for breakfast. I ran first though, so… Anyway, doesn’t this look delicious?

If you’re keeping track, you realize there’s a missing cobbler, which brings me to tonight. I am now at my brother’s house where I used most of that big beautiful box of peaches to bake another cobbler. This one was a different style though. Mimi Mac’s is probably more of a true cobbler – sort of a cross between a cake and a sweet sticky biscuit that rises up around the fruit. On the other hand, the one I made tonight called for the peaches to be treated more like a pie filling and had a crispy crumbly crust on the top. I think it was probably more of a “crisp”. Whatever it was, I’m thankful that with 8 kids in the house there’s just enough left for my breakfast.

Which style do I like better?

Both.

Variety is the spice of life.

Thank you again, Charlotte and Barney, for a lovely visit, for spoiling me once again in your relaxing home, and for the wonderful peaches.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

My mother made Strawberry Rhubarb Pie a few weeks ago and made the mistake of mentioning it to me on the phone. What she forgot was that my Dad would be driving to Pullman two days later. I spent those 48 hours campaigning for her to send “a piece” to me and reminding him. Really, I meant for her to send about half the pie but she sent me exactly one piece. I snuck it into the office and ate it all by myself without offering to share any with my family. So, maybe I shouldn’t be judging mom’s sharing technique especially after she went to all the trouble to make it again for our last night in Eastern Washington.

I had just left Ric alone with the movers after a dresser being driven across the lawn on a dolly started losing all of its drawers into the grass. It’s just best for me not to watch some things, so I went up to Spokane where the boys were already staying with my parents. I got there just in time for the pie making, so I got out my camera. She was actually making three pies. In my economy they were to be divided thus: one for me, one for everyone else and one for the neighbor who gave her the rhubarb.

She had already started chopping the rhubarb by the time I set down my purse. I liked the color of this batch and it packed a healthy rhubarb sizzle in every bite.

She also had the crumb topping ready, but I had her pose with the pastry mixer anyway.

She let me slice the strawberries.

But, Mom took care of the crust. She is much better at shaping the edge than I am…so are most people.

Then, she added the flour and checked in with the aged cookbook she got for a wedding gift from her grandmother, (my Great Grandma Quantz). She doesn’t really follow the recipe as much as she thinks she does though. I guess it just jogs her memory. The recipe at the bottom of the post is how she actually makes the pie.

Here is the cookbook dated from the late 60s. It calls for “Regular Gold Medal Flour or Wondra” in most recipes. What is Wondra, I wondra-d?

After the cookbook consultation, we dumped in the pretty strawberries.

…and mixed the filling together gently.

I really like the old pastry mixer that I grew up with, which is why I stuffed it in my suitcase and left for the East Coast with it. (Just joking, Mom. Don’t get up and look!)

The filling is put into the crusts looking like a bunch of freshly sugared fruit. It was very pretty and I was surprised that was all there was to the process. I thought there would be a sauce involved for some reason. It certainly comes out of the oven differently than it goes in.

The crumb topping is Mom’s twist on the pie and I like it.

She puts a pan under each pan for the oven because there is a tendency to drip.

She also makes aluminum foil collars to keep the edges of the crusts from overbrowning.

Three strips of foil folded together into one long strip and then turned into a loop and pressed around the edges. I have visions of cutting my fingers on the foil just thinking about this process, but it really does help on pies that have to bake for a long time.

Here is one of the pies, with its collar off, showing us why she put the pan under the pan. See how clean my Mom’s oven is? No rhubarb drips allowed! (Notice you never see pictures of my oven, because I do things like drop pesto pizza into the hinge!)

Here is my pie. It was yummy. I ended up sharing – which was Mom’s plan all along but Oh, My! It was delicious.

I was so intent on the zingy goodness that I almost forgot I meant to post this culinary experience. So, final photo has a few bites missing from the side.

Here’s the recipe for one pie:

Filling

1 ½ cups sugar

1/3 cup flour

2 cups rhubarb

2 cups strawberries

Crumbled Topping

¾ cup flour

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Crust
Any single crust recipe or pre-made will do

Bake at 425 for 40-50 minutes until filling is bubbly.  Let it cool and set before attempting to slice.

Thanks for the pie, Mom!

Pesto Pizza

Here’s a quick and easy favorite that my friend Shannon Cummins introduced me to a few years back.

It takes…

1 pre-baked pizza crust

¼ cup pesto (more or less)

1 cup chopped cooked chicken

4 oz crumbled feta

1 chopped Roma tomato

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste.

Optional – Chopped Portobello mushrooms, olives, onions…this is pizza. You get the idea.

Spread the pizza crust with the pesto. You can make your own or buy it in a jar. (This fall I will be making and freezing pesto again, so check back if you want to see how it’s made – and frozen in bags like you see in the picture above.)

It smells delicious to open a bag of pesto! Next comes the chicken.

Then sprinkle on the feta.

Top with well drained tomatoes.

Add the cheddar and then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes.

Blog Outtake: I was baking one regular and two small pizzas when I took these photos. Apparently my cookie stone was offended by the idea of hosting pizza and it spit one off the edge as I took them out of the oven. It was LOVELY to have a piping hot pile of feta, chicken, tomatoes and cheddar in the hinge of my oven door, not to mention what it did to the oven mitt I was using in a futile effort to clean it up. I thought about taking a picture, but I wasn’t quite in the right frame of mind, and you really wouldn’t want to see something that ugly anyway, right? I spent a good portion of yesterday morning trying to pick the last bits of hardened cheese out of the fabric cording that seals the oven door but I’m afraid our renters may still be able to find evidence of the wreck that happened with pesto pizza if they look closely.

Nomad Libs – Move Story Complete

The story of our move to New York is now complete on Nomad Libs.  Click the link in the menu bar at the top of this blog  if you’d like to read about a dog “episode” in the car, Lisa plus Eight, courthouses, dolphins and other adventures during our 5,200+ miles of wandering this summer.

Joy to You,

Lisa

 

Wanna-Be Food Blogger Nabbed by the CIA

Molly and I visited the Apple Pie Café at Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY yesterday. I guess I missed the signs that said I wasn’t supposed to take pictures. When I snapped one right under the nose of the man standing behind a case full of treats I was informed of the policy. I apologized and put my camera/phone away. (Maybe next time I’ll print up a Kitchen Catwalk press pass and wow them with that…if I can keep a straight face.) Fortunately, I had already stored a few shots and the kind gentleman didn’t seem troubled by that, so here are the ignorance-is-bliss images.

Do you see any signs that say no cameras?

Toasted Meringues. These got the camera binge started – like photographing clouds indoors.

I was mainly focused on the cookies in the bottom row. They looked pretty good. I’m going to work on a brownie-like cookie next winter and the Ranger Cookies beside them caused Molly to recall a recipe that she has in a box at home that needs to be tried again. See…this was official blog work.

The baguettes looked delicious but they were not actually twinkling. That was a special and totally intentional camera effect I was after.

This was the shot that got me nailed. I can’t even identify most of the items in this picture. You could water board me and I wouldn’t be able to give up the culinary secrets contained here. I will however tell you to go and try some of these. The students and staff are lovely and charming and the food was wonderful.

No more photos.

Visualize with me: for lunch, I ordered a Portobello sandwich with soft goat cheese, red onions, and baby spinach tossed in balsamic vinaigrette and Molly got oven-roasted turkey with gruyere cheese, cucumbers and chipotle mayonnaise. We traded halves so we each got both. (Kids, these were no PBJ’s!)

We were full and happy after the scrumptious sandwiches, but we are Americans. We push through the satiation point and move on to dessert!

Okay, two more photos.

It started innocently. I had a legitimate reason to pull my phone out of my purse. I was nearly 3000 miles away from my family. Then I reasoned that these were my cupcakes. I bought and paid for them (well, actually Molly did, but my point remains). I could take their sweet little pictures if I wanted to. So, I bravely pretended to be texting in order for you to see the Brownie Cupcake with fudge frosting and the Pink Lemonade cupcakes that we shared.

The frosting was so light and fluffy on these little dabs of decadence. Molly says she’s going to learn how to make this sort of frosting and she bought a camera today. Maybe she’ll share her wisdom one day.

I am going to find sugar crystals like this before molasses sugar cookie season starts.

Here we are in front of the Culinary Institute Restaurant building’s front entrance. How many homeschooling moms does it take to take a self-portrait with an i-phone?

Here’s the view we were facing. The CIA campus is beautiful. If you ever have a chance to visit, it’s worth the trip.

While we were in the neighborhood it seemed rude not to stop and visit the Roosevelt’s.

What do you think of this recipe for fruitcake, Mr. President? (Fruitcake was one of his favorites.)

Quick Spinach Quiche

My family is always enthusiastic about quiche!

Eggs, cheese, flavorful ingredients, pie crust…what’s not to like?

Here’s the basic recipe for a Quick Spinach Quiche:

I box of roll out pie crust (no rolling pin – this is the quick version)
12 crisply browned bacon slices
1 cup finely chopped onion
6 eggs
1 box frozen chopped spinach
8 oz Swiss cheese
2 TBSP flour
2 1/2 cups half-n-half
salt and pepper

Bake at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes. Makes two pies.

You’ll notice in the picture below that my bacon strips look an awful lot like turkey kielbasa. That is what happens when you write bacon at the top of the grocery list and then leave the list in the car. You get home, smack yourself in the forehead and then rummage through the refrigerator for an alternative. The kielbasa was fine, but I think I prefer bacon. I thought about not blogging because I messed up again, but if I dropped blogging every time I deviate from the ideal form of a recipe I would post something about once a month – in a good month. And, I guess we’re highlighting the point that quiche is versatile.


On a remembered-the-grocery-list kitchen catwalk, you would fry the bacon while sautéing the onion in some oil. But in this case…


…the meat needed to be chopped into small pieces and I was able to brown it with the onion while I was working on the rest of the ingredients



The box of frozen spinach gets a nice warm shower in a colander until it’s thawed.


Then I wring it out. You don’t want green spinach juice turning your quiche into a soggy rendition of something out of a Dr. Seuss book.


There’s really not much in a box of frozen spinach once you take out the water!


I usually have sliced Swiss cheese on hand, but it need to be in shreds, so I just cut the slices into thin strips and it’s close enough.


Put the cheese in a small bowl and drop in the flour.


Toss the two until the cheese is coated and there aren’t any pieces sticking together.


Crack the eggs into the half-n-half.


Stir vigorously with a whisk. (Hard to do that and take a picture at the same time!)


Keep checking on the meat. It took a while for the moisture from the kielbasa to evaporate and the browning process to begin.


When the meat du jour is cooked, soak up any excess grease and oil with a paper towel.


Put the crusts into the pie plates and try to make it look nice. Surely you can do better than I do – even my 13 year old son can!

Then, divide the meat between the pie plates.


Decompress the spinach ball and sprinkle it evenly over the meat.


Spread a layer of cheese on top of that, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.


Give the eggs and half-n-half another vigorous stir to make sure the mixture hasn’t separated then pour it between the two pans.


Pop them onto the center rack of a very hot oven (425 degrees) and bake for about 35 minutes. It should look about like this when it’s done.


Let it sit for several minutes before trying to cut and serve.


Yummy! And, talk about great breakfast leftovers!