Lemony White Chocolate Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Lemony Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Lemony Blueberry Streusel Muffins

We just got back from church a while ago and I figured I needed to get this written since at this point the muffins are long gone and the photos sitting on my desktop were constantly calling to me saying, “edit me! Edit me!”

Am I the only one who sits in church and while 99% of the mind is listening, the other 1% is totally off on a tangent? Mind you, in my defense, my tangents are pretty much always related to something church-ish (yes, that is now a word because I said so). Today, the gentleman in front of us was singing along and he had a sweet, if somewhat off key voice. The thought popped into my head that when we get to Heaven and our voices are raised praising God, I imagine it will be rather like in church. There won’t be a bunch of people with perfect voices sitting in perfect rows with perfect manners. It will be a mass of voices; the off key, the sweet soprano, the deep bass, the whispering alto and the childish murmurs of the young. I imagine we won’t be sitting on hard benches with politely folded hands; we’ll be shouting and waving our hands in praise as we listen to The Lord speak or shout in awe at the voices of an angelic choir. We’ll be on our feet or on our knees, but we sure won’t be silent. We certainly won’t be boring and worried about Sunday Manners.

I look forward to that in a way I never did when I was going to the quiet Lutheran church I went to as a child. The church we attend now took some getting used to for a lady who was used to quiet services, printed hymns sung in polite unison and above all else, manners, always manners. While I will probably (at least not in this life) never be a person who stands and waves my hands, who sings at the top of my lungs or shouts out “Praise God!”, I take a quiet joy in watching the tiny older lady who sits a few pews in front of us do so. I get choked up when I see the one man who always has his hands raised and a smile on his face that speaks of a elated communion with God. I find it hard to sing without tears as I hear all of these voices raised together in worshipful community and I see the worship leaders looking as though they feel that on that stage, in that moment, is where they want to be above all else. It’s not the songs I grew up with and I admit to being thrilled when we all sang “It Is Well With My Soul” a couple of weeks ago, but nonetheless, I think I have found my place, my home for this lifetime, the people I will watch grow and change over time. I look forward to that too.

Moving onto muffins, if you like the blueberry lemon citrus combo, this should be right up your alley.Β  Plus, they have streusel! What else does one need in life, right? I need to come up with a recipe for streusel topped streusel to satisfy my streusel addiction. In the meantime, I need to make more of these muffins. They are loaded with fresh blueberries, sweet white chocolate and lemon zest, then topped with buttery, crunchy streusel. These are perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack or even dessert.

You know the drill…. πŸ™‚

Lemony White Chocolate Blueberry Streusel Muffins

  • Streusel-
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and sliced thin
  • Muffins-
  • 1 cup buttermilk mixed with 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup good quality white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 15 muffins cups or line with foil or paper liners.
  2. Make your streusel- In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until you have pieces that are about pea sized. Set aside
  3. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk mixture and the oats. Let sit for about ten minutes to soften the oats.
  4. In another small bowl (you have someone to wash the dishes, right?), whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  5. In a large bowl (last bowl, I promise), stir together the melted butter, brown sugar and lemon zest. Dump the oats mixture into that and stir well.Β  Pour all of the flour mixture in at once and stir JUST until combined.
  6. Gently fold in the blueberries and white chocolate chips.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup to near the top. Top each with a heaping tablespoon or so of streusel and gently press down (you’ll have streusel left over. Just put it in a tightly covered container or ziploc bag and freeze it for another time) Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Gently remove from the muffin cups and let cool on a rack.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Lemony Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Lemony Blueberry Streusel Muffins

 

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake

 

When I was ten, my mom and brother and sister and myself went to Alabama to visit my grandparents (Mommer and Popper) for a few days. I absolutely loved being there. It was way out in the country, a small wood frame house with no central air, no central heat (no heat at all actually), built I have no idea when. It had one small bathroom, two small bedrooms and an ancient kitchen with an old iron porcelain coated sink. I remember sleeping in the tiny hallway between the kitchen and one of the bedrooms on a blanket with my mom when I wasn’t staying over with my cousin Lori. The house was surrounded by woods and the blueberry bushes that Popper had planted. On the same patch of land was the trailer my Aunt Irene and my cousin Lori, who was my age, lived in, so going to visit was sheer heaven for me. Country, family and someone to play with. Part of my heart still lies in Alabama and the south, which is why I’m probably quite content living out the rest of my life here in Kentucky even though I was born and raised in Chicago.

Well, one day during the visit, Popper told me, my cousin Lori and a couple other cousins who were visiting that we could go pick some blueberries. We grabbed bowls and went out to the two large bushes right next to the house, which were about 5 feet tall each; nicely established bushes. About half an hour later, we went back into the house to show Popper our blueberry haul. We had totally stripped the bushes bare and had about 2 gallons of blueberries. While I’m sure that inside of him he was thinking, “oh, Etta (Mommer) is going to kill me for letting them doing this”, outside all he did was laugh, tell us that we had a lot of blueberries and had us take them in to my aunt. I have no earthly idea what they used all those blueberries for.

Silly story maybe, but the memory popped into my head the other day when I made this cake. It doesn’t take 2 gallons of blueberries though, I promise; just one pint. It did however, take me a couple of tries to get right. The first one totally stuck to the pan and while it tasted fine, it wasn’t quite right even if it hadn’t stuck. The second one however, was completely delicious. My husband, who is type 2 diabetic and knows better, had three slices in one day. I used my raspberry amaretto pound cake recipe, but changed it up for this, plus increased the butter a bit to account for the water evaporation from browning the butter. This is a delicious cake. It has a tight, moist crumb and an amazing flavor. Don’t look at the amounts of flavorings and think it sounds like they would all be competing with each other. They don’t at all. They complement each other and mixed with the fresh berries, brown butter cake and the orange syrup finish, add up to an outstanding cake, if I do say so myself.

You know the drill…

Mrs. Cupcake, who needs to go get some cake before my husband finishes it all

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon orange oil (or orange extract, but please, go buy the oil. it lasts forever and is much better
  • 1 teaspoon Fiori Di Sicilia flavoring (optional; available through the King Arthur site. Another one I recommend splurging on. It is a fantastic addition to many baked goods)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • Orange syrup-
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  1. Place the butter in a medium pot and cook over medium high heat, swirling the butter frequently, until it is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Do NOT leave the stove. Butter can burn before you know it. Pour immediately into a bowl and put in the fridge for 45 minutes or so, just long enough to chill it and take it form a pure liquid state to a mushy solid.
  2. Preheat your oven to 325 and grease and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the soft brown butter and cream cheese. Beat at medium speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl once if needed.
  4. Gradually add the sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the Grand Marnier and the extracts, beating well afterward. Gradually add the flour to the mixture at low speed. Beat just until blended.
  5. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each one. GENTLY fold in the blueberries. Spoon batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. When you have it in the pan, firmly bang the pan on a counter top to help remove any air bubbles.
  6. Bake at 325 for 65 to 95 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. When the cake is almost done, make the syrup- in a small pot, combine the syrup ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the orange zest and discard it, then set the syrup aside until the cake is finished.
  8. Let the cake cool for 20 minutes, then use a plastic spatula ( or a fast food plastic knife if you have one) to loosen the cake from the edges of the pan. Place a large plate over the top of the pan, then carefully invert the pan. Tap firmly on the bottom of the pan to loosen the cake. It should fall out onto the plate. Let it finish cooling on the plate.
  9. Carefully transfer the cake over to a rack that has been set inside of a large rimmed baking sheet (to catch drips). Reheat your syrup until it is hot to the touch, then spoon the hot syrup over the cake. Make sure to let it soak in each time before adding more. You may not use all the syrup; it’s up to you. If you don’t though, don’t throw it out. It’s wonderful in tea.
  10. That’s it! Enjoy!

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Blueberry Grand Marnier Brown Butter Pound Cake 2

Blueberry Peach Yogurt/Granola Parfaits

Blueberry Peach Yogurt Granola Parfaits

Blueberry Peach Yogurt Granola Parfaits




Back in the day, when they first came out, I loved McDonalds Yogurt Parfaits. They were a quick fix when I wanted something light, relatively nutritious and still sweet. They were also cheap at a dollar for a good sized serving. Now though, the serving size has shrunk, the price has gone up and they just aren’t as good as they used to be anyway.

So I made my own.

A lot of blogging isn’t even recipes, it’s just helping your readers think outside the food box. This is one of those times. I am giving specifics here on amounts and fruits and the granola I used, etc etc, but unlike this recipe and when you buy these at a store for a bazillion dollars or at McDonalds and wonder if the 16 year old making it sneezed in it, this can be made to YOUR specifications, with the fruits and granola YOU like, the yogurt brand and flavor YOU favor. These just happen to be mine is all.

You know the drill… πŸ™‚

(This makes enough fruit for quite a few parfaits. But that is deliberate. The fruit is wonderful on its own, just mixed with yogurt as is, over ice cream or frozen yogurt, etc. Feel free to halve the quantities if you don’t think you’d use it all within three days or so.)

Blueberry Peach Yogurt/Granola Parfaits

  • 2 cups vanilla or vanilla honey yogurt (my bottom layer was Oikos vanilla, top layer was vanilla honey from Greek Gods)
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries
  • 3 peaches, chopped into bite sized chunks
  • juice and zest of one large lime (about 2 tablespoons each juice and zest)
  • 3 tablespoons honey (and a little extra for drizzling over the top)
  • 1 cup of your favorite granola (I used Trader Joes Pumpkin granola)
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, blueberries, lime juice and zest and the honey. Stir well to combine. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to get some juices going in the fruit and for the flavors to meld.
  2. Now comes the oh so hard part lol; in 4 purty glasses, layer the yogurt, fruit, granola and top with another dollop of yogurt. Drizzle with some extra honey.
  3. They can be served right away or let them sit in the fridge for a while if you prefer softer granola.
  4. Enjoy!! πŸ™‚

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

 

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies With Apricots & Blueberries

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies With Apricots & Blueberries

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies With Apricots & Blueberries


I remember how back when I was a kid, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and we wore Saber Tooth Tiger skins for clothing,Β  some years at Christmas time, my mom would get a fruit tray to set out. She also got a bag of shell on mixed nuts every year that we loved but that’s neither here nor there other than a memory I have. As for the fruit tray, you know the kind I mean; all neatly set up, with dried peaches, pears, apricots, prunes and dates on it. In our household, the peaches and apricots would get eaten first and the prunes would sit there until we kids got desperate. I actually like prunes sometimes now but I still prefer the apricots.

When I got older, I got into the whole cover perfectly good and nutritious fruit with chocolate thing. Easy enough; take a nice piece of fruit, fresh or dried and dip it into chocolate and cover up any nutritional value it ever had. What’s wrong with that, right? πŸ˜€ My favorite was of course to take a dried apricot and cover it in either semi sweet or white chocolate. The chewy tangy fruit mixed with the sweet chocolate… pure Heaven. So when my friend Jenni over at Pastry Chef Online came up with an utterly delicious Apricot Swirl Brownie, it got me craving that fruit/chocolate combo again.

So what did I do? It isn’t entirely original because I have seen cookies with dried apricots and white chocolate in them before but I combined two of my favorite fruit flavors (in the Summer, I am constantly eating sliced fresh apricots and fresh blueberries with a little sugar and cream) in a cookie with both white and dark chocolate. I love the way this turned out; fairly reminiscent of those chocolate covered fruits I love. The soft sweet cookie, tangy fruits and bites of chocolate just go together so well! These are extremely easy to make so….

You know the drill….

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies With Apricots & Blueberries

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 6 ounce package dried apricots
  • 1 6 ounce package dried blueberries
  • 1 cup good quality white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup good quality bittersweet or dark chocolate chips (Ghirardelli makes a good 60% dark chocolate chip; not too sweet or too bitter)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  1. Β Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put the dried fruit into a small bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes. Drain well. Lay the berries in a paper towel and gently blot dry. Blot dry the apricots and chop into small bite sized pieces.Β  Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugars, and extracts. Beat well, until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir to mix, then add to the butter mixture all at once. Beat at low speed until fully combined. Alternately, you can use a heavy wooden spoon to mix.
  4. Add in the white and dark chips; stir well. Add the apricots; stir well. Last, gently add the blueberries, being careful to not break them up more than can be avoided.
  5. Roll golf ball sized pieces of dough in your palms to get them rounded, then lay about 3 inches apart on large ungreased baking sheets.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for about 14 minutes or until the top is light golden brown and the cookies look just set in the middle. They will firm up as they cool. If you prefer a crisper cookie, let cook for maybe an extra 2 minutes, until the top is golden brown and looks dry.
  7. Let sit on the pans for two minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
  8. I got 27 good sized cookies from this. You could make them smaller but make sure to adjust your cooking time.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

 

 

The Most Important Meal Of The Day

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes


I always thought that was either dessert or cocktail time, but according to those in the know (who btw are the same ones we refer to when we say “they say”. Who ARE “they” anyway?! Should I be frightened? Wearing a tin foil hat? Anticipating uncomfortable probes and personal questions about my junk food habits?)

Sorry… had a “Ooo, shiny thing” moment there. Erhmmm, where was I? Oh yeah. According to those in the know, dessert really isn’t the most important meal of the day. Would you believe it’s not even considered a MEAL!? Obviously, “they” have never been in a room full of food bloggers. Supposedly, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Fuels you for the rest of the day, stops you from eating too much later, blah blah blah. I still want chocolate cake. I don’t LIKE breakfast. When I get up, I just want a cup of strong tea and Pachebels Canon In D to wake me up soothingly. Otherwise, it’s not pretty.

I DO however like breakfast for dinner. Back in the day, when I was a waitress at Shoneys (many many moons ago) I used to love their breakfast buffet. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night at 10pm, down went the salad bar and up went the breakfast bar. Sausage, eggs, bacon, pancakes, those sliced strawberries in that neon red probably carcinogenic glaze…ahhh, fatty heaven on a plate.

So every once in a great while, I make my family Breakfast For Dinner (yes, you must capitalize those words. It’s the law. THAT’S how big a deal it is). It involves copious amounts of greasy meat, enough syrup to put an elephant into a diabetic coma, eggs, biscuits and pancakes. Gotta. Have.Pancakes. Also the law. Honest.

But today I didn’t want regular pancakes. So I looked around and found one for Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes in my King Arthur Whole grains Cookbook. But… it required whole wheat pastry flour. Not something I keep around and not something I was willing to buy just for this. So I looked around online and what I have here is an amalgamation of about 3 recipes. These are light and fluffy but with a slightly different texture due to the cornmeal and also with a nice blueberry tang as well as a touch of zip from the lemon zest. Add in a touch of cinnamon and some vanilla and the result was some darn yummy pancakes. So g’wan… get out the syrup.

Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal (NOT cornmeal mix, just plain cornmeal)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (more or less to taste)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 6 ounce container fresh blueberries, rinsed and gently patted dry
  1. In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.
  2. Beat the egg yolks until well mixed then add the buttermilk to them. Add the melted butter, vanilla and lemon zest.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients.
  4. Beat the egg whites until stiff then fold into the flour mixture.
  5. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  6. Cook the pancakes until they are golden brown on both sides on a hot griddle that youΒ liberally greased with butter.


Print Friendly and PDF

Muffin Overload Part One

Ignore that mine are funny shaped. I am the poster child for overfilling muffin cups lol

My much loved husband has left until tomorrow. He is going to pick up his kids so that they can come here to visit for a couple of weeks. So in what I know is a totally misguided effort on my part, one that is doomed to failure because..well, I am going to be surrounded by 4 teenagers, one almost teen, a toddler and a grown man not known for neatness, I am trying to make some baked goods to wrap and store.

My hope is that 1) I won’t be constantly deluged with ardent cries of “Janet/momma/hon, I’m hungry… when’s dinner…dessert…breakfast…lunch…my 47th snack of the day”Β  if there are fairly healthy wholesome snackies around and 2) that maybe, just maybe, this can be a bit of a vacation for me too as opposed to my having to follow a bunch of almost grown up, one grown up and a little one around saying “Can you please pick that up/put that away/stop painting the cat pink/quit tying up your step brother/sister with duct tape” and variations on that theme. I know… I’m naive. I always have had a rather unhealthy preoccupation with rose colored glasses. πŸ˜›

But I am giving it the old college effort (yet another saying that when I contemplate it, I wonder where it came from. Isn’t a “college effort” something consisting of seeing how many beers you can chug in two minutes without throwing up? ). I made a few different kinds of muffins and am working on cookies.Β  I’m going to share the muffin recipes in a three part post series. Why? Because that way I don’t have to write one post the size of War And Peace πŸ˜€ So here is the first. Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins. Enjoy. Slather with butter or jam or honey or…or…liverwurst if that’s your muffin thing. πŸ˜› This makes 26 to 30 muffins (remember, I’m cooking for the hungry mongrel hordes) but it should be easily halved. Or doubled. Or quadrupled…or Eightrupled (yes, I know that’s not a word but I liked the way it sounded). They are tender & moist with a yummy blueberry almondish flavor and a slight tang from the cream cheese.

Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 teaspoons almond extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (unsalted please)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (could use frozen I would assume in the off season; just use them still frozen, not thawed)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease 30 muffin cups orΒ  line with paper or foil liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir well and set aside for now.
  3. In another large bowl,beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, lemon juice, vanilla extract and almond extract. Beat well.
  4. Add in the melted butter. Beat well. Add the milk and yogurt. yep; you guessed it. Beat well πŸ˜›
  5. Gently fold in the blueberries. Fill muffin cups 3/4 fill (do not do what I did and overfill them. Oops? and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until a nice golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Eat. Do that liverwurst thing. Just don’t tell me about it.

Momma Hands

When I was younger I hated my hands. I would look at the hands of other women and then compare them to my own. Theirs would be slender and dainty with nicely shaped nails that were usually painted a beautiful color. Mine however were big and squarish with long fingers and I rarely painted my nails because I could almost never get my nails long enough to paint. Even when I tried it didn’t work because my big bulky somewhat clutzy fingers would have me end up with more polish on my fingers than on my nails. And as I got even older and had more kids and the life that goes with that, things like wanting nice nails had to be put aside. My hands were, in my mind, just tools and not very pretty ones either. My only pride was that they were soft and smooth and I never got age spots and all the rest of the signs of getting older that tend to show on a womans hands.

But as I’ve aged (I’m an ancient 46 now πŸ˜› ), I’ve realized that my hands were never just tools; they were instruments. One day, they would be the sound of a flute as I would tickle my children and make them laugh. At other times, they would be the discordant but necessary bang of an out of tune piano when I had to deliver a spanking. Then later, they would be the whisper of a harp as I used them to brush back the hair of a sleeping child. Over time, my hands have played a symphony of different instruments. They have seen a life that while rarely easy and sometimes harsh, was one that has been useful, has maybe made some difference.

I looked at my hands yesterday and saw age. They are still soft, but the smoothness is giving way to the ravages of time as my skin thins. I see wrinkles and I still see nails that rarely look feminine, rarely look pretty. But I also saw so much more. I saw hands that were used inΒ  raising three children to adulthood and happy independent lives and are still being used to take care of three that aren’t grown yet.Β  I saw hands that have tenderly and gently held the heads of so many tiny babies in them, that have stroked the faces of crying toddlers, have held the hand of angry young adults and have now begun the same cycle with my grandchildren. I saw hands that have been used to knead pain out of my husbands shoulders; something I couldn’t do as well with tiny dainty hands and short fingers. I saw hands that have held his face between them when he was in pain and comforted him with my touch. These hands of mine are so much more than just utilitarian. They are instruments given to me and yes they are also tools but tools that have done so much. These hands have been used in love and in anger, to give pleasure and to, unfortunately, at times, to give a miniscule measure of pain meant to help someone grow. They have been mistreated and not well cared for and have begun to get knobby looking at the knuckles as arthritis begins to ravage them, but they have always served me well. I use them every day to create food that gives my family nourishment and joy, to take care of four human beings that depend on me. They bathe a toddler, they hug two teenagers, they love a husband. They hold a phone while I talk to my other children who live far away now and they cuddle grandchildren. I see now that I have momma hands and that, because of that, they are indeed…beautiful.

 

 

Honey & Spice Blueberry Apricot Jam

This is a sweet yet tart jam that combines the flavors of the two fruits wonderfully. The predominant flavor is Blueberry and then you get the subtle taste of Apricots, honey and spice. I was loved how this turned out. It’s a small batch, only three half pints because when I’m making new jams, I prefer to start small just in case. But this could be easily doubled or tripled. Just expect a longer cooking time. As I’ve said before, I’m not going to try to teach full out canning techniques. There are web sites that can do that much better than I and here is one of the best of them.

Here is a good link to learn proper canning techniques. πŸ™‚

http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/can_home.html

  • 1 lb fresh apricots, finely chopped (See step two)
  • 1 pint fresh blueberries, crushed
  • 1 cup good quality honey
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Wash and sterilize 3 half pint canning jars. Keep ready in hot water while preparing the jam.
  2. For the apricots and blueberries- you can use a food processor to do the chopping, but don’t puree this. You want to leave some small bits and pieces.Β  Just do a couple of short pulses.
  3. Combine the fruits, honey, sugar and spices in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook the jam until it has thickened, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  5. Ladle the jam into the prepared jars, leaving a 1/4 inch head space. Wipe the rims of your jars well with a clean, hot damp washcloth. As I have said before, when it comes to canning, you HAVE to have everything scrupulously clean to prevent bacteria and germs from growing when the jars are stored.
  6. Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Removed from canner (or plain old large pot in my case πŸ˜› )and let sit until cool. Wipe down jars, label, then store in a cool dark place.

Momma Hands

 

 

I Always Loved Count Chocula

Yes, that is a used jar with an old label there. I was too lazy to peel it all off. πŸ˜€

 

Though thinking about it and posting in all honesty, I’m not sure why I used past tense in that title; I STILL love Count Chocula the best. He’s my man. Don’t even try telling me he isn’t real and the relationship can never work. It’s fate that we stay together even when I am 96 years old and gumming oatmeal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ll just have to let the yummy chocolatey goodness sit in the milk a little longer is all. I’m also a sad portrait of a Cap’n Crunch addict but don’t tell the Count; he’s a jealous sort.

What are your favorite cereals. If you say you are madly in love with say, Shredded Wheat in soy milk I am going to worry about you. Same if you answer Grape Nuts. I mean c’mon, we’re all friends here… let’s quit trying to be all adult and pretend we really eat that crap for any other reason that it’s good for us and we know we need to take care of ourselves πŸ˜€ What cereal do you want when a cereal craving hits or you want something sweet and reminiscent of childhood?

Calvin is my hero btw.

While I like Count Chocula, I never cared for his friends, Boo-Berry and Franken Berry (that was today’s poor attempt at a lead in by the way. I wanted to make sure you caught it πŸ˜› ). Even as a kid, I knew the flavors were completely fake. They were like settling for a Tootsie Roll when what you really wanted was a Hershey bar but you only had a nickel (ok, a penny back in MY childhood but I’m hedging on that here. Shhh.). As an adult, I’m no different. I want real flavors when I’m eating not something made from chemicals and red dye number 4,328. Well, other than that Twinkie, Cheeto, Grape Laffy Taffy and Lemonheads issue. Those don’t count. Really. They don’t. Quit rolling your eyes at me youngun or I’ll put you to bed without dinner!

Going on the “I want real flavors” idea, today I made some homemade chutney. This is a canning recipe but it can be put into refrigerator or freezer containers too. It’s won’t keep forever but it will last about 2 months it kept refrigerated and longer in the freezer. Canning it however gives you the lovely sweet tart berry flavor for a year or twelve. I had some blueberries I needed to use as well as cranberries in the freezer (in case you didn’t know, you can buy a ton of them in season and they will keep for up to a year in the freezer. Just an FYI.) that I wanted to tell you.)Β  It is sweet and also quite tart as well as spicy and savory. It would be great with a nice salty piece of ham or a rich fatty pork chop or a piece of roast chicken. I can also see using it with ye olde block of cream cheese and crackers. Let me know what you think.

Spicy Sweet Blueberry Cranberry Chutney

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups raspberry vinegar
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (adjust to personal taste)
  • 7 cups blueberries (about 4 containers)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (NOT canned sauce)
  1. In a large non stick saucepan, stir together sugar, vinegar, onion, ginger, cinnamon, red pepper and salt. Stir well to mix. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
  2. Stir in the fruits. Return to boiling, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Stir frequently because this WILL stick to the bottom if you don’t. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until desired consistency. It will thicken up some as it cools so don’t let it get too thick while cooking. You want it thickened but still syrupy.
  4. Ladle the chutney into hot sterilized jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space.. Make sure to wipe the rims well because anything left on the rims now can be future germ territory later. Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Let cool and store in a cool dark place. It’s like Count Chocula; it likes the dark. πŸ˜›

I know; not the worlds most exciting photography today. It's hard to really showcase a dark colored condiment. Just make it and eat it πŸ˜›

Doin’ The Salsa

 

When I was a kid, you didn’t see salsa on the store shelves in Chicago. At least not that I remember in my doddering old age.Β  There also wasn’t a variety of chips to serve the non-existent salsa with. You had Jays potato chips (yes Jays; not Lays. Jays was/is regional to the Midwest), Doritos in two flavors- Nacho Cheese and Taco (I HATED the Taco ones; still do and wish they had never made a comeback) and bagged popcorn. Yes, yes I AM old. Why do you mention it? I am also old enough to remember when frozen meals were called TV dinners and came in foil trays like this *points down*

I prefer not to think about what the parts that weren’t white meat consisted of. Do Turkeys have lips? These wonderful dinners had school paste masquerading as mashed potatoes and veggies that were so mushy you could feed them to the seniors at the nursing home with no problem.

On the subject of “omg, I’m old and nobody else remembers this”, does ANYBODY other than me remember the pop (soda for those born elsewhere) named “Anna Banana”? I have asked others and no one else seems to remember it.

 

Moving back to the subject of salsa. Yes, that was the original subject… I just got distracted by shiny things. Imagine that huh? When I was a kid, I had never heard of salsa. I imagine it was available in certain areas of the country but not mine. Then came the taco sauces. Thin uninspired mild stuff with very little flavor. Then we started coming into the time when people were branching out in their food tastes and from what I saw, salsas were one of the first things that became something everyone was eating. You name the flavor, there was/is a salsa with that taste. Want some pineapple salsa, no problem! Habanaro Peach Salsa… get it here!Β  Turkey Lip/Orange flavored salsa? Yep; we have it! Fine, so I’ve never REALLY seen that one but I bet somewhere, someone tried to make something with turkey lips!

My favorites have always been the fruit flavored salsas. There is something about the sweet taste of the fruit mixed with the bite of peppers and onions that I just love. That’s also why I love chutneys. Same fruit to heat thing going on there.

In Spring and Summer, I tend to make Salsas even more. they are a great way to get some fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. And generally speaking, kids tend to love them too which is always good when it comes to the fruit and veggie idea. So today I kind of cleaned out my fridge of the fruits I needed to use. Add some vegetables, some spice, some sweet and I ended up with a great fruity salsa. It is so good with chips but I can also see it making a fantastic cover for some grilled chicken or fish. I was really pleased with how this turned out so I hope you enjoy it. πŸ™‚ This really needs to be eaten the day it’s made to maintain the fresh taste and texture of the fruits.

SPICY THREE FRUIT SALSA

  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 10 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1/2 jalapeno, very finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder (can omit this if you prefer more mild but it adds a nice smokey flavor and aroma)
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. Mix everything together in a large bowl. Taste for personal preferences. I added a bit more chipotle and a touch more lime but that’s cause I love them both.
  2. Eat.
  3. Comment here telling me how easy and how tasty this was. πŸ˜›

Do You Know The Muffin Man?


If not, well, you know me right? I can be “The Muffin Top Woman”.

I like muffins. I like anything that can be made in a muffin pan. In other words, cupcakes, mini pound cakes, muffins, pot pies, Hershey’s chocolate nuggets (WHAT!? If I take some, unwrap them and put them in a muffin tin before eating them, it counts!), Baileys Irish Cream (it falls under the same heading as above), steaks, french fries….

Betcha didn’t know muffin tins were so versatile huh? Stick with me kid… I’ll train you right πŸ˜€

I decided to nix the High tea theme for now. I just kept thinking to myself that while baked goods are wonderful any time of the year, a high tea theme that involved turning ones oven on for hours at a time and suffering heat stroke was more suited for cooler weather. Since it is close to 90 here today, that doesn’t really fall under the cooler weather unless you normally live on Mercury. But I will definitely get back to it when Autumn gets here.

In the meantime, here is a very Spring/Summer type of muffin. With fresh Blueberries and fresh Peaches in it, it is a perfect way to enjoy those fruits you bought 10 quarts of because they were on sale. Or is it just me that does that and then wonders what I was thinking? As I look downstairs to the 60 ears of corn I bought yesterday with the ambitious notion of cutting them off the ear and freezing them, I have the feeling that yes, I AM the only doofus wasting nice weather by being inside preparing corn for freezing πŸ˜›

This makes a LOT of muffins. I got 24 regular size and 4 large from it. So it’s perfect for potlucks or sharing or freezing.

BLUEBERRY PEACH MUFFINS

  • 4 peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 6 ounce container peach yogurt
  • 1/4 cup peach (could sub Apricot) preserves
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Β  Prepare 36 regular sized muffin pans (If you don’t have three pans, just do it in batches.) or 24 regular sized and four large ones. Peel and chop your peaches. Easiest way to peel peaches is to put them in a pot of boiling water for a minute or two then dump them into a bowl of ice water. The peel should slip right off then.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the peaches and blueberries and stir just until combined.
  3. Fold in the fruit. Don’t over stir.
  4. Bake at 350 for 22 to 27 minutes or until tops are golden brown and they are firm to the touch in the center.
  5. Cool for a few minutes in the pan on a wire rack then take them out and finish cooling them on the rack.