Blueberry Muffins

I tried a new blueberry muffin recipe and they were pretty good. I usually make this Double Blueberry Muffins recipe, where you mash part of the blueberries. With less smashed fruit, the muffins in this recipe aren’t a strange grey from the blueberry juices, which was a plus as I brought them for the Forum for Equality Candidate Interviews for the upcoming election. Only problem was they didn’t want to come out of the muffin tins, so I ended up with a lot of muffin tops (which is frankly the best part). Next time, I’ll put these in cupcake papers, though.

Blueberry Muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 2 – 12 cup muffin tins

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream the butter in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and the extracts and mix to combine. Scrape down the bowl and then add the eggs one at a time.

Add in one third of the dry ingredients. Pour in half the milk. Add in half of the remaining dry ingredients and then the rest of the milk. Add the final bit of dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and fold in the blueberries.

Fill the muffin tins with batter. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Rotate and switch the pans midway through baking.

Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing to a rack to cool completely.

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Breakfast Corn Muffins

I wanted something different for breakfast and I had been thinking about corn muffins recently. I decided to make a mash up that would have a hit of protein but still have corn flavor. These ended up tasting a little like cornbread stuffing (not a bad thing at all). They also freeze really well and can be rewarmed in a microwave.

Breakfast Corn Muffins

1 lb bulk breakfast sausage
1 small onion (1 cup)
2 ribs celery (1 cup)
½ green bell pepper (1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon sage
1 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1/4 cup corn kernels, fresh, frozen or canned (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Brown sausage over medium heat. Add celery, onion and bell pepper and sauté until softened. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in sage.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together corn meal, all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, chicken broth, sour cream, eggs and corn kernels. Add to the corn meal mix and stir to combine. Fold in meat mixture.

Using a ¼ cup measure, fill buttered muffin tins with the mix. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Brandied Peach Ice Cream

Summertime in the South means putting up with heat, humidity and mosquitos the size of small cars. As a consolation, summer also brings us peaches. It makes my soul happy when I hold its softly in my hand, breathe deep of its perfume before biting into it and letting the succulent juice run down my chin.

Saving a few of them for ice cream makes me even happier. And, adding a little brandy to the mix can make a person nearly expire from happiness! Of course, if you choose not to use brandy, you can replace it with 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract.

Brandied Peach Ice Cream

2 pounds peaches (about 5-6 large peaches)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brandy

Peel and pit peaches; cut into chunks. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until cold.

After it has set for a while in the refrigerator, blend everything one last time to ensure it is well mixed. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to plastic container and freeze until firm.

Mushroom Risotto in an Electric Pressure Cooker

Michelle took advantage of Amazon’s Prime Day and bought a Crock Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker. We took it for a spin last night and made risotto in less than 30 minutes, with only a few minutes of stirring time!

Lucious and creamy, this risotto went perfectly with roast chicken and zucchini.

Mushroom Risotto in an Electric Pressure Cooker

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
2 tablespoons dry white wine
4 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (3 ounces)
1 whole sprig of rosemary and one sprig with leaves removed and chopped fine

In a 6-quart pressure cooker, melt 2 butter in sauté mode. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add rice and toast, stirring, to fully coat the rice grains in fat. Add wine and cook until just evaporated. Add 3 1/2 cups chicken broth; season with salt and pepper and the whole sprig of rosemary.

Secure lid. Set to risotto/rice setting or bring to high pressure. Maintain pressure and cook until rice is tender, 9 to 12 minutes.

While the rice cooks, sauté the mushrooms with a little butter to let them release their juices. Set aside.

Turn off pressure cooker, vent pressure and then remove lid. Stir in mushrooms with remaining 1 cup broth. Turn to sauté function and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until remaining liquid is absorbed. Stir in cheese. Stir in the chopped rosemary and serve immediately.

Truffled Fries

There is something deeply satisfying about elevating a common dish with a couple of uncommon ingredients. Potatoes are an awesome palate to work from, especially when you’ve got a bottle of truffle oil and some parmesan cheese just waiting to be used.

The fries come out crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside with a flavor profile reminiscent of a top quality bistro or steakhouse.

Truffled Fries


2 russet potatoes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon truffle oil
freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste (about 1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Scrub and then slice potatoes into wedges. Place in a large mixing bowl.

In a small bowl mix together the spices. Coat the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with spice mix. Toss again to coat completely.

Spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the fries over. Return to oven and cook 15 minutes more or until cooked through.

Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Toss with the truffle oil and parmesan cheese and serve warm.

Pickle Schnitzel

Pickle juice makes a wonderful brine for grilled chicken but I also love it with breaded cutlets, better known in my family as schnitzel. The soak in the pickle brine doesn’t make the chicken or pork taste like pickles, it adds a salty tang and leaves the meat super tender and juicy when pan fried. Just don’t soak it for too long (1 hour is sufficient) or it will get overly salty.

Chicken schnitzel

I mix my bread crumbs with an equal amount of cracker meal so that my schnitzel has a good crunch, especially when warmed up the next day for sandwiches. Who needs to go to a fast food restaurant anymore?

Pork schnitzel

I use boneless pork loin and the relatively short cooking time means that this low fat cut doesn’t get overcooked. I wait for the whole loin to go on sale and have the butcher cut it in 3/4 inch pieces for me.

2 large chicken breasts or boneless pork loin
1 cup pickle juice
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 egg, beaten with one teaspoon olive oil
1 cup breadcrumbs (or in combination with cracker meal)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cover meat with plastic wrap and pound to about ¼ inch thickness. Place pounded meat in a zip top bag and pour pickle juice on top. Seal and toss in juice and refrigerate for 1 hour.

When the meat is ready, remove from pickle juice and dry well. Place the flour, egg beaten with a little olive oil and breadcrumbs/cracker meal each in separate shallow bowls. Season the flour with the salt and black pepper.

Coat each cutlet in flour and shake off excess. Then dip in the beaten egg before dredging in the breadcrumbs/cracker meal. Place on a wire rack in the refrigerator while the oil heats.

Bring about ½ inch oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat to 375 degrees F. Fry in oil about 3-5 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Blot on a paper towel and serve hot with lemon wedges.

Cheesy Tomato Pie

Summertime is tomato time. Michelle picked a couple of 5 gallon buckets full the other week and brought the ones she didn’t make into sauce to my house. My mouth began watering at the thought of making them into a pie. The combination of cheddar and parmesan gives you a very cheesy tomato pie that tastes like the best of the season.

Traditionally, this pie uses a cup of mayonnaise and is baked for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. I wanted to reduce the calories without affecting the taste, so I used half Greek yogurt and half mayonnaise. It also has the bonus of upping the protein, as well. I find that yogurt can separate with baking, so I lowered the temp and increased the time to compensate. I also added 1 tablespoon corn starch to make sure the pie isn’t runny.

Cheesy Tomato Pie

1 frozen pie shell lightly browned

3-4 medium, peeled tomatoes cut into wedges
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 generous cup cheddar cheese, grated
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Put tomato wedges in a bowl. Sprinkle with herbs, flour, corn starch and salt and pepper. In another bowl, stir together the mayo, yogurt and cheeses until combined. Pour out the tomatoes and herbs in an even layer into the pie shell. Spread the cheese sauce over tomatoes. Bake for 45 minutes.

Let stand 10 minutes before eating. Trust me, you need to wait for two important reasons – 1) you’ll keep from burning your mouth and 2) the interior will come together with the short wait.