Spiffed-Up Blueberry Muffins

Hi dear readers, it’s my last blueberry post.

Whole-Grain Blueberry Muffins~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Spiffed-up blueberry muffins! So, what’s spiffed up about them?

Spiffed-Up Blueberry Muffins~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Well, the addition of whole grain flour of course. Why that? Read on friends.

My mom would crank out classic blueberry muffins every summer after we went picking. I always got excited about them, but didn’t love them (sorry mom).  I could not put my finger on the exact reason why I didn’t enjoy the muffins as much as I should have until I read a recipe from Nigel Slater. He pointed out that some muffins have a metallic taste which is due to the leavening agent. He recommended spelt flour to get rid of that flavor.

Whole-Grain Blueberry Muffins ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

I didn’t have any spelt on hand, so I improvised, natch. Whole wheat worked just as well, and yielded delicious, moist and chewy muffins. The whole wheat provides a nutty flavor that masks the leavening but compliments the gentle sweetness of the blueberries.

Spiffed-Up Blueberry Muffins ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Spiffed-Up Blueberry Muffins (adapted from Nigel Slater)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbl soft butter
  • scant 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • scant 1/2 cup milk 
  • 1 1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat oven to 375°.  Line a muffin tin with 12 baking cups. Mix together the flours, baking powder and soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, mix to combine, then the vanilla extract. Alternate adding in the flour mixture and the milk, until the ingredients are gently combined. Fold in blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cups. Slater suggests sprinkling with oats and demerara sugar for visual effect, but I skipped it. 🙂

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until skewers come out mostly clean when muffins are pricked. Remove from baking tins and let cool on a rack.

Enjoy!

– Erin

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Blueberry Batter Pudding

Let the blueberry posts continue!

Blueberry Batter Pudding ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Today’s recipe is from a cookbook by Nigel Slater called Ripe. My husband picked this up for me from the gift shop at Gettysburg. I don’t recall the story behind why it was carried in that bookstore, but I imagine it is because many of the recipes are somewhat ‘old timey’ in my opinion (fruit fools, slubs, puddings, old-fashioned cakes).

Ripe1

Not to sound like a walking advert for this cookbook, but I really enjoy it. There are some nice pictures which are mouthwatering to look at and there is a great array of recipes that are just fun to read. Yes, I’m a bit nerdy, and will read a cookbook like a novel.

The book is organized according to chapters by “fruit”. So, if you have a load of blueberries like I did, you can read the blueberry chapter and there is plenty of inspiration right there in one spot.

Alright, enough on that. Let’s move onto the pudding! This is not a Jell-O style pudding, it is a baked British pudding.

Blueberry Batter Pudding~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Once you’ve whipped up the incredibly easy batter, pour it over the blueberries, and they float to the top of the dish and help form the delicate golden crust you see. Hiding just underneath is a warm, quivering custard pudding.

Blueberry Batter Pudding~ Erin's DC Kitchen

I really loved this dessert, topped with some lightly sweetened and barely whipped cream. (I mean barely holding its shape so it gets a bit melty when it hits the warm pudding). Please, try it for yourself. I bet peaches would be lovely with it too.

Blueberry Batter Pudding

  • 4 eggs
  • scant 2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • heaping 1/3 cup superfine sugar (I put white sugar through a food processor)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • confectioners sugar and whipped cream, to serve

Preheat oven to 400°. Grease an ovenproof 2 quart dish (about 10 in in diameter) with butter or shortening.  Pulse the eggs, flour, sugar, cream and milk together in a food processor. Pour the blueberries into the greased dish, then pour the whipped batter over the berries. Bake for about 40 minutes or until batter is golden, lightly risen and just barely set (firm to the touch, but a bit wobbly). Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Whip your cream, dust with confectioners sugar and serve warm.

Enjoy!

– Erin

*Note: I tweaked this slightly from Nigel’s recipe, this isn’t an exact reprint.

Blueberry Preserves

The husband and I went blueberry picking last weekend at Butler’s Orchard and hauled in a little over 12 lbs!

Fresh picked blueberries ~ Erins' DC Kitchen

So you know what that means? JAM! And more blueberry posts 🙂

Oddly enough, this is the first time I’ve made blueberry jam on my own versus just helping (loosely) my Mom make hers. (Thanks for peaking my interest in canning!)

Homemade Blueberry Jam~ Erin's DC Kitchen

So pretty isn’t it?

Homemade Blueberry Jam~ Erin's DC Kitchen

Right after I finished this batch, I had to turn around and leave for a business trip to Newport, RI and didn’t get to try any of it until this morning! It’s was so good, not overly sweet because I opted for a lower sugar recipe, and bursting with blueberry pieces.

Here is the recipe!

Erin’s Blueberry Jam

  • 5 cups crushed blueberries (it took around 9 cups of whole berries to get to 5 crushed)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 cups sugar (up to 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 6 tablespoons Ball powder pectin (or 1 box pectin, 49 to 57 g)

Makes about 7 to 8 eight ounce (250 ml) jars

Prepare boiling water canner, jars and lids. In a very large pot combine the berries and lemon juice. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add all the sugar and honey at once, then return to a full boil and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off foam. Ladle into prepared jars and leave 1/4 inch headspace at the top. Place on lids and bands, boil in the canner for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let stand 24 hours, during which time the lids should vacuum seal.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Need a more comprehensive breakdown of how to make jams? Read my step-by-step, soup to nuts guide to strawberry jam.

Strawberry Rhubarb (or Green Apple) Pie

My cousin just posted pictures of loads of beautiful rhubarb jam on Facebook. I’m jealous. I haven’t made any jam yet this year, BUT– I made a pie.

Quick story, when my Dad was a kid he was told  rhubarb pie was “green apple pie”. Apparently he must not have liked the idea of rhubarb, so my Grandma convinced him otherwise by changing the name. Green apples are tart, but I think the resemblance stops there!  Anyways, the name stuck and we still joking call this pie “green apple”.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

I love the crimson color of the rhubarb. It really is a feast for the eyes.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie~ Erin's DC Kitchen

What’s that you say? The crust does look amazeballs, thanks! 😉

The tartness of the rhubarb in this pie is tempered with soft sweetness from strawberries and majorly complimented by an unexpected addition– almond extract. It provides a fuller, richer taste I think. I was comparing recipes before I started baking, and Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts has a recipe for sour cherry and rhubarb pie that seemed fabulous. That’s where I got the idea of adding almond extract.

Rhubarb season will end soon, once it starts to heat up, so if you want to try this recipe out hurry down to your local farmers market (or garden) and pick some up soon!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

  • 3 1/2 cups diced rhubarb (about 4 large stalks)
  • 1 quart strawberries, sliced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp (scant) cinnamon

For the double crust

  • 2 1/4 cups flour (I did the 1/4 cup wheat, the rest white)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup Crisco shortening
  • 8 tbl ice cold water or milk

Preparing the crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Measure out the shortening and dollop it across the flour mixture (don’t dump it in one lump). Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour until it is course. Pile more than half of the flour mixture to one side of the bowl. Measure out a tablespoon of cold water and sprinkle it over the smaller pile of flour and fluff it with a fork to work the water through. As the mixture forms into dough, move it aside. Continue sprinkling a tablespoon of water onto a small pile of flour and fluffing it with the fork, moving aside the dough that forms. You may or may not use all 8 tbl of water. This process becomes easier the more you do it, trust me, and you get a feel for the dough. Divide the final lump of dough into two equal parts and roll them out into circles. Put one circle into the pie plate and add your filling, then put the top crust on. You need 1 inch or more of excess dough to roll under to make the edge. Anything over that you can cut off. Use your thumb and pointer finger to pinch together a pretty edge.

Preparing the pie:

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a large bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar, cinnamon and part of the flour. Let stand while you prepare the crust. Once the crust is ready, stir in the almond extract and the remainder of the flour. Toss to coat. Spoon filling into the pie crust. If there is a ton of excess juice, don’t pour it all into the crust, just some of it.  With a sharp knife, cut a slit into the top of the pie (or a design if you’re ambitious) to let steam out.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes, but cover the crust with a crust protector or foil. Pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly and steaming (peek into the center slit).

Let cool fully before cutting into, or else the filling will spill out everywhere and you’ll be sad about it.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Muchi Curry-Spiced Chickpeas

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Hi dear readers. I moved! Yes, three weeks ago I moved to a new apartment ( I should specify the husband came too), and we really like the new place. The space is smaller overall, but more useful, if that makes sense? It currently smells like curry… nom nom.

I’ve been thinking about healthy DIY snack foods lately. We really like Trader Joe’s crunchy wasabi peas for a snack, but it is so easy to blow through a whole bag and they are really salty. Making my own crunchy snackypoos allows the sodium usage to be much reduced, happily.

Curry Spiced Chickpeas

Curry Spiced Chickpeas

These little chickpeas are toasty from being oven roasted, spiced with muchi curry and have the addictive crunch many of us look for in a snack food. These are really easy too, it is three ingredients: 1 can chickpeas, oil and spices.

Curry Spiced Chickpea Snack

Ta-Da! A snack you can feel good about. 🙂 In order to get these nice and crunchy, please be sure to wash and dry the chickpeas well. Rub them with a folded paper towel to help release the skins (pick these out) and remove extra moisture. See below.

IMG_3678

Once the surface moisture is removed, you’ve won half the battle. The oven needs to be really hot for the first part of the roasting, then you’ll turn it down and continue to roast for over an hour to get out the remaining moisture so these stay crunchy after they’ve cooled.

It does take some time, but it isn’t active time, you can watch TV, clean the house or unpack moving boxes while the oven works its magic!

Curry-Spiced Chickpeas (serves two)

  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil*
  • 1/2 heaping tsp muchi curry (this is a savory based powder, heavy on cumin and fenugreek)
  • 1/4 heaping tsp cajun seasoning (I used McCormick)
  • Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 425°.  Drain and wash the chickpeas. Lay out onto a paper towel to drain, and rub with another paper towel. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to dry off. Remove the transparent skins that come loose from some of the chickpeas.

In a small bowl, combine the chickpeas, oil, spices and salt. Toss gently to coat.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminium foil and spread the chickpeas out in a single layer. This is important, these must be in a single layer in order to toast properly. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. The  chickpeas should become very fragrant, but not smell like burning!  Next, turn the heat down to 350° and continue to roast for 20 more minutes, stirring often. Turn off the oven, but leave the chickpeas in for another hour while the oven cools down.

Remove and serve warm, or let cool before storing in an airtight container to nosh on later.

*Note: Don’t use olive oil, it doesn’t have a high smoke point and will start burning to soon, these chickpeas need to cook for a long time to get all the moisture out. Vegetable oil has a much higher smoke point and it will not impact taste.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Chunky Cocoa Brownies and Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting

BROWNIES!

Cocoa Powder Brownies and Peanut Butter Frosting

Hi friends, I’m excited. I’m excited about the frosting on these brownies– but really, I’m excited because I won the cupcake competition at my husband’s office! Yup, the Cookies and Cream Cupcakes beat out the other eight entries.

I really must tip my hat to the person who made that salted caramel cupcake, it was the BEST one I’ve had anywhere because the salty to sweet ratio was spot-on.

Thanks for sharing in my excitement! 🙂 Ok, now let’s move onto these brownies. The brownies are sweet and fudgey, especially towards the center of the pan. The outside brownies were a bit more cakey, this could be due to overcooking. Not sure, but it wasn’t my favorite.

Really, we should be talking about the frosting. It is so fluffy and light and perfectly balanced, I know, not something you usually think of with peanut butter. I really think it has to do with the brand I used- Jif is probably the most popular brand but it is not the best peanut butter in my opinion. Peter Pan is the way to go, and no, I’m not being paid to say this.

Cocoa Brownies with Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting

I’m not popular enough to have companies send me free product samples, come on people! 😉

So please, try it out sometime on your favorite brownie recipe. Or, try my cocoa brownies below. Happy baking!

Peanut Butter Frosting

  • 1 stick butter, soft
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I use Peter Pan)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 to 1 1/c cups powder sugar (depending on how sweet you like it, start small)
  • A few splashes of  milk, as needed

Chunky Cocoa Brownies

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 9 tbl butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 10 mini-Hershey bars (broken up)

Preheat oven to 325°. Stir together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat well.  Add in the eggs and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, salt. Add the flour mixture to the batter and mix to combine. Stir in the broken Hershey bars at the end. Spread the batter (the layer will be thin) into a greased 9×13 pan. Bake for 20 minutes, brownies should be set and pulling away from the edge of pan just slightly. Remove from pan and let cool.

For the frosting: Combine the butter and peanut butter and whip with en electric mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed. Add in the vanilla and powder sugar. Continue to whip until combined. If the frosting is thick, add in a splash of milk to help it lighten up, but don’t go overboard.  Spread onto the cooled brownies. Cut and serve!

Enjoy!

– Erin

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

These cupcakes were inspired by the limited edition Mega Stuf Oreos I bought last week.  The Mega Stuf’s didn’t actually make it into these cupcakes though, they were gobbled up before I could bake with them.

Verdict on the Mega Stuf: there may be such a thing as too much stuffing. I’m shocking myself at saying that, but it’s true.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

So regular Oreos are what you see studding the tops of these beauties.

My husband brought these into his office for a cupcake contest. (Note the camo liners? I had my audience in mind 😉 ) He brought home a couple rival samples, and let me say, the competition was stiff.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

No word yet on the winner, but I would still heartily recommend you try this recipe regardless!** UPDATE: I won the contest!!! :-)**

These are moist yet fluffy from my secret weapon, buttermilk. I love love LOVE baking with buttermilk because of the rich flavor it imparts into your baked goods. Just gives it a little something extra. I even used it in the frosting for these!

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

The whipped frosting is studded with Oreo crumbs and flavored with creamy vanilla, yum. You could top these with a whole Oreo cookie too if you like, but it’s more for visual effect, the cupcakes have enough flavor on their own.

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 20-24 Oreos, plus more for crumbs

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cupcake tray with cupcake liners. Break one Oreo each into the liners (into rough quarters at least). Mix together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Next, stir in the eggs, oil, vanilla and buttermilk. Beat to combine. Add the hot water and mix it through. Batter will be liquid, don’t panic. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 way full with batter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Check with a toothpick if you are unsure. Let cool on a wire rack.

For Frosting: Whip 2 sticks soft butter in an electric mixer for nearly 5 minutes, the butter should be pale and creamy and appear to grow in size from all the air whipped into it. Next, stir in 2 1/2 cups powder sugar and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla. You may need to gradually add the sugar. Mix and slowly add in 1 to 3 tablespoons buttermilk, just until the consistency smooths out a bit. Whip for 3-5 minutes on medium speed to get the frosting fluffy and airy. Meanwhile, pound 6 or so Oreos in a plastic bag into crumbs. Add that into the frosting during the last minute to incorporate. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Makes 20-24 cupcakes. Adapted slightly from Bakerella.

Enjoy!

– Erin