Saturday, September 18, 2010

What's in a name?

Here is my little mascot, all 2 1/2 inches tall,  who has recently had a makeover. Thank you to Sandra Evertson for her wonderful blog tutorial on making little crowns: 

I was able to make this teeny tiny one for her.

 I am requesting your help with naming my little mascot who will pop up from time to time in my posts. Please leave a comment with your idea for a name. Whoever comes up with the name that is chosen will get credit for naming her as well as a little thank you gift from me and I'll post a link to your blog. Thanks for your help!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Can't get enough of these blueberry muffins

Last week I baked some blueberry muffins, a recipe I have been using for years. They are soooo.... delicious I decided I just hadn't had enough of their blueberry goodness, so I made another batch this morning.

Those of you who know me well, know that I am not a morning person, but somehow I can pull myself together, just after getting out of bed no less, to make muffins in the morning. I find it not only a relaxing way to start my day, but I must admit that I love homemade muffins for breakfast. I usually make Jiffy Brand bran muffins at least once a week. It makes just 6 small muffins but I haven't found a "by scratch" recipe that I like better, and besides, how easy is it to empty the mix into the bowl, add egg and milk, stir, and spoon into a little muffin pan? You don't have to even be fully awake to manage that.

I started out with the recipe for my blueberry muffins from this great little book, "Muffins" by Elizabeth Alston.

The Best Blueberry Muffins
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature                
1 cup granulated sugar                                         
2 eggs                                                                                                                                     
1 teaspoon vanilla extract                                     
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt                               
2  1/2 cups fresh blueberries (mash 1/2 cup with fork) 
2 cups flour (I substitute 1 cup white and 1 cup wheat)  
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar mixed with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups including area between cups or use foil baking cup liners.
In medium size bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla, baking powder, and salt. Mix mashed berries into batter. Fold in half of the flour with a spatula, then half of her milk. Add remaining flour and milk. Fold in remaining blueberries.
Scoop batter into muffin cups. Sprinkle with nutmeg-sugar. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Let muffins cool at least 30 minutes in the pan before removing.

The sweet cream butter mixed with the sugar makes for a beautiful soft yellow glow in the bottom of my mixer bowl.

This recipe has 2 secret tips. The first one is to mash some of the berries and mix it into the batter. It helps release the berry juice and make these muffins so much better.
I do change Ms. Alston's recipe just a little: I replace half of the white flour with wheat flour. It has no effect on the taste of the muffin but does change the color of the muffin slightly.

The other secret tip for these muffins is to sprinkle each one with some nutmeg-sugar just before popping them into the oven.

This makes them a little crunchy on the top. It is a challenge to let them cool completely before carefully prying them out of their little cup cradles.
This makes mornings just a little bit more palatable.