Tag Archives: blueberry muffins

The Most Delicious Blueberry Muffin Ever: An Ode

Gentle Readers, last week was an overwhelming display of deliciousness. Team Practical Cook took the show on the road to New York, and we ate for all we were worth. One of the more challenging meals on the road is breakfast. Do you want to spend all morning eating questionable eggs from a buffet? No.

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes from Veselka

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes from Veselka

We tried a variety of New York breakfast approaches, and we augmented with dry cereal in the room as a breakfast appetizer. Here’s our journey.

Photobombed by the statue at the edge of Central Park!

Photobombed by the statue at the edge of Central Park!

Day 1: Veselka
Home of my very favorite blueberry buckwheat pancakes. Plus pierogi!

Potato Pierogi from Veselka

Potato Pierogi from Veselka

We essentially brunched here. I have fond memories of Veselka breakfasts from my misspent youth, and who knew, they cater to kids too. These pancakes rocked, as did the corned beef hash. Simple comfort food done right, plus wiki sticks for the win.

Corned beef hash with eggs over medium, side of kasha from Veselka

Corned beef hash with eggs over medium, side of kasha from Veselka

Day 2: Cart Outside Central Park
Egg and Cheese on a Roll, Bagels with Cream Cheese

The Jrs' First New York Bagel

The Jrs’ First New York Bagel

The experience was great (the Jrs actually paid both times, very exciting), the food was average. When asked if I wanted salt and pepper on my egg and cheese I said yes, and apparently no one had affirmed in some time so great was the enthusiastic application. A good bit of the bagel went to the pigeons as well.

City pigeons meet bird lover and bagel fan.

City pigeons meet bird lover and bagel fan.

Day 3: Bouchon
The Most Delicious Blueberry Muffin Ever (plus a Savory Scone, Ham and Cheese Croissant, and Broccoli Quiche)

The Most Delicious Blueberry Muffin Ever from Bouchon

The Most Delicious Blueberry Muffin Ever from Bouchon

This happened by accident in Rockefeller Plaza, as the original destination simply never opened the doors. I am not sorry. I didn’t think it was possible to make a blueberry muffin that good, it was magic and sunshine. The savory scone featured bacon, cheddar, and herbs, and the warm dishes were nice too. A huge hit with everyone.

Savory Scone from Bouchon

Savory Scone from Bouchon

Day 4: The Takeaway Shop Next Door
Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on a Roll, Bagel with Cream Cheese, Fruit, Milk

New York breakfast, takeaway shop.

New York breakfast, takeaway shop.

Finally we tried to health it up a little bit. After much excitement in passing this place every day on the way to and from the hotel, the end result was less thrilling. My bagel was good, the Jrs are not sold on rolls versus biscuits. The fruit and milk were consumed though, and the idea that you could just grab and go was inspiring.

The Jrs take on the Big City!

The Jrs take on the Big City!

In the end, I realized why I lean on Starbucks so often when I travel: predictable oatmeal and pumpkin bread. Add a latte to it and call it a meal. I couldn’t do that in NYC, seemed wrong. But we were never close to the greatest bagel or the dive-iest diner at the right time. I look forward to hearing your breakfast recommendations in NYC and beyond!  Post a comment, send a Tweet, share your strategy!

Send your sky miles, cooking challenges, and utter nonsense to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Coming up Friday: The Watermelon Semifreddo Recipe!! (For the summer win!)

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Fan Mail! Readers Review The Practical Cook’s Recipes

Gentle Readers, as school time rolls around again, it’s time to break out the All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins recipe yet again. The class snack is like a mission statement for me, I just have to keep delivering homemade baked goods. The recipe is fast, easy, and delish.

The Practical Cook's Muffins to the Rescue!

The Practical Cook's Muffins to the Rescue!

But don’t take my word for it. From Wonder Woman, the best compliment I’ve received in quite a while:

These were awesome!! Even with wheat flour and flaxseed meal. Have you tried choc chip?? They’re like giant crumbly cookies!

Oh, how I do blush. Great suggestion with the chocolate chip, though I would be tempted to sub in dried or frozen cherries then. Time to head to the test kitchen!

What’s your favorite muffin combo? Post a comment below, or Tweet away.

Send food pictures and compliments to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, Ode to My Multitasking Ice Tray.

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Questions from Readers: Can this (insert noun) be saved?

Gentle readers, if you haven’t noticed, the Practical Cook is a fan of the advice columns of old. From Miss Manners to Dear Abby to LHJ, she devoured and enjoyed them. And now, thanks to the internet, the Practical Cook can follow in those hallowed footsteps. Here are 3 reader questions, complete with spiffy monikers, just like when newspapers and magazines were printed.

*******

Dear Practical Cook,
So today, I made “easy applesauce muffins.” They are really, really easy. I cut the butter by two tablespoons to see if they would taste the same, and they do—except now they stick to the paper wrapping and leave much of themselves behind. Do you think I should add back the butter? Spraying Pam on paper baking cups seems ridiculous. 

Perplexed

Cool the muffins in the tin for a few minutes.

Cool the muffins in the tin for a few minutes.

Dear Perplexed,
First, I would suggest sharing the recipe with me because I do adore an easy muffin (see All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins and Raisin Bran Muffins). But that solves my problem more than yours. There are three ways to approach this problem:

1. Don’t use paper liners at all, just spray the muffin tin. I’ve done this before with stickier recipes with great success.
2. Use foil liners. These are also better for the sticky.
3. Let the muffins sit in the tin for a few minutes, then let cool on a rack before you attempt to peel them. Even when I cut the fat in a muffin recipe, this seems to be the key, a bit of time. Cooling off yields more muffin in mouth than on liner.

Good luck, and send us a picture (and, er, a muffin),
The Practical Cook

********

Dear Practical Cook,
I just made your Salmon Cakes, using dried bread crumbs, and they kept falling apart! The crumbs were delicious, but I’d like a whole cake. What’s your prescription for success?

Doctor Particular

Crispy Salmon Cakes

Crispy Salmon Cakes

What’s up Doc?
Oh, I’ve waited years to say that. First, make sure that you’re adding enough moisture for the dried bread crumbs. The ratios should work, but feel free to add a bit more moisture if you have exceptionally thirsty crumbs: a smidge more mayo and mustard, even an additional egg if you’d like. Second, this is a hands-on food. You’ll need to press the cakes together and give them a chance to set. Third, size matters. If you make them as thin as pancakes, you’ll have trouble flipping them.

Keep up the practice!
The Practical Cook

*******

Dear Practical Cook,
Help! I’m making the Rustic Chard Tart, and I don’t know if I can eat the stems of the chard. Do I chop or discard? Call back fast, I’m making it now.

Blended Familia

Hello, My Beautiful Tart!

Hello, My Beautiful Tart!

Dear BF,
Great question! Chard stems (especially rainbow) are beautiful and delicious. Chop and discard just an inch or so, and then dice the rest into bite-sized pieces and continue with the recipe.

Enjoy!
The Practical Cook (exchange via vmail)

*******

Thanks for the great questions, keep them coming! Do you have a question? Pose it here or send a Tweet. You could earn a nickname and an answer in a future edition of Questions from Readers!

Send your successes, questions, and confessions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Like, like, like! Press “like” on Facebook today! Thank to everyone for helping to earn our very own name: facebook.com/practicalcook)

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On deck tomorrow, Extremely Practical Slaw, or Punting! with Cabbage.

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Filed under Can this supper be saved?

Readers Review the Practical Cook’s Recipes: 1st Edition

One of the highlights of being the Practical Cook—taking a look into kitchens around the world, learning more about how you, gentle readers, are cooking. Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to share some of your challenges and your successes. In this premiere edition of Readers Review, we’ll look at three successes and one commercial.

Clearly, no one in the sound of my virtual voice follows directions exactly—and that is awesome. Love the creativity out there! True story, the Practical Cook’s Mom (aka, PCM) once handed the Practical Cook a recipe that she had clipped from the newspaper with her changes noted at the top. It was an entirely different recipe. The Practical Cook must paraphrase Hank Williams Jr. here and say “leave me alone I’m just carrying on an old family tradition.”

Success with the Recipes!

Several of you enjoyed the Rustic Tart Recipe, including Blended Familia, who made a version with chorizo and butternut squash. Looking good!

Rustic Tart with Chorizo and Butternut Squash

Rustic Tart with Chorizo and Butternut Squash

From Miss Clairol, we have a riff on the Great Tuna Salad Experiment Recipe. Just like PCM, liberties were taken with this recipe. The idea of pan-seared tuna on greens is there, but surf-n-turf style, using Montreal steak seasoning, salt and pepper, Parmesan, and croutons dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette, served alongside some asparagus sauteed in butter. Well, at least two ingredients were the same, so let’s claim victory! Here’s a look:

Surf-n-Turf Tuna on a Bed of Greens

Surf-n-Turf Tuna on a Bed of Greens

Furthermore, success can be claimed on the All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins (twice made for school snack, the last time in quadruplicate). This is what 40 muffins look like (the 41st was requisitioned and divided for Quality Control and Crowd Control).

40 All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

40 All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

Because there was so much volume, requiring 6 cups of something flour-esque, I was able to sub half of it: 2 cups almond meal, 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour. We played “guess the secret ingredient” during the class, and they got sugar, cinnamon, and blueberries, but not one person guessed whole wheat, applesauce, or flax seed meal. Score! One student insisted it was a doughnut, failing to notice I reduced the sugar from 2 cups to 1.5 cups.

Blueberries Cover All Sins (and Whole Grains)

Blueberries Cover All Sins (and Whole Grains)

Another excellent amendment was made to the Banana Bread Recipe—mini chocolate chips. If you’re a choco-banana fan (hello Chunky Monkey), take this idea and run with it! Thanks to KAD for that one.

The Commercial

Quaker Oats Guy vs. Scott's Porage Oats Guy: KO in the first round!

Quaker Oats Guy

Last, but far from least, a fantastic follow up to the surprisingly popular One Ingredient, Three Ways: Oatmeal Edition. So many of you wrote with flavor combos and ideas, there will be a sequel. In the meantime, please enjoy the ultimate nexus of food and marketing, an ad campaign by Scott’s Porage Oats. Special shout-out to the Kilted Vegan for sharing that with us (and for providing me with an opportunity to create and use that moniker).

Seriously, we’d have no problem selling oats in America if we ran ads like that. Quaker Oats Guy vs. Scott’s Porage Oats Guy: KO in the first round!

And that brings us back to Sunday’s Weekly Menus. Some time between losing my mind decorating that Carrot Cake and setting up a treasure hunt, I’ll share next week’s plan. I can already tell you that Wednesday I’ll be serving something purple. More on that later.

Keep the reader reviews coming in, and we’ll keep the test kitchens open: practicalcook at gmail dot com

Twitter: practicalcook

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Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, On the Table

All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins

Ever since the Practical Cook can remember, she’s loved blueberries: fresh, frozen, in pancakes, pies, muffins, and turnovers. Blueberry cereal—brilliant. Turns out, I’m not alone in this passion. The recipe that follows is both simple, made from common pantry staples, and flexible, providing room for you to adapt according to your cooking goals, from health to not force-feeding breakfast to the younger set. For your creative convenience, you’ll find a number of options listed below and within the recipe. Remember, guidelines.

Blueberry Muffins

Mrs. McGee's Blueberry Muffins

Mrs. McGee’s Blueberry Muffins

This recipe is passed down from the Practical Cook’s mom (who is a reader and thus will not be referred to as PC Sr., but as PCM), and came from Mrs. McGee, whom I don’t really know. However, she made a mean muffin.

1/2 cup oatmeal (not instant, quick-cook or slow-cook will work)
1/2 cup orange juice or water
1/2 cup sugar (I cut this to just over 1/4)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you can swap up to 1/2 cup or more of whole wheat pastry flour, whole wheat flour, or almond meal)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup oil (not olive, but anything else will work, canola, grapeseed, walnut; also, I cut this to about 1/3 and make up the difference with a dollop of applesauce; can also sub lowfat plain yogurt)
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Topping:
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners, or grease lightly with butter or oil.

2. Combine oats and orange juice. Stir well and let sit till OJ is fully absorbed.

3. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, oil, and egg. Mix well.

4. Fold in blueberries.

5. Spoon into muffin tin, filling to 2/3 full.

6. Mix together topping and sprinkle on top of the unbaked muffins.

7. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until golden brown.

8. Let cool in pan for 2-3 minutes, then put on cooling rack or plate. Enjoy!

Other Options: Trade out the blueberries for any other type of berry, or dried cranberries or cherries. Add some chopped nuts (less than 1/4 cup). Add flax seed meal or toasted wheat germ (1-2 tablespoons).

If you’ve got kids, they can help with this recipe. They can measure, mix the oats and OJ, and also help customize the recipe. And they are prime candidates to put the muffin liners into the pan.

Staying with this theme, the next blog post is about Food Presentation: Why Go Vertical? Keep sending in those questions!

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