Tag Archives: strawberries

one strawberry and one blueberry muffin

Red (White) and Blue Muffins ~ Happy 4th of July!

Phew it’s been a while since I’ve whipped up any Martha Stewart treats in the kitchen, but last week I was inspired by the start of berry season, so I turned my Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook open to blueberry muffins.

Have I mentioned that I’ve been working in a bakery for the past 5 months? Mostly helping customers up front, but it’s afforded me the opportunity to sample some delicious cookies, quick breads, brioche and blueberry muffins.

At the bakery, our muffins typically turn out huge with tops that far exceed the size of the rest of the muffin. And that’s pretty much everyone’s favorite part anyway right, so what’s not to love? (My mind is jumping to Seinfeld: “It’s not, ‘Top of the Muffin TO YOU!'” with flamboyant Elaine hand gestures and then later, “I gotta haul some stumps”…such a hilarious episode.)

ANY.WAY.

In pursuit of using up some strawberries from the fridge, I decided to make a batch of mini blueberry muffins and a batch of mini strawberry muffins. PS I only own a mini muffin tin. New York apartment and all that. PPS I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a strawberry muffin before. Have you? I was really quite excited at the prospect!

I’ve never really made muffins before, but I’m not sure why not since it only calls for very standard ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, milk, baking powder, salt, vanilla extract and eggs. I think I’ve always been scared that my muffins will stick to the tin and I’ve been too lazy to purchase those little paper cups, which also seem sort of a waste to the environment.

So with this, I made to sure to super duper butter the muffin tin, not only in the wells but all along the ridges too because I knew I wanted to try to “overstuff” them to create the large muffin tops. Then I dusted the whole tin with flour and scooped in heaping spoonfuls of batter – first up was blueberry.

Since I was using a mini tin, I thought the cook time should be decreased but I wasn’t sure by how much. So I started with 15 minutes, they were clearly not done, so I turned the tray and put them back in for another 10.

They seemed to be slightly browned on top, so I pulled them out of the oven, let them cool for about 10 minutes and then flipped them over and banged the tray a few times (a new trick I learned at work) so that the muffins slide right out. I only had to manually pull a few out and they ended up breaking, mostly because the berries were at the bottom of the well and had melted and stuck to the pan.

blueberry mini muffins
blueberry mini muffins

I rebuttered, refloured and did the same with the strawberry batter, although I had even more batter to use, so I cooked for 27 minutes instead of 25.

folding strawberries into muffin batter
folding strawberries into the batter

The strawberry muffin tops were much wider than the blueberry ones and they had kind of baked into one another so the flip and tap method didn’t work and I had to use a little knife to help pop the muffins out, but none of them broke.

the bottoms of baked strawberry muffins
the bottoms of baked strawberry muffins

Some tips:

  1. Toss the fruit with flour before folding it into the batter to prevent it from sinking to the bottom of the tin.
  2. Sprinkle sugar on top of the raw muffins before baking for an extra sweet crunch. I did this on the strawberries but not on the blueberries.

    raw strawberry muffins ready for baking
    raw strawberry muffins ready for baking
  3. Bake the muffin tin on top of a cookie sheet (especially with a mini muffin tin) so that you have a wider tray to handle. It’s hard to grasp narrow edges of a muffin tin with oven mitts on.

These muffins were quite addicting and I ate at least 4 warm ones straight away. The blueberry ones were tart (small blueberries) and the strawberry ones were pretty sweet. I LOVED the way the strawberry ones smelled in the oven – like strawberry shortcake – and just like summer.

one strawberry and one blueberry muffin
one strawberry and one blueberry muffin

How perfect for July 4th to have some summer berry muffins that are red and blue and white (the muffin part?) – yum!

Wine Tasting Wednesday and Tasty Treats

I’m totally late to the party on this one: Espiral Vinho Verde.  It’s been written about on so many blogs and my friend, The WineGetter, has been talking it up ever since the thermometer got above 60.  So finally, I purchased a bottle to try.  It’s $4.49 at Trader Joe’s. Well that’s why I haven’t ever tried it!  I still have a hard time believing you can buy alcohol at Trader Joe’s and supermarkets and that you don’t have to go to the wine store.  Also, I never go to Trader Joe’s because I feel like I just end up buying sugary snacks masquerading as health food.

So anyway, onto the wine.
vinho verdeIt was delicious!  It’s hard to go wrong with vinho verde I think in general.  It’s so light and refreshing, and sometimes, like this one, has a hint of effervescence such that it’s sort of like a wine spritzer.  At 9% ABV it’s not super strongly alcoholic, and it drinks crisply without an aftertaste.  Vinho verde, from Portugal, literally means green wine, and I think that’s an appropriate name for this bottle since it reminded me of tart green apples.  Vinho verde can be made from a blend of up to six grapes, but I couldn’t find out if Espiral was made from all six or just certain ones.  Does anyone know?

I highly recommend picking up a bottle if the Trader Joe’s near you sells alcohol.

Okay, on to some other treats.  It’s been a while since I’ve done any baking or dessert making, so I decided to do some of each this past week.  I made chicken ‘n’ biscuits and strawberry shortcake ice cream bars a la summertime ice cream truck (Good Humor?)…

The biscuits are super easy; my go-to recipe is here.  It doesn’t specify, so I use salted butter because I think it adds more flavor than unsalted butter which can be a bit bland…and I would end up slathering salted butter on them anyway once they’re ready.
chicken&biscuit2I did Shake ‘n’ Bake chicken breasts (Mark likes the SnB…I think it’s okay…I’d never had it until he persuaded me to buy a box a few months ago).  We did different toppings like ketchup, pickles, hot sauce, pickled jalapenos and banana peppers.  chicken&biscuit3
chicken&biscuit 1(These biscuits are also great for breakfast with butter…and maybe some honey? or maple syrup?)

The strawberry bar recipe was from The Chew on ABC here.  I skipped the corn starch because I didn’t feel like buying corn starch just for the two teaspoons it called for.
shortcake
In tasting just the crumbly topping mix I wasn’t sure I was sold on the flavor matching that of those ice cream truck bars.  But once layered on the vanilla ice cream and strawberry sorbet, it really came together flavor-wise!

Everything was so delicious  – especially the biscuits right out of the oven.  It’s great what you can do with some flour and butter and not much else.

Next up: I’m going to try to recreate those crunchy chocolate bits in Carvel ice cream cake. If anyone else has other fun foods they want me to try to make, just comment here!