What a Stud-Muffin!

Last Friday Brian came home from work with a lovely surprise: about 4 to 5 founds of fresh blueberries! What a treat! We’ve been putting them to good use in smoothies, waffles and even made a blueberry pie, but we still weren’t able to make our way through the whole bag. We’ve already got a stash of frozen blueberries in the freezer, so we needed to come up with another way to store the extras long-term. We decided that hearty (and freezable) blueberry muffins would be the way to go. We can enjoy a few now and freeze the rest so we have them on hand whenever we need a quick breakfast treat.

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins by somethingwewhippedup.com

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins by somethingwewhippedup.com

We were inspired by an oatmeal muffin recipe from an old issue of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine (moment of silence please). It came from a reader whose mother apparently made these muffins in her home economics class in the 1940’s. The recipe asks you to soak the oats in buttermilk for an hour before you mix everything together, which is essential for the texture of the final product. Of course, we made a few changes as well, the biggest being the addition of blueberries. The result was a chewy, filling muffin with a touch of sweetness. I look forward to having these on hand in the freezer, I just wonder how long they’ll last.

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins

(Recipe adapted from Oatmeal Muffins, printed in the August 1995 issue of Gourmet)

Makes 1 dozen

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1. In a large bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk. Place the butter in a small bowl and microwave until melted. Place on the counter and let sit, along with the oat mixture, for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.

4. Add the egg, brown sugar and maple syrup to the bowl with the oat mixture. Mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, incorporating fully after each. Fold in the blueberries. Transfer batter to the prepared muffin pan, filling each liner 3/4 of the way full. Top each with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar. Bake for 15 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack.

SWWU Tip 1: Want to freeze these? Let cool completely then wrap each with plastic wrap. Place wrapped muffins in a zip-top bag and freeze. To thaw, remove from freezer and leave on counter or in fridge overnight or microwave at half power for 20 seconds. 

SWWU Tip 2: Want more delicious recipes that use oats? Check out these Bourbon-Apple Oatmeal Cookies or these Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. I dare you not to love them!

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Just a Bite

Brian and I attended a lovely potluck picnic in the park this weekend. Sure, we had lots of ideas for yummy things to make, but none of them were quite right for this event. We needed something that wouldn’t melt (chocolate desserts were out), didn’t need utensils to be enjoyed (who knew what the hosts would have on hand), it needed to be super portable (we were going to have to walk to our destination) and we needed to whip it up the morning of the event. I decided to experiment with a cheddar corn muffin that I’ve made dozens of times before. But this time, I added in some fresh basil (thanks to my coworker’s garden) and a bit of tomato paste and reduced the serving size.

Tomato, Cheddar and Basil Bites

Tomato, Cheddar and Basil Bites by somethingwewhippedup.com

The end result was quite fun. The mini muffins had a flavor reminiscent of a fancy pizza, but the basil really freshened up the whole experience. The size of these also turned out to be a bonus. The potluck was filled with so many yummy treats that everyone wanted to try. I’m glad they could enjoy just a bite of our dish and then go back for seconds if they had room later. I came home with an empty tray, so I guess they did!

Tomato, Cheddar and Basil Bites

Makes about 3 dozen

  • 1 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Fill a mini muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until well combined and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and buttermilk. Slowly whisk in the cooled melted butter. Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in two batches, mixing well between each. Stir in the tomato paste until well combined and then fold in the cheddar cheese and basil. Fill prepared muffin pan with batter (each cup should be 3/4 of the way full) and cook for 11 to 13 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a cooling rack. Repeat until remaining batter is used up.

SWWU Tip Make sure these have plenty of time to sit before you serve them, about 6 hours. If you dig in too soon (like I did), they won’t have enough time to cool and the paper liners will stick.

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Unexpected Treats

It’s funny what we do and don’t know about our coworkers. I once knew the ins and outs of a former colleague’s tumultuous relationship all because she spoke just a little too loudly while she was chatting on the phone with her girlfriends. Sure, it’s an interesting story, but please, leave your drama at home. This week, I learned something much more appealing about one of my current coworkers: she has a green thumb. A really green thumb! Check out the treasures she shared with me from her home garden:

Unexpected Treats by somethingwewhippedup.com

Unexpected Treats by somethingwewhippedup.com

I was so excited to get the beautiful tomatoes and fresh herbs (including rosemary, basil and parsley) home so I could whip something up. Brian was out for the evening, so I had the kitchen and the menu planning all to myself. Instead of going straight for the tomato-basil combination, I decided to make something that would highlight the fresh rosemary. I had a sheet of puff pasty in my freezer and some shallots and goat cheese hanging around, too. This is how they all came together:

Summer Tomato Pastry Puffs by somethingwewhippedup.com

Summer Tomato Pastry Puffs by somethingwewhippedup.com

I paired the pastry puffs with a small salad and a glass of crisp white wine. It was the perfect summer dinner to treat myself with. I recommend you do the same sometime soon.

Summer Tomato Pastry Puff

Makes 6 puffs

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 7 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • good quality olive oil
  • sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Divide the pastry dough into six equal rectangles (see picture below). Place on prepared baking sheet, brush with the egg and sprinkle rosemary on top. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and puffy. Remove from oven.

2. Meanwhile, place the garlic and butter in a medium pan and heat over medium until butter is melted. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until caramelized. Once browned, remove to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.

3. To assemble, top each puff with a bit of the goat cheese and caramelized shallots. Arrange tomatoes on top of each. Drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with sea salt.

SWWU Tip: Don’t care for rosemary? You can substitute any fresh herb when prepping the puff pasty pieces: thyme, flat-leaf parsley and, of course, basil, would all be delicious.

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Butter Me Up

Homemade butter is one of those special indulgences that I rarely make. It’s always creamier and richer than store-bought butter and makes anything you put it on—from a piece of crusty bread to a stack of pancakes—taste so much more decadent. This past weekend I wanted a special topping for some sweet summer corn, but we were at the farm house and I didn’t quite have the time or patience to make a batch of homemade butter. I was however able to grab some fresh cilantro from the garden and combine it with a few other ingredients we had on hand to jazz up some plain, store-bought butter.

Cilantro-Lime Butter by somethingwewhippedup.com

Cilantro-Lime Butter by somethingwewhippedup.com

It took hardly any effort and the result was beyond delicious. It’s really quite amazing how so few ingredients can really transform a dish so much. We used the butter to top some grilled corn, but I also think it would be a great way to grease a pan before making eggs, to coat the outside of a grilled-cheese sandwich or to prepare fish with.

Cilantro-Lime Butter

Makes about 4 tablespoons

  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice

1. In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, cilantro, both salts and lime juice. Mix until well combined, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

2. To form into butter rounds: Lay out a small piece of plastic wrap on a work surface. Place the butter mixture in the middle and fold the edges of the plastic wrap over each other to form a cylinder. Gently roll the butter back and forth, like you would a rolling pin, to smooth and lengthen the log of butter. Once your butter has reached the desired size and is uniform in thickness, twist the ends of the plastic wrap closed. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until firm.

3. Once firm, remove butter from the plastic wrap and slice into thin rounds.

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Going Green

My secret ingredient for adding a little something special to my homemade pizza is a bit unconventional. For me, nothing perks up a pie quite like a sprinkle of fresh cilantro leaves. Yes, I know the taste of this herb can be very polarizing, with many people claiming to “hate” the ingredient. But I think this versatile herb deserves a bit more credit. The leaves can instantly add freshness to the dishes it’s added too and it provides an unexpected burst of flavor.

Fresh Cilantro (somethingwewhippedup.com)

Fresh Cilantro (somethingwewhippedup.com)

But you know what? I’ve never had a problem with any of my friends clearing their plates—and they usually go back for seconds—when I serve my now-famous Summer’s Bounty Pizza. It’s topped with all the goodies currently tempting you at your local farmers’ market (including cilantro) so this is a pie you can feel good about eating.

Summer's Bounty Pizza by somethingwewhippedup.com

Summer’s Bounty Pizza by somethingwewhippedup.com

Summer’s Bounty Pizza

Makes 1 pizza

  • 1 round premade pizza dough
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound summer squash (we usually use a mix of pattypan, yellow and green), cut into a 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup jarred tomato sauce
  • 1/2-pound fresh salted mozzarella, diced
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

1. Peheat oven to 475°F. Roll out the prepared dough onto a pan (I usually make our pizzas sort of rectangular, but you can form dough into any shape you like) and brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook for 6 minutes or until lightly browned (pop any bubbles that form with a fork). Remove from oven.

2. Meanwhile, place garlic and remaining olive oil in a pan and heat over medium for 1 minute. Add the squash and cook, stirring occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes or until browned. Set aside.

3. Top the pizza crust with the tomato sauce, then evenly distribute the cooked squash. Evenly top with the mozzarella and tomatoes and sprinkle with cilantro.

4. Cook for 7 to 9 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

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