Classic Blueberry Muffins

My mom doesn’t understand why I keep buying cookbooks when I already have so many. She doesn’t cook or bake much. It just isn’t her passion like it is mine so I can never make her understand that buying cookbooks for me is the same as her buying fabric for her quilting when she already has more then she will use in her lifetime. There is something about the cookbook that inspires me to want get into my kitchen and try a new recipe just like the way fabrics inspire her to get to her sewing room and sew.

Yesterday I had to be out my apartment for awhile, so I headed out to my favorite used book store, Books At A Fifth. I found a “New” muffin cookbook from 1989, called The Joy Of Muffins that featured muffins based on flavors from all over the world. You all know how much I love to make muffins so it isn’t often I find muffin recipes that I haven’t tried before. The Joy of Muffins is not only filled with muffin recipes I haven’t tried before, its filled with recipes I actually want to try. The recipes use, for the most part, Ingredients I already have at home or have easy access to. Best of all, the cookbook was only a a dollar. How could I resist?

Blueberry Muffins

Adapted From The Joy Of Muffins Cookbook

1 cup flour

2 TBS sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 egg

6 TBS milk

2 TBS canola oil

1/2 cup blue berries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 6 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well to combine. In another small bowl, combine the egg, milk, and canola oil. Mix well. Combine wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Fill the muffin cups 2/3’s full. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tea Week #2– Italian Sodas

One of the things I have started since drinking tea in March is designing a tea bar, a place to keep my tea and tea related stuff together. It is also a place where my friends go to choose a tea and make a cup while we are chatting and/or waiting for the food to be done.

Okay, I realize Italian Sodas aren’t actually a tea drink. I am sharing them here because, as a non-coffee drinker and someone who has only recently started drinking tea, Italian Sodas were often the only thing available for me to drink when I found myself at a coffee shop with my coffee obsessed friends. I want my tea bar to have as many options for my friends who don’t drink teas as I do for for my friends who do drink tea. So in addition to things like, lemonade, hot chocolate and sparkling water, I would include a few things to make Italian sodas.

You can make the flavored syrups for Italian sodas from scratch, but because I don’t drink Italian sodas or have friends over everyday, I decided to buy my syrups. You can find a limited selections of Torani syrups at your local grocery store and a larger variety at specialty kitchen stores and on line. I receive no compensation for mentioning Torani in this post. It’s what is easily available in my hometown. There are many other types of flavored syrups available if you can’t find Torani.

Italian Soda

3 TBS Torani flavored syrup

1 cup seltzer or club soda

1/4 cup cream, optional

t1/2 cup ice

In a 12 oz glass, add the syrup and ice. Pour in the seltzer and cream if using, and stir well. 

Experiment with different flavors and flavor combinations of syrups. 

Tea Week #1 — Arnold Palmers

A few months ago,  I absolutely fell in love with drinking loose leaf tea from a company called Plum Deluxe.  I have tried many different types of tea and many different flavors of tea. I have become kind of obsessed about tea in general and learning to incorporate tea into my cooking and baking.  I am also learning how to make as many different tea drinks as I can.  So I have decided to make this week’s theme non alcoholic tea drinks.

Arnold Palmers in the can  have been one of my favorite things long before I ever started drinking tea on a regular basis. As much as I love Arnold Palmers in a can I love homemade Arnold Palmers more.

The best way to make them, in my opinion, is to make a pitcher of homemade lemonade and a pitcher of cold brewed iced tea and mix them whenever you want a drink.  But if you don’t have any lemonade or tea made you can simply brew a  cup of tea, add  lemon juice and sugar to taste and serve over ice. You could also use frozen lemonade concentrate or powdered lemonade drink mix, if you prefer. Any tea you like with a squeeze of lemon can be used to make Arnold Palmers. I use Plum Deluxe’s plain Royale Darjeeling black loose leaf tea or Red Rose Black Tea bags to make iced tea.

In my opinion, there is no actual recipe for an Arnold Palmer. This  is how I make my Arnold Palmers.  It is very, very adaptable to your taste.  I don’t think I make them the same way twice.

3/4  cup cold iced tea

1/4 cup cold lemonade

Pour the iced tea and lemonade into a glass filled with ice and stir gently.  Serve.

Homemade Lemonade

Today’s recipe was gong to be the third and final recipe for Instant pot week but my refrigerator died sometime between lunch at 1230 pm and getting off work at 430 pm on Friday. Of course, being the weekend, my landlord can’t get anyone to look at until this week, which is understandable. Fortunately, there is an empty apartment downstairs and my landlord said I could use the fridge down there. I shudder to think how much it would cost me to replace all the condiments and meat I have in my fridge and freezer. So instead of cooking and taking pictures like I usually do after work, I was loading things into my freezer bags and hauling it down three flights of stairs and unloading it into a temporary fridge and freezer.

So today, instead of my third instant pot recipe, I am posting a recipe we are going to need for tomorrow’s recipe. Today, we are going to make homemade lemonade.

Homemade Lemonade

From The Spruce Eats

This recipe is one that begs to be adapted to your taste. Use more lemon juice, use less lemon juice. I personally only used about a 1/2 cup sugar to sweeten the lemonade because I knew I was going to be using it mainly to make other drinks and so wanted it to be stronger so I wouldn’t dilute the lemonade too much when I added other things to it. I figured I could always add more sugar if I wanted it sweeter at a later date. Just experiment until you find the perfect way to make your lemonade.

1 1/4 cup sugar

6 cups water, divided

5 to 8 lemons for 1 cup juice

Lemon slice or mint, garnish

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, add sugar and water. Heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set a side to cool.

While waiting for the syrup to cool, squeeze your lemons. You will need 1 cup lemon juice. Exactly how many lemons will it take for 1 cup juice? Its hard to tell, I used 4 big, really juicy lemons for 1 cup juice. You may need more. My advice is take what you think you will need and add one more. Better to have too many then not need them then to not have enough.

Once you got your juice and the remaining 5 cups water and sweeten it to taste with your syrup.

I don’t usually recommend a one hit wonder gadget but if you are going to be making fresh lemonade often or in big batches, you might want to invest in a citrus reamer, it will get the most juice possible out of your lemons, prevent seeds from getting in the juice and just get those lemons juiced quicker. If you squeeze your lemons by hand, be careful not to get any seeds in your juice or do what I did and squeeze the juice over a measuring cup and strain it when you are done.

Instant Pot Week #2 Cranberry Nut Cake

Baking probably isn’t the first thing a person thinks about when they hear the word pressure cooker but it is definitely something you can do. Baking is especially successful when you make something that thrives in a moist environment like a cheese cake or a baked custard. The pressure cooker is also good at baking things that don’t need to be crisp like cake.

I don’t usually bring out the cranberry recipes until the pumpkin spice everything threatens to take over the world at the end of September or beginning of October. This recipe, however, was screaming at me to make it and use up some of the cranberry stash in my freezer. I used a 3 cup Bundt cake pan to make this recipe but you can use a 6 inch cake pan or spring form pan if you don’t have one.

Cranberry Nut Cake

Adapted From The Instant Pot Bible The Next Generation

1 1/2 cup water, for in the liner

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup whole berry cranberry sauce

2 TBS brown sugar

2 TBS canola oil

3 TBS lightly beaten egg

1/4 tsp vanilla

Spray Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Add water to pressure cooker liner, add trivet to the liner and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.

In a small bowl, combine the cranberry sauce, brown sugar, canola oil, egg, and vanilla. Mix well to dissolve the brown sugar.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently stir until ingredients are just moistened.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Set on the pan on the trivet and cover with aluminum foil. Close and lock lid. Pressure cook on high for 50 minutes. Let natural release for 20 minutes then release any remaining pressure. Remove pan from liner and let cool.