I had bought some jumbo blueberries last week that we grazed on throughout the week & needed to use up before restocking the fridge with strawberries, blackberries, & raspberries. How fitting to use jumbo blueberries in jumbo muffins.
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 ground tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted & slightly cooled
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1 cup milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup blueberries
Preheat oven to 425° F. Spray a 6 count jumbo muffin pan with nonstick spray; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon; set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oil, sugar & eggs together until well combined. Then whisk in the sour cream, milk, & vanilla extract.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry & whisk together; careful not to over mix. Fold in the blueberries.
Fill each muffin cup full, nearly to the top. Top with Turbinado or brown sugar.
Bake for 5 minutes at 425°, then, without removing pan, lower temperature to 350°F & continue to bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown & a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into middle.
In our family, Spring is birthday season. For years, Bri’s cake request had been marble cake with whippy topping from the bakery so when she asked for a homemade cake, I was excited to get my baking on. A quick search of the internet & she decided on this recipe. It was a big hit with her & her friends.
For the cake:
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the strawberry buttercream:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter 3 9 inch pans or spry with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper; set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift the cocoa powder & whisk in the hot water until cocoa powder is dissolved. Let cool for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. To the cooled cocoa mixture, add the eggs, oil, buttermilk, eggs, & vanilla extract & whisk until well combined. Pour the cocoa mixture into the flour mixture & whisk until fully incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the three pans.
Bake for 27 – 30 minutes until springy to the touch & pulled slightly from the sides of the pans. Let cool completely in pans. Run a knife around the edges of the cake. Invert onto a cooling rack & remove parchment liners.
For the strawberry buttercream:
In a stand up mixer, with whisk attachment, beat butter & a pinch of salt on medium speed for 5 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low & with the mixer running, gradually add in the sugar, a 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with a tablespoon of diced strawberries. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Once sugar & strawberries are incorporated, beat on medium speed for 1 minute, until light & fluffy.
On a serving plate, add one cake round & top with 3/4 cups of frosting. Repeat with second & third layer & spread remaining frosting all over the cake. Chill for 1 hour.
For the ganache:
Add the chopped chocolate into a microwave safe container, pour cream over top, & microwave in 60 second intervals, whisking after each interval until completely melted & smooth. Allow to cool slightly before pouring over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Top with fresh strawberries & chill a minimum of 30 minutes before serving.
You know how there are 101 uses for rotisserie chicken? I introduce you to 102. I always have rotisserie chicken on hand. I buy 1 or 2 at a time, remove the skin, debone, cut into pieces & store in quart size freezer bags & defrost as needed.
This is another meal that isn’t a recipe per se, but an assembly with a little bit of this & a little bit of that, tasting as you go to ensure desired flavor, to make your mouth happy. Below is my version.
1/2 of rotisserie chicken
Tex-Mex seasoning (listed under seasonings, on this blog, but otherwise is S&P, garlic powder, & cumin)
Cilantro bunch, chopped
Red onion, chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, stem removed, chopped
Cheese of choice, I’ll use freshly shredded Colby Jack or pick up a bag from the store appropriately labeled quesadilla cheese
Tortillas of choice
In a bowl, season the chicken with the TexMex seasoning; set aside.
Chop together a bunch of cilantro, 1/2 of a red onion, & jalapeño. Add half of the mixture to the seasoned chicken (I use the other half for guacamole!)
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add butter to the pan or right onto your tortilla, place in the skillet, add cheese, add some of the chicken mixture & wrap other side of tortilla around to make like a taco, toasting each side. Or using two tortillas, add cheese & chicken, & place another tortilla on top, and once toasted on one side, flip to toast the other. Cut into quarters. Serve & enjoy!
Note: if there is leftover mixture, I’ll freeze & label accordingly as chicken quesadilla mix.
If you Google the difference between tacos & burritos, you’ll find an assortment of answers. Much of the time, the ingredients are the same, but it’s the quantity of those ingredients & also the size of the tortilla & how they’re folded and/ or wrapped that are the primary differences. In our house, tacos are folded & burritos are wrapped.
1 15oz can of pinto beans, drained
1 tbsp of butter, oil, or bacon grease (your preference)
1 potato, thinly sliced
S & P
2 tbsp of chopped onion
4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
6 eggs, beaten
Salsa, if desired
In a small saucepan, add a tbsp of butter, oil, or bacon grease & add the pinto beans. Season with S & P, or a Tex-Mex seasoning (a combination of salt, pepper, garlic powder, & cumin) & heat over low-medium heat. Mash slightly. Stir periodically.
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat add the chopped bacon & cook until partially done. Once cooked halfway, add the potato slices & onions. Season with S & P & garlic powder & cook until soft & tender.
While the potato/ bacon mixture is cooking, add the beaten eggs, sprinkle with season salt & cook. Once partially cooked, sprinkle with cheese & finish cooking.
Spread beans over half of the tortilla, top with potatoes, & scrambled eggs. Add salsa, if desired, & fold.
Mix all ingredients of meatballs together & form into balls. Add to parchment lined baking sheet & bake for 10-12 minutes.
While meatballs are baking, mix together all ingredients of the sauce with exception of the sesame oil. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the sesame oil & then the sauce. Heat up, add the slurry, & allow to thicken slightly before transferring meatballs. Stir to coat. Garnish with sesame seeds.
Eat on their own or serve with jasmine rice & sautéed broccoli.
5. How The Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History Of Slavery Across America, Clint Smith
6. Good Enough: 40ish Devotionals For A Life of Imperfection, Kate Bowler & Jessica Richie
7. My Evil Mother, Margaret Atwood
8. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent, Isabel Wilkerson
9. It’s Okay To Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too) Nora McInerny Purmort
10. What The Dog Saw, Malcolm Gladwell
11. A Little Thing Called Life: On Loving Elvis Presley, Bruce Jenner, & Songs in Between, Linda Thompson
12. America’s First Female Serial Killer: Jane Toppan And The Making Of A Monster, Mary Kay McBrayer
13. I’ll Take You There, Wally Lamb
14. The Paying Guests, Sarah Waters
15. Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality & Threatens Democracy, Cathy O’Neil
16. Fourth of July Creek, Smith Henderson
17. Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love & Being Comfortable In Your Skin…Every Inch Of It, Brittany Gibbons
18. The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, Jean-Dominique Bauby
19. It Ends With Us, Colleen Hoover
20. I Hate The Ivy League: Riffs & Rants On Elite Education, Malcolm Gladwell
21. Into The Beautiful North, Luis Alberto Urrea
22. The Winners, Fredrik Backman
23. Get Good With Money, Tiffany Aliche
24. Our Missing Hearts, Celeste Ng
25. The Nature of Life and Death: Tales of a Forensic Ecologist: Every Body Leaves a Trace, Patricia Wiltshire
26. Bel Canto, Ann Patchett
27. Everything I Know About Love, Dolly Alderton
28. Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come, Jessica Pan
29. Excuse Me While I Disappear, Laurie Notaro
30. Emotional Inheritance: A Therapist, Her Patients, & The Legacy of Trauma Galit Atlas, PhD
31. Effin’ Birds, Aaron Reynolds
32. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, Charles Mackesy
My favorite four:
I am such a fan of Fredrik Backman. He is one of my absolute favorite authors & I will read anything he writes. His ability to describe people in relation to their relationships (including the one they have with themselves) is impeccable. This book completes the Beartown series.
“Marriage. There ought to be a different word for it once you’ve been married for enough years. When you’ve long since past the point where it stopped feeling like a choice. I no longer choose you every morning – that was a beautiful thing we said on our wedding day – I just can’t imagine life without you now. We aren’t freshly blooming flowers, we are two trees with intertwined roots. You’ve grown old within me. When you’re young you believe that love is infatuation, but infatuation is simple, any child can become infatuated, fall in love. But real love? Love is a job for an adult. Love demands a whole person. All the best of you, all the worst. It has nothing to do with romance because the hard part of a marriage isn’t that I have to live seeing all your faults, but that you have to live with me seeing them. That I know everything about you now. Most people aren’t brave enough to live without secrets. Everyone dreams about being invisible sometimes; no one dreams of being transparent. Marriage. There ought to be a different word for it after a while because there’s no such thing as eternal infatuation. Only love lasts that long & it’s never simple. It requires a whole person, everything you have, the whole lot…Dear Lord, how close you have to be to giving up each other to remember to fight for each other…There really ought to be a different word for marriage, but perhaps also a different word for divorce. One for when you’re only almost there, when you want to whisper that I don’t know what I want, I just don’t want it to be like this. A word for simply saying that I can’t bear it. I can’t bear it if all we’re going to do with each other is just bear it…Above all the other words for love, there ought to be one for this. One that says how many times we’ve come close to losing each other, but turn back & start again. One for the very smallest things, the inches when we brush past each other in the kitchen instead of only almost doing it. Something that says, I can’t bear it. I can’t bear it if you can’t bear me. I can’t bear it without you.”
This is by far one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. Chances are, you’ve likely never given much, if any, thought to dust, pollen, & spores. If you read this book, you’ll never look and/ or consider them the same again.
“What I am doing is absorbing all the information I can and using it to paint a mental picture of a place that I have never visited, and quite possibly never will. I call the image “the picture of place” – an imagined construct, but out there somewhere. This picture represents something real, a place I can summon into being by carefully considering the pollen, spores, and other microscopic matter that I retrieve from exhibits. It is the place I can see on the backs of my eyelids whenever I close my eyes. Some parts of the image are sharp, others are murky, sliding around like amoebae as more information is gleaned from the microscope. The place where you buried your lover, the place where your victim says you pinned her down and raped her, and which you say you were never near. It’s the place where you picked up telltale clues that will one day expose you, and it is how nature relays the stories that nothing else can.”
If the book before was the most interesting, this book has to be one of the most important. I’m a trained & licensed social worker with a lifelong interest in people & their stories. I believe self introspection is imperative to overall growth & function. The more you know about yourself, you’ll likely become more compassionate & empathetic which will naturally lend itself to others; even as their actions & choices can affect you.
“In ways that often feel mysterious, emotional material left unprocessed tends to appear & reappear in our lives. The unexamined life repeats itself & reverberates through the generations. The untold stories clamor for reenactment; they insist on being told. That which cannot be consciously identified forces itself into our reality & repeats itself. It is those now seen patterns that we search for & unpack. Again & again, the human unconscious brings us to the original site of where things went wrong with the wish to do it all over again, repair the damage, & heal those who were hurt & wounded. We identify with previous generations, with those who have been injured, who have been humiliated, & who have died. In our fantasy, their cure is also our own.”
Lastly, one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. Just the other day, after brunch, we headed to the bookstore across the street from the restaurant. Our oldest handed me this book with the following instructions: “Open to any page & just read.” From that moment on, at minimum for the next 15 minutes, we pealed with laughter, doubled over wheezing & crying, me trying not to pee. This is a gem of a book. From the inside of the book:
Whether you’re going to a New Year’s Eve party tonight & have been asked to bring something or you’re the one hosting & want to have an assortment of snacks, this is relatively fuss-free & crowd pleasing one to have on hand.
4 bags of 3 oz microwave popcorn, popped
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 200° F. Pour the bags of popped popcorn (removing any un-popped kernels) into a large roasting pan.
In a medium sized saucepan, over medium heat melt the butter, brown sugar, & corn syrup together; stirring occasionally. Once it starts to boil, stir constantly for 5 minutes. Whisk in the baking soda & salt. Pour the mixture over the popcorn; stir to coat.
These biscuits are so soft & fluffy enough to eat on their own & also substantial enough to turn into a breakfast sandwich.
2 cups self-rising flour, spooned & leveled
1 stick (8 tbsp) butter, frozen
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425° degrees F.
Add the flour into a bowl. Using a cheese grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour. With a pastry cutter (or your hands) incorporate the butter into the flour until pea sized. Pour in the buttermilk & stir together. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, flour your hands & rolling pin & mix together, turning a few times.
With a 3 inch biscuit cutter, dip in flour & press into dough. Do not twist it, just press down. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet & place the biscuits so their sides are right up next to each other.
Bake for 11-13 minutes. Remove from oven & immediately brush with melted butter.
Notes: I doubled the above recipe. Also, I never buy buttermilk because it’s easy enough to make your own. For each cup of milk, start by adding a tablespoon of vinegar to a liquid measuring cup & then fill with milk to the 1 cup line.
A few weeks ago, I visited a patient in his home & his wife had just made breakfast: eggs, ham steak, & fried apples. I haven’t had fried apples in years & understood I would soon be making some. When I woke this morning, it was a cold 30° outside & knew today was the day.
3 tbsp butter, salted is fine
Pinch of salt if using unsalted butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Peel, core, & chop both apples; set aside.
In a small dish, whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, & nutmeg together; set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter (add in a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter), stirring until butter becomes brown, careful to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
Add the sugar & spice blend into the skillet & mix together with the brown butter for 30 seconds.
Toss in the chopped apples, turn to coat, & stir intermittently & allow to cook for 10 – 12 minutes until apples are soft.
For years my favorite pumpkin bread was the one I grew up on & the recipe is buried in these archives. Probably 5 years or more ago, my youngest made this recipe & it has since become the preferred recipe. While I don’t fall under the category of team all things pumpkin spice, Fall doesn’t go by without having made this a time or two.
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 sticks + 2tbsp butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
1 15oz can of pumpkin purée + 1/2 can of 15oz can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Generously grease or use non-stick spray, two 8×4 loaf pans.
In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cloves, nutmeg, & cinnamon.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter & sugar until blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat for several minutes, until light & fluffy. Mix in the pumpkin purée. Add flour mixture & mix on low until just combined.
Transfer batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, longer as needed, until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to rest 10 minutes in pan before removing to racks to cool completely.