Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This face...

Makes rainy days seem brighter, crappy days not so crappy, long, hard work days easy, colors brighter, smells (good ones) smell better, the sun sunnier, love lovier and life all the more happier.

I love this face...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake French Toast

I think I've said before that my Brad loves french toast and I love pancakes. On conference weekend (Sunday) Brad had to leave shortly after breakfast to fly out for a business trip back East. I wanted to send him off with a delicious homemade breakfast and so decided to give this recipe a try. We both enjoyed it and so did my neighbors who benefited from the extras we had. The best part, I felt like I had given him a slightly fancier version of his favorite which is what I was aiming for. He left with a happy and full tummy and I was satisfied.

Strawberry Shortcake French Toast


Mix 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest with 3 tablespoons sugar; toss about a third of the lemon-sugar with 3 cups halved strawberries. Make the egg mixture for Perfect French Toast (see below); add 4 split English muffins and soak, 5 minutes, then fry and bake as directed. Sandwich some strawberries and more lemon-sugar between the muffin halves. Top with yogurt, more berries and a drizzle of honey.

Perfect French Toast

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk 4 eggs, 1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon sugar and a pinch of salt in a shallow bowl. Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, dip 6 thick slices white bread, challah or brioche (I used English muffins) in the egg mixture and cook in the skillet until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side, adding more butter as needed. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until puffed, 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 4 tablespoons butter in the same skillet until browned, about 5 minutes. Drizzle the French toast with the browned butter and maple syrup.

and a plate for the neighbors

Sunday, October 23, 2011

BEST Blueberry Muffins

Ah blueberries. They have never been my fave. I have always found this small berry to be mushy, flavorless and the skins too tough for my liking. However, one Saturday many Saturdays ago I was sitting watching my FAVORITE cooking show on KBYU - America's Test Kitchen and they were making these muffins. While I don't LOVE blueberries I do LOVE me a good muffin. Maybe I was extra hungry that day, I don't know, but I just knew I had to give these a try. I had had blueberry muffins in the past which left me feeling blah. I wanted to change my attitude about blueberry muffins and knew that if anyone could do it, it was the folks at America's Test Kitchen. As always they did not disappoint. These beauties were wonderful. Great texture and great blueberry flavor and the lemon sugar topping adds an extra unexpected wow factor. My faith in blueberry muffins has been restored and this recipe now has a permanent home in my heart!

Best Blueberry Muffins
America’s Test Kitchen

For the Lemon-Sugar Topping
1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) sugar [I recommend sanding sugar]
1 1/2 tsps finely grated zest from 1 lemon

For the Muffins

2 cups (approximately 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over, with stems and bad blueberries thrown out
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 tsp sugar
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp table salt
2 large eggs
4 Tbsps (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract

For the Topping
Stir together the sanding sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl until combined. Set aside.

1. Adjust the oven rack to upper-middle position, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a standard muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 tsp sugar to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with a spoon (I find a fork works very well, maybe even better) several times, and stirring frequently, until the berries have broken down and the mixture has thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup (you will just have to eyeball this measurement), approximately 6 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl, and let cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

4. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups of sugar and the eggs together in a medium bowl, until thick and incorporated, about 45 seconds.

5. Slowly whisk in the butter and oil until combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla until combined.

6. Using a rubber spatula, fold the egg mixture and the remaining cup of blueberries into the flour mixture until just moistened. The batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour. Do not over mix the batter, or your muffins will be tough.

7. Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide the batter equally among the muffin cups. The batter should completely fill the cups and mound slightly. You should have enough batter for exactly 12 muffins.

8. Spoon a teaspoon of the cooked blueberry mixture into the center of each mound of muffin batter. Using a chopstick or a skewer, gently swirl the blueberry filling into the batter, using a figure-eight motion.

9. Sprinkle the lemon sugar evenly over the muffins.

10. Bake until Muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating the muffin tin from front to back, halfway through baking tin.

12. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.