Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins via Brittany's PantryI ‘heart’ Ina Garten.  And these muffins!

I have said it before and I will say it again.  The woman is awesome.  For those of you that have missed my references to her in previous blogs (and there have been many) she has a show called Barefoot Contessa on The Food Network.  She used to own a specialty foods store in the Hamptons with the same name and has several cookbooks under her belt.  I truly believe that we could be close friends if we were to ever meet.  I’m fun!  I’m charming!  And I like to cook from her recipes.  That should be enough to guarantee me a Christmas card, at least!  Don’t worry, I won’t continue to gush, but will get right to the task at hand.  Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins.  Ooh baby.

When you find a great recipe and it works out well, the flavor is good, and it consistently produces fantastic results, you know you have a winner.  At this point I stop looking for more of those recipes.  I have dozens of different coffee cake recipes, but this is my ultimate blueberry coffee cake recipe.  I have found nothing better, so this is the only one I make when the fruit is in season or I have bags of blueberries frozen in the freezer.  It is perfect for company and they taste better than anything I have had from a bakery.  They have a moist, delicate crumb, and are simple to mix up the night before and bake off in the morning.  And who doesn’t like breakfast that you can make ahead of time!  Sign me up!  So Ina, if you are reading this, I just want to say…thank you.  Thank you for your recipes.  Thank you for your inspiration.  But most of all, when you mail your Christmas cards this year, my address is…Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins via Brittany's Pantry Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake Muffins
Recipe by Ina Garten

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.  Scoop the batter into muffin pans lined with paper liners, filling each cup just to the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Tip #1: To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, place in a bowl with warm water for 15 minutes.

Tip #2: These are great to mix up the night before, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and leave in the fridge over night. Bake as directed the next morning! Baked muffins freeze wonderfully!

Tip #3: When blueberries are in season and inexpensive, freeze them for later use. Place dry blueberries on a clean dry sheet pan in a single layer and place in the freezer. Once frozen, dump into a plastic freezer bag. This makes it very easy to scoop out just what you need for baking. This freezing method works great for all other berries and sliced peaches too!

Chewy Ginger Cookies

Chewy Ginger Cookies from Brittany's PantryAh!  Cookies from Joy!  ‘Joy’ refers to The Joy of Cooking , the source of the modified recipe below and an excellent cookbook for every one-experienced or not-to have on a shelf in their kitchen.  ‘Ginger’ is in reference to the main flavor of these fabulous cookies.  And calling them ‘Jewels’ is because I am pretty sure you could use them as currency in some countries.  Yup.  They are that good.  I don’t know what the exchange rate would be because I would rather give up money than these cookies, but it has got to be pretty high.  Maybe 3 cookies on the dollar?

Now I must explain myself, as ginger is a spice I love, but…well…it isn’t my absolute favorite.  Chocolate, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin; all of these are cookies I am more likely to choose before picking up a ginger cookie.  I suppose the main reason is because I grew up not really liking ginger snaps.  You know, those hard as a rock, kinda bitter, spicy cookies that are the size of a silver dollar?  No thanks.  Never being a fan of food with the texture of cement, I generally ignored these types of cookies.  And ginger was not a flavor my parents incorporated into the menus of my youth very often.  Asian food, a cuisine that uses ginger on a regular basis, wasn’t exactly prevalent.  Chow mien was about it, which, incidentally I actually loathe.  Yes, Mom and Dad, I still hate chow mien.  A lot.  I wasn’t kidding all those years when you made me eat it for dinner.  Its one of the only foods in existence that I absolutely can’t stand and the memories of it make me shudder.

Chewy Ginger Cookies from Brittany's Pantry But back to ginger, the one exception in eating it was these cookies.  My Mother has been making them for years and I think that the original recipe even has frosting included.  But I am not really sure because my edition of The Joy of Cooking does not have the recipe in it.  I think my Mom got the cookbook as a wedding gift sooooo….30+ years later, the editors apparently thought it was expendable.  For SHAME!!  Obviously they never made them or they would give these cookies their own page.  Their own chapter!  *sigh*  You may think I am over exaggerating and if you know me personally…well…that isn’t so much of a stretch.  But seriously!  They are quite fantastic.  And I have never had anyone disagree with me.  They have a bite of ginger without being overwhelming, and they turn out thin, chewy and perfect EVERY TIME!  Without fail.  My favorite feature?  They freeze beautifully.  Why is this such a perk, you ask?  The recipe makes about four dozen so you have enough to fill a gallon freezer bag and save them for later.  And when you take them out and defrost them they are just as chewy and wonderful as the day you baked them.  I like to make a batch to tuck in the freezer for families with a new baby.  Its a little treat for when company comes over to visit the new addition and it is instant calories in the middle of the night when you have been up for 36 hours straight.  Sharing is something they taught us in Kindergarten so spread the love!  And maybe.  Just maybe.  Someday, I will be able to pay my cable bill with them.  Fingers crossed.Chewy Ginger Cookies from Brittany's Pantry Chewy Ginger Cookies (updated w/new pic 12/5/12)
These are perfect for the holiday season, but I make them all the time.  You should too.

Cream together:
3/4 c butter
2 c sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c molasses
2 tsp white vinegar
3 3/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Mix until combined.  Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.  If desired, roll each ball in granulated sugar. Bake at 325 degrees for exactly 11 minutes!  Cool on pan for a few minutes and then remove to a cooling rack.

Puppy Chow

Classic Puppy Chow from Brittany's PantryAh! That ever present addictive snack food that so many of us remember from our childhood.  Simple ingredients, easy steps, and I think that every parent I knew as a kid made this.  Well, except mine.  Chocolaty, crunchy goodness that leaves you with powdered sugar covered fingers.  I am, of course, speaking of Puppy Chow.  It actually came up on Wikipedia and apparently, it is a Midwest food.  Specifically the Dakotas, Iowa, MN and Nebraska.  Huh.  I have no idea if Kellogg’s (the company that makes Crispix) created the original recipe or if it was some creative Mom who knew that the combination of peanut butter and chocolate on cereal would be a golden combination.  Heck!  I don’t even know what the original recipe is!  But this is how I make it and I haven’t had any complaints.  Put this out at your next holiday party and watch it disappear!  Just be sure to lick the powdered sugar off your fingers when you snitch!Classic Puppy Chow from Brittany's Pantry Puppy Chow

1 stick of butter
1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c creamy peanut butter (JIF makes this taste the best-seriously!)

Melt the above ingredients in your LARGEST microwaveable bowl.  Put it in for 30 seconds, take it out and stir.  Repeat this until chocolate chips are melted.  Dump in 1 whole (12 oz) box of Crispix cereal.  Stir very carefully until coated evenly.  Ever so gently, dump the whole thing into a clean paper grocery bag.  Add 2 c of powdered sugar, roll the top of the bag closed and gently turn and shake the bag to break up the clumps and coat the candy evenly.  Add more powdered sugar if necessary.