Saturday, July 29, 2017

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

It's my favorite season here in Michigan, and no, I don't mean summer. (It's too hot!) I'm talking about blueberry season. While I can and do freeze large quantities of locally picked blueberries for
smoothies and baking during the rest of the year, it is only during these few weeks of summer that I get to enjoy the delicious and nutritious treat of fresh blueberries in cereal, on yogurt, and by the handful. Blueberries are one of my favorite foods not only for their flavor, but because of the
nostalgia factor due to all the wonderful memories of my grandpa's blueberry farm.

 In honor of blueberry season I thought I'd share this amazing blueberry muffin recipe. I have shared a blueberry muffin recipe on the blog before, and it is very good, but this one goes the extra mile by including a crumb topping - yum! Both this recipe and the one I have previously shared are in the family cookbook, so I figure they can both be on the blog too. Those who taste these muffins always say they have been named very appropriately.  Of course fresh blueberries you've picked yourself are the ideal mix in to this muffin batter, but feel free to mix it up. I've been known to substitute cranberries or chocolate chips for the blueberries at times, and have even added shredded zucchini to recipe.

To Die For Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Grease and flour a muffin tin or use muffin liners

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder

Mix the oil, milk, and egg together and add to the flour mixture. Fold in the blueberries.

Fill the muffin cups 1/2 to 2/3 full, (I like to use an ice cream scoop to get just the right amount), and sprinkle with the crumb topping mixture (see below).

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Crumb Topping

1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter. Sprinkle over each muffin before baking.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Sarah Roses's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of a Thing (plus another side dish)

What a summer it has been! Relaxing and crazy all at the same time thanks to the newest addition to our family, baby Clara. Her older siblings have adjusted incredibly well, showering their little sister with love and being great helpers. We love you Clara!

Last week we celebrated Clara's baptism. It was a wonderful day that brought a lot of our family together. With a one month old baby, it's was important to keep the gathering after the baptism simple with minimal prep. Since it's summer a hot dog cookout was just right! Since it was a special occasion I did opt to get the best hot dogs out there, Koegel viennas, (fellow Michiganders, you know what I'm talking about!). Some family members helped out by bringing fruit and chips and a cake, but I did manage to throw together a couple of my favorite cold summer salads from my handy dandy family cookbook.  Since they are both cold dishes I could make them ahead of time and just pull them out for the party.

The first salad is lovingly named "Sarah Rose's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of Thing." Yes, it's a mouthful, but it's hard to forget! You can always tell which recipes in the family cookbook come from our branch because they always seem to have names like "That Fettuccine with the Stuff," "Stuff in a Pot," and well, "Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of a Thing." Some may say we need to work on our dish naming skills, but I love it! Sarah Rose's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of a Thing is a spaghetti pasta salad mixed with tomatoes, mushrooms, and olives, among other flavorful add ins. My dad also added some humorous commentary to the recipe concerning different ways you can prepare it, which I will include below.

The second dish doesn't have a humorous story to go with it, but I do remember my dad making it
frequently when I was a kid - Cucumbers in Sour Cream. Cucumbers are one of my favorite vegetables. I'll often eat a whole one just sliced up and sprinkled with salt for a snack. This simple salad preparation mixes things up a little bit and is nice and refreshing on a hot summer day. The cucumbers are marinated in vinegar, salt, and sugar mixture, almost making  kind of a sweet pickle, before being tossed into sour cream.

Sarah Rose's Dad's Made Up Kind of a Salad Sort of Thing

1/2 pound thin spaghetti -broken into fourths or fifths
2 pints grape tomatoes - cut lengthwise into halves
1/2 to 1/3 diced red onion
1 can (6 oz) small black olives - cut lengthwise in halves
1 package (12 oz) fresh mushrooms - sliced
2 -3 cloves garlic - minced
2 -3 Tablespoons dried sweet basil
olive oil
some kinda greens (Romaine, kale, chard, etc - Do not use iceberg, it turns soggy too fast)

1. Boil spaghetti and drain. While still hot add some salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and olive oil. Mix it up and set it aside in the fridge to cool.
2. In a bowl combine the tomatoes, onion, olives, and mushrooms and season with salt, pepper, garlic, basil, and olive oil.
3. When the spaghetti is cool, combine the spaghetti with the vegetables. Just before you serve it  tear the greens into small pieces and mix them in. Not too much! It's not a lettuce salad - the lettuce pieces are just part of the mix.

(Dad's Commentary): This is very flexible and simple. If you want you can replace half the olive oil with a quarter cup or so of Italian dressing. Or add a couple glugs of balsamic vinegar to the thing, along with the olive oil. If you don't have all the ingredients, that's ok. It's been made with just the spaghetti, tomatoes, plain white onion, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil and still got rave reviews. If you want to put something else in, go ahead, ain't no big deal. As long as no one starts poking it with a fork and mumbling "had a science experiment look like this once, only it smelled better," you're doin' just fine.  

Cucumbers in Sour Cream

1/2 cup water
1 cup vinegar
4 Tablespoons sugar
dash of pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 pint sour cream

1.Combine water, vinegar, sugar salt and pepper. Stir cucumber slices and marinade in the vinegar mixture for 2 -3 hours, and drain.

2. Mix cucumbers with the sour cream. Serve chilled.  
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