BLUEBERRY LEMON MUFFINS

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Since this past Sunday, aka Daylight saving time, I’ve been craving summer-y dishes like strawberry ice cream and peach pie. Yes, we’re only in the middle of March, but the moment it stays lighter later and we get to enjoy sunshine for a couple more hours, my mind immediately goes into summer mode. I know that I don’t live in an area where there will be winter-y weather for about 1-2 more months, but after record low temperatures and rainfall in Southern California, I’ve never been more excited for warmer weather.

On top of beautiful weather, we’ve been enjoying wildflower super blooms as well as the annual migration of butterflies from Mexico to the Pacific Northwest (the painted ladies). Walking outside and seeing hundreds upon hundreds of butterflies is quite honestly one of the most beautiful sights and it’s amazing to see how it’s positively affecting everyone’s mood. I sometimes forget how lucky I am to live in such a awe-inspiring area and I’m trying to take full advantage of my surroundings. More hikes are in my future!

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So, today I wanted to work with a produce that is best in the summertime, but can actually be utilized all year long. Blueberries. Even though blueberries are at their peak in California from May to July/August, I eat them every single day with my breakfast. Blueberry is the one fruit that I just can’t seem to enjoy for a limited amount of months; I’d rather have a mediocre blueberry than no blueberry at all. When it comes to blueberries in dishes, I’ve always been a major fan of perfectly simple blueberry muffins. The recipe I’m giving you today is that and so much more.

I really wanted to use wild blueberries for this recipe because I find that they’re SO delicious and bursting with flavor, but since it’s still wintertime, the only wild blueberries available are frozen. I attempted to use the frozen wild blueberries that I found at Trader Joe’s but they completely stained my dough - literally, I was left with blue muffins. Although the flavor was still there, I couldn’t accept the color and decided to go with plain fresh blueberries. My advice is using fresh berries is much easier even though berries aren’t at their peak of ripeness at the moment. I promise that the berries that I bought at the grocery store still made the muffins amazing, and just think how much better it’ll turn out when you make these again in the summertime.

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Below in the recipe, I give the optional step to make an easy glaze for the muffins. The glaze, which is simply confectioners’ sugar and fresh lemon juice whisked together, is optional because I personally think the muffins are perfect as is, especially since there’s the crunchy topping, thanks to a heavy sprinkling of turbinado sugar. But, I did make a couple of batches with the glaze and the few people I gave them to went crazy over it and thought it was mandatory that I include it in this post. So whether you’re a muffin purist like me or if you fall into the category of “more is more”, you have the option to glaze or not. Glaze half of the batch if you want!

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Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Yields 12 standard muffins

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • Zest of 1 large lemon

  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

  • 3/4 cup sour cream or yogurt (plain or Greek)

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries (see my note above regarding frozen)

  • 1 1/2 - 2 tbsp. turbinado sugar

    Optional: Lemon Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

  • 3-4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease a 12-count muffin tin with cooking spray or butter, or line with cupcakes wrappers.

  2. In a large bowl, using your hands or a whisk, massage/mix the granulated sugar and lemon zest together until fragrant (this helps release the oils in the zest). Add the melted butter, sour cream/yogurt and egg, and whisk until well incorporated.

  3. Using a spatula, carefully fold in the flour and blueberries until you can no longer see any dry ingredients. Do not over mix!

  4. Using a spoon or an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin cavity to the brim with batter. Evenly sprinkle a heaping 1/2 tsp. of turbinado sugar over each muffin.

  5. Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F, and then turn the oven down to 350°F and bake for another 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The blast of initial heat helps the muffins get their height.

  6. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for a couple of minutes before taking them out. Drizzle each muffin with the lemon glaze (optional, recipe below). Muffins are best eaten on the day they are baked, but can be enjoyed for 1-2 days after if covered and left at room temperature.

Lemon Glaze

  1. In a small bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar and the fresh lemon juice with a whisk. Start with 3 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice, and add more only to reach your desired consistency.

LEMON POPPY SEED BUTTERMILK WAFFLES + BLUEBERRY MAPLE SYRUP

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Now that we’ve entered the month of February, I of course am going to give a few recipes for the holiday that either people avoid like the plague or fully embrace: Valentine’s Day. I guess I fall somewhere in between these two categories in that I don’t hate the holiday, but I don’t expect my boyfriend to make reservations at a fancy restaurant or give me an extravagant gift like a diamond necklace. I DO however enjoy the two of us making a big dinner, cocktail in hand, while wearing our pajamas. That to me is so much more romantic and fun than sitting next to strangers at a busy restaurant.

Oh, and I like flowers. Flowers are nice. (Hi, Alex!)

One other aspect that I enjoy doing for Alex on V-Day is baking him something decadent for dessert and/or starting the day for him with an amazing breakfast. On most days, breakfast at home is pretty boring and consists of peanut butter toast and greek yogurt. But on Valentine’s Day, I kick it up a notch (I’m Emeril now) and sometimes make Alex pancakes and bacon or an egg scramble filled with whatever veggies I have on hand in the fridge. To say that Alex loves this is an understatement; he appreciates this small gesture so much and I know it makes his day. So I think waking up a little earlier and whipping up a more exciting breakfast for your significant other is about the nicest thing one can do at 7:30 in the morning.

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Not sure on what to make for your SO for the love-filled holiday? Let me make the tough decision for you and tell you that you NEED to make these lemon poppy seed buttermilk waffles! And while we’re at it, let’s have you make a homemade blueberry maple syrup (with no added sugar!) to drown those waffles in. Waffles for breakfast is not only delicious and much more exciting than cereal, but actually comes together fairly quickly and will certainly impress whoever you make them for.

Ever since I received a waffle maker this past Christmas, I have been making a new batch of waffles every single weekend (literally) for Alex and myself. I luckily found a recipe that I absolutely love and not only tastes incredible fresh from the maker, but freezes exceptionally well - all you have to do is pop them in the toaster, press the defrost button, and they’ll have the same texture and taste as the day you made them. So, I decided to take that recipe and put my own spin on it by using the classic flavor combo of lemon and poppy seed. We’re currently in the midst of citrus season and so the addition of bright and flavorful lemon zest and juice really brightens up the waffles and gives it such a fresh taste.

As for how many waffles this recipe will yield you, it really all depends on what kind of maker you own. I personally have this one (I love it btw), and with scooping out about 1/3 cup portions, I get 12-14 waffles. If you have the round waffle maker, I would suggest following the manufacturer’s directions on how much batter to use per waffle.

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And let’s not forget the blueberry maple syrup! My favorite toppings for when I eat waffles have always been maple syrup and blueberries, so I decided to combine the two to make life a bit easier. Three ingredients + a stovetop + less than 10 minutes of your time = an elevated take on the kind of syrup you find on the table at IHOP. The finished result is a bit more liquid-y than normal maple syrup, but this won’t bother you the moment you take your first bite. And regardless, there are whole blueberries added to the syrup at the end so you’ll get the best of both worlds.

Do me (and your SO) a favor and make these waffles for Valentine’s Day! And if for some weird reason breakfast isn’t your thing, I’ll be posting a Valentine’s Day-friendly dessert next week.

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Blueberry Maple Syrup

Yields about 1 1/2 cups

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided 

  • 1 cup pure maple syrup

  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the blueberries with the maple syrup and lemon juice. Heat over medium temperature for about three minutes, or until the berries have softened a bit.

  2. Using the back of a wooden spoon, crush the berries against the side of the saucepan. Do this carefully, because the berry juice will be very hot. After a few more minutes, the mixture will begin to simmer and foam, and that is when it’s done.

  3. Pour the mixture through a strainer placed over a medium sized bowl and discard the blueberry solids left behind. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of blueberries and allow to cool a bit before enjoying. Transfer leftover maple syrup to a glass container, like a mason jar, and refrigerate. 

Lemon Poppy Seed Buttermilk Waffles

Yields about a dozen waffles, depending on waffle maker 

Recipe adapted from The Worktop

Ingredients

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  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar

  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon zest

  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour (all-purpose works as well)

  • 2 tbsp. poppy seeds

  • 2 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp. salt

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Directions

  1. In a medium size bowl, using your hands or a whisk, massage/mix the granulated sugar and lemon zest together until fragrant (this helps release the oils in the zest). Add the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk together. 

  2. In a large bowl, add the buttermilk, fresh lemon juice, vanilla extract and eggs, and whisk until incorporated. Slowly add the melted butter while continuing to whisk, so as not to curdle the cold buttermilk. 

  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Do not over mix! Allow the batter to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. 

  4. Preheat your waffle maker and spray with cooking spray. Add about 1/3 cup of batter for each waffle, but do whatever size works best for you in your personal waffle maker. Cook until the waffles are golden brown, about 4 minutes. 

  5. Repeat until all batter is used up. Enjoy your waffles with blueberry maple syrup, a pat of butter, and/or a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar. Waffles freeze extremely well: just pop the frozen waffles in your toaster, hit the defrost button, and they’ll taste exactly the same as on the day you made them.