Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Plate with three blueberry muffins

Imagine you walk into a kitchen and you catch a waft of lemon, butter and blueberries emanating from the oven – heaven, right? That’s what these are.

It’s pretty rare that I post almost the same recipe within a few months, but these are so good that I had to make them again, with a very slight change – even more lemon!

They are really light and fluffy, packed with blueberries, a nice hit of lemon, and a crunchy cap.

The last time I made these, I made a few minor changes to this recipe. I used the zest of a whole lemon instead of half, and I added the baking powder and baking soda a bit later in the process to avoid over-mixing it. For the Turbinado sugar topping I used a bit less than the suggested 3 tablespoons, and it still had a nice crunchy top. This time around I used some lemon juice in the batter to amp up that flavour, and to balance the sweetness of the muffin. I also rubbed the lemon zest into the sugar to release more of the oils, bringing out the flavour.

I also made a mistake with these! I used half a cup of butter instead of 5 tablespoons – oops. But the flavour was awesome!

If you are using frozen blueberries you should leave them in the freezer until you are ready to add them.

The trick to successful muffins is not over-mixing the batter, which will cause you to have a dense muffin. Another trick – bake them as soon as the batter is in the muffin tins so they don’t lose any of their leavening.

Makes 9-11 muffins. They are the very best the day they come out of the oven, but warmed up with a bit of butter in the next few days they were quite good too.

What you need:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • zest from a whole lemon (finely grated, only the yellow outer peel)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt minus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 1/4 to 1 & 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen 
  • 2 tablespoons Turbinado (sugar in the raw) sugar

What you do:

  1. Prepare your muffin tins by lining 9 of them with paper liners, and then spray the liners with baking spray. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Place the sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl, and work the zest into the sugar with your fingers to release the oils.
  3. Melt the butter, then whisk it into the sugar and zest. Whisk in the yogurt and egg until smooth.
  4. Add one cup of the flour to the sugar mixture and stir it in until there are still some clumps. Now combine the remaining half cup of flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Very lightly fold this mixture into the batter, until it it is mostly mixed, with a few lumps.
  5. Fold in the berries until they are just combined. You should now have a very thick batter, especially if you just added frozen berries.
  6. Divide the batter between the 9 muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of Turbinado sugar. 
  7. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Test them by inserting a toothpick in the middle; if there is any batter sticking to the toothpick let them bake a few minutes longer. If you hit a blueberry, you might want to poke the toothpick into another spot to see if they are done.
  8. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack.
  9. Enjoy!

Blackberry Jam

Last night I finished making a batch of blackberry jam, with berries picked from a secret spot. It’s actually one of those places where you wonder if you’re going to trip over a body . . . but . . . free blackberries!

This recipe is made without added pectin, just the berries, sugar and lemon juice.

I don’t really eat a lot of jam, but I had a request to make this and ended up really enjoying it on an English Muffin this morning. I put a bit of Greek yogurt on as well, but cream cheese or crème fraîche would be wonderful with it too.

It takes a bit of work to get the seeds out of the jam, but I think it is a worthwhile job so you don’t bite down on the hard seeds. I found it easier to get the seeds out when the berries had cooked down a bit.

After removing the seeds, the rest of the process is quite simple. You will need some jars, and if you plan to store the jam in a cupboard you will need the proper lids etc. For freezer jam you can use any kind of jar. I used a thermometer to check the temperature, but you can use this guide to help figure out when it is done if you don’t have thermometer.

What you need:

  • 6 cups blackberries, fresh or frozen
  • 3 cups sugar (some recipes call for more, but I like it this way)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

What you do:

  1. In a large pot, heat the clean blackberries on medium heat until they start falling apart.
  2. Push the berries through a strainer, food mill or chinois. If you use a strainer, as I did, it takes a bit of time and energy to push all the pulp through with the back of a spoon.
  3. Boil water in a large pot, then put your jars in there to sterilize. Turn off the heat and remove the jars with tongs. Place the lids in the pot of hot water. I always use new lids when canning to make sure that they seal properly.
  4. Place the strained berry pulp, sugar and lemon juice in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil, stirring continually. Bring the mixture to 105C/220F, then remove them from the heat.
  5. Fill the jars to 1cm below the top. I used a canning funnel to fill the jars so I had no spills – yay! Use a clean cloth to clean any drips from the rims of the jars.
  6. Use tongs to remove the lids from the hot water and place them on top of the jars. Screw the lids on, and then leave the jars sitting where they are until they have sealed. Over the next hour or so you should hear the tell-tale pinging sound that indicates that the jars have sealed. If the jars have sealed properly the lid should be slightly concave, and will not bend when you push down on it; any jars that haven’t sealed properly can be stored in the fridge or freezer. The other jars can be kept in a cool cupboard for a few years.

Avocado and Salsa Toast

Friends have been encouraging me to share some of my simple, go-to recipes. I often don’t think of them as a recipe, because it’s something I throw together based on what I happen to find in the fridge.

Today I had some leftover avocado, leftovers of a gorgeous fire-roasted tomato salsa (recipe to come soon!), and some sourdough bread. Although the rest of the continent seems to have eaten a lot of avocado toast, I had not until today!

The hardest part of this recipe is buying the perfectly ripe avocado.

I also made a sunny-side-up egg so I could dip the toast in the egg yolks – mmm good!

What you need:

  • a slice of bread – I used sourdough
  • half an avocado
  • your favourite salsa
  • hot sauce (optional)

What you do:

  1. Mash the avocado up with a fork. Add a bit of salsa and mix it in.
  2. Toast the bread. Top it with the avocado and hot sauce.
  3. Enjoy!

The Best Blueberry Muffins

blueberry muffins - trustinkim.com

“These are the best muffins I have ever had,” is how my guy responded to these blueberry muffins. They might not look like the best blueberry muffins, but they are! They are really light and fluffy, with a hit of lemon and a crunchy cap. The trick to successful muffins is not over-mixing the batter, which will cause you to have a dense muffin. Another trick – bake them as soon as the batter is in the muffin tins so they don’t lose any of their leavening.

I made a few minor changes to this recipe: I used the zest of a whole lemon instead of half, and I added the baking powder and baking soda a bit later in the process to avoid over-mixing it. For the Turbinado sugar topping I used a bit less than the suggested 3 tablespoons, and it still gave a nice crunch.

If you are using frozen blueberries you should leave them in the freezer until you are ready to add them.

Makes 9 muffins. They are the very best the day they come out of the oven, but warmed up with a bit of butter in the next few days they were quite good too.

What you need:

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • zest from 1/2 a lemon (finely grated, only the yellow outer peel)
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 & 1/4 to 1 & 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen 
  • 3 tablespoons Turbinado (sugar in the raw) sugar

What you do:

  1. Prepare your muffin tins by lining 9 of them with paper liners, and then spray them with baking spray. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Melt the butter then pour it into a large bowl. Whisk in the sugar, lemon zest, yogurt and egg until smooth.
  3. My method of adding the dry ingredients goes like this: add one cup of the flour and stir it in until there are still some clumps. Now combine the remaining half cup of flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Very lightly fold this mixture into the batter, until it it is mostly mixed, with a few lumps.
  4. Fold the berries as little as possible. You should now have a very thick batter, especially if you just added frozen berries.
  5. Divide the better between the 9 muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of Turbinado sugar. 
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. I started watching mine after 20 minutes (my oven is a little wacky, and it is difficult to keep a steady temperature.) The muffins will look golden when they are done. Test them by inserting a toothpick in the middle; if there is any batter sticking to the toothpick let them bake a few minutes longer.
  7. Let the muffins cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then move them to a cooling rack.

Savoury Cheddar Muffins

savoury cheddar muffins - trustinkim.com

A new favourite! These savoury muffins were super delicious fresh out of the oven, served with a nice bowl of soup. They have cheddar, spinach and spring onions in them, and they are nice and light. They also work well as a breakfast or snack muffin.

Of course they were best eaten fresh out of the oven, but I heated one up the next day and that one was really good too! I’ve got a few in the freezer for when I need a last minute addition to a meal. 

I found the recipe on myfussyeater.com, and only changed a few things: I omitted the red peppers, and I added a bit of salt to the tops of the muffins. As well, I never buy self-raising flour, so in my version printed below I have included ingredients to substitute for self-raising flour. The recipe called for medium eggs, and I only had large so I used those – seemed a fine substitution to me. Also, I didn’t have quite enough butter so I topped it up with olive oil. I used more spring onions than the recipe indicated.

What you need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (150mL milk)
  • 1/2 cup (150mL) butter, melted
  • 2 cups grated aged cheddar
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 vegetable stock cube, crumbled
  • freshly ground pepper
  • salt for the top of the muffins

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Line muffin tins with 12 liners, spraying them if they are not parchment.
  3. In a large bowl whisk the eggs, then stir in the milk and the melted butter (let it cool before adding it or it will solidify when you add it). Mix in the grated cheese, spring onion, and spinach.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then add the salt and pepper and the crumbled stock cube.
  5. Hand mix until just combined; I added a little bit more milk because mine seemed way too dry.
  6. Scoop the batter into the muffin tins and crack a little bit of salt on top of each.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. If you insert a toothpick or skewer into the middle of a muffin it should come out dry.
  8. Cool completely before freezing, but enjoy them while they are warm!

Sour Cherry Almond Muffins

sour cherry almond muffins - trustinkim.com

Why have I never made an almond and cherry baked good before? My apartment smelled so wonderful after baking these; the almond smell is dreamy! These muffins are a bit more on the mini-cake side, meaning I don’t think they’re the healthiest muffins I’ve ever made. That’s not to say I didn’t have one for breakfast a few times   . . . and they’re really good with tea!

We ate one of these while they were warm, which is when they are at their best, but they were also great the next day. I froze the rest as soon as they were cool, and they were still really good when thawed.

I found the recipe on this site: Pretty Simple Sweet. The original recipe uses sweet cherries, but I used sour cherries, and I think they pair really well with the almond flavour. I tend to like to balance sweetness with tartness.

The recipe calls for baking the muffins for a few minutes at a higher temperature, then lowering the temperature for the rest of the baking. My oven is really finicky; I have to set it for higher than the required temperature, but then I have to lower it once it is at the right temperature or it will get too hot. So for me this was quite challenging. The good news is, by checking for a light brownness, and then using a toothpick to check if they had baked through, they baked successfully. Yay!

What you need:

  • 1 & 3/4 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder
  •  1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •  1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  •  1 large egg, slightly beaten
  •  1 cup yogurt (I use 3.5% fat, my homemade recipe)
  •  1/3 cup (80 mL) canola oil
  •  1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 teaspoon pure almond extract 
  •  1 & 1/2 cups (300 grams) cherries, halved and pitted 
  •  1/2 cup sliced almonds, plus extra to sprinkle on top

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F/220C. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners; I also sprayed them with baking spray.
  2. Toast the 1/2 cup of almonds in a frying pan or in the oven.
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Add the sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Mix the egg with the yogurt, oil, and vanilla and almond extracts in a medium bowl.
  5. Pit and cut the cherries in half. If they are really juicy or if you’re using frozen berries, you can toss them in just a bit of flour to prevent bleeding. Prepare the cherries right before you are going to add them to the batter so that your finished product will look pretty.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold the batter with a rubber spatula just until combined. Be careful to not over-mix, which would toughen the final product. We want nice light muffins. You can expect the batter to be thick and lumpy.
  7. Fold in the toasted almonds and cherries.
  8. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with a few un-toasted almonds.
  9. Bake for three minutes, then reduce the temperature of the oven to 375F/190C and bake for 12-17 minutes more. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick; the muffin should be tender but not wet.
  10. Cool the muffins still in the tins for about 10 minutes, then place the muffins on a wire rack to cool.
  11. Allow the muffins to cool completely before storing in an airtight container. They can be stored on the counter for a day or two, or frozen for a few months.
  12. Enjoy!

Mini Frittata

mini frittata - trustinkim.com

These mini frittata, baked in muffin tins, make the perfect quick breakfast. They can be made ahead and then heated up as needed. If you’ve got any picky eaters in your household they can add whatever they like to theirs, or keep it really plain.

I’ve made frittata before, like this yummy potato one. For this version I altered the cooking method and time, and changed the filling to bacon, roasted red pepper and Parmesan. As I mentioned, feel free to use any fillers you like, just making sure they are not too watery. Tomatoes should be deseeded and drained if you are using them.

For this batch I made a half dozen frittata because I was still experimenting. You can double the amount so you have lots in the freezer – basically one egg per muffin section. Just wait for them to cool completely before putting them in the freezer. I wrapped them in a bit of parchment paper before putting them into a zip-lock bag. If you’ve got a lot of people to feed you probably won’t need to freeze anything, just keep the leftovers in the fridge for up to a few days.

To reheat, just pop one in the microwave until it is heated through – all microwaves work differently, so I can’t specify a time. I like to use the defrost setting. Alternately, you could take it out of the freezer the night before you want to eat it and let it come to room temperature, then pop it into a frying pan for a few minutes. The texture of the reheated frittata is a little bit different than when it made fresh, but still really good. I think these also taste really good at room temperature.

What you need:

  • 6 eggs, preferably free-range
  • 2 tablespoons diced onion
  • 2-3 slices bacon, cooked
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper
  • 2-4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • chopped herbs of your choice – I used basil and oregano
  • salt and pepper

What you do:

  1. Grease the muffin tins well.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C
  3. Fry the onion in a bit of olive oil or bacon fat until it is soft and just beginning to brown. Remove the onions from the heat.
  4. Pat the red pepper dry on a piece of paper towel, then chop it up.
  5. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat them with a fork.
  6. Add the onion, bacon, pepper, cheese, herbs, and some salt and pepper. Mix these ingredients in with the fork.
  7. Pour the egg mixture into the prepared muffin tins – I used a ladle for this.
  8. To be safe I put a baking tray underneath the muffin tin in case it spilled over; it did not. Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. The eggs should not be runny on the top, so cook them for a few minutes longer if they are not done
  9. Cool for a few minutes before tipping them out of the muffin tin. They are delicious to eat right away!

Italian Potato Frittata

Italian potato frittata - trustinkim.com

This frittata makes a nice breakfast, lunch or dinner with a salad, and it is also extremely delicious served cold the next day.  I’ve made frittata in the past, but I’m finally happy with how this one turned out – practice makes perfect! It’s quite simple to make, and you can cook it in a frying pan on the stove-top, or you can finish it in the oven.

I used a cast-iron frying pan, but you can use whatever kind of frying pan you have. If you’re going to put it in the oven, make sure it doesn’t have a plastic handle. I have read that you can cover a plastic handle with aluminum foil to protect it, but I haven’t tried it myself.

You can put whatever kind of herbs you like in your frittata; I used fresh parsley, tarragon and oregano.

What you need:

  • 500 grams potatoes, sliced or cubed (slice smaller potatoes, cube larger ones)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 6-8 eggs
  • fresh herbs of your choice, finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper

What you do:

  1. Boil a pot of salted water for the potatoes.
  2. To prepare the potatoes: If you are using smaller potatoes, slice them about 1 cm thick. For larger potatoes, peel and cube them, about 2cm cubes. Boil the potatoes for about 5 minutes, until they are tender.
  3. In the frying pan heat half of the olive oil on medium heat, then fry the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.
  4. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them with a fork or a whisk. Add the herbs, some grated Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste, then beat them in. 
  5. You may want to add a bit more olive oil to the frying pan, especially up the sides, so the frittata won’t stick.
  6. When the potatoes are cooked, drain them and add them to the frying pan along with the onions and garlic. Pour the eggs over top, then distribute the potatoes evenly throughout the pan. With the heat on medium-low, place a lid on the frying pan and let the frittata cook for 6-8 minutes.
  7. At this point, if the frittata is not too liquidy, you can flip it. To do this, loosen the edges with a knife, then place a plate on top of the pan and flip the frittata onto plate. Slip the frittata back into the frying pan and cook without a lid for about 5 minutes. Now… if you don’t want to do this flipping thing, you can simply put it under the broiler for a few minutes – Watch It Carefully! You don’t want it to burn, you just want to firm up the egg until it has just set. No browning necessary; we want the egg to remain tender.
  8. Enjoy it while it’s hot, or allow the frittata to cool, then refrigerate and eat it within a few days.

Apple Carrot Bran Muffin

carrot apple bran muffin -trustinkim

Healthy, delicious and moist is the way I’ll describe these. An excellent item to have in the freezer for snacks or quick breakfasts. A great source of fibre, not too much fat or sugar, and I added nuts to up the protein. Did I mention really really yummy? I’ve already made them a half dozen times and given many away.
I found the recipe on the All-Bran website; I bought a box of Bran Buds and realized I was never going to eat it (ew!), so I searched for recipes to use it up. Now I’m purposely going out and buying it so that I can make these muffins. I could probably just make bran muffins, but I’m so addicted to these that I don’t want to risk a change.
I only made a few changes in this recipe; I added nuts, and I soak the raisins in milk. I find the raisins burn too easily on the top of the muffin if they aren’t soaked first.
What you need:
  • 1 & 1/2 cups All-bran Buds cereal
  • 1 & 1/4 cups buttermilk (or add a tablespoon of vinegar to regular milk to make your own)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup carrot, grated
  • 1 cup apple, unpeeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

What you do:

  1. Soak the Bran Buds and raisins in milk for 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a dozen muffin tins with paper liners.
  3. Add the egg, oil and vanilla to the Bran Buds and stir it in. Add the grated carrots and apples and stir them in too. At the last minute stir in the nuts.
  4. Using a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir the cereal mixture into the dry ingredients only until it is combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins; it makes quite large muffins.
  6. Bake immediately for 20-25 minutes. At 20 minutes insert a toothpick into the muffin; if it comes out clean, the muffin is done. If not bake for a few more minutes and test again.
  7. Cool the muffins in the pan for 5 minutes, then allow to cool on a rack. You can eat them before they are cooled, but allow them to cool completely before freezing.

How to Hard-Cook an Egg

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I know it seems too simple to bother writing about, but I really do believe there is a “right” way to hard-cook an egg. Most mornings I start my day with a hard-cooked egg since it’s a good source of protein, and when cooked this way . . .  the Right Way . . . it is tender and delicious.

I used to call these hard-boiled eggs, but I stopped using the word ‘boiled’ when I found the Right Way stopped boiling them. You see, eggs don’t like to be cooked at high temperatures; they turn tough when you boil them. This method is really easy, and the results are much better.

I have also been using free-range organic eggs for a while, and I believe the flavour is much better. The eggs in the photo are from London Heritage Farm in Steveston, BC. It’s a great place to cycle to for tea and a scone in the their tea house, and a walk through the garden.

What you need:

  • one large free-range organic egg
  • salt and freshly ground pepper – optional

What you do:

  1. Place the egg in a small pot and add enough water to cover the egg. Place the pot, with the lid on, on high heat and bring to a simmer – just before it begins to boil, turn the heat off.
  2. Keep the pot on the burner that has been turned off, with the lid on. Set a timer for 11 minutes. (Give it a few extra minutes at high altitudes)
  3. Pour the hot water out of the pot, then cover the egg with cold water for a moment.
  4. Crack and peel the egg, salting and peppering if desired. Eat it while it’s hot!

You can use the same method to make devilled eggs, egg salad sandwich, or any other recipe that calls for hard-boiled eggs.