Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Happy Labor Day Weekend! The unofficial end of summer has arrived. You’d be hard-pressed to know that here though, given that it’s going to be sunny and in the upper 80s. We’re spending our weekend at “The Land” as we call it – in rural Amherst County. While we still have the last remnants of summer with us, here are some bright, summery muffins with summer favorite blueberries. These muffins come together pretty easily and are juicy and tart, not overly sweet. The perfect thing to have available for snacking over a long weekend!


Lemon Blueberry Muffins

(Adapted from here!)
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 large lemon (zested & juiced)
  • 6oz fresh blueberries
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the first four dry ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, milk, egg, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
  4. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, as the mixer is running. Mix until well-combined.
  5. Gently stir the blueberries in by hand.
  6. Spoon into lined muffin tins. Bake for 15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to sit until cool enough to handle.
Makes 12 muffins

Lemon Blueberry Skillet Cake

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Today marks my first full week of being home with the baby on maternity leave alone and Selim’s first week being back at work. I’m learning that neither is easy. Selim has to get up early, after having frequently interrupted sleep all night, go to work all day, and be separated from this little baby he loves so much. Me, I don’t have to do most of those things, but my life completely revolves around this little 8 pound dictator. We’re lucky though – from what we understand, she’s a really good baby. (Of course, we think she’s the best baby in the entire world…!)

But I wanted to celebrate our first week back at work/home alone and have been thinking about making this cake all week. We have some lovely summer blueberries and several lemons that have been staring at me from our kitchen all week. I got this recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Seasons & Suppers (as I’ve mentioned several other times on here… Other recipes of hers that we’ve tried & shared here: Prosciutto & Basil Topped Lemon Ricotta Pappardelle & Maple & Mustard Pork with Shallots). Every recipe from this blog looks amazing, partially due to her gorgeous photography, and every single one I’ve been has turned out wonderfully! The original recipe is just for lemon cake; I added the blueberries after thinking about the combination of lemon and blueberry for the past week. Most of the blueberries sunk to the bottom while baking, making this feel like halfway between a crumble and a cake at the end. It’s moist and flavorful; definitely a keeper even if it doesn’t exactly look like a cake in the end! Also, don’t be alarmed when your pour the liquid “sauce” over the cake batter at the end. It seems like a lot of liquid and maybe a bad idea and maybe you misread the recipe – don’t worry!

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Lemon Blueberry Skillet Cake

(Adapted from Seasons & Suppers)
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup butter + extra
  • 1 cup sugar (divided)
  • 2 lemons, juiced (divided)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 {heaping} cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Hot water
  • Powdered sugar
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 10 inch cast iron skillet (or a similarly-sized baking dish) with some extra butter.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer, cream together the butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Once combined, add in the juice of 1/2 a lemon.
  3. In a small bowl, lightly beat the 2 eggs together, then add them to the mixture. Follow this with the vanilla and milk.
  4. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add this into the mixture. Once combined, gently stir the blueberries in by hand.
  5. Now, spoon the batter into the greased skillet and spread out evenly.
  6. In another bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the cornstarch. Place the remaining juice from the other 1 1/2 lemons in a measuring cup. Additionally, fill to the 1 1/4 cup mark with hot water. Whisk this in with the sugar and cornstarch mixture.
  7. Once combined, gently pour over top of the batter and immediately place in the oven.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle with powdered sugar prior to serving.

Apple Cinnamon Galette

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It’s well documented on this blog (and if you know me in real life…) that I don’t like/am mildly terrified of baking. But every fall, like clockwork, I feel the need to bake something with apples in it. It’s a personal rite of fall passage, along with my need to decorate with tiny gourds, take pictures of leaves changing, carve a pumpkin, and cook a batch of chili (see: Finally Fall Chili). Around here we’re a little desperate for fall’s arrival. We’ve had a few glorious days here and there, including a gorgeous weekend when we were in Charlottesville, but the days keep reverting back to a hot, humid, sunny, and mid-80s. So instead of being inspired by the fall weather for this dessert today, I’m hoping by making it, I’ll convince the fall gods to stick around for good here soon! And furthermore, October is not only National Apple Month, it’s National Dessert Month! So it’s only right that we celebrate, even though it doesn’t quite feel like fall yet.

The even better news about this baking attempt is that on the scale of baking things, galettes are definitely closer to a zero than a ten. So even I can’t screw it up! They’re not even supposed to look neat or perfect! Imperfection is perfection 🙂 Which is why I’m not sure why I’ve never made one before. Imperfection is my kind of baking.

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Apple Cinnamon Galette

(Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)
Ingredients:
  • Crust
    • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
    • 1 tbsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/4 cup cold water
  • Filling
    • 3 Granny Smith apples, sliced
    • 2 tbsp white wine
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1 tbsp flour
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp allspice
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Instructions:
  1. Put the stick of butter in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to making the dough. Meanwhile, mix all of the dry dough ingredients together. When the butter is cold, use a grater to cut the butter into the mix. Add the vanilla and then stir the water in slowly until a dough forms. Knead a few times and form into ball. Then flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  2. Slice the apples and place in a large bowl with all of the other filling ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until time to assemble the galette.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a silicone mat (or parchment paper) on a large cookie sheet.
  4. Roll out the dough into a large circle on a floured surface. Arrange the apples in the center, keeping them as flat as possible and leaving a 2-3 inch border. Fold the edges over, pressing them down.
  5. Bake for ~30 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Fig Chutney

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Ok y’all. Remember that fig chutney that we made last weekend to go on top of some roast pork (Pork Tenderloin with Fig Chutney)? We’ve been talking about it all week. It was that good! So good that we felt the need to make it again and share it as a standalone recipe. The super sweet figs create a balance with the acidic vinegar, creating just the perfect flavor! We planned to put it on some grilled cheeses last night, because we’re fancy like that, but we got home from work a little late… That meal might make an appearance in the next few days though. We did made enough to keep in the fridge, not that it’s going to last more than a few days! Tonight for dinner, we had a perfect football-watching snack meal, including this chutney with some cheese and crackers.

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This is a little different than the original chutney that went with the pork, though obviously that deliciousness was the inspiration for tonight. We added bacon to this recipe and made a few other tweaks tamp down on the sweetness a little bit more. It’s not that we don’t still love what we made last weekend; it’s just that it was the perfect topping to the pork as it was, whereas tonight we tried to think of how we would want it with a variety of other accompaniments! If you’re looking for a suggestions… cheddar cheese and crackers topped with this was delicious! We’re also thinking about it on top of a juicy cheeseburger or warm on top of baked brie. Or, obviously, as part of a snack-dinner platter ⇓ ⇓ ⇓ ⇓

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Fig Chutney

Ingredients: 
  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 2 medium onions, halved & sliced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12oz fresh figs, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Instructions: 
  1. Put a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Slice the bacon into lardons and fry until crispy and the fat has been released. Then remove the bacon to the side, leaving the bacon grease in the pan.
  2. Lower the heat to a medium-low and toss the onions in the bacon grease. (You can add some additional oil here if you need to.) Season with a pinch of salt and 10+ turns of fresh ground black pepper.
  3. Cook until caramelized, stirring every five to ten minutes, for 45+ minutes. Remove to the side with the bacon.
  4. Add the garlic and the figs to the pan. Cook for just a few minutes prior to deglazing the pan with the balsamic vinegar.
  5. Meanwhile, blitz the bacon and the onions in a food processor for just a few pulses. Then return this mixture to the pan.
  6.  Simmer over medium heat until all the liquid is absorbed and you’re left with a jammy concoction. Add crushed red pepper and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
  7. Serve hot or cold. Refrigerate when not eating.
Makes roughly 2 cups

Pork Tenderloin with Fig Chutney

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Fall is so close we can almost taste it! It’s September, college football debuted yesterday, the NFL regular season starts this coming week, and Halloween candy and pumpkin-flavored everything are starting to show up in stores. The bad news? It’s still 90 degrees and sunny outside. The forecast is calling for 90+ degree days for the entire rest of the week 🙄🙄 So, while we’re waiting for our fall weather to show up, we’ll try to celebrate the shoulder season… with a longing gaze towards fall 🍁🍂 The figs we used tonight are the perfect fruit for this concept – a bridge from summer into fall. The main season for figs runs from August to October, when you can get these fresh, juicy, sweet fruits. We got a big pack of them this week and decided to pair them with a pork tenderloin, half because we thought they’d go well together and half because, for some reason, I associate pork tenderloin with early fall, which is in keeping with this theme we’re working on here.

We were really happy with how this came together. Figs are naturally very sweet, and that sweetness combines perfectly with the acidity of the vinegar to make this chutney. No extra sugar needed here! The choice of sage for our herb tonight was tasty and reminiscent of traditional fall dishes, so that worked well too. If you can’t find sage or dislike sage, try this recipe with rosemary or thyme. Our pork came out with a nice little crust from the sear and was juicy in the middle. Furthermore, I think pork is a great meat to stand up to a sweeter sauce. We loved every bite.

A little bit about the star of this recipe… the fig. This post should actually be called fig chutney over roasted pork, since the fig is really the pièce de résistance. Figs are native to the Middle East & Western Asia. Turkey is the largest producer of figs in the world. Interestingly enough, we have the California Gold Rush to thank for the fig’s popularity in the US. The agricultural areas of the the Bay Area & surrounding counties are along the same latitude as Turkey’s fig producing region, Smyrna.        

(Side note, I gave the figs by weight in the recipe because they can come in quite the variety of sizes. Ours are fairly small, but you can definitely find larger ones.)

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Pork Tenderloin with Fig Chutney

Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 large onion, halved vertically & sliced
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4+ large fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • ~2lb pork tenderloin
  • ~12oz fresh figs, stems removed & coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Instructions:
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan. Once the oil is warm, cook onions, topped with a pinch of salt and several turns of fresh ground black pepper, over medium-low heat for 45 minutes to an hour, until fully caramelized. Stir every 10 minutes or so, scraping up any onions stuck to the pan.
  2. Once the onions are caramelized, stir in the chopped figs and sage. Then, deglaze the pan with the vinegar. Scrape up any brown, delicious bits that are stuck. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes, until well thickened.
  3. While you’re making the chutney, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Season all sides of the tenderloin with sprinkles of salt and pepper. Sear all sides in a cast iron skillet over high heat for just 1-2 minutes on each side.
  4. Once the tenderloin is seared, move it in the skillet to the hot oven for ~15 minutes. You want an internal temperature of 145 degrees, at minimum. Allow to rest for ~5 minutes before slicing. (If you prefer pork on the medium-rare side, remove it at an internal temp of 135-140, since it will cook a little more while resting.)
  5. Slice the pork and serve with the fig chutney on top! Sprinkle with some additional fresh sage.
Serves ~6

Minty Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad

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I, like most other people I know, love a juicy summer watermelon. It is just so refreshing and delicious! I remember that my grandfather always used to (and probably still does) put salt on his watermelon, which I thought was absolutely crazy. I thought that salt would ruin the sweet taste. Through the years, I’ve come to realize that a lot of people like salty touch with their watermelon. If so many people like salted watermelon, there’s got to be something to it right? And then I realized that the salty watermelon thing was taken to the next step with feta and watermelon salads. This combination is all over Pinterest and summer restaurant menus. And logically, I understand that salt balances sweet and brings out brighter flavors. Yet for some reason, I still never tried it. Well that mistake is over. I didn’t know what I was missing.

The watermelon is still the star of this salad, but it doesn’t taste like just a fruit salad with some feta on top. It’s a little more savory than expected. The mint flavor is strong and makes it nice and herbaceous. Don’t worry about the vinegar on the cucumbers either – it’s not overwhelming at all. Overall a great salad for summer! 😎

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Minty Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad

Ingredients:
  • 1 cucumber
  • ~1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 5 cups watermelon, chopped
  • 3/4 cups feta cheese, diced
  • ~10 leaves fresh mint, chopped
  • Black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Peel the cucumber, then slice it length-wise. Scoop out the seeds. Slice into half-moons.
  2. Marinate the cucumbers in the white wine vinegar, topped with a few turns of fresh ground black pepper, for at least an hour.
  3. Chop the watermelon into bite-sized chunks. Chop the feta a little smaller, more of a dice (can you dice something that’s not a vegetable??). Tear or chop the mint leaves. Combine all of these in a large bowl.
  4. Drain the vinegar from the cucumbers. Add the cucumbers in with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.
  5. Add a little more black pepper to taste.
  6. Best served immediately.
Serves 6-8

Peach & Burrata Salad

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As promised, here’s the recipe for the gorgeous salad hidden in the corner of one of our pictures from Saturday night’s Patatas Bravas with Super Garlic Aioli! Ally’s cousin Emily is responsible for this dish, and we’re hoping this is the first of many of her creations we’ll share on here (you should see some of the incredible desserts she makes). This salad is beautiful for your eyes and your taste buds – I mean, you can’t really go wrong with cheese, summer peaches, and prosciutto! The ingredient amounts are easily adjustable for different numbers or preferences of diners. Basically framework for a beautiful summer dish! Emily mentally combined a few recipes she’d come across to yield the final result of this one – inspiration from herehere, and here.

This salad came together, in part because of the THREE MASSIVE BAGS of fresh, juicy summer peaches that my aunt/Emily’s mom brought home from Saunders Brothers. August is National Peach Month, and we definitely know why! ❤ ❤

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Peach & Burrata Salad

Ingredients: 
  • Mixed greens
  • 3-5 peaches, peeled & sliced
  • 2-4 balls of burrata, cut into chunks
  • 6-8 slices of prosciutto, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Fresh mint, chopped
  • Balsamic glaze (homemade or store-bought*)
Instructions: 
  1. *If making your own balsamic glaze, reduce balsamic vinegar with brown sugar in a 4:1 ratio (ie: 1 cup vinegar to a 1/4 cup sugar) at a simmer until thickened and syrupy.
  2. Assemble salad by placing mixed greens on a platter or in a large bowl. Top with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Oooh & aahh at your pretty salad!