Let’s make blue food!

Let’s make blueberry muffins, and let’s do it before it gets way too hot to use the oven.

A co-worker and brilliant baker (some people just have “it”) shot me this recipe, and I knew I just had to go there. Blueberries were on sale at $1.98 a carton, and I already had a bug up my bum to make ‘em. Like the one pot chili mac recipe, this one is blessedly simple. And yes, I’ll stop with the alliteration already.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease your muffin tin — I use a six-muffin tin for grande sized muffins, but you can use one that makes a standard dozen. Beat ½ cup butter (European style tastes the best), room temperature, in your mixer bowl. Add 1 scant cup granulated sugar and whip this stuff until it’s creamy. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, along with 1 teaspoon vanilla (Madagascar, if you have it), ¼ teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons baking powder.

Add 2 cups flour and ½ cup milk to this mixture, alternating the flour and milk. I eyeballed the batter the first time I made these, and it was too stringy, so I added about 2 Tablespoons milk so the muffins would have loft. Beat all of this stuff till it’s thoroughly combined.

Add 2 cups blueberries (washed, drained and dry) and blend into the batter with a wooden spoon or spatula. BLUEBERRIES DON’T LIKE MR. MIXER. Don’t use it. You will kill the poor things. Fill cups to about ¾ full. Sprinkle a combination of sugar (1 Tablespoon) and nutmeg or cinnamon (1/4 teaspoon) on top. This step is optional, but it gives the muffins a “professional” look, like you bought them from a poncy bakery.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tops are nicely brown and the whole house smells delish. Because I used the six-muffin tin, mine took a little longer to bake, around 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, then dump onto clean cheesecloth.


Eat them all. You’ll want to. I didn’t. But you can.

Let’s make something using a lot of canned ingredients!

My mother is always pestering me to cook myself homemade meals during the workweek. Makes me crazy. My response to this: there is only one of me, and by the time I get home from the gym or archery range, I am tired. To humor her, I made her dinner that last time I went for a visit. I have studied my mother’s method of cooking over the years, and we have highly different preferences. I prefer, for example, to peruse Epicurious and choose time-consuming recipes that cost more to make than had I eaten out. She has four basic criteria:

  • Ground beef;
  • Most of the other ingredients come from cans;
  • The dish is or could be found at a church potluck; and
  • It takes 30 minutes or less from stovetop to dinner plate

I opted to make one pot chili mac & cheese. It’s so simple, you’ll lose I.Q. points.

Thoroughly brown 1 lb. lean ground beef (use frozen TVP crumbles, if you’re vegetarian) with a medium diced onion and three minced garlic cloves in a Dutch oven. I buy pre-chopped onion from the market, to save time. Now drain the fat from this crap. Add 2 cups canned chicken broth (or vegetable broth), one 10-oz. can mild Rotel tomatoes, one 16-oz. can mild chili beans (yes, these really do exist, Texas), and 2 cups Ragu Old World Style Traditional Sauce. This is what the Ragu looks like in the market, because if you’re anything like me, you get totally confused in that aisle:

12935567 Now add 1 tsp. each of chili powder and cumin, 1 ¾ cups uncooked elbow macaroni, and 1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley.

It’s going to look disgusting at first, like pig slop, but wait for it.

Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes, until the macaroni is done. Mix in ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese.

Ladle the chili mac onto plates and garnish with whatever — thinly chopped scallions, extra cheese, diced fresh tomatoes, chopped parsley, etc. Me, I didn’t bother. My mother was thrilled enough that I made the effort.

(Hate to admit it, but this tastes really good, despite all of those cans.)