Blythe Danner’s Blueberry Muffins


I love blueberries. I like them in everything and on anything. It makes me sad that blueberry season is so relatively short.

BLueberries freeze beautifully, so there are always bags of frozen blueberries in the freezer so I can have a little bit of blueberry sunshine all year ’round.

While thumbing through My Father’s Daughter – a surprisingly terrific cookbook by Gwyneth Paltrow – I came across this recipe for Blyth Danner’s Blueberry Muffins. This had to be the first recipe I tried from this book!

I changed a few things in the recipe to make it my own.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 1/2 C whole milk
  • 2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 C fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried


NOTE: I added lemon zest in. I love the brightness it brings to everything and blueberries and lemons are natural partners in goodness!

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray well with cooking spray.

NOTE: I opted for the cooking spray. I hate the added hassle of trying to get the liners off!

In a large bowl whisk the cooled butter, eggs and milk until everything is incorporated. In a separate bowl whisk the flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt.

Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredients and stir everything together until the batter is smooth and creamy.

Fold in the blueberries.

Fill each muffin cup about 1/2 full, dividing the batter evenly amongst all 12 cups. Sprinkle the muffin tops with the remaining teaspoon of sugar. Bake them for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

NOTE: I used demerara sugar to sprinkle the top. I love the extra little crunch and sparkle it gives!

These were SO good and so quick to come together. They were light and fluffy and chock full of blueberries. The batter was thick enough that the blueberries did not sink to the bottom. This may need to become my go to blueberry muffin recipe!

“BLE” Breakfast Sandwich

I am not a breakfast person.

Don’t get me wrong …

I love bacon and eggs, and waffles, and pancakes. Oh, and hash and eggs! Wait, Eggs Benedict!

I just can’t eat them first thing in the morning. I love breakfast for dinner or breakfast for lunch.

And when it’s really hot out, I am happy to not have to cook much at all. Breakfast is the perfect solution.

The BLE Sandwich satisfies that. A poached egg, crispy pancetta, arugula, aioli, on a ciabatta. Yummy. Filling. All your food groups covered. Quick. Very little slaving over a hot stove.

I must admit before we go much further, this was my very first attempt at poached eggs. Why, yes, I had been living under a rock. Thank you.

So here we go ~

For the Sandwich:

  • 4 small ciabatta rolls or one loaf cut into 4
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 slices of pancetta
  • 2 C arugula
  • aioli (recipe below)

For the Aioli:

  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg yolk at room temperature
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 2/3 C olive oil
  • 1/3 C extra virgin olive oil

NOTE: I used Eggland’s Eggs – especially for the aioli. The ciabatta rolls shouldn’t be much larger than the poached egg. I hate when all you have left is bread and no stuff inside. Though with this, a little bit left to mop up the egg yolk that may have escaped wouldn’t be a bad thing!

Split and lightly toast the ciabatta.

Preheat oven to 400.

Please pancetta slices on foil or a baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pancetta.

NOTE: You can also crisp the pancetta in a saute pan the same way you cook bacon.

Add 3″ of water to a shallow pot. Bring water to a boil and then reduce the heat so the water is just simmering. Crack an egg into a small, shallow bowl or cup. Gently slide the egg into the water. It will look like this is going to be a disaster, but the egg starts to tighten up.

Now, the timing – 2 minutes for runny yolks, 3 minutes for soft yolks, 4 minutes for firm yolks.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the egg from the water and place on paper towels. Pat the top of the egg to dry the egg off.

For the Aioli:

Add the garlic and salt to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse for 2 seconds. Add the yolk and lemon juice, and pulse on and off until blended. Turn on and begin slowly streaming the olive oil, and the extra virgin olive oil.

NOTE: If the aioli gets too thick, you can thin it out with room-temperature water and then continue adding oil until you’ve used it all. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Now to assemble ~ place the bottom of the ciabatta roll on a plate, add some arugula, a slice of crispy pancetta, a poached egg, a dollop of aioli and the top half of the ciabatta.


English Muffins

I’m not sure what causes these urges. Whether it’s cold wintry cabin fever infested days or a complete lack of sun and warmth, but these urges usually involve my experimenting with new recipes.

This urge – as it does on most ‘we’re snowed in’ day – involved English Muffins from scratch. No eye rolling, please. I know I can buy them in the supermarket, but I just couldn’t help myself!

For all things unknown, I turn to the Joy of Cooking. Not sure why, but Mrs. Joy (to steal a line from Julie & Julia) has never let me down.

I had tried this once before. Another snow storm, unable to really leave the house, I just HAD to. Sadly this experiment ended with the dog eating the english muffins during their second rising, my having a complete melt down and everything going into the bin.

I WILL NOT BE DETERRED – so off we go!

  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 C scalded milk
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 T 105-115 degree water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 4 C all purpose flour
  • 3 T softened butter

NOTE: Sift the flour before measuring.

In a mixing bowl, combine the 1 cup of water, milk, sugar and salt. Dissolve yeast in the 2 T of 105-115 degree water for 3 – 5 minutes. After the yeast dissolves, combine the 2 bowls into one.

Beat 2 cups of the flour into the milk mixture. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until it collapses back into the bowl.

NOTE: The dough is very shaggy and gooey. I just let it rise a little over 1 1/2 hours. I really wasn’t sure what collapsing back in the bowl meant!

Beat the softened butter into the dough. Beat in or knead in the remaining 2 cups of flour.

NOTE: At this point there are 2 different methods for the last rise. You can either cut the dough into rounds or fill 3″ rings with the dough to rise. I chose to cut them out – seriously, who has 20 3″ rings or empty tuna cans in their homes! – but I’ll include the ring method at the end.

Place the dough on a lightly floured board – or sprinkle with cornmeal. Pat or press the dough to a thickness of 1/2″. Cut the dough into 3″ circles and let rise on a lightly greased cookie sheet until they almost double in size.

NOTE: I used the cover to a peanut butter jar. It was 3 ” in diameter inside the cover. I think they were a little small. I would find a different kitchen object for the next go round.

Once they have double, transfer them to a fairly hot, well buttered griddle. Cook until light brown on each side.

NOTE: No griddle – sigh. I used my incredible 15″ Lodge cast iron skillet. I love this skillet to pieces. I just wish it wasn’t so freakin’ heavy!

Cool slightly on a rack. Once cool, fork split to toast. You know, poke around the sides with the fork and split them open so you have all those wonderful nooks and crannies!

NOTE: INCREDIBLE! YUMMMMMY! So good. Not as difficult as I first thought it would be. Much better than store bought. I forked the ones left over and put them in the freezer.

For the ring method: Grease the rings and place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Fill the rings to no more than 1/2″. Let raise until doubled. Slip a spatula under the rings and dough and place on griddle. Remove the rings. Continue as above.

Jam Doughnut Muffins

There has been nobody home for months. It has been too UNBEARABLY hot to even look at the oven, much less light it up. How happy was I to wake up chilly one morning and have the jones to get baking. Question was, what to bake, what to bake. 

I must admit here and now, that I a total sucker for jelly doughnuts, but the thought of piping jelly into the center was not doing it for me. Then I remembered in one of Nigella Lawson’s books – How To Be A Domestic Goddess – there was a simple recipe for a jam fille doughnut. Problem solved.

These were so simple and quick to put together.

  • 200 g self-rising flour
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 125 ml milk
  • 85 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • jam (just your favorite here!)

NOTE: The original recipe said strawberry. Not too  many strawberry jam fans in our house, so I just used a favorite. I sure it doesn’t matter much what you use here.

For topping

  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • sugar and cinnamon for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

With a fork, beat together the milk, oil, egg and vanilla extract. Stir this into the flour and sugar to combine.

NOTE: Don’t overbeat the muffins or they will be tough. Don’t worry about the lumps, they won’t be there at the end (neither will the muffins!).

Butter a mini muffin tin and spoon the mixture into each muffin cup, about 1/3 full.  With a teaspoon place a dollop of jam on top of batter. Top with more butter so cups are just about full.

NOTE: Nigella’s actual recipe says a dollop of jam about the size of a broad bean. It really needs more than that, and probably more than I used this time.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops feel springy and resistant and the muffins have puffed up.

Meanwhile, melt the butter and pour into a shallow howl. In another shallow bowl add the sugar.  As soon as the muffins are ready, remove them from their cups, dip them in the butter, and roll them in the sugar. Eat warm.

NOTE: I added cinnamon to the sugar. Yum! But this part needs to be worked on a little. I rolled the doughnut in the butter and then in the sugar, The sugar was VERY wet.

Trust me, this little glitch is purely an esthetic problem. I took two doughnuts off the plate for the husband and the rest were INSTANTLY devoured!

Breakfast Bars

My son is not a breakfast eater so I am constantly in search of a grab and go, but healthy, alternative for him.  While re-aquainting myself with Nigella Express, I came across a recipe for Breakfast Bars. This looked like it could be the answer to my problem.

Reading the recipe, it really looks simple. I gathered up the ingredients and set to work.

  • 1 14 oz. can condensed milk
  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup mixed seeds
  • 1 cup unsalted peanuts

NOTE: I used pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower and I toasted them first. I also used roasted, unsalted peanuts.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. You need a 9×13 pan.

In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients.

Warm the condensed milk in a pot, being careful not to burn. Pour the warmed milk over the dry ingredients.

With a wooden spoon or spatula mix and fold to evenly coat and incorporate all ingredients.

Press into baking pan.  The mixture is very sticky, so either wet your hands with cold water or use an off set spatula to evenly press mixture into pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Let cool for at least 15 minutes, cut 4 across and 4 down for 16 bars.

Bars are still sticky after cutting and removing from pan. The taste is good. I am sure that toasting the nuts, vanilla and cinnamon helped. Not too sweet. Really filling and substantial.


  • I added 1 tsp. of vanilla to the condensed milk while warming. I think a little more would add a little extra flavor.
  • I added 1 tsp. of cinnamon to the mixture. Again, a little more would give it that warmth only cinnamon can bring.
  • Make sure the bars are completely cooled or they are seriously difficult to cut.

Country French Omelet

The recipe for the French Country Omelet is from  Ina Garten’s Back to Basics cookbook.

I was looking for something simple, homey and would not heat up my kitchen too  much – and I get to use my grandmother’s cast iron skillet. I love being able to use her things. In a silly way it reminds me of being in the kitchen with her.

I had spied this recipe while participating in a cook-along on one of my favorite food boards – Contessa’s Kitchen and thought I would give it a try on a hot summer night when I was cooking for just myself. I knew I had all the other ingredients at home, so I bought some beautiful slab bacon at Whole Foods. Arrived home, opened the book, and realized – not so cool! It has to bake in the oven for 8 minutes!

Now this is one of my worst habits – I inherited it from my mother – I see a recipe. Glance through the ingredients, and don’t read the directions all the way through. Hopefully this writing experiment will break me of this habit.

I love slab bacon. I hope I have more recipes that use slab bacon. There is nothing better than the smell of bacon cooking!


While the bacon is browning and crisping in the cast iron skillet, I cube the potatoes. Once the bacon is removed from the pan I realize that these wonderful yukon gold potatoes are going to cook in the bacon fat. Yummy! Into the pan they go with a little salt and pepper.


Crack some eggs, mix in milk, salt and pepper, whisk away. SInce I also didn’t see the word chives in the ingredient I add some fresh tarragon instead. Remove the potatoes from the pan, add to a bowl holding the bacon I have already cooked and am desperately trying not to nibble on.   Empty the bacon grease from the pan.

A tablespoon of butter sizzles in the pan, in go the eggs, the potatoes and bacon – don’t eat it, don’t eat it, don’t  eat it – get sprinkled on top, and into the oven we go!


Timer goes off, eight minutes are up, open the oven door and there is this HUGE, fluffy omlet staring back at me! I cannot imagine, looking at this omlet, that only two people are to eat this!


 But it looks yummy!

I cut it in four and, yes, I can now imagine that 2 people can eat this. It deflates a bit once out of the oven. I ate half, and wrapped up the other half for breakfast t his morning.

Cut omlet

This was terrific and simple – and very basic. It is a quick I-don’t-want-to-cook-alot meal. It does, however, need something. Some heat. Some onion – maybe leeks – sauteed after the bacon, but before the potatoes. Maybe some sharp cheddar cheese.

That will be for next time!