Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Easy Blueberry Muffins

I think I spoke too soon.

It is even hotter than it was before. 102°F. 102°F. Ahhhhhhhh!

And yet, I decided that today was the perfect day to whip up my second batch of blueberry muffins in the span of a week.

Still perfect. Still delicious.

Still dying in the heat.

But still worth it. Oh yes. These muffins are so good.

The recipe, which is almost identical to the one my mom and I used to use but couldn't find anymore, is from here. Yields 12 muffins.

And those 12 muffins go quickly.

- 1 (large) egg
- ¼ cup oil
- ½ cup milk
- 1½ cups flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup blueberries

Preheat your oven to 400°F and either line 12 muffin-tin cups with paper liners or spray the bottom and sides with cooking spray. (I like how the ones without paper liners get nice golden sides, but the ones with paper liners are much easier to get out of the tins.)

In a small or medium mixing bowl, beat the egg until foamy. (I don't think it matters how foamy it is, but beating until foamy should make the cupcakes slightly lighter.)

Beat in the oil and milk.

In a separate, large mixing bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt).

Stir in the blueberries. I used slightly over 1 cup because I mean, come on- the more blueberries, the merrier!

(In the past, I have waited until after adding the wet ingredients to add the blueberries, but I'm guessing that putting them in before yields blueberries that burst open while baking, which is deliciously awesome.)

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients.

Incorporate the wet into dry ingredients fully. (Original recipe suggests only mixing for 25 to 30 strokes, but I don't think this matters very much.)

Fill the cups in your muffin pan(s), filling each muffin cup slightly more than half-full. (I forgot to take a photo the first time, so these are from the second time I made them this week!)

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until muffins are golden-brown and the centers test done with a toothpick.

Loosen the sides of each muffin with a spatula or toothpick and turn them out to cool.

These taste best when still warm, but the ones I didn't immediately devour were inhaled for breakfast the next day.

I'm going to say it: blueberry muffins are the best muffins.

Unf. So so good.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer Idea #3: Quick-Pickled Radishes

Okay, I'll fess up. The real reason I wanted to buy radishes? Everyone was taking photos of them on instagram, and I got jealous!

They are so pretty. (Look: I even made you some radish art! Haha.)

But in truth, I don't even really like radishes all that much... unless they're pickled. Quick-pickled, just like the quick-pickled cucumbers I posted about a few days ago.

Pickling removes that astringent bite that some radishes have, and adds a nice flavor! True, the glorious pink colour becomes a little less pronounced, but they are still beautiful, and in my opinion, infinitely more delicious.

As the weather has cooled down a bit this weekend, I think this will be the last of the "summer idea" posts for a little while (although next week is looking to be very hot again) but don't worry! I made some delicious blueberry muffins yesterday, and luckily I took photos before they all got devoured!

Onto the radishes!


- small radishes
- dark rice vinegar
- sesame oil
- pinch of sugar
- pinch of salt
- optional: Korean spice (red pepper powder)

Wash and slice up the radishes into halves or quarter-pieces. Don't cut them too small, otherwise they might get soggy depending on how long you choose to let them pickle. (Also, the larger pieces are prettier, in my opinion.)

Place the pieces of radishes in a bowl and add salt. (I'd say that this is about 1 tsp.)

Cover the salted radishes with a plate and place a cup or heavy object on top, to help drain the radishes of excess water. Let it sit for at least half an hour.

Add in the dark rice vinegar (again, I have to approximate since I didn't measure out the amounts, but I'd start with 1 tsp and taste before adjusting), followed by some sesame oil (approx. 1 tsp).

Add in some sugar. These can take more sugar than the cucumbers did, so maybe 1 to 1½ tsp sugar.

Sprinkle in some Korean red pepper flakes, if you so choose. This particular spice powder isn't too spicy and it has a nice depth to it that balances out the sharpness of the radishes. (I swear I'm not trying to be pretentious, but that's the only way I can think of describing it!)

Taste, and add more rice vinegar or sugar if desired.

Let the radishes marinate for at least half an hour, although my mom has let them sit overnight in the fridge in the past, and they were very delicious. But if you're impatient like me, somewhere between half an hour and 1 hour should suffice.

Voila! Quick-pickled radishes!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer Idea #2: Quick-Pickled Cucumbers

"I have a cucumber craving," I announced to my mom, completely out of the blue.


If you were expecting a story to come out of that first sentence, don't get your hopes up.

Basically, I got the cucumbers.

And I ate them.

What you will get, however, is a quick, no-cook recipe for pickled cucumbers! It's not the same kind of pickling in the sense that pregnant moms will crave these with vanilla ice cream, but it's pretty darn tasty, especially on a hot summer day.

(It's so hot that I can actually feel the hairs on my arm dry up immediately after stepping out from the shower. At least that means that it's not too humid today.)

I should warn you beforehand though: I forgot to measure out the ingredients when I was making this, since it's my mom's 'recipe' and she never uses instructions. Alas, I will try my best to approximate the amounts, but it's pretty easy to just make these cucumbers to taste.

-1 English cucumber
-dark rice vinegar
-sesame oil *
-salt, to taste
-pinch of sugar

*I used spicy sesame oil, but it ended up being too spicy, even though I've been building up a spice (rather than alcohol) tolerance my whole life.

Slice the cucumber in half, length-wise, and then cut each half into small half-moons, slicing at a diagonal angle (although honestly, that's optional. It's just how my parents always do it, so I did that as well).

Place all the cucumber slices into a large bowl, and add salt. (I'm guessing that this is about a ½ tsp? Maybe ¾ tsp?)

Cover the cucumbers with a plate and place a weight (aka cup) on top of the plate, so that some excess water will drain out of the cucumbers. This will give them a nice crunch. Let the cucumbers drain for at least 30 minutes.

Then, uncover the cucumbers and add in the dark rice vinegar. Don't add too much at a time, and be careful when pouring, since I know that I tend to have the bad luck of seeing the liquid all pour out at once. I estimate that I used approximately 1 tsp, or slightly more, but finish adding in the rest of the ingredients before adding in more vinegar.

Then add in some sesame oil (approximately 1 tsp). Give it all a shake. ;)

Add in a pinch of sugar, and perhaps a bit more if the cucumbers taste too vinegar-y. Mix, and taste. (Add more dark rice vinegar or sugar if necessary.)

Eat! To beat the heat! (Sorry- couldn't resist the rhyming there.) In any case, hope you enjoy!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Idea #1: Raspberry Tea Ice Cubes

According to my dad, these are the "puppy days of summer." By that, he means the dog days of summer. Oh Dad. Haha.

But he is right in that these past weeks have brought Ithaca hot, extremely humid weather. Not the type of atmosphere for baking things. So instead, I've been coming up with cool, refreshing things to make. I currently have two more posts ready to be typed up and published, but I figured I'd start with the easiest!

This may also be the prettiest of the three.

Raspberry tea ice cubes! (Plus two watermelon juice ice cubes, because there was some juice leftover from our nightly fruit escapades.)

I paired these ice cubes (paired... who am I kidding. I mean, gracelessly dumped the ice cubes into a glass) with some lychee juice. This isn't a juice I usually see in grocery stores, but I went with my mom to one of the two local Asian grocery stores and the cute little juice boxes caught my eye!

If you can't find lychee juice, or if you'd just rather try something else, these ice cubes would also go incredibly well with lemonade or iced tea! That'd have a fun name: Tea Ice Iced Tea.

The tea ice cubes are also great for when a beverage otherwise tastes too sweet. A lot of the ice tea sold in stores tend to be too sugary for my taste but since I haven't added any sugar into the tea prior to freezing, the ice cubes can dilute the sweetness without weakening the flavor.

Anyways, this is so easy that I won't even call it a recipe; it's more of an idea, hence the title for the blog post. You could also choose to make this with a different flavor tea. Lemon, orange, apple, peach... they all sound tasty!

- Juice of choice (for me, lychee)
- 1 teabag (like raspberry - look at the rhyming parantheses!)
- an ice cube tray? (technically not an ingredient...)

P.S. the peanut butter jar full of flowers is just for decoration. Not to eat.

Heat up some water, then let the tea steep until desired strength. Since this raspberry tea has a fairly strong flavor, I didn't let it steep for too long.

Pour into ice cube tray.

Stick it into the freezer!

Pour out juice (I probably had a little too much fun squeezing the lychee juice out of the juicebox) and add ice cubes!

So easy, and so pretty! And if the ice cubes melt, you can then call it "Raspberry Tea-infused Lychee Juice."

How fancy of me. It's all in the linguistics. Most importantly though: tastes delicious!