Saturday, July 31, 2010

The BEST Blueberry Muffins Ever

Last weekend my daughter and I stumbled upon an episode of America's Test Kitchen where they were making the "Best Blueberry Muffins". I told Logan we were going to make those muffins pronto so we loaded up and went to the grocery store for the ingredients.  I baked the first batch and they were very, very good.  My husband and I discussed the tweaking that needed to be made in order to perfect the recipe.  I baked a second batch with the successful tweaking.  Now I present to you the recipe for ...

The BEST Blueberry Muffins Ever!!

Makes 12 muffins


Blueberry Jam
1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries, picked over
1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup fresh blueberries, picked over
1 1/8 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Brown Sugar Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened


Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

For the Blueberry Jam
Bring 1 1/4 cups blueberries and 1 tablespoon sugar to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, mashing berries with a spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

For the Brown Sugar Topping
Combine brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl.  Mix until crumbly.  Set aside.

For the Muffins
Whisk 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in a seperate medium bowl until thick and homogenous, about 45 seconds.  Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined.  Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined.  Using a rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and 1 cup of blueberrries into flour mixture until just moistened.  The batter will be very lumpy with a few spots of dry flour, do not overmix.

Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally in prepared muffin tin.  Batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly. Spoon a teaspoon of cooked berry jam into the center of each mound of batter.  Using a knife, gently swirl berry jam into batter.  Sprinkle brown sugar topping evenly over muffins.

Bake until muffin tops are golden and firm, 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time.  Cool muffins in tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.


This is not a mix it up in 5 minutes recipe.  It does take some time and you will mess up a lot of kitchen equipment.  BUT, you will not be complaining about the dishes you have to wash once you bite into one of these goodies.  Best of luck not eating about 3 muffins in one sitting.

My husband has requested that I bake 2 dozen of these muffins for him to take to the office to share next week.  You must understand, Mike is SO not the take-baked-goods-to-work kind of guy.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If I Had A Million Dollars

If I had a million dollars ... (think the Barenaked Ladies song) ... OK, if I had $2.9 million dollars (and still had to live in Indianapolis) I'd buy this house -

Isn't it pretty?  Recently listed for sale, this 22-acre Indianapolis estate named "Twin Oaks" was owned by the late reclusive philanthropist Ruth Lilly.  Lilly was the sole living heiress to the Indianapolis based Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical fortune built by her great-grandfather Colonel Eli Lilly.

The gated property includes a 7,726 square foot home, a guest house of about 2,000 square feet and formal gardens.  In addition, the house and grounds benefit from one of the most important elements in real estate - location, location, location!  It is located off of a terrific street in a great location in the city of Indianapolis.  Ruth Lilly lived in this house until her death last year at age 94.  She gave away an estimated $800 million in her lifetime.

The back of the house - 

I was unable to find photos of the interior of the house although I did find a short news clip of a video tour of part of the interior.  The lack of information regarding the inside of the house leads me to believe the home most likely suffers from dated interiors.  So, I am estimating I will need about $5 million instead of the $2.9 for which I originally wished.

The guest house -

I feel Twin Oaks would have great karma.  I could be very happy there ... If I had a million dollars ... I would not buy this piece of ridiculousness also currently for sale in the Indianapolis area (Carmel, IN to be exact) -

This property once belonged to the Conseco Insurance founder Stephen Hilbert who built the 25,000 square foot mansion in 1993 for $35 million.  In addition to the house this 40-acre estate features a 15,000 square foot "sports palace", guest house, catering facilities and power plant.  Stephen Hilbert and his wife Tomisue (yes, I said Tomisue) named this ... ummm ... place "Le Chateau Renaissance".

The pool and pool house -

Notice above I mentioned the property "once belonged" to Stephen Hilbert.  Hilbert lost ownership of the Le Chateau Renaissance to Conseco, the company he founded, to repay money he borrowed from Conseco.  Conseco has since been renamed CNO Financial Group. CNO won control of the property during a court battle stemming from loans that Hilbert took out to buy company stock.  Sounds like a continuous loop to me.

Don't get me wrong, the exterior of this house is very attractive, but come on, this is the Crossroads of America we're talking about here not France!

The back of the house - 

The estate was most recently listed for sale at $9.9 million - less than half of the original asking price and a third of the $30 million it was estimated to be worth in 2001.  Wow.  Bad investments all around.  The property has been on the market for 5 years.  I guess I'm not the only one not in the market for a Le Chateau.

The gardens -

Hilbert attended Indiana State University for two years, but dropped out to sell encyclopedias for Grolier and then worked for the encyclopedia publisher in its Chicago office as training director.  Before entering into the insurance business Hilbert worked for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The sports palace -

Last but not least, whoever buys this silliness will inherit a mural on the entryway domed ceiling that includes a likeness of Hilbert as a Greek god.  I guess you could call this the icing on the Le Chateau -

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Have A Question

Do you follow any bloggers that you don't like or think are dorks or know that they just don't "get it"?  I do.  Why do I do that?  I think maybe it is like blogger rubbernecking.  I recently axed a few blogs from my Google Reader list and I must say it did make me feel better once those folks were gone bye-bye.  I'm considering deleting a couple of more, but what if I miss something really good and stupid?

(photo above from a random Google search)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Since Nobody Seems to Want to Talk About This

I've given this photo a month and have not seen written what you know everybody thinks when they see this photo from the July/August 2010 issue of House Beautiful -

You know their sex life must be non-existent, minimal, dull, boring with a built-in trundle bed for their 3 year old in their bedroom.

There.  I said it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This Wasn't Supposed to Happen

Late last night before heading to bed I reviewed all my unread blogs and read the sad news about Marija (the j is silent) written by her husband on Marija's blog Holding Court.  Marija lived and worked as an interior designer in Chicago.  She was killed in a car accident over the weekend while coming back from an antique buying trip in Atlanta.  This wasn't supposed to happen.  Antique buying trips aren't supposed to be deadly.  Blogging isn't supposed to be sad.  Her two children and her husband aren't supposed to be left without their Mommy and wife.

I never met or corresponded with Marija, but that doesn't matter.  It turns out you don't have to know someone personally to feel sad about the loss of their lives.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cartoon of the Week

Makes me sad -