Friday, June 25, 2010

lemon blueberry sour cream muffins

lemon blueberry sour cream muffins

photo by shanniebananie

once again i come to you without camera--so a huge thank you to the photo from the original recipe contributor.  if you're a fan of, check out .  tastykitchen is still in the infancy, so there are a good number of recipes, but precious few reviews.  (for those of you new to these recipe compilation sites, allrecipes is great--just be very sure to read the reviews where even the most mediocre recipe is jazzed up and made better by other cooks/bakers so you can avoid the pitfalls.)

oh the tangents!  back to the muffins.  if you have never had a quick bread or muffin recipe using sour cream, oh you have missed out!

the original version of this recipe was a great start.  if you are interested in a moist blueberry muffin it is actually a great one--head on over to this link: original recipe.  (i cannot give opinion on the crumble topping as i didn't actually use it.)

i personally love an obvious lemon flavor, so i increased the lemon zest quite a bit from the original recipe.  i also only used vanilla extract instead of splitting the amount between vanilla and almond extract.  i forewent the crumble topping as i like my muffins with just a little sweetness--so i sprinkled each one with just a pinch or two of "sugar in the raw" before baking.

also, if you have never baked with sour cream in either quick breads or even cookies, there is a trick to it that is very easy, but makes a world of difference.  when you reach the stage of adding the sour cream and flour, you must, must alternate!  and you must start and finish with the flour.  i don't know the science behind it, but i tested the theory once by starting and ending with sour cream instead for some great cookies and the result was a sloppy-mess dough.  i often think in terms of splitting the flour into "thirds" and the sour cream into "half"--so my alternating would go flour, sour cream, flour, sour cream, flour.  do whatever math makes you happy, but just remember: alternate--flour first and last.

another note: if you're newish to quick breads or always find yours to be tough and/or dry, here's a tip: do not, do not, do not overbeat the batter.  mix just enough to just incorporate the ingredients.  the more beating, the tougher and drier your end result will be.

the end result of this recipe was quite delicious.  oh, if you would rather use frozen blueberries, got for it!  (if you thaw them first, you'll get purple muffins, which isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're feeding a slumber party.)

lemon blueberry sour cream muffins
adapted from shanniebananie on

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (i use canola)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1 cup sour cream
1 to 1 1/2 cups blueberries, depending on your blueberry liking
scant 1/4 cup raw sugar

preheat oven to 400-degrees.  grease 12 regular-sized muffin cups (or you can use liners).

in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda.  set aside.

in a small bowl (or glass graduated measuring cup) combine vegetable oil, vanilla, and lemon zest.  set aside.

in your mixer, beat eggs on medium speed.  slowly add sugar.  slowly drizzle in oil mixture.

reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour and sour cream alternately, beginning and ending with flour.  beat just enough between additions to incorporate--do not overbeat.

spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.  you can fill each cup almost to the top.  sprinkle each with a couple pinches of raw sugar.  bake 18-20 minutes.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Chicken Cashew Lettuce Wraps

photo by missamy

soooo, after moving, i have yet to unearth my camera.  it is here---somewhere---so i'm borrowing the picture from the original recipe :)

if you are a fan of a particular chain chinese food restaurant's lettuce wraps, these are for you!  so incredibly tasty and really rather easy to make.  the recipe below reflects my adaptations to the original posted by missamy on

my notes:
*if you like sauciness, use the recipe below as written (i doubled the original because i like extra sauce, especially when serving over rice).  if you like just enough sauce to flavor the chicken, you can easily 1/2 the recipe below to get that good glaze without extra dripping.

*my mouth wimps out when it comes to spicy foods.  i reduced the ground red pepper by half, but you could easily amp it up to meet your own spicy tolerance (mine is very low).

*you could easily use grated ginger in this recipe for a bit of additional freshness

*i enjoyed these using green leaf lettuce as a wrapper (not just a "plate" as seen in the picture).  i have had the restaurant version with iceberg lettuce, and though i liked the additional crunchiness of iceberg, it cracked every time and left the filling dropping everywhere.

*if using for a main dish, i would recommend a side of rice to add some bulk to the whole meal.  the prepared chicken with additional sauce would be great served on rice instead of in lettuce as well.

*if you plan on making enough for microwavable leftovers, leave the cashews out of the whole amount of prepared food and only sprinkle it on each serving---i learned the interesting way that cashews drenched in this sauce turn hard and black in the microwave :)  that's why i'm here, so you don't have to make those mistakes :)

*do not fear the ingredient of sesame oil.  i avoided recipes with it because i thought it would be expensive or i would have to go to a specialty shop.  but alas, i was wrong!  (yay for times like this where being wrong means i get great food!)  i found sesame oil in the ethnic food section at a very run-of-the-mill grocery store on the top shelf with the chinese food.  the bottle was about half the size of a typical soy sauce bottle, for about $2.50 but recipes tend to use it only a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time so this one bottle will last me quite a while.  check back later for more sesame-oil-using's my new favorite ingredient!

with that, here is my adaptation to the original recipe.

Chicken Cashew Lettuce Wraps
adapted from missamy at

2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
(optional: 1/2 tsp cornstarch if you want a saucy sauce.  if you are halving the recipe, leave out the cornstarch)
1.5 lbs chicken, cut in bite-sized pieces
2 cups diced onion (or 1/2 cup dried minced reconstituted in about that much water)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup cashews
green leaf lettuce
sesame seeds to garnish

mix the first six ingredients in a small bowl and set aside (a ramekin is big enough).  brown chicken until just cooked through.  remove from heat.  put onions, garlic and 2 tsp soy sauce in the pan; brown.  when onions and garlic are tender, add chicken and sauce mix (if all will be served at the same time, you can add the cashews here---if making enough for leftovers, leave out the cashews and sprinkle them over individual servings).  sprinkle with cornstarch (if using) and saute for a few minutes until blended well and heated through.  serve with lettuce leaves for wrapping (or over rice).  sprinkle with sesame seeds.