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July 15, 2019

Blueberry Crumble Muffins | What you'll be making tomorrow morning...

So, you know I've had a scone 'thing' for a couple of months... well, I've moved on to a muffin thing now.  This recipe is the combination of classic Blueberry Muffins with the crumbly top of a coffee cake.  After stirring these together in 10 minutes on a Saturday morning (without even getting out your mixer...) you'll ask yourself- why don't I make muffins from scratch every day?  I promise, they are so easy and so delicious. 


Disposable Piping Bags | My Muffin Shortcut

One of my favorite shortcuts that I use almost every week, is to make a large batch of muffin batter and keep it in the fridge or freezer in a Disposable Piping Bag.  If we want fresh baked muffins, I just get the bag out of the fridge in the morning, snip off the end, squeeze the batter into muffin papers, and in 15 minutes we have warm muffins.

If you keep the batter in the freezer, just put the bag of batter in the fridge the night before and it should be perfectly thawed in the morning.

I always keep a couple bags of Muffin batter and unbaked Scones (Scones Recipes Here) in the freezer. 

White Cupcake Liners

These aren't just any cupcake papers. 
Most cupcake papers are only 1 inch tall and 2 inches in diameter and Jumbo papers are taller, but are 2 1/4 inches in diameter - too big to fit in a standard cupcake pan.  These liners are 1 1/2 inch, for a nice and tall cupcake, but are only 2 inches in diameter, fitting perfectly in a standard pan. 
It took me forever to find these perfect cupcake papers!  Sometimes it is the little details that help make your treats look their best.

Blueberry Crumble Muffins
the upgraded classic

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cups granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
6 oz. fresh blueberries
½ cup + 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

For the muffin batter, stir together flour sugar baking powder, soda and salt in a large bowl.  Add melted butter, eggs and milk and stir just until combined.   Fold in blueberries.  With an ice cream Scoop (sold here), scoop batter into a muffin tin lined with Cupcake Baking Papers (my favorite here- the secret is that they are a little taller than average, fitting in a standard muffin pan, but making a plumper muffin/cupcake).

For the topping, combine flour, brown sugar ans salt in a medium bowl.  Cut butter into small cubes and put it into the flour mixture.  With a fork, work the butter into the dry mix until it is a crumbly texture.  With your hands, crumble the mixture on top of each muffin.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

**To make ahead, scoop batter into a Disposable Piping Bags and keep in the fridge or freezer.  If you keep the batter in the freezer, just put the bag of batter in the fridge the night before and it should be perfectly thawed in the morning.

Products Used :

Muffin Liners (Brown or White available)
Disposable Piping Bags

July 11, 2019

The School House Garden Update

The School House Garden Update

I'm a new gardener and pretty green, but I love experimenting and just growing pretty things.  The School House is just down the road from a couple of great produce farms with plenty of the staples, so I like to grow things that are harder to find - herbs, flowers, and heirloom varieties.  I think once you get bit by the gardening bug it is hard to shake - I've grown to get so much enjoyment out of it.  It is the project that never ends and I love it.

I thought I'd share an update on the School House Garden today.  I shared my master garden plans earlier in the spring and now we're in the thick of the summer growing season.  The garden is really growing well now after a slow start due to wet and cold conditions.  We were just there yesterday and in just the last couple of weeks everything has really taken off - this is the point of the summer when it is too hot to want to weed, but the weeds grow like crazy.  I spent an hour weeding this week to try to keep up.  I'm sure I'll lose the battle at some point : )

The Summer Sale Continues
20% off orders $50+, Summer-20
30% off orders $150+, Summer-30
40% off orders $250, Summer-40

Shop the Sale >

 Last year when we purchased The School House (which serves as our headquarters + where all of the product is stored and shipped, more details here if you are new!) we did lots of new plantings.  My favorite is the mass of hydrangeas tucked into the corner.

We have 6 lilacs that are growing along the fence line that should be beautiful in a couple of years.

I started with 3 hydrangea (Nantucket Blues), then quickly added 3 more.  I was planning to enrich the soil to make sure they were blue blooms, but when the pink started developing I loved it too, so we just went with it this year.   This is the most exposed corner and enjoyed by everyone heading down the road to Pat's produce farm.  I love that we're adding some life to this old building that was a little neglected for a while.

We have all white Annabelle Hydrangeas at our house, so I wanted to have some color at The School House.

I started a grouping of pots on the front porch that I change out seasonally.  During the spring it was all pansies.

We brought an old picnic table from our house and settled it underneath this shady spot.  We use it for coffee or lunch (when it was cooler).  It will be great this fall for bonfire dinners.  (It was $100 from Lowes!)

The Vegetable Garden

We have picked some cherry tomatoes, a few cucumbers and plenty of herbs.  We've completely harvested all of the carrots and spinach and replaced them with zinnias.  We need to do the same for the lettuce patch, but I haven't decided what to replace it with. 

Our big harvest will be our heirloom tomatoes in a week or two that will last through September.  We plan to make salsas and our favorite Heirloom Tomato Sauce (recipe link and photo from last years batch) we use all year long.

Cucumbers climbing.

This is a patch of wildflowers we spread.  It has been fun to see the tiny little blooms pop up and surprise us.

The Summer Sale Continues
20% off orders $50+, Summer-20
30% off orders $150+, Summer-30
40% off orders $250, Summer-40

Shop the Sale >

May 22, 2019

Summer Berry Cream Tart

For Mother's Day, Emma and I made a dessert that we sort of just made up.  I had a vision for creamy vanilla pastry cream, tart berries and toasted meringue.  Also, I wanted a thick shortbread crust.  It was beautiful!  It would work with any summer berries or bananas instead.  Our next idea is to make a s'mores version with a graham cracker crust and chocolate custard filling.  YUM!

We used one of my favorite baking essentials, a Metal Pastry Ring, $14, to create the pretty fluted edge.  They are so easy to bake in a makes such a lovely presentation.  The bottom comes out similar to a cheesecake pan, and the side just slides off creating a patisserie worthy effect.  You can find them in my online store, here >

Components (all recipes below): 

Shortbread Crust
Pastry Cream
Fresh Raspberries
Strawberry Jam
Swiss Meringue

Supplies : 

Shortbread Crust

3/4 " softened butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1 3/4 cups of flour
1/4 tsp. salt

In a mixer, combine butter and sugar, then add flour and salt.  Mix until just combined.  Press into bottom and sides of a metal tart ring (or mini disposable tart pans).   

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until edges begin to turn gold.  Let cool

Pastry Cream Filling

5 egg yolks (save whites for meringue below)
3/4 cups of sugar
1/3 cup of cornstarch
1 1/2 cups of scalded milk*
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

In the bowl of a mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar for 4 minutes, then add cornstarch.  *Pour milk into a glass measuring cup and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes until steaming.  With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the hot milk mixture a little at a time.  Transfer the milk and egg mixture to a saucepan and cook on low heat for 5-7 minutes until the mixture thickens.  It should be bubbly and thick.  When it thickens, use a whisk to mix and cook for 2 more minutes while whisking.  Stir in the vanilla.

Pour it into the crust.  Let chill and then top with berries.  We also glazed the berries by heating up strawberry jam and brushing it on them.  This is an optional step and gives the berries a nice shine, but it made it a little too sweet in my opinion.  Next time we will leave the berries naked.

Swiss Meringue

5 egg whites
1 cup of sugar
1 pinch of cream of tarter

In the top bowl of a double boiler (glass bowl sitting on a sauce pan with simmering water), whisk together egg whites, sugar and cream of tarter.  Cook mixture in the double boiler over medium low heat for 3-5 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved.  If you rub the mixture between your fingers, you should be able to tell if the sugar has dissolved.

Transfer the mixture to your kitchen aid fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whisk on high for 7-10 minutes.  The mixture will cool and froth into a thick meringue as it whips. 

Transfer into piping bag.  Cut the end off - I like to cut it so the opening is large, to get these big pretty dollops.  Pipe generous dollops.  Toast with mini torch or put under broiler in the oven for 1-2 minutes.

Shop Baking Supplies : 

May 13, 2019

Mother's Day Dinner Menu | Rhubarb Margaritas, Lobster Mac & Cheese, Raspberry Cream Tart

Last night we hosted our families for Mother's Day Dinner.  We had a busy day already planned, so I planned around being able to make everything ahead of time.  Our holidays often tend revolve around sort of masculine fare - steaks, burgers, beef tenderloin, grilled brats, chocolate cakes, cheesy potatoes - so I wanted to serve a menu that was girly, complete with pink cocktails, flowers and linens.

I recently went to dinner with some girlfriend at True Foods Kitchen and had the most delicious Rhubarb Strawberry Margarita.  It was so fresh and not too sweet - so yummy.  I made the base without alcohol, so those could added tequila if they wanted.  Emma loved it (without the tequila!), too!  She was excited to sugar/salt everyones rim and garnish with mint and strawberries.  I'll share my recipe later this week.  

Emma and I made a Raspberry Cream Tart for our dessert.  We sort of created the recipe by combining a couple of different ideas.  She helped me make the entire thing on Saturday, and we piped and toasted the meringue on Sunday afternoon with my Mom's help.

I set the table with my favorite feminine floral linens and created a centerpiece out of peony, pink tulips (both from Whole Foods) and some garden roses from our yard.  Coral and Pink is one of my all-time favorite combinations.

Mother's Day Menu with Make Ahead Tips

Rhubarb & Strawberry Margarita (recipe coming soon!) : Make rhubarb and strawberry simple syrup the day before.  Set up make-yourself bar the day of.
Lobster Mac and Cheese* : Make ahead tips below.
Wilted Lettuce : I made the bacon dressing the day before, then just heated it up in the microwave before tossing on the lettuce the day of.
Roasted Asparagus : I had it ready to go into the oven on a baking sheet just before the party.  Easiest vegetable side dish ever.  Drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and baked it for 15 minutes.
Sliced Heirloom Tomatoes & Avocados with Lemon Juice, Olive Oil & Flaked Sea Salt : Assembled this just before the party.
Raspberry Cream Meringue Tart (recipe coming soon!) : We made this the day before, save the meringue.

Wilted Lettuce Recipe

Lobster Mac and Cheese Recipe

*Lobster Mac and Cheese Make Ahead Tip : I made the cheese sauce, cooked the pasta and cooked and shelled the lobster tails the day before, but waited to assemble everything until just before I cooked it.  My one complaint about homemade Mac and Cheese is that the sauce is absorbed into the noodles so much so that there isn't remaining creamy sauce.  After assembling, I baked it for 35 minutes at 350 which was just enough to make it hot and bubbly without taking it too far.  I LOVED how this improved the recipe.

Hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day :)

May 08, 2019

Lemon Cream Tartlets | Emma's 1st Baking Gig

Each year I volunteer to donate the desserts for the annual celebration dinner at The Sheffield Place, a facility that serves homeless mothers and their children.  (You can read about the past posts and desserts here.)  This year, since Emma has taken such an interest in baking, I decided to let her take the reins on this project.  We selected the menu together (I had to rein in some of her ambitions a bit... ) but I put her in charge of the baking, decorating and display.   

There were to be 40 guests at the dinner, so we decided to make 26 Lemon Tartlets and 26 Strawberry Macaron.  I'll save the Macaron recipe for another post - stay tuned for that.

For the tarts, we used store bought pie crust.  Emma would've preferred that we make "scratch" dough, but I wanted to make as little mess as possible in the kitchen since we were also tackling macaron in the same day.

All we did was roll it out a bit thinner than it came in the package, then cut it into circles that would fit into my Small Brown Paper Tart Pans.  We actually used a large ramekin as a cutter to cut out the circles and it worked great.  Then we pressed them into the pans and put them on a Large Baking Sheet, $10.  I should have lined the sheet with Parchment Paper, $10 because we had some drips of the filling on the pan that were a pain to scrape off.  I should know by know - always use parchment!

For the filling we used our favorite Creamy Lemon Pie filling - a recipe from my "Pops."   It is so easy and is just Sweetened Condensed Milk, Lemon Juice and Egg Yolks.  We baked them for about 25 minutes until the crusts were browned then let them cool.

We topped them with a dollop of fresh whipped cream, strawberries, mint and a pansy.

I couldn't resist taking photos of her desserts on these Enamelware Trays before we left - they make everything look sweet and pretty.

Resources : 
Disposable Tart Pans (we used the small, petite also available)

Here is a look at our strawberry macarons - we love making these, but are still working the kinks out!  I'll share my tips when I feel like we've mastered it.

Proud Emma with her display at the Sheffield House.  

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