Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Classic Comfort: Blueberry Muffins

Sometimes life calls for the simple pleasures, you know like when a hurricane is approaching. Over the weekend, I had a craving for blueberry muffins, so I turned to Smitten Kitchen for the perfect recipe. Light, cakey, not overly sweet, these were all the carb-laden comfort a girl could want. If you're looking to give one of these babies a second life, halve it, toast it under the broiler and slather it in butter. Amazing. It's a trick I learned from my college years spent eating in New York City diners.

Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t bother defrosting)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then sour cream (or yogurt) and zest. Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift half of dry ingredients over batter. Mix until combined. Sift remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears. Gently fold in your blueberries. The dough will be quite thick, closer to a cookie dough, which is why an ice cream scoop is a great tool to fill your muffin cups. Fill each cup about 3/4 full. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean. Let cool on rack. Makes 9 to 10 standard muffins.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pretty Little Porcelain

I'm completely drawn in by this classic, simple pottery from Pigeon Toe Ceramics. This might be a collect-them-all situation. I'll go ahead and add that to the life goal list along with starting a family dance troupe.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Weekend in Photos (Hurricane Edition)

Well, I have to say it was a pretty uneventful weekend as far as picture-taking goes. We hunkered down awaiting Hurricane Irene, which thankfully turned out to be pretty gentle to our neck of the woods. The weekend was spent entirely indoors with a little wine, a Breaking Bad marathon and a lot of baked goods. You know you've got time on your hands and are desperate for a distraction when you make blueberry muffins and biscuits/breakfast sandwiches all in the same morning. Hope all you East Coasters made it through and are doing okay!

Friday, August 26, 2011

When Life Gives You Limes and Blackberries

I happened to have an excess of blackberries and limes this week, so I decided to showcase the fruits using two recipes that I'd bookmarked earlier in the summer. First, this beautiful blackberry crostata loaded with lime zest followed by these blackberry lime rickeys for a little adult refreshment. Both came together quickly and easily and were pure zesty, juicy yumminess. 

Quick Fruit Crostatas
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen, spotted on La Kocinera

1 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
4 - 6 tablespoons ice water
1 cup blackberries
1 teaspoon lime zest (optional)
juice of half a lime (optional)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, nonstick aluminum foil, or grease generously. In a food processor, combine 1/2 cup of the sugar, the flour, and the salt. Add the butter cubes, pulsing several times, until the mixture is crumbly. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Remove the dough, shape it into a thick disk, and wrap in plastic wrap, storing in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or the freezer for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll each into a ball. Use a rolling pin or your hands to flatten the dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, with each round being about 6 inches in diameter. Spoon 1/4 cup of the fruit in each round of dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border around all edges. If using lime zest, sprinkle the teaspoon of zest evenly over the fruits in the crostatas. Again, if using lime zest, also give each fruit filling a quick squirt of lime juice. Feel free to increase the amount of zest or juice if you’d like a more pronounced lime flavor. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup sugar equally over the fruit in the crostatas. Fold the dough edges toward the center, firmly pinching together the seams between the folds.

Bake the crostatas for 12-14 minutes, until brown around the edges. Cool the crostatas briefly on the baking sheet before transferring them to another serving plate, as they will be difficult to remove from the baking sheet whole if left there too long. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4.

Blackberry Lime Rickeys
Recipe courtesy of Sunset

2 cups fresh blackberries, divided
3/4 cup superfine or granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup gin
Ice cubes
1 bottle (1 liter) sparkling water
6 to 12 very thin lime slices

In a blender, combine 1 1/2 cups blackberries, the sugar, and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher, rubbing to extract juices, then stir in gin. Half-fill 6 tall glasses with ice cubes. Divide the gin mixture evenly among the glasses. Fill each with sparkling water. Garnish each glass with a few of the remaining blackberries and a slice or two of lime. Makes 6.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Kick Your Feet Up

I don't really have room in my apartment for an ottoman, but I do love the idea of plopping my feet on one after a long day at work, cup of tea in hand, or having a designated place to sit while I put on shoes. Check out these beauties from West Elm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Kiss Me, I'm Irish


There is so much to appreciate about this retro chic elopement shoot at The g Hotel in Ireland, the bride's champagne dress, the groom's killer mustache and the amazing setting. It's enough to make me want to book a stay there.

[spotted on: Bride & Joy; photos courtesy of: Siobhan Byrne Photography]

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Strawberry Pops

These are the most refreshing popsicles I've had in a long time. All that fruit packed into one pop makes for some summery deliciousness. I added torn mint leaves to half of the batch, which provided their own little burst of flavor. I think I'll make these again before fall takes over and popsicles are replaced by pumpkins, not that I'm complaining.

Strawberry Ice Pops
Recipe courtesy of Paletas cookbook; spotted on Leite's Culinaria

4 cups fresh strawberries, preferably wild, hulled and cut into quarters
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries and of your sweet tooth
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. Combine the strawberries and sugar in a bowl. Let sit until the strawberries start to release their juices, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Transfer the sugary strawberries and water to a saucepan and place over medium heat. Simmer until the berries are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor, add the lemon juice, and puree until the desired consistency, whether smooth or with some chunks in it.

4. If using conventional molds, divide the mixture among the molds, snap on the lid, and freeze until solid, about 5 hours.

If using glasses or other unconventional molds, freeze until the pops are beginning to set (1 1/2 to 2 hours), then insert the sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours. You know what to do now.

Monday, August 22, 2011

All That Jazz

Yesterday, Jonah and I and our good-looking friends Bethany and Jerod took the ferry over to Governors Island for the Jazz Age Lawn Party. It was fantastic, a sea of pearls and fringe and hats straight out of The Great Gatsby. We all got dressed up and spent the day on a picnic blanket, eating, drinking St. Germain cocktails, and the best part, people watching. We spotted Bill Cunningham taking photos, listened to live music from Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra, the Charleston was attempted by some, while strawberry ice cream was eaten by others (this girl), and we got old-timey photos taken to commemorate the day. Bonus points, we were boarding the ferry to leave just as the rain began to fall. A perfect day, I tell you.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Pearls and Polka Dots

This weekend, I'm going to the Jazz Age Lawn Party on Governors Island. Have you heard of it? Here are some gorgeous photos to give you an idea. I have my 1920s-inspired outfit all ready to go, pearls and polka dots are involved and some old-timey shoes and maybe even a feather. Here's hoping thunderstorms don't ruin the fun. What are your weekend plans?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Awesome People with Dogs

I was spending too much time on Awesome People Hanging Out Together the other day (which is fantastic if you've never checked it out), and I thought to myself someone should create a site about awesome people hanging out with their awesome dogs. Sure enough, someone went and did it already, and it's as awesome as I suspected it would be.

Side note: My family has always owned Old English Sheepdogs, so any time I see a picture of Paul McCartney with one, my heart turns to mush. Did you know The Beatles' song "Martha My Dear" was inspired by Paul's dog?

[all photos spotted on celebrities and their dogsjoanne woodward and paul newman; cary grant; ryan gosling; elizabeth taylor; blake lively; alfred hitchcock; goldie hawn; paul mccartney]


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