What to send my daughter in her care packages? After she was gone a week and the campus post office was cleared of the hundreds of packages that followed the new arrivals to college, I quickly baked a brownie mix from a box and sent the brownies along with a few other items she had forgotten or needed. Of course you have to send a care package by Priority Mail so it arrives within a few days and the goodies are still somewhat fresh. Overnight prices are prohibitive, $35, but Priority is only about $9-10 for a small box.
For my second care package I decided to actually bake something from scratch and was eager to try a blueberry muffin recipe that used buttermilk. My husband loves buttermilk (with a little sugar added), so I knew he would drink-up the leftover milk. I also found a chicken recipe that called for buttermilk, seasoned with cumin, as a brine. It was delicious. (See recipe below) First, the blueberry muffins. Awhile back, Alyssa bought a baking pan with a dozen mini-bundt molds, so I decided to use this instead of muffin tins. They are so cute and I knew that she would be delighted to receive them. I also wanted to make something somewhat healthy, so I used half whole wheat flour and half regular flour. I also used a new 50-50 butter (half butter, half Smart Balance) which did not seem to adversely affect the taste.
Here is the recipe: (from Tasting Table.com)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries, divided
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons raw sugar (the brown package) for topping or vanilla sugar
Preheat oven to 375° F. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy with an electric mixer. Beat in the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time. In a separate bowl, sift together (well, I never sift — after all it’s pre-sifted flour– I just fluffed it with a fork to blend the ingredients) baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
Place 1/4 cup blueberries on a plate and mash with a potato masher or fork. I actually folded them into the piece of waxed paper I had used for the flour or you could use a zip lock baggie to avoid making a mess. I can’t imagine mashing a few blueberries on a plate with a potato masher. I just smashed the wax paper with the side of my hand. Beat the mashed blueberries and their juice (there wasn’t much juice) into the batter. Add half of the flour mixture and then the buttermilk. Add the other half of the flour and mix well. When the batter is smooth, fold in the remaining blueberries by hand with a spatula.
Line two 12 cup muffin tins with paper liners. I used 12 bundt molds and 6 large muffin molds. I froze the large ones and my husband and I are eating them, one half at a time. Alyssa and I don’t really like paper liners, even though they are neat and tidy. A baked edge just tastes better. We found a Pam with flour spray which makes removal from even complex molds (maybe I’ll explain that in a future entry) easy. Fill cups 2/3 of the way with batter. Spring the sugar (I used 2 brown packets) over the top. Bake on middle oven rack for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack before serving (or shipping).
I love these muffins because they are filled with blueberries (get your antioxidants!). One downside (no pun intended) of using the mini-bundts is that the sugar topping is on the bottom instead of the top. Alyssa will have to tell you how that tastes.
Grilled Buttermilk Chicken
The actual recipe is from Sunset Magazine and is protected by copyright, so I’ll just give the basics. I used chicken breast instead of thighs and drumsticks. Brine chicken in buttermilk seasoned with chopped shallots, chopped garlic, salt, sugar, cumin and pepper. Cover and chill for 4 hours up to 1 day. Lift chicken from brine and wipe off excess with paper towels. Grill. Yum. Serve hot or cold. It was delicious both ways. You can search myrecipes.com for the actual recipe.
P.S. I’ll have to wait until Alyssa tells me that she has received her package before posting this. I don’t want to spoil the surprise 🙂