COOKING ADVENTURE #16: Chilled Drinks and Triple Berry Muffins
I’m very pleased to say that I didn’t mess up this Cooking Adventure. There were a couple of points where I had a little trouble but everything came out tasting delicious and looking scrumptious! I guess that’s what you get when you deal with frozen drinks though. There’s really not too much that one can do wrong with something like that. And the muffins? Well, I’ve got to say, there was tiny bit of guesswork there and it paid off! It’s like I snatched them right off of Martha Stewart’s windowsill or something. (Okay, that’s over the top. But whatever. I had a success. I deserve some right to gloat about it, don’t I?)
We’ve had a streak of warm weather these last couple of weeks in Maine. It actually hit 80 degrees this past weekend so the sidewalks in town have been crammed with people in tanks, shorts, skirts, and flip-flops. It’s almost surreal for Maine in April! But with the warm weather, I was craving some thirst-quenching drinks to go alongside our summery weather. First up was the Blueberry Banana Smoothie. It’s this recipe that probably gave me the most trouble of the three, but only because of one key ingredient: frozen bananas.
You are supposed to slice up one frozen banana to put into the blender. How does one exactly cut through a frozen banana? I slid a cutting board into place and plopped the frosty brown skinned fruit onto it. Not knowing which knife to go for first, I snagged a steak knife from the drawer, hoping it would be enough to cut through. There was a fair bit of sawing, back and forth, back and forth. By the time I’d cut the end of the banana off, I could see that this wasn’t going to work. I hucked that one into the sink and dug around in my drawer for another knife. I pulled out my little paring knife next. I was doubtful that this would work. In actuality, it cut much better than the steak knife and I ended up using that for the rest of the banana. Then, I peeled the skins off.
Now, I’m going to remind you all that the banana is frozen. Which means that as I juggled it in my fingers trying to discard the skins from the fruit, my fingers were practically icicles when I was through. I ran some hot water over them until feeling returned to them and continued on with the recipe. Next, you add blueberries. There were some fresh ones on sale at the grocery store so I snagged them and froze them. I was pretty generous with the blueberries and added probably a cup or cup and a half to the recipe. Then, I sploshed in some milk, 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt, and 1/8 cup of frozen orange juice concentrate for taste.
I don’t own a large blender. I have the Magic Bullet which is quite a deal smaller and obviously doesn’t hold as much in the blending container. It was filled to the top when I had finished. I knew that I was going to have to do a fair bit of mixing with a spoon in addition to blending. I added some honey to the mixture, sealed the blade attachment onto the plastic blending cup and pressed it into the base. A midst a flurry of whirs and screeches that seem more suitable for a skill saw, the blender turned my ingredients to mulch, their color dyed a deep blue-purple as the moments passed. I poured it all into a tall glass with a banana slice for garnish. This was a very healthy smoothie that I hope to recreate in the future!
The Iced Chai Tea latte was actually a more open recipe. I got to choose what kind of chai tea I wanted to brew, what kind of sweetner, type of milk, and exactly how the ice was added to it as well. In a saucepan, I placed one cup of milk and two cups of water and let them come to a boil. I was only making some for myself (the recipe can be doubled if this is for more than one person.) I dashed some nutmeg into the liquid as well and turned the heat steadily up to a boil.
Once that had happened, I took the saucepan off the heat, added some honey, and threw in three tea bags of some regular Chai Tea. I had kind of wished that I had some more fancy chai teas to experiment with for this recipe but it’s best to start off simple. As the tea steeped into the mixture, I took a tall glass and filled the bottom with ice. The directions state that you can also crush ice and blend it into the mixture, but it was easier for me to just add ice to the glass and then the tea. (I doubt my Magic Bullet would have liked trying to slice and dice a bunch of ice cubes anyway.) In the end, I added an ice cube to the saucepan to temper the tea before I poured it over the ice cubes in the glass. Then, I added another dash of nutmeg for garnish and I put the glass in the freezer to chill for twenty minutes. This delectable concoction goes well with the triple berry muffins which I made next…
I decided to make my muffins from scratch. I saw that look of horror that crossed your face just now. Doing things “from scratch” in the past has always been a bad idea for me. This time however, I was very, very lucky. Either that, or the cooking gods have decided to give me a break. I took 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of white sugar, 3 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and mixed them all together in one bowl. In another, I added one egg, 1 cup of milk, and 1/2 cup of butter.
Then I stirred the dry mixture into the wet. The more I stirred with my whisk, the more I discovered that the mixture was turning doughy. This is because the original recipe was for 18 muffins. I only have a 12 cup muffin pan. So I pared down the measurements using the online tool. You know what that did? It told me to use 1 and 1/3 eggs, 7/8 cup of milk, and 2/3 cup of butter. If I was going to be forced to measure out 1/3 of an egg, I might have screamed. I knew there needed to be more liquid so I added more milk to it until it was the consistency of pancake batter. Then, came the berries.
Blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. If you tried to buy these fresh at the grocery store, chances are you’d be paying close to $15 for all of them. Uh, no thanks. I found a bag of “berry medley” in the frozen food section. There were strawberries in here as well but they were much too big for the muffins so I left them out. I scooped a couple handfuls of the frozen berries into a bowl and defrosted them in the microwave for about a minute. Then, I added them straight to the muffin mixture. It was dyed with deep red streaks within moments as I mixed everything together.
I spooned the batter into each muffin cup to the point that they were full and then placed them in the oven for 20 minutes on 375. I was expecting each one to overflow from its cup but surprisingly they didn’t over puff. When they came out of the oven, they were just the right size, had baked through completely and oh yes, they tasted amazing. The berries left pockets of warm gooey berry in each muffin. It was such an awesome breakfast and definitely different compared with my usual two pieces of toast with coffee.
Next week on Cooking Adventures is going to be a real challenge. I am working that day. Which means that I’m going to have less time to prep for this adventure than I would like. It also means that I need to pick something that will be relatively easy for me. With that in mind, I’ve chosen to do a Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala! Stay tuned!