little bites copycat blueberry muffins

I read Mindy Kaling’s book over the summer, and I literally laughed out loud through the entire book. One of my favorite quotes was:

“One friend with whom you have a lot in common is better than three with whom you struggle to find things to talk about.”  

Mindy Kaling, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?

While reading this, I immediately thought of my friend Emilia. She shares my love of running, baking, and meticulous gift wrapping (her tape and paper collection is bigger than mine — which is slightly scary …in an awesome way).  Oh, and just like me, she prefers fresh, zesty lemon to deep, rich chocolate.  She was the inspiration behind these lemon crinkle cookies.

Emilia and I take the subway home together every day from track practice, and we always whip out our phones and compare recipes on Pinterest (we also share a bit of an addiction to Pinterest…).  I often bake little treats to eat in the locker room after track (after 10 x 100 m dashes, we can all use some butter and sugar!).  The other day, we were discussing what I should bake for practice that afternoon, and eventually settled on these teeny-tiny blueberry muffins.

I whipped these up when I got home, and I was amazed when I took my first bite — they tasted exactly like Etenmann’s Little Bites!!! In lower school, my dad used to pack my lunch for me every day in a Hello Kitty lunchbox.  He would always pack a sandwich (either salami or jelly-cream cheese) and a little bag of blueberry Little Bites mini muffins.  The taste of blueberry Little Bites brought me back to the days of nap-time and Legos.  These tiny muffins whip up in matter of minutes, and are the perfect thing to sneak in your purse or backpack when you need a “little bite” of something delicious. 😉

What did you eat for lunch in elementary school?

With love,
Erica

Ingredients 
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

glaze:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter; melted
1 cup confectioners’ sugar; sifted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon warm water

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a mini muffin tin.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs, lemon extract and vanilla, beating to combine. 
 
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. Fold in the blueberries. 
 
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pan, filling the cups nearly full. 
 
Bake the muffins for 5-8 minutes, or until they’re a pale golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean. 
 
In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the melted butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, lemon extract and water. Whisk until smooth.
 
When muffins have cooled slightly, dip the muffin crown into the glaze and allow the glaze to harden. At this point, you can leave them as is or go for the double dip. I glazed my muffins twice.
 
Serve warm, or cool on a rack and wrap airtight. Muffins will keep at room temperature for about a day.
Adapted from My Baking Addiction

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“gourmet” auntie anne’s pretzels

Today I went shopping with my friend Tessa.  Exams are starting on Monday, and after hitting the chemistry book for hours on end, we both deserved a little bit of retail therapy.  A few peplum tops and lululemon sports bras, and my woes of homogenous mixtures were far behind me!  
While we were shopping around, I realized how much I love mall food.  That fruity smell of self-serve fro-yo, the basil and oregano wafting out of Sbarro pizza, freshly popped buttery popcorn filling the air from the cinema — it’s the aroma of retail therapy! The smells and tastes of the mall remind me of that inexplicable joy that comes with finding the perfect pair of shoes for half-price, or finding the perfect jeans, or getting a complimentary hand massage at one of those little kiosks. 
There is not a mall in America that doesn’t have a Cinnabon and Auntie Anne’s (I made the infamous Cinnabun a while back).  Today, I tackled Auntie Anne’s big, buttery, twisty mall pretzels.  Except these are better (take that Anne!).  I topped mine with some delicious, gourmet ingredients that elevate these from the standard sprinkle of kosher salt.  I dipped some in truffle oil and sprinkled them with truffle salt, I sprinkled some asagio cheese on some, and even did a maple-butter glaze!  Of course, I had to make a few plain cinnamon-sugar ones. 😉
With love, 
Erica


Ingredients

1 cup milk
1 packet active dry yeast
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoons fine salt

1/4 cup baking soda
1 1/2 cups warm water
Coarse salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted in a shallow dish 



My “gourmet” toppings:

  • Instead of dipping in butter, dip in truffle infused olive oil, and spinkle with truffle salt
  • Mix in some Vermont Maple Syrup with the butter for a maple-glazed version
  • Sprinkle with some grated Parmesan and Asagio 
  • When all else fails, roll ’em in cinnamon sugar

Warm up the milk in the microwave for about 1 minute. It should be about 110º. If it’s too hot it will kill
the yeast.  Stir in the yeast and let it sit for about 3 minutes. Add the butter and
sugar. Add the flour about 1 cup at a time and the add the fine salt.
Kneed for about 10 minutes with a stand mixer, or by hand. Put it in a
greased bowl and cover with greased cling wrap. Let rise for 1 hour in a
moist, warm place until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 450º.
Punch down dough and divide into 8 chunks. Roll them all out as thin as you can. Combine the warm
water and baking soda in a wide bowl. Form the dough into pretzel
shapes, then dip in the baking soda water. Place on a greased baking
sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake for about 7-11 minutes or
until browned. Dip each in the melted butter while hot and roll in desired toppings. 

Adapted from Yammie’s Noshery

doubletree copycat cookies

Have you ever stayed at a DoubleTree hotel?
Forget the Ritz Carlton, or the $30 peanuts at Hyatt.
Nothing says hospitality like a huge, warm chocolate chip cookie — handed to you before you can even set your bag down. 

I remember staying at a DoubleTree in Anaheim when I was little. I was sleepy, hungry, and antsy after a long car ride. We arrived at the hotel at some ungodly hour in the morning. Everyone was grumpy and exhausted.

Then, each of us was handed a buttery, melty, chocolate chip cookie.  Suddenly all of the memories of Rt. 1 traffic, illegible Mapquests, and the smelly rental car melted away — almost as fast as the chocolate chips in my mouth.

These cookies are kept in a special “warming drawer” behind the front desk at every DoubleTree hotel. They are buttery, melty, and chocolatey — with a delicious crispy outside and a chewy inside.
Thanks to this recipe, you don’t have to book a room to enjoy a warm DoubleTree cookie.

With love,
Erica

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (4.5 oz)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold – cut up
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
  • 1 1/8 cups quick cooking oatmeal
Instructions
  1. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugars in large mixer bowl. Add egg and vanilla and stir until mixed.
  3. Add flour mixture and oatmeal gradually,
    stirring until incorporated. Stir in Heath Bits, Chocolate Chips, and
    nuts. Scoop dough up with a quarter cup measure and shape into big
    balls. Press them slightly to make discs. Set the discs on a plate and
    chill for a few hours or until firm. Note: You can bake these without
    chilling, but I liked the texture better after chilling.
  4. Place on parchment lined cookie sheets about 3
    inches apart. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-13 minutes. Cookies should still
    be slightly underdone (I didn’t want mine underdone and cooked them
    l2-13). Move to wax paper lined counter to cool, do not use wire racks.
    (I did both – wire racks made the cookies crispier, cooling on rack
    helps internal cooking for underdone cookies and probably makes them
    chewier).

Adapted from Cooking Madness