Blueberry Crunch Muffins – Betcha Can’t Eat Just One! Makes a Great Cake, Too

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A slice of moist cake stuffed with blueberries and topped with crunchy streusel makes for a great start to any day.

Jack says muffins are cake. Whether you use fresh or frozen blueberries, a batch of these muffins is easy to whip up anytime. They’re a favorite with fried eggs and fresh fruit for a tasty, satisfying brunch. Today, I made the recipe again, but in a 9-inch springform pan for a lovely snack to go with afternoon tea. A warm slice of this cake with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream would be an indulgent way to end a dinner – and an absolutely wrong way to begin your day!

Streusel-Topped Blueberry Muffins


Muffin dough

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries or thawed frozen blueberries

Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin tin or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.
  3. Mix oil, egg and yogurt in a medium bowl.
  4. Stir oil mixture into flour mixture until just mixed.
  5. Fold in blueberries.
  6. Fill muffin cups right to the top.
  7. Mix together streusel topping ingredients.
  8. Place even amounts of topping on each muffin.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven. A wooden stick inserted into center of muffin will come out clean when muffins are done.

Makes 12 streusel-topped blueberry muffins.


Super Fluffy Frittata: Brunch is Served


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Bacon? Smoked salmon? Leaks? Mushrooms? Smoked cheese? Pick your ingredients and bake them into this deliciously fluffy frittata.

We love our weekends – time to cook a special breakfast or brunch and linger over it with a second cup of coffee and a good book of poetry. Adaptable to a wide range of ingredients, frittatas are among our favorite weekend breakfasts.

One key to turning out a great frittata is to use the right pan. We’ve been using Swiss Diamond nonstick cookware for years and are big fans. Sunny-side up, scrambled, or easy over, eggs slow-cooked over low heat in these pans are a revelation. And although the word frittata has its etymological roots in the Italian friggere, which means “fried,” we usually bake ours. Sautéing vegetables before they go into the egg mixture brings out their sweetness, drives off excess moisture and allows for a richer balance of flavors. And the key to a super fluffy frittata? Separate out the yolks and whip the whites into fluffy peaks, then fold them into whatever mixture of egg yolks, cheese, meat and vegetables you’ve prepared. Here’s how we made ours this morning.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 8″ nonstick, oven-safe frying pan with lid. Swiss Diamond pans have heavy bottoms and non-stick cooking surfaces that are perfect for this, and they’re oven safe.
  • 2 strips thick bacon
  • 1/3 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped coarse
  • 1/3 cup onion, chopped coarse
  • 1/3 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped coarse
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped coarse
  • 1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for sautéing vegetables)
  • 2 tbsp white wine, sherry or mirin
  • 1 tablespoon olive (for frittata pan)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese such as smoked gouda
  • 4 eggs
  • smoked sea salt (or regular sea salt)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chili pepper, separated into equal portions. We used Penzeys Southwest Seasoning which is a blend of sweet ancho, oregano, cayenne pepper, cumin, chipotle pepper and cilantro.
  • Caviar (optional)


  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C)
  2. Cut bacon into small pieces. In a medium-sized pan, fry over medium heat till edges are crisp. Drain on paper towels.
  3. Wipe excess bacon grease from pan. Add butter and olive oil. Heat over medium till just sizzling. Add onions and sauté for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add white wine, bell peppers, sea salt, black pepper and ground pepper, stirring occasionally. If necessary, turn heat up slightly to drive off excess liquid. Cook till onions turn translucent. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl to cool slightly (so that when added to the egg yolks, they don’t cook them).
  4. Separate egg yolks and whites into two sufficiently large bowls.
  5. Use a blender or whisk attachment to whip egg whites to fluffy peaks. Set aside.
  6. To the egg yolks, add vegetables, bacon, shredded cheese, remaining ground pepper, and additional salt and black pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly.
  7. Gently fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture.
  8. Add olive oil to 8″ frying pan. Pour mixture into pan. Cover with lid and place into preheated oven. Check in 15 minutes. Expect total cooking time to be about 25 minutes.
  9. Garnish with caviar and serve hot.

We enjoyed our frittata with sautéed mushroom caps, summer squash, big mugs of coffee and Czeslaw Misosz’s poetry anthology, A Book of Luminous Things. 

Mongolian Scones: An Airy, “No Cream” Version of a Breakfast Favorite

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“Mongolian” scones, a lighter and fluffier version of their English cousin, are quick to make and a delicious start to our day in the coldest capital in the world, Ulaanbaatar.

We are part of a foodie network in Ulaanbaatar (UB) where one of the most common questions is, “Can you get ______ ingredient here?” Although UB is a thriving city of over a million inhabitants, Mongolia is still a developing country where certain items can be difficult to come by. Heavy whipping cream is one example. When we finally tracked some down, the price tag was the equivalent of 28 US dollars for a one liter container. The cost and inconvenience associated with certain items has been fostering invention as we experiment with substitutions to our recipes.

Our “Mongolian” scones are our answer to the question, “What can I substitute for heavy cream in scones?” The answer is yogurt, which is inexpensive and readily available in Ulaanbaatar’s grocery stores. The result is a lighter, less crumbly scone.

For this version, we used a large cookie scoop, overfilled, to create mounded scones. It is typical to create scones in a disc shape and to then cut them into wedges. The mounded shape allowed a nice rise and more crunchy surface area in one perfectly portioned breakfast scone to accompany our Mongolian eggs and delicious, thick-sliced Mongolian bacon.

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A large cookie scoop portioned this dough into sixteen scones. An ice cream scoop would work well for slightly larger scones.

Mongolian Scones with Cranberry and Pecans


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 packed brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried orange peel, or fresh orange zest
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 small eggs (Mongolian stores typically carry smaller eggs than are sold in America)
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Stir flour, brown sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and orange peel together in a large bowl.
  4. Stir cranberries and pecans into the flour mixture.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk granulated sugar and eggs together. Mix in yogurt.
  6. Pour wet ingredients into dry.
  7. Stir ingredients until fully incorporated with a rubber spatula. Dough will be very sticky.
  8. Scoop out generous cookie scoops (2 tbsp or more) of dough and drop mounds on baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes, until scones are golden brown.
  10. Enjoy fresh out of the oven with a fried egg and a slice of bacon.

Swirled Cloudberry Jam Scones


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Cloudberry jam swirled into these buttery scones creates an attractive twist on a breakfast, brunch or snack-time favorite.

With our date for departing Point Hope set for less than four weeks from now, we still have several jars of cloudberry jam on hand. I went to bed last contemplating creative ways to use this luscious pantry item and woke this morning inspired: Why not roll the scone dough jelly roll-style?

Since traditional scones dough is not very sweet, it lends itself to the savory or the sweet depending on what is mixed into it. This recipe would work nicely with any type of jam or savory spread.

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Swirled Cloudberry Jam Scones


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) frozen unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unflavored yogurt
  • cold water
  • 3/4 cup cloudberry jam


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Grate frozen butter into flour mixture. Stir well.
  4. Whisk together eggs and yogurt.
  5. Pour yogurt mixture into flour mixture and knead together. Mixture will be sticky.
  6. Add cold water to mixture while kneading, a tablespoon at a time, until dough comes together.
  7. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface.
  8. Roll dough into a rectangle. Dough should be about 1/2 inch thick.
  9. Spread jam onto rectangle, avoiding edges.
  10. Roll dough up jelly roll-style.
  11. Cut log into 3/4 inch pieces.
  12. Place cut scones onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
  13. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.
  14. Let cool a few minutes before serving.
  15. Serve with lemon curd and a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Sometimes Things Freeze in the Arctic (Mochi Cake With Black Bananas)

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A delicious way to use the unusable, banana mochi bread has the moistness and flavor of banana and the dense, rich texture of mochi cake. Slathered with cream cheese this is a delicious afternoon snack.

Guided by a philosophy of not wanting to waste anything, we are sometimes the recipients of fruit past its prime. This week boxes of bananas arrived for snacks for our students at Tikigaq School in Point Hope, Alaska. Unfortunately, many had frozen on the plane on the way up. Most people will not eat thawed-out, blackened bananas. And then there are people like us.

The obvious response to these bananas was banana bread. I have a tried and true fruit bread recipe which I’ve used for bananas, blueberries, cloudberries, and pears. But this is the time of year to be a bit more creative in order to use up pantry items. With this in mind, I give you mochi banana bread. Mochi is a Japanese creation which uses sweet rice flour to make a dense, rich, but not-too-sweet dessert. With previous success baking a chocolate mochi cake, I wanted to give bananas a try.

The results of this experiment were a sugary-crisp crust enclosing the nicely dense banana bread I was going for. Blog worth! (Of course, we only publish the good stuff!)

Banana Mochi Bread


  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup mochiko (sweet rice flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups smashed overripe bananas (about 6)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (substituting applesauce will lighten the bread)
  • 1 tsp Penzeys double strength vanilla extract (or 2 tsp regular vanilla extract)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix dry ingredients.
  3. In bowl of stand mixer, mix together all wet ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Stir dry ingredients into wet. Mix until just incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan.
  6. Bake for 55 – 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
  7. Cool loaf pan on wire rack until it can be handled. Then remove loaf from pan and continue cooling on wire rack.

Twisted Cinnamon Loaf Overnight French Toast

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Swirling with, pecans, cinnamon, butter and maple syrup, this decadent creation puffs up like a soufflé in the oven. You and your guests will be inspired to linger over a leisurely morning table with a second mimosa.

We recently baked a loaf of twisted cinnamon bread, which is never better than on the morning it comes out of the oven. Since our Arctic kitchen is quite arid, items left out tend to dry out quickly, which gives us the opportunity to get creative with leftovers.

Overnight French toast is not a new recipe for us. But starting with a base of this wonderful twisted cinnamon bread was new. Soaking the bread overnight in an egg and cream mixture causes the bread to puff up magically during baking. Drizzled with maple syrup and served with a strip of thick bacon this cinnamon loaf French toast was a great way to start a weekend!

Twisted Cinnamon Bread Overnight French Toast


  • 8 inch-thick slices twisted cinnamon bread
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup half and half or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk or soy milk
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Ingredients for pecan topping:

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  1. Butter an 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish.
  2. Lay slices of bread on bottom of glass baking dish.
  3. Thoroughly mix together eggs, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  4. Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover dish and place in refrigerator overnight.
  5. Bring bread mixture out of refrigerator and set on counter to come toward room temperature while preheating oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Prepare pecan topping by mixing butter, pecans, and brown sugar.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes then top with pecan mixture.
  8. Continue baking another 20 minutes, until golden and puffed.
  9. Serve with maple syrup.

Twisted Brunch: Twisted Loaf Cinnamon Bread

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This sugary, buttery, cinnamon-laced, melt-in-your-mouth braided cinnamon loaf is centerpiece-worthy at the breakfast or bunch table.

In a quest for a visually unique loaf of bread, I came across a recipe for a Nutella twist which looked gorgeous. Reading through the instructions, I was surprised at how simple an intricate looking braid could be created. With plenty of cinnamon on hand, I decided to give this loaf a go sans Nutella. The result of my experiment is captured in the photo above and was a delicious compliment to plates of sunny-side-up friend eggs and mugs of French roast coffee.

However, upon further investigation, it turned out my “original” recipe idea had already been conceived and executed on the site Home Cooking Adventure. Nonetheless, here is my version of Estonian Kringle adapted for my dough machine.

Cinnamon Braid



  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1 tbsp  granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg


  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Place bread ingredients in bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer.
  3. Set cycle to “dough” and start machine.
  4. Make cinnamon filling while waiting for dough by combining filling ingredients in a medium bowl and mixing thoroughly.
  5. Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle, approximately 18″ x 12″.
  6. Spread cinnamon filling over dough evenly. Leave about 1/2″ border.
  7. Roll up dough jelly-roll style to form a long log.
  8. Cut log down the middle, the long way.
  9. Braid by wrapping the two cut pieces around each other, always leaving the cut sides up.
  10. Pinch ends of dough so that they will bake together.
  11. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Sweet Nosh – Homemade Lemon Curd and Almond Scones

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Creamy, sweet lemon curd is the perfect partner to a freshly baked almond scone for a light breakfast or an afternoon nosh. See lemon curd and scone recipes below.

Any excuse to make lemon curd is a good excuse. I’ve been playing around with a lemon lava cake recipe and decided the ingredient it needed is lemon curd. With the lava cake in mind, I whipped up four cups of this zesty conserve, which happened to be more than my recipe required. What to do? Enjoy the tangy, sweet, creamy curd with a freshly baked batch of almond scones.

I’ve made many iterations of scones in my kitchen, but lemon curd seemed to fit with savory almond flavor as opposed to blends of fruits or other sweet ingredients.

The curd is a cinch to make. The Meyer lemons that grow in our backyard in Sacramento would have been the choice ingredient, but even without our favorite Meyers on hand in our Arctic kitchen, we can make a darn good curd with Nellie & Joe’s brand lemon juice and Penzeys dried lemon peel. The small scones, too, are a snap to make. The time it took from gathering pantry ingredients to pulling freshly baked scones from the oven was only about half an hour – about as long as it takes to have a first cup of Joe and get fully awake on a leisurely weekend or holiday morning.

Pantry Lemon Curd


  • 1 1/2 tbsp Penzeys dried lemon peel
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 lb unsalted butter, room temperature


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together lemon peel and sugar.
  2. Whisk eggs into sugar mixture, one at a time.
  3. Whisk in lemon juice and salt.
  4. Pour mixture into a medium pot. Add butter in pieces.
  5. Cook over low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and let cool before serving with fresh-baked almond scones hot from the oven.
  7. Store any leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Snack-Sized Almond Scones


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • healthy pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp frozen butter
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  3. Using a cheese grater, grate butter into flour mixture. Stir until butter is well dispersed in flour.
  4. In a second bowl, whisk together whole milk, buttermilk, egg, and extract.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry. Stir together.
  6. Stir in almonds. Dough will be sticky.
  7. Coat your hands with flour and divide dough into thirds.
  8. Flatten each third into a disc about 1-inch tall. Place 3 discs apart on parchment-covered baking sheet. Cut each disc into fourths, but do not separate. This will allow the scones to be broken easily when they are finished baking.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes. Scones will be very lightly browned when done.
  10. Serve with hot tea and homemade lemon curd.

Rustic Pear Gallette with Whole Wheat Blend Crust

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The sweet secret to this gallette is a generous layer of homemade cloudberry jam beneath the pears No cloudberries? Try raspberry, blackberry or apricot jam.

A gallette is a beautiful dessert that can whipped up on short notice – a perfect answer to a seasonal abundance of fresh fruit. During the summer, we made a delicious strawberry-port gallette with sliced almonds in the galley of our sailboat. Since it is wintertime, we decided to make the gallette a bit more full-bodied by adding wheat flour and some cornmeal to the crust. We happened to have pears on hand, but many other fruits readily lend themselves to this recipe. Enjoy a slice of pear gallette with a side salad, a favorite cheese and a freshly brewed cup of tea for a satisfying lunch in any season.

Rustic Pear Gallette


  • 1  cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (we made this from powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons cloudberry jam, or jam of your choice
  • 2 D’Anjou pears, thinly sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar mixed with a pinch of ground cinnamon


  1. Mix together flours, sugar, cornmeal and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Using a pastry blender, mix in cold butter. Continue mixing until cold butter is the size of peas.
  3. Slowly mix in buttermilk. Stir with rubber spatula until dough forms into a ball.
  4. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for about 30-45 minutes in refrigerator.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the size of a baking sheet.
  7. Place chilled dough on center of parchment paper.
  8. Roll dough to about a 15-inch circle. This is a rustic dessert, so no need to be a perfectionist here.
  9. Brush the entire rolled dough with jam.
  10. Arrange pear slices atop dough, leaving a 2-inch border.
  11. Fold border over pears, pressing down any folds of dough.
  12. Brush dough with egg.
  13. Sprinkle dough and pears with sugar and cinnamon mixture.
  14. Bake gallette 40 – 45 minutes, until dough is golden brown and pears are soft.
  15. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Almond Breakfast Crumb Cake


Moist cake loaded with almond flavor and a sweet, crunchy, crumbly top is guaranteed to make everyone in the house dash to the breakfast table. This cake is simple to make and delivers a triple dose of almond using almond paste, almond extract, and crunchy sliced almonds.

So, you’ve finished eating all ten polar bear claws and your appetite for almond flavored breakfast pastries is still not sated. You dip your finger into the leftover half-can of almond paste and quickly realize that this product is not intended to be eaten straight. The solution? Almond breakfast crumb cake. The beauty of this cake is that it can be eaten anytime, but since it has breakfast in the title there is no guilt about eating a slice or two first thing in the morning with your coffee. Or drizzle it with a berry syrup for a scrumptious dessert.

Almond Breakfast Crumb Cake


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup almond paste
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • crumb topping (see below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  4. In bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and almond paste. Beat on medium speed until smooth.
  5. Add sugar and mix until blended.
  6. Add eggs, vanilla and almond extract and mix until blended.
  7. Add half of the flour mixture and milk. Mix until blended.
  8. Add remainder of flour mixture and mix just until blended.
  9. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  10. Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over top of batter.
  11. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
  12. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack.
  13. Store at room temperature.

Crumb Topping Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

Crumb Topping Directions

  1. Stir together first three ingredients.
  2. Add melted butter and stir mixture together until crumbly.
  3. Stir in almonds until mixed well.