Blueberry Muffins

Usually the men who attend Tuesday Morning Prayer Meeting get hot breakfast, but the kitchen staff was off this morning due to holiday schedule and they had to settle with blueberry muffins and coffee.

Adapted From Cook's Illustrated
Blueberry Muffins
Makes large dozen muffins

Dry Ingredients
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Wet Ingredients
1 large egg
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
1 1/4 cups sour cream (10 ounces)

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Sugar Topping
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick vegetable cooking spray or for less messy fingers, line tin with large paper cups.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl until combined. Whisk egg in second medium bowl until well-combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add sugar and whisk vigorously until thick, about 30 seconds; add melted butter in 2 or 3 steps, whisking to combine after each addition. Add sour cream in 2 steps, whisking just to combine.

3. Add frozen berries to dry ingredients and gently toss to combine. Add sour cream mixture and fold with rubber spatula until batter comes together and berries are evenly distributed, 25 to 30 seconds (small spots of flour may remain and batter will be thick). Do not overmix!!!

4. Use ice cream scoop or large spoon to drop batter into greased muffin tin. Bake until light golden brown and toothpick or skewer inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes, rotating pan from front to back halfway through baking time. Invert muffins onto wire rack, stand muffins upright, and cool 5 minutes.

5. While muffins are cooling, mix sugar, ground cinnamon, and lemon zest in small bowl and melt butter in small saucepan. After baked muffins have cooled five minutes, working one at a time, dip tops of muffins in melted butter and then cinnamon-sugar. Set muffins upright on wire rack; serve.


Baked Brie with Apricot Chutney

This is a great holiday treat. Chutney makes enough for two-16 oz brie wheels.

Cut the hard edges of brie.

After stacking five layers of phyllo, brushing each layer with melted butter, top the chutney onto brie.

Fold in pleats, gently covering the brie and chutney.

After sealing the pleats with the sixth butter phyllo sheet, take seventh buttered fold it into a 1/4" band, brush it, then crimp the bottom edge to make a rosette.

Place the rosette on top, using additional butter to adhere it. Chill it in refrigerator for an hour until butter hardens. Can be made ahead up to three days. Bake on a foiled pan for 15-20 minutes. Foil tent the rosettes if it browns too quickly.

Brie with Apricot Chutney


2 tablespoon of unsalted butter
1/2 large onion, chopped
6 ounces dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 ounces dried cranberries
1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
1 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoons grated lemon peel
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted

Heat 2 Tbsp. of butter on a frying pan and sauté onion, set aside in pan. In a food processor, coarsely process all the ingredients EXCEPT toasted almonds. Add to onion in a pan and heat until all sugar dissolves, 5-10 minutes. Off heat and chill. Add almond slivers.

Cheese and Phyllo
½ cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
7 sheets of fresh phyllo pastry sheets or frozen, thawed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary (optional)

One 16 ounce wheel of Brie

Fresh herb sprigs (such as rosemary, sage,a and chives)
Toasted baguettes or melba toast

Assembly of cheese and phyllo:
Trim the hard edges of brie as shown.
Take a sheet of phyllo, brush the whole surface of the delicate sheet with melted butter, sprinkling with chopped rosemary (if desired). Repeat 4 more times, resulting in 5 layers of buttered sheets. Place trimmed brie in the middle, spoon half of the apricot chutney (make a second one or reserve chutney for later, will keep in fridge for 3-4 weeks, or freeze up to 3 months).
Fold buttered phyllo as shown. Brush with melted butter. Cover the whole thing with another buttered sheet, sealing any edges. Butter 7th phyllo sheet, fold into a ¼ inch band, butter again and make a rosette to place on top. Chill for at least 1 hour. Can be made ahead up to 3 days, tightly covered in plastic, and refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake cheese until pastry is deep golden brown, covering roses loosely with foil if browning too quickly, about 15-20 minutes. (If cheese leaks from pastry during baking, press piece of foil over tear in pastry; continue baking.)
Cool cheese on sheet 10-15 minutes before serving.

Garnish with fruit, herbs and crackers.


Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I serve these cookies for a large crowd, I make the cookie dough balls and freeze them ahead. Add 2-3 minutes more if these are frozen, or thaw the dough balls on a cookie sheet for an hour or so before baking. Most cookies can be frozen ahead this way.

Print This Recipe!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wet Ingredients:
1 C (8 oz) Unsalted Butter, softened
1 C (7 oz) Sugar
1 C (7oz) Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla

Dry Ingredients
2 C (7.5 oz) Oatmeal, ground in food processor
1 ¾ C (8.5 oz) Flour, all-purpose, unbleached
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt

12 oz Chocolate chips, semi Sweet, milk chocolate, or white chips
1 ½ C Nuts, Macadamia or walnuts (optional)
1 C Dried Cranberries (optional)

Cream Butter and Sugar using hand mixer. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. Fold in dry ingredients. Add Chocolate chips and other optional ingredients if desired. Using 1-1/8 inch cookie dough scoop, scoop 1” dough balls (size of a golf ball) place on greased cookie sheet. place on baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool cookies on wire rack.

Makes 40 cookies



I love gadgets. But this is another "must haves" in your kitchen if you are a serious cook or cook for a big crowd weekly as I do. Thermometer will take all the guess work out whether the meat is done and cooked in proper temperature.

Shown here is Thermapen by ThermoWorks. Not cheap but worth it.

$96 at Amazon.com or Thermoworks.com (more color selection)

Pork 150 for Medium (Recommended)/160 for well done
Beef 125 for rare/ 130 for Medium-Rare/ 140 for Medium/ 160 for well done
Poultry 165 for white meat/170-175 for dark meat
Oil Temp for Frying 350-375 degrees

Pan Seared Pork Tenderloin

Trim silvery skin on pork tenderloin. Rub Dry Rub and bring the meat to room temperature (about an hour). On a non-stick frying pan, heat olive oil to almost to smoking point. Sear tenderloin until all sides are blackened.

Put seared tenderloin on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F. until meat thermometer registers 145 - 150 degrees internally (15 + minutes in oven). Let meat rest for 45 minutes before slicing.

This dry rub recipe makes about 1 1/2 Cups. This seems like a lot of ingredients but it is worth the effort. We use this in frying batters and to season sauces. Buying bulk herbs and spices from the health food stores or Sam's Club is much cheaper than from grocery stores.

All-Purpose Dry Rub

1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
3 tablespoons celery salt
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons dried parsley


Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside until ready to use. Store in a container and keep in refrigerator or freezer.


A Scale: essential for baking!

I used to really dislike baking, until I learned that you can weigh your ingredients to have more consistent results! Since I cook by feeling, measuring cups of flour or sugar would be so tedious and inevitably, my baked goods would be too dry or too wet!

When cooking in large volume, you can't afford to make too many mistakes; a scale is a must. It will save you a lot of time, money, and your food will turn out great, every time.

This is Oxo Good Grips Food Scale, but choose a scale that fits your need.


1 cup all-purpose flour 5 oz
1 cup cake flour 5 1/2 oz
1 cup whole wheat flour 7 oz
1 cup granulated (white) sugar 7 oz
1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark) 7 oz
1 cup confectioners' sugar 4 oz
1 cup cocoa powder 3 oz

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, or 1/4 cup) 2 oz
8 tablespoons (1 stick, or 1/2 cup) 4 oz
16 tablespoons (2 sticks, or 1 cup) 8 oz


Penny's Crab Cakes

6 pounds of crab meat yield 15 large patties and 30 2 inch mini-cakes.
Pan fry the crab cakes to get a nice brown crust, keep on sheet pan until ready to serve. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then bake for 10--12 minutes until hot.

Crab Cake Sandwich with Tri-colored rotini and garlic pickles.

Large 5-inch patties for sandwiches.

Mini Crab Cakes on Salad

2-inch mini crab cakes to top on Salads.

Penny’s Crab Cakes

1 lb Crab meat (Mix lump & Claw for best flavor)
½ C Bread Crumbs
1 egg and 1 yolk
2 Tbsp Whipping Cream
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Cayenne
½ C. Fresh Chives
½ C. Fresh Parsley

1 C. Panko bread crumbs, lightly processed in food processor

Pick through the crabmeat for cartilages. Combine all the ingredients together and GENTLY toss. Press gently together to make patties. Lightly coat with Panko. Refrigerate until firm about 2-3 hours or overnight. Or can be frozen up to 4 weeks.

Mix 1:1 ratio of clarified butter and canola oil and fry until golden brown

Apple Dapple Cake

For a big crowd, instead of using bundt pan, use a full size cake pan(24x12x2). To serve 275 people at my church, I would make 5 full size pans, so multiply the recipe by 10.

Two types of apples were used : Gala & Granny Smith. Gala for moist and "apply" flavor and Granny for firm texture.

Apple Dapple Cake

3 Eggs
1 C of Canola Oil
1/2 C. of melted butter
3 C. Sugar (1 lb 5 oz)
3 C. dice apples (Granny Smith & Gala), peeled & Cored
3 C. All-purpose flour (15 0z)
1 1/2 C. toasted, chopped pecans
1 t. Salt
1 t. Baking Soda
2 t. Vanilla Extract

Mix eggs, oil, butter, and sugar. Blend well. Gently fold all the dry ingredients. Add vanilla extract, diced apples and nuts. Put into greased 9 inch tube, or bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

1 C. of brown sugar (7 oz)
1 stick of butter (4 oz)
1/4 C. Heavy Whipping Cream
3-4 Tb. Brandy

Combine first three ingredients and cook on stove top for 2 1/2 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Off the heat, add brandy and stir. Pour while the cake is still hot in pan. Let set until room temperature. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if desired.


Lessons and Carols 2009

Every second Sunday in December, my church has the most beautiful Christmas program called Lessons and Carols. The story of Jesus is read from the bible followed by wonderful hymns and music led by children's, youth, and adult choirs, accompanied by organ, piano, cello, harp, harpsichord, and handbells!

After this spectacular event, comes the buffet! Along with all the wonderful dishes the congregation brought this year, the kitchen staff and I added:

450 Egg Rolls with Red Chili Sauce

350 Homemade Yeast Rolls with

Garlic-Thyme NY Strip (Served with Remoulade),done by Tim

Fried Panko Chicken Tenders

Fried Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce

Crab Dip with Crostini,done by Tim

We had 660 people in attendance at the service! Needless to say, our fellowship hall was jammed packed!


BFF Yeast Rolls

350 Yeast Rolls! Freezer is my best friend!

Makes 50-60 Silver Dollar Rolls

First dissolve the following in a large bowl:

1 Tbsp. Yeast

1 Tbsp. Sugar

½ C. Warm water

Then add:

½ C. Vegetable or Canola Oil

2 C. Buttermilk

½ C. Granulated Sugar

½ tsp. Baking Soda

5 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Salt

5-6 C. Bread Flour

Mix and knead well to form smooth dough adding small amount of flour at a time. Cover well with food wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

Pinch a small amount of dough. Shape the dough into 1/2-inch smooth ball with seams side down and place on a greased pan 1-inch apart. Cover well with Saran wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake up to a day. If using later, wrap well with plastic wrap, then cover with foil. Freeze up to 2-3 weeks.

For frozen rolls, thaw over night in refrigerator. Then leave it in room temperature for 2-3 hours until dough double in size. Brush with melted butter.

Preheat oven 400°F. Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Brush lightly with melted butter again and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

This dough can be used for cinnamon rolls and other sweet dough recipes.