What wouldn’t a girl do for shoes? Now, in this case, I’m not talking about the latest strappy sandals or the new line of fall boots. I’m talking about running shoes. The really good kind where they analyze your feet, film your stride on a treadmill, and assess the pressure and landing of each step. As much as I love a trendy heel or wedge, my heart was set on a brand new pair of pound-the-pavement running shoes.
Having worn my current pair almost into the ground over the past year, I thought I would treat myself to something new that wasn’t purchased on a whim from Foot Locker. Fortunately, there’s a Jack Rabbit store right around the corner from me. I’ve slowly accumulated some running gear from them over the past few months, but I had yet to commit to a fancy new pair of kicks. I paid them a visit on a sunny Tuesday afternoon and was warmly greeted. Upon being asked if I were a teacher, I realized that most normal people with jobs don’t just go shoe shopping in the middle of a weekday. I explained my situation to the friendly shoe guys and somehow ended up mentioning that I write a little food blog chronicling my cooking and baking adventures. They seemed intrigued. At checkout, as I clutched my new perfectly tailored shoes, the guys casually threw in the “Oh hey, if you need people to bake for, we love stuff like muffins and cookies.” I got the hint was eager to have another group of people to feed my random confections to.
I’d been thinking about making blueberry muffins because of the abundance of the sweet summer berry and its relative cheapness at the moment. This was reaffirmed at the grocery store when I discovered that a pint of blueberries was only .67 per pint! I was in blueberry heaven. I tried a new recipe that actually came from the Weight Watchers website. They were dubbed Blueberry Breakfast Tops and seemed to be a hybrid of a scone and an Elaine-approved muffin top. I modified it a bit by using the skim milk + vinegar trick instead of buttermilk. I have a bone to pick with buttermilk. Most recipes call for under a cup of buttermilk. But you can only buy buttermilk by the half gallon. Who needs a half gallon of buttermilk? So I refuse to by it and make my own pseudo-buttermilk by adding a tablespoon of plain vinegar to regular milk until it gets all thick and, well, curdled. It seems to work just fine and I don’t end up with an unnecessary surplus of buttermilk in the fridge.
The recipe also called for cornmeal, which gave it a sweet and savory flavor and a bit of extra crunch. The process indicated that I should scoop 1/4 cup size dollops of batter onto a cookie sheet to form the muffin tops. I dutifully followed the directions and was quite surprised when I opened the oven door to find monstrous alien blobs forming on the pan. They were huge. Like, the invasion of the blueberry scones taking over my kitchen.
I had to rethink my game plan, as these gargantuan blobs were not the dainty blueberry treats I had in mind. Mini ice cream scooper to the rescue! I decided to scoop mini dollops, hoping they would bake into a remotely manageable snack. This idea paid off and wielding my magical scooper I was able to craft the perfect mini muffin top. I have christened my modified version Mini Blueberry Muffin Tops. They are warm, sweet, soft and go perfectly with a glass of ice cold milk.
These little guys were the perfect size. Working with the fluffy batter was almost like making a combination of a cookie and a pancake. The batter scooped like cookie dough, but settled like pancake batter. Unlike chocolate chips though, these babies were studded with plump, juicy blueberries that burst and softened during the baking process, staining the cake with luscious purple jewel tones.
And the best part about these muffin tops is that they’re pretty healthy and therefore, less likely to contribute to a different kind of muffin top that might result from a snug pair of jeans. And, just to bring this back full circle, the best way to avoid jeans that are too tight for you is to exercise…in your brand new running shoes! So I showed up a week later at the running store, treats in hand. I was sure they wouldn’t remember me, but a box full of baked goods does a lot to jog a person’s memory. I think they were pleased. As for me, just like Forrest Gump, from that day on, if I was ever going somewhere, I was RUNNING!