My name is Thomas Lott. I am a proud husband and father of two. Two of my favorite things are football and cooking. I'm no expert in either, but I certainly like to fool around with both. I’ve been a home cook for about 10 years, and been around football since I was 4 years old. This fall, perhaps I’ll find out which one I know better! So I'll be checking in periodically to make a pick - or picks (even I'm allowed a bye week here and there!). Again, I'm no expert, so please don’t go betting the mortgage on my humble picks! From that, I’ll make a dish that has something to do with the game - who I think will win, a star/key player, or other story line. Don’t worry - I’m a home cook so it won’t be anything you can’t do - I promise. I’m still learning so most of these will come from my stash of cookbooks or another recipe floating around the internet. I won’t pawn anything off as my own or pretend there’s some super-secret family recipe that I can't share. Most of these I will probably have made before, others might be an experiment. I hope all will go well, but some may go from stovetop right to the dumpster! I'll be sharing my successes, mishaps, and maybe even a few gratuitous shots of my crew of sous chefs and tasters :-)

I'm always a work in progress, so my food won't *always* be pretty (or healthy!), but it's going to taste good--and if it doesn't I'll tell you that, too. And just so you know, it's also a mathematical certainty that I'll whiff on some of my football picks, too. The whole point is to get better at both! So I hope you keep up with me this fall as I have some fun with the kitchen and the pigskin! I welcome all comments, suggestions, requests and discussions on all things pigskin and kitchen!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Week 4 - Blueberry Muffins

What a game the Bama/A&M shootout was! I have to say that I was very surprised how The Tide’s D got rolled up like that. My hats off to JF as he certainly impressed me with his playmaking ability and really did some outstanding things. However, I did also see some serious gambling and questionable decisions disguised as “playmaking” that just happened to bounce the Aggies way. And here's the thing about gambling: you can't make a living doing it. Things might be really exciting and prosperous for a while, but the universe has a way of leveling odds and lucky bounces over time. What am I saying? You heard it here first: the Aggies have another loss coming somewhere down the line. I'm about 60% -70% sure I think I know when, but I'll keep quiet for now.

Also keep your eye on Marcus Mariota of Oregon. He doesn't get as much pub as #2, probably partly due to being in Oregon and partly due to his willingness and desire to stay out of the limelight (e.g. being spotted courtside, crashing frat parties, tweeting). He is silky smooth and commands a very high powered offense. I admit the Ducks haven't exactly been challenged and he has quite an arsenal of weaponry, but don't sleep on this guy - he's very very good.

So onto this week: on a personal note it’s my wife’s birthday this weekend (Happy Birthday, Sweetheart) and she couldn’t have picked a better weekend because this week’s slate of games won’t force any tough decisions to have to be made! I’m not even sure what would be a game of the week because looking at the schedule makes me a little sleepy. College Gameday choosing to travel to NORTH DAKOTA - key word: choosing - tells me all I need to know. The only matchup this week between two ranked teams is #23 Arizona State at #5 Stanford, but this is an easy one for me. Arizona State is the Georgia of the west in terms of dream crushing. Sometimes they look like they may make a run, then lay down when you start buying stock. I don’t see them coming into Stanford and beating such a disciplined bunch. Stanford wins by at least 10. On a side note, I'd just like to say that I’m also enjoying this little slide that’s going on in Austin. Mack makes this certain expression in defeat that just tickles me to death. BTW Horns, don't feel bad...this has been years in the making.

Seeing as this is almost a bye week for all of college football, I’m going to do what you are supposed to do on a bye week – get better. In Week 1, I made the fresh peach buckle with the crumb topping. Well if you remember, that crumb topping didn’t quite turn out like I wanted it to. And I’m not going to lie, it’s been bugging me a little bit. So this week, I’m going to take another stab at it. This time with blueberry muffins. The recipe originally came from, but over time I have picked up a few tweaks that make these quite possibly the best blueberry muffins you’ve had. As a matter of fact, my wife actually requested these for the weekend instead of birthday cake. Ever heard that one before?

"No birthday cake, just make me muffins."
-No one ever

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

The first thing you might be wondering is if you should use fresh or (thawed) frozen blueberries. Honestly I have used both and they are perfectly fine. With the frozen ones, when they are thawed there is more liquid, which in turn will make your batter a purple-ish color. That's the only difference, so do what works for you. You'll need 1 Cup (you can be heavy handed with your cup if you wish-LOL).

Lets get right to my arch nemesis-the crumb topping. Mix cubed butter, all-purpose flour, dark brown sugar, and cinnamon with a fork until well mixed. It should look like this:

Now we're in business! On to the muffins....start with your dry mixture. You'll need flour, white sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix together and set aside.

Take a 1 C measuring cup, and fill with 1/3 C vegetable oil. Add one egg to the cup, then fill the rest of the way with buttermilk. The oil, egg, and buttermilk will equal 1 cup of liquid.

Add this to the dry mixture and mix. Don't overdo it, but mix well with a rubber spatula. Then gently fold in the blueberries.

 Take your batter and fill the muffin cups. You can fill them just about to the top. You should end up with just under a dozen. Then sprinkle that crumb topping on top. They won't pop out, but you may want to hit the pan with some Baker's Joy anyway.

Bake on 400 for about 18-22 mins (watch them closely as the sugar can burn)....and VOILA!

These muffins are really, really good. This is a tried and true recipe for me so I know exactly what to expect every time. The original recipe called for regular milk and white sugar for the topping, but trust me when I tell you that using buttermilk and brown sugar really makes a difference. You won't be disappointed by these. We like to cut a little hole in the top and drop a bit of butter in there. Ridiculous! I would say they keep well, but I'd be lying because I've never had any left after two days - so I really wouldn't know!

I hope you enjoy the muffins - have a great week!

Cinnamon Streusel Blueberry Muffins
adapted from

1 ½ C all-purpose flour
¾ C white sugar
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 C buttermilk
1 C blueberries (can use fresh or frozen, but fresh is best)

Streusel Topping
½ C dark brown sugar
1/3 C all-purpose flour
¼ C butter, cubed
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon

1)Preheat oven to 400 degrees, line muffin tin with liners.

2)Make streusel topping: Using a fork, mix ½ C brown sugar, 1/3 C flour, ¼ C cubed butter, and 1 ½ tsp cinnamon. Set aside.

3)Mix 1 ½ C flour, ¾ c sugar, salt and baking powder. Place 1/3 C vegetable oil into a 1 C measuring cup. Add the egg, then fill the rest of the cup with buttermilk (ends up being 1/3 C). Add to the dry mixture and mix. Gently fold in blueberries (if you use frozen blueberries the batter will turn a purple-ish color from the juice). Fill the muffin cups. These you want to fill right about to the top, so you probably won’t end up with a dozen like you normally would. Sprinkle with streusel crumb topping.

4)Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until done. Keep an eye on them as the streusel topping can burn.

5)Remove muffins from pan and let them cool on a drying rack. Can be served warm or at room temperature.

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