The Cookbook Series with “Make It Ahead” by Ina Garten – Part 1: Blueberry Bran Muffins

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Welcome to my second featured cookbook of the cookbook series with Ina Garten’s “Make it Ahead” cookbook.  If you recall I started this series with “The Can’t Cook Book” by Jessica Seinfeld. “The Can’t Cook Book” is a great cookbook for beginners or for people who are just starting to hone their cooking skills. This was the first cookbook I bought for my daughters because it has handy cooking prep instructions and the recipes are easy to follow and are tasty too. For more on that cookbook go to my Menu on my Home page, go to Food and use the drop down to see The Cookbook Series. Or, to get you started on the very first installment of the cookbook series go here.

I’m a huge fan of Ina Garten: the Barefoot Contessa. She constantly inspires me to want to learn more and more culinary and baking skills. She makes it look so effortless and the outcome always looks delicious. Her gorgeous kitchen is a chefs dream and that garden on her farm is something I aspire to have myself someday.  Can you tell I’m a huge fan! To my surprise I realized that the only recipe I had tried of hers was her basic vinaigrette (which I will post about later). So I knew that I would have to feature one of her cookbooks for my next cookbook series so I could try some of the  recipes I’d seen her make on her show. If you haven’t ever watched The Barefoot Contessa please check it out, it’s completely addicting and you can learn so much from her.

I have a few of her cookbooks but the one I chose is “Make It Ahead” because it has recipes that work for a busy schedule and I don’t know a single person who is not busy all the time. I’ve been on a mission at my house to make everything homemade lately (due to reading “The Daniel Plan”) and had never tried muffins made from scratch. Ina’s Blueberry Bran Muffins looked delicious so I gave them a try first.

(Notice I’ve tabbed the heck out of it, like I do most of my books)

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This recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients including blueberries, Greek yogurt, honey and wheat bran. These muffins were a cinch to make and came out perfectly. I was tickled pink to have such great success with my first Ina recipe. The only thing that was tricky to find was the wheat bran, my local grocery stores did not have it but I did find it at Sprouts and I’m pretty sure Whole Foods would also carry it. Here’s a quick step by step but a printable recipe will be linked at the end.

Ingredients: vegetable oil, all-purpose flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, Greek yogurt, sugar, honey, eggs, vanilla extract, wheat bran and fresh blueberries.

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Stir together flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

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Whisk together the yogurt, sugar, vegetable oil, honey, eggs and vanilla. I used my Kitchen Aid mixer but that was unneccessary, a hand mixer is all you need.

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Add the dry ingredients. When adding the dry ingredients use a wooden spoon, not the mixer, this is noted in the recipe I’ll link to but not in the cookbook, good to know though so make a note of this if you have the cookbook.

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Gently stir in the wheat bran and blueberries. The batter should look like this, it’s moist but has a grittiness from the bran.

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Scoop into prepared muffin pan.

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This is exactly what you want your batter to look like.

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Bake 25 to 30 minutes. I started to check at 23 minutes but 25 minutes was perfect for my oven.

They smell so good when they’re cooking.

Right out of the oven…

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Cooked to perfection, lightly golden brown on the outside and nice and moist on the inside.

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Serve warm or save for later and serve room temperature.

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Unfortunately these are not gluten-free so I couldn’t try them, but my taste testers (my husband and kids) loved them. They said they were so fresh and moist but had a nice heartiness to them and they smelled oh so good as they were baking. This recipe is a definite keeper. What a great breakfast to eat on the go when you’re trying to get your kids out the door. I was so happy with the results. After making these I will no longer buy the boxed muffins, this is so worth the little bit more effort.

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For a printable recipe go here, but please note that they did not list the amount of vegetable oil. You need 1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing the pan.

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I’m looking forward to trying lots more recipes from this cookbook, I’ll be doing at least one recipe a week through September and October, so follow along.

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