Sunday, April 29

The Week-Cap - Celebration

The last 10 days have been a serious celebration. It was my birthday week, and as you can see from the giant platter of sushi that I consumed mostly by myself, we went all out. From a weekend in Vegas where I ate, drank, danced and laughed to family get togethers to work parties and a surprise trip to Disneyland, I have had one fantastic week!
  • Monday - Was our last day in Las Vegas at the Aria Resort. It was an amazing weekend that my sweet husband seriously spent some weeks planning and coordinating. I felt like a princess the whole time and was overwhelmed by the amount of fun we had. We had a 4 hour drive to look forward to which really only means one thing if you're a Californian: In-n-Out. It's a must. Just get into it. 
  • Tuesday - There was a lot of indulgence going on in Vegas and we needed a day or two to clean out! So I decided on some "Grilled" Veggie Kebabs for dinner. I was so excited to find baby eggplants at my local Sprouts. They are the cutest little vegetable I've ever seen and made a great addition to the kebabs. Then I found Chocolate Peanut Butter Gelato. And I bought it. I blame Vegas for testing my morals. 
  • Wednesday - I finally posted something new to the blog! The recipe for Raw Vanilla Cashew Milk that is smooth, creamy, delicious and so cheap and easy to make. I also made an amazing Slow-Cooker Chili for dinner that I hope to share soon too. 
  • Thursday - April showers really better bring May flowers. It rained like crazy and had me hoping for a quick change in weather so I wouldn't be having a soggy birthday. I decided to try something new for lunch to warm up so I made Thai Coconut Quinoa with fresh Mango. It was delicious and now I want to try other combinations of this lovely, unique meal. 
  • Friday - My actual birthday, which I feel like I've been celebrating for two weeks. I had an absolutely amazing lunch from one of my favorite restaurants, Gabbi's Mexican Kitchen. That was followed by an array of cupcakes from which I had to try the red velvet, vanilla and milk chocolate. I can't believe I ate dinner. But I did. Like Filet Mignon sliders, parmesan truffle fries and a bottle of wine. Woah. 
  • Saturday - I had to extend the Week-Cap this week to include my surprise trip to Disneyland! I had been wanting to try the Trader Sam's Tiki Bar at the Disneyland hotel and my wonderful friends that came along were nice enough to arrange our entrance to both parks. We had a blast and I must say the Tiki Bar was so much fun. If you go, they have all sorts of fun cocktails, like the Hippopatamai-tai and the Shipwreck on the Rocks. Just beware that these drinks come with somewhat of a show within the bar...there are a lot of special effects. You'll see. I need a nap. And another cupcake.

Friday, April 27

Easy Turkey Meatballs

When is the last time you had homemade meatballs? I mean homemade, like, at your house, by you. If you never have, get ready to try, and if you are pretty familiar with makin' meatballs, you should definitely give this easy, lighter turkey version a go.
Truly, you can make super delicious, moist and flavorful meatballs in less than an hour that don't taste like chewy meatloaf begging for an extra scoop of sauce. This meatball recipe is practically foolproof and only takes a few minutes to pull together. I'm not a huge fan of ground beef (unless it's organic and recently ground), so I choose to make mine with ground turkey. Bonus, it's healthier too. I've also used ground chicken, which is a bit more delicate.
 Roll em up.
 Brown em up.
 Give em a flip.
 Drench em.
Once cooked, these meatballs are great with spaghetti, in soup, sliced on pizza or eaten any other way you like. For an even healthier option, swap pasta for spaghetti squash or broccoli slaw. For the complete opposite, do what I did and bake them with penne and a good pound of cheese. I'm exaggerating. No I'm not. See above.

Easy Turkey Meatballs
1 package ground turkey (about 1 1/4 lbs.)
1/2 C breadcrumbs (italian version, plain or homemade are all great)
1/2 C good grated parmesan cheese (NOT the stuff in the green bottle)
1/4 of a medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 egg
1-2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 T milk
1 T chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or basil
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
At least 3-4 Cups of a prepared marinara sauce of your choice

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix with a fork or your hands until everything is completely incorporated.

Heat a large heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. I use a dutch oven, which really works the best. If you do not have one, I suggest using a pot that is non-stick. Place a tablespoon of olive oil in the hot pan.

Working quickly, roll golf ball sized meatballs in your hands and place each one gently into the pan, being sure to get it in a spot with some oil. Continue to roll meatballs until all of the mixture is gone. The whole batch makes about 15-17 meatballs, depending on the size, of course. Since we usually eat only about half that amount, I take the extra uncooked, rolled meatballs and place them on a cookie sheet in my freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, I pop them in a plastic bag and save them for another night. You could also just cook them in two batches in your pan if you'd like.

After you have placed all of the meatballs in the pan, it should already be time to flip them. You are looking for a golden brown crust on each one. Starting with the first meatball you placed, turn each one over and allow to cook for another minute. Do this carefully as they are not cooked through and may break open. I use tongs to release the crust of the meatball from the pan and then flip it. If you are making all of the meatballs, remove the browned ones and start your second batch now. When the second batch is finished browning, add the first batch back into the pan and continue.

Take the marinara sauce you chose and pour it directly over the meatballs. Be careful, it will splatter, so turn the heat down as soon as you do it and use the lid to shield as much as possible. You want the sauce covering the meatballs most of the way, so add more sauce if you need it.
Bring the sauce to an almost boil and then turn the heat down to a low simmer. Cover the meatballs and let them cook for about 20-30 minutes.

We ate this batch of meatballs as a bake, which was basically layers of cooked pasta, mozzarella, parmesan and cut up meatballs. I baked it for 30 minutes, then left it under the broiler for 5 extra minutes to create the crispy, cheesy topping. Ah.May.Zing.


Wednesday, April 25

Raw Vanilla Cashew Milk

I've been on a little break for the past few days...but I have a really good excuse! It's my birthday week and I spent this last weekend in one of my very favorite places to visit, Las Vegas. I have so many fun things to share about the trip from what I ate, to where we stayed. So get ready to go traveling with me over the next few weeks. 

For now, let's get back to the kitchen and discuss how easy it is to make your own nut milk. It's crazy simple and crazy delicious! The closest thing, flavor-wise, to my version of cashew milk is the mexican rice drink, horchata. If you like that, you will LOVE this, and the great part is, this is waaaaaaaaaay healthier. There is zero unnatural sugar in this recipe, yet the milk is so creamy and sweet, it makes you want to ditch the cookies and have cashew milk for dessert instead.
This pretty much looks like a Science Fair project...don't be scared. First you soak the nuts in water. I did it in my blender to cut down on dishes. After 8 hours or so, blend it up until all of the nuts are ground really fine.
Next, strain the milk over cheese cloth to remove the cashew 'sand'. You are welcome to leave it as is, but taste it to make sure you like the texture first. Me, not so much. I want it smooth and sand free.
 Looks just like regular milk, but tastes way better and you made it! I thought it was absolutely delicious on its own, but then I put it in my coffee and was amazed at how good it was, a great alternative to high calorie creamers. Use it in your morning bowl of cereal or even a healthy banana smoothie. It will stay good in the fridge for a few days, you'll know it's past it's prime if it has a more bitter/sour taste. I've read that you can use the cashew pulp as a spread on toast or in baked goods. I haven't tried that yet myself, but I plan to :).

Raw Cashew Milk
Adapted from
1 C raw, unsalted cashews
4 C filtered water
3-4 raw, pitted dates, chopped roughly
1/2-1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a blender, combine the cashews and water. Let soak for at least a few hours or up to overnight.

Add the dates, spices and vanilla and blend until all of the nuts are ground up very fine. This may take a few minutes. Once blended, you may either leave it as is, if you like the consistency, or strain it. You can also add more of the flavorings if you'd like.

To strain it, place a cheesecloth over the pitcher you plan on using to serve the milk in. You may also do this in a large bowl or tupperware. Affix the cheesecloth with a rubber band and carefully pour the cashew milk into the container in intervals. Be aware that the cashew pulp is very thick and can easily spill over. You want the cheesecloth to be deep enough to hold all of that 'sand'. Once you have poured all of the milk through, allow it to sit for a few more hours until the ground nuts are dry and resemble broken ground. Remove the cheesecloth and either save the pulp for another purpose, or toss it out. Keep the milk refrigerated for about 3 days.


Thursday, April 19

Sundried Tomato, Basil, Feta Dip

Is there anything better than tomatoes and basil? It's just about the perfect combination in any form. Whether it's spaghetti sauce, salad, or in this case, dip, tomatoes and basil were pretty much meant to be tasted together. Not to mention, the smell of fresh basil is absolutely intoxicating.
It's also really pretty to look at! If you don't already, try growing basil in your yard or even on a bright windowsill in your home. Just make sure to prune the plant regularly and use up the leaves as it will begin to bloom and grow more sparsely. That shouldn't be a problem though, because there is an umpteen number of things you can do with fresh basil. Start with making this dip which was inspired by the 3 Layer dip from Baba Foods that I usually buy at the Farmer's Market. You may remember my post on the morning I spent there a few weeks back. I didn't have a recipe, I didn't even have an ingredients list because I had already thrown out the container. This is my version based on what I thought I tasted and it turned out great!
I like to build the three layers in a tupperware, that way it easily goes from marinating in the fridge, to me eating it, to the table where I 'share' it with my husband even though I clearly hog it, and back to the fridge for later. For a get together, I would serve it in a small glass bowl, so you could see how pretty the stripes of red, green and white are. We love this dip with pita chips, but it would also be great on a warm baguette or toast. You could even forget about the layering altogether and toss it with some pasta for a bright and fresh tasting meal.

Sundried Tomato, Basil and Feta Dip
1/2 C jarred Sundried Tomatoes in oil (these often come already julienned, or you can cut them up yourself)
15-20 Large Basil Leaves, chopped or julienned small
1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
2-3 T extra virgin Olive Oil
pinch of salt
1/2 C crumbled Feta Cheese

In a small bowl, combine the basil, garlic and pinch of salt with 1 T of the oil. Mash it up with a fork to release some of the basil flavor and go very lightly with the salt as the cheese will add plenty for you. Let that sit for about 30 minutes, the longer it sits, the better the flavor will get.
In the bottom of a glass dish, bowl or tupperware, spread the feta cheese to cover the bottom. You can add more if needed to reach an even layer. Spread the marinated basil mixture over the cheese, being careful not to mix the two layers. Finally, spread the sundried tomatoes over the basil layer. If you need to cut up your sundried tomatoes, use kitchen scissors, it makes it much easier! Drizzle the entire thing with another one to two T of olive oil. You want the oil to drip all the way through to the feta cheese, so you can add more or less. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. It will stay well in the fridge for up to a week or so.


Monday, April 16

The Very Best Mac 'n Cheese

I'm sure by now you've seen a few dozen homemade Mac 'n Cheese recipes, but there are a few things about this particular one that deserve some attention. From the types of cheeses to the way you grate them to the spices inside, every little detail counts. This isn't a super time consuming dish to prepare and the payoff is BIG. 
Start with a classic roux, which is a French method that uses the combination of butter and flour to thicken a cream sauce. Tip number one: use a very light flour, like cake flour instead of all purpose. It will blend better and create a smoother sauce.
Tip number two: please do not be tempted to use those bags of pre-grated cheese. They are entirely too dry for a good macaroni and cheese sauce. Either grate it fresh or if you happen to have a good deli that will shred it for you, go for that. The oil in fresh cheese makes a big difference in the texture of your sauce. You do not want a gritty mac 'n cheese and that's what you tend to get with bagged cheese.
Tip number three: Make it yours with an assortment of yummy spices that you like. Nutmeg is great, but it doesn't have to be the only spice you add. I wanted to to add a few flavors I thought would enhance the nuances of the cheese and it worked great.
Tip number four: Add more cheese. Seriously, there's a lot of cheese in the sauce, but the best part of this dish is the crispy, crunchy crust made with a whole lot more cheese sprinkled on top...
See? How could you not want to eat this entire thing? Please don't do that though...please make it and share it and eat it for dinner three nights in a row, like I did last week. Less is more if more is the number of days you get to eat it.

The Very Best Mac 'n Cheese
1 lb. elbow pasta (plain or whole wheat), cooked and drained
2 T unsalted butter
2 T cake flour
1 C whole milk (this does make a creamier sauce)
1 C freshly grated sharp or medium cheddar cheese
1 C good quality grated parmesan cheese
1/3 C sour cream
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
dash of nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Turn the heat up a bit to medium, being careful not to burn the bottom layer of your milk. You do not want the mixture to boil, just to come to a slight simmer in order to thicken up. Stir continuously until the sauce can coat the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and add a little over 1/2 C each of the cheddar and parmesan cheeses. Whisk in the spices and stir well until fully combined.
Mix the cooked pasta with about 1/2 of the finished sauce. Pour the pasta into a casserole dish and cover with the rest of the sauce. Top with the remaining cheeses and bake for 20-30 minutes. For a crispier crust, turn on the broiler for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Serve immediately...or cold...or reheated the next day....mmmmmm.
You could easily make this ahead of time and then bake it whenever you are ready to eat!


Saturday, April 14

The Week-Cap - Spring Showers

I know, where's the showers? Not a cloud in sight. But this is how we spent Easter afternoon, soaking up the beautiful, warm sunshine while sipping margaritas on the Harbor. It was perfect, and a great way to enjoy the nice weather while it lasted. The rain showed up big time this week, just when I was hoping to get my tan on. Guess I'll have to wait for my birthday trip to Vegas next week...sigh. ;)

  • Monday - My second week of vacation begins. Time to work on the blog! Oh, and my online class that I had an exam in. Boo. That's okay, because I got inspired to make a brand new kind of soup. Have you heard of Mulligatawny? It's an Indian spiced soup and it is really good. A nice twist on a regular old chicken soup. Maybe I'll do a post about it.
  • Tuesday - I up and rode my bike to pilates. On a whim. And it was really fun. And it meant I got to eat an extra cookie, because I obviously burned it off carrying a 10 pound yoga mat on my back, uphill. Plus, I made one of my favorite easy, light meals for lunch, Huevos Rancheros Salad. Spicy, warm and oozing with egg yolk goodness.
  • Wednesday - Why is Target so great? I spent like an hour and a half wandering around in there when my list consisted of just 4 things. Vacation - weekdend crowds + the jammie aisle = what time is it again?
  • Thursday - Recipe testing time...Cookies, cookies and more crazy good cookies. I ate breakfast at Ruby's diner and followed that up with massive amounts of cookie dough tasting. At least the pancakes were whole grain. I needed something seriously flavorful for dinner so, I made what my husband called 'one of the top 3 meals' ever for dinner. It was a grilled chicken burger...with sweet potato fries. He's very easy to please. But it was incredibly delicious, and made my house smell like a BBQ a good way.
  • Friday - My hopes for going to the local outdoor shopping mall were squashed by a bit of torrential worries, it just meant I got to go to the even bigger, indoor mall and enjoy some Happy Hour cocktails and Noodles at Anqi. And watch the Lakers. And buy a new dress for Vegas...great day! I also posted the recipe for Spring Pea Hummus, which looks odd, but tastes amazing. Try it at your next get together...and for fun, don't tell anyone what it is. See if they can party game! 

Friday, April 13

Spring Pea Hummus

In general, I greatly dislike peas. I'm certainly not a picky eater and they're a perfectly fine vegetable. I just have never been able to wrap my tastebuds around them. Until now. 
It's April, the month of Peas over at Seasonal and as I was thinking of a recipe I wanted to share, I realized I didn't even have one that I knowingly would include peas in. And then I had an epiphany...hummus. I love hummus. And if you can make edamame hummus, why not pea hummus? Guess's green, it's smooth and it's absolutely delicious.
This is a much sweeter tasting dip than traditional hummus, but still has that same delightful garlic/lemon/tahini flavor layer just underneath. Not to mention, it's incredibly healthy.
I loved this with some herbed pita chips, but it would be great with crudité or naan. I'm even thinking this might make it's way into a grilled cheese sandwich sooner than later.

Spring Pea Hummus
1/2 a small bag of frozen peas (you can use fresh too, when they are in season)
3 T tahini (puree of sesame seeds that can be found in the international section of the market)
3 garlic cloves, peeled
about 2-3 T olive oil, depending on the thickness desired
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1-11/2 tsp. salt to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika

Cook the frozen or fresh peas according to package directions. Drain and let cool for 10-15 minutes.
In a small food processor or blender, combine peas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt. Blend until ingredients begin to combine and get smooth. Through the top of the lid, with your processor or blender still running, stream in the olive oil. Stop and check for consistency and salt. If the hummus is too thick, add a bit more oil, and if you like more salt, add that too. Add the pepper and paprika and process once more. I like to top mine with a dash more of paprika and a few peas...just so everyone knows what they are about to eat :).

Serve immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.


Tuesday, April 10

Huevos Rancheros Salad

This is one of my go-to meals when I want to switch up the 'what's for lunch' slump. I always love a good salad, but sometimes there's just so much lettuce...and not enough flavor. Not here. If you like Mexican food, you will love this meal. And it really is good for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 
 I love using Chipotle chiles in Adobo. They come in a little can and are great for so many recipes. Here, they give my canned black beans that extra punch they need, making the beans taste smokey, like they'd been cooking all day.
 What can't you do with a runny egg??
 I like to make mine overeasy, that way the whites are for sure cooked and definitely not goopy.
You don't even need dressing on this salad because the yolk, salsa and beans create an amazing sauce. This meal is so delicious and truly good for you. You could easily double it to make a hearty dinner, or if you just aren't feeling the whole salad thing, swap the lettuce for a warm corn tortilla or two. YUM!

Huevos Rancheros Salad
1 egg
Handfull of your lettuce of choice
A few small tomatoes, chopped
1/4 C canned Black Beans, drained
1 tsp. of the sauce from a can of Chipotle Chiles in Adobo
a sprinkle of Mexican cheese
1/2 a ripe avocado
a few leaves of cilantro, torn
salt and pepper

Heat a small non stick skillet over low heat. Cook your egg in a dab of butter to your desired doneness. Salt and pepper to taste.
In another small skillet, or in a microwave safe bowl, combine the beans and chipotle chile in adobo sauce. Heat until warm, but not boiling.
In a salad bowl or plate, layer the lettuce, tomato, warm beans and cheese.
Top with your salsa of choice, the cooked egg and avocado.

So quick, easy and delicious!


Saturday, April 7

The Week-Cap - Happy Easter!

This week has been crazy! Being on vacation from work has kept me busier than normal and I'm enjoying every minute of it. And this weekend is Easter, which means family time, spiral Ham and cocktails. I'm not sure how all of those things will fit together yet.
  • Monday - My first day off...ahhhh. I started getting ready for the holiday weekend by posting the recipe for Lavender Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins. These muffins are soooo good. They are just the right amount of sweet and tart in a small little moist package. And they are quite beautiful too, since they are covered with beautiful flower buds. These muffins are absolutely perfect for Easter Brunch. I should know, I ate like 8 of them.
  • Tuesday - Shopping! During the day! In the middle of the week! I always forget how empty and quite relaxing the mall is during the work week. It's so nice not to fight any crowds and be able to see everything you want to. I followed my short shopping jaunt with a huge plate of the best Mac 'n Cheese I've made in a while. I plan on posting that recipe next week.
  • Wednesday - Oh the dreaded Department of Motor Vehicles. I was not looking forward to spending my afternoon there to renew my license. Good news: I didn't have to! I was in and out in 20 minutes, which if you live in CA, you know that's a bit of a miracle. Dinner was 'Skinnylicious Enchiladas' at The Cheesecake Factory. I've since been banned from every saying the word skinnylicious again. 
  • Thursday - I had the pleasure of helping my husband as he worked a dinner party for a VIP client. It was so fun to be a part of all of the set up, take down and everything in between. Not to mention, we got an amazing meal at the end of the night of teriyaki beef and the famous garlic noodles from a restaurant called AnQi. Absolutely incredible! I will spend my life trying to recreate them fully knowing that I probably never will. 
  • Friday - Errands, errands, errands. Plus I posted a delicious recipe for Blackened Swordfish, a flavor filled meal that we enjoyed not one, but two nights this week! You should definitely give making your own spice blend a try and then make it into a meal. Do it this weekend when you're family comes over for the holiday. They will love it and so will you! 
 I hope this weekend finds you well. Have a very fun and Happy Easter!
P.S. Happy Birthday to my beautiful niece, Grace, who turns 7 years old today! xoxo

Friday, April 6

Blackened Swordfish

The other day I posted the recipe for Homemade Blackened Seasoning, so I thought I'd share what I actually did with it. I found some really nice wild caught Swordfish at the market and since my husband is not usually a huge fan of fish, I like to really pump up the flavors with lots of herbs and spices.
This is the blend I made from a bunch of spices I already had in my kitchen.
I coated each side of the fish generously with the seasoning. This was a pretty thick piece, so I coated it all the way around the edges as well. Feel free to use whatever sort of fish you find fresh or like better. This would work great with Mahi Mahi, Halibut or even Salmon.
Once cooked, you want the fish to have an almost 'burnt' look as this is blackened seasoning. Don't worry, it doesn't taste overdone at all, it just gives the fish a delicious, flavorful crust. 

Blackened Swordfish
Fresh or thawed Fish of your choice
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. butter

Pat the fish completely dry with paper towels. On a large plate or in a large dish, coat each side of the fish with the seasoning, pressing it into the flesh. 

Heat a non stick skillet or griddle to med-high heat. The pan needs to be very hot and preheated to sear the fish right away. Put the oil and butter in the pan together just before setting the fish in. Place the fish in the pan and do not move it. Let it sear and begin to cook through. The cooking time will vary greatly depending on the thickness of your fish. My swordfish took about 5-6 minutes per side, but a thinner piece might only take 3-4. Fish is done cooking when it flakes apart easily and is opaque throughout. 

This is a very healthy technique of cooking and serving this with just a side of vegetables would be a lovely dinner if you are watching your weight. I served my blackened swordfish with steamed broccoli and Mac 'n Cheese. Obviously, I went the slightly more indulgent route :).


Wednesday, April 4

Homemade Blackened Seasoning

Combining herbs and spices into a mix can be the best way to season many foods. There are tons of options in the market for different spice mixes from Lemon Pepper to Steak Seasoning. The only problem with these blends is it can sometimes be tough to tell exactly how much salt and other ingredients might be in them. That's why I like to make my own. Creating your own seasoning blends takes minutes and can save you a lot of money. A well stocked spice cabinet gives you endless opportunities to create new and exciting flavors for chicken, fish, steak and even salad dressing.

This recipe is one of my favorites to use during the warmer months. It's delicious on any kind of meat or poultry you like. It's great for the barbecue, grill pan or broiler.
All it takes are these seven items and an old spice bottle or tupperware to shake them up in. You can easily halve or double this recipe depending on how much you plan on using. This recipe is enough to generously season about 4-5 pieces of meat.

Homemade Blackened Seasoning
Adapted from Southern Food

1 heaping T Paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 heaping tsp. garlic powder
1 heaping tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Mix all spices and herbs together in a small container and shake well. The blend will keep for about a month or two in a cool, dry and dark spot. You can add more or less of the salt, pepper and cayenne pepper depending on your preferences. These amounts are what I found to be the tastiest.


Monday, April 2

Lavender Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

As you will learn if you follow my blog, I am absolutely in love with Lavender. The color, the scent, the look and yes, even the taste. When lavender is used right, it can add a beautiful floral flavor to many things. Like these Muffins, which started with me wanting a good Poppy Seed muffin, but like most of my recipes, ended with me changing it up to fit my tastes. Here's how it happened.
I used three complimentary things to flavor these light and moist muffins.
This is a super thick and slightly sticky batter. 
Fresh out of the oven, golden brown and studded with pretty poppy seeds.
 Beautiful, glossy and lemony glaze with bright purple lavender buds.
A perfect Easter brunch muffin, bursting with bright springtime flavors. 

Lavender Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Adapted from Simply Recipes
3 Cups all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 1/2 T poppy seeds
10 T butter, softened
1 C white sugar
2 eggs
1 C plain greek yogurt (I used non fat Fage)
1/2 C buttermilk (regular milk would be just fine too)
1 tsp. lavender extract, which you can find at specialty food stores like Sur La Table
1 1/2 T lemon zest
1 T lemon juice

1 tsp. dried lavender buds
2 T lemon juice
1 C powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin pan or line with muffin papers.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and soda, salt and poppy seeds. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar. Add eggs one at a time and mix well. Add the lavender extract, zest and 1 T lemon juice. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and buttermilk. Alternate adding the yogurt/milk and the dry ingredients to the creamed butter/sugar mixture. Start with 1/3 of the yogurt, then 1/3 of the dry ingredients and so on until everything is incorporated. Fill the muffin pan, I like to use an ice cream scoop to ensure same sized muffins.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Meanwhile, soak the lavender buds in the 2 T lemon juice for the glaze. Soaking the buds brings out a gorgeous bright purple hue, you can leave them in for about 10 minutes or so. Then, whisk in the powdered sugar. If your mixture is too thick, add a few more drops of lemon juice until it reaches your desired consistency. 

Once the muffins have completely cooled, drizzle with the glaze and then top with a few lavender buds if you'd like.