When I bought three raspberry plants (two red, one golden) from my local nursery last year I had no idea what to expect. We’d had mixed luck with berries - the blackberry bush we’d planted the year before was showing a lot of promise for its second summer but the blueberry bush we’d put in 3 years prior hadn’t grown a bit and typically yielded a harvest of only one dozen berries each season. I was taking a chance, but the raspberry plants were inexpensive and I was determined to have long branches loaded with berries twining through the fence surrounding our garden.
We got lucky. Their first year the raspberries didn't do much. We were rewarded with a couple of small handfuls of fruit - really only enough to snack on as you wandered through the garden checking on other plants, certainly not enough to actually do something with. But this year - the berries' second year - has been quite the surprise. Maybe its because I wasn't expecting much from them, or maybe its that their location in the garden is a bit out of the way, but just a few weeks ago I was shocked (shocked!) to discover that the raspberry branches had reached clear out of their intended boundaries and were loaded (loaded!) with plump berries. I wish I could show you photos of their progress, but the general unruliness of the garden has left me embarrassed to share the evidence.
Its hard to not get excited about being in the kitchen, concocting new recipes when your fridge has a constantly rotating bowl full of red raspberries, golden raspberries and blackberries. Unless, like me last week, you come down with a bug right in the middle of berry season. It was nothing too serious, but provided enough sour feelings to keep me completely out of the kitchen and away from the blog. I had no interest in cooking food, writing about food or editing images of food for five full days. It was all I could do to get the tomato soup post up Tuesday night, and the next day I couldn’t even bring myself to read comments because the mere thought of tomatoes gave me a queazy feeling. Finally, on Saturday, as I was laying on a towel in the middle of our living room floor after a particularly hard 4-mile run, thoughts of homemade muffins popped into my head.
I jumped up, so excited to have the urge to bake without a queazy feeling following along behind that urge. It was getting worrisome, this lack of desire to stand at my kitchen counter, because I had promised some dear friends that I would make cupcakes for their daughter’s third birthday party the next day. And, we had raspberries. Several bowls of raspberries freshly picked from our garden just waiting to be folded into muffin batters and buttercream frostings and made into jam (peach + raspberry = yum!). The opportunities were endless, yet until Saturday I’d done nothing to seize them.
These little raspberry almond muffins pulled me out of my funk, with some help from Ellie Krieger, whose book I had picked up at the library a few weeks prior. They are hearty, made with a mix of all-purpose and whole-grain flours, and pack nice little raspberry punches into each bite. Made moist by applesauce instead of butter, and topped with a crunchy cinnamon and almond topping, they provide an adequate amount of sweetness countered by the slightly tart raspberries - a sure pick-me-up for any slow morning or afternoon. I've frozen a bunch of them to use as my own little weapon against future kitchen blues...
Raspberry-Almond Muffinsmakes 16 muffinsadapted from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave, Apple-Pecan Muffins, pg 22
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup sliced almonds, chopped finely
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup fat free buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries
Preheat the oven to 400*. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray, along with 4 wells in a second muffin pan.
In a small bowl, mix together 2 tbsp of the brown sugar, the almonds and the cinnamon. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar and the oil until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk, just until combined. Gently stir in the raspberries.
Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins, filling each about 2/3's full, and sprinkle evenly with almond mixture. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from pan.
Good Tuesday morning! I woke up to discover 2 lovely things happened while I was sleeping... #1...It snowed last night!!! Only a little dusting but it was still such a nice surprise. Looking outside my office window now I see that it has all melted already...oh well. #2...The lovely and talented Ashley at Sweet + Natural awarded me with the prestigious Superior Scribbler Award! Isn't she a sweetie? I love Ashley's blog because she delivers useful information and incredible recipes with a wonderfully witty style and gorgeous photography. I can't wait to try more of her delectable recipes, if only I could get a handle on this new blogging obsession of mine that seems to be taking up all of my evening time...! :)
I now give you the rules.
1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Link to me for giving it to you.
3. Link the originating post here.
4. Pass it on to three deserving people - I’m keeping Ashley's rule to continue the rebellion...
5. Post these rules for your recipients.
So, here goes.
1. Allison at Green Dog Wine. I love Allison's blog because she shares great recipes, has the cutest puppy, is at a very similar place in her life as me (we're even the same age!) and has a fabulous blog name encompassing her favorite things, which just so happen to be some of my favorites as well so I feel a slight kinship with her... :)
2. Monica at SmarterFitter. Monica is so clever. She shares wonderful information and beautiful recipes and is a fabulous writer. Plus, her blog is so ambitious with TONS of useful information. And, she lives in the U.K. I'm only a little jealous... :)
3. Erica at Itzy's Kitchen. Erica has great, quick recipes...especially her breads! I am always looking for healthy, fast bread options and I find myself constantly turning to her blog for ideas. Plus, she makes simply pleasing dinners that would be satisfying for both me and my husband, which is no small feat.
Congrats Ladies! Enjoy!!!
On to some food...
Breakfast: One 5.3oz container of plain Oikos with a handful of fresh raspberries and sprinkling of sliced almonds on top. I mashed the raspberries up so the juice colored the yogurt pink...tasty and pretty at the same time. :) Also, I've pictured a Luna Sunrise Apple Cinnamon bar and a banana, but I decided to save the banana for a snack since I am now REALLY full and over-calculated my breakfast calories.
Lunch: Another veggie wrap and apple combo, exactly the same as yesterday. :) Its a quick, filling lunch and I really enjoyed the added boost the black beans gave me. Plus, I have WW tortillas in my fridge that I must use up. Don't be surprised if you see another of these beauties on tomorrow's post.
Snack: Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel bar. This is my first Mojo bar experience so expect a product review later!
I'd like to introduce you to my little helper this morning, Mia. She likes to stick close to the kitchen in the morning in case a little piece of turkey or cheese falls from the sky while Brian is making his sandwiches...
Ok, I work 'till 6 tonight then have a 1-1/2 hour yoga class this evening, so it will be another late post tonight. I revved up the crock pot this morning though for a batch of my black bean soup, so I'll be posting a new recipe tonight. Woohoo! Have a fabulous Tuesday! :)