Blueberry Muffins with Lavender-Vanilla Icing

Blueberry Muffins with Lavender-Vanilla Icing

There’s a special place in my heart reserved specifically for blueberry muffins.

I’m not really sure who first came up with these things, but they deserve a medal. My family would always eat them warmed with a little butter. When I made these muffins, however, I wanted to try something a little different than the old faithful standby. Sometimes you just need a little something extra…

Blueberry Muffins with Lavender-Vanilla Icing

For those of you who have gardens, you may and may not be done with your summer season, like we are here in the dry Phoenix desert. My garden this year certainly had a good go of it, but eventually when the temperature maintains over 110 degrees for weeks on end, everything starts checking out – no matter how much water you give them.

Blueberry Muffins with Lavender-Vanilla Icing

Against all odds, I have one little lavender plant that just keeps going and going. Day after day that thing Engerizer-bunny’s its way through the scortching heat and keeps giving me great flowers. Of course, seeing it’s tremendous effort inspired me to find creative ways to incorporate more lavender into my cooking. I’ve done a lot with them – homemade teas, attempting to make my own essential oil, etc. – but one day, while having a blueberry muffin craving (which is a more frequent occurrence than I would care to admit) I had this idea: Blueberry muffins + Lavender Icing.

Blueberry Muffins with Lavender-Vanilla Icing

Fresh lavender has an earthy, savory flavor, with a beautiful aromatic quality that packs an extra-unique punch in recipes. Here’s a good rule of thumb when using it: use about 1/3 of the amount of dried lavender as you would fresh – the flavors are more concentrated in dried flowers because the moisture is gone. Here’s another good rule of thumb I had to learn the hard way: thinking big is great for most things in life, but with lavender, start small and work your way up.

 

Blueberry Muffins with Lavender-Vanilla Icing

You would have laughed if you saw my face when I was experimenting – trust me….go easy at first. Too much lavender will make you feel like you are eating a nice handful of your mother’s potpourri, and I feel pretty safe in betting no one here wants that’s experience. To balance out the strength, and sometimes bitter quality, of the lavender I added a little vanilla extract, and took another sample….and a football touchdown dance happened in my kitchen. BOOM! Best. Icing. Ever.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins with Lavender-Vanilla Icing

Blueberry Muffins with Lavender-Vanilla Icing
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 dozen
 
Ingredients
  • Muffins:
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking sode
  • 1 cup (or more) fresh blueberries
  • 1 1/12 Tbsp sugar
  • Icing
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp crushed fresh lavender flowers
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Prep your muffin tin with paper cups of your choice and set aside.
  2. Combine ½ cup of sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl, and beat - hopefully with a standing mixer, on medium speed. If not, use your elbow grease…
  3. Continue to beat mixture until it becomes creamy, and then add sour cream and egg, and keep up the beating until everything is well mixed. Remember to scrap the sides of the bowl often.
  4. Add flour and baking soda into mixture and beat just until it becomes moistened, and then gently stir in blueberries.
  5. Scoop or spoon muffin mixture into prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the muffins comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool for 5 minutes and then remove from pan.
  6. Next make the incredible complicated icing - by simply mixing all the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl until you have a creamy consistency that drizzles easily. Drizzle icing over cooled muffins, and enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins with Lavender-Vanilla Icing

Quinoa, Avocado and Corn Salad Recipe

Disclosure: Recipe and photo courtesy of Kimberly Snyder/The Beauty Detox foods Book.

The quinoa, avocado, and corn salad recipe is perfect for easy entertaining. The only prep needed is to soak the quinoa overnight. Also,it tastes great at room temperature and is mayonnaise free. This makes it perfect to bring to the barbecue, pool party, park or beach!

Quinoa, Avocado and Corn Salad Recipe
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 ½ cups dry quinoa
  • Raw kernels or 2 ears of organic corn (preferably white, if available), shaved right from the cob
  • 2 avocados, sliced and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 Tbs. finely chopped red onion
Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. Bragg Liquid Aminos or low-sodium tamari
  • 1 Tbs. brown rice vinegar
Instructions
  1. Be sure to soak the quinoa overnight in water and rinse well before using.
  2. In a saucepan bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat, add quinoa and simmer until the water is absorbed and the grains become translucent and soft (about 10 to 15 minutes). Pour the quinoa through a strainer and set it to the side in a bowl.
  3. Blend all the dressing ingredients together in a blender until smooth, or simply add them to a small bowl and whisk well with a fork.
  4. Add the kernels of corn to the quinoa, along with the avocado and chopped onion. Mix well. Pour the dressing on top of the mixture and mix well again.

For more information on Kimberly, The Beauty Detox Foods or her first book, The Beauty Detox Solution please visit:

Valentines Day Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day is that special day of the year when you can show your  sweetheart just how much they mean to you. What better way to do this than with a sweet confection. With Baskin Robbins your gift will be sure to take the cake this year!


For the classic romantic, a Conversation Heart Cake(*New this year!*) can add a delicious twist to the traditional Valentine’s Day candy.


If you happen to have a fashionable fiancée, a Delectable Designer Cake Bag may be the perfect fit!


Prefer chocolate for your special someone? A Fudge Heart Cake is a great way to show how rich your feelings are!




Fancy a cookie instead? Baskin Robbins has you covered thanks to Oreo with several Oreo branded cakes, including the Oreo Cookie Cake, Oreo Cookie Pie, and Oreo Ice Cream Cake Bites!

Want something that is red to match the holiday colors? A Red Velvet Ice Cream Cake Bite may be cold, but her lips will be extra hot for you after just one taste!


Looking for something more prim and proper? A Petals and Pearls cake will show your Valentine you can be both sensible and sweet!

So whether you’re looking for something eye catching, classic, or just plain delicious Baskin Robbins has just the treat you need this Valentine’s Day to help win the heart of that person you’ve been longing for. Any girl would love to get a gift this sweet, and you just might find yourself getting a little sugar in return!

Which cake would you most like to receive this Valentine’s Day?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored posts. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Potato Skins Mac and Cheese Recipe

Potato Skins are one of my favorite bar foods. However, I always feel guilty ordering them. After all they’re not really a meal just a snack.

I was wondering how I could turn them into a hearty dish when I found this Potato Skins Mac and Cheese recipe over at the Spicy Perspective.

It’s a classic, creamy Mac and Cheese Topped with crunchy, cheesy potato skin goodness.

I cut the recipe in half for my smaller family, but feel free to double it if yours is larger.

Be sure to add generous amount of salt and pepper. The potatoes increase this recipe’s need for a little extra seasoning.

Recipe Adapted from: A Spicy Perspective

Potato Skins Mac and Cheese Recipe

Ingredients

  • 5-10 Small Potatoes
  • 2 Tb. vegetable oil, divided
  • 8 oz. Elbow macaroni(approx. half a box)
  • 1.5 Tb.butter
  • 1 Tb. flour
  • 1 1/4 cups cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 8 oz. plus a few handfulls of shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 5 oz. cream cheese, divided
  • 12 oz. bacon, fried and crumbled, divided (if desired)
  • 1 cup chopped green onions, divided(if desired)
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat Oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Cut 5-10 small potatoes in half width wise (can also use mini potatoes if your store carries them). Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil, and salt & pepper.
  3. Roast for about 30 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Cook macaroni in a large pot of salted water, according to the package directions.
  5. Drain and set aside.
  6. Melt butter, and add flour. Cook for one minute.
  7. Add milk, sour cream, and most of your cream cheese. Cook until smooth.
  8. Add 8 oz of cheese, and cook until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add macaroni, and some of the bacon/green onions (if desired). Stir.
  10. Pour mixture into an 8x8 baking dish and set aside.
  11. Preheat oven to broil.
  12. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out most of the flesh, and set aside.
  13. Brush skins with oil, and add around 1/2 tsp. of cream cheese to each. Cook for 2 minutes.
  14. Sprinkle the crumbled potato over the mac and cheese Place potato skins on the top.
  15. Sprinkle a few more handful of cheddar over the potato skins and add salt/pepper to taste.
  16. For creamy baked mac and cheese, place the baked mac and cheese in the oven under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.
  17. For more a traditional "firm" baked mac and cheese recipe, turn the oven to 400 degrees, and bake for 20 minutes until the tops are golden.
  18. Garnish with remaining green onions and bacon.
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Diet Comfort Food

Like most American’s  I made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, and maybe drop a few pounds.
However, I know if I eat nothing but veggie burgers, and celery sticks I’m doomed before I even start.

For me, food has to taste good,and look appealing. Here are some of favorite lightened up versions of classic comfort foods.


Skinny Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese has the delicious cheesy goodness I crave, but without the guilt.


These Garlic French Fries
are baked not fried.

This Light Potato Soup is perfect for chilly winter evenings.

Mozarella Sticks are my favorite pizza shop treat. I love that the healthy version still includes the stringy goodness I love.


These onion rings are so crispy, you’ll never guess they’re baked!

This Veggie Lasagna is only 200 calories


Can you believe these healthy potato chips are made in the microwave?

Popcorn Chicken won’t make you feel guilty going back for seconds.

Maple Cheeseburgers are made with ground turkey


You’ll never guess what the Low Carb Pizza Crust is made out of!

Which diet comfort food looks best to you?

New Years Eve Appetizers

When having a party, I prefer to offer a bunch of different appetizers. It’s usually less work, and gives you a bigger variety so picky eaters (like me!) can pick and choose what they enjoy.

This also makes it much easier to eat and socialize at the same time.

Here are some of my favorite appetizers that would be perfect for a New Year’s Eve (or any other) party! Will you be serving New years Eve Appetizers at your party this year?

New Years Eve Appetizers

1.
My grandma always says that a meal needs a “sour” element. In our family, this is usually pickles and olives. These Oven fried pickles are a crunchy chip that you can dip in almost anything!


2. I always order Mozzarella sticks at our local pizza joint. However, this version made with cheese sticks looks easy, and can even be made ahead!


3.These Pepperoni Pizza stuffed mushrooms make a great bite sized appetizer. You could even use veggie pepperoni or leave it out entirely to make the recipe vegetarian.


4. Spice up your party with a Buffalo Chicken Cheeseball


5. Get great burger flavor in a portable package with Mini Meatball Sliders .


6. This Onion Dip looks 10x better than the kind you buy at the store.


7. Parmesan Potato Bites are an easy,delicious way to feed a crowd!


8. Shrimp Dip will go perfectly with crackers or cut vegetables.


9. Ever wonder how restaurants make Jalapeno Poppers? Click to find out!


10. BBQ Chicken Bites: Betcha can’t eat just one!

What is your family’s favorite New Year’s Eve Appetizer? What do you think of these New Years Eve Appetizers?

Hope your new year is the best ever!