Thursday, August 30, 2012

Raspberry Almond Streusel Muffins...oh ya!

One of my favorite things about summer is berry picking and eating;) I thought I share some of my favorite summer berries recipes with you. The best way to start is with my favorite berry.... the Raspberry!! 

The berry family is known for the health benefits each offers. Raspberries are a great source of fiber and manganese which promote weight loss and keep your heart healthy. They are an excellent source of vitamin C. Slow down the aging process and leave you feeling and looking younger!! Aside from being healthy for you and your body they are delicious!!

Actually raspberries and I have quite a history, my very first paying job was picking raspberries. We had a huge raspberry patch on our farm in Ontario and each year we picked berries, lots and lots of berries.What a great way to spend summertime, in the berry patch, picking raspberries, eating raspberries and getting paid in the process!! 

Raspberry Patch

After the berries were picked we'd make raspberry jam. The old farmhouse kitchen would turn into a small factory of fresh berries, jam jars and aroma of warm delicious raspberry jam cooking......yum...that part I always enjoyed because I could sneak a taste while stirring the jam :)  Truthfully said I probably didn't appreciated it all as much when I was younger but I'm left with some great memories. Now I enjoy berry picking and the best part is that I have my fill of fresh berries and plenty to freeze, make jam and bake with.

The best way to freeze raspberries is to spread the berries single layer thick on a cookie sheet. This way the berries will freeze quickly and won't freeze into a large clump. Once the berries are completely frozen pack into a large Ziploc bag and pop them back into freezer. Frozen raspberries are a great snack anytime. Best part is that frozen berries have virtually identical nutritional values to those of fresh fruit.
I will never forget the summer when my granny came to visit us all the way from Australia. We were all so excited. She came just in time for the summer so she helped picked raspberries that year. I guess before I continue I need to mention that we had a beautiful big barn, it's was bright red and had a green sheet metal roof. Well one day we all heading out to the berry patch to pick berries. My mom, my granny, my sisters, my brother and I. My sister D and my bro decide to be pranksters so instead of picking berries they decided to throw rocks at the barn roof. 

Clang!....bang!.... I guess my granny heard all the racket and it was starting to annoy her. Apparently she thought it was me, so she gave me a few warnings about not throwing rocks at the barn. I was busy daydreaming instead of picking berries and never heard anything, not even the snickers of my two sneaky siblings. I was snapped back into reality when my granny came over, gave my ear a good tug and told me to stop fooling around and start picking. I just thought I got in trouble for day dreaming until a few days later I was told what actually happened by the 2 troublemakers!! Of course they had quite a laugh at my expense, come to think of it I never got a chance for day I will be avenged!!!

You'd think I'd be quite traumatized after that berry picking event and never want anything to do with raspberries but you'd be wrong. Those were the good ole' days something we sit, laugh and reminisce about nowadays. 

One of my favorite things to make with fresh raspberries are muffins. And I have a great recipe for you. These muffins are everything a muffin should be. Soft and fluffy, a cross between muffin and coffee cake, not to sweet, filled with delicious juicy tart raspberries and a sweet buttery crumb topping. 

Perfect for breakfast, lunch, snack anytime....I found these delicious muffin recipe on Joy of The muffin base is perfect I made a few modification but overall it's a great recipe. I like the fact that you make the streusel topping from the muffin base ingredients, no need for extra bowls and extra work. Try these muffins with your favorite berry, you'll Luv 'em!! Here's the link to the original Blueberry Streusel Muffins....

Raspberry Almond Streusel Muffins ~

11/4 cup milk (room temperature)

2 eggs

1/2 pure vanilla extract

1/2 almond extract

3 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries

~ Streusel Topping ~

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup sliced almonds 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 16-18 muffin cups with muffin liners or grease lightly.

In a small bowl, mix together with a whisk the milk, eggs and extract.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut the chilled, cubed butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender or a fork. Mixture should look like a course crumbs. Reserve one cup of the muffin mixture in a separate bowl to make streusel topping. To the remaining muffin batter, gently fold in the raspberries. Add the milk and egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined, batter will be lump, don't over mix or muffins will be tough when baked.  

Fill the each muffin cup 3/4 full with batter, using a spoon. Fill any unused muffin cup with water to prevent warping.

Streusel Topping:

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the sugar and sliced almonds into reserved crumb muffin mixture. Drizzle with melted butter, mix with a fork until it's crumbly. Sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of the streusel over the top of each muffin.  Place in oven and bake until very lightly brown, firm to touch and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean about 18-22 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. 

Makes 16-18 regular sized muffins :)

***if using frozen raspberries don't thaw the berries use frozen from freezer and don't over mix once you add liquids because otherwise your muffins will be pink!! ***

We still have a couple weeks of summertime and berry picking left. If you don't have time to pick your own berries I'm sure your local Farmers Market has plenty to offer. I seriously recommend making some of these delightful, delicious berry muffins. Be brave, be wild and be creative, there a world full of flavors out there to try ;) I'm thinking apple cinnamon is next on my list.....

Happy Berry picking you'all !! 

Thanks for stopping by,

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Seashells and starfish....the day I fell in love with the beach!!

Gazing out across the vast sand bar, in the far distance, I can see the sparkling beautiful turquoise ocean. I can hear the waves gently lapping the shore and for a brief moment I'm in a trace, lost at the beach. When I snap back into my reality I  know that all this beauty was created by our Heavenly Father for you, and for me to enjoy. I recently saw a post with a saying that almost stopped me in my tracks. It said, Thank You God, for my eyes!! In the moment when I sat there lost in paradise those words came to me. Never have I once thought to thank God for my eyes and today, sitting here on the beach, my toes squashed into the sand and the blue waters sparkling in the sun, I murmur quietly to myself those words. How truly blessed we are to have such an amazing Creator. 

French Beach

Miracle Beach

 Growing up we weren't the kind of family that spend summertime at the beach. Farm living was a busy and fun time, during summer months, in itself. Although I do vaguely remember a few time going to Pioneer Beach in Ontario. We'd spending the day swimming and splashing around, taking breaks to munch on kielbasa and bread but once we moved to the west it became I long forgotten memory. Until one day I got invited to go to the island.... Vancouver Island.

If you haven't had a chance to visit Vancouver Island do it! It has so much to offer from:

 old growth rain forest

sparkling wave-swept beaches,

snow capped mountains

gorgeous blooming flowers, 

delicious blackberry bushes everywhere, 

stunning heritage attractions ( my favorite is Craigdarroch Castle)

and so much more. It is all so beautiful. Come and get lost in all the beauty the island has to offer!

I remember the first time taking the ferry across I was so excited, just like a little kid, I wanted to stand at the very front hang on the railing and belt out My Heart Will Go On....but I could envision myself being held down and tied up in a white jacket or be banned so I held back and enjoy the ride. Somehow when we finally reach the island and began the drive to beach, it felt like I just left the world behind and enter a place of serenity. As we got closer to the beach I could smell the salty ocean air and every now and then I would catch a glimpse of the blue ocean. My anticipation growing....

.....And then, it happened, I fell in love!! With the beach, the ocean, the mountains in the distance, the sand, the seashells, the seagulls every little part of it!! Beach therapy at it's finest!! 

Before you know it my pockets and hands were full of shells and sand dollars. I spend hours walking along the beach in search of the prettiest shells every single time I'm back. I have quite a collections now and every time I tells myself that I don't need anymore I can't help but find a shell or sand dollar that I just have to have. Secretly, sometimes I think God made them with me in mind, good thing he makes a lot of them ;)

~ My beautiful shell collection ~

 Sand dollar....

Beachcombing for seashells has become one of my favorite hobbies and this year I combined it with my other favorite hobby, baking, and made some very beautiful sugar cookie seashells & starfish. I love them so much I had a hard time parting with them. 

I sold them at the Farmers Market. Each time someone came up to oh and ah about how pretty they were, it wasn't the compliment that made me happy (don't get me wrong it's always nice when someone likes what you made) it was the thought that someone else out there loved shells and starfish as much as me to appreciate the cookies:) 

 I love starfish!!

I have come across some beautifully decorated shell and starfish cookies and I thought I'd share a few links of my favorite ones....seriously check these out they are stunning!! 

Oh yeah and I have a beach themed pin board on Pinterest that is called Footprints in the Sand, it has all my favorite beach inspired things....check it out!

I bought these cookie cutter while vacationing in Kauai. The beaches there are absolutely stunning too. I could have stayed there forever.....*sign*....

I use the same cookie cutter to made fondant cupcake topper, which I colored with petal dust and shimmer. 

For the first time this year, while beachcombing, I stumbled upon the most beautiful pink starfish and an orange one too!! 
They were all so pretty :)

Pink starfish

Isn't it so beautiful??

Bright, orange and looks just like the sun.....

Well I got to say that the starfish were definitely the frosting on the cake for me. Although my beach trip has come to an end, I have many beautiful shells, sand dollar and pictures to enjoy. Oh and definitely more shell and starfish sugar cookies to decorate, I'm thinking some pink ones would be cool to make:)

 I can't wait till my next trip back to the beach there's always something new and exciting to see.  

Source: via Katya on Pinterest

Thanks for stopping by..... Individually, we are one drop. 

Together we are an ocean!! 



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