Delicious Almond Poppy Seed Muffins

IMG_5767wmpin

Whilst having three or four different diets in the house due to allergies and other such issues can be difficult come meal time, I must say, it’s good for a foodie and a food blogger. While it means more work, it also means many more types of recipes to come up with and experiment on. I truly enjoy it. Lately I’ve been having to come up with baked goods for breakfast for my dad, since his day starts off at four in the morning. One morning I made up some low-carb cream cheese danishes, which fit both of my parents diets, but that’s not something I want to make every night. I wanted to come up with an easy muffin recipe that my dad would enjoy, which means real sugar, no Truvia.

 photo IMG_5757wm_zpsb3fc67c7.jpg

 photo IMG_5761wm_zpsdffe47ab.jpg

 photo IMG_5762wm_zps0f01c4c8.jpg

I wanted to do something with poppy seeds. How I adore poppy seeds. It’s not just for their beautiful appearance sprinkled throughout a delicious cake or on top of a warm bagel. They also add a unique nutty flavor wrapped up in a shell that creates a delightful crunch and interest of texture.

However, I did not want to do another lemon poppy seed muffin. Those are wonderful, but it’s not what I was in the mood for. I decided on an almond poppy seed muffin. The flavor of almond extract, which I use in these muffins, holds a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of my mom taking me to a mall in South Louisiana at Christmas time and eating almond baked goods at La Madeleine’s whilst looking on at the Christmas decorations. These muffins are a wonderful reminder of that time.

 photo IMG_5763wm_zpsd67e90c5.jpg

 photo IMG_5770wm_zpsb168ce67.jpg

 photo IMG_5775wm_zpsf91a6ba3.jpg

The flavor profile of these muffins is simple, but I absolutely love it. Sweet almond and nutty poppy seeds encased in a fluffy golden muffin. The perfect muffin for an early-morning breakfast or a sweet treat.

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
Yields 22
A delicious and easy fluffy muffin filled with almond goodness and nutty poppy seeds.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 4 tsp baking powder
  3. 1/2 tsp salt
  4. 3 TBSP poppy seeds
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6. 1/2 TBSP blackstrap molasses
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 2/3 cup sour cream
  9. 3/4 cup melted butter
  10. 1 cup buttermilk
  11. 1 TBSP almond extract
  12. 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  2. In another medium sized bowl combine sugar, molasses, eggs, sour cream, melted butter, and extracts thoroughly. Add one third of the dry ingredients, combine; one third of the buttermilk, combine; and so on, ending with the buttermilk.
  3. Scoop into lined muffin tins 3/4 of the way. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick is inserted comes out clean and the tops are golden. Allow to cool.
Lavender and Honey http://www.lavenderandhoney.net/

What’s your go-to breakfast?

Posted in Food & Recipe | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Should you buy a Pet Parakeet? What you Should Know!

parakeets

When I was little my parents bought two of my sisters and me each a pet parakeet as a surprise! It was a wonderful idea and we loved watching them that day deciding which we would each adopt. Hannah and Caroline chose the sky blue and the steel blue, which left the olive green for me, who I named Layla.

Layla was a shy bird. At first this resulted in aggression, because she was afraid and would bite (rather hard) to protect herself. Thankfully we learned how to help her trust us and I would spend many hours with her in an enclosed room talking to her whilst feeding her, and it worked. She was still a shy bird, and wary around other people and cameras, but she trusted me. There were times when she would be flying around the room, become scared, and would fly over to me and land on my head because she knew I would protect her. It was incredible and is a rather special memory to me.

It’s now been about four or five years since I lost Layla to old age, but I’m ever so thankful that I had her for nine years of my life. She was a comfort and encouragement to me. I’m currently unable to get a new parakeet, or budgie as they are properly known, but I have plans to find a new little feathered friend as soon as possible.

While Layla lived to an old age, and the other two birds, Arwen and Rosie, lived a long time as well, there are still some things we should of known about owning budgies. Oftentimes people will buy pets without knowing a lot about them, which can work out alright in cases like ours where we continued to learn about them, but sometimes it ends up not so well. Here is a list of some things you should learn about and consider before buying your own budgie.

Cages: Oftentimes people will unknowingly buy a cage that is much too small for their budgies, I know, we did the same thing. Your cage should be 1.5 feet wide x 1.3 feet deep x 1.3 feet tall per budgie, minimum. The bars need to be no more than 1/2 inch apart each, or the budgie may slip through.
You can find both horizontally and vertically placed bars for cages, I prefer horizontal as the birds enjoy being able to climb the bars.
You need to make sure the cage is made for birds. Once we found a rabbit cage for free, so we cleaned it up and used it for the birds as it was really large and they could fly around. Since it wasn’t made for birds the type of metal used made the birds sick when they chewed on it, and we had to replace the cage.
Make sure the cage is stable. We once owned a cage that was not very wide but was tall, and could easily of been knocked over and injured a bird. It’s better to get a cubed or rectangular shaped cage as it’s more stable and gives the bird more room to play and exercise.
Birds are smart, and some will learn to open the cage doors. In our case Arwen would hold the door open while the other two birds flew out and then fly out herself. Using a safety pin to hold the door closed fixed this problem.
Placement of the cage is important as well. You want it in a central location, so that the bird can come to know you better and not become lonely, but you don’t want it in the kitchen. Some fumes, such as from non-stick skillets and some cleaners are deadly to birds.

How Many Birds? We had three birds, one for each of us, which worked well for us. However, the more you have the larger the cage will need to be. If you don’t think you have a lot of time to devote to your bird you should get at least two so that your bird does not become lonely and depressed. If you want to spend a lot of time with your budgie and become tightly bonded together you would only want one, because if there are multiple budgies they will bond more with each other than with a human. If you choose to get one budgie for this reason avoid giving him a mirror toy, as he’ll bond with his reflection instead of you.

Care: Your budgie will need fresh food and water daily. Most believe you just have to feed your budgie a mix of seeds and be done with it, however this is not the healthiest for your little guy. Budgies should be fed a combination of seed, pellets, fruits, and vegetables starting from the time you bring them home. They might not eat it all right away, but if you continue to leave it in the cage they’ll warm up to it if they’re young.
The cage should be cleaned daily, which will take only a couple of minutes.
You should spend 45+ minutes with your budgie most days, though this can be as simple as it resting on your shoulder while you do the computer or on a small parrot stand/play area, if you have a single budgie. If you have multiple budgies they will be able to keep each other company most of the time. 
Your budgie will need a cuttlebone to help keep the beak from growing too much, preventing them from eating. 
Every few months you will need to file your budgie’s nails so that they do not grow out too far as well, making it painful to stand. Do not use clippers, this can cause you to cut the quick and your budgie will begin to bleed. This is very dangerous with a budgie as a small amount of blood loss can mean their death. This almost happened to Layla once and I’ll never make that mistake again.

Clipping Wings? Clipping the wings on your budgie is a personal choice, know the pros and cons and then decide. I never clipped Layla’s wings, I wanted her to be able to fly. For my next budgie I’m planning on clipping the wings, as I’ll be able to take him out of the cage more easily and often, among a variety of other reasons. It just depends on your situation and the bird.

Toys and Accessories: Budgie cages typically come with a standard sized wooden dowel perch. Throw those away. These perches will give you bird many foot problems, they can be extremely damaging. The same goes for the sand paper covers. You can either make your own with wood that you know is from a tree which is non-toxic to budgies and has not been treated with chemicals, or you can buy them
Give your bird plenty of toys to keep them entertained. It’s best to have a stockpile which you can switch in and out between the cage every couple of weeks so they don’t get bored. Large toys can scare some budgies. They love noisy toys. Make sure there aren’t any choking hazards.
Budgies love music, especially happy/boppy music. After Arwen and Rosie passed away I would play Owl City during the day for Layla when she was in her cage, so she wouldn’t get lonely. She loved it and would dance around her cage whilst picking up and dropping her mirror so that it made a loud clang, which was always a sign of her glee. 

Budgies are a wonderful pet and if well cared for can live up to twelve to fourteen years, when on a healthy diet. Just like any pet they need proper care, interaction with other budgies or humans, exercise, and entertainment. They truly are magnificent, intelligent, and friendly birds. I hope this will help you learn if budgies are the right pet for you and help you make a wise decision when it comes to their care.

Did you like this post? Have any questions? Comment bellow and I’ll get back to you!

Posted in Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

An Exciting Announcement

2014-08-19_1408487162I have some very exciting news to share. During the next couple months I will be preparing to open up my very own Etsy shop to sell prints and greeting cards, and more to come later, Lord willing!

Etsy is an online marketplace designed to connect people world-wide to buy and sell unique items made by real people. Etsy is part of the B corporation movement, meaning it’s like fair trade coffee, but for businesses. In November of last year alone Etsy sellers sold 7,430,698 items and 1,381,666 new members joined. This is all in the space of one month. Thanks to Etsy hosting everyone’s shops this also means added buyer and seller protection, ease of use, reviews for individual shops and products from buyers just like you and me, and the ability to buy gift certificates to use in any shop if you’re unsure what to give a loved one. Some sellers even have a feature enabled to allow requests for custom work!

2014-08-22_1408667661

I’ve loved art for quite some time. I can remember ten years back or so taking some how-to-draw books everywhere with me along with a notebook and pencils, just in case I had the chance to practice. I haven’t always worked on my art consistently since then, due to my health, but in recent years my passion for art has grown, and so has my commitment to finding ways around the hurdles my health may throw at me.

Recently I moved away from watercolor pencils and turned to tube watercolors. This opened many new doors for me. I absolutely love this medium and feel as if I learn something new every time I paint, along with a deepening passion for the craft. The photos shown here are only a couple of my first attempts, as I want to keep an element of surprise until the opening of my shop, however it shows my love for the painting of animals and geekery (fanart, however, will not be for sale, due to copyright).

2014-08-22_1408670085I love the idea of being able to share my love of art and my expressions through it with others. It would be an honor if others felt a connection with a piece of mine and wanted to use the greeting cards to share their thoughts with a dear friend, or wanted to put one of my prints on display. It would be amazing if some of my art spoke to someone else. With the holiday season and some other surprises coming up I’m not sure when I will open my shop, but I am starting the preparations now. If you want to keep up to date make sure to follow my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Posted in Art & Photography, Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Casting All Our Anxieties on Him

IMG_4563wm

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 4:6-7

There are two trends I’ve noticed when it comes to prayer. One is televangelists who make claims such as “if you only make a donation of $___ the Lord will fill up your bank account!”. The other one, the one of which is on my mind today, is the hesitance to bother the Lord with our prayers.

I understand this, I will often forget to pray about the “little things” in life, because who am I to ask for something seemingly so trivial when He has blessed me so very much? The wonderful thing, though, is that this year the Lord has really been showing me how He desires us to bring these things to Him! He is our Heavenly Father and He values us! (Psalms 103:13-14; Matthew 10:30-31) We should go to Him humbly and wishing for His will to be done, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bring all of our troubles to Him. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. “-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

 While the Lord might not answer our prayers right away, or in the way we hoped, we know that His will is our best. Though He may not remove our trials when we would want, we know from His word that He uses these trials to help us become more Christlike and to grow closer to Him. (James 1)

I’ve been learning a lot this year through Him about prayer, and it amazes me those times when He confirms those lessons for me, both through His Word and through answered prayers. One such instance was back in March. I was shopping for some craft supplies so that I could send an encouragement package to my dear friend. I had found everything I needed, and then I looked down at the supplies I had in my hand and realized I had mistaken one item for something else, and then I couldn’t find what I truly needed. I started getting extremely anxious as I scanned all the items and was finding nothing like I needed, and I really wanted to do this something special for my friend. As I looked I was reminded of casting all our anxieties to Him and praying without ceasing. I said a simple quick prayer asking for His help in finding the object I was searching for, and as soon as I finished mentally saying the prayer my eyes landed on the exact object I needed. It wasn’t anything big, just an item that costs a couple of dollars for a gift, but it reminded me that He cares about those little things. He helped me remember to cast my anxieties on Him and then helped me see what I needed to encourage my friend. It may have been small, but it meant a lot to me and has stuck with me all these months. 

A more recent event was that I’ve felt isolated and the need for Christian fellowship, since we’re currently between churches and my health doesn’t allow me to get out very often. I didn’t know how He might work it out, but I prayed for an opportunity to have discussions with other Christians that would honor Him. A couple of weeks later I was invited to a weekly Skype group phone call where we pray and discuss subjects relating to Christianity and how to glorify Him through our walk. These discussions have truly been an answer to prayer and have blessed me greatly in the last few weeks since they’ve started.

I’m a terribly slow learner, but thankfully I have a Father who’s helping me along my walk in this crazy life, and will continue to do so until I’m Home with Him! 

What are some answers to your “small” prayers that have impacted you?

Posted in Faith | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tiramisu Gelato

 photo IMG_5713wm_zps04d8cd4b.jpg

I adore tiramisu, absolutely love it. I tend to save it for special occasions, since I’m the only person in my family who enjoys it. However, once a year on my birthday I make some homemade mascarpone or a cream cheese/sour cream substitute, lady fingers, and then start assembling my tiramisu. This year I wanted to try out an idea I’ve been contemplating. Homemade tiramisu gelato. I’ve seen some tiramisu gelato, but it’s more gelato with similarities to tiramisu. What I wanted was something fully tiramisu and fully gelato.

 photo IMG_5721wm_zpsa91852dd.jpg

The morning before my birthday I got started. I made my ladyfingers and mascarpone substitute and then started assembling the items needed for my gelato. After making a coffee tinted gelato base and chilling it I was ready to pop it into the ice cream maker. The motor was dead. Day before my birthday, I had everything ready for my tiramisu gelato ready, except a working ice cream maker. I ended up having to pour the gelato into the frozen ice cream bowl and stir it by hand. The gelato didn’t turn out nearly as soft as a similar recipe of mine did in the past, due to the ice cream maker problems, but it would do.

 photo IMG_5717wm_zps7e7447cd.jpg

This was a success. It was both completely tiramisu and gelato, neither was lacking. The combination was even more magically enchanting than I had imagined. When taking a bite your eyes slowly close as you savor the flavor of the creamy vanilla gelato with a hint of espresso and the sweet tang of the mascarpone cheese swirled throughout. It’s sweet, as gelato should be, however it’s also not overly sweet, fitting of tiramisu. 

When you come across pieces of the layered ladyfingers you get a wonderful burst of that sharp espresso flavor paired perfectly with the smooth cream..
Topping this off are some shavings of dark chocolate. Any added sugar in this chocolate is unnecessary, as it blends perfectly with the tiramisu gelato adding a hint of the rich cocoa flavor which pairs beautifully with the espresso and cream throughout.

I hope the above adequately describes how I feel about this dessert, as I’m in bliss with every bite that I take. This dessert can vary in preparation time, depending on the route that you take. You can make homemade mascarpone cheese, use my mascarpone substitute, or buy it at a local store. Likewise you can make homemade ladyfingers with this recipe, or buy some locally. 

Mascarpone Substitute
Yields 1
I've made both homemade mascarpone and this substitute of mine, and there's very little difference between the two. I would highly recommend this if you don't have the time to make mascarpone or don't want to pay the hefty price tag for it at the store.
Write a review
Print
Total Time
3 min
Total Time
3 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 oz cream cheese
  2. 1/3 cup sour cream
  3. 2 TBSP heavy whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl, beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth.
  2. Store in fridge.
Notes
  1. Both regular and reduced fat versions of the sour cream and cream cheese are acceptable.
Lavender and Honey http://www.lavenderandhoney.net/

Tiramisu Gelato
A decadent dessert that is both fully tiramisu and fully gelato.
Write a review
Print
Gelato Base
  1. 1/3 cup sugar
  2. 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  3. 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  4. 4 egg yolks
  5. 1 tsp vanilla
  6. 2 TBSP espresso
Tiramisu
  1. 1 1/3 cup mascarpone or mascarpone substitute
  2. 2 egg yolks
  3. 1 TBSP espresso
  4. 1/3 cup sugar
Ladyfingers
  1. 1 batch homemade stale ladyfingers or package of premade ladyfingers
  2. 1 cup warm espresso
  3. Unsweetened baking chocolate.
Instructions
  1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot whisk together sugar, milk, and heavy cream. Heat over medium heat stiring continuously until it reached a simmer. Remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl containing the egg yolks ladle a small amount of gelato base over egg yolks whilst whisking quickly to temper the egg yolks. Add a little more gelato base and continue whisking. Poor egg yolk mixture into the pot with the gelato base and continue whisking. Add vanilla and espresso.
  3. Chill in the fridge or in the freezer until cold. If chilling in the freezer stir the contents every so often to prevent the forming of ice crystals.
  4. In a medium sized bowl beat the ingredients for the tiramisu until smooth. Store in the fridge until needed.
  5. Once your gelato base is compltely chilled pour it into your ice cream maker following the instructions that came with your machine. During the last minute of the gelato turning in the ice cream maker, after it is completely set up, add the tiramisu mixture and allow it to swirl almost compltely into the gelato. Remove from ice cream maker and place in the freezer.
  6. Dip your ladyfingers into your warm espresso until soft but still holding their shape. This will depend on the ladyfingers and the temperature, it might take a couple attempts to find the perfect amount of time, but it shouldn't be over a couple seconds, and sometimes it will be as quick as dunking the ladyfingers in and immediately removing them. Dunk one ladyfinger at a time then place it on a large plate.
  7. Once all your ladyfingers are ready remove your gelato from the freezer. Pour a small amount of the gelato in the bottom of a container, add a layer of ladyfingers, another layer of gelato, another layer of ladyfingers, then the last layer of gelato. With a vegetable peeler shave some baking chocolate over the top of the tiramisu gelato. Store in the freezer.
Lavender and Honey http://www.lavenderandhoney.net/
If you try this out I hope you let me know in the comments what you thought of the recipe! Thanks for the photography goes to my sister, Caroline. Please visit her blog and Youtube channel! This week I’m linking up at Girl and the Kitchen, so be sure to check out her blog!

Posted in Food & Recipe | Tagged , , , , , , , | 10 Comments