Saskatoon Berry Cream Puffs

This week we celebrate my husband Brion’s birthday. As we grow older, it comes clearer everyday, what a special privilege it is to simply have each other to share life with. I have always appreciated Brion’s strong support of my endeavors and for being the ‘wind beneath my wings’. Since it’s the time of the year when those wonderful saskatoon berries are available, I thought they would be nice in some ‘birthday’ cream puffs.

There have been many terms used to describe the humble cream puff. While the basic four ingredient recipe remains the same, how the ingredients are prepared and baked led to many names …. choux, puff, profiterole and buns. Often they were created in elaborate shapes such as swans or pyramids and filled with chocolate or vanilla custard. What was once the dessert of royalty is now a bakery aisle staple. At most supermarkets the frozen ones are available but nothing beats the taste of homemade cream puffs.

Many would describe the taste of a saskatoon as having a sweet, nutty almond flavor. Like their apple cousins, saskatoons continue to ripen after they are picked. In North America, these berries have a variety of names including: prairie berry, serviceberry, shadbush or juneberry.

I took this picture of Brion when we were in Merida, Mexico early this winter (January 2019). We managed to have a nice vacation there before the Covid-19 virus put the world in total disarray.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY LOVE … YOU’RE THE BEST!

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Saskatoon Berry Cream Puffs
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PUFFS
Ingredients
Cream Puffs
Almond Custard
Saskatoon Berry Compote
Servings
PUFFS
Ingredients
Cream Puffs
Almond Custard
Saskatoon Berry Compote
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Instructions
Cream Puffs
  1. In a saucepan, heat water & butter to a light boil. Sift together flour, baking powder & salt. When butter is melted, add the flour mixture all at once. Stir vigorously & continuously until it forms a ball of dough that leaves the sides of the saucepan clean. Remove from heat & cool 5 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add 1 egg & beat well, until fully incorporated. Repeat with the other two eggs. Drop or pipe mounds of batter onto baking sheet. Space them well apart as the puffs will double in size.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 350 F. Continue baking until the puffs are lightly browned about 10-15 minutes for a small sized puff. PRICK EACH PUFF WITH A TOOTHPICK to allow steam to escape & prevent them from flattening. Turn off the oven & with the door slightly ajar, let the shells dry out for a further 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven & let cool on a wire rack.
Almond Custard
  1. In a bowl, whisk together sugar & egg yolks for 2-3 minutes until mixture is pale yellow. Beat in flour; continue beating & slowly add the boiling milk a dribble at a time in the beginning.
  2. Pour into a saucepan & over medium heat bring sauce to a boil, whisking continuously. Lower heat & cook for 2-3 minutes WHISKING to make sure the custard does not scorch. Remove from heat & whisk in the butter & almond extract. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure to have it touching the top of custard.
Saskatoon Berry Compote
  1. In a saucepan, combine water, cornstarch & sugar, then add the rest of the compote ingredients. Bring mixture to a simmer & reduce to a thickened sauce.
Assembly
  1. When the shells are cool, cut a slit in the side of each puff; spoon in a dollop of the custard & top with some berry compote. If you prefer, dust tops with powdered sugar.

Garden Grain Burgers

CELEBRATING HERITAGE DAYS!

Heritage Festival in our city of Edmonton, Alberta Canada is one of the world’s largest multicultural events, taking place every August. It features over 70 pavilions representing almost 100 countries set up in William Hawrelak Park. All ethnic minorities of Canada come together to exchange experiences, entertainment, cultures and to celebrate Canada’s diversity. Thousands of visitors come to enjoy the tastes, smells and sounds of different nations around the world.

Due to the Covid-19 world pandemic this year, the annual August long weekend tradition of the Edmonton Heritage Festival will not be celebrated in Hawrelak Park, and is instead being reformatted from an on-site event into a virtual festival. You will be able to enjoy performances from past events, entertainment from countries around the world, explore new cultures and authentic recipes, as well as order food from local Edmonton restaurants. More than 40 pavilions are ready to celebrate our heritage online.

These grain burgers are one of my favorite ‘burgers’. Heritage Day seems like a good reason to enjoy some!

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Garden Grain Burgers
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine rice, bulgur wheat, seasoning blend, poultry seasoning & water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover & simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat; cool completely. Cover & refrigerate overnight if possible.
  2. In a large bowl, combine mushrooms, oats, mozzarella cheese, cheddar & onion. In a food processor, process cottage cheese & egg substitute until smooth; add to the mushroom mixture. Stir in parsley, salt, basil, celery seed & chilled rice mixture. Divide mixture into 12 balls & shape into patties.
  3. On a large non-stick griddle, cook patties in oil for 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned & crisp. Serve on lightly grilled Ciabatta buns with your choice of garnishes.
Recipe Notes
  • If using a BBQ, place patties on a oiled sheet of foil paper to grill.

Zucchini Omelette Roll w/ Chicken & Cheese

The best quality of an omelet is its versatility. Not all omelet recipes are made in a pan & rolled, you can bake and fill them, much the same as you would a cake roll.

Every country has its own combination of ingredients and flavors. Your probably familiar with many of these omelet creations such as Western, Coastal, BBQ, Veggie, Greek, Arizona, Mediterranean, Creole, Lorraine & Spanish.

This recipe makes an easy alternative to the traditional omelet. The eggs bake in the oven so you don’t have to keep a constant eye on them like an omelet made in a pan. A perfect choice for a hardy main dish entree.

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Zucchini Omelette Roll w/ Chicken & Cheese
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut zucchini into thin slices & lightly salt. If zucchini is quite 'wet', dry on paper towel.
  3. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper, grease it lightly with olive oil or cooking spray. Arrange zucchini slices in rows.
  4. In a bowl & using a hand mixer, whisk eggs, salt & pepper, baking powder & 2 Tbsp milk. Pour egg mixture over zucchini slices & bake for 10 minutes.
  5. In a saucepan, melt butter & add red onion & garlic; cook until JUST tender. Add chicken & cook for about 5-8 minutes. Stir in the flour; cook briefly, add chicken broth & cream; bring to a simmer. Add sour cream & salt & pepper to taste; mix well.
  6. Adjust oven to 325 F. Remove the omelet from baking sheet, leaving parchment paper on it. Sprinkle cheese over the zucchini omelet then spread with creamed chicken to within 1/2-inch from edges. Roll up zucchini omelet, removing the parchment paper & bake for 15 minutes.

Fresh Strawberries w/ Hot Fudge Sauce

Although, this is a fruit we can buy all year-round, strawberries are synonymous with summer. In the 1960’s, the chocolate fondue was invented by Konrad Egli of the Swiss Chalet Restaurant in the USA. He came up with the idea as a way to encourage customers to buy dessert. This idea has since faded into the background of the dessert scene but doesn’t mean its not fair game for an update.

For anyone who is a chocoholic, there are just so many sweet things up can dip into chocolate sauce from fruit to chunks of cake or cookies.

Individual desserts add such a elegant, personal touch. These little ceramic, ‘amuse busch’ dishes are normally used for a small delicacy that is served to let you experience a taste of what is coming in the main course. In this case, its a little something to have after dinner.

If you are interested in getting a few of these ‘spoons’, I found them at a T&T Supermarket for about $1.85 each. So cute, inexpensive & a must have for a special occasion.

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Fresh Strawberries w/ Hot Fudge Sauce
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Instructions
  1. Place the chocolate in a medium-sized heatproof bowl & set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar & butter; place over medium heat & bring JUST to a simmer, stirring often.
  3. Remove from heat & pour immediately over chocolate. Let stand until the chocolate has melted, then stir gently until smooth.
  4. Whisk in vanilla & the liqueur (if using). Place some of the hot fudge sauce in each of the ceramic amuse busch dishes & top with a fresh strawberry.

Beggar’s Purse Crepes w/ Gorgonzola Sauce

Today July 25th, is my dear sister Loretta’s birthday. Having an older sister is a very unique experience that not everyone can truly know about. We are all products of our environment, and even if we are completely unaware of it, having that ‘big sis, little sis’ dynamic as you grew up, was a huge influence.

I remember how much I enjoyed being with Loretta and doing things together. She always seemed to have the answer to the ‘question’ and was just so much fun to be with.

Since Loretta was the ‘older’ one, she was expected to be more responsible and set an example, leaving me more lee-way to be a bit of a ‘dreamer’ at times. I have always valued Loretta’s advice and honest opinions. I am truly grateful to have her in our lives.

Although Loretta can’t be with us today, I think she would enjoy these little seafood crepes.

Crepes, whether they are rolled or stacked, sweet or savory make such a special meal. I remember some years ago, Brion & I had the pleasure of Loretta’s company on a trip to France. One of the first foods we enjoyed in France was crepes. They definitely made a lasting memory for the three of us.

Today, I wanted to do something a bit different. Sometimes, the name of a dish is simply inspired by its appearance. Such is the case of the crepes called ‘Beggar’s Purse’. The traditional dish consists of mini crepes topped with a good serving of high quality caviar and a dollop of sour cream. The edges of the crepe are pulled up into pleats and tied with a bow of chives. The resulting little bag looked like a purse.

Since then, the dish has been cloned thousands of times and the name beggar’s purse has become a somewhat generic term applied to dishes with various toppings tied in a similar way to resemble a purse. In addition to crepes, phyllo pastry, wonton wrappers or tortillas are used.

In North America, the beggar’s purse, reportedly derived from the French ‘aumoniere‘ pastry, has gilded origins. The dish became popular in the 1980’s. Aumoniere is a type of pastry but it also a medieval term for a small purse or pouch generally used in the 13th & 14th centuries. These purses were often embroidered.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LORETTA!

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Seafood Crepes w/ Gorgonzola Sauce
Instructions
Crepe Batter (yields 12-8" crepes)
  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour & salt. Add eggs, melted (cool) butter & milk; whisk to incorporate then add the water. Continue whisking until smooth then fold in chopped chives. Batter should coat the back of a spoon like heavy cream, but if it is too thick, add a bit more water or milk. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours (or up to 2 days).
Scallop Filling
  1. In a saucepan, saute mushrooms until moisture evaporates. In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce & cornstarch; add prepared scallops, ginger, garlic, green onion, cilantro & water chestnuts, mix together. Stir mixture into sauteed mushrooms & cook only until scallops are translucent. Set aside to cool until ready to use.
Gorgonzola Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add garlic & rosemary (if using); cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour & stir to make a paste. Whisk in milk & 1/2 & 1/2 cream. Stir & cook for 3-4 minutes or until thick. Add crumbled Gorgonzola, stir until smooth & season with pepper if desired.
Blanche Whole Chives
  1. Blanche chives in a small saucepan of boiling water 10 seconds. Drain & plunge into an 'ice bath'. Pat dry on paper towels.
Cooking Crepes
  1. Heat the clarified butter (oil or cooking spray) in a crepe pan or skillet. Remove crepe batter from fridge & before you use any , give it a quick tap on the counter. Place 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan & swirl to even it out & form a circle. When the edges start to pull away & the crepe looks cooked in the middle, give the crepe a quick flip & cook for just 10-20 seconds on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.
Assembly
  1. Divide scallop filling between the 12 crepes, placing a portion of mixture in the center of each crepe. Gather the sides up to enclose the filling, secure with a toothpick & tie closed with a chive. Remove the toothpick.
  2. On serving plates, ladle some Gorgonzola sauce. Place 3 'beggar's purses' (per serving plate) on top the sauce. At this point, you may want to give each plate 30 seconds of heat in the microwave.
Recipe Notes
  • These little 'purses' can be served as appetizers or a main dish of 3-4 per serving.

Spiced Pineapple Puff Tart

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is as classic as it comes but pineapple tart or pie, not so much. The original recipe appeared in a fund-raising cookbook in the USA around 1924. Later Gold Metal Flour came out with a full page ad in a women’s magazine in 1925.

Since then, there are many variations to this classic cake. The sweet-tart flavor of pineapple works beautifully alongside a wide range of companion flavors and ingredients as well as the gentle spices of ginger, cinnamon and vanilla to enhance it just a bit more.

Because this particular fruit doesn’t ripen further after being picked, its good to look for a pineapple that is heavy for its size, with a rich, sweet fragrance.

Pineapple pie is not the number one star among pies. In the fall and winter season, its probably apple and in spring and summer, strawberry or maybe blueberry. However, I thought I’d make a ‘hybrid’ version of the old classic. This pineapple tart looks beautiful presented as one large ring, although it could easily be made into individual tarts as well. Of course, don’t hesitate to top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped topping.

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Spiced Pineapple Puff Tart
Instructions
Spiced Syrup
  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter then add ginger, cinnamon & sugar; stir to dissolve. Add orange juice & bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, add vanilla & allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to infuse flavors. Peel pineapple & cut into quarters. Remove the core, then slice into 1 cm chunks, then place them into a deep dish. Reheat the syrup; pour over pineapple & allow to marinate until ready to use.
Assembly
  1. Roll the pastry out on a piece of parchment paper to a thickness of 1/8-inch, then trim to make a large circle. Cut out about a 2-inch circle from the center to form a ring. Cut any pastry that has been trimmed off into pieces & place on top of circle giving it a second layer. Transfer to a baking sheet & place in fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  3. Strain the syrup from the pineapple into a small saucepan. Add cornstarch; place over a medium heat to thicken.
  4. Prick the pastry ring all over with a fork, then arrange the pineapple pieces in a fan around the ring.
  5. Dust the tart liberally with powdered sugar & bake for about 20 minutes, or until the top is caramelized & golden brown. When ready to serve, drizzle with spiced syrup & top with a scoop of ice cream.

German Potato & Cauliflower Salad

When I think back to my childhood days, I have a very fond memory of my mother’s potato salad. This is probably the case with many people, but one has to be careful. Trying to create the taste of childhood is a slippery slope filled with our adult expectations. Time and distance change many things such as memory, experiences and knowledge.

Potato salad is widely believed to have originated in Germany and was brought to America by German immigrants. The thing I remember most about my mother’s potato salad was that it consisted of only a small ingredient list and had a nice slightly sweet but tart dressing. If I’m not wrong, I believe she used a bit of juice from her bread & butter pickles in the dressing. The other magic ingredient was some of her new potatoes from the garden. As the saying goes, it was ‘to die for’.

I’m not sure how popular potato salad is anymore but since its the season, I wanted to share a couple of salad recipes.

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German Potato & Cauliflower Salads
Instructions
Potato Salad
  1. In a large pot, cook potatoes in salted boiling water. Cool, peel & cube. Boil eggs & coarsely chop. In a saucepan, fry bacon until crisp. Remove from pan & blot on paper towel reserving bacon drippings for dressing. Crumble bacon. Slice green onion & radishes. Place everything EXCEPT the radishes in a large bowl.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together reserved bacon drippings, light salad dressing, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt, celery seed & dill weed. Blend well. Pour over potato mixture & carefully combine well. Cover & refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  3. Just prior to serving, add radishes & add more salt if necessary. Carefully combine & serve.
Cauliflower Salad
  1. In a saucepan, fry bacon until crisp, Remove from pan, reserving bacon drippings.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & coat with cooking spray. Spread cauliflower florets on foil; sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower begins to brown slightly. Remove from oven & cool slightly.
  3. While the cauliflower bakes, saute the onion in bacon drippings until tender. Set aside. Cook, peel & cube potatoes.
  4. In a small dish, combine salad dressing, cider vinegar, sugar, mustard & garlic salt. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, cauliflower, sauteed onion & dressing. Fold together & taste to see if more salt is needed. Serve as is or chilled.
Recipe Notes
  • I found, if you add the radishes just before serving keeps them crisp & prevents them from 'bleeding' their color into the salad.
  • In regards to the cauliflower salad, I have also made it leaving the cauliflower RAW & substituting the white onion for green. I liked that added bit of 'crunch'.

Angel Food w/ Coconut Whipped Cream & Fruit

Angel food cake is one of Brion’s absolute favorites. Its one of those iconic cakes that seems to have been around forever. The women of my mother’s generation seemed to have no problem baking this very tall, feather light cake from ‘scratch’. Fast forward to the present and all we have to do is buy a ready made mix, add some water and there you have it …. one big, lovely angel food cake.

Of course you can eat it plain or dress it up …. a blank canvas waiting for something interesting to happen! Did you know you can make a decadent whipped cream by using a can of coconut milk? Not only is the technique simple, but you can use it just like regular dairy whipped cream. Coconut whipped cream is a good choice for desserts, smoothies, over a bowl of fruit, on a pie or fruit crisp even pancakes.

The pairing of coconut cream with sugared kiwis, a sprinkling of blackberries and some angel food cake tastes amazing. For today’s blog, I’m using individual bundt pans. The recipe only makes four and is perfect for a summer evening.

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Angel Food w/ Coconut Whipped Cream & Fruit
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Ingredients
Coconut Whipped Cream
Sugared Kiwis
Mini Angel Food Cakes
Servings
Ingredients
Coconut Whipped Cream
Sugared Kiwis
Mini Angel Food Cakes
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Instructions
Coconut Whipped Cream
  1. Chill the can of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 24 hours. About an hour before making the coconut whipped cream, chill a mixing bowl & beaters in the freezer.
  2. After chilling the can, remove it from the fridge & FLIP IT UPSIDE DOWN. Open the can & scoop the solid white coconut cream into the chilled bowl. Save the coconut water for another use (such as a smoothie).
  3. Using a mixer, whip the cream until fluffy & smooth. Add in sweetener & vanilla. Return whipped cream to fridge until ready to use. It will firm when chilled & soften at room temperature.
Sugared Kiwis
  1. In a bowl, place sliced kiwi, add a sprinkling of sugar across the top. Gently give it a stir & cover it with a lid or saran wrap. Place bowl in the fridge & allow to sit for at least 4 hours or overnight. The sugar softens up the kiwis & brings out its own juices to make a syrup. More sugar generally will mean more syrup.
Mini Angel Food Cakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. You will need 4 mini bundt pans OR mini angel food pans.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour & 4 Tbsp sugar.
  3. In a large bowl, on high speed, beat egg whites until foamy, about 1 minute. Add lemon juice, vanilla & salt.
  4. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Then continue beating on high speed until STIFF peaks form, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Fold in the flour mixture using a rubber spatula until all of the flour is incorporated, being careful not to deflate the egg whites.
  6. Divide batter between 4 mini bundt or angel food pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown & tops spring back when touched. Cool completely. Assemble desserts & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • Some brands of canned coconut milk will be better than others for making whipped cream & even some cans within the same brand can vary quite a bit. 
  • Always look for a full-fat can that does NOT have guar gum listed in the ingredient list.
  • I used the full-fat  AROY-D brand & it worked quite well.

Bacon Cheeseburger Onion Rings

There are many ways to make and eat a burger and onion rings. I think this version is about the most efficient there is. Burger meat stuffed with onion rings, cheese and bacon, then coated with french fried onions and baked!

I don’t use a lot of the purchased french fried onions but sometimes you just need to switch things up. Breadcrumbs are good ….. without them there would be no crispy, breaded, pan-fried fish or oven baked chicken tenders.

The history of the french fried onions is somewhat sketchy, but they are believed to have been created in the thirties by a company called Olney & Carpenter.

Fried onions became famous in the fifties as an ingredient in the classic ‘green bean casserole’. Several companies acquired the product through the years until French’s took it over in the eighties. The onion pieces do not resemble onion rings and are more like onion chips. They are crispy right out of the container and should remain crispy for several weeks if stored properly.

I found they added extra flavor and crunch to these ‘burgers’. I myself, am not much for burgers but I have to admit I did enjoy these.

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Bacon Cheeseburger Onion Rings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet; set aside. Season meat with salt & pepper. Divide into 4 equal portions; roll each into a ball & then flatten into patties.
  2. Peel onion, cut off ends & slice into thick pieces. Place a large onion ring in the center of 2 patties.
  3. Cut the cheddar cheese so that it is the same height as the onion rings & place the cheese pieces around the inner wall of the onion rings.
  4. Put a smaller onion ring in the middle. Place a cooked slice of bacon inside the smaller onion rings, followed by an even smaller onion ring, followed by a cube of mozzarella cheese.
  5. Cover the layered onion rings with 2 bacon strips each & wrap the ends under the onion rings.
  6. Place the remaining 2 burger patties on top of each of the bacon wrapped onion rings. Seal the top & bottom layers of beef so that the center is fully covered.
  7. Place flour on a plate & roll stuffed burgers in it to coat. Whisk egg & dip the floured burgers into the egg mixture.
  8. Slightly crush french fried onions & dredge burgers in them. Place stuffed burgers on wire rack on baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer, instead of making 2 large stuffed burgers, divide the meat into 8 portions & make 4 smaller ones.

Raspberry Pistachio Muffins w/ Peaches

For some reason, when I was making these muffins, they made me think about when Brion & I had traveled in Europe years ago. You were offered a ‘continental breakfast’ with your hotel stay. Its all pretty common place these days, but as always, the history behind it is interesting.

A continental breakfast is defined as, ‘a light breakfast in a hotel, restaurant, etc., that includes baked goods, jam, fruit, and coffee’. All of which were shelf-stable items in portion sizes that are perfect for large groups of people.

The term continental breakfast originated in Britain in the mid-19th Century. To the British, the continent refers to the countries of mainland Europe. A continental breakfast describes the type of breakfast you’d encounter in places like France and the Mediterranean. Its a lighter, more delicate alternative to the full English or American breakfasts.

Along with being cost effective … you don’t need much staff to tend a few trays of bagels, pastries and carafes of orange juice & coffee in the lobby. Guests like the convenience of the food and the perceived value of getting something for free.

Today, the continental breakfast included in the price of the room is pretty much standard in most hotels worldwide.

Long story short, these little fruit filled muffins fit the bill perfectly!

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Raspberry Pistachio Muffins w/ Peaches
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper baking cups.
  2. In a food processor, pulse pistachios until finely ground. In a medium bowl, whisk together pistachios, flour, sugar, baking powder & baking soda. Add peaches, stirring to coat them.
  3. In another bowl, whisk yogurt, butter, eggs, vanilla & orange zest. Fold in the dry ingredients making sure not to over mix. Divide batter between the 12 muffin cups. Insert 2 or 3 whole raspberries into each muffin. Sprinkle with some slivered pistachios. Push them down a bit into the batter so they don't fall out when the muffins rise.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until risen & golden. Cool in muffin tin for 10 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish.