blood orange + lavender muffins

valentine’s day is upon us and the day is going to be pretty low key over here at la casita costa mesa.

wes has to work that night (restaurant life) so we will be celebrating with our traditional lobster tails & my caesar salad another night. we have even toyed with the idea of venturing out to celebrate twice and try a new restaurant that has been on our list. restaurant tbd of course because the list is long and we haven’t picked a winner yet.

but my love of valentine’s day is strong and so you know i will be celebrating with a special treat.

i’ve been dreaming of these blood orange and lavender muffins for a while now. the lavender in my garden is starting to grow strong again and the blood oranges are gorgeous right now so i lucked out and they came together right at my favorite time of year.

now, while the final shot looks great, what you don’t see is that i made these once and burnt them to smithereens because i was doing too many things at once. just keeping it real. keeping it realer, i still ate three of the burnt ones because the inside was still soft and insanely delicious.

blood orange + lavender muffins

serves: 12 muffins

prep time: 10 minutes

active time: 10 minutes

bake time: 30 minutes

total time: 50 minutes

ingredients: 2 cups flour. 2 tsp baking powder. 1 tsp kosher salt. .5 cup (1 stick) butter. 1 cup sugar. 2 eggs. .5 cup milk. 1 tsp vanilla extract. 2 blood oranges, zested and peel removed (one orange you will segment and chop and one you will juice half the orange and slice the other half thin for the muffin tops). 1 tsp fresh lavender leaves or 1 tsp finely chopped dried lavender flowers. muffin tin and muffin liners. stand mixer or hand blender.

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start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees f. in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand blender, combine the sugar, butter, lavender and blood orange zest. cream together the butter and the sugar.

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add in the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla extract.

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pour in half the flour mixture, followed by the milk and blood orange juice and then the remaining flour mixture.

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finally, add in the blood orange segments and stir till just combined.

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fill each muffin tin two thirds of the way to the top.

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top each with a blood orange wedge.

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bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean.

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serve warm or at room temperature.

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xo, a

blood orange + lavender muffins

serves: 12 muffins

prep time: 10 minutes

active time: 10 minutes

bake time: 30 minutes

total time: 50 minutes

ingredients: 2 cups flour. 2 tsp baking powder. 1 tsp kosher salt. .5 cup (1 stick) butter. 1 cup sugar. 2 eggs. .5 cup milk. 1 tsp vanilla extract. 2 blood oranges, zested and peel removed (one orange you will segment and chop and one you will juice half the orange and slice the other half thin for the muffin tops). 1 tsp fresh lavender leaves or 1 tsp finely chopped dried lavender flowers. muffin tin and muffin liners. stand mixer or hand blender.

start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees f. in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand blender, combine the sugar, butter, lavender and blood orange zest. cream together the butter and the sugar. add in the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla extract. pour in half the flour mixture, followed by the milk and blood orange juice and then the remaining flour mixture. finally, add in the blood orange segments and stir till just combined. fill each muffin tin two thirds of the way to the top. top each with a blood orange wedge. bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly golden on top and a toothpick comes out clean. serve warm or at room temperature.

salmon + corn chowder

winter is far from my favorite season. but soup season, now that is a different story. i have big giant heart filled eyes when it comes to soup. and nothing says soup like days of rain.

now, consecutive days of rain in orange county are a serious rarity. but in the last few weeks we have had multiple strings of rainy days and it has been glorious. and soup filled.

my childhood rainy days were filled with bowls full of body warming clam chowder. thanks to the combo of ingredients in my kitchen and my glorious soup memories, my adult soup dreams came true with this hearty and delicious salmon and corn chowder.

salmon + corn chowder

serves: 6-8

prep time: 15 minutes

cook time: 45 minutes

total time: 1 hour

ingredients: 1.5 lb salmon, skin removed and cut into chunks. 3 pieces bacon, sliced in .25 inch slices. 2 fresh ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob (or 1 pack of frozen corn, thawed). 1 lb red potatoes (or other waxy potatoes) cut into .5 inch cubes. 1 medium brown onion, diced. 2 carrot stalks, diced. 3 garlic cloves, minced. 5 cup dry white wine. 4 sprigs thyme leaves, stems discarded. .5 tsp ground fennel seeds. 2 tbs flour. 2 cups seafood stock (you could sub chicken or veggie if you can’t get your hands on seafood). 3 cups whole milk. 1 cup whole milk. 1 tbs kosher salt. 1 tsp freshly ground pepper. finely chopped chives for garnish. large heavy pot. slotted spatula.

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start by heating your pot to a medium heat and add in your bacon. allow your bacon bits to cook till they are nice and crispy. about 5-7 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. once your bacon is cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan to a paper towel to dry off the excess grease.

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season your fish with half the salt and pepper and add the pieces to the hot pot. cook until the fish is just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes a side.

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once the fish is cooked (or even a little bit under since it will continue to cook once added back to the soup), remove it from the pot and set it aside in a bowl.

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add the onion, celery, potato, corn and garlic to the hot pot. season with half the remaining salt and pepper. cook until the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes. stir every couple minutes so they cook evenly.

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deglaze (scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan) the pan with the white wine. add in the fennel and thyme.

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when all the wine as cooked off, pour in the stock. bring the stock to a boil and then pour in the milk & cream. season with the remaining salt and pepper.

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bring the liquid back to a boil and immediately reduce it to a simmer. chop up your bacon bits into smaller crumbles. add all but a tbs of bacon back to the soup. reserve the rest for garnish.

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add the salmon and all it’s juices back to the pot. once the liquid simmers once again, turn off the heat.

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serve topped with a couple pinches of chives and some bacon crumbles.

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xo, a

salmon + corn chowder

serves: 6-8

prep time: 15 minutes

cook time: 45 minutes

total time: 1 hour

ingredients: 1.5 lb salmon, skin removed and cut into chunks. 3 pieces bacon, sliced in .25 inch slices. 2 fresh ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob (or 1 pack of frozen corn, thawed). 1 lb red potatoes (or other waxy potatoes) cut into .5 inch cubes. 1 medium brown onion, diced. 2 carrot stalks, diced. 3 garlic cloves, minced. 5 cup dry white wine. 4 sprigs thyme leaves, stems discarded. .5 tsp ground fennel seeds. 2 tbs flour. 2 cups seafood stock (you could sub chicken or veggie if you can’t get your hands on seafood). 3 cups whole milk. 1 cup whole milk. 1 tbs kosher salt. 1 tsp freshly ground pepper. finely chopped chives for garnish. large heavy pot. slotted spatula.

start by heating your pot to a medium heat and add in your bacon. allow your bacon bits to cook till they are nice and crispy. about 5-7 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes. once your bacon is cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan to a paper towel to dry off the excess grease. season your fish with half the salt and pepper and add the pieces to the hot pot. cook until the fish is just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes a side. once the fish is cooked (or even a little bit under since it will continue to cook once added back to the soup), remove it from the pot and set it aside in a bowl. add the onion, celery, potato, corn and garlic to the hot pot. season with half the remaining salt and pepper. cook until the onions are translucent, about 8-10 minutes. stir every couple minutes so they cook evenly. deglaze (scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan) the pan with the white wine. add in the fennel and thyme. when all the wine as cooked off, pour in the stock. bring the stock to a boil and then pour in the milk & cream. season with the remaining salt and pepper. bring the liquid back to a boil and immediately reduce it to a simmer. chop up your bacon bits into smaller crumbles. add all but a tbs of bacon back to the soup. reserve the rest for garnish. add the salmon and all it’s juices back to the pot. once the liquid simmers once again, turn off the heat. serve topped with a couple pinches of chives and some bacon crumbles.