My fellow Philadelphians and I awoke to a rainy, snowy mess this morning! And while I love living in a place with four seasons, I couldn’t help but ponder what it would be like to live in a place that has summer — my favorite season– all year round…somewhere like Santa Monica, a beach-front city near Los Angeles I visited two weeks ago.
I’d start my day with a workout, the way I do now, but something on or near the beach, like biking, surfing, or volleyball.
Afterwards, I’d go to breakfast at Urth Caffe on Main Street, claiming a table outside in the sunshine
and enjoying the exclusive organic coffee and healthy menu options.
The challenge would be to stop myself from indulging daily in their delicious baked goods!
I wouldn’t be able to resist a walk down Ocean Avenue
towards Santa Monica Pier,
stopping by the 100 year-old landmark to see the aquarium, amusement park, and 1920s carousel.
And I’d stay at the beach
until, like it did on the day I visited, the marine layer rolled in and a fog settled over the beach.
Then, I’d walk over to Third Street Promenade, three blocks of pedestrian-only shopping, dining, and entertainment, to enjoy the street performers or, perhaps, a joke.
What would be next? My California dreaming ended when I finished tying my snow boots this morning, but I knew I could capture the feeling of sunshine and summer with Lemon Blueberry Ricotta Muffins with Almonds!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 2/3 cup thinly sliced almonds, toasted
- Sparkling sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 15 muffin cups with paper liners.
- Sprinkle bottom of liners with toasted almonds.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar, butter, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Beat in ricotta. Beat in egg, lemon juice, and almond and vanilla extracts.
- Add the dry ingredients and stir until blended (the batter will be thick).
- Gently fold in blueberries.
- Divide the batter among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle sparkling sugar over the muffins. Bake until the muffins become a pale golden color on top, about 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
DISTANCE TRAVELED FROM PHILADELPHIA TO SANTA MONICA: 2,416 miles