Lemon Raspberry Muffins

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For those of you who think that the practice of law is anything like Law & Order, Ally McBeal, Legally Blonde, let me strip you of your delusions now, you poor misguided souls.  It is not.  I don’t work on any super-interesting criminal cases with an inevitable shocking twist near the end (how are the Law & Order detectives always surprised by that?), I don’t have sexy colleagues, and I have never won a case based on my awesome knowledge of hair maintenance.  An argument could be made that my life is somewhat similar to The Firm (graduated from HLS, was made an offer I can’t refuse, then wondered if my firm was trying to kill me – though by copious amounts of doc review, not the mob).  However, I wouldn’t want to be played by Tom Cruise, even though we are both short.

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So what have I been doing lately at work?  I’ve been immersed in that joyous phase of litigation known as discovery, which ideally is supposed to serve the purpose of allowing the parties to obtain all information necessary to litigate or defend their claims, but which often results in everyone trying to disclose as little information as possible, unless it’s to their benefit.  (Are you still awake?…Hello?)  Specifically, I have spent the entire past week and then some drafting responses to three sets of interrogatories, many of which contain subparts so that they exceed the 25-interrogatory rule imposed by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and oh god, why did I think that this would somehow be a good segue to telling you about how awesome these muffins are?

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Anyway, it seems like I’m complaining, but there’s also a really nerdy part of me that takes great satisfaction in crafting a really good response to an interrogatory. This is why I spend my days at a firm amongst similarly nerdy lawyers, where no one can judge us (who am I kidding, I’m sure the staff all judge us).  The result, however, is that I’ve been coming home with eyes glazed over, brain completely cloudy, and neck and shoulders throbbing.  All I want to do once I step foot inside my door is to flop on the couch and not move for at least 72 hours.

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I almost didn’t make these lemon raspberry muffins for a brunch that I hosted over the weekend, but during hour six of a long day in front of the computer at work, I became obsessed with the idea of making them that very night.  (Muffins, by the way, freeze very well – I made these three days before said brunch and simply defrosted them the night before, then let them come to room temperature the day of.)  Turns out, it was a good idea, because baking is a great de-stresser, something I lost sight of during my year-plus hiatus from cooking.  I lose myself in measuring and whisking and mixing and pouring, and the anticipation that the final product is almost always somehow greater than the sum of its parts.  Plus, I end up scuttling around the kitchen for the better part of an hour, which, let’s face it, is more physical activity than I usually get all day at work.

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(Behind the scenes)

The beauty of these muffins lies in their simplicity, both in their preparation and their taste.  Lemon zest and sugar are mashed together into a sweetly tangy mixture that gets folded into the muffin batter.  Don’t be fooled by the small amount of lemon that the recipe calls for – it pervades the muffin, lending it a clean, bright note that balances nicely against the sweetness inherent in most muffins.  The raspberries not only add a gorgeous pop of color, but let me tell you a secret – if you happen to eat a muffin shortly after it comes out of the oven, you just might find that some of the raspberries have baked into puddles of soft raspberry jam.  Have I sold you on these muffins yet?

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Lemon Raspberry Muffins

From Smitten Kitchen

Yields 14-15 standard-sized muffins

1 1/8 cups sugar, divided
Zest of two large lemons
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

About 1 1/2 half-pint containers of fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line standard muffin pan with paper liners.

In a small bowl, mash 1/8 cup sugar and lemon zest until sugar is slightly moist. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. Using electric mixer, beat remaining 1 cup sugar and butter in large bowl on medium speed until smooth. Beat in egg. Beat in buttermilk, vanilla ,and lemon sugar. Beat in flour mixture, half at a time.

Divide batter among muffin cups.  These muffins do have quite a bit of rise, so don’t fill the cups all the way unless you want overflowing muffin tops.  Top each muffin with 3 raspberries, gently pressing the raspberries into the batter. Bake muffins until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes.

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