The other day, I listened to an interview on a podcast.  The woman interviewed has made a point of hosting 500 people for dinner in her home every year for the past 5 years.  Meaning that she has hosted roughly 2500 people over 5 years.  Why?  To make them feel loved and give them a sense of community.  According to her, she isn’t a chef or even that great of a cook.  For her, its about the gathering of people, the building of community, and the sense of belonging it gives people to simply be invited.

To say I felt convicted is an understatement.  She is showing everyone what a truly open door looks like.  I’m certain I don’t even know 500 people well enough to invite them over, let alone 2500.  And you guys, I have to admit….While I write a blog focused on entertaining and hosting… I have been anything but an exemplary model of welcoming people into our home lately.

I love to host.  I love to feed people.  I love the sense of community, so while I surely host far fewer than 500 people each year, I do love getting people together!  But over the past 6 weeks or so, it has not happened.  A combination of being gone nearly every weekend and an upcoming move, does not have me feeling or acting terribly hospitable.  Our house is “in a state of transition” which is just code for really messy.  Moving means packing, boxes, purging, and pre-move renovations.  Oh, and the sheer volume of dust bunnies milling about is reaching ridiculous levels.  Thank goodness we don’t have crawling children.  On second thought, Swiffer pads stick to kids right?     

So, I had to ask myself: How can i love the people in my life well in this season?  If I am practicing what I preach, that means inviting people into the dust bunny colony.  If someone invited me over in the midst of a move, would I care about the “mess?”  Of course not!  So why can’t I extend myself the same grace??!!  Laaawdy knows, I can whip up some rye brownies or artichoke heart gnocchi in a flash.  Or, we could avoid the dust bunnies and enjoy the summer weather by grilling outside.  There are so many options and yet, I do nothing.  Maybe its because the clutter drives me bonkers.  So I cringe at the thought of inviting people into a space that doesn’t feel the least bit relaxing… Or at least a space that doesn’t have a constant collection of stacked boxes and an ever growing number of Goodwill donation piles.

Friends, I know deep down that inviting people into our home despite the mess is the right thing to do.  I know myself well enough not to attempt an unattainably clean house or stylishly curated decor.  As we speak, one of our bathrooms is lined with blue painters tape and has been for months.  And that hasn’t stopped me from having people over yet!  My desire to have people over and grill and make strawberry shortcake or peach cobbler is fierce.  But apparently, boxes and moving clutter is a hurdle I can’t mentally wrap my head around.  But you guys, food is my love language…And I won’t let a few boxes get in the way of loving my people!

This season of life is the inspiration for this new series: Love People Well.  The focus of this series is shareable, transportable, and giftable foods.  Anything from classic muffins, hearty cookies, scones, pies, and savory casseroles.  This series is a reminder to bless the people in our lives and communities, even if we can’t open our homes to them in this season.  So if you make one of the items from this series, deliver half the batch to someone in your life who could use a little love or just to know that someone is thinking of him or her.  I haven elderly neighbor who always is happy to take things off my hands.  Always.  

I’ll pose the series as a challenge, but really its an invitation to spread a little love.  Who doesn’t want to love the people around them well?  Also, who doesn’t love poppyseed muffins???  Especially when they have a little dollop of creamy cream cheese hiding in the middle.  These are perfectly moist, light, and immensely flavorful.  The mixture of cake and all purpose flour is key, so don’t sub something else.  I love almond extract in poppyseed muffins and so these are definitely an almond flavored poppyseed muffin… but who can resist a little lemon sugar sprinkled on top for that perfect hint of lemon?  Basically, these are the best poppyseed muffins i have ever had.  Remember the cream cheese surprise in the middle?  It is totally optional, but I’m a pretty huge fan of surprises that resemble a little bite of cheesecake. 😉

So, if you know me and have been on this blog for more than a minute, you know how much I love feeding my friends and family.  So, lets all love people well this summer – even if we are busy, moving, or our house is messy.  I’m starting with poppyseed cream cheese muffins.  Who’s in?!

Poppyseed Cream Cheese Muffins

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 18 muffins

Serving Size: 1 muffin

  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 c. cake flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. whole milk plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • For filling (optional):
  • 6 oz. cream cheese, cut into 1/4" slices, then slices cut in half to form pieces that are about 1x2" and 1/4" thick
  • For topping:
  • Lemon Sugar: pinch together 1 tbsp. lemon zest and 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Sliced Almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare muffin tins with 18 muffin liners.

In a large bowl, combine both flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds.  In a separate bowl, combine oil, eggs, both extracts, and whole milk.

Create a well in the center of dry ingredient bowl, and carefully whisk in the wet ingredients until just combined.

Scoop a scant 1/4 c. batter into each muffin liner. In the center of each, place 1 of the small pieces of cream cheese in the center.  Sprinkle tops with lemon sugar and garnish with a few sliced almonds.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.  Be careful to insert the knife to the right or left of the cream cheese center.  Otherwise, it will not come out clean due to the cream cheese!

Allow to cool prior to serving.