Spiced Orange Carrot Muffins

These Spiced Orange Carrot Muffins are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. A tasty winter breakfast treat!


Back in college, I hosted a Rainbow Foods Dinner Party. Each invitee was asked to provide a dish featuring a particular color for an ultimate Roy G. Biv spread. (Oh, and they were supposed to wear their color too!) There was a grape salad for purple, spinach soufflĂ© for green, and maybe something with strawberries for red? It’s been awhile. All told, it was a goofy, fun, sorta random event–the stuff college memories are made of. Somewhere I have a picture of eight or so of my floormates dressed in chromatic order, each holding a tray of homemade food.

If I had to choose a single color of food to consume most often, though, I think I’d have to go with orange. I mean, you’ve got pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, citrus fruits, orange bell peppers, and more. Even mac and cheese is orange, and who could live without that?

Choosing orange foods was something of the inspiration behind these Spiced Orange and Carrot Muffins, since orange foods have a tendency to be nutrient-dense. In fact, many orange foods are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants like lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. At least, naturally orange foods have these nutrients. Can’t say the same for orange Sour Patch Kids or orange Jell-O.

Anyway, since I’m currently slightly under the weather, I wanted to bake up something for breakfast that would combine the healthy, vitamin-rich goodness of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables–and, not surprisingly, ended up with an orange finished product.

When it comes to baking, you really only have a short list of options for veggies (carrots, zucchini, um…are there others?) My go-to is almost always carrots. From there, which fruits complement carrots? Why, oranges, of course! And when you wrap it all up with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom, plus whole wheat flour and oats, you get a muffin that’s not only orange-hued, but sooooo delicious.

These Spiced Orange and Carrot Muffins are a little heavy on the prep side (zesting and juicing an orange, shredding carrots, etc.) but definitely worth the effort. Fresh out of the oven, their tops are perfectly crunchy, giving way to a moist, tender crumb beneath. They’re not too sweet and their warming blend of spices make for a magical winter breakfast. Plus (fingers crossed), their ample nutrients could help you–and hopefully me, too–bounce back from winter illness.

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1 from 1 vote

Spiced Orange Carrot Muffins

With a slightly crunchy exterior and tender interior, these spiced orange carrot muffins are a yummy, not-too-sweet breakfast.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Servings: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • scant 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 c. almond or other milk
  • 2 eggs
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. shredded carrots

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
  • In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: oats, flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and brown sugar.
  • In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combin the wet ingredients: orange juice, almond milk, eggs, orange zest, vanilla, and vegetable oil.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring until just incorporated, then stir in shredded carrots.
  • Divid the batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Bake 20 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Notes

Adapted from Table for Two Blog.

Butternut Squash Lasagna with No-Boil Noodles

A creamy, savory, oh-so-unique roasted butternut squash lasagna with no-boil noodles!

Hi hi! Happy belated Thanksgiving!

What was the best thing you ate over the weekend? I’d have to say my faves were these crispy honey mustard Brussels sprouts I took to the extended family feast or the classic can’t-go-wrong Libby’s pumpkin pie our immediate family devoured in a matter of hours.

When I asked my kids what their favorite Thanksgiving food had been, though, I bet you’ll never guess their answer.

Lasagna.

Lasagna at Thanksgiving, you ask? Wait, what?

In my husband’s New York Italian family, there is no occasion that doesn’t involve lasagna–including Thanksgiving. Every year his mom or grandma brings a giant tray of homemade lasagna, which, to former Brooklynites, is just as critical a part of the meal as the turkey. It’s a gooey, meaty, cheesy concoction that sticks to your ribs.

As for me, though I’ve been a part of the Garone family for 17 years (and of course I love lasagna), I can’t quite get into it as a Thanksgiving food. Something about red sauce and ground beef just doesn’t go with mashed potatoes and stuffing in my book. That said, I could get on board with a lasagna that incorporates Thanksgiving-esque flavors–like this roasted butternut squash lasagna with no-boil noodles! (And no shade on my mother-in-law’s lasagna. It really is delicious; just not my personal fave at Thanksgiving.)

This unique, fall-flavored lasagna starts out with roasted butternut squash sprinkled with garlic, shallots, and fresh thyme. Mash up this mixture for your savory filling, which contrasts nicely with a cooler, milder second filling of spinach and cheese. And though there are several steps involved in putting together this pasta masterpiece, no-boil noodles eliminate some time and effort.

If you’re looking for something a little different (but just right for fall), this is it!

Butternut Squash Lasagna with No-Boil Noodles

Spiced roasted butternut squash mingles with spinach and plenty of cheese in this creamy no-boil lasagna.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 8 c. butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 c. milk, divided
  • 2 c. ricotta or cottage cheese, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 3 c. fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 9 wide no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread cubed butternut squash on a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir. Roast 15 minutes, then add the shallot, garlic, and thyme and stir. Return to the oven and roast an additional 20 minute or until squash is soft.
  • While squash roasts, prepare the spinach filling. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 c. milk, 1 1/2 c. ricotta, egg, chopped spinach, and 1 3/4 c. mozzarella.
  • Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Place roasted squash mixture in a large bowl and mash until mostly smooth. Add 1/2 c. ricotta and 1/2 c. milk and stir well.
  • Assemble the lasagna. In an 11 x 7 baking dish, spread about 1/2 c. spinach mixture. Cover with three lasagna noodles, followed by 1/3 of the squash mixture, then 1/2 the remaining spinach mixture. Repeat with another layer of noodles, 1/3 of the squash, and the last 1/2 of spinach. Finish off with three more noodles, the last of the squash mixture, and a final sprinkle of mozzarella and Parmesan.
  • Cover the lasagna tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Notes

Cranberry Oat Scones

These cranberry oat scones are chewy and buttery, with a hint of cinnamon-orange flavor.


It’s been a weird week.

As a freelance writer, I generally keep a tight schedule, cranking out about one article per day on weekdays–but this week, for the first time in recent memory, I simply didn’t have much lined up to write. I like my work and pride myself on being my own diligent lady-boss, so this felt like kind of an ego blow. Even when I reached out to several of my editors to let them know I had room in my calendar, nobody had anything to offer. Did I do something wrong? Were my editors not pleased with my work? Was Mercury in retrograde? Who knows.

Despite my confusion about whatever was afoot on the Mount Olympus of the publishing world, I was pretty easily able to see a silver lining to my quiet work week. My husband has been out of town for eight (long) days, and with three teens/preteens at home, that’s not exactly easy on me. (Serious question: At what point of filth and squalor do teenagers actually clean of their own volition?) Perhaps it was divine providence that I’d have a little extra room in my schedule.

Taking that view, I felt a bit more freedom to take my extra time as a gift. When I asked myself how I actually wanted to spend the week, I found the answer to be quite simple: Hang out with friends and bake. I was able to meet up with one good friend each day, which definitely filled my soul–and bake several yummy treats in the meantime!

These cranberry oat scones are, of course, the fruit of that labor.

In my muffin myopia and bread blindness, I always seem to forget about scones. But scones are so inviting, so versatile, so buttery! One is all it takes to fill me up at breakfast, and I enjoy tinkering with their ingredients to find a balance of healthy and indulgent. These cranberry oat delights get their fluffiness not only from butter, but from a Greek yogurt-oat milk blend that adds moisture instead of buttermilk (because who keeps buttermilk on hand?) Cinnamon and orange peel round out the flavor profile in a subtle-but-meaningful way.

I can’t say this particular recipe is ultra-healthy, but the addition of whole grain oats does add fiber and a bit of Greek yogurt raises their protein content a *skosh.* And you know what? Sometimes (like when your husband has been gone for eight days and you’re trying to keep your home from turning into a total dumpster fire), a sweet, buttery, cranberry-y treat is exactly what you need.

Cranberry Oat Scones

These cranberry oat scones are chewy and buttery, with a hint of cinnamon-orange flavor.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Servings: 8 scones

Ingredients

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • generous 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 6 1/2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 10 Tbsp. cold butter
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/3 c. Greek yogurt
  • 2/3 c. oat milk (or other milk)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 and line a rimless baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. Using a box grater, grate in the cold butter and mix until the dough is crumbly. Zest 1 orange directly into the bowl, add cranberries, and mix.
  • In a measuring cup, combine Greek yogurt and oat milk. Pour into the dough little by little until moist enough that it comes together in a cohesive ball. (You may not use all of the oat milk mixture.)
  • On the parchment-lined baking sheet, flatten the dough ball into a 2-inch-tall disc. Using a sharp knife, slice the disc into 8 equal pieces and separate them slightly.
  • Bake in the preheated oven about 25 minutes or until the tops of the scones begin to brown. Store in an airtight container.

Notes

A Love Letter to Food Original Recipe.

Lemon Lavender Cake

This moist lemon lavender cake has culinary lavender baked right in! Perfect for a bridal or baby shower, tea, or light afternoon sweet.


I’ve been a little obsessed with lavender lately. Like, lavender anything. Lavender tea, lavender essential oil, lavender pillow spray, and most definitely this lemon lavender cake.

Lavender foreverrrr!

It all started with a unique cocktail recipe I wanted to serve at my birthday party earlier this month: a blueberry lavender vodka spritzer. Hence, I headed to Amazon to purchase some culinary lavender…which of course arrived in a package large enough to last the rest of my natural life. (The cocktail, by the way, was delicious–not too sweet with an earthy undertone!)

In a strange twist of fate, I’ve also been having trouble sleeping lately AND, for work, was assigned to write an article about pillow sprays for better rest. So *obviously* I was going to have to investigate lavender as a remedy for insomnia. (Results pending…I’ve been trying out ThisWorks pillow spray. I so want it to work, but not bowled over just yet.)

Long story short, it’s a lavender-palooza up in here lately. And what with that giant bag of culinary lavender staring me down from the pantry shelf, I knew a baked good recipe had to been the pipeline. Something with lemon, perhaps? The bright tang of citrus sounded like the perfect foil for lavender’s more subtle, floral flavor.

I found this lemon lavender cake recipe over on Food52. What drew me to it was its simple list of Mediterranean diet-friendly ingredients. (I mean, okay, it has way more sugar than you’d find on a true Med diet, but at least you’ve got Greek yogurt and olive oil going for you here.) Besides calling for culinary lavender, this comes together with familiar baking basics you’re likely to have on hand. And after a quick whizz of the lavender and sugar in the food processor, this recipe is ultra-simple.

Since I’m a frosting-a-holic, I was convinced the cake was going to need frosting, or at least a scoop of vanilla ice cream to add richness, but was floored by how it stands alone as a moist, flavorful dessert. A dusting of powdered sugar is all it needs for finishing off.

With its pretty look and easy slice-ability, I’d say this one would be just right for a bridal or baby shower, afternoon tea, or any time that calls for something light, sweet, and absolutely unique.

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1 from 1 vote

Lemon Lavender Cake

This moist lemon lavender cake has culinary lavender baked right in! Perfect for a bridal or baby shower, tea, or light afternoon sweet.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 3/4 tbsp. dried culinary lavender
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 c. light olive oil
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • powdered sugar, for dusting

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and spray the sides with non-stick spray.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the sugar and dried lavender until well mixed and the lavender has broken down.
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate small bowl or large measuring cup, mix the eggs, yogurt, and olive oil. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet, stirring to combine. Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and springs back when pressed. Cool about 5 minutes, then remove from the springform pan and plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Notes

Adapted from Food52.

 

German Potato Salad

A tangy potato salad with DIY pickled red onions–perfect with brats or as part of a plant-based feast!

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile (all three of you), you may recall that your family spent the summer of 2017 in Germany, mostly in Cologne. That summer was one of the most memorable times in my entire life. To this day, my husband and I talk and think about it all. the. time. and in many ways it feels like it was just yesterday.

One of our favorite parts of the whole experience–especially for my husband–was the frequency with which we visited Biergartens. (Who wouldn’t like eating brats and drinking great beer in an open-air green space? There’s truly nothing like it in the U.S.)

We both remember one particular meal with special fondness. My husband’s friend and his wife, who live in Munich, treated us to a *s p e c t a c u l a r* home-cooked, authentically German meal, which they brought in a series of large picnic baskets to the English Garden. We ate that meal over the course of probably 90 minutes, there was SO much food. Jessie, our hostess, created a flight of salads, veggies, meats, and breads I’ll never forget. Among them was, of course, a German potato salad.

Fast-forward to summer 2021. My husband’s and my 17th wedding anniversary was in July, and I’ll confess, I always struggle to land on the right gift for him. I mean, technically, the official gift for a 17th anniversary is furniture, but our house is pretty well-equipped and I wasn’t about to surprise him with a new end table or cabinet (unless maybe it’s this cow-shaped cabinet, because, come on, that’s just badass).

Somehow, though, I landed on the idea of recreating the Munich meal Jessie had made for us four years ago. I hauled out the photo album to look back at the pictures we took of that meal and, to the best of my ability, made the same brats, German beer (thanks, Total Wine!), and salads, including a zesty tomato-onion mixture and…this German potato salad!

I’m so glad this inspiration struck! This potato salad turned out tangy, savory, and the perfect accompaniment to bratwurst. (On the other hand, it’s totally vegan, so you could also make it as a part of a plant-based feast.) My husband was thrilled to have an edible reminder of the good times we enjoyed in the English Garden years ago–so I’d call it an anniversary win.

If you’re looking for a German potato salad that’s simple to make and doesn’t come with a dairy-based sauce, this is it. Despite being free of animal products, I thought this side had a smoky, almost meaty flavor. It lasted in our fridge for days on end, and we enjoyed it not only alongside bratwurst, but several other meals, both plant- and animal-based.

What will you make it with?

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3.67 from 3 votes

German Potato Salad

A tangy dressing and pickled red onions give this potato salad bite!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. baby gold potatoes
  • 4 tsp. salt, divided
  • 2/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 6 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water by about 1 inch. Add 2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, sugar, paprika, black pepper, and remaining 2 tsp. salt. Stir in the sliced red onions and parsley and let sit at least 10 minutes.
  • Slice the potatoes in half or into quarters, depending on their size. (You want bite-sized pieces.) Add the sliced potatoes to the bowl with your dressing and onions and stir gently to coat.
  • Refrigerate for several hours or overnight for best flavor.

Notes

Adapted from Once Upon a Chef.