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 soufflé 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.
Spiced Orange Carrot Muffins
- 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
- 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.
These cranberry oat scones are chewy and buttery, with a hint of cinnamon-orange flavor.
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
- 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)
- 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.
Do you BFD? I do.
I don’t mean Bidirectional Forwarding Detection (whatever that is). I don’t mean Big Freakin’ Deal. (Though sometimes I’d like to think of myself that way.) I’m talking about…
Every once in awhile I remember that pancakes are a totally acceptable dinner option (at least, when rounded out with a fruit salad and some eggs). A few times a year I like to whip up a pancake dinner for the fam. It pleases the kids big time and is super easy to prepare.
And you know what makes pancakes even easier? (Don’t say a boxed mix.) A blender!
When I decided to make pancakes for our most recent BFD, I wanted them to be almond-y–but I’m not one to keep almond flour on hand, so I knew I’d have to make my own from slivered almonds.
No prob! Blender to the rescue!
By mixing all the ingredients for these pancakes right in the blender, you’ll grind slivered almonds up into a flour-like consistency along with everything else. And don’t be deterred by the long-ish ingredient list here. Since everything gets tossed in the blender, it’s a one-bowl meal for the win.
I will say, though, depending on your blender, you might want to pause the blending and stir it up a few times. I love my NutriBullet, but it has a tendency to build dry ingredients up along the sides of the bowl. Pushing them down generally sets things right.
Oh, and one other caveat: with any flour-based food, it’s best not to mix too much. Doing so can overwork the gluten in the flour, resulting in a tough finished product. So don’t leave these ingredients to blend while you, you know, get your nails done or something. You want to get everything to that just-mixed point.
As for flavor, the addition of almond milk and almond extract makes these Almond Blender Pancakes as almond-y as can be. (Let’s just say almond a few more times. Almond. Almond. Almond. Thanks, got that out of my system now.) You can even sprinkle a few extra slivered almonds on top of each one while they cook on the griddle–not necessary, but it makes them prettier to look at. Meanwhile, they’re nice and moist with just enough sweetness, and my nutritionist brain loves that the addition of the nuts provides extra protein, vitamin E, and calcium. (You’ll also soak up protein from Greek yogurt and whole wheat flour.)
For a weeknight BFD (or of course a breakfast or brunch), almond fans will want to dig right in!
Almond Blender Pancakes
- 1/2 c. slivered almonds
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. whole wheat flour
- 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 5 Tbsp. white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp. baking soda
- generous 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 c. plain Greek yogurt
- 1 c. almond milk
- 1 tsp. almond extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- additional almonds for garnish
- Place all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.
- Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto the griddle and cook until the surface of the batter bubbles. Sprinkle a few slivered almonds on top, if you like. Flip and cook the other side.
- Serve plain or with butter and maple syrup.
For fans of smoked salmon, this Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Frittata is a delightful brunch or lunch!
I remember the first time I heard of smoked salmon. I was in junior high, and a bagel place had just opened up at the intersection nearest my house. That summer between seventh and eighth grade, my mom and I would walk over to Bagel Nosh and grab bagel sandwiches, then come home and watch movies to stay out of the punishing Arizona heat. Good memories.
What always seemed weird to me, though, was this bagel topping called “lox.” I had never encountered the concept of cured fish, and it definitely seemed bizarre that anyone would want to eat it on a bagel…with cream cheese…and something called capers? No, thanks. I stuck solidly to my tuna salad or turkey and cheese.
As I’ve become more open-minded about food through the years, however, I’ve come around to smoked salmon as one of my favorite proteins. I now love its smoky flavor and tender texture in dips (like this Creamy Smoked Salmon Dip), on sandwiches, or just with crackers and cheese. So a smoked salmon and cream cheese frittata? A big YES from me!
This frittata is a modification of a recipe in a cookbook I’ve especially been enjoying lately: Ellie Krieger’s Whole in One: Complete, Healthy Meals, which features meals you can make in a single pot, skillet, or sheet pan. (This also gets a big YES from me, for obvious reasons.)
This cookbook has so far been a total winner, and I’m sure you could cook anything in it exactly as written for a fabulous finished product. But to make this particular frittata, I took some substantial liberties! Like most egg dishes, this is one you can play with to tailor to your tastes–but the basic ingredients of smoked salmon, cream cheese, fresh dill, and chives are the primary non-negotiables. (Oh, and eggs, I guess.)
I made this for a quick lunch on a Lenten Friday and it was just perfect–light, herby, and fluffy. At least I thought so. My preteen, non-smoked salmon-loving son was less convinced. So note to junior highers everywhere (my former self included): Get on the smoked salmon train ASAP. You won’t be sorry.
Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Frittata
- 7 large eggs
- 1/4 c. milk
- scant 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 c. green onions or scallions, sliced
- 4 oz. smoked salmon, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. fresh dill (or 2 tsp. dried)
- 2 oz. cream cheese (I used light, which tends to be easier to spread)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a large oven-proof skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. Add green onions and cook about 1 minute. Add smoked salmon and dill and stir to distribute evenly across the skillet. Pour whisked egg mixture on top and cook (without stirring) about 8 minutes over medium-low heat. The eggs should be set around the edges but a bit jiggly in the center.
- Preheat broiler. Dollop the cream cheese by teaspoonfuls on the surface of the frittata, then broil for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes until the surface turns golden brown. Let sit a few minutes, then dig in!
Is it a breakfast? A lunch? Or a dinner? This Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Brussels Sprout Hash is perfect for any meal.
Got your answer? Did you say Brussels like the smarty pants you are? Well, you’re correct. Although three-fourths of English speakers get it wrong, this veggie is, in fact, named after the city of Brussels. The compact little green balls were cultivated in Belgium in the 16th century. And here’s a really deep dive fun fact: In Belgium, they’re not called Brussels sprouts at all. (Because in Belgium they don’t speak-a the English.) Instead, the Dutch word for these veggies is spruitjes.
I didn’t grow up eating Brussels sprouts, so they’ve been kind of a fun discovery for me as an adult. Although I know many people seem to think they’re the stuff of hideous vegetable nightmares, I find them delicious, especially roasted or pan-sautéed…and particularly in this Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Brussels Sprout Hash. When the sprouts’ exterior leaves sear to crispy brownness, it turns them into irresistible bites of veggie candy, if you ask me. Add to that the soft-on-the-inside, crispy-on-the-outside texture of the sweet potatoes, onions, and sausage slices and you’ve got a tasty no-brainer of a meal any time of day.
I’ve made this hash twice now and both times it’s been the easy, satisfying one-dish dinner I’ve needed on a weeknight. With just six ingredients and minimal prep, it doesn’t get much simpler than chopping a few veggies and meat, sautéing, and topping the whole thing with fried eggs. (DON’T skip the fried eggs. They bring an extra richness that makes the hash feel downright indulgent.)
The other bonuses of this tasty, all-purpose meal? It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo-friendly, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Still, for me, the biggest draws of this hash are its delicious taste and easy-peasy prep. Who couldn’t use more of that in their life?
Sausage, Sweet Potato, and Brussels Sprout Hash
- 1 tbsp. olive oil (or more as needed)
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, diced 1/2-inch thick
- 3 c. Brussels sprouts, halved and/or quartered
- 1 12-oz. package smoked sausage links, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 4 large eggs
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In your largest nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onions and sweet potatoes and sauté about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes begin to soften.
- Make room in the skillet and add the halved Brussels sprouts and sausage slices. (You can add more olive oil, if needed.) Sauté another 3 to 5 minutes or until the sprouts and sausage slices begin to brown.
- With a large spoon, press four divots into the sausage-veggie mixture. Crack an egg into each divot and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover the skillet and cook until eggs have just set, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.