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.
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 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
- 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
- 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.
This moist lemon lavender cake has culinary lavender baked right in! Perfect for a bridal or baby shower, tea, or light afternoon sweet.
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.
Lemon Lavender Cake
- 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
- 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.
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!
Pumpkin Olive Oil Muffins bring the heart-healthy goodness of olive oil to your breakfast table.
Is olive oil all it’s cracked up to be? You hear it touted as the heart-healthy oil–almost a savior of recipes. Something’s got three pounds of cheese and oodles of bleached, refined flour but it has olive oil???? Must be healthy!
As a nutritionist, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that olive oil automatically makes anything good for you, but it does come with significant health benefits.
As part of a Mediterranean diet, it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), especially if you’re already at risk. One study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that people at risk of CVD who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with–get this–extra olive oil had fewer major adverse cardiovascular events than those who supplemented with nuts. In another, more olive oil (yes, more fat and calories!) helped reduce body fat and improved blood pressure.
I’m convinced that subbing olive oil for other oils and butter whenever possible is a smart choice. I’m especially into including it in baked goods. (These delicious banana chocolate muffins and orange cake are among my favorites.) As long as the olive flavor isn’t overpowering, I find it a really nice, mellow complement to the sweetness of most baked goods.
So, being that it’s fall and therefore time for ALL THINGS PUMPKIN, I of course wanted to give olive oil a whirl in some pumpkin muffins. Trouble was, I had a hard time finding a recipe. When I Googled “Pumpkin Olive Oil Muffins,” it yielded very few results. “Pumpkin olive oil face mask” was much more popular. (Why would you put these delicious ingredients on your face without putting them in your mouth??)
Clearly, it was time to get creative. I adapted this recipe from the one on Olio Olive Oils’ website. A bit less sugar, a bit more time in the oven, and a yogurt-milk blend instead of time-consuming DIY buttermilk made these turn out perfecto–full of pumpkin spice flavor with a delicate, chewy crumb. I *may* have conveniently hidden the Tupperware full of these muffins under our countertop bread stash, where my kids wouldn’t readily notice them.
If you’re looking to add more olive oil to your home baking, you won’t be disappointed with these perfect-for-fall treats!
P.S. Want to know more about cooking oils? You can learn more about which oils work best for which types of cooking in this guide I wrote on Healthline.com.
Pumpkin Olive Oil Muffins
- 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 c. milk, any variety
- 1 c. canned pumpkin
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c. whole wheat or white whole wheat flour
- scant 1/3 c. white sugar
- scant 1/3 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with baking spray (even better if it's olive oil-based.)
- In a large bowl, stir together olive oil, applesauce, eggs, yogurt, milk, and pumpkin until smooth. Add all remaining ingredients and combine until no lumps remain.
- Distribute among prepared muffin cups and bake 20-22 minutes. Let cool 5-10 minutes.