Morning Glory Carrot Muffins

Morning Glory Carrot Muffins

When I was a kid and someone brought out a carrot cake at a birthday party or celebration, I would seriously mope. No offense if carrot cake is your favorite…but who wants vegetable-flavored cake? Not even cream cheese frosting can redeem that.

Cake should be rich and sweet with a light but even crumb. There should be no carrots.

But I read recently that carrots are the only vegetable in season where I live during the month of October. So I made you some morning glory muffins—which, of course, is what we call carrot cake when we eat it for breakfast, which we should all agree is a much better time to eat “cake” made of carrots!

I love the idea of a healthy muffin, and these muffins really are pretty glorious: they have no refined sugar, they use whole grain flour, and they are full of shredded fresh carrots and apples, as well as coconut and pecans!

My son begs for these muffins, and I love to indulge him! Hiding a vegetable in plain sight while my son scarfs it down? Yes please.

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Double Chocolate Spice Muffins

Double Chocolate Spice Muffins

Smells Like Brownies is turning 3! I can hardly believe it.

So I thought I should share a bit of a throwback recipe with you. In fact, this is the first recipe that I ever altered on my own for any reason. It was the beginning of my culinary journey. All in the humble wrapper of a morning muffin.

When I was a freshman in college, I suddenly realized that I didn’t know how to cook. I think, up ’til that point, I had assumed that I would just wake up one day and know the tricks of the trade, maybe learning it through osmosis or something, simply because my mom was a good cook.

But…I wasn’t even sure how to read a recipe unless it came on the side of a mac ‘n cheese box or would result in chocolate chip cookies. So I set about learning to make something easy. Something I craved on Sunday mornings. Muffins.

I made muffins like three times a week. I invited friends over to make muffins. It was a muffin party (complete with a muffin top I hadn’t anticipated…). And so my mom bought me my first cookbook ever, Muffins. It didn’t turn out to be a great cookbook, in case you were wondering, but it did make me realize I could, say, add spices to a vanilla muffin and make spice muffins. Use honey instead of sugar and make honey muffins. Add cocoa powder and make chocolate muffins. The possibilities were endless!

This chocolate spice combo turned out to be one of my favorites. I tweaked the spices ’til I liked them, and I had never felt so proud of my budding kitchen prowess.

So now, on my third blog-birthday, I will share them with you!


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Irish Brown Soda Bread

Soda Bread and Dubliner

It’s almost St. Patrick’s Day! My husband is Irish, so this is really a day I can’t overlook. Of course, he always wants just one thing in celebration of his heritage: corned beef and cabbage. (Actually, he wants that all year long.)

Since I don’t eat meat, I struggled a bit with figuring out how to celebrate Ireland on the blog. I really wanted to make soda bread, but Dave’s idea of soda bread is dry and unpalatable. I decided to go for it anyway, just to prove him wrong.

So here we are. I searched the interwebs for a recipe that would impress him. I considered white or dark bread, dried fruits or plain, seeds or no seeds…I even pondered totally untraditional offerings, such as minced herbs and browned butter.

Then it suddenly occurred to me that I have a fantastic cookbook by a revered Irish chef, Darina Allen (and thanks to my brother-in-law, for giving it)! She is all about history and tradition, but at the same time she is willing to update the classics to reflect modern access and changing tastes. I figured that her recipe for soda bread was the best place to start!

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Donut Muffins

Donut Muffins

I have a confession to make.

I don’t like donuts. (*gasp!*)

Sure, when I was little, I could down a chocolate-creme-filled as well as the next kid. I loved me some powdered sugar, even when I accidentally inhaled it. And that sticky, gooey, sweet coating on a glazed donut made my heart go pitter-pat.

But some time in my teen years, I discovered the Krispie Kreme hot donut light. In fact, I went to school about a mile away from a Krispie Kreme shop, so I used to drive by regularly and snag a donut (or two…) whenever possible. But, um…those things are a gut bomb and a half! After a while, I literally couldn’t stomach them anymore; the mere idea of Krispie Kreme was enough to make me feel sick to my stomach. And ever since, donuts just haven’t been that appealing to me.

Hey, don’t judge me. I figure I eat so many other buttery, sugary foods that it’s really a blessing to have one I am not magnetically drawn to.

But recently, I think Dave has had donuts on the brain. When we were asked to bring a “decadent” dessert to a dinner with friends, his first suggestion was donuts.

I hemmed and hawed and then found a recipe for donut muffins on Secrets from the Cookie Princess, my Secret Recipe Club blog for September!

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Maple Pecan Scones

Maple Pecan Scone

Scones are pretty much my favorite breakfast food. So when my neighbor across the street had a baby and requested breakfast goodies instead of dinners, I knew immediately that scones were in her future!

Lately I’ve been keen on trying things slightly off the beaten path…and getting away from all chocolate, all the time. So instead of making chocolate chip scones, I decided to change it up and lean on the king of breakfasts everywhere: maple syrup.

These babies are delicious! Toasty nuts, sweet maple, and flaky, flaky layers. Need I say more?

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Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

If you have ever been to Red Lobster, you know that one of the highlights of the meal is the endless supply of delectable, buttery, cheesy biscuits. I could easily eat about a dozen of them by myself…

I have had these biscuits on my to-do list for about four years, ever since I saw that they were included in the famed collection of Top Secret Restaurant Recipes. But you know how it goes. Stacks (or files, in my case) of delicious recipes multiply weekly, and sometimes perfectly wonderful foods continue to get shuffled to the back burner, so to speak.

When I stumbled across another recipe for cheddar bay biscuits this month, posted on Morsels of Life, my Secret Recipe Club challenge blog for March, I knew it was finally time to indulge in some flaky, cheesy, garlicky biscuits fresh from my own oven!

Secret Recipe Club

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Apple Cheddar Quickbread

Apparently when I was a kid, I liked apples. (For those of you just tuning in…I am a bona fide fruit hater, so the apple thing is unusual.) I have no memory of this, but my parents swear I used to pinch apples that my dad had been eating, toddle away, and bring him back the core.

Whether or not that is just a story they made up to try to convince me to eat apples at lunch every day in elementary school, I don’t know. What I do know is that I am developing a begrudging acceptance of apples in my adulthood. Granny Smith apples, to be specific. I like the tartness and the crunch.

Don’t get me wrong—I still don’t like fruit. So imagine my surprise when I started seeing recipes that threw apples and cheddar cheese together, and my first thought was, “Oh, interesting! I’ll have to try that!” (…who am I?) Apple cheddar biscuits, apple cheddar scones…it seemed like a perfectly weird Fall combination that I might actually enjoy!

So when I was assigned No Reason Needed for this month’s Secret Recipe Club challenge, and I spotted a recipe for apple cheddar loaf, I knew I had to try it. It’s quick, it’s simple, and no matter how strange you find the combination of fruit and cheese, it’s delicious!

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Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffins

Hey. Do you remember about two years ago when we had that huge pumpkin shortage?

Since then, I have lived in fear of not being able to get my pumpkin fix each fall.

But guess what? I discovered a way to cheat and get my fill of my favorite orange foods, even if pumpkin is in short supply. The answer? Sweet potato!

These jumbo muffins are basically indistinguishable from pumpkin muffins. Despite being full of produce, they are not terribly healthy (but why cut back on the chocolate chips unless you have to?)…but they are among my most favorite muffins ever, which is saying a lot. Every time I make these muffins for friends, I get rave reviews and end up handing out the recipe several times. So now I will hand it out to you!

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Honey Nut Granola Muffins

One day last week, I woke up and realized that there was no food in the house.

I mean, sometimes there is no quick food in the house, nothing in the fridge that is ready to go. But on this morning, there was almost nothing. No cereal, no eggs, no butter, none of my favorite coffee yogurt…

In short, it was going to be a scramble to pull together something for breakfast, given that almost every recipe in my head required something we were out of. I should be less of a hermit and go grocery shopping more frequently, right?

I whined to my husband for a little while and he kindly suggested that I make muffins or scones. Of course, scones need butter and muffins need eggs. But then I suddenly remembered subbing yogurt for eggs in a cookie recipe I made recently…and if it works for cookies, why not for muffins, too?

As I had no chocolate chips, and wanted to go for something a little healthier anyway, I decided to try out an idea I’d had for making a muffin filled and topped with granola. And a star was born! Whole grains, yogurt, honey, and nuts…a wholesome combination indeed 🙂

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