This orange ricotta muffin recipe is all about the understated and the simple. Which is sort of timely, because I’ve been making a concerted effort to keep this Christmas season simple and stress-free. No last-minute scrambling for gifts – thanks to name-drawing on both sides of the family along with this brilliant concept, our shopping is already done. No five days solid of baking cookies that no one will eat. And NO frickin’ Elf on the Shelf!
We watched an episode of 30 Rock last night, one where Liz Lemon sports a “slanket” (you know, a Snuggie? A blanket with sleeves? Of course you know).
And that reminded me of the time when, a few years back, I walked by a coworker’s office and saw that she had a large swath of sapphire fabric draped across her front and, I, thinking she was wearing a Snuggie – ironically, of course, she’s a sassy gal – stopped cold and was all, “Heeey. It’s a Snuggie! Nice!”
I had so much fun making these muffins with my little girl. I’ve held her on my hip as she “helped” me awkwardly sift and stir, but this time, and for the first time, I was able to sit her on the kitchen counter like a big girl. As I kept a hand on her at pretty much all times, she measured, spooned, poured, and mixed. “Eggs!” “Na-nilla!” “Flow-ah!” she exclaimed as we pulled ingredients out and mixed them in to make the perfect muffins. And, of course, we also made a perfect mess.
Getting a house ready to sell is a pain in the butt.
I knew it, but I didn’t know it. What I do know is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The open house, the showings, the finding and hopefully buying of the perfect new place and all that goes along with that whole sordid process. I’m … kind of scared.
Confession: if I find myself at the end of a rainbow, I still look for the pot of gold, just like I did when I was a kid. Wishful thinking, I guess.
Now that these Irish soda bread muffins are all gone – gobbled up in a flash – I think I’d be equally okay with finding another basket of these at the end of a rainbow. Okay, fine, maybe the muffins alongside a 5 1/2 quart round soleil Le Creuset french oven with even just a handful of gold pieces thrown in. What, I can’t be specific about the pot?!
But I digress. Irish soda bread muffins. Yes, yes.
This is one of those recipes that I threw together on a whim, not knowing it would become an instant favorite in our house.
It’s kind of the big-man-on-campus of muffins, I think. Which I totally know is a weird way to describe a muffin (though a big man on campus is likely a stud muffin, so there is that).
When life gives you lemons … and poppyseeds … and greek yogurt … make these muffins.
Not that life is really likely to give you any of those – unless the grocery store is “life” and opening up your wallet is “giving.” Nonetheless, make these muffins.
Cranberry sauce is arguably one of the best parts of Thanksgiving – especially the homemade stuff. Which is probably why I tend to go overboard and whip up way more than is needed. If a little is terrific, a lot is even better! Right?
So inevitably, we end up with leftovers. While there are a gazillion things you can do with the delicious stuff, this is one of my favorites – Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins. They’re hearty and tangy and perfect for that lazy morning after.
When it comes to rhubarb, I’m usually a purist. No need to mix it with any other fruits – just a little sugar and we’re good to go. Why futz with that deliciously unique tart-sweet flavor? We don’t need strawberries or raspberries or any kind of berries to sweeten the pot, or the pie. Bring on the rhubarb and only the rhubarb and I’m one happy camper.
Some of my favorite creations come about because I have too much of something in the house – or not enough. In the case of these Chocolate Banana Marble Muffins, it was because of both.
We recently started receiving a box of fruits and veggies every week from a local farm. Lately, they’ve been tucking a bunch of organic bananas into each. Now, we’ve got an abundance of the suckers.
And this Saturday morning, we found ourselves with a shortage of eggs. We had exactly one.
Oh, and I was craving chocolate.
These muffins are perfect for Christmas. They’re chockful of festive ingredients and flavors: Fresh cranberries, zucchini, apples, orange zest … top with a little orange-vanilla glaze and add red and green sprinkles and you’ve got just the thing for Christmas morning.
I love the idea of a special dish that’s served only on Christmas morning. Growing up, it was “egg souffle” – an overnight strata-type casserole made with eggs, bread, cheese, mushrooms and chopped-up little link sausages. It was one of the best things about Christmas morning. So good.
I’ve carried on the tradition, usually whipping up a sausage-less version for me and another meat-full dish for others; though it never ever tastes as good as my mom’s. Maybe it suffers from the Sandwich Complex – sandwiches are always better when someone else makes ‘em.
Anyway, this year I’ve decided to add muffins to the mix. Full of festive colors thanks to emerald-green shredded zucchini, granny smith apples, and vibrant cranberries, they’re plenty Christmas-y all on their own, without the added over-the-top touches.
But Christmas is all about going over-the-top – so these muffins are topped with a sweet orange-vanilla glaze and then sprinkled in red and green. And then devoured.
I love the tart-sweet cranberries and apples and how the sweetness of the glaze balances the tartness perfectly. I love how fancy and festive and slightly silly they look on a petite white cake stand.
I love Christmas. It makes me smile. I wish a very merry, merry one to you and yours. Enjoy it all!
Author: Kitchen Treaty
Recipe type: Breakfast
Yield: About 15 muffins
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (or sub 1 cup whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the white)
- 1 cup quick-cooking oats
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup buttermilk*
- ⅔ cup applesauce
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ⅓ cup canola 0r vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 cup fresh or frozen (and then thawed) cranberries, cut in half
- 1 cup diced tart apple, like Granny Smith
- 1½ cups grated zucchini
- 1¼ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
- Sprinkles, if desired
- Heat oven to 400 degrees.
- Line 15 standard muffin cups with cupcake liners, or grease them.
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour(s), oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, applesauce, sugar, brown sugar, canola or vegetable oil, egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the cranberries, apple, and zucchini.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and whisk together just until incorporated.
- Divide between 15 or so muffin cups – approximately a scant ½ cup each.
- Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched.
- Line the counter with a couple of paper towels, and place a wire rack on top. Once the muffins are cool enough to touch, move them to a wire rack.
- Allow the muffins to cool to room temperature, or close – about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix together the glaze. Simply whisk the powdered sugar, vanilla, orange zest, milk and orange juice together until it’s glaze consistency.
- Drizzle the glaze over the top of the muffins. If desired, top with sprinkles while the glaze is still wet (c’mon! It’s Christmas! Go for it!)
Originally posted on The Hazel Bloom December 22, 2010. Updated and posted on Kitchen Treaty December 10, 2012. More about this
Mini things are, just by their diminutive nature, super duper cute. Miniature horses. The teensy windmills in mini golf courses. Puppies. Oh my God, puppies. So cute.
And, muffins. Mini muffins!