I don't know what it is about this time of year but the breakfasts we generally enjoy start to feel awfully monotonous. Maybe it's the cold or the lack of sunlight--who knows? Suffice it to say that when the eggs and toast, oatmeal, cold cereal, yogurt song and dance start to feel ho-hum, these colorful and flavorful Cranberry, Zucchini and Carrot Muffins are a much needed rescue from the morning routine. It's hard to start the day off grumpy when one of these little cuties is staring you in the face! And I know you might be thinking, "now I have to bake muffins, where does she think I'm going to find the time or energy?", but I promise you that these come together easily--another reason for breakfast-time happiness. And because they're chock of healthy stuff, you don't have to feel guilty. More a.m. joy!! Amazing the power of a simple muffin!!
What I especially love about these muffins are the contrasts in flavor and texture. The sweetness of the carrots is balanced out by the little burst of tartness from the cranberries. These are definitely not health food but they're not overly sweet either so you do really feel like they're nutritious enough for a healthy breakfast--look at all those veggies! Not that you can't enjoy them for lunch or as a little afternoon snack, either. They're extremely versatile, making us grumps able to crack a smile no matter what time of day!!
And more muffin love still--these let me put to use my great stash of cranberries that I froze around Thanksgiving (my husband is still shaking his head at the other 8 bags still crowding our freezer--I swear I'll get to them before next Thanksgiving, honey!!)
If at all possible, don't skip the sanding sugar that I call "optional" in the recipe below--it really gives these moist muffins a lovely little crunch--it's guaranteed to bring on even more morning cheeriness! Do you need any more reasons to try these breakfast delights? Now, if there were only a way to combat the late afternoon slump without resorting to handfuls of chocolate chips from the pantry...
Cranberry, Zucchini and Carrot Muffins
Makes one dozen muffins
Prep Time: 15 minutes; Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 2 medium carrots, finely grated (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 large zucchini, finely grated (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup fresh or frozen (don't thaw) cranberries
- Sanding sugar for sprinkling on top of muffins (optional)
1. Make sure the rack is centered in the oven and preheat to 375ºF. Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and baking soda and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, oil, eggs, carrots, zucchini and vanilla together. Fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula just until you cannot see any traces of flour mixture--you don't want to over mix. Fold in the cranberries and spoon the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with the sanding sugar if using.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the process to insure even baking. Muffins are done when they look golden brown, spring back when lightly poked and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Let muffins sit in the tin for about 10 minutes. Then remove from the pan and let cool completely. Serve immediately or wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days. Muffins can also be well wrapped and frozen. You can take them out and put them in the fridge to thaw overnight and then just pop them in the microwave for a few seconds.
Note: Recipe adapted from The Sono Baking Company Cookbook by John Barricelli. I added the sanding sugar (naturally!!)