Irish Soda Bread

 

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody! I have got a lovely recipe for you today. This is the recipe for the Irish Soda Bread my Nana made when I was younger. I know, I know, my Nana wasn’t Irish, but she got this recipe from a friend of the family and this recipe is the bomb diggity. (I just wanted to say bomb diggity). BUT, in all seriousness, this recipe is great.  It’s a dense, flavorful bread and to me, the caraway seeds are what really gives this bread such a great flavor so don’t skimp on them.

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The absolute best part about this recipe? It’s super easy. So, open up a Guinness and give it a whirl.

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 c raisins
  • 2 c buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease an 8 inch round cake pan. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients (including the raisins) in a bowl with a whisk.

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Create a well in the center of the bowl and add the buttermilk.

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Use a spatula or a spoon to start mixing the ingredients together.

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Once it forms into a sticky dough use your hands to finish the mixing. Be gentle with the dough and do not over mix. It’s a bit messy but a quick process.

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Shape the dough into a round loaf and put into the prepared round pan.

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Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 60 minutes. The bread is finished when it is lightly browned on top and pulling away from the edge of the pan.

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This bread is excellent toasted and then generously slathered with butter or jam. Store the loaf wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

Looking for more great St. Patrick’s Day recipes? Check out one of my favorites, Guinness Cupcakes.

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 c raisins
  • 2 c buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease an 8 inch round cake pan. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients (including the raisins) in a bowl with a whisk.

Create a well in the center of the bowl and add the buttermilk. Use a spatula or a spoon to start mixing the ingredients together.

Once it forms into a sticky dough use your hands to finish the mixing. Be gentle with the dough and do not over mix. It’s a bit messy but a quick process.

Shape the dough into a round loaf and put into the prepared round pan.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 60 minutes. The bread is finished when it is lightly browned on top and pulling away from the edge of the pan.

This bread is excellent toasted and then generously slathered with butter or jam. Store the loaf wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

Peach Raspberry Coffee Cake

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This coffee cake rocks, and I am so pleased to be sharing it with you! It is moist, rich, and everything I have been looking for in a coffee cake. For this recipe I’ve selected peaches and raspberries, but feel free to sub in any frozen fruit combination you like.

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Peach Raspberry Coffee Cake

adapted from Big Oven

Ingredients for the crumb topping:

  • 1 1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour (10 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz  plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 c raspberry, frozen*
  • 1/2 c peaches, frozen*

*A note on ingredients: the fruit must be frozen. I suggest leaving the fruit in the freezer until you are ready to fold them into the batter, right before putting the coffee cake into the oven. This is because thawed or slightly thawed fruit will add more moisture (more than desired) into the batter, whereas when the fruit is still frozen the moisture steams and cooks off.*

Directions:

First assemble the crumb topping; in a mixing bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract to the crumb mixture.

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Use a fork to combine (or your hands) until all of the butter has been absorbed and large crumbs form. Set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 8 or 9 inch round baking pan (I used a spring-form cheesecake pan) and set aside.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In an electric mixer beat the softened butter for a minute or so until lightened in color. Slowly add the sugar and continue to mix until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and yogurt (or sour cream) and beat until well combined. Stop mixer and scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl. Mix for another 30 seconds to combine the mixture.

Next, with the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Increase the speed slightly and once the mixture has just come together turn off the mixer.

Take the frozen fruit out of the freezer. Quickly chop the peach slices if needed. Then toss the frozen fruit in a small amount of flour to lightly (this is important!) coat the fruit. Fold the fruit into the batter by hand (do not use mixer), and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Top the batter with the crumb mixture.

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Bake the coffee cake for 60-70 minutes.  If the topping is getting too dark or is about to burn cover the pan with foil after 45 minutes of baking. The cake is finished when a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the edges of the cake are starting to pull away from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the pan. The edges and bottom of the cake will be a little dark (but not burned).

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Slice the cake into wedges and enjoy!

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Peach Raspberry Coffee Cake

Adapted from Big Oven

Ingredients:

For the crumb topping:

  • 1 1/4 c unbleached all-purpose flour (10 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the cake:

  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz  plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 c raspberry, frozen*
  • 1/2 c peaches, frozen*

*A note on ingredients: the fruit must be frozen. leave the fruit in the freezer until you are ready to fold them into the batter, right before putting the coffee cake into the oven.

Directions:

First assemble the crumb topping; in a mixing bowl combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract to the crumb mixture. Use a fork to combine (or your hands) until all of the butter has been absorbed and large crumbs form. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease a 8 or 9 inch round baking pan (I used a springform cheesecake pan) and set aside.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In an electric mixer beat the softened butter for a minute or so until lightened in color. Slowly add the sugar and continue to mix until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and yogurt (or sour cream) and beat until well combined. Stop mixer and scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl. Mix for another 30 seconds to combine the mixture.

Next, with the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients. Increase the speed slightly and once the mixture has just come together turn off the mixer.

Take the frozen fruit out of the freezer. Quickly chop the peach slices if needed. Then toss the frozen fruit in a small amount of flour to lightly (this is important!) coat the fruit. Fold the fruit into the batter by hand (do not use mixer), and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Top the batter with the crumb mixture.

Bake the coffee cake for 60-70 minutes.  If the topping is getting too dark or is about to burn cover the pan with foil after 45 minutes of baking. The cake is finished when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the edges of the cake are starting to pull away from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the pan. The edges and bottom of the cake will be a little dark (but not burned).

 

Poached Pears in Red Wine

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A few years ago when I was living and working in Boston I noticed a small free magazine called Lola Magazine. It was with all the other free publications near the T stops. It turned out to be a just adorable magazine geared towards the women of Boston.  I liked this magazine because it reminded me of a smaller version of Real Simple Magazine. It had some interesting articles in it that featured local business women, there was always a piece on a local charity, and my favorite part; 2-3 recipes.

I have no idea how long the magazine had been around, but I found myself starting to look forward to the beginning of each month when I new magazine would be out there waiting for me on my way to work. Then one day, at the beginning of the month I went to grab a new issue, and there was none to be had. Last months issues still sat there in the dispenser untouched. I checked again the next day and the day after that. Lola magazine disappeared almost as quickly as I had found it. Unfortunately, I’m sure this is a very common story for free print publications. I don’t have any copies of Lola Magazine saved (I’m not one to hang on to magazines for long), however I’m glad I did tear a few recipes from the magazine and save them in my enormous binder full of stray recipes I’ve collected over the years.

Today’s recipe, Poached Pears for Two is one of those recipes I saved from Lola Magazine. The last time I made these my parents were visiting me for Easter and I was looking to make them a unique dessert. I had never heard of poaching fruit and I remember being so impressed how we transformed the flavor of a cheap red wine into this delicious cooking sauce. I like this dessert a lot, and I have a sneaking suspicion you will too. So take a look, and give a try, you won’t be sorry!

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Poached Pears in Red Wine

Recipe originally appeared in Lola Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2-6 firm but ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears (one pear per person)
  • 1 bottle of red wine (no need to get anything fancy, just a cheapo bottle will do)
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • the peel of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • whipped cream or mascarpone (to top the finished pears, vanilla ice cream works too)

Directions:

In a medium-sized saucepan (large enough to hold the cooking liquid and pears) combine the wine, sugar, orange peel, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick. Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. This will honestly, make your kitchen smell just heavenly.

While the wine sauce is coming up to a simmer, peel the pears. I recommend cutting off the bottom of the pear to create a flat surface. This way, the pears can stand up in the pan if needed, and also this will make for a dramatic presentation when the dessert I finished.

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Once the sugar is dissolved and the wine is simmering, gently place the pears into the mixture. The pears should be mostly submerged in the mixture. If the pears are mostly sticking out add some water to the mixture so that they are mostly covered in liquid. Simmer the pears over medium heat for 25 minutes. The pears should be tender when pierced with a knife (the pears might take 10-15 minutes longer if they are not very ripe).

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool in the poaching liquid. Once they are room temperature, store the pears (in the poaching liquid) in the refrigerator, and let them sit for at least several hours and as long as three days (I like to let mine sit for 24 hours).

When you are ready to serve the pears, take them out of the liquid and allow them to come up to room temperature. While they are warming up, strain about 1/2 of the poaching liquid into a pot and bring up to a boil over high heat. Boil the liquid for 15-25 minutes until the wine sauce cooks down a bit and thickens. It should be the consistency of warm honey. Allow the wine sauce to cool slightly.

When you are ready to plate the pears, you can leave them whole for a dramatic presentation, or if you have a misshapen pear you can cut it up (although mine kind of looks more like sushi in this picture than a pear).

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Drizzle the pears with some of  the cooked pan sauce.

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And lastly, top with a healthy dollop of whipped cream (or whatever you have decided to top the pears with).

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I just love the color of the pears after they have been sitting in the wine sauce. Yum! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

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Poached Pears in Red Wine

Recipe originally appeared in Lola Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 2-6 firm but ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears (one pear per person)
  • 1 bottle of red wine (no need to get anything fancy, just a cheapo bottle will do)
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • the peel of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla bean, sliced in half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • whipped cream or mascarpone (to top the finished pears, vanilla ice cream works too)

Directions:

In a medium-sized saucepan (large enough to hold the cooking liquid and pears) combine the wine, sugar, orange peel, vanilla bean, and cinnamon stick. Over medium heat bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

While the wine sauce is coming up to a simmer, peel the pears. I recommend cutting off the bottom of the pear to create a flat surface. This way, the pears can stand up in the pan if needed, and also this will make for a dramatic presentation when the dessert I finished.

Once the sugar is dissolved and the wine is simmering, gently place the pears into the mixture. The pears should be mostly submerged in the mixture. If the pears are mostly sticking out add some water to the mixture so that they are mostly covered in liquid. Simmer the pears over medium heat for 25 minutes. The pears should be tender when pierced with a knife (the pears might take 10-15 minutes longer if they are not very ripe).

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool in the poaching liquid. Once they are room temperature, store the pears (in the poaching liquid) in the refrigerator, and let them sit for at least several hours and as long as three days (I like to let mine sit for 24 hours).

When you are ready to serve the pears, take them out of the liquid and allow them to come up to room temperature. While they are warming up, strain about 1/2 of the poaching liquid into a pot and bring up to a boil over high heat. Boil the liquid for 15-25 minutes until the wine sauce cooks down a bit and thickens. It should be the consistency of warm honey. Allow the wine sauce to cool slightly.

Drizzle the pears with some of  the cooked pan sauce before serving and top with a healthy dollop of whipped cream or mascarpone.

Green Monster Smoothies

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A few years ago a good friend of mine introduced me to these green vegetable-fruit smoothies. At first, I admit I was more than skeptical. They were green and weird. Drinking spinach? As a self-proclaimed veggie hater, this was pure crazy talk, I proclaimed! But the funny thing is, I found them delicious. I couldn’t get enough of them to be more accurate, and they have been a staple ever since. Let me tell you why I love these gross-looking drinks;

  • Firstly, and foremost they don’t taste like they look! When made correctly, these smoothies don’t taste like salad, but delicious fruit. This is good because I have a tendency to eat like a little kid and avoid veggies like the plague. And hey, that’s not so great. Everyone needs some veg in their life. This smoothie is a great way to “sneak” those veggies in.
  • These smoothies make me feel very energized and they can be a great caffeine-free pick me up.
  • Green Monsters are great for a meal or snack on the go.
  • I also love the choices. I have a green monster smoothie several times a week, but they vary in flavor depending on how I’m feeling that day.

So be brave. Step outside your comfort zone and give it a try. With the holidays approaching and all the rich food associated with this time of year, you’ll be glad you did.

So here are the basics to making your own Green Monster. The ingredients are guidelines and the measurements approximate.

There are 4 components to a Green Monster;

(1.) The Greens

To make a green monster smoothie you need some greens! I typically go for spinach, but kale or arugula are also good choices. I promise you won’t be able to taste them so use whatever you like.

(2.) The Liquid

This is extremely flexible; milk of any kind (almond, soy, coconut), milk with a splash of juice, cold green tea, or even water. I usually use skim milk or almond milk. To make this smoothie a meal replacement I recommend adding some protein powder to really make it filling.

(3.) The Masking Agent

This ingredient is going to cover up the flavor of the greens. In my opinion, the best choices are banana, pineapple, or ginger. They have really bold flavors that easily cover up any green flavor and have a lot of pairing options for additional fruit flavors.

(4.) Additional Fruit Flavor

This ingredient acts as another flavor component that don’t cover up the greens on its own, but complements the Masking Agent. Go for what you like and get creative! Examples: blueberries, strawberries, cherries, apples, oranges, mango

My Favorite Smoothie Flavors:

  • Spinach-Skim Milk-Banana-Blueberry
  • Spinach-Skim Milk-Banana-Strawberry
  • Arugula-Water-Ginger-Mango-Crushed Ice

The Method:

First, combine some of the liquid and the greens. You want a generous portion of greens here, about 1 1/2 cups-2 cups, and a splash of liquid (1/4 c). More will be added later, but for now the goal is to get a smooth texture, and break down the greens. Using a blender mix the liquid and greens until you have a smooth green liquid with no large bits of green in it.

Next, add your Masking Agent and any additional fruit. I find that not much fruit is needed for big flavor. For a 2 1/2 cup-3 cup smoothie I only need half of a banana or handful of pineapple slices to cover up any and all green flavor. For additional fruit I try not to add more than a 1/2 cup. Blend together until smooth.

Finally, add some more liquid as desired. Some folks, like a nice thick fruit smoothie, while others like it a bit thinner. If it’s a hot day (and depending on your equipment) you might want to add some crushed ice to your smoothie. I typically add about 1/4 cup more milk, as I don’t like my smoothies too thick. Also, give it a taste to see if more Masking Agent needs to be added. Blend any additional liquid and/or ice being added until smooth.

And presto, Green Monster Smoothie success!

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A Few Green Monster Tips:

Storing fruit in the long-term:

  • I buy a bunch of bananas at a time and let them get very ripe and full of brown spots and then cut them up into 1/2 in slices. I lay them out flat (and not touching) on a tray that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray and freeze. Once they are frozen solid I put them in a bag for easy storage.
  • I recommend the same treatment for any fresh fruit you would like to use; break it down into small pieces, freeze, and then store in bags for easy access.
  • I typically do not put any ice in my smoothies because my Masking Agent and Additional Fruit is frozen.

Storing greens in the fridge:

  • I keep my greens stored in a mason jar (or any glass jar with a top that screws on/off), and I find this prolongs the shelf life of my greens.

What other veggie-fruit smoothies have you tried? I would love to hear new flavor combinations!


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Green Monster Smoothies

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ -2 c baby spinach
  • ½ c liquid (milk, soy milk, almond milk, coconut water, etc.)
  • ½ c frozen blueberries (or fruit of your choice)
  • ½ frozen banana (see tips below)

Directions:

First, combine half of the liquid and the spinach in a blender. Blend until you have a smooth green liquid with no large bits of green in it.

Next add frozen blueberries, banana and remaining liquid. Blend until smooth. Add more liquid if needed or if a thinner texture is desired.

A Few Green Monster Tips:

Storing fruit in the long-term:

  • I buy a bunch of bananas at a time and let them get very ripe and full of brown spots (so they taste sweeter) and then cut them up into 1/2 in slices. I lay them out flat (and not touching) on a tray that has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray and freeze. Once they are frozen solid I put them in a bag for easy storage.
  • I recommend the same treatment for any fresh fruit you would like to use; break it down into small pieces, freeze, and then store in bags for easy access. Freezing the fruit in a tray first makes it easy to grab small portions from the freezer.

Storing greens in the fridge:

  • I keep my greens stored in a mason jar (or any glass jar with a top that screws on/off), and I find this prolongs the shelf life of my greens.

 

 

Pumpkin Frankenstein Muffins

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*Article originally posted on www.Somverville.Patch.com*

A monster mash of delicious fall flavors!

These muffins certainly don’t look like Frankenstein, but this month when I sought out to create the ultimate pumpkin muffin recipe, I decided to borrow bits and pieces from other muffin recipes I had tried in the past.

First, let me explain my ideal muffin. To me the most important qualities in a muffin are a fantastic flavor and a texture that isn’t too heavy and is in no way dry. I’m also looking for a muffin that doesn’t make me feel guilty, but isn’t so healthy that I feel like I’m eating saw dust.

I started by looking at three different muffin recipes. The first was your typical, straight-up unhealthy but still delicious pumpkin muffin, the next was a stripped-down recipe that included whole wheat flour and a ton of pumpkin, and the third was a Morning Glory muffin.

Morning Glory muffins vary a lot but generally they tend to be a healthy breakfast muffin, often containing fruit, veggies, seeds and/or nuts. Between the three different approaches to making muffins, I had a lot to work with. I also had the idea to incorporate Greek yogurt so that the muffins had a tiny bit of protein in them.

After a few failed attempts and some mediocre results, I finally created a recipe that was yielding the kind of muffin I was dreaming of. I settled on using half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. I wanted whole wheat flour in there so the muffin would have some fiber, but not so much that the flavor was overpowering.

I also decided that sifting the dry ingredients together and then gently folding them into the wet ingredients was imperative to yield the right kind of texture that wasn’t too heavy. The sifting and the gentle folding technique helps keep the overall texture of the muffins lighter.

I also experimented with adding applesauce and carrots in the batter. The applesauce ended up overpowering the pumpkin flavor and in the end had to be cut from the recipe. The carrots added no flavor and seemed like a sneaky way to get some extra veggies in.

A quick note on the pumpkin puree: This time of year it is easy to find a can of already cooked and pureed pumpkin and works very well for this recipe. If you are feeling a little more hands-on, pumpkin puree can also be easily made at home.

To do this you’ll need 1-2 small baking pumpkins (not the same as the ones you would use for making jack-o-lanterns). Using a sharp knife, remove the stem and slice the pumpkin in half length-wise. Scrape out the center pulp and seeds.

Next, place the pumpkin halves on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. The pumpkin will be a light golden brown when done. Peel the skin from the pumpkin and puree the pumpkin in a food processer until smooth. If it looks too dry, add in a few tablespoons of water during the pulsing to add moisture.

 

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Pumpkin Frankenstein Muffins
Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 c plain greek yogurt (2% or full fat)
1 c brown sugar
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
2 grated carrots
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a mixing bowl sift together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl use a whisk to beat the eggs until frothy and light in color. Next whisk in the yogurt until well combined followed by the brown sugar, whisking in ½ a cup at a time. Finally whisk in the pumpkin puree and grated carrots.

Now it is time to combine the dry and wet ingredients. Begin by adding a third of the dry ingredients to the wet. Use a spatula to gently fold the ingredients together until well combined. Once the mixture is homogenous, continue to fold in the remainder of the dry ingredients in a third at a time.

Finally using a 1/3 c measuring cup, scoop the batter into a lined muffin pan. This recipe yields 18-20 muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes. When the muffins are finished a tooth pick inserted into the center will come out clean.