Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins (Baby- and Kid-Friendly!)

An easy-to-make muffin loaded with pumpkin puree and shredded carrots. Naturally sweetened with applesauce, these muffins are perfect for kids, babies and adults. A great on-the-go snack!

These one-bowl Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are super simple to make, freezer-friendly and naturally sweetened. They're both adult and kid-friendly!

If you’re looking for a simple, healthier snack for fall, these Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are for you! In fact not just for you, but for your kids, babies, kids’ friends, neighbors, babysitters…Well, you get the idea. They’re sure to please even the pickiest eaters and, since they’re only sweetened with applesauce, you don’t have to worry when your kids keep on going back for more.

As I mentioned in this Healthy Carrot Cake Pancake Recipe post, we opted to do baby-led weaning with our little one and she has shown no sensitivities to eggs, other dairy, gluten, etc. If your little one HAS shown sensitivities to any of these, obviously use your best judgment. Again, mother always knows best!

These one-bowl Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are super simple to make, freezer-friendly and naturally sweetened. They're both adult and kid-friendly!

Since these Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are SUPER easy, and since we’re in Texas busy getting ready for my sis-in-law’s wedding tomorrow, I’m going to keep things short and sweet today. I mean, if you know how to stir a spoon and you know how to operate an oven, you’re in pretty good shape.

These muffins also happen to freeze well, so if you have a minute to bake some up this weekend, you’ll have the perfect treat for your whole family for the next week (if you’re lucky.)

These one-bowl Pumpkin Carrot Muffins are super simple to make, freezer-friendly and naturally sweetened. They're both adult and kid-friendly!

Read on for the recipe!

Super Simple Pumpkin Carrot Muffins (Baby- and Kid-Friendly!)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

An easy-to-make muffin loaded with pumpkin puree and shredded carrots. Naturally sweetened with applesauce, these muffins are perfect for kids, babies and adults. A great on-the-go snack!

Course: Breakfast, Snack
Keyword: after-school, baby-friendly, breakfast, carrot, freezer-friendly, kid-friendly, muffin, naturally sweetened, pumpkin, snack
Servings: 12 muffins
Calories: 100 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup milk of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 cup spiralized or grated carrot
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease muffin tins or line with paper liners and set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. 

  3. Add eggs, pumpkin, applesauce, milk and orange zest and stir until combined. Stir in carrot.

  4. Scoop batter evenly into prepared muffin tins and bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. 

  5. Cool in muffin tins for 5-10 minutes, then remove and let cool completely on a wire rack. 

Maple Apple Old Fashioned: My New Go-To Fall Cocktail

The perfect cocktail for fall, this Maple Apple Old Fashioned is what you’ll want to be drinking all season long. Bourbon, maple syrup and classic apple cider come together in this tasty cocktail that’s ideal enjoyed under warm blankets in front of a crackling fireplace.

This Maple Apple OId Fashioned is a fun fall twist on the classic whiskey cocktail.

If ever there were a way for me to make my entrance back onto the fall cocktail scene, this Maple Apple Old Fashioned would be it.

I’m the first to admit, I’ve been out of the mixology game for quite some time. Sure, I’ve whipped up a simple mixed drink here and there since the little one made her debut last October, but to be honest I rarely sip cocktails these days – my bod just can’t handle the hangovers as well as it used to!

So when I DO drink a cocktail, I want it to be absolutely delicious. And that’s what this Maple Apple Old Fashioned is. Seriously, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out since I’ve been out of practice for so long, but it has now joined the ranks as one of my favorite cocktail creations ever (along with the French 75 and the Twisted Whiskey Kind of Afternoon, of course) and, now that the babe is officially weaned, you can bet I’ll be sipping on these a lot more often over the next few months.

Before I get into the recipe, I have to tell you my reason for being inspired to create a cocktail that involves everyone’s favorite “accoutrement” for buttermilk pancakes and Belgian waffles: maple syrup! You see, I’ve been in Vermont all week for a fun little blogger conference called Blog Brȗlée. I’ve absolutely loved it because it is a small group of health-minded bloggers/registered dietitians with tailored content and wonderful sponsors in a beautiful location. I mean, what more could you ask for?

The Maple Apple Old Fashioned adds your favorite fall flavors to the classic cocktail.

There was a ton of information, bonding and exploring in two short days and now I’ve been exploring a bit on my own until I fly out later this afternoon. It’s the longest I’ve ever been away from sweet Raia (and I miss her soooooo much) but the time on my own has been relaxing and inspiring and has left me reinvigorated for both the business and personal side of my life as we jump into this fall season.

And jump into fall we shall! I mean, I sure got into the mood for fall with my trip to Vermont (gah—that foliage though!) But I have to admit that without a trip like that you almost wouldn’t notice that the seasons have changed in our West Coast seaside town of Santa Barbara. I, for one, am determined to break out all the blankets, pillows and candles as soon as I get home (helloooo hygge) even if it’s still 75 degrees out during the day and EVEN if it means I have to make a Maple Apple Old Fashioned to get me in the mood.

If you like Old Fashioneds, this Maple Apple Old Fashioned will be your go-to fall cocktail this season!

Speaking of Maple Apple Old Fashioned’s, I hope you like bourbon, because otherwise you might want to stop reading right here. Yes, bourbon-lovers, this cocktail is for you. If you’re familiar with the Old Fashioned, then you know that there is not much else other than booze in this classic drink. Now, you may wonder why, for such a booze-infused cocktail, I tried to pack both maple and apple in as accompanying flavors, but trust me on this. A little goes a long way to make this the most happening fall cocktail around.

A typical Old Fashioned is made by first muddling straight sugar with bitters, then adding whiskey/bourbon and a slice of orange rind. If you take a look at this Maple Apple Old Fashioned recipe, you’ll see that we basically have all of the similar components, with a few fall-like twists.

We still use the bitters (I mean, how could we not?) but we sub in maple syrup in exchange for the sugar. And rather than infusing the bourbon with orange rind, we add just the slightest bit of apple cider to really give it that “fall” feel.

Maple syrup and spiced apple cider are the perfect additions to this Old Fashioned Cocktail.

It really is a simple recipe, and for the amount of fall flavor it packs, I hope you give it a try. I, for one, am looking forward to mixing up some of these as soon as I get home. I’m sure the hubby will appreciate it after a week of solo parenting!

Maple Apple Old Fashioned
Prep Time
5 mins
 

The perfect cocktail for fall, this Maple Apple Old Fashioned is what you’ll want to be drinking all season long. Bourbon, maple syrup and classic apple cider come together in this tasty cocktail that’s ideal enjoyed under warm blankets in front of a crackling fireplace. 

Course: Drinks
Keyword: apple, bourbon, cocktails, drinks, fall, maple syrup
Servings: 1 cocktail
Calories: 215 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 ounce apple cider, plus a little more for rimming the glass
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 2-4 dashes angostura bitters
  • Apple wheels for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the ground cinnamon and sugar. Pour onto a small saucer/dessert plate. Pour some apple cider on a second saucer/dessert plate. (Tip: This cinnamon-sugar combo is PLENTY to rim two to three glasses if you want to up the cocktail recipe.)

  2. Take a rocks glass and dip it first into the apple cider plate and then into the cinnamon-sugar plate. Use a spoon or small ladle to fill the glass with ice and set aside.

  3. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add the bourbon, apple cider, syrup and bitters. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds or so.

  4. Strain contents of shaker into the prepared glass and garnish with an apple wheel. Enjoy!

Cheddar and Chive Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo)

These tasty miniature cheese breads are packed with cheddar and fresh chives with a wonderfully chewy texture. Pao de queijo is the perfect snack or accompaniment to any meal.

This Cheddar and Chive Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo) is the perfect quick and easy side dish to accompany any meal!

Cheese-lovers, this one’s for you.

I’ll be the first to admit that cheese is one of my favorite food groups, so I’ll take any excuse to come up with recipes that happen to be loaded with it. When I found myself with some extra tapioca flour on hand from last week’s No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, I decided it was the perfect time to try out a recipe that had been on my mind for at least a couple of years – Brazilian cheese bread!

Believe it or not, I tasted my first pao de queijo in Hawaii at the ever-so-popular KCC Farmer’s Market on Oahu. It was piping hot, wonderfully chewy and oh-so-cheesy. When I learned that it was in fact made with only tapioca flour (making it entirely gluten-free) and still so flavorful, I knew I had to figure out how to make it on my own.

Cheddar and Chive Brazilian Cheese Bread is gluten-free and can be made in under 30 minutes!

Fast forward a couple of years, with a huge bag of tapioca flour just begging to be put to use, I knew it was time. Brazilian cheese bread was happening. But of course I couldn’t make it your typical Brazilian cheese bread, I had to give it my own little twist with sharp aged cheddar cheese and fresh chives. I have to say, the end result was all that I had hoped for…and more. I think it’s safe to say there will be a lot of pao de queijo in my future.

After being so intimidated to even go to the store and buy tapioca flour, I was– as is often the case for me when exploring new recipes and techniques—extremely surprised by how EASY it was to make this cheesy deliciousness. I mean, we’re talking “throw everything in a blender and call it a day” easy.

The end result was these chewy, cheesy, popping bread rolls. They’re not unlike popovers in batter consistency and looks, but when you bite into them you’ll be surprised at the soft yet chewy texture that’s undeniably full of flavor.

Serve this Cheddar and Chive Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo) hot out of the oven with your favorite dinner.

Did I mention they take almost no time to make? The batter comes together in less than five minutes, and they’ll be hot out of the oven in less than 15. And you’ll want to eat these bad boys HOT if you want the ultimate cheesy- and chewy-ness.

In short, Cheddar and Chive Brazilian Cheese Bread is PROBABLY going to become your new go-to side for all of your homemade meals.  Or maybe your favorite after-school snack? Or weekend brunch addition? Whenever you make them, you’re not going to be disappointed!

Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo) has a wonderfully chewy texture, is gluten-free and can be made in under 30 minutes!

Cheddar and Chive Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo)
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
12 mins
Total Time
17 mins
 

These tasty miniature cheese breads are packed with cheddar and fresh chives with a wonderfully chewy texture. Pao de queijo is the perfect snack or accompaniment to any meal.

Course: Side Dish
Keyword: baking, bread, cheese, gluten-free, side dish
Servings: 24 rolls
Calories: 100 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a two-dozen mini muffin tin (see notes for link.)

  2. Combine all ingredients except chives in a blender and blend until smooth. 

  3. Stir in chives.

  4. Pour or scoop batter into prepared muffin tins and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until the edges of the bread are a light golden brown. 

  5. Enjoy warm!

Recipe Notes

Shopping link for miniature muffin tin.

Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

These Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly bars have a honey roasted peanut and oat crust and a jammy strawberry filling. The gluten-free treat is sure to please adults and kids alike!

These Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are the perfect gluten-free after-school snack for both kids and adults alike!

Is there any combo more classic or delicious than good ol’ PB&J? I don’t think so. And if you beg to differ, these Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are here to show you what’s up.

To all my fellow Trader Joe’s fans, I know you won’t blame me when I say one of their kitschy products inspired me to make this totally addicting, no-bake recipe. Sure, I’d enjoyed my share of honey roasted peanuts back in the day when my dad would take down that classic Planter’s can from the kitchen shelf after a long day at work, but my indulgence in those sweet and salty goobers stopped as soon as I was responsible for buying my own groceries. It’s not that I didn’t like them, it just never crossed my mind to throw them in the shopping cart.

That all changed, of course, when I saw a gleaming bag of Honey Roasted Peanuts staring back at me from the “What’s New” section of my local TJ’s (anyone else ALWAYS get sucked in by that section?) Let’s just say they’re now a regular item on the hubs’ and my weekly shopping list, and we enjoy them almost daily in the same way my dad always did – as a little late afternoon nibble to hold us over until dinnertime.

I’d been racking my brain trying to figure out some delicious way to work them into a recipe when my Instagram feed was suddenly filled with all my friends’ kids starting their first days of school, holding up those cute letter boards saying what they wanted to be when they grow up, showing off their cute new back-to-school clothes. Almost immediately, I realized the perfect recipe would be something easy and semi-healthy that all these mamas and papas could make as a treat for their little ones after a long day in the classroom.

These Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are the perfect gluten-free after-school snack for both kids and adults alike!

We all know that PB&J is a quintessential back-to-school combo, and I was going to make it into something special that these kiddos would look forward to coming home to. Hence, these Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars were born!

I’m all for a little indulgent treat now and then, but I also believe that there are tonnnnns of delicious healthier options we can all choose from every day. So in creating this recipe, I wanted to find the balance between indulgent treat and healthy sweet. The recipe is also extremely easy and requires no baking, so you can make it at any time during the day (or even the night before) and it will be ready to be enjoyed by your hungry little ones as soon as that dismissal bell rings.

These Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are the perfect gluten-free after-school snack for both kids and adults alike!

Everything for these Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars comes together in just a couple of easy steps.

First, you’ll want to make a strawberry “jam” that will serve as the top layer of the bars. This is an easy, stovetop process that takes only 20 minutes or so (mostly unattended) so don’t stress because I mentioned the word “jam.” Once you’ve simmered some strawberries, maple syrup and water until everything is broken down and combined, you’ll simply stir in some chia seeds to help it all thicken up and not make TOO big of a mess when you go to cut into everything.

Strawberries simmer over the stove to make a delicious jam for Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.

While your jam is simmering, combine those OG honey roasted peanuts, oats, butter and some dates quickly in a food processor to make a crumb mixture that is then pressed into a baking dish to form the crust. Spread the “jam” over top, pop everything in the refrigerator and, voila! You’ll have these Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars sliced and ready to feed some very hungry little mouths.

A honey roasted peanut and oat crust makes up the base of these Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.

Now, I know I’ve mentioned the kids gobbling these up, but be sure to set aside a few for yourself. You’re not going to want to miss them. Plus, they’re gluten-free! Even more reason for every single person in your family to enjoy them.

These Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars are the perfect gluten-free after-school snack for both kids and adults alike!

Read on for the recipe!

Easy No-Bake Honey Roasted Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Prep Time
30 mins
Refrigerator time
2 hrs
Total Time
30 mins
 

A tasty, no-bake bar with a honey roasted peanut and oat crust and a jammy strawberry filling, this gluten-free treat is sure to please adults and kids alike!

Course: Dessert
Keyword: after-school, dessert, gluten-free, jelly, kid-friendly, no-bake, peanut butter, snack
Servings: 12 bars
Calories: 200 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the jam:
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds OR 1 teaspoon tapioca flour
For the crust:
  • 1 cup honey roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 dates, pitted and halved
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving enough on each side to assist you in pulling the bars out. Set aside.

  2. Combine the strawberries, maple syrup and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer until fruit is broken down and forms a jam-like consistency. Remove from heat and stir in chia seeds. Let cool slightly. 

  3. While the strawberries are simmering, make the crust. Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles the texture of wet sand. Dump contents of food processor into prepared baking dish and use your fingers to press it evenly along the bottom. 

  4. Spoon cooled strawberry jam on top of the crust and spread evenly. Cover and chill for at least two hours, if not longer. 

  5. Cut into 12 bars and enjoy!

The Most Refreshing Tropical Sangria

A unique, refreshing tropical sangria featuring some of the best flavors of the islands. Pineapple, mango, white wine and RUM all come together in a delicious drink that’s fit for a crowd.

A refreshing, make-ahead Tropical Sangria to feed a crowd!

Okay, I just want to start off by saying I am completely aware that this is the second tropical recipe I’ve posted in a row, but I don’t think you’ll blame me once you see what I have in store for you. This refreshing Tropical Sangria was inspired by our trip to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say it is one of the best sangrias I’ve tasted in a loooooong time.

If you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that there aren’t more recipes for Tropical Sangria out there in the world. I saw it on the menu of the pool bar at the condos we stayed at on Oahu and, although I never got a chance to try that one (well, I had the chance, the mai tai I had from them was just enough to discourage me from trying any more of their mixed drinks), I knew I wanted to try and make my own – and undoubtedly better – version as soon as we got home.

Mix up a pitcher of this refreshing Tropical Sangria before your Labor Day get-together!

If we’re thinking “tropical,” of course we’re going to go with a white wine base. And we’re not talking chardonnay – this white wine needs to be crisp, refreshing, herbaceous and, yes, tropical. I went for a Sauvignon Blanc, but a Pinot Grigio would be great as well.

The next step is to find the most tropical fruit that you can. Pineapple and mango always seem to be a safe bet here on the mainland, but you could also incorporate things like passion fruit, guava or even lychee if you can find them.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I like my sangria to be a little more “high octane” than just your average bottle of wine. And don’t even talk to me about adding any sort of soda water. I think it just waters things down wayyyyyy too much, especially since our Tropical Sangria is going to be served over plenty of ice. This is where the rum comes in! I mean, come on, there’s no liquor that’s quite more tropical than that.

Finally, there are a couple of other not-so-secret ingredients that really seal the deal, and they’re ingredients you’ll find in many of your favorite tiki drinks. We’re talking orange curacao and orgeat. Sure, you could leave them out, but I love the extra dimension they give the drink and they truly do make it taste much more tropical.

A great batch cocktail, this Tropical Sangria is perfect for your next cocktail party.

One thing I love about this drink (aside from how tasty it is) is that, unlike many other cocktails, this makes a huge batch. In other words, it’s perfect for a party! I recommend mixing it up in a pitcher in advance and getting the sangria nice and chilled – sans ice – until you’re ready to serve. When it comes time for your guests to whet their whistles, just scoop the ice into the individual glasses and pour the sangria over it. Don’t forget to scoop out some of the fruit into each glass! That booze-infused juiciness is the best part.

A glass of refreshing, boozy Tropical Sangria is just the cocktail you need for your next party.

If you ask me, this Tropical Sangria is the perfect drink for your long Labor Day weekend. No matter where you find yourself, everyone can use a little island flavor in their life, right?

The Most Refreshing Tropical Sangria
Prep Time
5 mins
Refrigerator time
30 mins
 

A unique, refreshing tropical sangria featuring some of the best flavors of the islands. Pineapple, mango, white wine and RUM all come together in a delicious drink that’s fit for a crowd.

Course: Drinks
Keyword: batch drink, cocktails, drinks, entertaining, mango, pineapple, rum, sangria, tropical, white wine
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 335 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cubed mango
  • 1 whole pineapple, cut into wheels and cored
  • 2 750mL bottles white wine (I recommend Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
  • 3/4 cup rum
  • 1/2 cup orange curacao
  • 1/2 cup orgeat
Instructions
  1. Place mango and pineapple in the bottom of a large pitcher. 

  2. Pour all other ingredients into pitcher and stir.

  3. Refrigerate until ready to serve (I recommend at least 30 minutes.)

  4. Pour into individual wine glasses filled with ice to serve. Be sure to scoop in some of the fruit!