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. 

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.

A Summer Beach Picnic + Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust!

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust.

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect dessert recipe for any beach picnic, BBQ or fancy dinner party!
Photo: Meg Sorel

As someone who left a sufficiently cushy job in the corporate world to become self-employed, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “Do you ever miss being in an office with coworkers?” And my answer is always, “Honestly, no.” Sure, the self-employed world can be lonely at times, but I consider myself AMAZINGLY lucky to have found a solid group of like-minded ladies (and yes, even some men) who have also set out on their own and forged a path for themselves in the world of entrepreneurship, specifically in the food, beverage and entertaining bizzes.

Recently, a few of us got together to kick off summer with a beautifully styled beach picnic featuring some incredibly delicious food and wine. Since I’ve been itching to refine my pie-making skills, I offered to bring one showcasing some of my favorite fruits of the season thus, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was born.

A fun and fresh Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with a flaky amaretto crust. The perfect summer dessert!
Photo: Meg Sorel

Here’s what everyone else brought/contributed (with live links to their posts/websites!)

Le Petit Chef

Denisse is a private chef and food photographer based here in Santa Barbara and brought the most refreshing Poached Lobster Salad with Peaches, Shaved Fennel and White Corn and delectable Crab Toasts with Heirloom Tomato & Charred Scallion Aioli.

The Oyster Tin

Jamie (also a private chef) just started this “micro-shuckery” here in SB and, let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted these oysters. She brought both raw and BBQ oysters to our little picnic and the BBQ sauce on the cooked ones was just insane!

FOLD

Not only does Viktoriya make some of the most beautiful table linens, she’s also a pro at food and prop styling, She made our entire picnic set-up look like a dream…I only wish I could bring her (and her beautiful napkins and tablecloths) along with me for every picnic I go on!

Wander & Wine

If you plan to serve wine at any get-together you’re hosting, you’ll want to invite Hana-Lee. She chose the perfect wines to pair with each of our dishes. I couldn’t believe what a perfect match the Riverbench Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine was for my Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

Meg Sorel Photography

Even though she stepped in for another photographer at the last minute, Meg was an absolute dream to work with and captured all of the beautiful images you see here and on the others’ posts.

Seafood, pie, wine and friends. What more can you ask for with a summer beach picnic?
Photo: Meg Sorel

Okay, now back to this pie. First, raise your hand if you (like me) are totally intimidated by pie-making because of the difficulty of making pie dough, rolling it out and then not only getting it to fit just right in your pie plate but also baking it to a beautiful golden brown in perfect synchronization to whatever filling you put inside.

Well, I’m here to tell you good news and bad news:

First, the bad news – it is hard. And it’s most likely not going to be perfect on your first attempt. You will most likely need to refine your practice in order to get it “just right.”

Next, the good news – it gets easier! Practice makes perfect. Once you find a recipe you like and practice it a time or two, you start to get a better feel for how it should look, feel, etc. I’m happy to say that, now that I have a basic pie crust recipe that I feel totally confident in, I’ll be making so many more pies and, after trying this recipe, I hope you will, too!

This Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is the perfect finish to any 4th of July picnic or summer BBQ!
Photo: Meg Sorel
A picture perfect summer beach picnic with seafood, pie, wine and great friends!
Photo: Meg Sorel

There are just a couple of little secrets I want to let you in on that make this “not-your-average” Strawberry Rhubarb Pie recipe:

  1. It’s a fairly popular notion that adding chilled vodka to your pie dough (instead of water) will make it extra tender and flaky due to the alcohol dissolving during the cooking process. You know I’m all about using booze when needed, but for this recipe you’ll find me subbing in amaretto for the vodka, adding that slight nuttiness that goes perfectly with the rest of the components of the pie. For all other aspects of the dough, I turned to my favorite Model Bakery (affiliate link) recipe as a guide – I knew they wouldn’t let me down!
  2. Although the ingredients for the filling are all pretty typical, there is one ingredient that may look a little odd – balsamic vinegar. I added this to bring depth and a slight tang to the filling that pair perfectly with all the almond notes tied in throughout.

I have to say, for being such a novice in this particular aspect of baking, this Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust was a pretty huge hit.

A perfect piece of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust is just what you need to cap off a summer meal.
Photo: Meg Sorel

It’s also perfectly portable which makes it a great dish to contribute to any 4th of July celebrations you may be attending this week.

Read on for the recipe!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Amaretto Crust
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 20 mins
Chilling time
1 hr 30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 50 mins
 

Some of early summer’s star produce comes together beautifully in this perfectly balanced dessert that's perfect for any warm weather get-together.

Course: Dessert
Keyword: pie, rhubarb, strawberry, summer
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 669 kcal
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup chilled butter-flavored shortening, cut into cubes (Can use regular shortening too)
  • 1/4 cup amaretto, chilled
For the filling:
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced (about 3 cups sliced)
  • 2 stalks rhubarb, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
For the streusel:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon amaretto
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, crumbled
Instructions
  1. Begin making the dough at least an hour or two before you plan on baking your pie. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. 

  2. Next, using a pastry blender, cut in both the butter and shortening until dough is blended but crumbly with some pea-sized pieces. 

  3. Slowly mix in the amaretto using a fork until a loose dough begins to form.

  4. Using your hands, shape the dough into a thick disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or even overnight.

  5. To make the filling, combine strawberries, rhubarb, balsamic vinegar, sugar and flour in a large bowl. Mix until the fruit is evenly coated with the sugar, flour and vinegar. Refrigerate until you’re ready to bake your pie.

  6. Finally, assemble the streusel topping. Mix together all streusel ingredients in a medium bowl, using your fingers as needed to break up the butter pieces and make the mixture even and crumbly.

  7. Pull out your refrigerated pie dough about 15 minutes before you’re ready to start baking. This will allow it to come back down to room temperature a bit and make it easier to roll out. Once your dough is at a “roll-able” temperature, roll it into an approximately 13-inch circle and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. You may need to trim some edges and work the dough a bit once it’s in the pan to get the crust as uniform as possible. Crimp the ends as desired and then freeze for 15-30 minutes.

  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove your crust from the freezer and pour in the filling, then top with the streusel. 

  9. Bake pie in your 400 degree oven for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also at this point I recommend putting on a pie shield or covering the edges of your crust with foil to prevent it from burning. Bake pie at this new reduced temperature for one hour to one hour and 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Let cool before serving (preferably with vanilla ice cream!)

 

The Best of CaliGirl Cooking: Top 15 Holiday Baked Goods

Wow, what a week it has been!

Chocolate Panettone | CaliGirl Cooking

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you probably already know that I am currently up at my parents’ house in Santa Cruz with Baby Raia avoiding the smoke and fires that have descended on our poor little city of Santa Barbara since last Monday evening. We stuck it out until last Thursday, but when the air got so bad that I could see and smell the smoke seeping into our house I knew it was time to take baby girl and her precious new lungs and hit the road.

As of right now our home is not in an evacuation zone, although many of our friends’ and family’s homes, including my brother’s have been under voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders for going on five days now. Santa Barbara has turned into a virtual ghost town and looks alarmingly apocalyptic. Who knows how long we’ll be up north breathing in as much fresh air as we can (a bit of the smoke has even made its way up here, but nowhere near as bad as it is further south), but in the meantime we’re trying to pass the time with getting as ready for Christmas as we can, which includes baking up a ton of delicious holiday goodies!

Chunky Monkey Cinamon Rolls with Chocolate Glaze | CaliGirlCooking.com

That being said, since my normal schedule has been thrown for a bit of a loop, I thought it would be fun to spend this week rounding up some of my top holiday recipes in different categories. Today I’ll be sharing my most popular holiday baked goods, Friday we’re talking all things cocktails (and mocktails!) and on Monday we’ll go for appetizers. I had a ton of fun looking through my archives to put these lists together, and I know you’ll find at least one thing you’ll want to add to you holiday cooking and baking list in the next two weeks!

So, without further ado, I bring you The Best of CaliGirl Cooking: Top 15 Holiday Baked Goods.

These Chocolate, Butterscotch and Coconut "Grutch" Bars are a holiday favorite and are so easy to make!

1. CHOCOLATE, BUTTERSCOTCH AND COCONUT GRUTCH BARS
2. CHOCOLATE PANETTONE
3. CHOCOLATE DIPPED CRANBERRY WALNUT BISCOTTI

Homemade Caramel Covered Scotch Kisses are the perfect holiday gift.

4. HOMEMADE CARAMEL COVERED MARSHMALLOW KISSES
5. PEPPERMINT BARK BROWNIES
6. SAVORY PROSCIUTTO-SAGE-GRUYERE BREAD PUDDING
7. CHUNKY MONKEY CINNAMON ROLLS WITH CHOCOLATE GLAZE
8. CHOCOLATE BRIE DESSERT PIZZA WITH ALMOND ORANGE SHORTBREAD CRUST

Chocolate Brie Dessert Pizza with Almond-Orange Shortbread Crust | CaliGirl Cooking

9. PEPPERMINT CHOCOHOLIC COOKIES
10. WEEKEND HAZELNUT STICKY BUNS WITH DATE CARAMEL
11. BUTTERSCOTCH APPLE OATMEAL COOKIES WITH BOURBON GLAZE
12. PUMPKIN POPOVERS

A batch of easy Pumpkin Popovers fresh out of the oven and ready to be eaten!

13. SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE BABKA
14. CREAM CHEESE-Y PUMPKIN PIE
15. CRANBERRY CHOCOLATE CHUNK MUFFINS WITH CHOCOLATE STREUSEL

What are your favorite baked good recipes for the holidays? I’d love to give some a try while we’re on our #evacuationvacation so leave the links or recipes below!

Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti

Continuing on with the sweet holiday treats today!

These Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti are fantastic dipped in coffee or a hot toddy!

And these Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti live up to every expectation you may have about what a holiday cookie should be. The flavors meld together perfectly to form a delightful cookie that tastes just as good with your morning coffee as it does with an evening hot toddy in front of the fire. It’s a real crowd-pleaser, that’s for sure, and should make it on to your holiday baking list ASAP.

To be completely honest, this version of Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti was my own attempt at copying a similar biscotti recipe from back in my Hawaii days. When I was living there and working for an event production company, my boss’ wife would make THE most insanely delicious biscotti every Christmas. I distinctly remember how all of us in the office would impatiently await that first day sometime around Thanksgiving when my boss would bring in the first batch of the season, which would subsequently get devoured before the workday was through.

I don’t remember the exact ingredients (and the specific recipe was a highly coveted family secret), but they were something along the line of chocolate, dried cranberries and either walnuts or almonds. What I do remember is that, after the initial crunch, they just melted in your mouth and were the perfect accompaniment to any warm beverage that was suitable for dunking.

These Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti are the perfect holiday cookie to add to your baking repertoire.

So this year, I decided I needed to make my best attempt at making my own version, and let me just say that although they’re not exactly the same as my boss’ wife’s version, they’re pretty darn close and just as tasty.

If you’ve never made biscotti before, there’s no need to be intimidated. The biggest difference from other cookies is the baking technique, since you bake them off twice – once as a log (almost in the shape of a loaf of bread) and then again after you slice the log into the appropriate biscotti-sized pieces. Being the chocolate-lover that I am, of course I had to go ahead and dip the biscotti in it, but if you’re not such a big fan you could easily omit that step. Or, if you still want some chocolate but don’t feel like tackling the dipping process, go ahead and throw some mini chocolate chips into the dough! Tons of possibilities.

Set out a plate of Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti at your holiday get-together and guaranteed they'll be gone in an instant!

The other thing I love about these Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti is that the recipe yields quite a few, which makes it perfect for all of your holiday cookie plate gifting needs. Since I was making all my holiday recipes back in September before baby, I threw Ziplocs of these into the freezer and am just now getting into the stash. They’ve held up beautifully (and we’ll see if there are any left for me to gift people 😉

Whether or not you decide to make Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti for your friends or you decide to keep them all to yourself, you definitely need to give them a shot. Because who doesn’t need a delicious cookie they can pull out of the freezer and enjoy at a moment’s notice during this crazy holiday season?

Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti are the perfect holiday cookie to bake up this season.

Chocolate Dipped Cranberry Walnut Biscotti
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
50 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

This classic cookie gets fancied up for the holiday season with tart cranberries, toasted walnuts, and a generous coating of chocolate. 

Course: Dessert
Servings: 2 dozen
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) chopped toasted walnuts
  • 14 ounces dried cranberries
  • 20 ounces chopped semisweet or dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

  4. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on low until combined.

  5. Add the nuts and cranberries.

  6. Roll the dough into six 10-by-1 ½-inch logs. Arrange the logs on the prepared baking sheets and bake until golden, about 30 minutes. 

  7. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes. With a serrated knife, slice the logs on the diagonal, about 2/3-inch thick.

  8. Bake the slices, cut side up, for an additional 18 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool.

  9. Melt chocolate and coconut oil together in the top of a double boiler until smooth. One at a time, dip one end of the biscotti into the chocolate mixture.

  10. Place dipped biscotti on a baking rack over a large piece of parchment paper (to catch drips.) Let chocolate set and transfer biscotti to a resealable container or bag. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.