Well, it’s been a bit of time! Tim and I both got slammed with colds throughout much of November, and since we weren’t moving forward with house stuff until after the holidays, I didn’t have a whole lot to say anyway. December has kept me hopping, though, because I am Big Into Christmas. This year, I am handmaking a slew of gifts and I’ll certainly share those after they’ve been distributed (I’m pretty pleased with how they’re turning out so far, but I have a bunch of work on them still) and in the meantime, I would love to share some food stuff with the world. I have yet to dive into my Christmas cookie baking (trying to hold off until we’re a little closer, so I don’t have a bunch of stale cookies to leave out for Santa), but I look forward to sharing some of my family’s favorite recipes, in addition to a few that I’ve come to rely on (including the butteriest lace cookies ever, which made me fall in love with almond extract).
I also will probably do a decoration round-up because I am very much in love with our Christmas decorations (almost all of them have some significance to me and I can tell you how they came into my possession). For the record, spending at least a day each weekend sewing for the past several weeks means that Tim did ALL of the decorating so far! I love the choices he’s made with our things and am so grateful that he took over and made the house warm, welcoming and festive while I was otherwise occupied!
Today I want to share with you one of my favorite baked goods, which I didn’t think of as a Christmas treat until recently. I discovered this recipe for Pumpkin Orange Loaf several years ago, and it’s one of my go-to staples when I feel like I should be bringing something breakfast-y for Thanksgiving when we go visit our families. The recipe has always produced more batter than I can fit in one of my loaf pans (alarmingly discovered after the first attempt to bake one!), so I usually grease up a muffin tin and make delicious little muffins as a bonus. This year for our family trip to the cabins in Mohican State Park, I decided to forgo the loaf altogether and just muffin up the entire recipe. Unsurprisingly, it was delicious! As a bonus, I could bake them well in advance of our trip and stick them in a bag in the freezer until we left.
Then for my birthday, Tim got me a monster food processor and I was excited to make the muffins all over again! Our old food processor was tiny (Tim estimated maybe 4 cups) and I forever had to process things in batches, or add voluminous greens a little at a time (the arugula pesto could be a bit of a challenge sometimes!). The pumpkin orange loaf calls for an entire orange (yup, peel and all!) to be processed and added to the batter. Well, no matter how small I pre-chopped the orange wedges and only did 1/3 or so at a time, prepping the orange in the tiny processor was a total mess. (Also, the blade was probably a bit dull, so it didn’t chop very smoothly.) Orange juice would always come sloshing out the seam where the lid attached and often sprayed on the wall and my stand mixer. However, with my lovely new birthday present, processing the orange for the Thanksgiving batch of muffins was super-easy and did not result in any wasted juice. These muffins were as moist and flavorful as ever!
Our office holiday party plans recently changed and all of a sudden I am responsible for bringing something to a pot-luck next Tuesday. When I mentioned to my best friend that the onion-cheese biscuits I usually make usually don’t go very quickly (there is SO much food every year!), she suggested I try bringing the pumpkin orange muffins this time. Man, I like her thinking. I can put together a batch this weekend, bring some to the party and freeze the rest. That way I’ll have some lovely breakfast ready to go when my family comes to our house for Christmas this year, without having to stress about baking them up while I’m working on delicious cookes! This is a win-win situation.
You should try these muffins, my friends. (Or bake it in a loaf form! Also delicious!) They are tasty heated up just a touch, with a little bit of butter or softened cream cheese, but also delicious without anything extra! They are delicious and moist, and it’s really fun to let people know they’re eating orange peel! You can make them without raisins and/or nuts if you are dealing with food allergies or people who just don’t care for either of those things. I’ve even used dried cranberries before in place of the raisins. They’re a little bit adaptable and a lot delicious. Enjoy!