Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes

Spring has only just barely joined us here in Bozeman and I am ready for it. Although I haven’t yet figured out in what capacity I’m going to participate in running season this year, not needing multiple layers of clothing to visit the great outdoors is definitely improving my morale. M and I have been hiking every weekend since mid-March when the ski area closed, and with the social distancing practices it’s turned us from standard trails towards wandering about new-to-us public lands.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

As the snow became less frequent and the plants started to show bits of color, my typical lemon cravings arrived too. I’d had cupcakes on my list to make for approximately a year at this point and a springtime version seemed the obvious solution. (Plus it allowed me to use these gorgeous cupcake liners I bought at Costco way too many years ago.) Borrowing a recipe from the always-amazing Pastry Affair, I set out on a cupcake quest. I knew I wanted to incorporate an herbaceous aspect and with thyme being the most appropriate herb available at the store that day, I was inspired by yet another Pastry Affair scone recipe I’d made last year.

Knowing I wanted a lighter buttercream frosting in lieu of a decadent cream cheese concoction, I modified a separate recipe with another addition of thyme in order to harmonize the two recipes with plenty of springtime flavor.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Moist and light, these cupcakes are packed with blueberries and accented with lemon and thyme for a slight twist on a classic. They are not exorbitantly sweet which means even with the buttercream frosting it’s a reasonable sugar high. (Still plenty sweet though, it is a cupcake, after all.) The frosting is fluffy and bright with a little thyme flavor, and a few specks of the herb throughout. I opted for some simple rose swirls to keep it a relatively light amount of frosting, and to bring an edible bouquet to my kitchen.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

These keep well on the counter, remaining moist and delicious for at least five days. Realistically probably longer but we’d given away or demolished all 18 of them by then. If you’re in need of a wonderful treat with plenty to share, these cupcakes are perfect. They’d make a lovely addition to Mother’s Day but are low-stress enough for any weekday treat.

Blueberry Lemon Thyme Cupcakes {{Baking Bytes}}

Blueberry Thyme Cupcakes

Vaguely adapted from Pastry Affair
Makes 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2-3 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp lemon zest, minced

2 large eggs

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Sicilian Lemon olive oil (or any vegetable oil)
1 Tbsp vanilla

2/3 cup milk

1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp flour (if using frozen berries)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare two cupcake tins with a total of 18 baking cups.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. With an electric mixer, cream together butter,  sugar, and thyme until light and fluffy, at least 2 minutes.
  4. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each one, then mix in yogurt, oil, and vanilla.
  5. Add in the dry mixture about 1/4 cup at a time,  until mostly combined.
  6. Stir in the milk on low speed until the batter is smooth and there are no flour streaks.
  7. If you have frozen berries, toss them with the tablespoon of flour until well coated.
  8. Gently fold in the blueberries until evenly distributed.
  9. Fill each baking cup with about 1/4 cup off batter, then bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (If your tins will fit side by side on the same oven rack, you can bake them all at once, otherwise I recommend doing each tin separately.)
  10. Cool briefly in pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely prior to frosting.
  11. Frost as desired, then store in a sealed container on the counter up to one week (or until devoured.)

Lemon Thyme Buttercream Frosting

Borrowed from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes about 2.5 cups

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp lemon zest, minced
1 Tbsp thyme, minced
pinch of salt

Directions

  1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy, about two minutes.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients on low speed until just coming together.
  3. Beat on high speed for three minutes, until frosting is fluffy, uniform, and fragrant.
  4. If necessary, adjust consistency with an additional 1/4 cup powdered sugar another tablespoon of cream to thicken or thin, respectively.
  5. If you are relatively light with frosting (like me), you can store leftovers in the freezer. Bring to room temperature and beat again before using, adjusting texture with additional cream if needed.

Jalapeño Cornbread & Strawberry Jalapeño Lime Chia Jam

Week three, commence! This week brings a super fun cornbread and jam combination that’s been in my head since Olivelle released their Jalapeño Lime Balsamic Vinegar this summer. Strawberry and jalapeño are a really fun combination and cornbread is one of my favorite side dishes. I tweaked my go-to recipe to be lactose-free, included some extra flavors, and behold: a new happiness was born.

Jalapeño Cornbread and Jam {{Baking Bytes}}

Moist and with just the right amount of crumble, this cornbread is excellent on its own or smothered in your favorite condiment. It goes wonderfully with chili or barbecue and is perfect all year round. The jalapeño adds a lovely flavor with as much (or in my case, as little) heat as you like depending on how many seeds you remove. The hint of lime is a fun surprise and ties it into the chia jam with perfection.

Jalapeño Cornbread and Jam {{Baking Bytes}}

Chia jam is something that has intrigued me for awhile but I somehow never got around to making until just now. I realized one of my hesitations was the texture, but using a berry bypasses this since fruits like strawberry and blackberry already result in a more seedy texture than stone fruits.

Strawberry Jalapeño Lime Chia Jam {{Baking Bytes}}

Frozen strawberries from Oregon (mostly to appease M) are readily available and have tons of flavor. A splash of the balsamic and a spoonful of chia seeds and in less than ten minutes you have a truly excellent jam. The fun part about this one is you could easily substitute a different balsamic for a completely different flavor. The Barrel Aged for a more standard pairing, or perhaps Sweet Basil for a fun spring edition. The world is your oyster jam!

Jalapeño Cornbread and Jam {{Baking Bytes}}

Whip up a batch of cornbread and jam and they are sure to brighten any chilly day. Individually both excellent, together these recipes create that perfect sweet and spicy combination without a ton of extra sugar.

Jalapeño Cornbread and Jam {{Baking Bytes}}

But if you want to drizzle honey on top of the whole thing, you won’t be wrong.

Strawberry Jalapeño Lime Chia Jam

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

1 cup frozen strawberries1
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp Jalapeño Lime Balsamic Vinegar

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, simmer strawberries over medium until softened.
  2. Mash or puree berries to desired texture (I like mine chunky), then stir in chia and balsamic.
  3. Let cool briefly before serving; store leftovers in the fridge.

Notes

Why frozen? Unless you live in the Willamette Valley, the flavor is going to be better than fresh berries. Feel free to use fresh if you prefer though!

Jalapeño Honey Cornbread

Makes an 8×8″ baking dish

Ingredients

1 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup white flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp Lime Fresco Sea Saltoptional

2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk (cow, almond, coconut)
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil1
2 Tbsp honey, melted
2 Tbsp Jalapeño Lime White Balsamic Vinegar

1 jalapeño, diced (remove seeds for a milder flavor)2

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly coat an 8×8″ baking pan with nonstick spray or oil. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients until well combined.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together wet ingredients until well combined.
  4. Fold wet ingredients into dry until just combined, then stir in jalapeño.
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown along the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
  6. Let cool briefly, then serve with jam.

Notes

1 For an extra limey flavor, substitute some or all Tahitian Lime Olive Oil.

For a legitimately spicy experience, don’t remove the seeds. I removed most of mine to keep the heat down and the flavor light.

Spicy Maple Roasted Root Vegetables

Welcome to week two, friends. Continuing with the sweet and spicy theme, this time we’re pairing maple with a snazzy piri piri spice blend on some lovely roasted root vegetables perfect for cozy evenings.

Roasted Spicy Maple Veggies {{Baking Bytes}}

Sweet and spicy is my favorite combination and in my opinion nothing works quite so well on the sweet side as maple syrup. With its own robust flavor, maple is nicely complemented by a number of spicy additions, my own favorite being chipotle. I ventured slightly off my beaten path in favor of using Olivelle’s Piri Piri World Spice blend, featuring a number of different chili peppers and a hint of lemon. It packs quite a bit of heat which means the tin will last other wusses like me quite a long time.

Roasted Spicy Maple Veggies {{Baking Bytes}}

I actually made this recipe a bit differently the first time, and then promptly re-made it after the release of their Vanilla Maple Olive Oil at the end of September. I knew immediately it was perfect for this recipe and round two was even better than the first iteration. (I originally used Caramelized Garlic, which you can see in the round one pictures.)

Roasted Spicy Maple Veggies {{Baking Bytes}}

You can use any firm vegetables here, but I chose a mixture of my favorite fall options. Acorn (or butternut) squash are prolific this time of year, and go well with both sweet and savory flavors. Sweet potatoes are a staple in my world and I rounded out the festive orange ensemble with carrot. Pumpkin would also work nicely to keep monochromatic medley, or for some contrasting color add Brussels sprouts as I did in my second batch.

Roasted Spicy Maple Veggies {{Baking Bytes}}

The maple flavor of the olive oil is not sweet, but has an amazing savory profile that works perfectly with the heat of the spice blend. I rounded mine out with a bit of Cumin Spice Sea Salt, to add just a bit more depth to the whole shebang.

For that hint of sweet and a boost of maple flavor, the roasted veggies are lightly drizzled with pure maple syrup and then popped in the oven for a few more minutes to let it caramelize a bit. I kept mine more on the spicy side than the sweet side, but for a more standard glazed carrot experience just up the maple syrup to two or more tablespoons. Sweet, spicy, and cozy, this recipe is definitely going to become a go-to on cold days.

spicy_maple_veggies_4

A perfect complement to any fall dinner, the sweet and spicy combination brings some warmth and fun to any meal. It’s perfect for Thanksgiving too, going beyond those traditional sugar-filled recipes and adding a little something extra to the table. On the off chance you have any leftovers, it’s also perfect atop a spinach salad or underneath a fried egg.

Spicy Maple Roasted Root Vegetables

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large carrots, peeled and diced1
1 small butternut or acorn squash, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, diced

2 Tbsp Vanilla Maple (or Caramelized Garlic) Olive Oil
3/4 tsp Piri Piri World Spice, to taste2
1/4 tsp Cumin Spice Sea Salt

1-2 Tbsp pure maple syrup, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray a baking sheet with oil or non-stick spray.
  2. Combine all veggies in a medium bowl, and add olive oil and spice blend. Use a rubber scraper to toss until well coated.
  3. Spread veggies evenly on prepared baking sheet (save your bowl), and roast for 15-20 minutes, until just before done.
  4. Return veggies to the bowl and toss with maple syrup. Spread back onto the baking sheet and roast another 3-5 minutes to allow syrup to lightly caramelize.
  5. Serve promptly.

Notes

About 4-6 cups total veggies, so mix and match to your heart’s content.

For a mild experience, use 1/2 teaspoon, or if you like more heat, increase to 1 or 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Squashage Crustless Quiche

Happy fall, friends. Or if it’s not really fall where you are, you can either ignore completely or live vicariously through this post instead. Up to you.

Squashage Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Spicy sausage and sweet squash are a perfect match in my world, and this quiche is inspired by a lovely pizza at a local spot. Butternut squash is one of my favorites, and is a great way to autumnize a recipe if you’re not a fan of pumpkin or just not quite into “pumpkin season” yet. It’s a neutral flavor that lends a touch of sweetness to a recipe without overpowering it, and comes in conveniently pre-diced packages at Costco.

Squashage Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Paired with your preferred Italian sausage, the sweet and spicy notes complement each other perfectly. You can amp up the spicy aspect, as I did here, or amp up the sweetness aspect with a touch of maple and cinnamon if you prefer. Wilted kale generously adds a veggie boost and a color pop without overwhelming the flavor. I prefer kale here since it has more structural integrity than spinach and a more mild flavor than arugula, but you can substitute your favorite leafy green easily enough.

Squashage Crustless Quiche {{Baking Bytes}}

Perfect on its own or with a side of potatoes, pastry, or produce (depending on your mood), this quiche is an excellent meal to have stashed in the freezer or to meal prep for the week ahead. It keeps nicely in the fridge for at least a week or in the freezer for several months, so consider making a double batch if you have the storage space. It’s also lovely topped with some crumbled feta or chèvre if you’re interested in adding a creamy component.

This quiche is sure to be a new fall favorite, but it’s so easy you’ll want to make it all year round.

Squashage Crustless Quiche

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1/2 lb Italian sausage of choice (I like spicy)
1 lbs butternut squash, peeled and diced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
a few large handfuls kale, to taste1

8 large eggs
1 cup milk of choice (I used cow, almond should be fine)
2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 – 1/2 tsp paprika, to taste

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray an 8×8″ baking dish (or deep-dish 9″ pie plate) with cooking spray.
  2. Layer a couple of paper towels on a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the sausage to a large frying pan and heat over medium. Cook, breaking into small pieces, until browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to paper towels to drain.
  4. Add onion to the same pan and sauté until translucent. Use slotted spoon to spread evenly into prepared baking dish.
  5. Briefly sauté the kale in the same pan until wilted (in batches if necessary) and add to prepared baking dish. Add squash and sausage.
  6. In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, milk, and Italian season.
  7. Pour gently into the baking dish, being careful not to overfill. (If you have extra space, you can always stir in some extra wilted kale here.)
  8. Top with additional paprika and crushed red pepper, if desired.
  9. Bake for about one hour, until the top is browned and the quiche is set. If necessary, cover with foil for the last 20 minutes to prevent the top from over browning.
  10. Let cool on the counter briefly before serving with your favorite toppings and sides.
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge or wrap completely cooled slices individually for a pre-portioned and freezer-safe breakfast.2

Notes

I did not actually measure, but it was probably most of one of the smaller sized clamshell packages. I just kept wilting kale until no more fit.

To reheat: unwrap and place in the microwave on a folded paper towel (to absorb excess moisture.) Defrost for 2-3 minutes then heat normally for 30-45 seconds. Enjoy!

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart

Springtime means lemon in my brain, so when I saw this spiral tart from Bunsen Burner Bakery I knew I wanted to incorporate that flavor. A lemon hummus seemed the perfect accompaniment to a series of veggies and I set out to test this hypothesis.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

The bright flavor of lemon is complimented by a generous amount of garlic. I opted to use my hefty supply Olivelle products but you can use standard varieties if needed. The turmeric lifts the yellow coloring up a notch which isn’t necessary for the tart but it’s beautiful for a party platter. You’ll have plenty of leftover hummus to enjoy on its own, and it provides a lovely creamy base for this tart without any additional sogginess.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

My trusty no-fail pie crust recipe is the base for this delicious dish. Since I don’t have a tart pan (something I should probably rectify, pronto) I used a standard 9″ pie plate, which works just fine. I love this pie crust recipe because it never gets over browned, but you can easily substitute your own go-to pastry here if you wish.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

The flaky pastry and crisp lemon flavor of the hummus blend beautifully into a base for all your veggies of choice. I chose zucchini, carrot, summer squash, and eggplant, but feel free to use whatever you have laying around the kitchen that you can slice with a mandolin. You’ll want veggies thin enough to bend, but no thinner. On my mandolin I used the thinnest setting for the carrot and the next one up for the rest of the vegetables, but definitely do a test slice to see what makes sense for yours.

spiral_tart_2

Concentric rings of vegetable goodness are pleasing to the eye and the tongue. Finished with a bit of rosemary (or your favorite herb) for a spark of flavor and a pretty garnish, this tart is a prefect addition to your next brunch. This tart is inherently vegan (presuming you use a vegan pie crust) but for the rest of us a sprinkle of goat cheese is the perfect topping for each piece. To round out the meal, I enjoyed mine with a side of eggs and fruit.

spiral_tart_5

This tart would be sure to please at a Mother’s Day brunch, or to brighten any regular day too. If you have any leftovers, they are excellent cold or reheated in the oven, so be sure to enjoy every last bite!

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart

Inspired by Bunsen Burner Bakery
Makes one 9″ tart

Ingredients

pastry for a single-crust pie

1 medium zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 small yellow squash
3 large carrots
1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic ) olive oil

1/2 cup lemon garlic hummus (below)

1-2 tsp fresh rosemary or other herb

lemon garlic hummus (adapted from Well and Full)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic or Sicilian Lemon) olive oil (I used 2 Tbsp Garlic and 1 Tbsp Lemon)
2 Tbsp tahini
1-3 cloves garlic (depending on if you’re using infused oil)
zest and juice from 1 large lemon
1/2 tsp (Garlic) salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Make ahead: add all hummus ingredients to a food processor, starting with half the lemon juice, and process until smooth. Taste and add additional lemon juice (for flavor) or oil (for consistency) as needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Gently lay pastry in a 9″ pie plate or tart pan. Trim and crimp the edges, as desired. Refrigerate pastry for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Prick pastry generously all over with a fork (or use pie weights if you prefer) and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the veggies.
  5. Use a mandolin to thinly slice all the veggies. (On mine I used setting 2 for the squash and eggplant, and setting 1 for the carrots.) Add all the slices to a large bowl and use your hands to gently toss in olive oil. Don’t add too much oil because the eggplant likes to soak it all up!
  6. Retrieve the pastry and spread 1/2 cup of hummus evenly along the bottom.
  7. Starting from the outside, layer the strips of veggies in whatever order you like; I opted for a repeating pattern of concentric circles but it’s totally up to you.
  8. Spray with olive oil (or lightly brush it on) and sprinkle with rosemary or herb of choice.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender and starting to crisp, and crust is a golden brown. If necessary (it wasn’t for me) you can cover the crust edges with foil if they are browning too quickly.
  10. Serve warm, optionally topped with goat cheese. Goes great with a side of eggs and fruit!
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge. I suspect it’d last about 3 days but I can’t confirm because we ate it all before then. Enjoy chilled or reheat in the [toaster] oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.