One of my all-time favorite seasonings for fall is chai spice – similar to the flavorings used in apple or pumpkin pie, it is a rich mix of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, with the added zing of allspice and cardamom. A spiced chai latte or iced chai with milk are perfect companions to a crisp fall day spent amongst the colorful leaves.
This weekend, however, I decided to use some chai spice in a more creative way: to jazz up my typical Sunday morning french toast! This recipe also makes use of all those fall apples you might have lying around, and will fill your kitchen with a phenomenal combination of autumn aromas.
Apple Chai-Spiced French Toast
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tbs Chai Spice
- 1/2 tsp + a pinch ground cinnamon
- 6 thick slices French bread
- 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for serving
- 3 apples, peeled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- whipped cream and powdered sugar for topping
Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, chai spice and a pinch of ground cinnamon in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Add the bread in a single layer, turning until all the egg is absorbed.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter, and add apples and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, stirring to coat until starting to caramelize. Add the water, cooking until water has evaporated and apples are tender, about 4 minutes. Pour in the maple syrup; simmer for a minute to combine.
In a large, heated nonstick skillet or griddle (I like to spray mine with cooking spray to further prevent sticking), saute the soaked bread until golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes. Place French toast on a plate and top with apple-maple mixture, plus whipped cream and/or powdered sugar if you’d like!
Speaking of fresh produce… having my own garden at home has afforded me TONS of naturally grown, raw veggies to use in my cooking. Squash and zucchini are always abundant during the late summer months; we’ve practically got them coming out of our ears! My autumn motto has quickly become “A zucchini a day keeps the doctor away.”
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’ve managed to find some pretty creative ways to use these colorful gourd varieties, from zucchini noodles to sauteed zucchini and even zucchini nachos. One of my favorite techniques not only uses a lot of this healthy ingredient, it is also cleverly disguised by sugar and spices: baking with grated zucchini!
The first time I tried this recipe was with the after-school cooking program I helped to run for first through eighth graders in suburban Chicago. It yields enough of these bit-sized and flavorful muffins to feed an army, works great even at high altitude (now that I’m back in mountainous Colorado) and is super easy and fun to make with kids! I’ll definitely be keeping this one around for years to come.
Mini Zucchini Muffins
(Makes 3 dozen 1-oz mini muffins)
- 2 large eggs
- 1⁄2 cup white sugar
- 1⁄2 cup light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1⁄2 cups grated zucchini
- 2 cups flour
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease muffin pans or prepare them with baking cups.
Whisk 2 eggs; add sugar and oil. Beat until all three ingredients are well incorporated and mixture is very smooth. Mix in vanilla and zucchini. Slowly add flour, whisking until there are no flour lumps. Add remaining ingredients. Mix until batter is smooth (other than zucchini!).
Pour into prepped pans and bake for 15 minutes. To check for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the muffin—it’s done if the toothpick comes out clean.
One of my favorite things about summer is all the fresh produce – from the farmers market to my own backyard, there’s never a shortage of awesome organic fruits and vegetables to cook up. Nothing feeds my baking addiction better than freshly picked fruit!
A few weeks ago I decided to take advantage of some delicious looking blueberries that I managed to snag for dirt cheap. Always a favorite in my family, these blueberry muffins are deliciously thick, moist and flavorful. The best part? I manage to keep them health(ier) by replacing buttermilk and oil with 1% milk and applesauce! Not to mention all the antioxidants from those juicy ripe berries. All in all, a fantasticly wholesome way to start the day!
Scrumptious (and Easy) Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 eggs, room temperature preferred
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 and 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray your muffin tin of choice with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.
In a large bowl, gently toss together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix until all dry ingredients are combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until combined. Mix in milk, applesauce, and vanilla. Mixture will be pale and yellow. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix everything together by hand. Avoid overmixing. Gently mix until all the flour is off the bottom of the bowl and no big pockets of flour remain. The batter will be VERY thick and somewhat lumpy. Gently fold in the blueberries.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling all the way to the top. Bake at 425 degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and continue to bake for 25-26 minutes until tops are lightly golden and centers appear set. Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before enjoying.