Friday, April 6, 2012

Spring break, full of running & baking... [Carrot Surprise Muffins]

Ahhhh... sweet sweet Spring Break. I've been waiting for this all year long. Well at least since we came back from our long weekend in February. Hehe. This year we only get 3 days off school (compared to last year's entire week), but we are done with school before Memorial Day. So it's definitely worth having a shorter break.

So what did I spend my first glorious morning of not having to be at school by 7:45am? Oh... just waking up at my normal time of 6:20, but going for a 20 mile run instead of going to work. As much as I love teaching, running will always win in the "more fun" department. 

21.4 miles of running & rainbows makes for a happy girl.
I met up with my running buddies Jim, Amy, & Kevin for a long run. Kevin is training for a 100-mile ultra marathon which is crazy, and Jim & Amy are always game for a long run. We ran around town for a bit before running Kevin home (out in the country) and then running the 5+ miles back into town. 

We accidentally misjudged our route though, and ended up with 21.4 miles instead of 20. Whoops?! With an average pace of 7:52, this was a great confidence-boosting run before taper. 

Highlight of the run? Running through the mall around 8am with all the 'morning walkers'. Our mall opens every morning so that people (mostly of the older generation) can come and get their walk on before the stores open. So naturally, we thought it would be fun to run a loop through the mall. And it was. I'm just glad the Cinn-a-bon wasn't open yet because I don't know if I'd have been able to leave.

I bought my first ever pair of running crops yesterday, and tested them out on today's run. They are perfect! Can't believe I waited this long to get a pair. They were perfect for the temps this morning, mid-30s. Usually I'd wear shorts but then complain about being cold the whole time. Absolutely love them.

Lovin' the new crops. It's incredible hard to take a picture of your lower half with your phone. Just sayin'.
The start of spring break also means that I spent some time in the kitchen yesterday, whipping up some delicious Carrot Surprise Muffins for my Business Man to share with his employees today. (Oh, and for us to eat, too.)

Cream cheese filling, front & center. 
I tried to think of something creative and 'Easter-y' and these fit the bill! Pretty much a twist on carrot cake that you can justify eating for breakfast because it's a muffin. (NOT a cupcake. A muffin.)

The recipe comes from my Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor book by Anne Byrn, so it starts with a cinnamon-swirl bread mix. It's then doctored up with freshly grated carrots, maple extract, and a cream cheese filling! The cream cheese filling really takes these muffins over the top. They're moist, full of cinnamon-maple flavor, and of course they are healthy for you because they have a serving of vegetables. 

A word to the wise - buy whole carrots, not baby carrots... they are much easier to grate. Baby carrots just turn into carrot nubs too quickly and then you almost grate your fingers off. And they make a big mess.

Ahhh! Carrots!

You mix up the batter, then place a small dollop of cream cheese surprise in the center of each muffin before baking.

Ready to bake!
Warm, fresh carrot muffins with a cream cheese center. I'm thinking you might need to make these for your Easter Sunday breakfast. 

[Click to PRINT]

Carrot Surprise Muffins

  • For the cream cheese surprise
    • 4-oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 1 large egg, beaten
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the muffins
    • 17.5-oz. package cinnamon swirl muffin mix
    • ½ cup milk
    • ¼ cup vegetable oil
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 teaspoon maple extract
    • 1 cup freshly shredded carrots


Preheat oven to 400*F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper liners.

For cream cheese surprise, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add sugar, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon of the beaten egg. (Save the remaining beaten egg for the muffins.) Blend until smooth. Set aside.

For muffins, place the muffin mix in a mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Reserve about 1/3 the cinnamon-sugar packet for topping the muffins. Add 2/3 the cinnamon-sugar packet to the muffin mix. Place milk, oil, egg, remaining beaten egg, and maple extract in the well of the muffin mix. Stir with a fork to combine and break up the egg yolk. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a spoon just until combined, about 20 strokes. Add the shredded carrots; stir another 10 strokes just to combine. The batter will still be a little lumpy, that's ok!

Scoop about 1/3 cup batter into each muffin cup, filling it 3/4 full. With a back of a spoon, make a small well in the batter in the center of each muffin. Dollop a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with the reserved cinnamon-sugar.

Bake at 400*F for 18 to 20 minutes until muffins spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. Let cool at least 5 minutes before removing muffins from cups. Enjoy!

Source: from Anne Byrn's Cupcakes from the Cake Mix Doctor


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