spicy pumpkin muffins

I had some leftover pumpkin puree in the refrigerator that needed to be turned into something before it passed its prime.  This recipe popped out at me while I was re-organizing my cookbooks.  On a side note:  Is it just me, or do cookbook collections seem to have a life of their own?   It’s as if I slide the door closed over them and they throw a dance party and drink too much and forget where they leave their pants!  Every time I reach for a cookbook I think, “I really need to reorganize these again.”  Anyway…

These muffins were average.  I’d make a few changes the next time.  First, they weren’t nearly “spicy” enough for me.  Obviously, not in a muy caliente sort of way.  But in a pumpkin-y, fall, seasonal spicy sort of way.  And I actually included allspice; a seasoning not called for in the original recipe.  Also, as much as I love golden raisins, I didn’t love them in this recipe.  Too mushy or something.  The texture was wrong.  See my Baker’s Notes below for some suggestions to improve this recipe.  It has the potential to be really good.  Feel free to comment, too, if you make them, and let me know what you did or didn’t do to change the recipe.  I might like to try it.  Enjoy!

2013-11-05

2013-11-051

Spicy Pumpkin Muffins (recipe adapted from A Literary Feast: Recipes From the Grosse Pointe Public Library)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c low-fat milk
  • 1 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c golden raisins

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°.  Spray muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray such as Pam for baking.
  2. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Mix well.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg, milk, and pumpkin puree, until smooth.
  4. Fold dry ingredients in to pumpkin mixture, about 1/3 at a time, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Stir in raisins (or, walnuts).
  6. Spoon equal amounts into muffin cups and bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
  7. Cool for 5 minutes in pan, then finish cooling on rack.

DSC_1055

DSC_1066

***Baker’s Notes – First, as you can see above, I used cupcake liners for my muffins.  If you do this, make sure the muffins are completely cool before removing the paper.  My first one (yes, I was anxious to try it) stuck miserably, but the paper on the fully cooled muffins did not.  Second, add more spice.  I’d double everything:  1 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, and throwing caution to the wind, 1/2 teaspoon ginger.  They’re pumpkin muffins.  They’re supposed to be overflowing with the flavors of fall.  The original recipe just fell flat.   Third, the raisins were too soft.  I’d use nuts next time; walnuts, pecans, or even roasted, unsalted pepitas, for some complimentary texture.  Last, what you don’t eat the first day, refrigerate.

Advertisements

pumpkin chocolate chip squares

So, yesterday I spent too much time reading news and scanning the Twitter feed re: the current state of affairs in Washington D.C.  I’m a fiscal conservative.  Borrowing money to pay your bills is ludicrous.  You wouldn’t run your household budget that way, so why is it ok for the government to spend like a passel of reckless teenagers with a stolen ATM card??  (I’d refer you to the recent glitch in the welfare EBT system in which recipients of government-funded, i.e., my tax dollars, debit cards went on a spending spree…knowing full well their cards did NOT have balances to support their spending).  Get it?

Well, enough of that.  After an overload of (more) bad news out of our nation’s capital, I shut down (ha ha…no pun intended) the internet and headed to the kitchen to bake.  With ingredients I bought with hard-earned money contained within our monthly household budget.  Get it?

Oh, never mind.  Just bake these.  They’re yummy and perfect for fall – pumpkin, pumpkin spice, vanilla, and chocolate.  Good stuff.  Good stuff.

2013-10-16

2013-10-161

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares (adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 Tbsp pumpkin-pie spice*
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5/8 cup sugar (weighed on a kitchen scale = .625 ounces)
  • 1/2 large egg (approx 1 Tbsp and 1 1/2 tsp)**
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips (I used a combination of white and semi-sweet)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray bottom of 8 x 8 baking pan with Pam Non-Stick Baking Spray
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  4. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Approximately 30 – 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

*Pumpkin Pie Spice is easy to make at home:  Combine 1 Tbsp cinnamon, 2 tsp ground ginger, and 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

**I halved this recipe which created the dilemma of halving an egg.  A typical large egg contains about 2 Tbsp egg white and 1 Tbsp yolk.  So, to half the egg, you’ll need 1 1/2 Tbsp of whipped egg (1 Tbsp + 1 1/2 tsp).

DSC_0898

DSC_0904

***Baker’s Notes:  First, the original recipe called for chocolate chips.  I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but I had a partial bag I wanted to use up, so I divided the 6 ounces into half white chocolate, half semi-sweet.  The end result?  Perfect way to eat white chocolate.  You can’t even really taste the difference.  Secondly, because I halved the recipe, I ended up baking in an 8 x 8 pan rather than the 9 x 13.  Watch the baking time.  I pulled them the first time at 30 minutes, but quickly reconsidered because they’re much thicker.  Last, the one thing I might add to give this recipe a little more punch (not that they’re not delicious), is cayenne pepper.  Heat and chocolate and pumpkin.  Triple threat!!

pumpkin pie smoothies

October is here.  That means pumpkin pies, spice breads, pumpkin soup, pumpkin cookies, and…the pumpkin smoothie!

This recipe appears in so many places all over the internet I don’t even remember where I found it.  Frankly, there are so many variations on this recipe, it’s hard to say where it was first conceived.  Again, it’s a recipe that takes well to adaptation.  This one is dairy-free and vegan friendly.  You can easily make this gluten-free, as well, by using a gluten-free rolled oat (i.e. Bob’s Red Mill).  I thought it was delicious.

My child, however, did not.  She tried it, rolled it around over her taste buds, and then promptly handed the glass back to me and asked for an alternative snack.  I’ll give her credit for actually trying it, though.  My husband refused it outright.  He never even tasted it.  Something about the color!  Admittedly, he saw it a few hours after I’d made it, and anything with banana in it is susceptible to discoloration.  Bananas turn brown pretty quickly once you peel them, and this smoothie is not exception.  Make it, drink it.  Don’t save some for tomorrow.  Enjoy!

pumpkinsmoothies©zouptonuts

2013-09-271

smoothie©zouptonuts

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (recipe adapted from all over the internet)

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 C almond milk
  • 3/4 C pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 C rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp flax seeds, ground (optional)
  • 1 tsp all-natural maple syrup
  • dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice
  • fresh grated cinnamon or nutmeg for topping

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.  Add whipped topping (optional) and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice,

Dive in!

smoothie_2©zouptonuts

pumpkin swirl brownies

A couple of years ago, I was wandering around at the Old Town Scottsdale Farmers Market when I found a vendor selling brownies.  I’m not much of a cake-for-breakfast kind of person, but there was something about these particular brownies that attracted me; they had pumpkin in them.  And if anything can entice me to eat a cakey dessert with coffee…in the morning…it’s pumpkin.  The other thing I found intriguing about this vendor’s brownie (and I would so give them a shout-out if I could remember who they were), was the cayenne pepper.  Cayenne pepper!  This was a complete stretch for me at the time, but they promised the heat at the finish would be very subtle.

One bite and I was a believer.  I immediately came home and perused dozens of recipes before I found this one (Martha Stewart to the rescue).  While any brownie swirled with pumpkin would probably do, the cayenne pepper is truly the star of the show.  People eat them and say, “There’s something about this brownie I can’t explain.”  When I tell them it’s probably the cayenne, they’re as shocked as I was…but now they’re believers, too.  These are perfect any time: with coffee, as a lunchbox treat, or a late night snack. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Swirl Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or other nuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan or dish. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter lining.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put sugar, eggs, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until fluffy and well combined, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in flour mixture.
  4. Divide batter between two medium bowls (about 2 cups per bowl). Stir chocolate mixture into one bowl. In other bowl, stir in pumpkin, oil, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer half of chocolate batter to prepared pan smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Top with half of pumpkin batter. Repeat to make one more chocolate layer and one more pumpkin layer. Work quickly so batters don’t set.
  5. With a small spatula or a table knife, gently swirl the two batters to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with nuts.
  6. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.