Archive for the ‘muffins’ Category

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

~ Anne of Green Gables


Every year I think to myself that I am not ready for the holiday season to begin.  That I am not ready for pumpkin flavored drinks and breads and desserts.  That I still want to wear shorts and short dresses and flip-flops rather than rain jackets and boots and jeans.  And then it hits me…every year.

I suddenly find myself looking forward to the chill in the air, the gray rainy days, and pulling on a sweatshirt for our morning walk.  I remember the coziness of watching football under a blanket on the sofa.  And, find that the sight of pumpkins and mums puts an immediate smile on my face.  I remember just how much I love fall, particularly October, and this love of the season starts to show itself in my cooking and baking.  Cinnamon and nutmeg start to move toward the front of the spice shelf.  Pumpkins and apples and butternut squash start to find their way into muffins and breads and sauces.

I made these muffins a few weekends ago for Jack’s soccer team snack.  They were practically inhaled by the children.  They are moist and sweet (In fact, I almost think I can cut back on the sugar which I may try to do…an excuse to make them again.) and satisfying by themselves as breakfast or a snack, but even better paired with a scrambled egg or a hunk of good cheddar cheese.  Baking them at a lower temperature for a longer time than a normal muffin will produce a very moist final product which I think you will appreciate.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Makes 18 muffins


For the muffins:

3 cups flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

4 eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree

For the filling:

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

For the streusel topping:

½ cup sugar

¼ cup and 1 tsp. flour

4 tbsp. butter, cubed

1 ½ tsp. cinnamon


To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth. Form into a skinny log on parchment paper, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours.

To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.

To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray the muffin pan with nonstick spray or lightly grease it with oil or butter.  To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into equal slices. Place a slice in each muffin well. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.

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One of the pleasures of deciding to stay at home this year is the opportunity to bake more often.  I decided that with the start of the school year, I would bake more breakfast foods since some mornings can feel so rushed and having breakfast already prepared can be such a lifesaver.  I also really love a good breakfast pastry and when you make it yourself, it feels less indulgent and, perhaps, even healthy.

To kick-off the school year, I baked a dozen lemon ricotta muffins.  I think I was channeling some of my yearning to travel back to Italy after seeing so many Instagram feeds during the summer featuring beautiful beachside Italian towns like Positano.

The muffins are light, sweet, as well as tart, and very moist.  The use of ricotta cheese helped to increase the protein in the muffins, which makes them a little more substantial and doable as a breakfast choice.  We have been eating them as more of a lunch or snack option, however, and they work great for that too. I have to say that when I walked home still teary eyed from the first day of Kindergarten drop-off, I was happy to sit down with a cup of coffee and one of these muffins as a late morning comfort snack.


Lemon Ricotta Muffins


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons sugar in the raw


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; make a well in the center. Combine ricotta cheese with water, olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, and egg. Add ricotta mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
Place 12 muffin-cup liners in muffin cups (we went with a Star Wars theme- Jack’s choice); coat with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Sprinkle sugar in the raw over batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 16 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in the pan on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Some things of interest from around the web this week:

Have you read this book?  I read it several months ago, but cannot stop thinking about it. Harrowing, yet beautiful.

The xtracycle is at the top of my wish list.

I am loving this new blog series by a great group of mama bloggers. So relevant for us right now.

Ranch style homes are my jam and this one is spectacular.

Have a great weekend! xxo

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Last summer, we ate the most delicious cupcakes at Volunteer Park Cafe. I was faced with the dilemma that always plagues me when going out for brunch- do I choose savory or do I choose sweet? Do you also have the same problem? It seems to be the only meal when I crave both taste dimensions and have a hard time being satisfied by only one. To make both sets of taste buds happy, I picked a savory main course and opted for a little sweet treat to share with the table, yet, admittedly, I ended up eating most of it!

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The cake was not too sweet, almost more muffin-like than cake-like, and it was spiked with bacon crumbles! The frosting tasted like a creamy mixture of butter and syrup. Yum…it was really good! And, I’ve been craving it since, which is why it was the first thing to pop into my head when deciding on what to bring to a baby shower brunch ages weekends ago. I always love an excuse to be indulgent and, honestly, I will take any reason to eat bacon!


The version I made at home was not as good as the ones at Volunteer Park Cafe, but that’s not to say they were not absolutely tasty! Mine certainly tasted even more muffin-like as the batter was not sweet at all- I simply used a homemade pancake batter and poured it in a muffin tin. The buttercream frosting was spiked with maple syrup and vanilla and was really sweet, yet a perfect accompaniment to the pancake muffins and the salty bacon.

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Next time, I think I will crumble some bacon right into the pancake batter before filling the muffin cups. Yum!

Pancake Muffins with Maple Buttercream Frosting and Bacon
adapted from Brown Eyed Baker


For the Cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups whole milk
2 eggs
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Frosting and Topping:
8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 slices of bacon, cooked, cooled and broken into 1-inch pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray the cups of a muffin tin with non-stick spray or olive oil.

2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; set aside. In a separate medium bowl whisk together the milk and eggs, then stir in the melted and cooled butter. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk together until just moistened and combined. Remember it’s like making pancakes, so lumps are okay! Divide the batter between the muffin cups and bake until puffed and firm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes and then remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely. It’s important not to overcook the muffins or they will be too dense and lose the fluffy pancake quality.

3. To make the frosting, use the whisk attachment of a stand mixer to whip the butter on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it’s mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the maple syrup and the vanilla and whip for another minute or so to incorporate. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting on the cupcakes. Top with the bacon pieces.

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Before I jump into new posts with new photos and new recipes for 2012, I thought it’d be fun to look back through my food photos from 2011. I have to admit, I got better and better at shooting my food as the year went on. Perhaps I’m getting better with my camera. Or, maybe I’m more comfortable staging the shot. Or, perhaps the lighting is better in our Seattle home.
I’m not sure what it is exactly, but I do know I still have a lot to learn. I’m inspired every day by photos from other bloggers and I have my goals set high for 2012. I think I’m saying goodbye for good to the weekly menu…it’s way too time consuming and I think the pressure of a daily food post was robbing me of my creativity a bit. So, I plan to devote more time to the recipe development and, especially, more time to quality photos this year. I have big plans for my blog and hope you continue to join me on this fun, creative journey.

My favorite food photos from 2011, with a link to their recipe:

Winter Farm-Fresh Stir Fry

Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly

Grilled Salmon with Fennel and Lemon

Ruby Red Grapefruit Sour Cream Pancake

Blueberry Ginger Mojito

Blueberry Whole Grain Buttermilk Pancakes

Grilled Naan Pizza

Vegetable Ratatouille

Watermelon and Mint Skewers

Slow Cooked Pinto Beans

Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Salad

Pumpkin Muffins

Slow Cooked Lentils

Pea Pesto Pasta

Blackened Catfish

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Pumpkin Muffins

What better way to welcome fall than with the taste of pumpkin? These pumpkin muffins are the next sure addition to my muffin making/baking line-up. They make for a scrumptious early morning breakfast and are super easy to make…both good things. And, the crunchy top created from the cinnamon and sugar topping…oh. my. Spread a little mascarpone cheese on for good measure, or not, either way you will have an autumn-flavored breakfast delight awaiting you!


I expect muffin making to dirty a max of two bowls, to be hand mixed, and to be completed in less than 8 steps. This recipe met all of that. For me, making muffins is a way to have a little homemade added to our every day, not so I can master the art of complicated baking. I’ll save that for birthday cakes…


Pumpkin Muffins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 12-cup muffin tin (I don’t believe in using paper muffin/cupcake liners because of the waste and the way it slows down the muffin/cupcake eating! Just be sure to oil well.).

Using a wire whisk, whisk together 1 cup of canned pumpkin (the unsweetened one, not the pie filling), 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 1 1/4 cups sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder. The, whisk flour mixture into wet ingredients until just combined.

Stir together 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of sugar in another bowl.

Divide batter among muffin cups, then sprinkle tops with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in the muffin tin on a wire rack for five minutes, then transfer muffins from tin to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.


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Banana muffins

I adore banana bread. Perhaps the same amount that I adore granola (click the link for a great granola recipe, but also for a sneak peak at my life pre-Jack…wow! What a busy, yet relaxing day I had in August of 2009, 2 1/2 moths before Jack’s birth day…now I fit all those “me time” things into nap time blocks and post-Jack bedtime. Makes for busy days, but a happy mama! I don’t know how to function without time for cooking, reading, and exercise.).

While I’m on the topic of granola (which I only sort of am)…I so wish I could share the recipe for Blue Bottle’s granola with you! I did some recipe testing for their new cookbook and, of course, their granola is one of the recipes I chose to test. Oh. My. Goodness. So. Good! I’ve been sworn to secrecy, but if you visit, I promise to serve it for breakfast with lots of fruit and plain yogurt. My parents said it looked like a bed and breakfast spread! Here’s a look (please forgive my terrible morning lack of light creating a yellow picture), just come try it:20110922-020942.jpg

Another “to-do” that my parents and I didn’t get to during their visit was making banana bread. I love my mom’s version and have been craving it for weeks! Inspired by Deb at Smitten Kitchen (not an infrequent thing), I decided to quench my craving by adapting her adapted recipe to try my hand at banana muffins. Little did I know that this would launch my weekly baking obsession…but, I’m so thankful it did. Having these muffins to pull out and warm in the early morning hours for a tasty, quick breakfast was so nice…I’m excited to find lots of new baked goods to try!

(Jacked Up) Banana Muffins:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix 1/3 cup melted salted butter with 3 medium to large sized mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Stir in 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 beaten egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 tablespoon bourbon (I used Jack Daniel’s), then stir in 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon baking soda and a pinch of salt over the mixture and stir in. Last, add 1 1/2 cups of flour and stir. Spoon mixture evenly into an oiled 12 cup muffin tin. Bake for 40 minutes, or until browned. Remove from muffin tin, eat one, and then store the rest in an air-tight container.


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