Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

I tried making pumpkin muffins once or twice before and they have always been a fail. Once I tried making a crumb topped pumpkin muffin and the crumb on top was a disaster. Instead of creating a nice crust on top of the muffin it baked into the muffin. Which was weird since I mimicked the crumb topping from these blueberry muffins that have always turned out great. I am assuming it had something to do with the batter. And another time I tried making a pumpkin muffin similar to the recipe of the pumpkin bread I normally make. Once again, a fail in my book. It lacked any flavor. I wasn’t giving up though. I’ve made pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin cake, a pumpkin tiramisu, and a few savory pumpkin dishes so I was not about to let a muffin get the best of my pumpkin baking.

Around this time of year Chobani gets in on the pumpkin craze and releases their pumpkin blended yogurts. For the past couple of years they had a Pumpkin Harvest Crisp Flip Yogurt that had pie crust pieces, glazed pumpkin seeds and pecans (YUM!) When I went looking for it this year they replaced it with an Autumn Harvest Crisp Flip Yogurt with pecans, cranberries and gingersnap crust. I like it, but definitely not as much the previous version. I think it’s the gingersnap crust that is throwing it off for me. Not really sure why they changed it… The Pumpkin Harvest Crisp was so good and had good reviews. While eating it for breakfast one day I thought that maybe a pumpkin muffin with pecans and cranberries would be a winner. I was thinking about converting a pumpkin cupcake recipe into a muffin recipe, but decided I didn’t want another fail so I turned to Google and did a few searches. Soon enough I came across a recipe for a Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin. It had some good reviews and pretty much used ingredients I already had on hand. I made one tweak to the recipe though. The original recipe called for just using cinnamon (1tsp.) and ginger (1/2 tsp.) and I just felt that that wouldn’t be enough spice to enhance the pumpkin flavor. So, I upped it to 3 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice. This way not only would there be cinnamon and nutmeg in the batter, but also allspice, cloves and nutmeg.

One thing I should note about these muffins is that they are a 1-bowl muffin. Meaning, you add all of the ingredients to one bowl and then beat or stir to combine them. I honestly did try to whisk all of the ingredients together, but, the mixture was just too thick so I had to break out my hand mixer.

After mixing the ingredients until they were just combined I divided them into a muffin tin lined with cupcake liners – about 1/4 cup of batter in each. The recipe called for 12 muffins, but, I ended up with 15. To ensure that the remaining three baked well I filled the empty cavities of that muffin tin with water about half-way up. I then sprinkled some of the muffins with coarse sugar.

After baking for about 20 minutes I removed them from the oven and transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely. Once they were cool I tried one and I was very happy that I had switched up the spices. I think the original recipe of just cinnamon and ginger would have produce a muffin that was a bit on the bland side.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

  • Servings: 12 Muffins
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Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cups sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Coarse sugar, optional

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Add in the pumpkin puree, oil, eggs, cranberries and pecans and using a handheld mixer on the low setting beat the mixture until just combined. Do not overmix.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cupcake tin (about 1/4 cup in each). If you have remaining batter prep a second a cupcake tin and fill the empty crevices with water about halfway up.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean from the center. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe modified from Betty Crocker

Slow Cooker Sunday: Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

You may be wondering why I would take the time to make hot chocolate in a slow cooker when I could easily just make it on the stove. Well, I saw a video on Instagram one day for it and thought it would be a nice treat, which it was. It was also a good excuse to use some white chocolate chips I had and to use leftover pumpkin puree I had from making Pumpkin Cannoli. All pretty good excuses in my book!

In my slow cooker I added whole milk, white chocolate chips, pumpkin puree, cinnamon sticks, vanilla extract, ground ginger and freshly grated nutmeg. Trust me, it’s worth using freshly grated nutmeg as opposed to the powder form. Ground nutmeg can sometimes leave a pungent flavor, but, using freshly grated nutmeg eliminates that. After giving all of my ingredients a good stir, I set my slow cooker to low and let it cook for 2-3 hours. For the first hour, I gave the mixture a good stir every 10 minutes to make sure the chocolate was melting and to evenly distribute all of the ingredients. As an aside, is it still right to say cook when it comes to making hot chocolate? Or, maybe I should say simmer? Hmmmm???

I enjoyed it topped with whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg and a cinnamon stick as a garnish/stirrer. I actually used one of the cinnamon sticks that I added to the slow cooker. This is the perfect autumn warm-me-up beverage. Or, thinking ahead, an ideal complement to your Thanksgiving desserts. You could easily double or triple the recipe for a large group of people.

If you’re curious about the Pumpkin Cannoli recipe check back tomorrow!

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate

Ingredients:

4 cups whole milk

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

4 cinnamon sticks, additional sticks for garnish

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for topping

Whipped cream

Directions:

Combine the milk, chocolate chips, pumpkin, cinnamon sticks, vanilla, ginger and nutmeg in a slow cooker and stir together.

Heat on low for 2-3 hours, stirring every 10 minutes for the first hour to stir in the melted chocolate. And occasionally after that.

Serve in mugs, topped with topped whipped cream and freshly grated nutmeg. Add a cinnamon stick that can be used as a stirrer in case the pumpkin settles.

Fall Equinox = Pumpkin Treats

My favorite season has arrived…Fall! There are many reasons why I love this time of the year. There’s the foliage, the apple picking, the concord grapes, all the different types of squashes available at the supermarket, the great hair days (the crisp cool air of the Fall is perfect for curly hair), the return of scarves (they are my third favorite accessory behind shoes and handbags) and one of my favorite flavors – Pumpkin – becomes available in just about anything and everything! So, I decided to welcome Fall this year with two pumpkin treats – a new recipe, Pumpkin Rice Pudding and an oldie (but goodie) from last year, Pumpkin Doughnuts.

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I don’t think I know anyone who likes rice pudding as much as I do, or for that matter I am not sure I know anyone who likes it period. I guess it’s like bread pudding, you either like it or you don’t. I actually did try my hand at a Pumpkin Bread Pudding a few years ago but wasn’t all that thrilled with the minimal pumpkin flavor it had. Maybe I’ll have to revisit that recipe one day soon, but, back to the rice pudding. I came across this recipe while flipping through the circulars of my Sunday newspaper. The recipe was specific for Minute Rice, but, since I didn’t have any and honestly didn’t want to buy any I decided to revamp the recipe using Arborio rice which I already had on hand from make rice pudding not too long ago.

I began by cooking the rice until it was al dente, about 15 minutes.

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In another saucepan I combined evaporated milk, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract and brought it to a simmer.

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I then added the rice to pumpkin mixture and cooked it over low heat until the mixture started to thicken. I then transferred the rice pudding to a large bowl and cooled it to room temperature before refrigerating it.

Since I had about 2 cups of pumpkin left I decided to whip up a batch of pumpkin doughnuts so it wouldn’t go to waste. Hopefully I won’t suffer from pumpkin over-load too early in the season!

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So, what’s the most out-of-the-box pumpkin flavor item you have seen on your store shelves?

Pumpkin Arborio Rice Pudding (Adapted from here and here)

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Arborio rice

1 12oz. can evaporated milk

1 cup pure pumpkin

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Add the rice, return to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Stir the rice occasionally and cook until the rice has absorbed the water but is still al dente, about 15 minutes.

2. In another saucepan, bring the evaporated milk, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract to a simmer. Add the cooked rice and cook at a simmer over medium-low heat until the rice absorbs most of the milk mixture and it starts to get thick and silky, about 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Transfer the pudding to a large bowl and cool to room temperature. Place in refrigerator until cool and set.

Pumpkin Doughnuts

Makes 12

Ingredients:

1/2 cup canola oil, plus more for the pans

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup pure pumpkin puree

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly oil two 6-compartment doughnut pans (or use 1 pan and bake in batches). Whisk together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, egg, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined (do not overmix).

3. Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each compartment of the prepared pans. Bake until the doughnuts are golden brown and spring back lightly when touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Two Ruffles And A Cowl

While at Jo-Ann’s a while back I came across one of Red Heart’s new ruffle yarns, the Boutique Filigree Yarn, which is quite similar to their Boutique Sashay Yarn I used to create ruffle scarves last year. The main difference between the two is that the Filigree yarn is described as a woven fabric strip while the Sashay yarn is flat out called a yarn. After working with both yarns I can honestly say that I prefer working with the Filigree yarn since I didn’t have to stretch it open to use it like I did with the Sashay yarn. What caught my eye about the yarn was a nice shade of purple – called Imperial – that I thought would be the perfect color for a scarf for a friend who would be celebrating a birthday soon.

Using the Halley’s Comet Scarf pattern – which was included on the inside of the yarn wrapper – I created this scarf in less than 2 hours.

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I liked it so much – thankfully my friend like hers as well – that I went ahead and knitted one for myself in a shade of blue called Tealy.

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And since I was on a roll with knitting I decided to knit up a cowl that I have been wanting to make for quite some time. To create it I followed a pattern that I came across on Ravelry called the Drop Stitch Cowl and used Lion Brand yarn’s Hometown USA in Little Rock Granite. I initially made the cowl following the directions of casting on 47 stitches but once I finished it it was too big so I decided to start over and casted on 33 stitches. While the final product is a tad bit snug to get over my head, I am hoping that it will stretch out over time.

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