Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

Just because you don’t enjoy a Pumpkin Spice Latte, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little pumpkin in your life.  Muffins are a vessel for pumpkin.  I want them a little dense and moist with lots of spice and flavor.

These muffins are wonderful.  The perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea.  The streusel topping isn’t overly sweet.  It does add the perfect crunch to the muffin.  I’m not a huge walnut fan, but pecans are another story; there is no bitterness here.  Freezing these little darlings is the perfect way to go.  One will thaw in 15 minutes or so.  Or, you can set it in the microwave in 30 second intervals until it reaches your perfect temp.

I may have a few bags in the freezer right now just in case you stop by and need a wee pick me up.

  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • TOPPING:
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
Directions
  • In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in pecans. Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.  I used a medium ice cream scoop to keep them even.
  • In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, pecans and flour; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
  • Bake at 375° for 20 – 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.

From the Recipe Box:

I did not use buttermilk.  I used ½ cup whole milk with 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.  Let it sit for about 10 minutes, give it a stir and use as buttermilk.  I rarely buy buttermilk; I never use it up so why bother.  Sour milk is just as good and usually much more handy.  You will not notice the difference.  I swear.

Great flavor in these muffins.

and remember:  People don’t always want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.  Big kiss, Lynn

Faux Starbuck’s Pumpkin Loaf

I have a confession to make, I don’t care for pumpkin spice lattes.  Am I the only one on the planet who feels that way?  Come August, it’s like everyone is on a pumpkin spice countdown.  Well, as long as I’m confessing, I don’t like Chai tea either.  It could be a character flaw, because I do love:  pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, Starbucks’ pumpkin loaf, etc.

I’ve been trying to find a good recipe that mirrors the Starbucks’ loaf.  It’s moist yet firm.  I hate an overly soft cake.  I need body!  This loaf is not too sweet, but definitely feels like dessert.  It reminds me of sweet breads mom used to make back in the day.  Everyone made them and had them ready for drop-in coffee company.  Ah, those were the days.

But, there I go again, digressing.  I’m Norwegian.  We have a natural affinity for coffee and a treat.  Remember Hygge.  Being cozy, enjoying life and companionship, slowing down and being one with the moment, especially as the seasons change.  So, I’m doing a bit of pumpkin baking.  I will try and recreate the pumpkin loaf from Starbucks.  This is a composite of several recipes I found on-line.  It’s definitely not as pretty as the original, but I’ll keep practicing since the taste is awesome.

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

3/4 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8  X 4 inch loaf pan.  Combine the flour, soda, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl.  Beat the eggs, sugars and vanilla together for 30 seconds.  Add the pumpkin and the oil, mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, if desired.  Bake 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool in pan 10 minutes, and then turn onto cooling rack to cool completely.

You are going to want to make coffee, put on your comfiest sweats, get out an afghan, light a candle or 2, play a little Vivaldi and so enjoy this pumpkin loaf, and of course, Hygge.

From the Recipe Box:

I used the 8 x 4 inch loaf pan the recipe called for.  It was a mistake.  Next time I will use a 9 x 5 loaf pan or (2) 8 x 4 pans and bake it for a shorter period.  I ended up with dough on my oven floor using the smaller pan.

Instead of all the individual spices, you could use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.  Same old, same old.

I freeze leftover canned pumpkin and it thaws beautifully.

Even my non-pumpkin eater enjoyed it.  Winner

and remember:  Follow your heart, but take your brains with you.  Big kiss, Lynn

Papa’s Homemade Ice Cream

Do you have a favorite memory of your father?  Mine involved ice cream and black cherry sodas.  My dad would grab the car keys, and my brother and I, and announce it was time for Black Cherry Sodas.  We would head to the store and buy soda and ice cream and return home to whip up our treat.  This only happened maybe once a year, but it was a really big deal because dad wasn’t a sweets person.  The other mystery is where in Twin Falls, Idaho did they have Black Cherry soda when he was younger so he could develop a taste for it.

But then, one Christmas, dad got a hand crank ice cream maker and a whole new world opened up during summers.  There would be grilled oysters and clams and dad would get out the ice cream maker.   This is dad’s ice cream recipe.  Where he got it, I have no idea.  After a while, G and I took over the ice cream making.  We weren’t happy with plain vanilla ice cream, we wanted to be a little more creative.  However, this is the perfect base for any ice cream you want.

This amount of base is perfect for the large hand crank or electric ice cream makers.  For a Cuisinart, I would either halve the recipe or make half/save half.  With five minutes to go, I would add any extras you want in your ice cream.  It’s not an everyday treat; it’s a major time consuming project.  But, if you’re like me and have great summertime memories that involve ice cream and your father, I’d suggest you go for it.

6 eggs

2 cups sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 quarts half and half

2 tablespoons vanilla

Beat eggs thoroughly.  Slowly and gradually add sugar and continue to beat until mixture is very stiff.  Stir in remaining ingredients.

Freeze in a churn style ice cream maker.

*  From the Recipe Box:

This was dad’s recipe.  It was always a big deal when he made ice cream.

G and I started making ice cream every Labor Day to celebrate back-to-school.  Only kids were invited at first.  They could eat as much as they wanted.  But as the kids got older, parents slowly started creeping into the mix.

Thomas Special was the best:  add malt, chopped chocolate and peanuts to a batch of vanilla.  This is our holy trinity.

Chopped Butterfinger Candy Bars were another favorite.

They were good times.

and remember:  Don’t underestimate the seductive power of a decent vocabulary.  Big kiss, Lynn

Baked Donuts

Either I’m doing something wrong or everyone else has whack-o taste buds.  I am not liking baked donuts.  They look like Grandma Olson’s, but they taste like a hockey pucks.  (I know, how many hockey pucks have I eaten?)  I actually prefer an old-fashioned donut.  I tasted a Krispy Kreme when we were in Las Vegas a few years back and they are nasty; they are too, too spongy for me.  I want texture and body.  I want to be able to dip my donut into a cup of coffee and not lose the whole thing to a watery grave.   I think I need grease.

I’ve tried 2 recipes so far and both were disappointments.  I’m not sure how many I have to try before I can give up without being considered a quitter.   The mere thought fills me with dread.  I have to be honest, I wasn’t trying baked donuts for health reasons more for safety sake.  I wanted to make them with Gkids and I didn’t want to worry about hot oil.  Although I never remember any of my cousins getting burned when I was a kid.  Maybe the fear of punishment was safety enough.  When you were told to stay back, you stayed back.

This is the recipe King Arthur’s flour had on the Internet.  My sous chef requested powdered sugar donuts so of course we did powdered sugar.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly grease two donut pans
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, beating to combine.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. The batter will be fairly thick; when you draw your spatula through the batter, it will leave a furrow.
  6. Spoon the batter into the lightly greased doughnut pans, filling the wells to about 1/4″ shy of the rim.
  7. Bake the doughnuts for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 to 7 minutes before turning them out of the pans onto a rack.

I don’t know if I’ll try again.  It’s too easy to run up to the bakery department and pick up my donuts.  I’ll keep you posted.

and remember:  What if the Hokie-Pokie is what it’s all about?  Big kiss, Lynn

Eton Mess

If you’re like me, you have read your fair share of books about England.  Starting with Jane Austin, I’m committed to all things British.  I don’t necessarily want to experience all things British, but I do enjoy reading about the British experience, and if boarding schools are discussed, Eton Mess is mentioned.  I’ve been having so much fun making meringues, I decided to give it a try.

A word of warning regarding the meringues:  I had a new sous chef helping me this weekend.  He brought much enthusiasm to the job.  As a result, many egg yolks were broken.  If you remember the Pavlova recipe, you will know 4 egg whites are called for.  We used 12.  If you have an overly strong helper, consider breaking each egg individually into a small bowl and then separating the white into the mixing bowl, then if a yolk breaks you’ve only wreaked one egg.  We did have some delicious omelets, but the sous chef got quite frustrated and it took a lot of the fun out of the baking experience for him.

But, I’ve digressed again.  I am a huge meringue fan.  They are light and refreshing.  I had a beautifully ripened mango on the counter and I was very tempted to use it instead of the raspberries.  Maybe next time.  Considering this is basically 3 components, it tastes much more complex than that:  soft sweetened whipped cream, crunchy meringue, tart berries.  A match made in English heaven.

This is Ina Garten’s Eton Mess recipe.  It makes a huge amount.  But after typing that, I realize it’s not too much, because it’s so dang good.

6 (6-ounce) packages fresh raspberries, divided

1 1/2 cups plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons framboise liqueur (or not)

2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

5 to 6 (3-inch) bakery meringue shells, broken in pieces (I used homemade)

Directions

  1. Pour 3 packages of the raspberries, 1 1/2 cups of the sugar, and the lemon juice into a 10-inch saute pan. Crush the berries lightly with a fork and bring the mixture to a full boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy. Fold the remaining 3 packages of raspberries and the framboise into the hot mixture and refrigerate until very cold.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream, the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, and the vanilla together on medium-high speed until it forms firm peaks.
  3. In decorative glasses, layer a spoonful of the whipped cream, a spoonful of the raspberry mixture, and then a few meringue pieces. Repeat once or twice, depending on the size of the glasses, until the glasses are full, ending with berries and a dollop of cream. Serve immediately or chill for an hour, until ready to serve.
  4. Or be a total lazy butt and use broken meringues, whipped cream and good raspberry jam.  It’s all good.

and remember:  Learn from all, judge no one, be kind to everyone and remember to say thank you.  Big kiss, Lynn

Sweet and Salty Party Mix

I can’t help it; I’m addicted.  I try and focus on other treats, but I always come back to my crunchy, caramel favorites.

I just received a church cookbook from a cousin in Minnesota.  These self-published books are hidden gems of family favorites.   I don’t know these people, but I love their simple recipes.  Most of them are ideally suited to a buffet or a family dinner.  This is my way to entertain:  easy-squeezy.  If you don’t have access to these cookbooks, it’s time to establish a link with someone in the mid-west.  You will find recipes for salads that include mini-marshmallows and whipped cream, hot dishes topped with tater tots.  This is the way I grew up eating.  It’s just fun cooking.  You don’t want to do it everyday, but it’s great when the kids are over and you want to do something unique.

But, as usual, I digress.  This is another caramel corn type snack.  Love, love, love them.  I like the addition of all the different salty snacks.  It’s incredibly simple to make.  I think it took me longer to find Bugles than it did to put this mixture together.

3 cups miniature pretzels

2 cups peanuts

2 cups rice cereal squares

2 cups each Fritos, Bugles and Cheetos

1 cup butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

In a large bowl, mix the pretzels, peanuts, cereal squares, Fritos, Bugles and Cheetos.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  For the sauce, cook the butter and sugars over medium heat until it boils.  Cook 3 minutes without stirring.  Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon baking soda.  Stir to combine.  Be careful, it will foam up.  Pour over snack mix.  Stir until coated.  Spoon onto 2 10 by 15 inch jelly roll pans.  I lightly sprayed the pans to facilitate party mix removal.  Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes and switching oven shelves.  Put on wax paper to cool.  Break up and store in container.

and remember:  Marlene Dietrich said it best:  It’s the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter most.  Big kiss, Lynn

Pavlova with the Gluten Free Girl

Hey all, this is sort of a guest posting.  Gluten Free Girl was up this weekend and I asked her if she would be willing to show me how she makes Pavlova.  I am so smart.  Not only did I get a Pavlova tutorial, but I got to have Pavlova for dessert.  And you thought I was just another pretty face.

This isn’t a dessert you can decide to make at the last minute.  It’s the cooling that takes so much time, but it’s worth every minute.  Pavlova is light and airy.  The outside of the completed Pavlova is almost crunchy; you know you’ve bitten into it.  The inside is intensely creamy.  I’m not a huge whipped cream fan, but it is the perfect layer here.  This is a pie-shaped wedge cut from the 9 inch Pavlova.

I’m certain I could eat this every day of the week.  While it is amazingly rich, you don’t feel like you’ve over indulged.  Give it a try.  It’s super easy and your friends will be totally impressed and will talk about you with awe when they think you aren’t listening.

4 egg whites, room temperature

1 cup super fine sugar or 1 ¼ cups regular granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons cornstarch, be sure there are no lumps

1 cup heavy cream

Topping:  Fresh fruit, lemon curd

Heat oven to 300 degrees

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Draw a 9 inch circle.  Set aside

In a very clean mixer bowl with a whip attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry.  Gradually add the sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Beat well after each addition.  Beat until thick and glossy.  Gently fold in the vanilla, lemon juice and cornstarch.

Spoon mixture onto the drawn circle.  Spread toward outside edge, building edge slightly leaving a slight depression in the center.

Bake 1 ¼ hours.  Turn the oven off and leave in the oven without opening the door until completely cool, approximately 2 to 3 hours.

Beat cream until stiff, add 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Remove meringue from the oven and place on serving plate.  Fill the depression with whipping cream.  Top with fruit or lemon curd.

From the Recipe Box:

This is not exactly Rebecca’s recipe.  She had made some changes to hers, but G and I liked the original version best.

We also loved it with the Lemon Curd instead of the berries.  The sharpness of the lemon was a great balance to the sweetness of the Pavlova.

                                                   

In this picture, the Pavlova is 9 inches in diameter and approximately 4 inches high.

and remember:  As Dorothy Parker said:  I’ve never been a millionaire, but I just know I’d be darling at it.  Big kiss, Lynn