I've been gone long enough that tomatoes and corn and zucchini have been firmly replaced by apples and pumpkins and pomegranates (already?!), and all three have been on high rotation in the Portlandivore kitchen, along with a plethora of seasonally-appropriate soups: carrot-ginger, potato-leek, butternut-sage. We have had mild weather so far in October, but the rainy season is about to kick us in the booty. In order to cope with this inevitable shift in weather and the resulting onset of Vitamin D deficiencies and Seasonal Affective Disorder, I recommend many a bowl of comforting soups and spiced baked goods. And also a Vitamin D supplement. (And maybe an anti-depressant too.)
I wasn't intending to take over a whole month off from the blog, but it just kind of happened. Don't worry though; nothing terrible occurred. In fact, my life is pretty great right now, but it's also pretty busy. Trying to juggle my job, a year-long writing program, semi-regularly updating a food blog and making sure my apartment isn't approaching Category V Tornado aftermath proportions, along with wanting to spend time with my lady friends and also the super-sweet, funny, supportive, handsome and talented Mr. M, not to mention I have an ever-demanding diva cat who will wake me up at 4 am if she is not sufficiently snuggled, is still a work in progress. However, with a bit of A++ time management skills (only recently acquired) and an extra day off from work, I think I've finally figured it out.
Since I am not a doctor nor a pharmacist, I can only assist with my first two recommendations. But you're in luck! Why not try this cream cheese-filled pumpkin muffin?
Makes 12 Muffins:
2 cups All-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp table salt
1½ tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground Ginger
½ tsp Ground Cloves
½ tsp Ground Allspice
1 cup pumpkin puree
⅓ cup vegetable oil
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup whole milk
3 Tbsp Trader Joes Pumpkin-Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, for sprinkling on top
Cream Cheese Filling:
8 oz full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick paper liners. Set aside.
2. Using a hand- or stand mixer and bowl, whip the 8 oz of cream cheese with the 2 Tbsp powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla using the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Set the cream cheese aside.
3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until thoroughly incorporated: flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
4. In a separate, large-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, vegetable oil, and granulated and brown sugars. Add the 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla, and mix until smooth.
5. Mix in half of the bowl of dry ingredients and the 1/4 cup of whole milk, and then add the remaining amount of the flour mixture. Whisk briefly just to combine (a few lumps won't hurt the batter, but stirring too much will make for a tough muffin). Don't over mix!
5. Fill the muffin liners 1/3 full of the muffin batter.
6. Using a 2 Tbsp scoop (the spring-loaded handle is quite useful here), divide rounded 2 tablespoon-full scoops of the cream cheese filling between all of the muffin tins. Press the cream cheese lightly into the batter.
7. Now spoon the remaining muffin batter over the cream cheese, spreading it out to completely enclose the filling. Sprinkle the pumpkin seeds evenly over the muffins.
8. Bake the muffins at 350 until a toothpick inserted into the muffin part only comes out clean (because of course the cream cheese will be gooey), about 20 minutes.
9. Cool in the pan about 10 minutes before removing the muffins.