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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

There’s nothing like pumpkin anything to kick off the fall season…  Pumpkin scones, pumpkin spice drinks, and of course pumpkin cream cheese muffins.  Starbucks really knows their pumpkin baked goods….

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(This photo is from a more successful pumpkin season…)  Unfortunately this year’s pumpkin crop in the backyard is pretty much non-existent because I was far too late getting the plants in the ground.  While there is no shortage of foliage to my plants, the actual pumpkins are maybe 2″ diameter and probably wont amount to anything.  Thankfully I still have perfectly good puree preserved from years’ past still in my freezer.  I was aiming for ‘as good as Starbucks’ with this muffin recipe, however I have to say I think these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are actually better!

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PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 45 min    YIELD: 12
Ingredients:

Cream Cheese Centre:

  • 4 oz cream cheese (1/2 a package)
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Pumpkin Seed Topping:

  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • 2 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Pumpkin Muffin Batter:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup and 2 tbsp buttermilk
 Directions:
  1. For Cream Cheese Centres: combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla and mix until smooth.  Place in the fridge and chill until you’re ready to use; this makes it a bit easier to handle later.
  2. For Pumpkin Seed Topping (optional, but well worth it): Line a plate or baking tray with parchment paper and set to the side.  Heat large frying pan on medium-high heat, and add pepitas, stirring frequently.  When pepitas begin to pop after 3 to 5 minutes, add the sugar, cinnamon, and salt to the pan.  Stir continuously until the sugar begins to caramelize.  Carefully remove the seeds from the pan and place onto the parchment lined plate to cool.  Once cooled, break apart for sprinkling on top of muffins.
  3. For Pumpkin Muffins:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tray with paper cups.  Combine dry ingredients: flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, salt, and sugars.  I had substituted coconut palm sugar instead of brown sugar.   Whisk together and set aside.
  4. In large mixing bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree, canola oil, and buttermilk and mix with an electric mixer just to combine.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl gradually and mix just until combined, 30-60 seconds.
  5. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full with batter.  Add a dollop (about a level teaspoon) of the chilled cream cheese mixture to the centre of each muffin, then cover with remaining batter to fill the muffin cup.  Sprinkle candied pumpkin seed topping on top, then place in oven.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted (not through the cream cheese!) comes out clean.

 

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French Toast Waffles

Can’t decide between French Toast or Waffles for breakfast?  Let me make it easier and tell you that you don’t have to: cook French Toast, using your waffle iron *mind blown*

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This is by far my favourite French Toast recipe.  Including a little bit of cinnamon/vanilla and sugar to the mix just brings it to a whole new level of awesome.  Taking out the egg whites help to alleviate some of the sogginess associated with your usual unspectacular French Toast.  To even further help this problem if you’re just making plain French Toast on a griddle or in a frying pan, I highly recommend toasting the bread before you dip it in the egg bath– this really helps the texture!  When cooking on the waffle iron, however, I didn’t find this step was as necessary.

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PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 25 min    YIELD: 2 servings
Ingredients:
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (could be omitted, if you’re just planning to smother in syrup anyway)
  • White bread, sliced 1″ thick
 Directions:
  1. Pre-heat waffle iron.
  2. Combine egg yolks, 3/4 cup milk, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar and whip until well mixed.
  3. Dip sliced bread in egg mixture and briefly soak, only 5 seconds or so.  Let excess drip off and place immediately on the waffle iron to cook.
  4. Serve with your favourite topping.  Some of our favourites are plain (real Canadian) maple syrup, strawberry sauce and whipped cream (below), or blueberry sauce.

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Strawberry Sauce

Making your own breakfast fruit toppings may seem intimidating, but it’s actually really easy.  I typically prefer to make my own rather than buying the stuff in a bottle, namely because then I’m able to control how much sugar goes into it.  It’s also a good way to use up berries that are looking a tad over-ripe or have been sitting in the fridge a bit too long.

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PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 20 min    YIELD: 1 cup
Ingredients:
  • 2 heaping cups of strawberries, sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened orange juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
 Directions:
  1. Thoroughly wash, then hull and slice up strawberries.
  2. Add strawberry slices, orange juice, vanilla, and sugar to sauce pan.
  3. Over medium heat, bring to boil then reduce to low-medium and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens slightly and strawberries soften.
  4. Remove from heat, and using a hand-immersion blender (carefully, because the mixture is HOT) purée until smooth, or if you prefer your sauce to have a chunky texture, just purée slightly or avoid this step all together.
  5. Allow the sauce to sit for 5 minutes or so, then serve warm with pancakes, waffles, oven pancakes, or french toast.
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Old-Fashioned Waffles

My waffle iron was the first appliance I ever owned and while it may be a bit beat up today, it managed to survive many moves and it still produces delightful waffles.

The first time I ever made waffles I used this recipe from a (now very tattered) cook book of my mom’s.  I’ve since tried a number of waffle recipes, but none have ever really compared to these.  This recipe comes from the Women of Unifarm Cook Book, Alberta Section circa 1978-79 (the index page is actually missing, so I’m not sure the year).

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I believe what makes these waffles perfect is their crispy outside, and soft/light insides, courtesy of the beaten egg whites.

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 25 min    YIELD: 6 servings
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil (such as canola)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
 Directions:
  1. Pre-heat waffle iron.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients.
  3. Combine egg yolks milk and cooking oil, and stir into dry ingredients.
  4. Gently fold in egg whites, leaving a few little fluffs and don’t overmix!
  5. Bake in a pre-heated waffle iron

(Though be careful not to overfill the iron, or you may end up with a mess all over the iron and counter top to clean up like this:)

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Oven Pancakes

I can’t quite remember how we had gotten on the subject of pancakes, but I’m glad it happened none the less– a co-worker passed this recipe along to me as being a favourite in their house.  Other recipes might call these “Dutch Babies” or “German Pancakes”.

I was pretty skeptical to start with.  Pancakes in the oven?  That seems too easy, I quite liked that idea.  But that they expand rapidly while baking, then sink back down?  I really wasn’t sure what to think about that.  It is fun though!  I enjoy the crispy outside and soft custardy texture.

These really are a different kind of pancake, oh and delicious!  If you’re looking for Christmas morning breakfast or brunch ideas (or really any other day of the year)– this would do the trick.

PREP TIME: COOK TIME: TOTAL TIME: 25 min    YIELD: 
Ingredients:
  • 6 tbsp margarine or butter, melted
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
 Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Measure and combine dry ingredients.
  3. In separate bowl, beat eggs well and add to dry ingredients.
  4. Combine melted (cooled) margarine with milk and vanilla, and add to the egg/flour mixture.  Beat mixture well.
  5. Grease 9 x 12 rimmed pan, and pour mixture into pan.  (I used a smaller pan for the pancakes in the photo, because that’s all that was clean)
  6. Bake 15 minutes at 450 F, then reduce heat to 350 F and bake for another 5 minutes.
  7. (It may be tempting) but don’t open the door while it’s baking.
  8. Remove from oven, cut into individual portions and serve with good ol’ maple syrup or your favourite pancake toppings (we really enjoy our blueberry syrup around this house!)
zucchinichocolate

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (Healthier)

These were a pleasant surprise tonight! While I’ve never made anything quite like this before, I mainly just wanted to use up some zucchini that I had frozen last fall (see “What To Do With Zucchini“).  We are attempting a No Spend Challenge for the month of February, with the intent to use a lot of the food currently taking up space in our pantry and freezer.

The hint of cloves/cinnamon make this recipe work very well! This is definitely a keeper.  If muffins aren’t your preference, this would also make a good chocolate zucchini loaf, or bundt cake.  Just increase the cooking time to ~55 minutes.

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 This was a new (to me) recipe, slightly modified to suit the ingredients I had (and didn’t).  I actually didn’t have any honey on hand, so (right or wrong) I substituted a mix of white sugar and water.  I’ve also been experimenting recently trying to substitute palm sugar in place of brown sugar, just for kicks- I will say I think it worked here.

PREP TIME: 15 min    COOK TIME: 40 min   TOTAL TIME: 55 min    YIELD: 8
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup of plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (or mix 3/4 tsp of white vinegar with regular milk, and allow 3-5 minutes to sour)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 cups approx shredded zucchini (if frozen, be sure to thaw and drain excess liquid)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In large bowl combine oil, yogurt, honey, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk and mix until well blended.
  3. In separate bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Add dry ingredient mixture gradually to wet ingredients, mix.
  5. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips until just combined.
  6. Pour into greased muffin tins, bake 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of muffins comes out clean.
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Fluffy Pancakes

Perfect Sunday morning breakfast: Pancakes with scrambled eggs and bacon!  This recipe for pancakes has yielded consistent and satisfying results.  It’s also versatile, in that if you’re looking for a change just add blueberries, or try adding cinnamon and raisins, apples, banana, chocolate chips or anything else you can think of

 

PREP TIME: 10 min   COOK TIME: 20 min   TOTAL TIME: 30 min   YIELD: 8-9
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp of white vinegar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp margarine or butter (melted)
Directions:
  1. Combine the milk and the vinegar and let sit for about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Mix egg and melted margarine together with the milk, then combine with the dry ingredients and whisk until batter is smooth and any lumps are gone.
  4. Lightly coat large skillet with cooking oil, then place over medium-low heat.  Spoon batter into pan (in desired pancake size, I used ~1/4 cup at a time).  Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the batter, then flip and cook until browned on the other side.
bcnchedmuffins

Bacon Cheddar Muffins

Otherwise known as “Breakfast Muffins”.

Tonight I felt like baking muffins, so I made these Bacon Cheddar muffins, as well as these Banana Muffins, and these Blueberry Bran Muffins, though substituting 1 cup of the blueberries for 1 cup of fresh cranberries (it’s that time of the year!).  Actually all 3 of these kinds of muffins make for a nice breakfast.

Why would anyone need that many muffins…?  There was a number of reasons: it was a convenient time for me to use up some bananas and blueberries, I also intend on freezing some of them for later, and who doesn’t appreciate a little variety.

PREP TIME: 20 min    COOK TIME: 25 min    TOTAL TIME: 45 min   YIELD: 7
Ingredients:
  • 7 to 8 strips of bacon (about 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp chopped)
  • 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onion or chives
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
Directions:
  1. Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Drain excess grease from bacon using paper towels, let cool and crumble.
  2. In small bowl, reserve 1 tbsp of bacon and 2 tbsp of the shredded cheese.  Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven 375 degrees.
  4. In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, pepper, salt, and cayenne.  Stir in remaining bacon and Cheddar.
  5. Whisk together milk, oil, onion, sour cream and eggs.  Pour over dry ingredients and stir together only until just moistened.
  6. Spoon into greased or paper-lined muffin cups then sprinkle reserved bacon and Cheddar mixture on top.
  7. Bake for 20-25 min in 375 degree oven, until tops are firm to the touch and muffins are golden.
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Blueberry Bran Muffins

It’s getting to be that time of year.  The time when fresh blueberries are plentiful and stinkin’ cheap in the grocery stores (compared to the rest of the year anyway).

And also, sadly, the time of year when it starts to cool off enough in the evenings that the idea of baking and using the oven isn’t completely unbearable.  I found this recipe  for Bran Muffins at the Joy of Baking blog and made some small adjustments, including adding some berries.  Definitely a keeper.

PREP TIME: 15 min   COOK TIME: 20 min   TOTAL TIME: 35 min   YIELD: 16
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1 cup brown sugar, unpacked
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cooking molasses
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup butter milk (or just add 1 tbsp vinegar to regular milk)
  • 2 cups blueberries (fresh! or if frozen, don’t thaw them)
Directions:
  1. Measure wheat bran and stir in the boiling water. Set aside.
  2. Combine the margarine with the brown sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Add the vanilla and molasses and beat until well blended. Add the wheat bran and beat until combined.
  3. Whisk together dry ingredients in separate bowl.
  4. Mix milk and buttermilk together.  Add dry ingredients and milks gradually to the bran mixture by alternating between the two, combining well after each addition.  Cover, and refrigerate batter for a few hours (or overnight).  {I, personally, skipped this step because I was impatient and thankfully my muffins didn’t explode… however I can see the value in waiting to allow the texture of the bran and oats to soften.}
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spoon batter into greased muffin tin or tin lined with paper liners.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
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Carrot (Cake) Muffins

Once upon a time I used to naively believe that the carrot cake or the carrot muffin was a little bit ‘healthier’ choice than some of the other alternatives out there.  It has to, right?  Carrots = healthy.  Then comes the day one realizes that carrot cake probably requires more oil and as much sugar as any other cake type recipe.  At least it still has carrots….

Ever since, I’ve been looking for a recipe that was actually a tad healthier (that didn’t suck).  THEN I finally found this one.  And it came at the perfect time, as I had just finished making pumpkin puree for the first time, and happen to have a few frozen bricks of it in my freezer at the time.

The result was a moist and flavourful cake.  I also appreciated the added texture from the coconut and whole wheat flour.  And it has a small fraction of the oil that a typical carrot cake recipe would have.  BONUS, it’s a good way to use of both carrot and pumpkin.  I’ve used this for carrot cake, and carrot muffins; the muffins make for a good quick breakfast.

PREP TIME: 20 min   COOK TIME: 30 min    TOTAL TIME: 50 min   YIELD: 16
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup of oil
  • 3/4 cup of butter milk (OR 3/4 cup milk with 1 tsp white vinegar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1 cup raisins (optional)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Combine wet ingredients, mix and gradually add the dry ingredients.  Do not overmix.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until brown and cooked through.  Alternatively, if making a carrot cake instead, this recipe should make 2 – 9 inch cake pans.  Cooking time will also be increased.