Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

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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….


(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!




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
  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.



Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (Healthier)

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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.


 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
  • 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
  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.

Bacon Cheddar Muffins

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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
  • 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
  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.

Blueberry Bran Muffins

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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
  • 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)
  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.

Carrot (Cake) Muffins

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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
  • 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)
  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.
banana muffin

Banana (Bread) Muffins

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I do love lazy Sundays… unfortunately today was not one of them, but I did at least find some time to do some baking.  It was also a good opportunity to use up some ripe bananas.

This recipe has been adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks: The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook.  I think the reason I appreciate this cookbook so much is (being the nerd that I am), I love the commentary they include on some of the science of cooking.  That, and because pretty much every recipe I’ve tried so far from the book has been perfect.

So why ‘adapt’ it if it was already perfect?  Because I’m always looking for ways to make things a little bit healthier.  In this case, I replaced white all-purpose flour with whole wheat, which I think adds a nice texture.  I also decreased the sugar in the recipe.

PREP TIME: 15 min    COOK TIME: 30 min    TOTAL TIME: 45 min   YIELD: 8
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated margarine (melted and cooled)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin (I used a large-sized muffin pan, which made 8) OR 9 by 5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, margarine, and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Add in sugar and honey and mix.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Lightly fold this into the banana mixture until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Pour into muffin pans (OR loaf pan).
  4. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For large muffins, this took 30 minutes. For a loaf, this should take 55 minutes. Cool and serve warm or at room temperature.