I forgot how much I love making and eating cinnamon rolls until I made these for a work potluck, and now I kind of want to make them all the time. Maybe it’s time for Cinnamon Roll Sunday to go along with Muffin Monday? And then Sugar Coma Tuesday… And then a trip to the dentist on Wednesday. Sounds like my kind of week!
There is something so incredibly satisfying about homemade pumpkin puree. As a vegetarian, I feel like this is the closest I’ll probably ever get to head-to-tail cooking. Cutting open the pumpkin, scooping out the seeds, roasting everything in the oven, and then pureeing the cooked pumpkin.
Really, the worst part of the pumpkin is the seeds. Scooping them out, washing them clean, and the absolute worst part of all is shelling them for pepitas. Shelling pumpkin seeds, I learned this weekend, is one of the most tedious tasks in the world. It’s the kind of thing a kung-fu master makes the student do for 5 days in order for the student to prove that she’s mastered the skills of diligence and patience.
I had planned on sprinkling the tops of the muffins with pepitas along with sugar, but after 5 hours of shelling, I only got a couple tablespoons of pepitas. A kung-fu master I will (sadly) never be.
With just three of us, the holidays were never such huge occasions for my family. Growing up, we already saw each other all the time, so it wasn’t like we were waiting all year to be together again. But since I’ve moved out and only go home once or twice a year, the holidays have become much more meaningful as it’s one of the few times a year I get to spend time with my parents.
This year, my parents came to visit me here in New York, their first visit since they helped me move into my apartment in May 2011. As a thank you to them, I decided to go all out and plan and cook the entire menu myself, and even arranged a pretty legit-looking centerpiece.
I’m a vegetarian and my parents aren’t huge fans of turkey anyways, so the star of the meal was a nut-stuffed squash that magically tasted similar enough to sausage to satisfy even my father’s carnivorous appetite. The menu went like this:
- Whole wheat potato rolls
- Mashed potatoes
- Thyme roasted broccoli, carrots, and red potatoes
- Nut-stuffed butternut squash
- Lentil pot pies
- Pumpkin chiffon pie
And that’s how you do Thanksgiving for three people.
In the aftermath of Sandy, I’ve mostly been trying to keep cabin fever at bay and not eat 50 snack size Snickers bars in one sitting (and failing on both accounts). There is only so much Spartacus and Fringe I can re-watch before I am incapacitated by tears – I get really emotional about gladiators and Joshua Jackson, okay??
On a more productive note, I’ve been stress baking up a storm (HA HA), which culminated in these amazing pumpkin spice muffins. The surprise is that they have a PUMPKIN PIE inside! I got the idea from the always inspirational Bake It In a Cake, and took it one step further by making them mini pumpkin muffins stuffed with itty bitty Biscoff pumpkin pies. Because the tinier, the better.
Of all the produce + cream cheese pairings, carrots and cream cheese are probably the most ubiquitous, thanks to the deliciousness of carrot cake. My personal favorite, though, is probably pumpkin and cream cheese because of my obsession with the former and its exponential tastiness when paired with the latter.
These muffins are the perfect combination of both. The muffin itself is so moist that it’s plenty tasty on its own, but the layer of cream cheese adds a nice creamy tanginess to the whole package. They remind me of those cream-filled Hostess snack cakes but way more delicious.
I have a love-hate relationship with granola. On the one hand, it’s crunchy, which I love; on the other hand, it’s so crunchy it destroys my mouth, like I’m eating gravel or something. It’s the meth habit I’m trying to kick, the abusive boyfriend I’m trying to get rid of. Those are probably exaggerations, but I just get really intense about granola, okay?
Not to brag or anything, but I’m pretty awesome at eating pumpkin seeds. Once I start, I can’t stop, so it’s a good thing they’re healthy.
There are so many endless flavor possibilities when it comes to pumpkin seeds, but my favorite way is to load them up with spices. This is less of a recipe and more of a suggestion. The quantities are approximate since I didn’t measure any of the ingredients, just eyeballed it, so tailor it to your own tastes and experiment with other variations.
This was the sight I met with yesterday morning when I strode over to the grocery store. Piles and stacks and crates full of pumpkins. A sea of orange so vast and so bright that I nearly wept with joy. I have a strong love for and obsession with pumpkin.
Every year, right around the middle of September, I get bitten by the pumpkin bug, an overwhelming need to bake anything and everything pumpkin-related. Sadly, I always have to wait a couple more weeks for them to start showing up in grocery stores. I have nothing against Libby, but there’s really nothing better than homemade pumpkin puree, so those weeks spent waiting for fresh pumpkin are some of the worst in the whole year. But then, all of a sudden, they appear, and all is right in the world again. Never leave me again, pumpkin. I am lost without you.
Pumpkin puree is one of those things where the commercial version is probably just as good as the homemade version. Libby’s is actually great – it doesn’t taste artificial in the way that other canned goods tend to do. But I prefer to make my own because preservatives make me nervous, and I just love the smell of roasted pumpkins. And also, pumpkin seeds, of course.