Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Pear Muffins

Shortly before Halloween, I started to hear whispered rumors about a pumpkin shortage during the holiday season.  Pumpkin puree would be scarce, they said.  Better snatch it off the shelves as soon as you see it in grocery stores, they said, or death, destruction, and disease would follow (or at least a pumpkin-less holiday).  So I did.  But you know what?  There are still shelves laden with pumpkin puree in our local stores, so maybe I didn't have to act quite so rashly.  Now the only conundrum (pleasant though it may be), is deciding what to do with my plethora of puree.  And while pumpkin desserts are great, I wanted something a little more breakfasty, and so I made these muffins.  The original recipe can be found here on, but I modified it to better suit my tastes and the result is the following recipe.  Go ahead and whip up a batch this season for a breakfast that tastes like the holidays.

Pumpkin Pear Muffins

2 cups peeled and finely chopped pears (about 3 pears)
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 tsp. baking powder
Dash salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp. vanilla

Topping (optional, but I highly recommend it):
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Peel, core, and finely chop pears.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, and salt.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, oil and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and fold to mix.  Fold in pears.
Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin tins.  If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar topping.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Creamy Crepe Filling

I always feel so fancy when I eat crepes.   I'm not sure why.  Maybe because my first experience with them was at the Sunday breakfast buffet at the Little America Hotel where they would flip them up into the air to turn them and then they would set fire to them.  How can you not feel fancy eating something like that?  Or maybe it's because I like to pretend that I'm at a French bed and breakfast when I eat them.  *Sigh*  If only.  Anyway, the point is, I love crepes. 

The only trouble with crepes is what to put in them--Nutella and strawberries, applesauce, jam with powdered sugar sprinkled on top?  Well, since I came up with this cream filling with berries a few months ago, my family and I never touch the other toppings.  We.  Are.  In.  Love.  It is just the right blend of tangy and sweet.  We love it with fresh strawberries.  I really should branch out a little and try it with something else.  For example, I am drooling over the idea of combining this filling with sliced bananas and then drizzling some buttermilk syrup over the whole thing.  Oh my.  Or maybe fresh raspberries or blueberries when they are in season.  Anyway, here is the recipe.  Try it with your favorite crepe recipe (my favorite is from my Betty Crocker cookbook which I'll include at the bottom).  Enjoy!

Creamy Filling for Crepes

1 pint whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream

In a medium bowl, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla.  In a separate bowl beat the cream cheese and sour cream until smooth using a hand mixer.  Fold the cream cheese mixture into the whipped cream until well combined.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trick or Treat

Peter loves carving pumpkins.

A lot.  Combine that with the fact that he is gifted in the artistically arty art field, and you get some pretty darn cool jack-o-lanterns come Halloween time.  I, who am not so artistically gifted, carved Cookie Monster this year (below in the middle), and J, who is into classic jack-o-lanterns, had us carve the one on the left.

J had fun helping daddy scoop out pumpkin guts.

Since Halloween fell on Sunday this year, we did all our trick or treating and parties on Friday and Saturday, which left all of Sunday to make a Halloweeney dinner.  I was going to do individual chicken pot pies (or tentacle pot pies if you will) based on these awesome ones by Not Martha, but since I didn't have ramekins I ended up doing one big tentacle pot pie.  Pardon this picture.  It was dark outside so I had to use artificial light and a flash.

For our costumes this year we decided to be Snow White and the dwarfs.  I was pretty excited because my inner four-year-old has always wanted to have an excuse to dress up like a Disney princess.  I found a rather large yellow dress at a thrift store which I cut in half and turned into the skirt of my dress, got some velvet on clearance at the fabric store, and used white craft foam for the collar.  The collar turned out to be kind of a pain, so I abandoned it in favor of a red cape when I wore the costume the second time.  I made little hats and beards for the boys' dwarf costumes.  I think C turned out looking like a little lawn gnome.

The materials

The finished product
Peter was Dopey from the scene in Snow White where he's wearing a huge trench coat and standing on Sneezy's shoulders so he can be tall enough to dance with Snow White.  Peter carved Sneezy's head out of styrofoam and painted it.  I told you he was artistically gifted.

At the last minute J decided he didn't want to be a dwarf because he had his heart set on being a super hero, so we let Spidey become the adopted dwarf.  Here we have Dopey, Sneezy, and Spider Man ready to go treat or treating.

I tell you what, Halloween was fun back before kids, but with them it is just so much better.  I hope everyone else had a great holiday too.