Pumpkin Muffins

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I’ve come to realize that my love of baking is very reflective of my personality. The process of baking is steady, quiet and requires quite a bit of patience. There is nothing more comforting than knowing that the addition of flour and baking soda will make bread rise, and the right amount of sugar will make it sweet. I think it is that steady dependability that has always made me consider myself more of a baker than a cook. Because much like the process of baking, I too am about as careful and calculated as one can get.  Cooking, on the other hand, is much more spontaneous, loud and full of adventure. When cooking, you can throw a bunch of ingredients together on a whim and it often results in a perfectly harmonious dish. Yet with baking, the measuring of ingredients is key, and one must be precise and careful.  And though I love the spontaneity of cooking, time spent baking is when I feel most at home in the kitchen. So when the weather starts to cool down, I jump at any chance to turn on the oven and spend the night whipping up some magic in the kitchen. And while many people my age spend every Friday nights out at the bars, I’m perfectly happy spending Friday evening in front of the oven. And that is just what I did last weekend. And starting off the weekend with a delicious batch of pumpkin muffins is about as good as it gets. I found this recipe over on SkinnyTaste.com and love how decadent these muffins taste despite its healthy ingredient list. They make for a perfect snack any time of day.
Ingredients: Makes 12 muffins, Adapted slightly from SkinnyTaste
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  •  1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour though salt)
  2. In a large bowl, place pumpkin, vegetable oil, egg whites and vanilla; Beat with and electric mixer until just combined
  3. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients, beating until just combined
  4. Scoop batter into a muffin pan, lined with muffin liners
  5. Bat at 350 for 25-30 minutes

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Soft Gingersnap Cookies


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Christmas is officially one week away and my mind is abuzz with all the wonderful things that the holiday brings. Back when I was little, the week before Christmas brought thoughts of Santa Claus and the gifts I might find under our tree Christmas morning. My cousins, brother and I would go back and forth all week discussing the gifts we hoped Santa would bring us on December 25th. And finally, after weeks of anticipation, Christmas morning would arrive and my brother, Sean and I would rush down the stairs consumed with excitement. Nowadays, the excitement revolving around Christmas has nothing to do with gifts. Night after night of family parties and extended time with the people I love is what makes me look forward to this time of year so much. Just like every year before, the next few days will be filled with laughter, family, and of course, food.

 

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As I mentioned before, the Christmas season often means a few days of baking dozens of cookies to give to family and friends. And each year I like to try a few new flavors and varieties. Sometimes I’m drawn to more unique flavor combinations or crazy ingredients. But this year, I decided to try a few classic Christmas cookie flavors. And nothing is more classic than a soft gingersnap cookie subtly spiced and sprinkled with granulated sugar. I found this recipe over at Two Peas and their Pod and was delighted with the result. The recipe yields three dozen soft gingersnap cookies, perfect for the most wonderful time of the year.

Ingredients: Makes 3 dozen, from Two Peas and Their Pod

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • White sugar-to roll the cookie dough in

Preparation:

1. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a medium bowl.
2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
3. Add in the egg and vanilla extra. Mix until well combined.
4. Add in the molasses. Mix until the molasses is combined with the other ingredients.
5. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture.
6. Form the dough into Tablespoon sized balls. Roll the dough in white sugar.
7. Place each dough ball on a greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly
9. Bake for 8 minutes at 375
11. Enjoy!

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