Saturday, March 21, 2009

pumpkin muffins

Food is a big part of my life. This is why I am not the svelte mouse of my 20's anymore, although when I was in my 20's I had no idea I was svelte! While I can rationalize that birthing almost 45 pounds of pups in 8 years would ruin anyone's figure... the truth is my lifestyle contributes more to this than anything. We've already established that I love wine. Calorically, wine is not my friend. In every other way it is, so it's one I choose to keep. If I only had to concern myself with wine, things might be manageable. It's the one-two punch of wine and food that slows me down. All my best memories include food. A perfect vacation must include wine, food and shopping. Thanks to my father, I have a fearless attitude about food. He always encouraged us to try everything once. Even when I was a little mouse I would try things other pups wouldn't. Growing up I ate kidneys and liver and loved them. I have tried all sorts of organ meat since then and enjoy them all. I've had puffin,whale and alligator. Yummy.

I have a friend from Iceland who brought back Hákarl for us to try. In case you didn't click the link, Hákarl is fermented shark. It is traditionally washed down with an alcoholic beverage called Brennivín. This is basically Icelandic hooch. I think you have to get s**t-faced on the Brennivin to actually enjoy the Hákarl. I've been to Iceland... no one I ran into mentioned either "delicacy". However, in an old Victorian in Preston Maryland, I tried the Icelandic duo. Fishy smell aside, it was the texture that put me off most. The Brennivin wasn't so bad. I've had rail tequila that was worse. After the first few shots, we drank it mixed with Coke. My friend said this is how Icelanders drink it. Somehow I doubt that this is truly the traditional way, but it was more enjoyable. My friend, the Icelander, didn't partake in either treat. Hmmmm... So see, I really will try anything once.

Over the years I have dallied with different approaches to preparing food. This is not the same notion as what I ultimately would choose to eat. Hands down, I like all the nifty, exotic pairings of ingredients you find in gourmet cooking. This is an expensive approach to cooking for seven mice but more importantly, it is usually unappreciated or, even worse, shunned! I have been the make everything from scratch cook, the let's keep it easy cook, the I own 67 cookbooks, what I can cook tonight? cook, the I can sneak a few secret things in here cook, the let's just order pizza cook and lately, the you can combine homemade and pre-made ingredients to get a nice meal cook.

In that vein, I like Anne Byrn, who is better known as The Cake Mix Doctor. I came across a recipe of hers that I made for breakfast this morning. In 30 minutes total we were eating tasty muffins hot out of the oven. Now today is Saturday, so I didn't feel the usual crunch on my time, but if I could get myself out of bed when my alarm went off, this could be a week day breakfast without any trouble. I like the recipe so much, I thought I'd share it here.

Pumpkin Muffins with Chocolate Chips

Makes 12 muffins (2 ½ inches each)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 20 to 22 minutes
Vegetable oil spray for misting the pan
1 package (17.8 ounces) chocolate chip muffin mix
1 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup milk
1 large egg
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400° F. Mist the bottom of 12 muffin cups with the vegetable oil spray. Set the pan aside
2. Place the muffin mix in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Place the pumpkin, milk, egg, and pumpkin pie spice in the well and stir the wet ingredients together with a wooden spoon just until combined, 20 strokes. The batter will still be a little lumpy. Spoon or scoop 1/3 cup batter into each prepared muffin cup, filling it three quarters of the way full. Place the pan in the oven.
3. Bake the muffins until they just spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 20 to 22 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a dinner knife around the edges of the muffins, lift them up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. The muffins are ready to serve.
Store these muffins, in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze them, wrapped in aluminum foil or in a cake saver, for up to 6 months. Thaw the muffins overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Let me know if you try them and if you like them. I have had to restrain pups #3 and #4 from eating them all. This is definitely something I'll make again. Good thing I have plenty of pumpkin left!

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