Showing posts with label pumpkin puree. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pumpkin puree. Show all posts

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Best Mini Pumpkin Muffins for Fall

Being from the Midwest, I think I have a soft spot for Fall in my heart.  

When the seasons change, the cool breeze whips through my hair with just enough of a chill to make me feel alive and breathe a little deeper, but not enough to force me to rush back to the warmth of the indoors.  I want to be cozy, but I also don't want to miss a minute of nature's last hurrah.  The scattering of gorgeous leaves on the ground is a treat for the eyes, and is almost always accompanied by the scratching and scurrying sounds of dried leaves blowing across the ground. The combination of rustic, muted colors together with crimson and yellow leaves is always spectacular, and the first arrival of bright orange pumpkins is a cause for celebration.        

So if you are like me, when Fall comes, you want to get outside and soak up the fleeting clean, cool air with hikes, late afternoon picnics, and hayrides.  But at the same time, the urge to warm up indoors beckons.  And naturally, the best way to warm up inside is to bake.  

Lately, my urge to bake has been insatiable - I have definitely baked more in the last three weeks than I have in the last three months combined, and I think that is directly related to the arrival of Fall and the warm comforting flavors it brings with it.  But let me tell you who has totally out-baked me: my sister.  I told you before that she has fallen in love with baking, and that affair just continues to blossom as she has been baking up fantastic sweet treats almost every other day.  And now it is sort of ironic because the tables have turned - she is recommending baking recipes to me instead of the other way around!  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Bread, and Rum Raisin Pumpkin Bread Pudding

***Voting is officially open for this EIGHTH round of Project Food Blog (can you believe it!).  I would love love love your votes, and I appreciate all the support you give me!  If you like this post swing on over to Foodbuzz and vote for me! Thanks friends!*** 

For the first time ever, I will be spending Thanksgiving away from my family.  Oh sure, there was that Thanksgiving in college where my sister and I were both in London and we ate the most expensive turkey dinner ever at the only 'American' restaurant we could find (and trust me, that Hard Rock Cafe dinner was not worth 40 pounds).  I suppose that wasn't really the sort of Thanksgiving meal we were accustomed to, but at least we were together.  Other than that one year, I have always travelled home for Thanksgiving, whether that meant a 3-hour drive or a 2,250 mile flight; the holidays are special to me, and if you have been around here awhile, you know that my family means everything. 

This year, when I realized I wouldn't be able to spare the time away from work to head home for Thanksgiving, I would be lying if I told you I wasn't sad.  The closer the holiday gets, the more I am yearning for white flakes of snow, long conversations catching up with family, and a warm hug.  But though I regret that I will not be at home, I have no intention of wallowing in self-pity.  I will be spending the big day with a wonderful friend and her family, and I will get to play with children and eat to my heart's content.  Also, I might have decided I needed to soothe my sadness with baking.  And sugar.  And fall flavors.  That's a cure-all right?


So here's the crazy thing, I also have advanced in Foodbuzz's Project Food Blog to Round 8 (happy dance, happy dance!) where we were tasked with creating a baked good with pumpkin.  The timing couldn't have been more perfect, and with my longing for home and family and the holidays around the corner, my mind was brimming with ideas.  I was certain I wanted to bake with real pumpkin, and my initial thoughts drifted toward a beautiful spiced layer cake. just didn't quite fit my mood and no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get myself invested in the idea.  And then suddenly I realized why I didn't want to make a cake: It just didn't feel like home.    

Once I came to this realization, I knew exactly what I wanted: bread. Lots of it.  I wanted to get my hands into it and knead the bread just like my grandma does.  There is something about putting physical work into make a golden loaf of bread that is so satisfying.  And almost as certainly as I knew I wanted bread, I also knew I craved warm, gooey, decadent bread pudding to comfort me.  I saw no reason to deny myself from this carb-laden pleasure, and no holiday is better for indulgence than Thanksgiving.  I worried that it wouldn't be pretty or exciting enough for you, but I decided to make it anyway.  (Gotta do what feels right, agreed?)