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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lenten Meals From The Little Catholic Kitchen: Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

by Kathleen Blease

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Kathleen's Lenten Bean and Vegetable Soup with muffins

Okay, this is not a recipe for a Lenten meal, but if you're following the Lenten exercise of using all the food that's in your house before buying anything new, then this just might be for you! Do you still have canned pumpkin from Thanksgiving and Christmas? Well, my freezer still hides several packages of mashed pumpkin and butternut squash down near the bottom. So the mixing bowls are coming out and the oven is preheating as we speak!

This recipe freezes very well, so make extra now. If you'd like to make them a little sweet for Easter breakfast, add a few handfuls of mini semisweet chocolate chips. Delicious!

I also like to serve them with soup, fruit salad, or quiche. In fact, you'll find a few soup recipes--such as Cream of Squash Soup and Ben's Clam Chowder (which is very easy)--by clicking on The Little Catholic Kitchen. Scroll wayyyyy down and you'll find them! You will also find my recipe for Crustless Quiche there.

As with any muffin recipe, the secret to a well-risen muffin is in the mixing. In separate bowls, mix all the dry ingredients and all the wet ingredients. Be sure the ingredients are well combined. I tell my kids that they should see only one color, no streaks of white or pumpkin. Then, form a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Each extra stroke you make gives the muffins less lift.

You can be a little flexible with ingredients. This recipe works just as well with whole milk, low-fat milk, and even buttermilk. You can also try different flours. I prefer to make these with white whole wheat flour or with a combination of 1 c. all-purpose flour and 1 c. stone ground whole wheat flour. Use any combination you think is best for your family. However, it's been my experience that if I use more than 1 1/2 c. stone ground whole wheat flour, the muffins become dense; however, they are still delicious. Feel free to experiment. This recipe can handle it!


Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

Yields: 12 muffins

2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. each baking soda and baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. milk
1 extra-large egg
2 tbsp. canola oil
2-3 handfuls mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients until thoroughly combined. In another large bowl, mix all wet ingredients until thoroughly combined. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour the wet ingredients into the well. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. This is a very thick batter; resist the temptation to add water. With mixing, the ingredients should incorporate and make a smooth but heavy batter. Do not over mix. Fill muffin pan almost full; the muffin pan should be greased or covered with muffin liners. Bake for about 20 minutes until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack. Then remove when cooled but a little warm. These freeze very well. Be sure they are completely cooled before freezing to prevent freezer burn.

God bless!

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