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Here’s a spin on these Pumpkin Chocolate Cranberry Muffins, sans cranberries. I doubled the recipe and froze half to send to my brother, who is serving in Afghanistan in the USAF; the other half I froze and will send with my boyfriend, who will be away in DC for a month of lectures.

I used whole wheat pastry flour, which will boost the fiber and nutrient content, but still yield a tender crumb. I also used less honey than the previous recipe. Note: I didn’t have buttermilk, so I combined skim milk with 1 Tbsp of white vinegar.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup honey
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, spice, and salt and whisk.
3. In a small bowl, combine honey, pumpkin puree, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg and whisk.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6. Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups (standard 12).
6. Bake for 14-17 minutes, rotating halfway, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

Notes: Unfortunately, the sides and bottoms got too brown. Next time: reduce heat to 350 F. Also, increase honey back to 1/2 cup. Though I don’t want an overly sweet muffin (nice excuse to have it for breakfast), I feel like it needed a boost. Maybe not. Needs more work!

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Oh yeah. It’s pumpkin season, bitches.

I used this recipe, which I adapted in the following ways:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda, spice, and salt and whisk.
3. In a small bowl, combine honey, pumpkin puree, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and egg and whisk.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Stir in the cranberries and chocolate chips.
6. Divide the batter evenly among muffin cups (standard 12, or 6 large if you’re weird like me).
6. Bake for 22-25 minutes, rotating halfway, until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean when inserted.

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Let’s see. Christmas was nine months ago, which makes right about now the perfect time to return my mom’s Christmas cookie tins. This leaves her three solid months to bake me cookies for this year’s holiday season.

I’ll spare you the “I’m no baker” speech and just get to it already. The biscotti recipe I used can be found here. I swapped the almond extract for vanilla extract, and used one cup of roasted sunflower seeds left whole (buy raw and roast yourself for a better, fresher taste) in place of the cup and a half of chopped almonds.

What will that get you?

Oh yes. There they are. Merry Christmas, Mama. Keep your pants on.