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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!

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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One of the most comforting foods I’ve ever known is cinnamon toast. Growing up, my dad was the one to make my breakfast. Often it consisted of a Breakfast Hot Pocket, or a Toaster Strudel, but on a good day, my dad would make cinnamon toast. Last week, in an effort to ease my pre-midterm nerves, I whipped up a few slices:

My parents had made me a loaf of homemade white bread, which I toasted and then topped it with a generous smear of butter and a good sprinkling of sugar and pumpkin pie spice (though, as the name suggests, cinnamon is the more traditional route).

After a dinner of frozen foods, the microwave continued to reign into dessert.

As is typical in my apartment, there was a minimal selection and I was getting desperate. It didn’t help that I was flipping through one of Lidia Bastianich‘s cookbooks, making the situation all the more humiliating. But there, on page 23 of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, was a recipe for baked apples. Now we all know that I was in no shape to make her version; but, with my microwave in gear, I made a simple dessert that was done in no time.

Core an apple, leaving the bottom intact. Fill with brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice (or any combination of warm spices) and a very small pinch of salt. Top with a pat of butter and microwave on medium power until the apple is cooked through (for me, it took about eight minutes).

It was a rainy fall evening and, after an unseasonable dinner of takeout sushi, my sweet tooth started acting up. It happens every night, but I was in a desperate situation: there was nothing sweet in the apartment, save the brown sugar that had cemented itself against a supposedly air-tight glass jar.

After some investigating, I spotted a half-empty box of prepared puff pastry in the freezer. And I had plenty of pumpkin pie spice that I had used to make sweet potato custard. With these two findings, it was essential I dislodge enough of the brown sugar from the bottom of the jar to muster up a decent dessert. And that’s exactly what I did.

Here are the ingeniously named, Puff Pastry Snakes:

Okay, so they look pretty strange now that I’m seeing them again. But they’re damn good. Simply unfold a sheet of thawed puff pastry, work it with a rolling pin (or, if you’re me, a wine bottle) to seal the seams, sprinkle generously with brown sugar and pumpkin spice (or cinnamon, or whatever), roll tightly, cut into one-inch segments and bake in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes on each side.

They become crispy and flaky and, if you’re lucky, the brown sugar oozes onto the tops and bottoms of the snakes, creating a caramel coating. They go perfectly with a cup of tea.