Oh hi, pumpkin!

Hi blog friends. How’s it going? I have three, THREE days left at my full-time job and my mind is in full force about all the things I will now have time to do. I actually have to slow myself down because it’s important for me that the next few months are a time of reflection. I need to make sure there is enough space for me to explore all sorts of things. One thing I know there will be plenty of – that’s cooking (and dish washing, lol). I can’t wait!!

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So let’s talk pumpkin for a minute, shall we? I hope you don’t roll your eyes because well, there certainly have been plenty of pumpkin recipes here on the blogosphere (and magazines and cooking channels). It seems like most of you have been quite obsessed. I’m banking on it because I have a sweet few recipes to share with you too. They are my first of the season (yup, just as the season is ending).

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We’ll start with something a little more indulgent and quite special (scroll down for something healthier if you’ve had a little too much candy for Halloween) – chewy chocolate chip pumpkin cookies [made with pumpkin butter]. Just like Jessica, I’m not really into muffin top-like pumpkin cookies. I want softness in that chewy sort of way… the slightly underbaked and gooey, plump-cookie sort of way. Does that even make sense?

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See how plump these are? Don’t mistake this for having a muffin-like texture. These are melt-in-your mouth, buttery pillows of heaven. Bonus: Scoop the dough into little balls, then freeze. That’s how you get to enjoy freshly baked cookies any day in just 13 minutes of waiting time (and no dirty bowls).

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Make them now. You’ll thank me (and Jessica!). I promise.

PS – I’m loving the blue afternoon light in these pics. So perfect for fall! :)

Now onto something a little healthier – chocolate and peanut butter chip pumpkin pie muffins. These were actually requested by Adam – the only time he’ll ever ask for anything-pumpkin (I may now have to add those cookies to the list. What do you think, Adam?).

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He was asking for me to make these muffins (which apparently I made back in November 2008!!! and he’s still asking for them) but Tina’s recipe no longer exists. The key ingredient is definitely the peanut butter chips. Have you ever had them? The Sunspire peanut butter baking chips have no junk ingredients and taste like mellow butterscotch kissed by peanut butter little candies. They are soft and melt beautifully. I’ve been scouting every Whole Foods for over a year to find them (I don’t know why they’ve become such a commodity!). Thanks, Shannon, for buying me 3 bags. Our future will now be much sweeter with my pantry full of pb chips :)

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Anyways, back to the muffins… Tina’s “original” muffins were super moist and full of chips. I went with my go-to pumpkin muffin recipe (by Ellie Krieger) which is very light and almost cupcake-like, reducing the brown sugar down to 1/2 cup and adding 1 cup of chocolate and peanut butter chips (combined). The result were these beautiful babies, which I dressed up for Halloween :)

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Hi pretty!

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I’ve been having one of these for breakfast for the past week and let me tell you – it’s definitely one sweet way to start the day! :)

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Are you into pumpkin? Any favorite moist muffin recipes or special treats?

Banana blueberry spinach muffins

I made these green monster muffins last weekend (recipe originally found through Food to Run For) and have been eating one every morning since. They may look like little green monsters but they taste like sweet delicious banana walnut muffins (I subbed a giant banana for apple sauce). Oh yeah, I threw some frozen Maine wild blueberries into the mix for some extra antioxidants as well! Yum!!

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Spinach can’t be scary when it’s in flower shaped muffin cups, don’t you think? Winking smile [Btw, my mom bought me these so I’m not sure where they’re from but these Wilton flower silicone cups look very similar!]

Back to my kitchen… these muffins are so easy to make – just mix…

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Spoon

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And bake!

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Now admire your cuties…

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These muffins made my mornings that much brighter!

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PS – there is a lot of natural sweetness in bananas and blueberries so I’d actually cut on sugar next time I make them. And there WILL be a next time!

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This was my contribution to St. Patty’s day. Oh and a drink (or 2) were involved. :lol: Doctor’s orders! (Seriously!!)

Have you ever tried something that looked scary but turned out very delicious and craveable?

What healthy muffin recipe should I make next? I only have 2 muffins left!

Have a fantastic weekend!! Send a kiss

The beauty of doing nothing, perfected

I took last week off from work to catch up on my mile long to do list, slow down and relax. I kind of joked on twitter about feeling guilty about not getting enough done, while on vacation, but the truth is it wasn’t really a joke. I kept thinking of more and more things I should have had time to do and then felt disappointed at the end of each day about my lack of progress (basically, nothing new at all – I just didn’t have 8 hours of work under my belt). Luckily we had plans to finish the week with a mini-vacation to Maine! Apparently I’m only able to calm down through forced relaxation!

The very first night we watched Eat, Pray, Love on demand (which btw, I was not a fan of… probably because I read the book and movies never live up to books) and the Italian bel far niente (aka “the beauty of doing nothing”) really stuck with me. Why should I feel guilty for taking days off to accomplish a whole lot of nothing and just relax? We all need to recharge our batteries. The rest of the weekend was definitely dedicated to bel far niente. You better believe that cooking and eating was no trouble at all! Winking smile [My mother in law, Jane, and I shared the responsibility.]

There was seafood…

Shrimp with penne in a creamy herb sauce (+ garlic bread)

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I made lobster mac & cheese

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[The men cooked and shelled the lobster, I did the rest. It was cheesy and creamy – the perfect Maine treat!]

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And couldn’t pass up the seafood lover’s omelet (crab + lobster) at the Boathouse in Rockland.

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SO good!

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I <3 lobster!

And then there were blueberries… we dug deep into Jane’s recipe archives and found some gems from 1994!!! I was 12 at the time. Good thing I’m older because I could make these babies. Oh my! Embarrassed smile <—that’s me blushing, yes that good!

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Lemon blueberry muffins. Heaven!

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The very last morning, Jane treated us all to freshly made yogurt blueberry pancakes. They were moist and full of giant blueberries bursting with flavor.

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[Email me if you want the recipes for either of these, I took pictures of the printouts!]

These were my favorite food things but the best part was definitely doing only things I felt like doing. I spent some “quality” time with magazines (scissors in hand – what can I say, I found it relaxing!) and watched more House Hunters than I’d care to admit… but that ended up being for the greater good too! The second we got home to Boston, I hooked up my laptop to the internet (together at last! :lol: ) and started researching bathroom vanities, tiles, window curtains, table runners, area rugs and more. Apparently the beauty of doing nothing has its advantages. My creative juices were flowing and I was dying to put them to use. Better yet? I was happy to come back to work today. They were happy to have me back too! Who me?

Are you able to take time off and just enjoy it or do you need to be forced into relaxation (like being “locked” in a cabin with no internet access and cell reception)? I think the Italians got this right. I’m going to try to bring some of that bel far niente spirit more into my life. It really is fun! :mrgreen:

Last chance to enter the UNO’s giveaway!

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