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?

Healthier peanut butter and choc chip pumpkin muffins

In case you haven’t noticed from the recap in my last post, there have been a lot of sweets consumed over the past two weeks. None of them came into my life unwillingly (like those office sweets that just jump out of nowhere at unsuspecting dieters). I made every one except for the cake and pies consumed on Thanksgiving. And the day after. What, not everyone eats leftover cake for breakfast the day after Thanksgiving? So yeah, I made them on purpose. But then I ate them, waaaaay too many of them. What can I say, the second sugar hits my lips, it’s like crack. I can’t stop.

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So when people ask me how my lifting program is going, I can’t really tell them much because while I’m following the lifting portion of the program, and yes – eating more protein, all those sweets kind of undo the hard work. [I’ve seen no body changes so far and gained another 0.6lbs in the last 2 weeks. And no, it is NOT muscle mass.]

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I polish them off so that “they’ll be gone and I can be better tomorrow” which is silly, really. But not in that moment… at that moment it seems oh so logical. So I decided something. When baking, I’m going to stick to healthier treats from now on. So that there is no guilt and no urge to binge just one more time before I try to be better. And hey, healthier doesn’t mean less tasty anyway. So really, it’s a win-win. Open-mouthed smile We’re going back to the basics here. I got a little too lax about treats in the name of “intuitive eating” but clearly intuitive (sweets) eater I am not.

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Btw, how do you like my pumpkin muffin pan? Isn’t it the cutest? I’ve been meaning to use it for about 12 months now. Ever since I got it on sale at Crate & Barrel last year after their fall collection was switched to Christmas-themed. And what do you know, I’m using it smack in the middle of Christmas season. Oh well, better late than never.

I’ve been craving pumpkin muffins like it was my job, so last night my pumpkin dream became a reality. It was rainy, dark and our kitchen was clean (thanks to Adam, our dish cleaning master). Oh and right about the same time, I stumbled upon a printout of Lauren’s pumpkin muffins with spiced cream cheese filling recipe. These were based on Ellie Krieger’s pumpkin muffin recipe, which I ADORE, so I knew there was a very good chance I’d love these too.

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I followed Lauren’s recipe for the muffin dough + added 1/4 cup chocolate chips and 1/4 cup peanut butter chips (which coincidently Lauren sent me as a sweet present. Last time we saw each other, I was telling her how I could no longer find the natural kind. Thanks again, Lauren!!!). I also used 2T of sugar for the cream cheese filling (instead of 1), which I sandwiched between muffin halves after they were baked (there was enough filling for 6).

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The result was fantastic. These are so moist!! They have just enough sweetness to make them feel like a treat, but I know with the whole grains and pumpkin I’m still taking care of my body. I will admit, I had one for breakfast today (with a plain Oikos) but devoured this model after his after-dinner photo-shoot tonight as well. He was as good as he looks Smile with tongue out

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Do you think pumpkin recipe season is over? I think I’m usually late to these parties Winking smile

What are traditional “Christmassy” foods… except for cookies? I want to be season-appropriate. :D

PS – For a savory recipe from me, check out my post on Moldavian grilled pork chops with garlic sauce.

Orange takes over

Thank you all for your wonderful comments on my last post. I knew there was no reason for me to beat myself up over what happened, especially since I made the best choices based on all the information that was available to me at the time, but I’m not going to lie – finding out that Saturday accidently was such an indulgent day ruined my 11 mile run on Sunday morning. My head just wasn’t in it. The best thing I could have done was to forget it and move on, but somehow I just wanted to give up on everything. I did have my friend Molly to keep me company on my run. I asked to walk pretty much every other minute (or so it seemed). If you are a runner, you know that voice in your head that tries to tell you to stop because it would be just so much easier? The voice you usually ignore? I let that voice get the best of me. Molly was such a great sport, though, and indulged my wishes. Together we finished a little over 9.5 miles but I’m not sure how much of it we actually ran – maybe 7-8? I know it’s still something to be proud of and I’ve moved on for real this time. Lesson learned. :)

Oh and btw, you all were right. I was not hungry at all today due to a very indulgent weekend (yesterday kind of became indulgent again) so I still nourished my body but consumed less calories than usual. I guess it does balance out. Wanna see what I ate today? ;)

BREAKFAST

TJ’s organic fiber blueberry muffin + coffee

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[265 calories]

MID-MORNING SNACK

2 clementines and a sample packet of somersaults – still love them!!

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[140 calories]

LUNCH

As usual on Mondays, I get to come home for lunch. I made a small detour through TJ’s to stock up on veggies. The star ingredient was Gena’s carrot miso dressing (found through Soap & Chocolate).

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The dressing came together quickly since I had all the ingredients on hand and the vitamix is a beast. :lol: It was almost “whipped.” Since I couldn’t just eat it with a spoon, I decided to make a salad. Might as well, right? ;)

Mixed greens, steamed broccoli, shredded carrots, chopped cucumber, shrimp + miso carrot dressing

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Here are all the greens + shrimp!

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To be honest, something was missing there and the whipped texture of the dressing was actually a bit strange. I was imagining it would taste like the dressing you get on house salads at Japanese restaurants but that wasn’t the case. Also, I may have overdone it on the ginger or maybe it was missing salt? After a few bites of the salad I went to the fridge for water and noticed a jar of spicy Italian pepper rings. For some reason those sounded appealing and they really saved this meal for me. My mouth was on fire… in a good way! :mrgreen:

Dessert: caramel oikos. Oh yeah, that’s the stuff! :lol:

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[All together - 280 calories. I was actually shocked to find how low that was!]

MID-AFTERNOON SNACK

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[180 calories]

WORKOUT – Monday’s usual – Rack it Up. I just love that burn!!

DINNER

Ever since trying Shannon’s savory pumpkin bread pudding, it’s been on my list of must make meals. I knew Adam would love it. I mean this screams “man meal”, since bread, sausage, cheese and sour cream are the main ingredients. This dish even made it to my top 9 homemade meals in 2009  - it was that good. Tonight Adam finally had a chance to taste Shannon’s masterpiece – made by moi this time. :D

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The verdict? He LOVED it! I know my husband so well. :D I thought Shannon’s execution was a bit better but I still enjoyed it.

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[450 calories]

This was one hearty dinner, let me tell you. I am STUFFED hours later!! No desire for dessert or anything. I think one of the key “tricks” for avoiding over snacking is to have super filling meals. This was the perfect example of it. Could be a little heavier in the veggie department but I sure took care of that during lunch. :grin:

Total calories consumed: 1316. I can’t believe how crazy full I am for such a small amount of calories. I guess I’m like a camel – I stored this weekends’ eats for later. :lol:

Looking at this post, apparently I ate a lot of orange foods. So just for fun – what’s your favorite orange food? Any favorite way to consume it?

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