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

Better Butter review and giveaway

I feel like I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t had much time to cook so this weekend I finally made sure to schedule-in some serious kitchen time. It was so much fun! One of the items on my to-make list – muffins with a product I recently received for a review.

Better Butter was actually started by a friend of mine, Marina, whom I met through blogging last year. She was a big fan of nut butters (who isn’t, right?) but was frustrated with how caloric they were…so she started playing with natural ingredients like pumpkin and mashed banana to make a lighter peanut butter spread. And that’s how Better Butter was born!

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[Edited to add: I forgot something really important!! Better Butter is ~45% less calories than peanut butter (around 100 calories for 2 tablespoons), ~50% less fat than peanut butter and ~65% less saturated fat than peanut butter. I love these stats!!]

A few weeks ago Marina sent me a Better Butter variety pack to taste and review on the blog. I was super excited to say the least!!

The 3 flavors currently available are: honey nut banana, maple pumpkin and nutty chocolate chip

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These are definitely peanut butter spreads. This may sound funny but I don’t think peanut butter tastes a lot like peanuts – it has a very distinct flavor for me. Better Butter tasted a lot like peanuts… and the flavorings! Each variety had a very different texture as well.

The maple pumpkin was light and fluffy. I loved the spices in it – tasted like a pumpkin pie filling but much less sweet (all Better Butter spreads are sweetened with agave nectar which has a much more subtle sweetness).

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The honey nut banana was my least favorite actually. It was a lot more dense and seemed to taste differently on different days. One day it tasted like green bananas, another day it was very peanuty.

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Unsurprisingly, the nutty chocolate chip was the one I kept going back for. It was a little grainy but I just loved the deep chocolate flavor and the mini chocolate chips. Yes, everything is better with chocolate chips! Open-mouthed smile

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I actually received a whole full-sized jar of the nutty chocolate chip to play around with and challenged myself to the very first Elina original muffin recipe!! I made a cherry chocolate kind on Saturday, took notes on what worked and what didn’t, and went back to the drawing board (and my kitchen) on Sunday. Here are my Healthy and Sane chocolate apricot muffins (makes 6)

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1T canola oil
  • 2T Better Butter nutty chocolate chip

Dry ingredients:

  • 4oz whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2.5T cacao powder
  • 1t instant coffee
  • 1t baking powder
  • 1/2t salt
  • 4T sugar (these were not too sweet, use more if you prefer sweet muffins)

Mix-ins: dried apricots, chopped (I used 75grams – all I had left). I think chocolate chips would put these over the edge in amazingness Smile

The process in pictures…

Mix wet ingredients:

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Mix the dry ingredients:

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Combine the 2, add mix-ins. Bake at 350* for 16 minutes.

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Enjoy!

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These muffins came out super moist with a hint of chocolate and peanut butter flavor (I think the addition of chocolate chips would make these more chocolaty). I loved the addition of dried apricots – they are my latest obsession!

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[Each muffin is 5 Points Plus]

As mentioned above, they weren’t too sweet so I thought a shmear of Better Butter over the top was appropriate Winking smile

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Yup, very appropriate. Yum! Smile

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This was muffin #2 actually, I took a bite and then remembered dinner was coming, so I “glued” it back together. Sneaky. :lol:

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Want a chance to win a variety pack of Better Butter and taste all 3 flavors?

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Here are the rules: there are 6 ways to enter.

1) Leave a comment on this post – Tell me anything peanut butter related – maybe what your favorite brand or flavor is or how you like to enjoy it.

2+3) Follow me on Twitter (please tell me in the comments what your twitter name is so I can confirm). For an additional entry, you can also tweet about this giveaway (my twitter name @elinacooks must be included to qualify)

4) Like Healthy and Sane on Facebook.

5) Add Healthy and Sane to your blogroll.

6) Link to this post on your blog, if you have one. If you don’t, let someone else know about this giveaway and tell me so in the comments section after they’ve entered the giveaway.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry. The giveaway is open to US residents only (sorry!) and will end on January 15. I will randomly choose a winner using random.org and announce him/her on the following Monday. Good luck! Open-mouthed smile

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