Pumpkin Muffins

The start of fall ushers in the seasons of all things cozy.  Food, people, blankets, bonfires... crisp mornings and frost on the grass.  It’s all just so happy, isn’t it?  With it comes later mornings, earlier evenings and family coming in and out of town.  I’ve never been one to jump on the pumpkin band-wagon but I do love the smell of it when the mornings start to bring a chill in the house.  My kids know mama means all things fall when they wake up to these delicious, with or without nuts, pumpkin muffins!

Pumpkin Muffins:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons coconut oil (if you don’t have on hand you can up the butter to 6 tablespoons instead of 4)

1 ⅓ cups sugar

½ cup of pureed pumpkin (see below for a great way to use up the whole can instead!)

2 large eggs

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ¾ cups flour, white, unbleached or whole wheat

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves** optional, we opt out of the cloves

⅓ cup milk - whole milk and buttermilk take it up a notch

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans ** optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cupcake liners in muffin tin or oil with cooking spray/butter.  In a large bowl, beat together butter, coconut oil, and sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  Add the pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla; beat on slow.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves (optional).  While mixing on low, add half the dry ingredients to your wet mixture until fully combined.  Then add half the milk and blend completely.  Repeat until all ingredients are mixed together - do not overmix.  With a spatula, gently mix in the pecans (optional).  Spoon batter (it will be thick)  into muffin tin about ¾ full.  Bake for 24-25 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Be careful not to overcook!  

*** PS: Did you know you can freeze muffins before you bake them?  As in, raw?  Why would you do this silly thing, you might ask.  Frozen muffins are no good.  But they are indeed THE best idea ever if you want to make ahead and have fresh muffins another morning, or double a batch to have a fresh one now and one for later.  Which is one of my favorite things to have on hand when we have family and friends over.  It’s an easy way to serve up something warm and fresh...inviting and yummy.  A great breakfast or a nice afternoon treat with a cup of coffee.  Just pour the batter into the muffin tins, throw the whole muffin tray into the freezer for a couple of hours.  Then dump the frozen muffins into a ziploc bag until you’re ready to use!  Supa easy right?!  When it’s time to bake put frozen muffins back in the muffin tin.  I usually put the tray of frozen muffins in the oven while it is preheating and tack on an extra 6-8 minutes.  This also works wonders for say, mornings you forgot you didn’t have enough milk to go around the cereal bowls.  Or maybe you’re just not that interested in hauling your little herd to the grocery store for school snacks.  Or hey, you’ve got company and want to serve at least one homemade option.  And maybe worst case scenario, you're just trying to find a quick fix to cover up the smell of dirty diapers and stinky dog.  Whatever the case, go freeze some muffins and thank yourself later!