Happy New Year!

Hope your holidays were as much fun as ours. Now that we’re back from our Christmas travels, I thought I would share with you some of the things we made to give as presents this year.

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Peppermint bark, roasted maple pecans, and pumpkin mini loaves.

I’ve been sort of obsessed with peppermint bark this winter, but I had never tried making it before. Turns out you shouldn’t use all that peppermint dust from the crushed candy canes on the top since it forms sort of a solid, not so pretty surface…

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Oh well. It still tasted good. And the super cute Martha Stewart box certainly didn’t hurt either.

The maple pecans are super easy to make. Matt even made some himself earlier this year (and that’s saying something). You can find the recipe at Vegetarian Times if you want to try it out.

The pumpkin bread is something that I’ve been making for breakfast (in muffin form) since the fall. I made the less healthy, more dessert-like version for gifts, but here’s the recipe that I made more suitable for an everyday muffin.

First you need: a pumpkin! This is the other half of the one I used to make the herb roasted winter vegetables.

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Making your own pumpkin purée is really easy, cheaper than buying canned pumpkin, and also a great way to put your fall decorations to use. The first step is to stick the pumpkin in the oven at 400 degrees for 1-2 hours. After it’s cooled, scoop out the stringy stuff and seeds (and roast them later!). I’m not sure if regular pie pumpkins work this way, but most of the skin peeled right off of my decorative pumpkins after roasting them. Then chop the pumpkin up, purée it in a food processor, and tada!

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I put mine in containers to freeze for future muffins. Those Ball freezer jars on the right are my favorite, because they hold the same amount as a normal can.

Mixing up the muffins only takes about 10 minutes. Be sure to mix the dry and wet ingredients separately before combining them, since too much stirring the end product make for not as tender muffins.

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Fill your cooking spray coated muffin pan about 3/4 full of batter.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, and enjoy! As an added bonus, one muffin will knock your vitamin A for the day out of the ballpark.

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Here’s the whole recipe. It took me a while (like, since October) to come up with the final version, so I think I can confidently call them “perfect”. The perfect balance of healthy and delicious.

Perfect Pumpkin Muffins

Dry ingredients:
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon sodium free baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
½ teaspoon ginger
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Wet ingredients:
15 ounces pumpkin purée (of course you can use the canned version if you weren’t feeling so adventurous!)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
3 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Whisk together wet ingredients in a medium bowl.
3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.
4. Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about 3/4 full).
5. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes for regular muffins, 15-17 minutes for mini-muffins.

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6 thoughts on “Happy New Year!

  1. I’m enjoying all my edible gifts!! Haven’t gotten into my pumpkin bread yet but the maple pecans are absolutely wonderful…my favorite so far!

    • Yeah, I put most of my recipes in Nutrimirror, and it will make one of those for you. I’m glad you mentioned it, because I didn’t notice that the one for the pinwheel biscuits wasn’t loading right.

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