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Inspiration & Pumpkin Muffins

September 30, 2012

The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative: “flashes of inspiration”.

Inspiration is a funny thing. It can appear out of nowhere and flood in like a tidal wave or it can not be found anywhere. When it comes to food and cooking, there are millions of sources for inspiration. The changing seasons, a color, the memory of an exquisite meal, family traditions, a particular smell or a trip to the market. Add in the blogosphere which is brimming with wonderful food blogs and myriad cookbooks and you’ve got plenty of sources to inspire a delicious meal. Alas, last week I found myself rather uninspired when it came to cooking.

We just spent six days in France, visiting Champagne and the Loire Valley plus a day in Paris, and had some delicious food and wine. I have to say my favorite meal was also the simplest: a picnic in the gardens of Versailles, enjoying wine from vineyards we visited, local goat cheese, baguettes, fresh strawberries and figs. What’s not to love about sitting in a beautiful setting with great friends, enjoying simple but delicious food? Once home, I grumbled to myself “who comes home from France feeling UN-inspired about food?!?” Needless to say, I was annoyed. I’m going to blame my lack of inspiration on jetlag and a series of cancellations that got us home 24 hours late.

After two days of feeling exhausted, uninspired and disconnected from my kitchen, I set to work re-inspiring myself. I got lost in the endless abyss of the food blogosphere and searched for photography tips. I pulled out a few Barefoot Contessa cookbooks – a surefire source of inspiration – and flipped through. I went to bed Friday night feeling a bit more positive about my culinary aspirations and with a few ideas brewing. Saturday we went apple picking which made me feel like the seasons are, in fact, changing. Fall is my favorite season but it doesn’t quite feel like fall yet…I want to be making soup and other cool weather fare but it’s still in the mid 70s! We bought more apples than we need, mums for the front stoop and pumpkins for the house. Surely having some seasonal decor will help encourage my creative senses.

I woke up this morning brimming with inspiration. Before I even got out of bed, I decided I wanted to make pumpkin muffins for breakfast. When I looked at my go-to recipe I realized I needed room temperature butter. I couldn’t wait that long so I hopped over to Smitten Kitchen and hoped Deb had a recipe for pumpkin muffins or bread using vegetable oil. I was in luck! I loosely followed her recipe, substituting the spice blend from my recipe for the pumpkin pie spice. The results were perfect. I think I have a new favorite pumpkin muffin recipe and I’m happy to be sharing it with you, just in time for fall.

Pumpkin Muffins
loosely adapted from Smitten Kitchen and The Junior League Centennial Cookbook
yields 12 muffins

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15 ounce can)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, for topping (optional)**
2 teaspoons sugar, for topping (optional)

Place rack in the middle of oven and preheat the oven to 350°. Line muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.  Then whisk in baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour until just combined. If you want to top muffins with cinnamon sugar, combine 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 2 teaspoons sugar in a small bowl.

Using a large ice cream scoop or spoon, divide batter among muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 the way full. If using cinnamon sugar topping, sprinkle mixture over top of muffins. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until muffins are puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

**I used a very small pinch of cinnamon sugar on half the muffins. It was a nice touch but I don’t think it made a huge difference so next time I will likely omit it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2012 8:23 pm

    Those muffins look to die for!

  2. October 13, 2012 8:28 pm

    yum yum yum – im about to post kathys moms pumkin bread on my blog if your not pumpkined out!

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