October 31, 2011

Brown Butter Pumpkin Muffins

Brown Butter Pumpkin Nut Muffins

Every year, I tell myself that I'll plan for Halloween well in advance; that I'll make myself an amazing costume and join in on the festivities. And every year, October comes around and I find myself completely unmotivated. It's not that I don't like Halloween - I love pumpkins, candy, pretending, and dressing up - but I have yet to think of a costume idea that really inspires me. Honestly, I think that Halloween is a holiday I could really get into, but that sorta thing requires a certain amount of dedication on my part. I wouldn't want to contribute haphazardly.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Nut Muffins  Brown Butter Pumpkin Nut Muffins

But just because I'm not joining in on the costumed festivities this year doesn't mean I can't celebrate Halloween in my own little way. I made these jumbo Brown Butter Pumpkin Muffins specifically for the occasion, which instantly put me in the spirit of things. So tonight, I'll be passing out candy, and watching movies with a few friends who also forgot their costumes this year.

Brown Butter Pumpkin Nut Muffins

Whether you're all dressed up, or hangin' low like me, I hope you have a happy Halloween!

Brown Butter Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 regular or 6 jumbo muffins.

1/2 cup (one stick) butter
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons maple syrup (I used grade B)
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, or:
     1 tsp. cinnamon
     1/2 tsp. ground ginger
     1/4 tsp. cloves
     1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
3/4 cup chopped dried fruit (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F, and line or grease your muffin tins. You can use either your standard muffin tin or jumbo sized.

Place the stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the butter has melted. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to stir occasionally until the butter has turned a golden brown color and gives off a nutty scent. Remove from heat, and allow the butter to cool for five minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the butter, pumpkin puree, buttermilk, eggs and maple syrup. In another bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, spices, salt, baking soda and the brown sugar. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, and stir until the mixture has just combined. Add any chopped nuts or dried fruits that you'd like, and fold in with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Divide the batter evenly in the cups of your baking tin, and bake in the middle of your oven for 20-25 minutes for the standard muffin tin, or 30-40 minutes for the jumbo-sized tin. Check to see if the muffins are done by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, the muffins are done.

Cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, and serve. Enjoy!

Adapted from Pumpkin Walnut Muffins from Epicurious.

October 26, 2011

Current Fall Faves

Caramel Popcorn

Roasted pumpkin and butternut squash.
Episodes of Felicity (and Keri Russel's amazing curly hair).
Knitting/Crocheting with Matt while watching Harry Potter.
Card games with friends, especially Pinochle. 
Cuddling with the fluffy feline.
Sweet Potatoes.
Good Books.
Hot soup.

October 24, 2011

Autumn

AutumnAutumnAutumn

I finally finished my first knitted hat! This pattern is called Autumn by Jane Richmond (she's one of my favorite designers). I've talked about it before here, back in August when I first started teaching myself to knit. It only takes a few hours to make, and it's super cozy. I particularly love slouchy hats like this because they stay on my curly-haired head a lot better than most others.

Yarn

I plan on making another hat just like it in this tweedy barley color that I picked up over the weekend. I will eventually get around to those other projects on my list, but I have to allow myself a slight deviation from the plan here and there. It's my way of living on the edge.

October 20, 2011

From the Garden

Herbs

Monday was a really beautiful 70°F and sunny day, so Matt and I went outside to clean off our back patio area, retiring our container garden for the year. I can now safely say that I'm glad we gave container gardening another chance this summer, because all of our tomatoes, peppers and herbs produced impressively. We may experiment with cover crops over these cooler seasons to preserve the nutrition of our soil, but we're not entirely sure how much longer we'll be staying in this apartment, so it might not be worth the time and effort.

Windowsill

Anyway, we harvested the last of our tomatoes, and transplanted some of our herbs into pots for the windowsill in our kitchen. They smell amazing and make me want to cook all the time, and they look pretty next to the carnations Matt brought home a few days ago.

In the mail.

Speaking of cooking, I finally got around to buying Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. People have been telling me that I need to buy this cookbook for ages, so I finally did some research on it and decided they were probably right. I'm planning to curl up on the sofa with some tea to give it a good read-through tonight. I always like to make a list of all the recipes I want to try with new cookbooks I like. It's one of my favorite things.

October 17, 2011

Knit and Crochet

I keep thinking Okay, as soon as I'm done with this [insert simple knitted project here], I'm going to put the needles/hook down and teach myself how to sew. But then I see all of these beautiful patterns, and I can't resist! I'm not the type of person who can have 15 different projects going at once without feeling a little insane (and broke), so maybe the sewing thing can wait until after the holidays.

These are just a few of the many projects I'm planning to start before the year ends:

The Bandana Cowl by Purl Soho

Hawthorne by Susanna IC

Spiral Flower Headband/Earwarmer by Shana Galbraith (Or any simple earwarmer, for that matter.)

The Beekeeper's Quilt by Tiny Owl Knits (Hexipuffs!)

And felted garland + knitted Christmas stockings! From Small Bird.

October 11, 2011

Nutmeg Honey Ice Cream

Homemade Ice Cream

I ran into a recipe for honey and toasted nutmeg ice cream over at Seven Spoons the other day, and was immediately drawn in. Matt and I have only just started experimenting with homemade ice cream after receiving our ice cream maker attachment as a wedding gift last month, and it's definitely one of my new favorite toys.

Homemade Ice Cream

This may seem like the wrong season to dive into ice cream experimentation, but you need something to go with all of those holiday pies, right? And this flavor is perfect. The combination of honey and nutmeg is truly delicious.

Homemade Ice Cream

Sometimes I'll add a tiny pinch of cinnamon to mix up the flavor, but it's best if the nutmeg is allowed to shine. Definitely make this if you own an ice cream maker. And if you don't? Well, I won't tell you that you're missing out, but...

Nutmeg Honey Ice Cream 

1 whole nutmeg
Tiny pinch of cinnamon (optional)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup liquid honey
6 egg yolks
Pinch of salt

Grate 3/4 of the nutmeg into a small skillet. Add a really small pinch of cinnamon (optional), and toast the spices on medium heat until they become aromatic (2-3 minutes). Take the spices off the heat, and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add the milk, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and the rest of the ungrated nutmeg. Heat over medium until just before it boils, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and allow the nutmeg to steep for 10 minutes.

Prepare the sugar, honey, egg yolks and salt by whisking them together in a bowl. Pour a small amount of the milk mixture (about half a cup or so) into the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream while whisking the entire time. Transfer, while whisking, all of the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk mixture. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir until the mixture thickens (5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the remaining cup of heavy cream and the toasted spices.

Pour the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled. Once the mixture is cold throughout, pour it into a 1qt (or larger) ice cream maker, and process according to manufacturer's instructions.

October 5, 2011

Leaf-Shaped

Tea & Cookies

Cookie Cutters

Leaf-Shaped Cookies

I bought a set of leaf-shaped cookie cutters last month to make pretty shapes for the top of our wedding pies. I was really happy with the way they turned out, so I'll be using them for all of our holiday pies too. And for lots and lots of leaf-shaped cookies.

Yesterday was cold, so I baked a batch of these sugar cookies in an effort to warm things up. I seriously can't believe how quickly things are cooling down around here. All of our windows are perma-closed now, and I'm feeling a bit underlayered, like maybe I need to make myself a bunch of socks and scarves and hats before winter.

Now that we're inside all day, our home is feeling a little grimy and cluttered, so I'm on a mission to get things in order. Our kitchen is the only room in our home that I don't want to completely rearrange and scrub down. Anyone else in fall-cleaning mode?

October 3, 2011

Striped Scarf

Chroma Striped Scarf

I've been knitting away at this striped scarf over the weekend. I really like this project because it's mindless enough that I can easily work on it while watching a film, but the color combinations are exciting enough to keep me interested. It's also really soft.

Chroma Striped Scarf

The weather is supposed to shift quite a bit here in the next week or so. We're going to get lots of rain and cooler weather, so I guess we should salvage all of the tomatoes we possibly can before they rot. Maybe I'll even try fried green tomatoes for the first time, or green tomato chutney.