There’s been lots and lots of knitting going on. Unfortunately, I can’t show you any of it. Seriously, this effort to get some patterns published is really putting a dent in my blogging efforts. I’ve got 3 projects on the needles right now (a record for me- knowing myself very well, I try to only have one project going on at a time) and I’ve finished two. Now, not all these projects are top secret; the Aran Tam was a fun project and I’ve cast on the Estes Vest and have a whole 7 rows done! (I’ve stopped to consider if I want to make the vest a little longer before starting the waist shaping.) But the mystery finished project and two of the in-progress projects are (hopefully) destined for one of those pattern-a-day calendars. I’m really excited by the idea that my designs will be in a “book” that anyone can buy at their LYS or bookstore. But I can’t show you any of the things I’m working on which makes blogging about them a little tricky. Because, really, what’s a blog without fabulous pictures? Or at least adequate pictures. However when these last two projects are done, I’ll go back to designing for holiday gifts and posting free patterns more regularly again.
The weather is getting colder in the evenings and there’s a delightful nip in the air. Enough of a nip that I wish I could work exclusively on the Estes Vest. This time of year always makes me want to bake. Growing up, there was always something baking in the oven, from cookies to cakes to pies. Mmm, delicious. Around the fall, I get these killer cravings for pumpkin-based desserts. As previously mentioned though, there’s some weight loss going on over here. Chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin pie are out of the question (for everyday eating, anyway.) I’ve stumbled across a great low-fat, low calorie, filling pumpkin muffin recipe that actually tastes good. I swear, no one believes that these muffins are only 150 calories! (Actually, they’re a little less.) I love these muffins so much that I have to share them. I’m not kidding, I’ve been eating at least one of these a day; they’re fantabulous.
Pumpkin Bran Muffins w/ Cream Cheese
These muffins are moist and slightly chewy. They’re not light and fluffy by any means, but not nearly as dense as other “low fat” muffins. Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin C, and tastiness. You can either use wheat or oat bran for this recipe. Wheat bran is higher in fiber than oat bran, but oat has more protein. Oat bran also has more calories. Personally, I like a combo of the two. Same with the cream cheese. I like to use a half and half combo of fat free cream cheese with reduced fat cream cheese. I think the taste and texture is better than using just fat free cream cheese but in a perfect world I’d just use reduced fat cream cheese, which brings the calories up closer to 200 instead of 150. I use unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze instead of milk because I like the slight almond flavor it adds and it’s lower in calories. I originally found this recipe here, but I added the cream cheese filling and tweaked a few other things. This recipe makes 12 muffins (and they’re very filling!)
- 1 1/2 cups wheat or oat bran
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or combine your own spices)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup – 1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (depending on how pumpkin-y you’d like; I use the max amt)
- 1/2 cup skim milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 egg plus 1 egg white
Cream Cheese Filling
- 3 oz fat free cream cheese
- 3 oz reduced fat cream cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix together first six ingredients (bran, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, spices, salt) in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, mix together remaining ingredients (pumpkin, milk, vanilla, eggs).
Pour the small bowl into the large bowl and stir just to combine. Set aside while making the cream cheese filling to allow the batter to hydrate/dissolve lumps.
In the bowl of a hand or stand mixer, beat both cream cheeses, egg, sugar and vanilla on medium-high until smooth and creamy.
Grease muffin tins well with non-stick spray or preferred method. Spoon muffin batter into tins (I find that 1 heaping spoonful is a good starting place, then divide up the remaining batter. The cups should be about 3/4 full.) Make a little well in the center of each muffin, then spoon in the cream cheese filling.
Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Pumpkin Chai Version
This is a twist I just came up for today’s batch. I love a pumpkin-chai combination. Really, it just adds black tea and cardamom to the pumpkin pie flavor, but it’s delicious. Heat up the milk in the microwave (not too hot, about 40 seconds maybe?) and soak 1-2 tea bags of your favorite chai in it while combining the dry ingredients (ignore the pumpkin pie spice in the dry ingredients.) Give the bags a little squeeze to get all the goodness out and throw them away. Combine the wet ingredients and follow the rest of the instructions above. I used 2 bags of Celestial Seasonings India Spice Chai in mine (I like my muffins spicy).
(Look at my wonderful food photo-taking ability. :/)