17 May 2011

Spring Cleaning Finds, and a Bonus

Trying to follow good, healthy practices, I like to cook things when the ingredients are in season, a la farmer's market.  The following is definitely not farmers' market and definitely not seasonal.  However, in a twisted kind of way it is seasonal.

What does Spring make you think of?  Strawberries?  Asparagus?   Eggs?  What about pumpkin?  No?  NO!  Unless, of course, Spring also means Spring Cleaning, and that entails clearing out the pantry and checking expiration dates on canned goods.  Does anyone else always seem to have a can of pumpkin left over after Thanksgiving?  I always do, and unfortunately, it tends to expire before the next Thanksgiving rolls around.  And I need the room.  I do not have a limitless pantry.

Tangent: if you are interested in major pantry reorganization, please visit this Kitchen Stewardship post for a lot of really inspirational links regarding pantries, bulk food storage, and freezer storage.  I've got to get busy!

So I unearthed this can of pumpkin and no way was I making pumpkin pie.  So I did something better: whole grain pumpkin muffins.  Did you know that you can turn any quick bread recipe into a muffin recipe?  Just put the batter into muffin cups (12 muffins for one 9x5 loaf of bread) and bake for about 22-25 minutes.  If ever you have muffins left over, and we don't, you can freeze them and have them some other time.

I used the King Arthur Whole Grain pumpkin bread  recipe (see below) and added dried cranberries to the batter.  I had some of those left over too.  I had some pumpkin seeds, and sprinkled them on top, and it was a flashy, thematic addition.  (Note: I have a picture of these beauties on my camera, which seems to have died.  If it resurrects, I will put the picture up, but for now, just use your imagination.)  These muffins were delicious and loved by all at our breakfast table.  Not hard to make, though I did save it for the weekend, and the boys snacked on pumpkin muffins all weekend long.  I was happy knowing that they were snacking on something that was giving them whole grains, lots of beta carotine, plus other good stuff, rather than, say, Cheetos.

One thing I do not like is when recipes call for something like 1 cup of canned pumpkin.  A can of pumpkin holds more than a cup.  Remember, I'm trying to use up stuff, and be frugal, not throw out nearly half a can.  I decided to save the extra pumpkin and make it into smoothies for the boys.  Honestly, to me a pumpkin smoothie didn't sound that great, but Cool Guy especially liked the idea.

I put into the blender the remaining can of pumpkin, some vanilla yogurt, a pinch of cinnamon, a banana past its prime, and about a Tablespoon of maple syrup.  Whirred it up, and had a very quick, nutritious, and surprisingly good after school snack. 

So this can of pumpkin turned out to be a two-fer winner.  What do you have in your pantry?  Can you put your creativity to work and find some good uses for your orphans?

Pumpkin Muffins
(Reprinted, with permission, from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking Book)

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup regular sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup chopped nuts (I didn't include, since boys don't want them)
  • 3/4 cup raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips
1. Heat oven to 375.  Grease 12 muffin cups.

2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and spices in a bowl.

3. Cream together butter, and sugars in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy.

4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

5. Beat in vanilla and pumpkin.

6. Add dry ingredients.

7. Stir in nuts and other addition.

8. Fill muffin cups.  They will be pretty full.

9. Sprinkle on pumpkin seeds if you have them.

10. Bake for about 23 minutes.

11. Wait about 10 minutes after taking out of the oven, and then remove from muffin pan.

I'm not going to do the math translating nutrition information between 1/16  of a loaf to 1/12 of the recipe for the muffins, but suffice it to say that you WILL get close to 20 whole grains, a nice bit of fiber, protein, vitamin A, iron, calcium and other stuff that is good for you.

Pumpkin Smoothie

  • Vanilla yogurt
  • banana
  • canned pumpkin
  • dash of cinnamon
  • Tablespoon of maple syrup
  • ice cube, optional
Whir it all in the blender.  Add more yogurt if the pumpkin is too strong.

1 comment:

  1. My dog loves loves pumpkin so we never have any leftover here.