Pumpkin Spice Muffins

So you may have noticed we’ve been on a pumpkin baking kick lately, ie. pumpkin mini muffins and pumpkin bread with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. We tried to balance out all the baked goods with a healthy pumpkin soup, but it was a DISASTER. We tried to make it savoury, then realized it tasted better sweet. We tried to correct our mistake…. but it was no good. It was a sad day for pumpkins everywhere. So this time around, we decided to continue baking with pumpkin because you can’t go wrong. Sugar has a way of making everything better, doesn’t it?

Serve these on Halloween! Fresh from the oven muffins would be wonderful after returning from trick-or-treating with the kids. Or on your own. Or from getting a blast of cold air every time you open the door to give out candy. That takes work too.


Pumpkin Spice Muffins

2 large free run eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with Halloween-themed muffin cups.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together flour, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, all spice, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and oil. Add pumpkin puree and stir until combined. Stir in flour mixture until combined.
4. Spoon the batter into muffin cups, and bake for 20 to 22 minutes in the center of the oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
5. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from pan. Let cool before serving.

These muffins are excellent on their own, but even better with orange cream cheese frosting!

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1 package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the orange juice and orange zest and mix until incorporated.
2. Spread the frosting and decorate muffins.

Makes 12 – 14 muffins.

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Pumpkin Banana Bread with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

We decided to add a fall touch to our banana bread recipe by adding pumpkin puree, pumpkin spices and smothering it in a delicious cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

Make this bread with our pumpkin puree!

Pumpkin Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas
1/2 cup melted organic coconut oil
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 free run egg, beaten or egg replacer equal to one egg
1.5 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mash bananas in a large bowl. Add melted coconut oil and mix well with a wooden spoon.
3. Mix in the sugar, egg and pumpkin.
4. Combine flour, baking soda, baking soda and spices in a small bowl. Mix together and fold into the wet ingredients. Mix well and pour into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees F.
5. It’s done when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes and then take the bread out of the pan. Cool completely before slicing.

Cinnamon cream cheese frosting

1 package cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the spices and mix until incorporated.
2. Spread the frosting on the pumpkin loaves.

Makes two loaves.

Pumpkin Mini Muffins

Halloween means many things to me. It means watching The Nightmare Before Christmas with my father, making a costume I’ve been planning since August, looking for the scariest Halloween decorations because when I was little I hated “cutesy” decorations, gorging on chocolate intended for trick-or-treaters, imagining the streets coming alive at night, and baking with my mother. This is one of the Halloween recipes we like to make. Use our pumpkin puree from last week!

These pumpkin mini muffins are oil free, low in fat and 1/4 of the size of a regular muffin so it’s totally okay to have 12 of them. At least that’s what I tell myself. That’s the problem with mini muffins… how can you eat just one?? They’re so tiny!

Top these with strawberry jam and drink with a big glass of almond milk!

Pumpkin mini muffins

3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/4 cup apple sauce
2 tbsp chia seeds with 1/2 cup water
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease paper liners.
2. Mix chia seeds with 1/2 cup water until smooth. The chia gel acts as a binder and the superfood adds protein, fiber and omega 3 to the muffins. In a bowl, mix the chia seeds with cane sugar and apple sauce. Add pumpkin and 1/4 cup water.
3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt.
4. Add the wet mixture and stir in chocolate chips.
5. Grease muffin cups with oil. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.
6. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes at 350 F. Take care not to burn the muffins.

Makes 36 mini muffins.

For regular-sized muffins, bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see if they’re done with a toothpick.


My recipe originally appeared on The Calgary Journal food blog.

– Silvia

Oyster Mushroom Pasta

We’ve been on a bit of a pasta kick. This pasta comes together really quickly with minimal ingredients. It’s the perfect dish to follow a long day of work/school when energy and enthusiasm for cooking is far from our minds. The oyster mushrooms add meatiness to the dish, while the double-smoked cheddar cheese grated on top enhances the flavour.

3 cups dried pasta, preferably rotini
2 tablespoons olive oil
7 oz oyster mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups marinara sauce
1 teaspoon salt
Double-smoked cheddar cheese, grated
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
2. Saute mushrooms and garlic in olive oil for 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Drain the pasta and return to pot. Add sauteed mushrooms and garlic, marinara sauce, salt and pepper. Stir and heat until thoroughly warmed through.
4. Top with double-smoked cheddar cheese and serve with garlic bread.

Vegetarian Lasagna

We love gooey cheese dishes, bonus if we can sneak a vegetable in there like zucchini. Usually we’re not really sure what to do with zucchini besides eat it straight off grill or put it on pizza. We love putting vegetables like eggplant in risottos, stews, etc. but the zucchini somehow gets neglected. However, it’s absolutely delicious in this lasagna! This dish is healthier than traditional lasagnas thanks to the vegetables and the low fat cottage cheese.

3 cups organic Marinara sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 package lasagna noodles
2 medium zucchini, sliced
7 oz oyster mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups low fat cottage cheese
2 cups shredded cheese (We used a 4 cheese blend)
1 teaspoon oregano

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic for two minutes, then add oyster mushrooms and zucchini. Stir and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until zucchini and mushrooms are tender.
3. Cook the noodles in boiling water for a few minutes, rinse in cold water and drain.
4. Cover the bottom of a 9×12 inch baking pan with 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce, then cover the sauce with one layer of lasagna noodles. Cover this with a thin layer of cottage cheese, then add a layer of cooked mushrooms and zucchini and a thin layer of marinara sauce. Repeat 2 times, then add a layer of noodles, a layer of marinara sauce and a layer of shredded cheese. Sprinkle oregano on top of shredded cheese.
5. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the lasagna and bake for another 15 minutes to lightly brown the cheese.
6. Allow lasagna to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8.

Quinoa Salad

Quinoa rules. It’s gluten-free, pairs well with everything, cooks in 15 minutes, and is high in protein and other good stuff like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. We like to make this salad Sunday night and have it throughout the week as a side dish, but it would be great on its own as well.

If you buy prepackaged quinoa, it should say if it’s been rinsed or not. If not, then let the quinoa soak for about 15 minutes or longer to remove the bitter coating that contains saponins. Then give it a quick rinse and it’s ready to be cooked!

1 cup organic quinoa
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2/3 cup frozen peas
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Dressing

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ginger
A dash of freshly ground pepper

1. Soak quinoa in cold water for 15 minutes and then rinse under running water using a strainer or a cheese cloth.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt and water to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until done. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, cover, and let cool.
3. Chop the English cucumber, mint leaves and tomato and set aside.
4. Boil chopped celery and frozen peas for 4 to 5 minutes, rinse and drain, and then add to chopped vegetables.
5. Whisk together lemon juice, oil, remaining salt, sugar, water and pepper, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
6. Combine all ingredients before serving and toss gently.

Serves six.

Garlic Sweet Potato Fries

We love sweet potatoes because apart from being totally delicious, they pack a ton of vitamins and nutrients like vitamin A and C. These are great with any protein for dinner, and also work very well as an appetizer. If you normally don’t like sweet potatoes, give these a try!

We like to leave the skin on for extra nutrition, but peel ’em if that’s your thing. You can also use yams in place of the sweet potatoes in this recipe without a problem!

Garlic Sweet Potato Fries

1 tsp garlic powder or more to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
4 large sweet potatoes

1. Scrub sweet potatoes with a coarse brush until clean and free of dirt. Cut 1/4 inch thick and 3/4 inch wide, or however you desire; we prefer steak cut fries.
2. Place sweet potatoes into a bowl with garlic powder and olive oil. Mix until fries are well coated.
3. Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper. Rub olive oil on parchment paper so fries do not stick.
4. Place fries on baking sheet and sprinkle them with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10 minutes, watching fries closely to make sure they don’t burn.

Serves 6.

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