Of Mazes and Muffins

Happy Saturday, kiddos! And Happy Two Weeks Until Halloween!!!

Can you believe how fast October is flying by? (me either!)

As I watched the days passing by, I decided to dedicate one day to “Halloween Activities” this week. It was going to be a day full of my favorite Halloween-related things and it was going to be awesome.

The first order of business was to make my absolutely favorite pumpkin recipe EVER, Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins.

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Seriously obsessed with these little morsels of fall goodness… they are the perfect combination of pumpkin, spice, chocolate, and almonds. Plus, their little cute size makes them easy to package up in clear bags as Halloween hostess gifts for all your Halloween (or any fall) gatherings.

After a morning of Halloween baking, I dug into my Halloween candy stash (shhh!), grabbed my mom, and we headed out to our family friend’s house. As some of you may know, every year around Halloween, our family friends create a huge loops-and-traps maze in their backyard and allow the public to come and try to solve it.

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It is a large undertaking for our friends, but it truly is a fun Halloween tradition that I have been enjoying for the past 18 years. It is never the Halloween season without a trip to the maze…

… in the daytime, of course! As I have recounted previously, I am a HUGE ‘fraidy cat so I decided to save myself the embarrassment of bursting into tears by only doing the maze in the daytime when all the scary elements of the maze are washed in bright sunshine.

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Like this witch (which I know is technically not IN the maze) is completely terrifying at night, but kind of adorable during the day!

Since it was a quiet break in the afternoon, I was allowed to grab my camera and snap some photos as I went through the maze. Which was great because then I could text pictures to my sister E and my family friend T (who built the maze!) about my progress/show them scary things in the maze/tell them to come from their respective work places to save me because I was lost (kidding about the last part).

So after grabbing my camera and phone, I approached the maze.

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And saw that they were very encouraging at my attempt to complete the maze in an hour or less…

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Ready? Set? Let’s go!

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When I tell my other friends about the maze, they all initially assume that it is either a corn maze or a maze made out of hedges. When I tell them that it’s actually burlap panels with hidden doors and passageways (AKA a loops-and-traps maze), they are very impressed (and want me to take them ASAP). It’s definitely a different kind of maze, one that I prefer to any other kind! (Plus, look how groovy it is!).

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While getting lost in the maze is my specialty, it is always reassuring that there is someone around to ask for help/hints. While I can’t seriously text T for help (because T is actually at work and I can’t just text him pictures of random burlap walls saying “Help me, I’m lost!”), I can always call up to the upper deck and have his mom (Mrs. S) give me hints. She and my mom are the best of friends and love to gab while I flounder around in the maze. Having the camera was helpful though – I was able to raise it up to ask for help (this is when they were telling me that I was hopelessly lost… big surprise!).

BUT, after that photo was taken, I actually got through the maze successfully (only two tries this year!) and in UNDER thirty minutes (cue happy music). I was absolutely thrilled by this development and encouraged my mom to try going through the maze too!

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Not sure if she appreciated having someone follow her around the maze, snapping photos, and giving non-verbal hints. Yet, even with all those distractions, she was able to get through it too! It was definitely a Halloween win for the family!

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And we celebrated at home with a Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin.

 

So, kiddos, how are you planning the weeks up to Halloween? Are you going to visit a Halloween maze or haunted house? Let me know!

Your pumpkin muffin obsessed, Halloween maze conquering friend,

C

Pumpkin Bread

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It has been officially October for over a week and all I can think about is pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins. From picking the perfect pumpkin for a Jack-o-Lantern to finding armloads of mini pumpkins to place all over my house to whipping up our favorite pumpkin recipes, the orange fruit is forefront in my mind.

Of all the pumpkin-related activities that you can do this fall, my favorite thing to do is make pumpkin baked goods. You all know that my absolutely, positively, #1 go-to pumpkin baked good is Mini Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, but today I’m sharing my family’s ultimate pumpkin treat.

Good Old Fashion Pumpkin Bread.

I always notice that around Labor Day, boxed pumpkin bread mix starts appearing on store shelves in anticipation of the holiday baking rush. As much as I love and use boxed bread/muffin/cake/brownie mix, I think that some things taste better when you make them from scratch… and this pumpkin bread is one of those things. Try it once, and you’ll be hooked (promise!).

This bread has three teams of ingredients and comes together very quickly in the stand mixer. You can also use a hand mixer if that’s what you have.

The first team is the dry ingredient team.

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Flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Blend those together and set aside while you get the second team together.

The second team is the wet ingredient team.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine eggs, vegetable oil, and pumpkin puree. If you have homemade pumpkin puree, you are my hero and please use it here (and can you please send me some?). I always have canned pumpkin puree in my pantry from September thru January, so that’s my go-to. Beat the eggs and pumpkin together until combined.

Then, get together the third team… which is water. Yep, measure out ⅔ cup of water into a measuring cup with a spout.

And now you’re ready to make pumpkin bread (and yes, I may have forgotten to take photos but it’s easy!). With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients and water alternately, starting and ending with the flour.

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Mix the batter until just combined and pour it into two greased loaf pans with a sheet of parchment on the bottom (for easy removal). All that’s left is to bake them at 350 degrees for about 45-60 minutes.

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Divine!

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All that’s left is to let it cool slightly in the pans, turn it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, and then slice up for your family to enjoy.

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Or you could keep it all to yourself (I won’t judge!).

 

So, kiddos, what’s your favorite pumpkin baked good?

Your pumpkin obsessed friend,

C

Pumpkin Bread

  • Servings: 20 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

3½ cups all-purpose flour

2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1-15oz can of pumpkin pureed – about 1⅓ cup homemade pumpkin puree

⅔ cup water

 

Steps:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray two loaf pans with cooking spray and place a rectangle of parchment paper on the bottom of each pan. An easy way to measure a piece of parchment that will fit is to outline the bottom of the loaf pan on the parchment and cut it out.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat together eggs, vegetable oil, and pumpkin puree. With the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients and water alternatively, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans and pop the pans into the oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool the bread in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto a cooling rack to allow them to cool completely.

Enjoy!

 

Nutrition Information (1 slice):

274 calories Ÿ• 39gm carbohydrates •Ÿ 1gm fiber Ÿ• 4gm protein Ÿ• 12gm fat Ÿ• 1gm saturated fat Ÿ• 313mg sodium Ÿ• 37mg cholesterol Ÿ• 2mg iron •Ÿ 29mg calcium