Recipes

Peanuts and Pumpkins

Just the first few notes of that classic theme music sends me reeling back to my childhood, as I’m sure it does for many. Each holiday when I was a child would HAVE to include a viewing of a Charlie Brown special-how could it not? Halloween and Christmas were the big ones followed by Thanksgiving and the Valentine’s special (Popcorn for Thanksgiving dinner and Charlie Brown waiting at the mailbox for a Valentine that never comes. Charles Schultz knows how to stomp on a person’s heart!). Linus’ unwavering optimism and Charlie Brown’s glass-is-half empty outlook never ceases to be entertaining.

Being the Halloween fiend that I am, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” was always my favorite…the dark watercolor backgrounds, the leaf pile, the sincere pumpkin patch, Sally having a total freak-out because she missed Halloween and tricks or treats.

I still wonder why there were never any adults present in theses cartoons and when they were (Ms. Othmar), they were completely incomprehensible. Schultz seems to have a very anti-adult, pro-kid ticket going here.

So for you today, I have this little bit of Peanut’s nostalgia (you know you love it, we all do) as well as a divine pumpkin recipe. Make these muffins this weekend and go find the most sincere pumpkin (then kill it). Before long, you’ll have wonderful, autumnal scents in your kitchen and a glowing jack-o-lantern on your counter.

(p.s.-Just a weird note and I haven’t tried this but I’m going to. I recently read that if you put those little silica gel packets (You know, the ones that come in shoe boxes and handbags) in your carved pumpkins, they stay fresher longer…ie…they won’t become instant-elderly, super-wrinkly faces and cave in on themselves. )

Pumpkin Muffins. There are a million, zillion of these recipes floating around but this one is truly delish. Feel free to pitch nuts into it if you are a nutty household.

Pumpkin Muffins, courtesy of Cooks’ Illustrated (slightly amended by me)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ginger
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 cup sugar
4 Tb. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped, if using

Preheat oven to 350.

Whisk flour, baking soda, powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger together in a large bowl. Whisk the pumpkin, sugar, melted butter, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla together in a separate bowl until frothy.

Gently fold the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in nuts if using. The batter will be very thick.

Fold batter gently into a generously greased 9 x 5 loaf pan and bake for about 45-55 minutes. Let loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmolding and then on a wire rack for about an hour.

Happy Fall to you!

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