The first Saturday of autumn must mean this: chocolate chip pumpkin muffins

Hello, hello! I realize my space here has been mighty quiet, but now that the first fall Saturday is here, I’m feeling all nostalgic and can’t resist popping by to share again my family’s tradition for fall Saturdays: chocolate chip pumpkin muffins. I’ve written about these numerous times over the years and have posted my boys’ favorite recipe multiple times, too, but I can’t resist sharing again. My boys are 13 years old now (13!! How?!), and they still insist that Saturdays in the fall must start with these muffins. The only difference is that now, one of my sons will sometimes make them himself. But the first Saturday of the season, it is my job and I treasure it.

It’s been three years since I wrote about these little gems, and I thought I’d share that original post again. This post includes not only the vegan version that my boys have loved for the past decade, but also a paleo version I sometimes make as well.

How about you? Do you have any favorite fall traditions?


from November 2014:

I inadvertently started a tradition in my household some years ago. I made chocolate chip pumpkin muffins one fall Saturday morning, and suddenly my kids declared it a thing to be done every Saturday of fall. When my kids love something I’ve done for them, it’s very hard for me to say “no” to doing it again. Maybe I’m a pushover, but I do it because I realize that a day will come when they are not asking me to make pumpkin muffins for them anymore, and I’m sure I’ll miss it. So for now, pumpkin muffins they shall have.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

I think I’ve probably posted about these before. It’s a recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance : Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock*. I’ve always loved this book. It no longer jibes with my paleo ways, but it’s my kids’ favorite pumpkin muffin recipe, so I oblige. I adapted it to exclude soy milk (which we do not drink), to lower the amount of sugar, and to include chocolate chips.

  • 1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t ground allspice
  • 1 C pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 C canola oil
  • 2 T blackstrap molasses
  • 1 C ghiradelli semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a 12-muffin tin. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, almond milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix. Fold in the chocolate chips. Fill the muffin cups 2/3-full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Do not try to bake bacon in the oven at the same time, or you risk burning the muffins. Trust me on this. Maybe you never try to bake bacon at the same time as anything else, but I do! Let cool for about 5 minutes. Enjoy!

I love pumpkin muffins, too, but my husband and I prefer not to eat all that flour (and sugar and canola oil). So I’ve begun making paleo pumpkin muffins from one of my favorite paleo cookbooks, Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great*. Here’s my adaptation of her recipe:

  • 2 C blanched almond flour
  • 3 T coconut flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 3/4 t ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t ground cloves
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 3/4 C pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 C pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 T coconut oil, melted
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C ghiradelli chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with baking cups. Sift together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, spice, and salt in a small bowl and mix to combine. Place the remaining wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat on high with a hand mixer. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix till smooth. Gently mix in the dark chocolate chips and chopped pecans. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup 2/3-full. Bake for 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Danielle Walker doesn’t mention anything about sifting the almond and coconut flour, but I have found it absolutely essential to creating a better muffin. Otherwise they seem to turn out a bit grainy. However, I’m getting ready to order a superfine almond flour (this one:Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour Super Fine Grind Gluten Free Cholesterol Free albs)* and I’ll see if it makes a sifter unnecessary.

Paleo Pumpkin Muffins

Paleo Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

These aren’t as pretty as non-paleo muffins, but they are moist and delicious. I serve them with a pat of grass-fed butter and a cup of hot spiced tea. Perfect for fall.

So, that’s our Saturday breakfast tradition. And it is our Sunday breakfast tradition, too – the recipes make enough that there are plenty of muffins to heat up before church on Sunday (and I put a tray of bacon into the oven to bake while we get ready, because baked bacon – that’s how I roll!). How about you? Do you have any favorite paleo muffin recipes? It will soon be winter, and when that happens, my boys will no longer expect pumpkin muffins every weekend. So I’m looking for some wintry ideas!

*affiliate links

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Sunday Progress on my Sunday Shawl

Today has been a very long, very full, very good day, and I’m so glad I got up early and got a few stitches in on my shawl before the day got away from me. 

  
I’m sitting down now with a cup of tea and my hook to do a little more before bed. I hope to have more to show you soon!

(Ps – in the comments yesterday, I was asked about the yarn color names. I answered there but will include the info here, too, in case anyone else is interested:

  1. Truffle (dark brown)
  2. Ballerina (light pink)
  3. Bordeaux (raspberry)
  4. Sand Dune (tan)

These are all Knit Picks Swish Superwash (plus two handspun yarns). 

Saturday Crochet on my Sunday Shawl

At this point, I’m having a hard time putting this down, but I have to now, because today is a writing day and it’s time to get to work. But I’m getting close to the end, and I’m only falling more in love.

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This is all KnitPicks Swish (deep stash here), but I threw in some leftover handspun for fun, and I’m loving the results.

Five rows left – perhaps my reward tonight for finishing my work.

For the Holidays :: Vegan Cranberry-Orange Muffins

One of the most popular posts on my blog is my recipe for Vegan Cranberry-Orange bread, my own extra-orangey adaptation of a Vegan with a Vengeance recipe, which itself was an adaptation of an old Fannie Farmer recipe. In that post, I mention that the recipe can be made as muffins as well. But I’d never made it as muffins myself until this past weekend, and I have to admit, it will be mighty tempting to make it this way from now on – muffins bake up so much more quickly than bread, meaning these babies go from “Hey, let’s make muffins!” to “Hey, I have muffins in my belly!” in a flash.

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One of these days, I’m going to figure out what I need to do in order to make a recipe into a pdf that you can print off if you’d like. But for now, I’m just putting it here like this, old-school.

Vegan Cranberry-Orange Muffins

3/4 C orange juice
1/4 C canola oil
1 C sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 C all-purpose flour
1 1/4 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground allspice
1 T grated orange zest
1 1/2 C fresh cranberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease a muffin tin.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the orange juice, canola oil, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and allspice. Mix until smooth – batter will be quite thick.
  4. Fold in orange zest and cranberries. (Also, if you’d like to add walnuts or another add-in, now would be the time to do that.)
  5. Scoop batter into muffin tin, filling the muffin cups 2/3-full. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Let muffins cool in tin for about 5 minutes (that’s the hard part). Release onto cooling rack. Enjoy!

These are sooo good, and such a quick and easy way to use up leftover cranberries. Pretty soon, I’m going to try making a paleo version, and if those go well, I’ll be posting that recipe here too.

Cranberries are so festive and delicious, I like to use them as much as possible during this season. How about you? Do you have a favorite way of using cranberries, other than in cranberry sauce?

Slow Stitching on a Simple Project

Is grief like a baby, in that once you hit the 3-month mark you stop counting time in weeks? I’m not sure if I can stop counting that way. Every Thursday marks another week without my mom, another week of getting further away from her death, further away from her life. Today it’s been 13 weeks. It has also been exactly three months. Am I ready to stop measuring time by weeks? I don’t know.

Lately, I’m also marking time with slow stitches, and not the knitting kind. With my broken hand keeping me from knitting, I have been pushed to find other outlets for my impulse to create. And so it is that I found myself digging out a little cross-stitch project I started five years ago (can that be right? I just checked, and it’s right.) I bought this pattern from sewingseed on etsy, on Black Friday five years ago. I promptly got to stitching, but only sporadically. I lost it for awhile, then found it again the following November. I made some more progress and then put away again, until a year ago, when I picked it back up right after Thanksgiving. I had gotten this far:

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I think I worked on it for another day or two at that point, and then put it back down again for a year. I guess when given a choice between cross-stitch and knitting, I always pick knitting.

But during this time without knitting, I’ve picked it up again, and I’ve made more progress:

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I just need to finish the snow and then I get to do the deer. The strange thing is, as easy as cross-stitch is, I have found the stitching lately to be very slow-going, especially those white stitches. I feel clumsy and slow and frustrated. It gives me lots of time to think and to breathe.

Despite some of the frustration involved, I’m going to keep going this time. The progress is painstaking, but, as is often the case with my crafting, it is reminding me that, if I just keep stitching, no matter how slowly, eventually something beautiful will emerge.

I am choosing to keep believing that this will be the case with grief, as well. It is painfully slow stitching, y’all, and I can’t see the whole design of it from this point. But I trust it will yield its gifts, its wisdom, and its beauty, if I persist.

Advent Activity Calendar :: The Middle School Edition

How it got to be December already is a mystery to me. Also a mystery to me? Why I decided six years ago to set myself up for endless pressured creativity and activity for Advent every year. But when my sons were in kindergarten, that’s exactly what I did, by creating an Advent Activity Calendar for them, with a slip of paper for each day with a family activity on it. I was such a gung-ho Mom back then. Also, my kids were young and seemed to appreciate any idea I came up with.

Advent 2009

But my kids are in their first year of middle school now, and let me assure you that they no longer automatically appreciate any effort or idea. Also, I am tired and not very gung-ho.

And yet, my little men-children still want an Advent calendar. When I raised the possibility that perhaps they were too old for such a thing this year, they were shocked, scandalized, and horrified. What? Not do an Advent calendar? That is unacceptable. (It was basically the exact same response I got when I suggested they were maybe too old to go trick-or-treating.)

And that is how I found myself last night, hanging up the garland.

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Those little mittens bring me so much joy, even though I’m now faced with the daunting task of coming up with 24 family activities that middle schoolers would enjoy. I’ve been working on a list, but if you have suggestions, I’m certainly interested to know what they are. Each year, I do some of the favorites from years past (making homemade marshmallows, for instance, is an absolute tradition at this point), but I also like to introduce some new possibilities, too. My ideal activity is one which engages the kids, is in harmony with the spirit of the season, and doesn’t wear me out. Pretty tall order, eh?

If you are interested in seeing what I’ve done in the past, you can click the Advent Activity Calendar tab above, or choose the Advent Activity Calendar category on the right side of the screen. I used to be way better at documenting our activities than in recent years (like I said, I’ve lost my gung-ho-ness), but those first three years have plenty of ideas you can use or build on.

And whether or not you are making an Advent activity calendar, I can’t recommend the Smitten holiday garland pattern highly enough. I’ve made two sets so far and could see more in my future someday (possibly handspun). These little mittens are so fast and so fun and so absolutely adorable.  If you are looking for some instant gratification or quick gift, you can’t go wrong in casting on for a single wee Smitten (but you probably can’t stop at just one).

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Smitten Advent Garland

For a Little Fashionista (Handspun In Threes Cardi)

Earlier this year, I did what is for me a nearly unprecedented thing – I finished a handknit present a whole six weeks before the gift-giving occasion. This feat was made even more remarkable by the fact that I also spun the yarn up first. I then made up for this extraordinary punctuality by waiting more than half a year to blog about it.

I think I did show you the yarn last spring, but just in case not, here ’tis:

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This is Southern Cross Fibre “Dragon Fruit” on Bond/Silk, the February 2015 Club Offering (my first SCF club!). I spun it up as soon as I received it, and it was a dream. I ended up with 252 yards DK 2-ply, perfect for a toddler cardigan.

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This picture doesn’t do justice to those juicy colors. Oh YUM, I love them.

The knitting was fast and easy, and one week later, I was done:

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This is the In Three Cardigan, and it was a very sweet knit. After finishing up, I had enough yarn to crochet this precious Flower Accent, perfect for embellishing the sweater or attaching to a headband. I found some gorgeous green bakelite buttons from Sewing Vineyard on Etsy.

The sweater was for my great-niece, on the occasion of her first birthday. I made the 12-month size but with a slightly bigger gauge, figuring it would fit for fall.

And it did…

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Oh mercy, y’all. She is KILLING ME with the cute! And those grey boots!!! With those jeans! There may be nothing I love more than seeing someone I love wearing something I made for them. And when one of them looks this good in it, it just makes my heart explode.

raveled

Cyber Monday :: Shameless Self-Promotion

I get so much use out of my Shameless hat and mitts this time of year, but especially the hat:  


 In a bit of shameless self-promotion, I’m joining the Cyber Monday fun and offering 20% off all my knitting patterns from now through Saturday. 

  
No code required – just go to my pattern page and click “Buy Now” on any pattern, and the discount will be automatically applied. Or go through my Ravelry pattern store. Either way, happy knitting! 

Saturday Spinning

I have a new favorite fiber, y’all. It is Eider Wool and it seems very similar to Shetland, but with maybe a little more poof after washing.

 

Southern Cross Fibre “Water” on Eider


David (of Southern Cross Fibre) is a genius with color, as you can we’ll see.

This is 226 yards of DK-weight 2-ply, and I’m extremely pleased with it.

  
I’m planning to use it as weft for a scarf I’m going to weave, with some Hello Yarn Kent Romney Lambswool as warp:

  
I’m pretty excited about this project and hope to get to warping it soon!

Grey Friday

I don’t shop on Black Friday. I stay home with family and stay cozy. Today was grey and rainy so it was especially nice to be cuddled up inside. While staked out on the sofa, I decided to try something new…

  
I’ll let you know how it goes!