Happy New Year!

A happy 2014 to you all! We had a successful Christmas and a low key, but perfectly acceptable New Year’s Eve. Our Christmas decor was all put away by Dec. 27 (a record for us!), and while I was sorry to see it go, the layout of the house is such that I am glad to have the space back. Hubs had to work New Year’s Eve, so my date was Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy. I watch the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice as my New Year’s countdown. A most genteel way to spend the evening.

Unfortunately, we’ve spent the last week or so taking turns being sick. Nothing horrible, just a yucky, phlegmy cold/cough. It’s the kind where you sound horrible, especially in the morning, but once you get up and about, you feel mostly fine. Hopefully we’re all on the upswing, though. Sick kids are bad enough. Well kids while you’re sick is worse.

So I hate to say it, since I do love the holiday season and all the trappings of that time of year, but I am happy that we will be getting back on our normal schedule. Big Bit will be back to school, and we’ll be able to resume our routine. I’ll admit, as much as I love getting to hang out with all three kids, I get so much more done with Big Bit in school. We’re also hoping to start the potty training adventure with Little Bit, and lord knows that’s easier to do with a semi-regular schedule in place, rather than when the family is running around all the time with no set routine.

There you are. A short little update. Hopefully as we get back into the swing of things here I’ll be able to post more recipes. I have a few that I found over the holiday that I want to try in the near future. Also, I am committing myself to trying some crafting this year. I’m not sure what, but it will happen. I hope.

Happy 2014!

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New Pinterest Recipe of the Week: Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Muffins

Oh my goodness! The holidays and everything that goes with them are starting to take over life here, thus why this New Pinterest Recipe of the Week is so late in getting up. (Maybe I should just start calling it New Pinterest Recipe of the Every Other Week.) Anyway, I’m hoping to have the time to try some new Christmas recipes to post up here in the next few weeks, but until then enjoy this throwback to November, with Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Muffins!

Like I mentioned earlier in the blog, due to my husband’s schedule we did an early Thanksgiving. However, I am not the type to send him off to work empty-handed, especially on a holiday. Since a dinner was being provided, I needed something that would go with the meal, but wouldn’t be a repeat of something already being served. Obviously pumpkin is one of those quintessential fall flavors (just check Pinterest any time between September and November if you have any doubt), and muffins aren’t likely to already be on a Thanksgiving table. Add to the fact that these include Nutella, and I was sold. I found this recipe over at The Novice Chef.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark, but it probably doesn’t make much of a difference if you use light brown instead.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. milk (I used whole milk.)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Nutella for swirling

Preheat your oven to 350°F and prepare your muffin tin(s) by adding liners.

In a medium bowl, combine your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt).

In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin with both the granulated and brown sugars. Add the egg, vegetable oil, milk, and vanilla extract, beating until combined. Slowly add your dry ingredient mixture, mixing until there are no lumps. (I divided the dry mixture into thirds for mixing it in.)

Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full with batter and then top with Nutella. Use a toothpick or a knife point to swirl the Nutella.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until a toothpick or tester stick comes out clean.

Pumpkin Nutella Swirl Muffins

Tweaks and Overall Review

So when buying canned pumpkin, that smallest can one can find (or at least I could find) was 15oz. 15 oz. is more than a cup. Fortunately though, it is not much shy of two cups, so to make my life easier, and yours, too, if you don’t want to have a partially used can of pumpkin puree lying around when you try this, I took the standard 15 oz. can, used the whole thing, and just doubled the recipe. Problem solved. Now, partially since I doubled the recipe and partially since I like a bigger looking muffin, I filled my tins a little fuller than 3/4. That increased my baking time to about 20 minutes and also gave me a yield of 22 total muffins for my double batch.

I was pretty pleased with how these turned out. Big and Little Bit both seemed to enjoy them. The only thing I would tweak on a future attempt is that if you got a bite that didn’t have much Nutella swirl in it, the flavor seemed a little bland. To give the pumpkin batter a little of its own kick, I’ll probably add some cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice to it the next time I make these. I’m leaning toward the cinnamon just because that seems a pretty safe bet for the other flavors I’d be working with. On the whole though, this was a pretty straight-forward, easy recipe, perfectly suited to when you need some pumpkin flavor in your life.

The Date Doesn’t Matter

I’ve come to realize that military life can make it so the date on the calendar doesn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the date on the calendar is VERY important, such as anticipating a deployment or, in happier circumstances, counting down to a homecoming. Other times though, the exact date on the calendar isn’t the important thing.

We celebrated our Thanksgiving this past weekend since we won’t be able to on the actual day. For us, the day the calendar labels as Thanksgiving will be a pretty typical day, with the exception of Big Bit not being in school. We had a fantastic Thanksgiving, though. We had a home filled with family and friends, good food (if I do say so myself), and football. All in all a pretty traditional Thanksgiving. So what if it was a few days early? We got to enjoy being in each other’s company and give thanks for the blessings in our lives. I’m pretty sure that’s what Thanksgiving is all about.

Military life makes it’s own calendar. In our case, Thanksgiving came early this year. For some trying to work around deployment schedules, Christmas may come a month early, or a month late. The date isn’t important. What’s important is being able to celebrate together. Considering that there are always plenty of families that don’t get the chance to celebrate together, fudging by a few days or even a whole month isn’t a big deal, at least not to me. For me the holidays are about being with those you love, the date on the calendar doesn’t matter.

May you all have very happy Thanksgivings, whether they happen early, on time, or late!