Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pumpkin Muffin Recipes

Every fall, I make pumpkin muffins.  This year, I was tasked with making muffins for the Men's Breakfast that the PTSA holds so, of course, they would be of the pumpkin variety.  I made my standby Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins and decided to try a new recipe, Cinnamon Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins.  The new muffins were a hit, so much so that Jason stole quite a few before I was able to wrap them up for school.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (makes ~18 large muffins)
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ginger
2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
4 eggs
2 cups (15 oz) pumpkin
1 1/4 cup light olive oil
pumpkin seeds or chopped nuts (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.
2.  Mix ingredients for muffins until smooth.
3.  In separate bowl, mix ingredients for filling.
4.  Fill muffin tins half full.  Spoon 1 tbsp of filling onto the muffin mixture.  Add more muffin mixture until tin is full.
5.  Sprinkle with seeds or nuts if desired.
6.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins (makes ~18 large muffins)
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp sugar
pumpkin seeds or chopped nuts (optional)

8 oz cream cheese
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp brown sugar

3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups (15 oz) pumpkin
1/3 cup light olive oil

1.  Preheat oven to 375.
2.  Mix ingredients for muffins until smooth.
3.  In separate bowl, mix ingredients for filling.
4.  In separate bowl, mix topping ingredients with fork until mixture crumbles.
5.  Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.  Add 1 tbsp of cream cheese filling.  Sprinkle on ~1/2 tbsp of the topping.
6.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Tips for muffins:  Allow cream cheese to warm at room temperature for a bit before mixing it.  Completely filling the muffin tins creates larger "domed" muffins.  If you want smaller muffins, fill the tins ~2/3 of the way.  I use muffin liners and spray them with oil to keep the muffins from tearing when the paper is removed.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Year's Difference

The picture on the left was taken 4 months after Noah was born.  The picture on the right was taken exactly one year later. 

The difference is 141 miles and 20 pounds. 

Normally, I hate pictures of myself, especially those where I'm not wearing makeup and have runner's hair.  Yet, I'm proud of this picture.  Yes, I still have a lot of work to do, but my ankles are smaller.  My calves are stronger.  My midsection isn't hanging over my waistband. 

My goal for the next year?  First and foremost, I need to rehab my meniscus tear.  I'd also be okay with another 20 pound weight loss. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homemade Laundry Powder

We've been using homemade cleaners for a while, but finally took the plunge and tried out homemade laundry powder.  There are a ton of different recipes on the internet, but the ingredients tend to be the same:  soap, washing soda, and Borax.  I used Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap because it's organic, but next time I'll probably use something cheaper if the babies can tolerate it.  You can also add baking soda or Oxiclean to the mix.  I played around with the ratios until I came up with a mixture that worked for us.  I absolutely love this stuff; clothes smell so fresh and even Jason's uniforms got clean!

Three Little Embrys Laundry Powder
1 cup washing soda
1 cup Borax
1 bar soap
1/2 cup baking soda

Grate one bar of soap (~5 oz) with a cheese grater or food processor.  Mix ingredients together and stir thoroughly.  Store in an airtight container.  Use 1-2 tbsp of powder per load.  Makes ~32 oz of detergent (32-64 loads).

Cost Breakdown
Arm & Hammer Washing Soda, 55 oz - $3.24 ($0.47/cup)
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, 4 lb - $2.12 ($0.27/cup)
20 Mule Team Borax, 76 oz - $2.98 ($0.31/cup)
Ivory, 3.1 oz - $0.25 ($0.40/5oz)
Dr. Bronner's, 5 oz $4.04

A batch using Dr. Bronner's cost $4.95 ($0.08/load) whereas Ivory would cost $1.32 ($0.02/load).  We had been using Tide Pods ($0.25/load) and since we do about 10 loads of laundry a week, not counting  diapers, the savings is pretty substantial.  For comparison, the cheapest detergent at the commissary is $0.12/load.

Basically, we can save $120 a year by making our own detergent that works just as well as Tide.