featured friends, pt 2 – meet kristy!
To tide you over til my next food post, here’s another installment of FEATURED FRIENDS! Meet my friend Kristy, a loveable, funny, beautiful and endearing person! She’s also a wife, mom and expert couponer (is that a word??). She doesn’t have a blog but I totally think she should – Kristy, how about it? She and her husband Simon are great people and I wish we lived closer to each other . . . alas, we’ll just have to save money, darn it, to visit them in sunny California! Anyways, I’ll just let her introduce herself.
I’m Kristy Caver. I work part time at a local hospital Breast Center (cancer detection and support) and spend the rest of my time with Simon, my wonderful husband of six years, and our kids James (4) and Violet (18 months). I relax and unwind from the busy-ness of life with kid-less date nights and massages.
Labrynth is one of my favorite movies. I have a thing for David Bowie in the 80’s. We love to eat at fancy restaurants and try new foods. We have pretty much cut out fast food and casual dining in favor of saving our money for the good stuff. I enjoy cooking easy, quick, healthy meals. If the meal doesn’t meet those requirements, I get frustrated and binge on organic potato chips or cookies. Just kidding. But not really. It’s all about keeping a food stockpile and clipping coupons! Then you never have to rush out and pay full retail because you didn’t stock up when there was a sale. An interesting fact about me is that I was Miss Whittier 1999 (the city I grew up in). I’m not the pageant type, I just did it for the experience and happened to win.
The recipe I’m sharing is Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins!
Our family strives to eat healthy and organic. Which is really difficult when a certain member L.O.V.E.S. sweets. Yep, that’s me. So I love the challenge of finding tasty snacks and desserts that won’t make our arteries cringe in fear. Enter: Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins. That’s right, we’re combining the health of fruit, veggies, flaxseed, and whole wheat flour with the magical, mysterious, antioxidant-rich allure of dark chocolate.
This recipe rocks because it’s just begging for substitutions and additions, which is rare in baking. While there is no butter in the recipe, there is oil. Don’t want oil? Use applesauce (I do half oil/half applesauce). Don’t want refined sugar? I use turbinado or honey. Like nuts? Add ‘em (I’d rather poke my eyes out with hot spindles, but whatever floats your boat). Like other healthy stuff? Add ground flaxseed (I grind Bob’s Red Mill flaxseed), chia seed, cacao nibs, the list goes on. Like spices? Add allspice, cloves, nutmeg, extra cinnamon, whatever. Allergic to chocolate? Omit it (and may God grant you peace in this sad life without chocolate). Love chocolate to no end? Add two bags of chocolate chips. But don’t come crying to me when your friends accuse you that these aren’t healthy muffins.
Lately with this recipe, I’ve skipped chocolate chips and added a spoonful of Dark Choco Dream (found at most Sprouts or Whole Foods Markets) in the middle of the muffins before baking. It adds that ooey-gooey element of surprise when someone bites into an unsuspecting, average looking muffin. But regular semi-sweet chocolate chips are also the perfect addition to these muffins. Don’t forget that you can double or triple the recipe and freeze the extras…if there are any!
A final note regarding pumpkin. This is a veggies that’s fine organic OR conventional. Its thick skin keeps out most pesticides. You can buy a pumpkin, cut it, steam it, carve out the innards, and puree it. Or just buy the can for gosh sakes. Fall is coming and you will see stores stocking it all over the place for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Load up while you can. Pumpkin is a seasonal item. And if the weather is extra wet or dry for the growing season, the crops can spoil and cause further shortages. Don’t come crying to me next March when you finally decide to make this recipe and you’ve been to 40 stores for pumpkin and come home empty handed. I warned you.
Here is the base recipe. Sass it up to your liking!
2 cups sugar
1 16oz. can pureed pumpkin
1 ½ cups oil
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
Chocolate chips or chocolate filling
In a large mixing bowl or Kitchen-Aid, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until smooth. Add in dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups ¾ full. Bake 16 – 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes 18 – 24 muffins.