Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins


Do you hear that? It’s the sound of full-fledged pumpkin hysteria and I am right there on the frontline of it all. We have officially arrived at that time of year and I love to welcome this autumn staple with open arms when fall begins. Perhaps it’s the result of being married to a wonderfully practical man, but I am a firm believer in celebrating each season at the right time. I don’t purchase pumpkin spice lattes in August and we don’t put our Christmas decorations up until after we’ve enjoyed Thanksgiving. It’s all part of my super self-actualized ideology of living life in the present. By the way, I just finished Mindy Kaling’s new book, Why Not Me?  and she uses the term “self-actualized” rather frequently and I fancy it so much that it is now my go-to description for what I hope my thirties (gulp) will be.  How self-actualized of me. So hipster.


I guess you could say I’m self-actualized in my ability to fully embrace the fact that I have an incredible propensity to embarrass myself on very regular occasions. In my younger years, I was less than fond of that part of myself; but I now accept it. The people closest to me seem to like my tales and I am glad I can provide comic relief for those I love the most. Just last week, I was evaluating a patient in her home and I wanted to look at the safety of the bathroom set-up, so I asked, with my hand already turning the door knob, “do you mind if I take a peek at your shower?” I said this more as a formality and I pushed my shoulder against the door and barged right in before the sweet, elderly lady could tell me her daughter was using the restroom. I got a high-def, panoromic view of a poor, unsuspecting women just trying to go to the bathroom in peace. The worst part was this was just the beginning of the eval, so we were able to spend lots more quality time together after I profusely apologized and slammed the door shut. Oy.


When I am not storming in on people using the restroom, I like to fill my house with aromas of fall. These pumpkin muffins do just that. They are made with a full can of pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I made these for breakfast for Smith and he loves them. I like them because they aren’t too cloyingly sweet and the whole wheat flour adds a good heartiness with each bite. The muffins are equally great for busy weekday mornings or for lazy fall weekends paired with a piping-hot cup of joe.

Happy Saturday, all.



Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¼ cup real maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 eggs
  • Cinnamon sugar (1 teaspoon cinnamon 3 tablespoons sugar), for topping


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with cupcake liners. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate large bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree, butter, maple syrup, milk, and eggs until well-combined. Carefully add dry ingredients to the wet and mix gently until just mixed through.
  2. Use a large ice cream scoop to fill batter into cupcake liners. Sprinkle the top of the muffins with cinnamon sugar. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until top of muffins spring back when you gently push down with your finger. Transfer to cooling racks to cool for about 5 minutes, remove muffins from the tin and allow to cool completely. Enjoy! These muffins also freeze well.

Source: Adapted from A Pinch of Yum








Feeding Our Rump Roast: No Bake Oatmeal Energy Bites

IMG_6685Our little rump roast isn’t so little these days. He is a rambunctious toddler with a serious love for running, not walking, to explore the fascinating world around him. Because of this, it can be a bit challenging to pin him down and make him eat; he’s just too busy chasing the dog or driving his matchbox cars all over the house. I have been trying to find quick and healthy snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated, so I can be ready to refuel my little dude at a moment’s notice. These no bake oatmeal energy bites are one of my new favorites. 


They are super easy to make and they are perfect for summertime because I don’t like using my oven more than I have to this time of year. All you need is a food processor and, voila, a delicious and healthy snack awaits you. With only five ingredients and no added sugar, I feel really good about letting Smith dig into these little nuggets of fun. He loves them and feels so proud because he can play and eat at the same time.   

An added bonus to these babies is that they are equally tasty for adults.


No Bake Oatmeal Energy Bites


  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup Medjool dates (usually in the refrigerator section at Trader Joe’s or health food stores)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Remove the pits from the dates. Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the dough comes together and all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. You may need to add a few more dates if the dough is too crumbly.
  2. Remove the dough from the bowl of the food processor and shape into balls. Place in on a plate in a single layer and refrigerate to allow the bites to firm up slightly. Enjoy! I keep them stored for about a week in the fridge.

Source: Barely adapted from A Couple Cooks

Date Nut Pinwheels


When I was planning what cookies I was going to bake for this Christmas season, I perused through my cookbooks and surfed my Pinterest boards and found myself in absolute sensory overload. I couldn’t decide, so I asked Bert what his favorite Christmas cookies are and after brief deliberation, he decided on date nut pinwheels. I was kind of surprised to learn this little fact about the guy I have grown to know so well that I can (and, so annoyingly, do) finish his sentences. My husband, who has declared chocolate chip the supreme cookie of all time and holds a classic double chocolate cake as his most revered birthday treat, had revealed to me a side of him that I never knew. The lad loves the underrated and often overlooked date nut pinwheel. My heart swelled with pride and I marked my notebook in pen; date nut pinwheels were a must for this holiday season.


These cookies are a little more time-consuming in that you have to allow plenty of time to make and cool the filling, and chill the dough two separate times. The actual rolling up of the pinwheels can be a little intimidating, but the folks at America’s Test Kitchen included great instructions on how to do it simply with parchment paper. I was feeling a little sassy and festive on the day I was baking these and decided to have Bert and Smith record me rolling up one of the pinwheel logs . I always learn better by watching a video over a series of pictures, so I’ve included the video here. It’s very homemade, but I hope you find it helpful.

Have a wonderful week, everyone, I am going to be posting more holiday treats on the blog as Christmas nears. It’s going to be extra sweet around here, but I have some lighter recipes to share in a few weeks, as well.


Date Nut Pinwheels

Yield: America’s Test Kitchen says 40 but I got around 48


  • 1 3/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped fine
  • 9 ounces pitted dates, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) packed brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Bring the pecans, dates, 1/2 cup sugar, and water to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir frequently and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 hour.

2. Use the paddle attachment in a standing mixer to beat together the butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1 cup of granulated sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, soda, and salt. Set aside. When your butter mixture is nice and fluffy, turn the mixer to low and slowly add in the eggs, one at at time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowls and mix again. Next, add in the vanilla and mix until well-combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the flour mixture, in about 3 additions, until the dough is just sticking together. Turn off the mixer and divide the dough into two equal-sized hunks. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3. After the filling is cooled and the dough has chilled, place one of the hunks of dough on a lightly-floured piece of parchment paper. Roll the dough into a 9×13 inch rectangle and spread half of the date filling on the dough using a rubber spatula. Pull up on the long side of the parchment paper that is facing you and slowly peel and roll the dough while pulling up on the parchment paper to form a log (see video above). Repeat with the other hunk of dough. Place the logs on a cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 1 day. You can also speed up this process by freezing the dough for about 1 hour.

4. When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with greased parchment paper or silicone mats. Carefully slice the logs using a sawing motion as to not flatten the pinwheels into rectangles. Gently adjust the sliced cookies with your fingers to make them rounder. Place on baking sheets, about 2 inches apart, and bake for 14-16 minutes**, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cookies cool completely.

**America’s Test Kitchen provides a baking time of 18-22 minutes, but I found that my cookies were a little overdone at this time. My advice would be to do a test cookie and see which duration works best for you.

SourceAmerica’s Test Kitchen Best-Ever Christmas Cookies

Chocolate Pots de Creme


I am going to show you the very erudite side of me and tell you that I used to pronounce this lovely custard treat “pots-day-cream” until I saw a chef making it on a cooking show about five years ago and he was saying it the correct way, “poh-de-cccccccrem.” I was just a little bit embarrassed, but I did manage to laugh at myself. That’s what life is all about, right?

Those silly French folk and their fancy words and my phonetically-centered brain. I would fit right in in France. Can’t you see Ina Garten and me perusing the markets while Jeffery worked on his computer back at our Parisian apartment? Yeahhhh…. neither can I.

Nonetheless, pots de creme is a surprisingly easy dessert to make. There is no baking involved and it requires very few ingredients. You just need to allow some extra time for it to set in the refrigerator and the end result is a big ol’ pot of CCCCCCCCCCREM. How fancy; just like those French.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Bonjour!

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1. Arrange 6 small bowls on a cookie sheet and set aside.

2. Pulse the chocolate chips, salt, and sugar in a food processor until ground into fine pieces.

3. Add in the egg and pulse until smooth. Set aside.

4.. Place the cream in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat on the stove until bubbles just start to form along the edges (not a full boil). Remove from heat.

5. Turn the food processor on and slowly add the cream through the feed, stopping the machine to scrape down the sides as needed. Mix until well combined and smooth.

6. Pour the mixture into the bowls, dividing evenly, and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Enjoy with whipped cream, cookies, and/or fresh fruit.

Source: King Arthur Flour

My Favorite Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Oatmeal cookies are one of my favorite comfort foods. Especially chewy ones. Like these. A few years ago, my mom stumbled upon this recipe and it has been our favorite ever since. They are perfectly chewy with a perfect balance of salt and cinnamon. The only thing that would make them better is throwing in a heaping handful of plump, juicy raisins; but there is a boy that I live with that likes oatmeal cookies sans raisins. He’s not normally picky, but in this instance he is. And since I can’t eat the whole batch myself- well technically I could- I left them out. Also, my mom sometimes adds in coconut and almonds and that is really delicious too. It’s really up to personal preference.

If you are looking for a great oatmeal cookie that’s chewy and flavorful, look no further. These are quite tasty. And they make your house smell heavenly. :)

Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

Printable Version

Yield: About 4 dozen cookies


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • Raisins, nuts, coconut (optional)


1.In a medium bowl, cream together butter and both sugars.

2. Beat in eggs, one at a time until well blended. Stir in vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

4. Add in the oats and stir until just combined. Add in any extras (raisins, nuts, coconut, etc), if desired.

5. Transfer the dough to plastic wrap, cover, and chill for at least an hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch diameter balls and place on the cookie sheets, about two inches apart. Press down gently with fingertips.

7. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Don’t overbake. Allow to cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com

Banana Cream Cheese Muffins

Monday is here again. By Sunday night, I tend to start to get that dreaded feeling of facing the week ahead. No more sleeping in or going about as I please. It’s back to the daily grind and Friday seems so far away. Mondays don’t get a lot of love, but it’s time to change that. It’s time to start looking Monday square in the face with a big smile. There’s no way of avoiding it, so why not make the most of it? And why not do it with one of these banana cream cheese muffins?

These muffins are an adaptation of my favorite banana bread recipe with a delightful dollop of cream cheese filling in the center of this flavorful cake. It’s a tasty breakfast treat and will give you just enough moxy to say, “bring it on, Monday.”

Bring it on, Monday! ;)

Banana Cream Cheese Muffins

Printable Version

Yield: 1 dozen large muffins


For the cream cheese filling:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

For the muffins:

  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 4 large, very ripe bananas
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar


1. To make the filling, whip the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add in the powdered sugar until combined.

2. Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place in the freezer for about 1 hour to allow to harden.

3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with spray oil. Set aside.

4. To make the banana bread, place the bananas in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and slit a few slices in it to act as a vent. Microwave for 5 minutes.

5. Remove from the microwave and place the banana mixture in a sieve over a bowl and gently stir. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes to ensure the excess liquid drains from the bananas.

6. Transfer the banana liquid to a small saucepan and cook on medium heat until it reduces to about 1/4 cup. This takes about 5 minutes.

7. Combine the bananas and the banana liquid in a bowl and mix until smooth. Add in the vanilla, eggs, and butter. Stir.

8. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add to the banana mixture and mix until just combined.

9.  Remove the cream cheese mixture from the freezing. Retrieve the muffin tin and fill each cup about halfway full with the banana batter. Cut a 1 inch slice from the cream cheese log and place on top. Add another scoop of the banana batter.

10. Place in the oven and bake for 22 minutes, or until the muffin springs back when you touch it. Cool on a baking rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and allow to cool completely. Enjoy!

Source: Banana bread and cream cheese filling adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Cook’s Illustrated and BakeSpace

The Lollypalooza Cocktail

Have you ever had Chambord? Until this past weekend, I hadn’t; and boy was I missing out! Chambord is a black raspberry liqueur and it is absolutely scrumptious. I received it as a Christmas gift from my parents and, after our Christmas dinner, I whipped up a little cocktail that my dad aptly named The Lollypalooza. With Chambord, vodka, ginger ale, and fresh lime juice, it tastes like sherbet in a glass. It has officially become my new favorite cocktail, just in time to ring in the new year.

The Lollypalooza Cocktail

  • 1.5 fluid oz (1 shot) Chambord
  • 1.5 fluid oz (1 shot) vodka
  • 6 fluid oz (1/2 can) diet Ginger Ale
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge, for garnish

Combine the chambord, vodka, ginger ale, and lime juice. Pour over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy.

Food Memory Friday: The Christmas Edition

Christmas is a really special time of year. It’s a time of reflection, appreciation, and tradition. Some of my most treasured memories are from childhood Christmases.

Every Christmas eve, my mom would make a variety of appetizers and my siblings and I would get to open one small gift. After that we usually watched Christmas movies and then we were sent to bed, where we were often too excited to fall asleep. In the morning my mom and dad would make us wait at the top of the stairs while they scouted out the living room. “The old boy has been here,” they’d say and, after what seemed like agonizing hours, we were finally allowed to scurry down the stairs to see the stacks full of presents underneath the Christmas tree. My mom usually had a breakfast casserole and some cinnamon rolls for us to eat after we opened our gifts and I can recall several Christmas mornings after the dust had finally settled, when I thought to my young self, “I don’t think life can get much better than this.” The gifts were a big part of the celebration, but the most fun- as sappy as it may sound- was having that uninterrupted time with my family. Now that my siblings and I are grown and out of the house, it’s getting more difficult to spend each holiday season together. Still, those fond memories of Christmas past make me so excited for the Christmas present and future.

These buttermilk cookies with brown sugar frosting are very similar to a cookie my mom used to make at Christmas time. They usually made it onto the plate of cookies we left out for Santa. I can very vividly remember my mom baking these cookies one year and I would sneak several spoonfuls of this icing while she wasn’t looking. In fact, I ate so much that I ended up getting sick later that night. And to this day I still love these cookies dearly, even after all that.

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday and that the memories you make from this Christmas will be ones on which you can fondly reflect years from now.

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Buttermilk Cookies with Brown Sugar Frosting

Printable Version

Yield: 4 dozen cookies


For the cookies:

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp baking soda

For the frosting:

  •  1/2 cup unsalted butter
  •  1 cup brown sugar
  •  4 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
  •  2 cups powdered sugar


Whip butter and sugar in a large bowl of an electric mixer. Add vanilla and then the eggs, one at a time until well-blended. In a a separate bowl, whisk together the baking powder and the flour. Pour the buttermilk into a liquid measuring cup and then add the baking soda to it. Alternately add the liquid and flour mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Chill the dough for 2 hours or overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use a cookie scoop to measure out equal ping pong ball-sized balls of dough. Roll the dough into smooth balls and then place on a cookie sheet. Pat down the cookies gently until they are slightly flattened (you may need to wet your hands slightly to prevent the dough from sticking to your fingers). Bake for 12 minutes or just until the cookies are baked even (don’t overbake!). Place on a cooling rack.

To make the icing, melt the butter in the saucepan; add the brown sugar and whisk together until smooth. Heat for two minutes, whisking constantly. Stir in the milk or cream. Bring to a boil, continuing to stir constantly. Remove from heat and cool until lukewarm. Place the mixture in a bowl of an electric mixer. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add in milk if it’s too thick.

Spread the icing onto the cooled buttermilk cookies. Store in an airtight container.

Gingerbread Biscotti

One of my favorite spices is ginger and one of the most synonymous treats with Christmas are gingerbread cookies. These gingerbread biscotti are just a little twist on the classic cookie. In the dunkable, coffee-friendly form. There’s three types of ginger in these spicy bad boys- powdered ginger, crystallized ginger, and fresh ginger, which makes the ginger flavor extra-prominent and extra-delicious in a hot cup of coffee.

I didn’t always love gingerbread and I didn’t always love plain, black coffee. I guess that’s one of the nice things about being a grown up now- appreciating grown up foods. I sure do miss those 2 week Christmas breaks though. Ahh… the joys entering the”big kid” world.  ;)

It’s hard to believe Christmas is this Sunday. Is all your baking and shopping done?

Gingerbread Biscotti

Printable Version

Yield: About 2 dozen biscotti


  • 2 stick (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp molasses
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Cream butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one, beating after each egg. Gradually add in the molasses. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and powdered ginger. Add to wet ingredients and then stir in the fresh ginger and crystallized ginger.

Form two logs of dough (each log should be about 12 inches long and 3 inches wide) on a lined sheet tray. Bake logs for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Carefully slice logs into biscotti and then turn each biscotti over on it’s side and continue to bake for another 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Slightly adapted from Eat, Live, Run

Aunt Khaki’s Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

I’ve mentioned my Aunt Khaki several times before. She is the youngest of my mother’s siblings and when it comes to food and exercise, she is one of my main role models. Unfortunately, Khaki lives all the way out in Santa Monica so we don’t get to bake together very much. It’s kind of a bummer, but that’s where snail mail comes in and saves the day.

We’re able to have a long distance baking relationship and I was thrilled to see a glorious box of heaven on our kitchen when I got home from work the other day. Khaki raised the bar once again with her creations. She made a salty maple pecan fudge, pistachio nougat, rum raisin chocolate, and four different types of buttery sugary cookies.

There were four different flavors of cookies and Khaki color-coded the cookie bags with a specific color of ribbon and I was supposed to guess the ingredients (isn’t that a cute idea!?). The jury is still out on a few, but there was definitely basil, lavendar, lemon, and vanilla bean.

The cookies were perfectly crispy and buttery and apparently very easy to make. As a result, I wanted to share one of the  recipes, the vanilla bean, with all of you. You can skip out on the vanilla bean if you want, but I think using it takes the cookie to the next level.

Whelp… I’ve got a lot of work to do before I send my chunk-inducing box of sweets out west. Look for more of Aunt Khaki’s creations in the next months. I want to start including more of her recipes on LST because she has so many delicious and creative ideas. Thanks so much, Aunt Khaki!

Aunt Khaki’s Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

Printable Version

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup butter, at room temp
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
To make the vanilla sugar, place the two cups of sugar in resealable container. Slice the vanilla beans down the middle and scrape out the bean into the sugar. Place the leftover bean in the sugar as well. Let sit for a day.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, cream the butter and one cup sugar. Beat in the egg. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.
Divide the dough in half. Form each half into a log 1 ½-inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper and chill for 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Roll the log in the remaining vanilla sugar. Cut the logs into ¼-inch thick slices and place 1-inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container.