Monday, October 28, 2013

Slow Down and Smell the Apples

I love fall.  Fall is my favorite season of the year.  I love the warm sweaters, apple picking, pumpkin carving, Halloween, colorful scarves, cider, boots, and apple- and pumpkin-flavored everything.  I love the cooler air, the leaves changing, and the perfect hiking conditions.  YAY FALL!

Unfortunately, I have been feeling like I haven't yet had the chance to really enjoy the best parts of fall.  You see, midterms inconveniently land at the peak of fall, and I have been writing papers and studying for exams instead of hiking mountains and carving pumpkins.  Most of all, I have been missing the smell of apple pies and pumpkin breads baking in the oven.  Yesterday I decided to slow down and take the time to really enjoy my favorite season.  Fall will be gone before we know it, replaced with that disgusting excuse for a season called winter.  I can't just sit by writing papers and let that happen!  I didn't have the time for a hike, but I took Peanut for a nice long walk and made some muffins with my favorite fall flavors.  Here's what I came up with:

Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins
Recipe adapted from Mangoes and Palm Trees
Yield: 2 dozen medium-sized muffins

Muffin Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup loosely packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbs baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups Macintosh apples, finely diced (I left the skins on)

Streusel Ingredients:
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes


Step one: prepare your streusel.  Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and cut butter into the rest of the ingredients until crumbly.  Set aside.

Assemble your muffin ingredients
Finely dice your apples
In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Set aside.
 In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients, then stir into the dry, just until combined.
Gently fold in the apples, just until incorporated.
Fill paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full, then top with streusel
Bake muffins at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops are golden brown.

Cool in pans on wire racks for five minutes, then transfer muffins directly to wire racks to finish cooling completely.

These muffins were just what I needed for my taste of fall.  They were moist and pumpkin-y and apple-y and crunchy on top- everything a fall muffin should be.  It was also a great way to start off a long day of homework.  There is nothing like a muffin warm out of the oven and a cup of coffee on the balcony to put you in a good mood.

I decided that some of my friends needed a little taste of fall as well, so I packaged some up and gave them away to spread that beautiful autumn spirit.

Here's hoping that you have a chance to slow down and appreciate this beautiful fall day.

Love and cookies,

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