post by recipe contributor: Mary Beth Johnson is a photographer and blogger with a passion for finding beauty in unexpected places and celebrating the everyday. Originally from the east coast, she now lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three children (dubbed “schooners”) and writes her lifestyle blog, Annapolis & Company, from a desk full of fingerprints and walls scattered with imperfect artwork.
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
~ Anne of Green Gables
I know there are some die-hard summer lovers that hate saying goodbye to flip flops and pool days, but I keep looking around feeling my soul awakened with the changing weather, the embrace of routine, and the layers of plaids, sweaters, and boots. The trees are beginning to show signs of change. Bonfires bring warm relief on chilly nights. Grocery stores are beginning to carry some of my favorite seasonal items…butternut squash, cranberries, pumpkin, and apple cider.
Growing up on the east coast in the midst of farmland, we lived outside. There was never a shortage of opportunities to pack up s’more supplies and make a spontaneous bonfire out in my grandparents’ pumpkin fields. All of the cousins would get together and we would pick out our favorite pumpkins and tell scary stories around the fire after it got dark. We soaked in the seasons like squirrels storing up nuts…and I have the best memories because of it.
I hope to do that this season. And every season. Soak up the beauty that is this October, with its maple leaves and crisp apple pies. Not getting caught up in the rush and the bustle, but living intentionally with purpose. With renewed hope for a new season. Taking time to read books on the back patio under my bistro lights at night. Going on lots of walks and afternoon picnics with the schooners…skipping nap time just because the weather is nice. Maybe go for a drive and explore new parts of Oklahoma that we’ve never seen before.
It’s October. I want to live it well.
I make these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins every time the weather starts to get the slightest bit nippy. The recipe makes a lot (24 regular muffins, or 12 jumbo) so I always pass out the extras…usually to our neighbors. Dropping them on someone’s doorstep with a note or handing them out to your coworkers is a great way to build community wherever you are. This is a recipe I am asked for over and over again…so be sure and know that it is a keeper you’ll want to file away.
Tastes even better with some coffee and a good book. Just sayin’. 🙂
//PUMPKIN CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS
makes 12 jumbo muffins
1 tbsp. and 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
For the streusel topping:
To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and whip until smooth. Form into a log on parchment paper greased a little with butter, making sure that the diameter is small enough to fit into the well of a jumbo muffin pan. Wrap the log up tightly and freeze until slightly hardened, 1-2 hours.
To make the muffins, combine the flour, spices, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and pumpkin puree. Mix until well combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined.
To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Mix together with a pastry blender or two forks until crumbly.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line two jumbo muffin pans with paper liners. To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well halfway with batter. Remove the cream cheese log from the freezer and slice into 12 equal slices. Place a slice in each muffin well. Divide the remaining muffin batter evenly among the muffin cups, on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely before serving.
All photography is my own.
A couple notes: If you lower the temperature slightly, from 350° to 300° and bake these muffins for maybe 5-10 minutes longer, it will keep the finished product really moist. I always do this with baking and it is SO worth the bit of extra time you wait for them to finish! And you can also make these into 24 regular muffins instead of the jumbo, but because you’re doing a lot of layering with the batter, cream cheese, and streusel topping, it goes waaay faster with the jumbo size.