Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins Recipe

These Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins are incredibly moist and flavorful.

A combination of pumpkin puree and virgin coconut oil, blended with a healthy helping of cinnamon, give these muffins a layered dimension of flavor in every bite.

And, really, these mini muffins can function as one giant bite apiece, but I suggest savoring them.

Especially with coffee.

I’ve been wanting to create a pumpkin muffin recipe for a while, and I wanted to incorporate coconut oil.  I’m really glad I did, because I feel that the coconut oil was what pushed these over the edge of awesomeness and made them totally irresistible.

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Above are of some of the ingredients.

The cream cheese goes towards the cheesecake filling that is used to top these muffins with a deep swirl of melt-in-your-mouth smoothness.

I used more cinnamon that I find is called for in similar recipes.  I like to taste my spices.

But there’s no nutmeg.  I know people often put it in pumpkin recipes, but I do NOT eat nutmeg.  It’s too strong and, at least for me, it distracts from the other flavors.  I find that cinnamon is a wonderful compliment for pumpkin, but if you really, really love nutmeg, then you can toss in a smidgen.  If you must.  But it’s unnecessary.  (Don’t do it.)

Plus, you can use vegetable oil if you don’t have coconut oil handy, but the coconut oil adds so much flavor that it’s worth the effort to pick some up if you don’t already have it on hand.  Like I said, it’s the turning point for intense flavor and moisture.

Virgin or extra virgin coconut oil will have a stronger coconut taste and aroma, so that’s the best to use.

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And you do lose some health benefits by melting the oil (which is solid at room temperature) in the microwave, but when I’m baking while heating something for dinner after working a full day… I take shortcuts.  Didn’t feel like washing a saucepan.

Just make sure if you melt the oil in the microwave, that you do it on 50% and for no longer than necessary.  About 30 seconds at a time.

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Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon with a fork or whisk until the colors are completely combined and the cinnamon is evenly distributed.

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Mix together the sugars and wet ingredients.

I just used a fork.  (Shortcuts means not pulling out the mixer.)

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This time, I actually blended the sugars and pumpkin first, then added the oil and eggs, but you could throw all of it together at the same time, too.

As long as it’s all well blended.

Then you’ll gradually add in the flour mixture.  Do not overmix it, though.  It should be smooth, but if you beat it too much the muffins may be tough.

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Here are the filling ingredients.

Again:  just mixed it with a fork.

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I had considered layering the pumpkin mix, then cream cheese mix, and then more pumpkin, but I’m glad I decided against it.  This method was easier and, as long as you swirl it, the cream cheese mixture still makes it into the center of the muffin.

Fill the mini cupcake liners about 3/4 full with pumpkin batter, then dollop about a teaspoon of the cream cheese mix on top.

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Next, you’ll swirl a toothpick through the muffins, which will drag the cheesecake portion over the top and mix it into the center, too.

Don’t over do it.  You’ll want some large chunks of cheesecake, so don’t swirl it to the point of thinning it out so much you can barely see the cream cheese any more.

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Doesn’t that look AMAZING???

And they taste even better.

You can eat them right out of the oven, but I prefer them at room temperature.  They should be stored in the refrigerator, because of the cream cheese, but can be left our for a while without spoiling.  (I ate a few of the ones I’d brought into work and left out in the break room all afternoon, before putting them back in the fridge at the end of the day.  They were fine.)

I suggest serving them at room temperature, but they’re also good cold right out of the fridge.

I haven’t tried freezing them.  They were gone in a few days!  ;)

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Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup melted coconut oil, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Cheesecake filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).  Prepare mini muffin pans with 5 dozen mini cupcake liners.

In a small bowl, mix flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt with a whisk or fork.  In a large bowl, use a mixer or a fork to cream together pumpkin, granulated and brown sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  Gradually incorporate the flour into the pumpkin mixture until batter is smooth.  Do not overmix.

Make the cheesecake filling by creaming together the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla extract.

Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full with pumpkin batter.  Top each with approximately a teaspoon of cheesecake filling.  Combine by gently swirling a toothpick through the batter.

Bake for 14 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let sit in pan for two minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Store covered in the refrigerator.  Serve at room temperature.

[Note:  I use virgin coconut oil because it has wonderful taste and aroma of coconut that compliments the muffins, but you can substitute vegetable oil if you need to.]

Here is the free printable PDF:

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins Recipe

Happy Baking!

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Open Faced Pumpkin (Jack O’ Lantern) Cheesy Bread

Open Faced Pumpkin Jack O Lantern Cheesy Bread

This Jack O’ Lantern “Pumpkin” Cheesy Bread is another fun lunch idea to serve up in October!

I love playing with food and this is one of those things that makes my kids a little more excited about eating non-candy foods.  Granted, an open-faced cheese sandwich might not be the healthiest thing in their lunchbox, but it’s filling.  And you can make it with whatever kind of bread you like.  It looks better on wheat than white bread, and even better on pumpernickel.

I used the big pumpkins from this cookie cutter set to cut out the bread.  A regular loaf of sandwich bread may be a little small for the big cookie cutter, so you can either use the smaller pumpkin instead, or just flatten out the bread slice a little bit to make it wider.  Like with a rolling pin.  Or your hands, if you’re lazy like me.

Then, take your orange cheese (I used American but if your kids like cheddar, that’s awesome, too) and cut out a pumpkin with the same cutter you used for the bread.  You may have to put two pieces of cheese next to each other to be big enough for the pumpkin, but don’t worry – it’ll all melt together.

On a cutting board, after you’ve cut your pumpkin shape from the cheese slice, use a small knife to carve the face from the cheese.  Draw the face with the point of the knife and then use the knife to lift out the extra pieces.  Then gently transfer the cheese to the bread, lining up the pumpkin shapes.

Put the bread on a napkin and microwave it for 5 to 7 seconds – just enough to barely melt the cheese.  If it melts too much, the face will spread and get mushy.  Remember, you want it to melt just enough to make sure the cheese will stick to the bread and not fall off.

If you’re going to put it into a container for their lunchbox instead of eating it right away, make sure to leave it on the napkin for a minute before enclosing it in plastic, just in case there’s any errant moisture.  Then pack it off, or refrigerate it until the next day.

Happy Halloween!

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Felt Lacing Pumpkins

Felt Lacing Pumpkin Pillow Craft for Fall / Halloween / Thanksgiving

These Felt Lacing Pumpkin Pillows are so cute, and my girls really enjoy them.

And I say “enjoy them” in the present tense instead of “enjoyed making them” in the past tense, because they’re still playing with them.

They make pretty nice Fall decorations, too… except that they keep walking off and getting lost in the baby doll’s beds…

Anyway, this is a great project to do with kids in autumn.  I made a step-by-step photo of how we made them {see below}.  I didn’t post any patterns or anything, since I did it all by hand.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 sheet of orange felt per pumpkin
brown yarn
scissors
hole punch

To make the pumpkin pillow:

1.  Fold the felt in half and cut it along the crease to make two pieces.  With the two felt sheets together, cut out a shape resembling a pumpkin.  Sort of an oval with a stem on top.

2.  Use a hole punch to make holes around the edge.  This may take a few minutes if you {like me} don’t own an ergonomic hole puncher with a cushioned grip.  Place the pumpkin with the holes on top of the pumpkin without the holes, and using a pen or marker, mark where each hole is, so that when you cut out the holes on the second pumpkin, they will line up with the first.

3.  Cut a piece of yarn about a yard long for each pumpkin.  Wrap some clear tape around one end of the yarn to make it sturdy enough to thread through the felt.

[I did steps 1 through 3 the night before, while my kids slept.  If your kids are a little older – and you have an easier-to-use hole punch than me – you may want to let your kids help with those steps.]

4.  Let your kids sew together the pumpkins, just like a lacing card, leaving a few holes {about a 1/4 of the pumpkin} open.  See the 4th photo below.

5.  Crumple up a sheet of tissue paper and stuff it inside the pumpkin.  Alternately, use cotton balls or a some cotton batting.

6.  Finish sewing up the pumpkin and tie off the yarn.

Felt Lacing Pumpkin Pillows

It’s a pretty easy project, and the best part is if you don’t have any felt, you could always substitute construction paper!

Plus, we made ours before Halloween, but if that’s already passed, these look great for Thanksgiving, too!

Have fun!

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Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

These Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds {made with coconut oil and cinnamon} are pretty addicting.

I’ve been eating a handful every time I walk through the kitchen.

And cooking them?  Oh, my.  The coconut oil… the maple syrup… the cinnamon….  The kitchen smelled AMAZING.

If you prefer something more savory, be sure to check out my Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.

But – either way – you need to try these.  I’m seriously considering buying a trunkful of pumpkins to carve just so I can roast some more seeds.

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Anyway, the process starts off with cleaning the seeds.  Getting rid of all the pumpkiny pulp.

I do this by putting some water in the bowl with the pulp and seeds and squeezing out the seeds through my fingers, but if there’s a different method you prefer, please share it in the comments!

Now you’ll either dry your seeds and roast them right away or let them soak overnight.

Soaking them has something to do with removing the phytic acid to allow you to absorb more of the gazillion nutrients in the pumpkin seeds.  But mostly, I don’t feel like roasting them as soon as I’ve finished carving and am busy trying to scrub orange goo off my hands and clothes.

So I let them soak overnight.

I MAY have let them soak for 48 hours… possibly.  I mean, it’s not like I let myself get distracted by my toddler and preschooler or anything… but – just so you know:  if you soak them for a couple of nights {whether for convenience or because you accidentally passed out at 8p.m. next to your kid’s bed and woke up in a puddle of drool waaaaaay too late to be bothered by checking on your pumpkin seeds}, you should be fine.

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

After cleaning and/or soaking the seeds, dry them off on a cloth towel.

Then measure them out to make sure you have approximately a cup and a half.  But if you’re a little off, don’t worry about it.  Just add a little more or less of the other ingredients.

And for reference, I got my seeds out of this guy right here:

Our Jack O' Lantern

I’m a sucker for the traditional look.  :)

Back to the seeds:  mix all of the ingredients really well in a bowl.  You want to make sure all of the seeds are coated.

If your coconut oil is solid, melt it on the stove and allow it to cool slightly before using.  My extra virgin coconut oil is stored in my pantry and I live in Florida.  It never completely solidifies.  And I use to extra virgin for this because I like the smell and taste of it, but any coconut oil will work.

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Then spread them out on a large baking sheet, getting as flat a layer as possible.

Stir them every 10 to 15 minutes while baking, always making sure that you spread them out as much as possible each time.  It can make it easier to do this if you use two spatulas/spoon instead of one.

After baking, let them cool on the pan, then put them in a bowl to serve or a covered container to store.

I can’t stop eating the darned things, so I can’t say for certain how long they’ll last.  :)

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

After removing the seeds from your pumpkin, separate the pulp from the seeds.

Once the seeds are cleaned, cover them with water and let them sit overnight. (This step is optional.)

Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C). Drain the water from the pumpkin seeds (if you soaked them overnight) and dry them on a cloth towel.

In a bowl, mix the seeds with the coconut oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon. If your coconut oil is not in a liquid or mostly-liquid state, melt it on the stove and allow it to cool slightly before using. Mix well so the seeds are evenly covered.

Spread the pumpkin seeds on a large baking sheet with as few touching as possible. Bake for one hour, stirring every 10 or 15 minutes.

Let cool and store covered.

[Note: the ingredient measurements can be adjusted up or down depending on how many seeds your pumpkin contains.]

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Click here to print the free PDF version of the recipe:  Maple Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

And here are some of the ingredients I used:

Coconut Oil Organic Maple Syrup

Enjoy!

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Pumpkin Streusel French Toast Recipe

Pumpkin French Toast Recipe

After carving up my pie pumpkin for the pumpkin seeds, I baked it, covered in foil, at 350 degrees F for an hour.  Then I scraped out the roasted pulp.

But what do I make with my fresh pumpkin?

French toast, of course!

I found a few nice recipes online, including this recipe from Cooking Classy.  But, in the end, I changed around a few things, so I’ve posted my own printable PDF for the recipe I used (below).

It was a big hit.  The mild pumpkin flavor paired well with the maple syrup.  The interior was soft and moist, but with a crunchy, sugary streusel highlighting every bite.

I usually make my French toast with slices of bread on a griddle, but I needed something easy for guests, so something that could be made ahead was a huge plus.

I made both the french toast and the streusel topping the night before, storing them separately in the refrigerator until the next morning.

Pumpkin French Toast Recipe

The pumpkin puree, eggs, and milk were whisked together with the sugar and spices.

Pumpkin French Toast Recipe

I made my casserole with Challah bread.  It’s an egg bread, but you could use any bread you wanted, really.  I often make french toast from wheat bread or homemade bread.  You could even try cinnamon raisin bread.

Pumpkin French Toast Recipe

Cut the bread into one-inch chunks.

Pumpkin French Toast Recipe

Layer half the bread in a greased pan.  Slowly spoon or ladle the milk mixture over the bread, covering every piece.  Add the rest of the bread, and the rest of the milk mixture.

Pumpkin French Toast Recipe

Then, refrigerate it for 2 hours or overnight.

Pumpkin French Toast Recipe

I couldn’t find my pastry cutter, so I used two knives to make the streusel topping.  That was also stored – separately – in the refrigerator until the next day.

Pumpkin French Toast Recipe

Before baking, it sat out for a half hour, to bring it to room temperature.  You know it’s done when it’s bubbling around the edges and the topping looks deliciously crunchy.

Pumpkin French Toast Recipe

Doesn’t that look amazing??  Tell me that doesn’t look mouth-watering … I dare you!

Seriously, though.  You should check out the photo with the maple syrup again.  Yum.

Whipped cream is another great option, but I forgot to buy heavy cream, so I couldn’t make it.  Didn’t miss it, though.  You could eat this without any toppings and still love it.

Anyway, here is the printable PDF recipe:

Pumpkin and Streusel French Toast Recipe

Enjoy!  :)

Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It’s been years since I’ve made roasted pumpkin seeds, but I thought my girls would enjoy it.  So I bought a “pie” pumpkin and cut it open.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Turns out, both my girls thought the innards were pretty “icky.”  I thought they’d have a blast getting their hands into the pumpkin and helping me separate the seeds from the pulp.

I was wrong.

Many “oh gross!” facial expressions and “ickyness” comments later, I wound up doing it myself.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It was just one small pumpkin, so there weren’t a lot of seeds.

Enough for us, tho.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Once you get the seeds separated from the pulp, rinse them off, and let them dry.  You can stick them in a salad spinner or something, but I just patted them dry.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Then, toss them in a bowl with some olive oil and spices.  I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and ancho chile pepper.  But we like spicy food in our home.  If you don’t, just use salt.

And I didn’t measure.  I’m not the measuring type when it comes to spices.  Just make sure all the seeds have something stuck to them.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Spread them out on a baking sheet that’s covered with parchment paper and bake them at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-45 minutes, stirring them about halfway through.

I did mine 45 minutes, but I like them crunchy.  You could test them after 30 minutes if you’re not sure.

Store them in an airtight container.

My girls only ate a few, but I mostly blame that on the fact that we also made chocolate-covered football pretzels that day.  And they devoured the chocolate pretzels.  :)

DIY Halloween Felt Board

DIY Halloween Felt Board

During one of my recent random wanderings of Michaels, I was passing the racks of felt and thought:  ooh – Halloween felt board!

Why not?

So, I picked up a few sheets of regular felt in orange (for pumpkins), white (for ghosts), and purple (for bats), and also a sheet of “stiffened felt” in black for the background (a night sky).

DIY Halloween Felt Board

I had a few scraps of felt left over from previous projects, so I grabbed the brown and yellow remnants, and cut a spooky tree and full moon from them.

All of the shapes, including the ones listed above, were all cut out by hand.

I considered drawing faces on the ghosts and pumpkins, or cutting out small pieces of felt to let the kids make their own jack o’ lanterns, but I decided I just didn’t want to find tiny, tiny pieces of black felt faces all over the house for the next month.

So:  no faces.  But I like the clean lines, so I’m happy with the decision.

DIY Halloween Felt Board

Felt sticks to felt, so you don’t need any glue or velcro or anything like that, but I do have to warn you:  the felt doesn’t stick firmly to the stiffened felt, so we played with this on the floor, instead of hanging it on the wall or fridge.

Still a lot of fun.  :)

DIY Halloween Felt Board

What kinds of felt boards have you used?

Check out my Halloween crafts from last year, and our new Chalkboard Pumpkins!