Pumpkin Muffins

Do you have any memories of your mom baking or cooking something? Memories so clear it’s like they happened yesterday? One of my many memories with my mother, include these muffins. For a few reasons…

When my mom started making these muffins, I fell in love with powdered dry milk. Is that weird? Dairy purists everywhere are gasping, I’m sure. Anyway. To this day, I still keep dry milk in my cupboard just in case I run out or need milk STAT. I love dry milk.

Second thing about these muffins I remember: we made them so often that the wooden spoon I grew up stiring things with (and, in fact, still use in my own kitchen today) started to turn orange from all the carrots!! Ha!

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Granola Bars!

I love Ina Garten. She’s the Julia to my Julie. See, Ina has no formal training…and, like me, spent time in Washington, DC cranking it out in a government job (not like me) as a budget analyst (definitely not like me). Ina cooked because she wanted a release from the daily grind. She learned to cook from her cookbooks and, I would assume, later discovered that she could do a little something with this passion. So after years of working in a 9-5 desk job (and apparently flipping houses!?) she opened her own store, Barefoot Contessa. Then came cookbooks…then shows…and well, we all know how she’s doing now.

So after a bad day or a long week, when I bake cookies or make homemade granola bars I think about Ina. I doubt Ina ever had to cook in a galley kitchen with about three square feet of counter space BUT! She battled the daily grind with cups of packed brown sugar and ounces of melted semi-sweet chocolates and she came out on top. It’s a nice reminder that I/you/we can come out on top, too.

On to the granola bars though. I swear, every time I make something there’s always ONE ingredient I can’t find. I’ve come to expect this so I’ve also become quite good at improvisation. This time around I couldn’t find a jar of wheat germ anywhere in this stupid city…so I used flax seeds instead. Also, dates sounded lovely, but they’re expensive…and this gal’s on a budget. I had prunes laying around and used those.

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Breakfast Quinoa

Your first question is either…what the hell is/how do you pronounce quinoa? OR Quinoa for BREAKFAST?!

Answer to the first: quinoa is a truly delicious whole-grain that often replaces rice, pasta and other starchy, carbalicious things on my dinner plate as I try to be healthier. Anyway, quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is a nutty, slightly crunchy grain. And it rocks.

Answer to the second: only Martha Stewart could make this entrée side a morning stand out.

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