Pumpkin muffins tasty fall treat
SIOUX CITY – Sarah LaBrune-Jongeling is one of those people who need little encouragement to be in the kitchen of her home in a rural sub-division north of Sioux City.
“I love to bake and cook,” she said. “And it’s more affordable than buying something at the store or a restaurant.”
She’s also willing to allow her two sons, Graham, 3, and Behrend, 2, in the kitchen with her as she cooks.
“That’s the way it was for me growing up,” she said. “My mother always liked to cook and bake as did her mother who, at 86 years old, still enjoys baking her favorite things for all of us.”
“We always had homemade cookies when we were little.”
The “we’ was LaBrune-Jongeling and her brother, David.
She added that she doesn’t mind it when her husband, Matthew, a night production employee at CF Industries, near Sioux City, takes time to peek in on the tasty next surprise coming out of the oven.
With a smile, she admitted that among the compliments – what a great pie, good cookies, and others – for her kitchen creations are those frequently coming from Matthew’s night shift co-workers.
“If I bake too many cookies, for instance, I always try to send the left-overs with him,” LaBrune-Jongeling said. “Otherwise I’d eat them all myself.”
She said a long-standing rule of her kitchen is, no matter what, cook in a healthy way.
“I use coconut oil in all my recipes, always cut the suggested sugar in half with no one ever seeming to notice, and like to use almond milk rather than whole milk as much as possible,” she said.
Cinnamon is always a preferred spice.
“I put it in everything.”
Such is the case with her pumpkin muffins as a special fall treat at Halloween or Thanksgiving.
Also included is what she said is the chili (with pumpkin puree and the favored cinnamon as a spice) expected to be served for her family’s Halloween celebration.
LaBrune-Jongeling said pies are a favorite of her baking sessions.
Son Behrend often shows his own preference for this dessert. In fact, his most recent birthday celebration was a pie party with a choice of berry, chocolate, lemon or apple pie for his family guests.
The family’s favorite meals are spaghetti or meatloaf, the latter usually prepared in a double batch to provide cold meat loaf sandwiches as well as a full meal.
What with taking time away from the kitchen for other interests – running, family involvement with Peace Reformed Church, in Sioux City; and her membership in Mothers of Preschoolers – meal planning and preparation often require careful planning.
But, she said, it’s all worth it.
LaBrune-Jongeling said she’s hopeful of working in the near future on certification as a substitute teacher, giving her the opportunity to substitute when Graham and Behrend are in preschool or when Matthew’s work schedule allows him to be home with the boys.
Keeping schedules in order, especially during major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, can often be a challenge as traditional family get-togethers include those with both sides of the family and lots of good eating, she said.
Adding to the list of the things to do for the family is renovation of portions of the new home they moved into this past May.
Matthew’s additional job as a lawn care specialist will also give him the responsibility of caring for the family’s spacious lawn and hoped for sizable garden at their new home.
Healthy pumpkin muffins
1/3 cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup milk of choice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 3/4 cups flour (any kind)
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. If necessary, grease 10 cups of a muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray (unless the pan is non-stick, then no grease is required).
In a large bowl, beat the oil and honey together with a whisk. Add eggs, and beat well. Mix in the pumpkin puree and milk, followed by the baking soda, vanilla extract, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
Add the flour and oats to the bowl and mix with a large spoon, just until combined. If you’d like to add any additional mix-ins, like nuts, chocolate or dried fruit, fold them in now.
Divide the batter evenly between the 10 muffin cups. For these muffins, it’s OK to fill the cups a little higher than you normally would.
Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with a small amount of oats, followed by a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bake muffins for 23 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack. These muffins are delicate until they cool down, so it’s best to wait until they have cooled to remove them from the tin.
You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan.
Enjoy muffins as is or with a spread of nut butter or regular butter.
Sarah’s special chili
1 pound leftover roast beef, shredded
1 large can tomato sauce
1 large can crushed tomatoes with oregano
2 cans black beans
1 onion, chopped
1 cups pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix together and cook on low in a slow cooker for eight hours.
Family gathering cheese ball
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1 stick butter/margarine
1/4 cups chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Soften cream cheese and butter.
Blend together, then stir in onion, garlic salt and celery.
Mold into ball form then refrigerate overnight.
Serve with crackers, or carrots/celery.
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