Lemon Raspberry Muffins: Sugar-Crusted or Lemon-Glazed

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Lemon is such a great springtime flavor and this past weekend seemed like the perfect time to make some lemon-flavored muffins!

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I found a recipe on Pinterest that inspired me, and it also inspired one of my friends to convince me to make them so she could taste-test them! :)  So I ended up making these Lemon-Raspberry Muffins with some changes of my own. I used Half and Half (light cream) and yogurt to make them a little more rich and creamy and used lemon extract instead of vanilla for a little extra lemony flavor. And I made two batches with different toppings–sugar-crusted, like the original recipe, and lemon-glazed, which gives the muffins an extra zing of lemon flavor. The glaze I used is the one from my Lemon Zucchini Loaf, which is another good recipe if you are a lemon-lover!

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These muffins are so moist and have a light, sweet lemon flavor. And they’re packed with lots of raspberries! If you decide to glaze the muffins (shown in the photo above), adding fresh raspberries as a garnish is a nice touch (just slice the berries in half lengthwise).

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I love this little bowl that holds some of the berries I used-it’s actually a sugar/candy bowl, but it works great for berries, too! It’s part of the Daily Grace Collection by (in)courage, sold on DaySpring.com. The platter, square salad plate and pitcher are also from this collection. I really like the clean simplicity of these pieces and the simple, sweet messages of grace and gratefulness!

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Here’s a close-up of the sugar-crusted muffins. Granulated sugar is all that’s needed as a topping for these. I can’t decide if I like the sugar crust or lemon glaze best…you may just have to try these muffins both ways and see what you think! :)

LEMON RASPBERRY MUFFINS: SUGAR CRUSTED OR LEMON-GLAZED by NancyCreative, adapted from Pink Polkadot Creations

Makes 12 muffins

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
  • 1/2 cup Half and Half (light cream)
  • 1/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (use frozen raspberries with no sugar or syrup added and do not thaw)
  • For Sugar-Crusted muffins: use 2 to 2 1/2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar for sprinkling on top of muffins before baking
  • For Lemon-Glazed muffins: see Lemon Glaze recipe below; use raspberries cut in half lengthwise as an optional garnish

Heat oven to 400˚F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.

In medium bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups of the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and stir to mix together (this will give you a crumbly-looking mixture).

In another medium bowl, whisk together the Half and Half, yogurt, egg, lemon extract, and lemon juice (you’ll add the lemon zest a little later). Gradually add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined (batter will be lumpy).

In small bowl, toss the raspberries and lemon zest with the remaining flour. Gently fold the berry mixture into the batter.

Divide batter evenly in the 12 muffin cups (they’ll be about 3/4 full). Then here’s what you do, depending on if you want sugar-crusted muffins or lemon-glazed muffins:

For Sugar-Crusted muffins: Using 2 to 3 Tablespoons of sugar, sprinkle tops of muffin batter before baking. Bake at 400˚F for 17 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes before removing the muffins. Then you can serve the muffins warm or let  them cool completely–they taste great both ways!

For Lemon-Glazed muffins: Bake at 400˚F for 17 to 20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove muffins from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Mix Lemon Glaze and drizzle over each muffin, then top with a fresh raspberry half if desired (raspberries should be cut in half lengthwise for garnish).

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or 2 Tablespoons lemon juice)

In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon juice until well blended. Spoon glaze over cooled muffins (or loaf). Let glaze set, then serve.

These muffins are great for breakfast, brunch, an afternoon snack, or even dessert. And since I was in a lemon-raspberry mood, I also made a pitcher of Raspberry Lemonade to go with them. Yum! I’ll share that recipe with you in my next post!

Do you like lemon-flavored goodies, and what is your favorite lemony treat?

Linked to Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays at New Nostalgia.

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Shamrock Smoothie

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If you want a cool, creamy treat, this smoothie is just the thing to make! It gets it’s creaminess from the tasty blend of frozen kiwifruit, banana, and key lime yogurt (you can substitute vanilla yogurt, but I really like this with the lime). There are a few other ingredients you’ll see in the recipe below and they all blend up into this wonderful smoothie that not only tastes great, but is also a delightful springy shade of green. How can you resist that?

SHAMROCK SMOOTHIE by NancyCreative, adapted from Midwest Living

Makes about 16 ounces, or 2 servings

  • 2 kiwifruit, peeled and quartered
  • 1 banana, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup seedless green grapes
  • 1 (6-ounce) container key lime or vanilla flavored yogurt
  • 1/3 cup orange juice or white grape juice, well-chilled
  • 1/2 Tablespoon honey
  • Optional: additional kiwi fruit slices for garnish

Several hours or the night before making: Place the 2 peeled and quartered kiwifruit and sliced banana in a small freezer bag and freeze for 2 hours or until frozen (arrange fruit flat in a single layer in the bag so it doesn’t freeze into a big clump; otherwise it will be too hard to break up for blending).

When ready to make, add grapes, yogurt, juice, honey, and half of the frozen fruit (break up fruit if any pieces have stuck together while freezing). Cover and blend until smooth. Add remaining frozen fruit and blend until smooth.

Pour into glasses and, if desired, garnish with fresh kiwi fruit slices.

Hope you get a chance to enjoy this smoothie! What kinds of fun green treats are you making (or eating) for St. Patrick’s Day?

Banana Bread (Inspired by the Disneyland Hotel)

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I was in a banana bread-making mood last weekend. And I just so happened to come across this recipe at Food.com, where they mentioned that this banana bread is served at the Disneyland Hotel. Not having ever stayed there myself, I hadn’t ever tasted their banana bread, but it sounded like a great recipe to try! After all, I’m sure they serve wonderful food at the Disneyland Hotel, right down to their banana bread. :)

I made a few small changes to the recipe and decided to add some pecans to it, too. My baking time was also a little less than what the original recipe had mentioned. This is a really good basic banana bread with a rich, buttery taste, so if you have some ripe bananas you will need to keep this recipe in mind! The batter is thick and creamy and bakes into 2 yummy 8 x 4″ loaves. And believe me, you will be glad you have 2 loaves of this banana bread to enjoy!

BANANA BREAD (INSPIRED BY THE DISNEYLAND HOTEL),  slightly adapted from Food.com

Makes two 8 x 4″ loaves

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • 2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour two 8 x 4″ loaf pans; set aside.

In large bowl, cream softened butter and sugar until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add milk, mashed bananas, and vanilla, mixing everything well.

In medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Add dry ingredients, a third at a time, to mixture in large bowl, stirring until everything is well blended. Fold in chopped pecans and stir until they are evenly incorporated into the batter.

Spoon batter in equal amounts into two 8 x 4″ loaf pans and bake at 350˚F for 52 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes, then remove loaves from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

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Or, if you want to eat this banana bread warm, let it cool for a total of about 15 to 20 minutes–it will be easier to slice if you let it cool a little.

I’ve been to Disneyland, but not Disney World. I haven’t stayed at any of the Disney Resort Hotels, but I’m sure they would be wonderful! Have any of you stayed at a Disney Hotel and have you had their banana bread?

I’m linking this to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

Tropical Spinach Smoothie

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In my last post, I shared a recipe I had made with OrganicGirl Super Greens, the Super Greens Fiesta Salad, and now I’ll be sharing a another recipe I made with OrganicGirlWinnersOrganicGirl Baby Spinach, the Tropical Spinach Smoothie. But first, I’ll tell you who the 5 Giveaway winners are from the OrganicGirl Greens giveaway on that salad post!

Congratulations to Jhuls (comment #7), Keshakeke (comment #10), Deal Housewife (comment #20), Table of Colors (comment #24), and Rachel (comment #33)! I’ll be emailing each of you to let you know in case you don’t happen to see this and will give your email to OrganicGirl so they can contact you about delivering your greens!

Thanks so much to all of you who participated in the giveaway! I wish you all could have won some greens, but as a consolation prize, here’s a recipe for a spinach smoothie that I think you’ll really like! This is a wonderful smoothie–it’s thick but not too thick. It’s sweet but not too sweet. It tastes great and it’s very, very healthy. And it’s an easy, tasty way to add more spinach to your diet.

TROPICAL SPINACH SMOOTHIE by NancyCreative, adapted from OrganicGirl

Makes 12 ounces, enough for 1 large or 2 small servings

  • 1 1/2 cups (well packed) OrganicGirl Baby Spinach (or substitute Baby Kale or Super Greens mix)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 of a small to medium size banana
  • 1 cup frozen mango
  • 1 Tablespoon honey

Put all ingredients in a high-power blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour into a glass (or glasses) and serve.

Have you made smoothies with spinach before? What other kinds of recipes do you like to use spinach in?

Crustless Broccoli Quiche

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When I make quiche, it’s usually on the weekends, because I don’t have time to make it for breakfast during the week. I suppose I could make quiche for dinner every now and then, which isn’t a bad idea! This quiche would be great for dinner because it has lots of broccoli and swiss cheese in it, so you get your veggies and protein. And if you’re not that crazy about swiss cheese you could use cheddar cheese instead. There are also mushrooms and onions in this quiche, which make it a wonderful cheesy blend of veggies!

You’ll find that the quiche puffs up a little while it’s baking. When you take it out of the oven and let it cool slightly before cutting, it settles some–so don’t be alarmed when you see that it’s not as puffy as it was in the oven! Next time you get a craving for quiche you may want to try this out!

CRUSTLESS BROCCOLI QUICHE by NancyCreative, adapted from Food.com

Makes about 6 servings in a 9″ deep dish pie plate

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup light cream (Half & Half) or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 small to medium-size onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cups fresh broccoli florets, cooked first (blanched) and then finely chopped (if you run out of florets, you can chop some of the upper stems; you can also use frozen broccoli, but thaw before using)
  • 1 (4-ounce) can sliced mushrooms (or pieces and stems), drained
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese (or substitute Cheddar cheese)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup crushed croutons or 1 Tablespoon bread crumbs, for sprinkling on top (I prefer using crushed croutons, but in the quiche pictured here I used breadcrumbs)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray a deep dish 9″ pie plate.

Whisk eggs and light cream together, then add salt, garlic powder, and pepper, blending well.

Add chopped onion, broccoli, mushrooms, and shredded cheese, blending mixture well.

Spoon into a 9″ deep dish pie plate and bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with crushed croutons or bread crumbs, if using, Return to oven and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, or until eggs are set and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let quiche set for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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If you like the idea of crustless quiche, there’s a recipe for a really good Crustless Spinach Quiche here. What’s your favorite kind of quiche?

Cranberry Raisin Nut Toasted Oat Cereal

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Last spring, I made some granola bars, and it was then that I discovered how much I loved the taste of toasted oats. After I toasted the oats for that recipe, I sampled some right from the pan and they were really good just by themselves–they had a richer, slightly nuttier flavor after being toasted. So I made a note to try making some toasted oat cereal sometime. Which brings me to this post. :) I finally got around to toasting some oats and making a healthy homemade cereal!

This cereal is not sweet like granola, so it may not appeal to everyone.  It’s not as crunchy as granola either, since it doesn’t have a honey or maple syrup coating. But if you like the idea of eating pure toasted oats with dried cranberries, raisins, and nuts mixed in, then this cereal is for you! You can serve it with milk or, if you like your cereal more on the crunchy side, serve this over some vanilla yogurt–it will hold its crunchiness longer. That’s actually how I prefer to eat it, with vanilla yogurt. And I like eating it with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup on top, too–that makes it sweet enough for me! This cereal is a nice option for those of you who like to have oatmeal for breakfast–kind of like a toasted version of oatmeal!

CRANBERRY RAISIN NUT TOASTED OAT CEREAL by NancyCreative

Makes about 10 cups

  • 7 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup light olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped (or pecans)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup raisins, golden or dark
  • Milk or vanilla yogurt
  • Honey or maple syrup for drizzling over cereal

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Line a 13 x 18″ baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper (or use 2 cookie sheets).

In large bowl, combine oats, oil, and salt, mixing until oats are evenly coated. Transfer mixture to baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake, stirring oats every 10 minutes, for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown.

Remove pan from oven and lower temperature to 350˚F. Sprinkle the chopped nuts evenly over the toasted oats and bake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let oat/nut mixture cool about 10 minutes, then put mixture into large bowl. Add the dried cranberries and raisins, stirring until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Serve in cereal bowls with some milk or vanilla yogurt and add a drizzle of honey or maple syrup on top. Cereal can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Another way you can make this–just toast the oats for about 30 minutes at 375˚F (stirring every 10 minutes) without adding the nuts; then, when you’re serving the toasted oat cereal, you can top it with fresh fruit, chopped nuts, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, or whatever other toppings you like.

FYI, when you are toasting your oats, your kitchen will definitely have a toasty-oaty scent for a few hours! Which makes it kind of cozy on a cold day. Have you toasted oats before?

I’m linking this up to Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener.

Dark Chocolate-Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

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The title read, A Cake You Can Eat for Breakfast and Dessert.” Well, that got my attention! The Yahoo Food article also said “A cup of coffee will disguise this treat as breakfast, and a scoop of ice cream transforms it into dessert.” Perfect! I always love recipes that give you that kind of flexibility! :)

So of course I had to try this coffee cake. I used more dark chocolate, added a little more cinnamon, and used pecans instead of hazelnuts. Yum! This coffee cake has a thick batter that bakes into a dense yet cakey chocolate-cinnamon treat. I found that my baking time was less than what the original recipe recommended, and you do want to be careful not to overbake this, or it will be a little dry.

This coffee cake is great for morning or anytime–especially if you are a fan of dark chocolate!

DARK CHOCOLATE-CINNAMON PECAN COFFEE CAKE by NancyCreative, adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 9-12 servings in an 8 x 8″ pan

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) dark chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain whole Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter 8” square baking pan; set aside.

Toss pecans, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and ¼ cup of the sugar in a small bowl; set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and remaining ¾ cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, add dry flour mixture ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with yogurt in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. You’ll end up with a nice thick batter.

Spoon half of the batter into prepared pan and smooth top; top with half of the chocolate/pecan mixture. Spoon remaining batter over this and smooth top; top with remaining chocolate/pecan mixture. Bake cake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes (be careful not to overbake, or it will be dry! I recommend checking it after it has baked about 35 to 37 minutes). Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool in pan before cutting into squares, and serve (if you want to eat it warm, let it cool about 10 minutes before cutting). I think this coffee cake tastes best warm myself!

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It’s been awhile since I’ve made a coffee cake, so this hit the spot! I have a few other coffee cake recipes I’ve been wanting to try. Have you made any good ones lately?

Linked to Thursday Favorite Things,  Foodie Friday, I’m Lovin’ It, Tickled Pink.

10 Recipes for Valentine’s Day

Here’s a roundup of 10 recipes that your Valentine–or Valentines–will love…some are healthy and some are not-so-healthy (but very yummy)!

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If you’re wanting something sweet for your Valentine breakfast, try these Strawberry Yogurt Muffins–the strawberries on top look like hearts, so they’re perfect for Valentine’s Day!

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Or if you’re wanting something healthy, try this Cranberry-Pecan Oatmeal, made with dried cranberries and chopped pecans. You can substitute dried cherries for the cranberries if you want.

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Or make this Cranberry Almond Oatmeal Bake if you’re feeding a larger group.

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You can also use your dried cranberries (or cherries) in these Cranberry Almond Breakfast Scones for a mid-morning or afternoon Valentine snack!

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Since you may be eating lots of sweets on Valentine’s Day, you’ll want to include a healthy salad in your lunch or dinner menu–this Apple Pear Pecan Salad has dried cranberries in it too, but dried cherries would be yummy as well!

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Savory Strawberry Salsa makes a great appetizer with tortilla chips, and it’s also really good served over grilled chicken!

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Now you need some dessert ideas…Strawberry Cupcakes are just the thing!

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But lots of people prefer something chocolate, and you can’t go wrong with these Chocolate Cupcakes with Fudgy Frosting!

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If you want a healthier dessert, you could always make this Healthy Chocolate Shake

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But, hey, it’s Valentine’s Day–if you want to splurge, make these Dark Chocolate-Covered Cherry Swirl Brownies!

Hope you get a chance to try out some of these treats! Do you have a favorite Valentine recipe?

Yogurt with Strawberries, Honey, and Pistachios

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Did you know that February is National Heart Health Month? It’s a great reminder about eating foods that are good for your heart. Like nuts, for example. They have lots of vitamins, minerals, protein and omega-3 ncSunRidgenutsfatty acids–all things that your heart loves! There’s even some research that shows that eating just one ounce of nuts a day can reduce your risk of heart disease. So, in honor of National Heart Health Month, I recently received some product samples of nuts to try from SunRidge Farms–they offer a great variety of organic and natural non-GMO nuts (and other healthy snacks like seeds, dried fruits, and trail mixes). They sent me some of their Organic Walnuts, Supreme Almonds, Roasted Tamari Almonds, and Jumbo Pistachios roasted with Sea Salt–yum! I like all different kinds of nuts and I eat them roasted and unroasted, salted and unsalted, and I thought all these SunRidge Farms nuts were really good and very fresh. I had never had Tamari Almonds before–these are whole roasted almonds with a tamari shoyu (soy sauce) coating, which adds a slightly tart and zingy flavor–and I loved those!

Of course, nuts are great add-ins when you’re baking breads or cakes, and I also like to sprinkle them on salads. I’ve also sprinkled them, along with dried or fresh fruit, on my morning oatmeal. When I was deciding what to make with some of these SunRidge Farm nuts, I remembered this recipe from Martha Stewart –a healthy, quick and easy recipe with Greek yogurt, fresh strawberries and pistachios. So I decided to use the SunRidge Farms Jumbo Pistachios in this!

The original recipe calls for plain Greek yogurt, which works well because it has a nice thick and creamy consistency. Vanilla or strawberry Greek yogurt could work in this recipe too, if you aren’t crazy about using plain yogurt, but I like the plain yogurt with the honey–the honey drizzled on top makes it sweet enough for me. I’ve made this with salted or unsalted pistachios, and like it both ways. If you don’t have any pistachios on hand, try using chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds, or even granola cereal instead. As you can see, this recipe is very versatile! :)

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YOGURT WITH STRAWBERRIES, HONEY, AND PISTACHIOS slightly adapted from MarthaStewart.com

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 large container (16-oz.) plain Greek yogurt (or use vanilla or strawberry)
  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, stemmed if desired (you can also slice them or cut them into chunks, depending on what works best with the type of bowls you are using–I used glass teacups)
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup shelled unsalted or salted roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped (or substitute chopped walnuts, pecans, almonds–or granola cereal)

Divide yogurt and strawberries among 4 salad/soup bowls. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with pistachios (or other chopped nuts or granola cereal).

This is great to make for a quick, healthy breakfast or even a healthy snack or dessert! I really like the strawberry-pistachio combination. Do you use pistachios often in your recipes?

Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese Spread or Dip

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After I made my Pumpkin Hummus, I had half of a can of pumpkin left over. What to do with it? I thought some of it might be good in a cream cheese spread. I was inspired by this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. I wanted to sweeten the spread with honey instead of sugar (although you could use brown sugar instead if you want to have a thicker spread) and made some other changes, and this is what I ended up with!

It’s a lightly sweet and spicy spread with a very creamy texture that’s great on bagels or pumpkin bread for breakfast. Or, use as an appetizer spread on crackers or as a dip for fruit. It’s very soft and creamy when you mix it up so it does need to be refrigerated for at least an hour or two after mixing. Even after it’s refrigerated, it’s more creamy than other cream cheese spreads I’ve made–so if you want a thicker spread, use brown sugar instead of honey and omit the vanilla. If you don’t have all the spices I used in this, you can use 1 1/4 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.

PUMPKIN SPICE CREAM  CHEESE SPREAD by NancyCreative, adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 Tablespoons honey (or substitute brown sugar for a thicker spread)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In medium bowl, blend all ingredients together until smooth (if using an electric mixer, blend on medium speed). Pour mixture into a small serving bowl, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Makes about 1 1/2 cups of spread. Serve on bagels or pumpkin bread for breakfast. Or, serve as an appetizer with crackers or apple and pear slices.

If you like pumpkin-flavored things, you’ll need to try this out! What other ways do you like to use leftover canned pumpkin?