Walnut Pumpkin Bread

Need to put this on the holiday baking list!


Creamy, sweetened homemade ricotta cheese makes for a lighter, healthier delicious alternative to cream cheese in this cheesecake-like tart. In this version, slices of pears have been brushed with peach preserves prior to baking.

I was surprised how easy it was to make a ricotta-style cheese at home. My first batch of ricotta went into Jack’s moose cannelloni. A second batch was split between blintzes and a pear and ricotta tart. Infused with vanilla, the beaten egg and ricotta base was smooth, creamy and light. The sliced pears were brushed with a vanilla peach jam which added another subtle layer of flavor.

Pear and Ricotta Tart


  • pie crust
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 d’Anjou pears, halved, cored and sliced
  • 1 heaping tbsp of peach preserves


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Press pie dough into a 9-inch springform…

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Zucchini Muffins

Here is the 4# zucchini…


So, I made those chocolate chip zucchini muffins, but I still had a lot of zucchini left… so I made these muffins too.

Zucchini Muffins
adopted from William Sonoma Muffins cookbook

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 large eggs

1/2 oil (I use grapeseed oil)

1/4 cup lowquat jam (I made this jam, you can also use orange marmalade)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 # zucchini

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine all dry ingredients

Combine all wet ingredients.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together.

Add zucchini and nuts, mix to combine

Spoon into greased muffin cups (or lined cups with cupcake liners).

Preheat oven to 400*.

Bake 17 – 20 minutes until done.  Cool on rack 5 minutes, remove from muffin tin and let cool completely.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 muffins


Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

I will be out of town over the weekend, so I thought I would post a couple of muffin recipes that I made a month or so ago.

About a month ago I was the recipient of a 4# zucchini from the church garden.  Yes, 4#s!

Well, it just happened to also coinside with National Chocolate Chip Day, so I decided to give a recipe from allrecipes.com a try.

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/4 cup minature chocolate chips

1/4 cup nuts

Combine all dry ingredients.  (except chocolate chips and nuts)

Combine all wet ingredients.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together.

Add chocolate chips and nuts and mix to combine.

Grease 12 muffin cups, or line with cupcake liners.

Preheat oven to 350*

Bake muffins 20-25 minutes, until lightly brown springy.  use toothpick to test doneness.

cool on wire rack 5 minutes, remove from muffin tin and let cool completely.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Peach Melba Muffins

I chose this recipe for yesterday’s muffins because I still had some red raspberries left in the feezer I wanted to use.

The original recipe called for two fresh peaches chopped.  I didn’t have any peaches but I did have some peach preserves in the fridgerator that I wanted to use up as well.  The recipe called for the peaches to be added to the batter, but since I was using preserves, I opted to mix that with the raspberries.  In retrospect, I think it would have been fine to put the preserves in the batter instead of with the raspberries, it would help to make the muffin a bit more moist.  These still turned out great, and because I put the preserves with the raspberries, I had some of the filling left over, so you can always spoon a bit of the raspberry/peach preserves on the muffins if you want more fruit.  🙂

Peach Melba Muffins
 adopted from the Williams-Sonoma Muffins cookbook

1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries (unthawed)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon berry liquer such as Chambord or raspberry vinegar (I happen to have Chambord on hand as well – a definite plus – I really like that liquer)

2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

6 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup milk

1 cup peach preserves

1/2 cup chopped almonds (I had whole almonds on hand so I chopped them, you could use slivered almonds – that is what the original recipe called for)

Preheat oven to 375*

Grease muffin tin, or line with cupcake liners

Toss raspberries with liqueur and peach preserves and set aside.

Mix all dry ingredients together in one bowl.

In another bowl mix all wet ingredients together (except the raspberry mixture).

Mix wet and dry ingredients together, just until evenly moistened. no more than 15 – 20 strokes.  batter will be lumpy

Spoon batter into muffin tin cups about 1/2 way.  Add a bit of the raspberry mixture and top with more batter to fill the cup.  Sprinkle with almond pieces.

Bake until golden brown, dry and springy to the touch.  toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.  25 – 20 minutes.

Cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 5 minutes or so, remove and let cool completely on wire rack.  Serv warm or at room temperature with butter, or left over raspberry mixture.

Makes 12 muffins.

Blackberry/Red Raspberry Muffins

Today’s muffin of choice is a delicious blackberry muffin recipe.  Why did I choose this recipe?  Well, I have some frozen blackberries in the freezer that I need to use.  🙂

In my usual fashion, this recipe will be tweaked a bit.  1) I don’t think I have enough blackberries that the recipe calls for, and 2) I have some red raspberries that I need to use up as well. So… these muffins will be a combination of black and red berries.  I also thought I had some lemon zest in the freezer that I could use, but what I found was orange zest, so I just used that.  End result, a very interesting and yummy muffin!

My version is a variation on the Blackberry Muffin recipe found in the Williams-Sonoma Muffins cookbook.

Blackberry / Raspberry Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

grated lemon zest from orange (original recipe called for lemon zest, but I didn’t have a lemon, or any zest, so I used that I had – orange zest)

1 large egg

5 Tablespoons unsalted and melted butter

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups fresh berries or 2 1/2 cups frozen unsweetened berries, FROZEN

If you do not have buttermilk, you can make “sour milk” at home instead of spending money on buying it and then not using it by the use by date.  Take 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup.  Add milk to make 1 cup.  let sit for 15 minutes. Stir and use in place of store-bought buttermilk.  I do this a lot, and it saves me time (travel to the store) and $$ as well.

Preheat oven to 375*

Line 12 cup muffin tins with cupcake liners, or spray with cooking spray or grease with butter.

Stir together all dry ingredients in one bowl (including lemon zest).

In another bowl whisk together all wet ingredients (except berries).

Mix to incorporate until all dry ingredients are wet.  Do not overmix.  Batter will be lumpy.

Fold in berries to evenly distribute through batter. Taking care not to break the berries.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling to a bit above the rim.  Bake until golden brown, dry and springy to the touch.  25-30 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin should come out clean.

Cool in muffin tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove and completely cool on wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

What is your favorite berry filled muffin?

Sour Cherry Muffins

June 3rd, day 2 of “A Muffin A Day”.  Today’s muffin – Sour Cherry Muffins.

I took my inspiration for this muffin from the Williams-Sonoma Muffin cookbook.

I have heard a lot about substituting honey for sugar in recipes, but have never tried it before, so today, for this recipe, I decided to do a little research to understand how to do the substitution, and give it a try.  I would say, I think it was a success.

Since honey is sweeter than sugar, you need to use 25% less honey in recipes, and add about 1/4 teaspoon baking soda (to neutralize the acidity of the honey).  I also noted in my research that if you are more than 2 cups of sugar, you should reduce the amount of honey by 33%.

The recipe in the cookbook included a coconut streusel; but I don’t like coconut, so instead I just sprinkled the muffins with a bit of granulated sugar before popping them in the oven.

In addition to substituting honey for the sugar, I also added about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, next time I would probably leave it out. They will be just as good with or without it.

Using honey instead of sugar gives the muffins an interesting flavor, I like it, but then I love honey.  🙂

The recipe calls for straining the cherries, and letting them “dry out” a bit, next time I would just scoop them from the container and leave a bit of the “sauce/filling” as I think that would add more cherry flavor to them.

Here is my version of the recipe, as I made them today.

Sour Cherry Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup honey (substituted for the 1/2 cup sugar in the original recipe)

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 cup milk (I used 1%)

can/jar of tart red cherry pie filling, drained, and tried on paper towels

Preheat oven to 350* (If using sugar, temp is 375* )

line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper cupcake/muffin liners

Stir together all dry ingredients

in a separate bowl, stir together all wet ingredients, except cherries

Make well in dry ingredients and add wet ingredients.  Mix until well incorporated and smooth.

Spoon batter into each muffin tin, only filling 1/3 of the way.  Add several cherries to each muffin, then spoon a little more batter over cherries, add a few more cherries and spoon batter over them, so that muffin tins are filled to the top.  Sprinkle with a bit of granulated sugar, or raw sugar if you prefer the larger grains.

Bake until golden, dry, and springy to the touch, 20 – 25 minutes.  cool 10 minutes on a wire rack, remove muffins and cool completely on wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 muffins.

Banana Muffins

A couple years ago I started a “30 days of muffins”, but never finished.

I think I am going to give it another try.  Starting June 2nd with Banana Muffins.

I have a muffins recipe book from Williams-Sonoma that I bought many years ago.  It has a lot of great muffin, coffee cake and bread recipes in it, but I hardly use it.  So (once again) I am going to attempt to make a recipe a day out of this book.  I know there are a few that I will not be interested in making, so up front I’m admitting that I will not make every recipe in the book, but I my goal is to make most of them.

Of course, I never follow a recipe “to the tee”… so some changes will inevitably be made from the version in the book.

Oh, and there are a couple of weekends this month that I will be out of town.  One camping with friends at the Guadelupe River in Texas (So maybe I will double up and make some extras to share with the group that is going…we will see how ambitious I am), and another weekend that I am going to Dallas to visit relatives (I may take the book with me and make muffins for the family up there too, again, no commitments on my end…)  🙂

Here are the banana muffins I made on June 2nd.

Banana Nut Muffins

1 1/2 cups allpurpose flour ( since I used 3 bananas, I wasn’t particular about measuring perfect 1 1/2 cups flour – in fact, I know I used a bit more – just scooped the flour into the measuring cup with a bit more – didn’t level it off)

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup crushed/chopped pecans ( I take my meat mallot, put the nuts in a plastic baggie, and pound away until the pieces are about the size I want)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon course kosher salt (recipe calls for regular salt)

1/2 cup olive oil (you can use any oil you have on hand. I like using olive oil, or grapeseed oil)

1 large egg

3 bananas (I love fruity muffins!)

3 tablespoons buttermilk

Preheat oven to 357*F  (190*C).  Grease a dozen standard muffin cups, or line them with cupcake liners.  I use the liners – so much easier!

Mix together all the dry ingredients in one bowl (including the nuts).

Mix together all the wet ingredients in one bowl.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until well combined.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.  Muffins are done when toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool in tin, on cooling rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from tin and cool a bit more.  Serve warm, or at room temperature.

These muffins freeze well.  Let cool completely, put in freezer bag and freeze.  Allow to thaw to room temp. before serving.

Makes 10 – 12 muffins.