Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Struesel Muffins

Today is a beautiful one. The kind where there is just enough warmth to make you think summer might last a bit longer. But...taking another look out in my front yard, I can see the leaves on my trees are turning yellow. They are even starting to fall to the ground. Sigh....fall is here.

With fall comes the age old tradition of the annual trip to the Annapolis Valley for the Pumpkin Run. This year I am missing out and so wishing I was there to go with Wanda. We would get in the car and go, and amazingly enough with Wanda's stellar directional skills (note the sarcasm), we would make it to my grandmother's house. Yes, Wanda...you really DO have to turn off at exit 15. ;-)

No matter what vehicle we took, somehow at the end of the trip, we would always manage to have it crammed full of fall produce. We would drive all around the valley looking for the biggest, baddest pumpkin we could carry between the two of us. Short of Dill's giant pumpkins, we came up with some pretty good ones over the years. Pumpkins were the most precious of cargo...they had to fit in first, and all other stuff crammed in around it. That is the official law of the Pumpkin Run.

Road trips are always fun. Wanda and I never have a dull moment when we travel together. There are Tim Horton's stops, yard sales, music blaring, wrong turns (once again with Wanda's driving) and LOTS of picture taking.

There are the faithful walks back to the old house in the pasture behind my grandmother's house, too. No matter what the weather, we make that trek. We'd don the most dazzling rubber boots that we could find in the closet at Gram's and grab some doe skin jackets and off we'd go! I think we go every year just because we are scared that the next time we arrive there the old house may be gone.

Trips to the valley, walks in the woods, the spicy smell of the leaves on the ground..these are all the best part of fall. It is funny how in a world of constant change, there are some things that you just never want to change. This is one of them.

So, on that note, I whipped up some delicious muffins. These, too are a tradition. This is the 3rd variation of this recipe I have tried. The original came from Kim, the next one was one I found, then this one is compliments of Wanda. Bring. On. The. Muffins!!!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Struesel Muffins
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1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons brown sugar

4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons chopped pecans

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin (I actually used pumpkin pie filling PLUS the spices)
1/3 cup olive or veg oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:
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1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease and flour 18 muffin cups, or use paper liners.
2. To make the filling: In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until soft. Add egg, vanilla and brown sugar. Beat until smooth, then set aside.
3. For the streusel topping: In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Add butter and cut it in with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.
4. For the muffin batter: In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add eggs, pumpkin, olive oil and vanilla. Beat together until smooth.
5. Place pumpkin mixture in muffin cups about 1/2 full. Then add one tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture right in the middle of the batter. (I made a little well in the center of the batter with a spoon then filled it with the cc mixture). Try to keep cream cheese from touching the paper cup. Sprinkle on the streusel topping.
6. Bake at 375 degrees F (195 degrees C) for 20 to 25 minutes.

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