You may be thinking, “What does All About Pumpkin have to do with Life as a Toddler?” Well, I’m not sure about your household, but mine is in full fall mode! The fall décor is out, my husband can’t get enough of his favorite pumpkin beer, and I couldn’t wait to get the ball rolling on our favorite pumpkin recipes this year. Now that I’m home full-time, I’ve taken full advantage of my time in the kitchen – especially with the girls.
I was never a fan of baking – at all. It can be messy; some recipes can be complex and have a lengthy ingredient list but mostly it’s the measuring that kept me away. Once my girls turned 2, they began to take an interest to baking and cooking. They always asked questions about what I was making and if they could help. No matter what I’d be making, I’d always try to get them involved and this is where I credit some of my girls’ excellent eating habits.
Until recently, I worked full-time right after the girls turned one. I’m not a fan of processed food much less feeding it to my girls. Something about frozen pancakes and waffles being their first meal of the day just didn’t sit well with me. I couldn’t watch my girls eating a bunch of chemicals. The ingredient list on these items would be far more extensive than needed and I couldn’t pronounce half of the items in the products. I also knew how simple these are to make. This is when I began baking.
Mostly, I love to bake muffins. To me, they are the perfect staple because of their diversity. They are simple to make (at least only the ones I choose to bake), they freeze well, they can be eaten for breakfast or as a part of lunch or snack. The best part about them is being able to add vegetables to them to help your toddlers diet, like the Zucchini Apple ones we made a few weeks ago!
One of the first muffins that we began making quickly turned into one of our favorites. I found this recipe from 100 Days of Real Food. Lisa Leake created this food blog after her family started a simple pledge to cut all processed food from their diet. You can read here all about their food philosophy which I strongly agree with and follow in many ways with my family.
The girls and I made Lisa’s Pumpkin Smelt Muffins this week and I’ve always used White Whole Wheat flour because I can never find smelt flour. Once I tell the girls we’re making muffins, they immediately begin dragging a chair up to our island and amazingly, they know the some of the ingredients and tools we need and begin to grab them from the pantry and drawers. They love getting involved by dumping the ingredients into the bowl and mixing.
Pumpkin Smelt Muffins
• 1½ cups whole spelt flour *I used white whole wheat flour
• 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice blend
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs
• ½ cup honey
• ⅓ cup melted butter
• 1 cup pumpkin puree
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with liners and set aside.
2. Using a whisk or fork mix together the flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. Make a well (hole) in the center of the flour mixture and drop in the eggs, honey, and melted butter. Mix together until well combined. Fold in the pumpkin puree. Do not overmix.
4. Pour the batter into the muffin pan so it’s evenly distributed. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes clean, about 18 – 20 minutes. If making mini muffins, bake for 8-10 minutes. Store at room temperature or freeze.
I usually double this recipe, and I will rotate between mini and full size muffins. When I double, I’ll freeze half. The night before, I’ll pull a few muffins out and defrost in the refrigerator for breakfast the next day.
I’m not sure what I was thinking when I began making this next recipe – because it’s a little complex for me – but it is by far one of my husband’s favorites. It was the first pumpkin recipe I made last year and it will be on my list to make very soon with the girls. I’m sure they would have a blast spreading the frosting. This was the first time I made my own frosting and I sure did mess it up! Not too bad, though. I used dark brown sugar because that’s all I had on hand and the icing was maple flavored instead of vanilla. My husband and girls didn’t mind at all! These cookies are rich in pumpkin flavor and so soft and moist (I REALLY hate the word moist, but there isn’t another word to describe it!).
Melt in Your Mouth Pumpkin Cookies
I got the recipe from Parent Pretty
2 cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar (add until desired consistency/firmness)
ground cinnamon sprinkled on top (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat the 2 cups of butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Beat until combined. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon.
2. Drop dough by heaping teaspoons two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until tops are set. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
3. For the frosting, in a small saucepan heat the butter and brown sugar until melted and smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in milk and vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting on cookies. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon if desired.
Usually every Saturday or Sunday morning my husband will take over the kitchen and make one of the girls’ favorite breakfasts – pancakes. He’ll add fresh blueberries or chocolate chips for an added treat and the girls gobble them right up. Of course he’ll make a double batch, this way we have enough for freezing. The girls can eat them during the week when we have busy mornings before school and we don’t have to buy processed pancakes from the grocery freezer. Last weekend, I gave my husband a festive pumpkin recipe to try.
If you prefer thin and crispy pancakes, you probably want to pass on these because they are definitely a thicker, denser pancake. We all loved them here, and we hope you enjoy them with your toddler too!
I used this recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Pancakes
• 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 heaping teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice*
• 1 cup (180g) semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 1 and 1/4 cups (305g) pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
• 1/3 cup (67g) light or dark brown sugar
• 1 large egg
• 3 Tablespoons (45ml) canola or vegetable oil
• 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) whole milk*
In a large bowl, toss the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and chocolate chips together until combined. Set aside.
I like to mix the wet ingredients in a blender. This guarantees a smoother batter and breaks down the pumpkin. This is especially necessary if you are using fresh pumpkin puree. Add the pumpkin, brown sugar, egg, oil, and whole milk to a blender and blend on high for 45 seconds until combined. Alternatively, you may whisk by hand or use a hand mixer. Blender is best.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk by hand gently to combine the ingredients. The batter is extremely thick. Do not thin it out. Whisk until *just* combined, no more. A few lumps may remain. Taste the batter. If you want to add more spices, go ahead. I usually add more cinnamon.
Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Coat generously with butter. Once hot, drop about 1/4 cup of batter on the griddle. Cook until the edges look dry and bubbles begin to form on the sides, about 1 minute. Flip and cook on the other side until cooked through, about 2 more minutes. Coat griddle/skillet again with butter for each pancake or batch of pancakes.
Keep pancakes warm in a preheated 200F degree oven until all pancakes are cooked. Serve immediately with your favorite pancake toppings. Pancakes taste best right after they are made. Pancakes freeze well, up to 2 months.
And just for you coffee-loving moms – if you’re a fan of pumpkin spice coffee creamer, why not try making your own? I’ve been making my own vanilla coffee creamer for months now, and last week thought I’d try making my own pumpkin spice. I found this recipe from ImperfectlyRicci
Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 pint Half and Half
Pumpkin Spice to taste
Cinnamon to taste
Pour both Sweetened Condensed Milk and Half and Half into your blender and blend them together until smooth.
Add some of the Pumpkin Spice and Cinnamon to taste
If you don’t have a blender, that’s fine. I just mixed all in a mixing bowl with a whisk, and shook well in an airtight jar.
I hope I’ve inspired you to try a new pumpkin recipe and even better – inspired you to have your toddler join you in the kitchen. It may get a little messier and take a little longer than expected but I’ve learned that toddlers love to be involved with what we’re doing, especially when they feel like they are helping us. Helping in the kitchen can also be an excellent way to get your toddler to try new foods and learn about food. I’ve definitely seen a development with my girls since they’ve been in the kitchen with me! The things they know about foods surprise me. If you have any favorite fall recipes, please share them with us! And follow me on Instagram or Pinterest for more fun recipes to make and share with your family!