Pumpkin Cornbread Muffins with Cream Cheese and Pumpkin Butter

Pumpkin muffins. Early fall isn’t complete without them. These pumpkin cornbread muffins are just slightly sweet, moist and packed with all sorts of pumpkin goodness. The layered cream cheese and pumpkin butter topping sends them over the edge.

pumpkin muffins with cream cheese and pumpkin butterYou know the cream cheese pumpkin muffins you see at Starbucks? These are a better-for-you (and tastier) version of those. They’re more dense than bakery style muffins because they’re packed with more Vitamin A rich pumpkin. You can skip the cream cheese and pumpkin butter topping if you like, but that wouldn’t be as much fun or nearly as tasty. Adrian prefers his sans topping, but not me. And if you prefer your pumpkin muffins topped with streusel, try these Pumpkin Muffins with Streusel Topping.

pumpkin muffins topped with cream cheese and pumpkin butterHere’s how to make these little muffins:

Pumpkin Corn Bread Muffins with Cream cheese and Pumpkin Butter

Time: 30 minutes

Makes: 16 muffins

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 15oz can 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1.5 cup coconut milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp vanilla powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ¾ cup light cream cheese
  • ½ cup pumpkin butter

Preheat oven to 400. Line a muffin tin with muffin liners and spray each with nonstick spray. Combine dry ingredients then add wet ingredients and mix until combined.  By heaping tablespoon, add batter to muffin tins (this makes about 16 muffins, so, if you have them use 2 muffin tins), filling each ¾ full. Bake 15-18 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool. Top each with a smear of cream cheese and a drizzle of pumpkin butter.

pumpkin muffins with cream cheese and topped with pumpkin butter


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Pan-Fried Polenta with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Pecorino

Polenta (cornmeal boiled and whisked into a porridge) is a warming and hearty dish that can be made sweet or savory. This Pan-Fried Polenta with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Pecorino Romano Cheese and herbs is a great early fall dish to enjoy on these cool nights we’ve been having.

polenta with sundried tomatoes and pecorino romano cheese and herbsThis month’s Recipe ReDux theme is: Get Your Dehydrator On. Whether it’s extra garden bounty or a sale at the supermarket – dehydrating food is a budget-friendly way to stock up for later. You can use a food dehydrator, a low slow oven, or natural sunshine to preserve natural healthfulness. Show us how you like to dehydrate, or a healthy recipe for how you enjoy using dehydrated fruits, veggies or other bounty.

Since I have been snacking on sun-dried tomatoes like they’re going out of style and have not tried dehydrating anything besides sweet potatoes (for chips), sun-dried tomatoes are the star in this dish. And since fall has already arrived on the cape, and we’ve been craving warmer foods like chili, soups and polenta, I wanted to try the sun-dried tomatoes stirred into the polenta.  With cheese, naturally. And to make up for the fact that we didn’t have any fresh herbs on hand,  I tried this Litehouse Salad Blend in the polenta:

litehouse salad blendIt’s a nice blend of parsley, red onion, chives, shallots, garlic and dill and worked really well with the tomatoes and polenta. You just add water and these little herb clippings come back to life. They actually taste almost fresh, probably because they’re freeze dried. Great in a pinch.

We added the herbs to the water with the polenta as it was cooking to infuse the flavors.

cooking polenta

After the polenta is cooked on the stovetop and you add in the sun-dried tomatoes and cheese, you can eat it as is, out of a bowl. But we love it polenta pan-fried, so we rolled it into a tube (like below), refrigerated it to let it set, sliced it into rounds and fried it up.

Making polentaPairs perfectly with a side salad and a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

polenta with sun-dried tomatoes and pecorino romano cheesePan-Fried Polenta with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Pecorino Romano Cheese and dried herbs

Time: 2 hours, including refridgeration time

Serves: 6 as a side dish

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tbsp Litehouse Salad Herb Blend (parsley, red onion, chives, shallots, garlic, dill)
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese plus more for topping (you can also use Parmesan)
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray
  • Balsamic vinegar for drizzling (optional)

Directions: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Combine 4th cup of water, cornmeal, herbs, and salt together and pour slowly into the boiling water, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and stir 8-10 more minutes until the mixture is creamy and free of lumps. Remove from heat. Stir in sundried tomatoes and cheese. Let cool, slightly, but don’t let completely gel. Spread a long piece of plastic wrap on your working surface. Pour the polenta onto the plastic wrap into a long tube shape. With one hand on each end of the plastic wrap, roll the polenta into a tube and twist the ends. Or pour into a parchment paper lined loave pan. Refrigerate for at least an hour until polenta sets. Remove from fridge and unwrap from plastic wrap. Slice the polenta into rounds of about ½ inch thick. If polenta isn’t firm enough to cut, freeze for 10 minutes. Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add polenta slices in batches. Fry a few minutes on each side. Serve sprinkled with remaining cheese. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, if desired.

polenta with sun-dried tomatoes and pecorino cheese

Check out these Recipe ReDuxer sites for more dehydrated and dehydrator inspiration: 

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Salted Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

In honor of the upcoming Blog Brûlée weekend in Vermont, I share with you Salted Pumpkin Crème Brûlée.

Salted pumpkin creme brulee

Fall is in the air, days are noticeably shorter and that means it’s time for pumpkins, apples and squash. So, even though I am trying to hold onto everything summer here on the Cape, it’s time to embrace the slight chill in the air.

I didn’t think I was quite ready for pumpkin anything (yet), until I made these little Salted Pumpkin Crème Brûlées over the weekend. If you love pumpkin, these won’t disapoint. They’re creamy, pumpkin-y, slightly sweet and slightly salty (I love sweet/salty combos). Greek yogurt replaces the cream and we’ve topped the Brûlées with pumpkin seeds for some added crunch and earthy goodness. These brûlées sound and look quite fancy, but they’re really not. They are very simple to make, they just take time because you need to let them chill for 5+ hours. But the wait is worth it. The perfect harvest dessert.

Salted pumpkin creme brulee

Salted pumpkin creme brulee with pumpkin seeds

Go ahead, dig in.

Salted pumpkin creme brulee with cinnamon sugar pumpkin seedsSalted Pumpkin Crème Brûlée

Time: 30 minutes (prep and cooking) + 5+ hours chilling time + 15 min broil/chill time

Serves: 2


  • ½ cup 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • 1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 dashes sea salt, divided
  • 3/4 cup Cabot low-fat vanilla bean Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, divided in half
  • ¼ cup sugar and cinnamon pumpkin seeds (we used Super Seedz)

Directions: Preheat oven to 325°F. Whisk together pumpkin, yogurt, ¼ cup brown sugar, egg yolks, pumpkin pie spice, salt and vanilla in medium mixing bowl. Divide mixture among two 3.5 oz ramekins. Place ramekins in a roasting pan. Add hot water to the pan so it hits halfway up the ramekins. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until just set in the center. Remove from oven and let cool. Cover with plastic wrap tightly and chill at least 5 hours. When ready to serve, preheat the broiler. Sprinkle each ramekin with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and a dash of salt and put on a baking sheet. Then put under the broiler until tops are caramelized. Refrigerate 10 minutes or until sugar hardens. Serve topped with salted pumpkin seeds or sugar and cinnamon pumpkin seeds. You can also make these a couple days ahead of time and add the brown sugar topping and broil just before serving.


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Blog Brûlée … is 4 days away! {sponsored travel}

Disclosure: My upcoming attendance at Blog Brûlée is partially funded by the Sponsors of Blog Brûlée and I received a discounted registration to the event in exchange for writing this post. Opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for my time.

Blog Brûlée … is 4 days away!!

I can hardly believe the Blog Brûlée weekend is almost here! I have been looking forward to this weekend since April, when I learned I would be one of 20 healthy food bloggers and Registered Dietitian bloggers that would be headed to the mountains of beautiful Burlington Vermont for a weekend full of learning, discussing and sharing all the how to’s and best practices of better blogs.  And it goes without saying that with this group great food, wine, laughter and stories will be shared along the way.

The weekend is being led by 4 fabulous healthy food bloggers and Registered Dietitians who co-founded Blog Brûlée. Read all about Regan Jones, RD,  Robin Plotkin, RD, LD, Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD and Gretchen Brown, RD here. All four of these ladies have been an inspiration to me, especially in the areas of food photography, food styling, and supporting and engaging with other bloggers.

As I thought about what I want to get out of Blog Brûlée, I took a step back to reflect on 30 Seconds with A and J. My husband, Adrian, and I started this blog in March of 2012 as a way to share our love for healthy recipes, cooking and outdoor adventures (running, hiking, swimming, kayaking, going to oyster festivals, apple-picking, etc) and hopefully inspire others to take small steps towards a healthier lifestyle. It has been a creative outlet and hobby for me from the start that’s also become a growing passion of mine.

About a year ago, I started participating in Recipe ReDux, (which Regan and Deanna are cofounders of, along with Serena Balla healthy food blogger community that inspires monthly recipe challenges. Recipe ReDux has provided me with the opportunity to practice my photography skills in a fun environment and become a better food stylist and food blogger. It has forced me (in a good way) to continue to create and blog, even while we were/are in the midst of home renovations, including kitchen renovations. There were times in March/April when we didn’t have a kitchen and created recipes using only a microwave or our mini grill. We washed our dishes in the bathroom sink…It was a challenge, but a ton of fun and allowed me to keep dabbling in what I love to do. One of the greatest things I have learned through being a part of Recipe ReDux is how very important it is to show, through amazing food photography, that healthy food can be craveable, flavorful and sharable. I’ve loved being a part of this community of bloggers who have a similar love for creating and sharing colorful and beautiful healthy food.

The goal of gorgeous food photography has given me an excuse to collect pretty dishes and linens. Here’s a peak behind the scenes in our growing “studio.” Adrian has been very patient, as he puts up with my growing set of beautiful, but mismatched plates and bowls and linens that are mainly reserved for photography sessions. We used to only have simple white dishware and, well, that’s not the case anymore.

cabinetsMismatched dishes.

platesMismatched, yes, but pretty, aren’t they?

linensMy linen “prop” drawer.

I’ve been told I have maxed out my food prop allotment space. So, I have added a separate food prop closet area to our (my) renovation wish list.

Adrian has also been extremely patient, waiting for me, as I take pictures of the food he’s waiting to eat….

Jenny taking pics

All the while I am trying to find the “perfect” lighting, angle, linens, etc.

Blog Brûlée comes at the perfect time for me, as I plan to devote even more time and energy to blogging in the future and to continue to evolve and improve. There are a few areas in particular that I hope to gain insight on from Regan/Robin/Deanna/Gretchen and our featured speakers:

  • Food photography – my skills have been improving, but I still have more to learn. And I need to make a commitment to learn how to use the manual functions on my DSL camera vs always going with automatic. This is the year!
  • Lighting (!) – this is one of my greatest challenges. I cannot get the lighting right.
  • Brand identity – as I embark on updating my site to a more visual, engaging blog, brand identity is something that will be critical.
  • Monetization – those paid ads – what are they and how do they work?
  • Community development – with limited time, what can I do to build and engage with the community of followers/other bloggers.

In addition to the fabulous founding ladies, a huge thank you to the sponsors below who made Blog Brûlée possible. Cabot and Smugglers’ Notch are the Founding Sponsors of the 2014 event. See you in VT! And stay tuned, as I will be reporting back on key learnings from the weekend.




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