DAVE, a friend from college, and his girlfriend Megan were in town this past week, and I took their visit as an opportunity to experiment with flavors and places I had yet to try. First up on our list was Longwood Gardens, but as this was a reintroduction to the city of Brotherly Love, I also introduced the pair to Honey‘s. (Really, I was craving one of Honey’s signature omelets or french toasts, so it was actually a self-serving agenda.)
From NoLibs, we drove out to the Gardens. Now, it’s recommended that you spend at least 2 hours at Longwood, or else you’ll feel gypped. We figured we could do it in 2 hours, maybe 3 if we felt like pushing it…but ended up staying there for 5 hours! We could probably have done more, too, but the sun had set by the time we left and the Topiary Garden was closed for winter revitalization. Regardless, here’s our suggestion: go to the Gardens about 2 hours before sundown, taking that time to see the tree houses and the Italian Garden and catch one of the Fountain Shows. Stop in for some Vegetarian Chili at the Terrace Restaurant; the chili is surprisingly hearty, and does a body good on a chilly day. From there,, it’s a straight shot to the Conservatory where you will spend the bulk of your time.
Also on the agenda was quizo, the South Street Challenge (never heard of it? neither had we) and a visit to our old college diner. And after that, I must have been feeling very frisky because I decided to try out a new recipe…but pretty much modify everything but the essentials in it.
The original recipe on therecipelink called for apple butter, applesauce, raisins, and only half a teaspoon of ginger. Instead, I substituted pecan pumpkin butter for the apple butter and organic vanilla yoghurt for the applesauce + 1 tsp vanilla. I also decided not to throw in raisins and upped the ginger content to a full tsp. The muffins have a little bit of kick this way, and (as promised by Jenni Miller, the original poster) they fill the house with the delightful aroma of autumn.
Pumpkin Butter Muffins
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup brown sugar*
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 3/4 cup pumpkin butter
- 1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup milk [personally, I like 2%]
- 3 tbsp honey [I like the heady taste of forest honey]
- 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F. Line your muffin cups or grease with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (the first 7 ingredients). In a smaller bowl, combine the wet ingredients.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry; stir to combine. [If you’re going to include raisins or nuts, fold them in at the end.] Spoon batter out into muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes. I baked mine for 20 minutes, and they turned out perfectly, if a little browned on top!
* If your brown sugar has hardened, follow this simple plan: eyeball what you think is 3/4 cup and break that off the block of brown sugar. Wrap in a wet paper towel and place in a microwave-save bowl. Cover tightly with saran wrap and microwave for 1 minute. Remove paper towel and saran wrap (be careful; it’s hot) and break up the sugar with a fork.
I recommend you don’t spend too much time separating the chunks. I left a few of them in pretty solid form, figuring I’d break them down a little further when I mixed everything together. This worked perfectly (and serendipitously), as the chunks never quite broke down, which mean that in the baked muffins were nestled little pockets of moist sugary goodness. Little boons, if you will, for the holiday season.