Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

I like pumpkin, and I don’t care who knows it. If that makes me basic, I’m totally fine with that. The last thing I want to be is a Kardashian. Too much makeup, who knows how much plastic surgery, and endless self-worship? Is that what we’re considering interesting these days? Sign me up for not that. 

Just leave me alone with my pumpkin spice chai, my Isadora Duncan scarves and my Joni Mitchell albums and let me do my YouTube yoga in peace. I’ll be as basic as I want to be. Except now that I think about it, I might even be too weird to be basic. Can you still be basic if you’re jamming to the Flaming Lips on the subway on your way to theatre jazz class at the age of practically 40? I don’t know. Just give me a damn muffin.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Guys, these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are ridiculous. They’re a triple threat. You’ve got your moist, sweet, and spicy pumpkin muffin action, then there’s the sweet and crunchy crumb topping, and hidden inside is a hit of creamy sweet cream cheese that just takes it right over the top. 

All this awesomeness means there are a few components to bring together which might make it seems a bit fiddly, but I assure you, it’s all quite simple. Maybe don’t attempt this before you’ve had your first cup of tea or coffee, but if you give yourself some time, you can definitely accomplish this. Also, don’t panic if some of your cream cheese erupts out while they’re in the oven. Everything’s gonna be fine.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day

Look kids, just be whoever you are, and do whatever you want to do. And eat pumpkin cream cheese muffins whenever you can.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
Serves 12
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins are a totally awesome triple threat.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
3 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
3 hr
For the filling
  1. 4 ounces cream cheese
  2. 1/2 cup powdered sugar
For the muffins
  1. 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  3. 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  4. 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  5. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  6. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 1 cup sugar
  9. 1 cup pumpkin puree
  10. 150 ml vegetable oil
For the topping
  1. 1/4 cup sugar
  2. 2-1/2 tablespoons flour
  3. 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 2 tablespoons cold butter, in chunks
For the filling
  1. Mix together the cream cheese and powdered sugar in whatever way you want until smooth. I used an electric hand mixer to bring it together quickly.
  2. Pour your cream cheese mixture onto some plastic wrap and carefully mold it into a cylinder about an inch and a half in diameter. Carefully wrap up your cream cheese log in the plastic plus a layer of foil. Stash this in the freezer for about two hours.
For the muffins
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (175C) and line your muffin cups with your favorite paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and baking soda. Give it a whisk to combine.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until fully combined. Turn your mixer down to low, and slowly add in the dry ingredients until just combined.
For the topping
  1. Combine all the topping ingredients in a bowl by squishing it all together with a pastry cutter, fork, or clean fingers. You want a rough, oatmeal like texture. Stash it in the fridge until you're ready for it.
  2. To assemble your muffins, start by adding about a tablespoon of muffin batter to the bottom of each muffin cup. Spread it a bit to make sure that the bottom of each cup is completely covered.
  3. Next, take your cream cheese log out of the freezer and cut it into 12 even discs. Place on cold cream cheese disc into each muffin cup.
  4. Evenly divide the remaining batter between the 12 cups. Try to completely cover the cream cheese if you can.
  5. Finally, evenly distribute your topping over each muffin. It might seem like too much topping. Trust me, it's not.
  6. Pop your muffins into the oven for about 25 minutes. Give them a little more time than you normally would because you've put something frozen in the center. It's tricky to test them because of the filling. Use your baking instincts. 25 minutes was perfect for me.
  7. Allow the muffins to cool a little bit longer than you might normally so that you don't burn your face off on molten cream cheese. Because of the pumpkin, these stay moist for days.
Adapted from Annie's Eats
Adapted from Annie's Eats
http://awesomeon20.com/
Explore: Bruges

Explore: Bruges

Explore: Bruges

By far my favorite place on our travels this summer was Bruges. I’ve been wanting to go there ever since I watched the dark comedy In Bruges. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you do. Don’t get offended. Just laugh. And then check out the setting because it’s gorgeous.

Explore: Bruges

Bruges is every bit as magical as the film makes it seem. It’s so adorably historic it almost felt unreal. Even the walk into the center of town from our cheap hotel near the train station was full of fascinating little details and intriguing alleyways. I wanted to stay forever.

Explore: Bruges

Because it’s so iconic in the film, we had to climb to the top of the bell tower. It’s quite steep and windy, and while going up was a definite cardio challenge, it was going back down that was actually pretty scary. If you’re nervous at all about heights, you’ll definitely need to practice your deep breathing here. I recommend going there first thing in the morning before it gets busy. The spiral stairs aren’t really wide enough for two-way traffic, so you don’t won’t to fight the crowds trying to get back down without falling. There are some cool displays of the bells on the way up, and the views from the top are really cool.

Explore: Bruges

We also went on a canal boat ride which was a great way to see some sites a bit further out from the center of town without having to walk miles and miles. (We still walked miles and miles, but we’re just weird.) 

Explore: Bruges

There are some extravagant old churches to explore, each with varying levels of what you can see without paying. There are also quite a few museums, but they’re all paid admission. We like to keep it cheap, so we chose the bell tower and canal boat as our paid attractions for the day. I definitely want to go back and check out some different stuff, though.

Basically, the whole place is like a living museum. The architecture was completely different from anything I had ever experienced. As always, I loved just wandering around and looking up and all the buildings and houses and signs and skyline that make Bruges so unique.

Explore: Bruges

We did go wandering and found a giant windmill which was pretty awesome. 

Explore: Bruges

The major drawback to Bruges is that the restaurants and cafes are all a bit pricey. Seeing as how their economy mainly relies on tourism, it’s not that easy to find a cheap place to eat, unless you want to go all the way to Belgium just to end up at McDonald’s. I’m not at all above eating frites or waffles and ice cream from street vendors. It’s the way to go in my opinion.

Explore: Bruges

Bruges has my heart. I would go back there in a minute. I could just walk up and down every street for hours on end just getting lost in my own imagination. Get there and fall in love.

Pizza Rustica | How to be Aweome on $20 a Day
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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins | How to be Awesome on $20 a Day
Pizza Rustica | How to be Aweome on $20 a Day

Pizza Rustica

Pizza Rustica | How to be Aweome on $20 a Day

At my job, I have earned an insanely undeserved reputation for being highly efficient and always up to date on procedures. People always seem to think I know what’s going and and what’s to be done about it. I don’t know where this delusion formed, but I can tell you, not only is it a lot of pressure, it’s mostly not true.

While I do strive to be well organised at work, in my real life, I am a master procrastinator. For example, it’s taken me a week to actually write this post. I can ignore dishes like a champ, and I’ll walk around with chipped nails for weeks. By far my greatest accomplishment in procrastination is my ability to avoid working out. Any excuse to not sweat, and I’m right on top of it. Yesterday I went to the dentist and couldn’t feel half my face for about four hours. My legs worked perfectly fine, but that didn’t stop me from sitting on the couch all night.

Pizza Rustica | How to be Aweome on $20 a Day

This Pizza Rustica takes a bit of time and effort up front to make. Nothing tricky, just a lot of steps. Make it on a lazy weekend, then when the week nights roll around and you don’t feel like making dinner, you can procrastinate by eating your leftover Pizza Rustica. It will be just as awesome the next day, and there won’t be any pots and pans to clean up.

Pizza Rustica is really more of a meat pie. Layers of cheese and Italian sausage and deli meats are tucked inside a flaky crust. You can definitely adjust based on what’s available at your grocery store. As long as you keep the measurements roughly the same, the flavors can be switched up as you like. It’s gonna be delicious any way you make it. And don’t worry if, like me, you’re terrible at rolling out dough. It’s got the word rustic in the name. 

Pizza Rustica | How to be Aweome on $20 a Day

Procrastinators get a bad rap. When dinner tastes this great, who cares if you made it yesterday.

Pizza Rustica
Serves 6
Pizza Rustica is an Italian inspired meat pie loaded with flavor and just as great on day two.
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
55 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
55 min
For the pastry
  1. 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  3. 2 egg yolks
  4. 2 tablespoons water
  5. 1 teaspon salt
  6. 1 tablespoon sugar
For the filling
  1. 4 ounces Italian sausage, casing removed
  2. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  3. 8 ounces ricotta
  4. 2 ounces provolone, shredded or cut into small cubes
  5. 4 ounces fresh mozarella, cut into cubes
  6. 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  7. 1/2 clove garlic, chopped
  8. 2 tablespons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  9. 2 pinches crushed red chili flakes
  10. 4 ounces proscuitto, roughly chopped
  11. 4 ounces mortadella, roughly chopped
  12. 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  13. Black pepper
  14. About 1 tablespoon dried bread crumbs
For the glaze
  1. 1 egg yolk
  2. 2 tablespoons milk
  3. Pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Put the flour and butter together in a dish and stash it in the freezer for 10 minutes. Stir together the egg yolks, water, and salt, and put that in the fridge as well.
  2. Once everything is well chilled, place your butter and flour as well as the sugar into a food processor and pulse until you've got a mixture that looks like wet sand. Add the wet ingredients and process until the dough starts to come together but is still a bit loose. I sometimes have to add a bit of extra water, but just add a teaspoon at a time.
  3. Tip the mixture out onto a clean counter and press it together with your hands. Divide the dough 60/40 into two discs (you'll need more dough for the bottom than the top), wrap in plastic wrap, and store in the fridge while you get on with your filling.
  4. Preheat your oven to 400F (200C), and if you have a baking sheet that your 8-inch springform pan can rest comfortably on, pop that in the oven to heat up as well. If you don't have one, it's not the end of the world, your bottom crust will just be a little more wet.
  5. Heat your olive oil in a skillet and crumble your deskinned sausage into the pan. Cook up your sausage until it nice and brown, then transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
  6. To your sausage, add your remaining filling ingredients except for the bread crumbs. Gently mix it all together.
  7. Roll out your larger disc of dough between two layers of plastic wrap until it's big enough to cover the bottom of your 8-inch springform pan and come up the sides. It's okay if it hangs over a bit. Sprinkle the bottom of your pie with the breadcrumbs. Don't worry about measuring. Just sprinkle until you have a fine layer across the bottom. Pour in your filling and spread it evenly over the crust.
  8. Roll out your second disc between layers of plastic wrap until it is big enough to cover the top of your pie. Place it on top of your pie, then fold over any overhanging dough to seal in your filling. Press the edges down with a fork, and poke several holes in the top of your pie with your fork for ventilation.
  9. In a small dish, whisk together your glaze ingredients and use a pastry brush to brush it evenly over the top of your pie. This will give it a lovely brown shiny top.
  10. Place your pie into the oven, on the hot baking sheet if you have it. Bake for 10 minutes at this temperature, and then lower the heat to 350F (175C) and bake for another 45 minutes.
  11. Allow your pie t cool for at least 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife before removing the collar and slicing into it.
  12. Store any leftovers tightly covered in the refrigerator. It will be totally awesome the next day.
Adapted from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson
http://awesomeon20.com/
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