‘Tis the Season for Eating

By Leslie Budewitz

Since Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries debuted in August, I’ve been hearing from readers. And one common refrain? “This book made me hungry!” Like me, my characters tend to obsess about food. The series is set in the lakeside village of Jewel Bay, Montana-where good food and murder cook side by side. Erin Murphy manages Glacier Mercantile, known as The Merc, selling Montana-made foods and products. If it’s made in Montana, it must be good!

And like me, Erin loves easy, flavorful food. These muffins are perfect for Thanksgiving morning, when you’re too busy with the turkey and its friends to cook breakfast, or for those post-holiday mornings with a houseful of guests. Make ahead if you’d like-they freeze beautifully!

CRANBERRY PUMPKIN NUT MUFFINS aka CHRISTMAS MUFFINS

2 cups. all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1-1/4 cup canned pumpkin
½ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 cups cranberries (fresh, coarsely chopped, or dried, aka craisins)

NOTE: I love using craisins. If you use fresh cranberries, you may need to increase the amount of sugar just a bit.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, spices, and sugar. In a small bowl, mix oil, eggs, and pumpkin. Add to flour mixture and combine into a thick batter. Mix by hand; the batter is so thick that it tends to clog an electric mixer. Fold in walnuts and cranberries.

Spray muffin tins with oil. Spoon batter into tins, about 3/4 full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a knife or tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Muffins will be soft. Cool slightly before removing.

Makes about 24. These muffins freeze well—so you can nosh on one while reading your favorite fiction!

Death al Dente Leslie Budewitz is the author of Death al Dente, a national bestseller. The second installment in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries, Crime Rib, will be published in July 2014 — just in time for grilling season!

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