so long, xc…hello surprise!

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First, a cross-country season farewell: Last Thursday was my final XC meet of the season. This season I focused on running for me. The only way I can think to describe this is by translating it to yoga: in yoga, the class is for focusing on you. You let go of all worry and simply focus on your body & your thoughts. It’s a personal time; a time to challenge your body and mind. After class, you have that “feel good” feeling because it was a challenging workout, both physically and mentally. This is how I felt about my season, and how I continue to approach running.

My main goal for the season was to have that “feel good” feeling after every workout and every meet. (Of course, not everyday yields this feeling, but you have to move on, knowing that every single workout or race won’t yield the “feel good” vibe.) As the season continued, I began to improve both mentally and physically; I became more confident and a stronger, faster runner. I began to embrace the challenges that cross-country presented, and actually enjoy it! I am excited for my senior season :-)

Now, second: As I came in through the front door after last week’s final meet, I was surprised to find a big, newspaper-covered thing sitting on the kitchen counter. There was a note from my dad taped on the front: a surprise! I lifted the newspaper to find…a Kitchen Aid Mixer! I was so blown away; I couldn’t stop smiling. Thank you times infinity, Dad! What an exciting way to finish the cross-country season!

I started to open the box, take the attachments out, and put my new mixer together. I have to say, it’s pretty good lookin’ :-)

The next day, I had to make something with the new mixer! I decided on Pumpkin Muffins because a) there was conveniently a can of pumpkin in the cupboard; b) I wanted to make a treat that was semi-healthy (because I’d been indulging on a lotta chocolate, i.e.: brownies); and c) I just love pumpkin! For these muffins, I took bits and pieces from other trusted recipes to come up with something of my own. This recipe is super easy, too!

Pumpkin Muffins

  • 1  15-oz can pumpkin
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (This is the only oil we had; I like the rich flavor, but you can use any variation of a lighter oil.)
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup sugar, depending on desired sweetness (You could try swapping some of the sugar for honey.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (1 teaspoon kosher salt)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon all-spice
  • Pinch or two of nutmeg

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, and grease (or line with paper liners) muffin tins.

2. Combine the pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy.

3. Add the dry ingredients, stirring until mixed, but not over mixing.

4. Fill muffin tins with batter, about 3/4 of the way to the top (I got 16 smaller-sized muffins).

5. Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, then transfer to a cooling rack (if not using liners, I would let the muffins stand in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack).

The mixer was fun & exciting to use; it also worked like a charm! The muffins turned out moist, dense, and deliciously pumpkin-y.

Have a great week!

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