Trying to cook in a dorm is kitchen is quixotic at the best of times and absolutely absurd the rest of the time; but, somehow, it is worth trying anyway. If you have read the Series of Unfortunate Events, just think of the Baudelaires straining their pasta puttenesca with a window screen, and you will have a good idea of the creativity one must embrace for successful dorm cooking.
In spite of the fuss of having to tote pots and pans up and down a few flights of stairs every time I want to make scrambled eggs, I do so nonetheless. Why? I just love to cook! It runs in my family. Even before I could see above the counter-top, my mom and my grandma were teaching me how to whisk, chop, season, and enjoy all sorts of dishes; and, oddly, I formed scores of memories around food. Just recently, I have unearthed a lot of those memories as my Grandma Obermeirer passed away last week. She was truly one of the most joyful, generous, and holy people I have ever known, and she taught me much of what I known about cooking, sewing, and life. I will miss her, but I know that she would never want to see anyone teary now that she is with God.
The best way I can preserve her memory is to carry on her legacy in goodness, positivity, and, of course, cooking! I happily rise to the challenge. She certainly would have loved to read about my dorm cooking adventures, so I plan to share them in honor of her resourceful and optimistic spirit (both qualities which are essential in any kitchen enterprise).
Since it is, after all, autumn, I don’t want to miss out on prime pumpkin season. Over fall break, my mom bought me a pumpkin. After it sat decoratively on my desk for a while, I decided to put it to better use: pumpkin chai muffins! Of course, there is a significant difference between a pumpkin sitting on a desk and a pumpkin in a muffin. In order to infuse my pumpkin into some delectable muffins, I had to make some pumpkin puree. That was an adventure in itself, since I did not have a food processor at my disposal. Here you can find a full post on making your own pumpkin puree/mashed pumpkin. But now, on to the muffins…
Pumpkin, Chai, & Cream Cheese Muffins
(Adapted from Cookie and Kate)
Yields 1 dozen muffins
- 1/3 cup olive oil or melted coconut oil
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 c granulated sugar (more if you prefer sweeter muffins)
- 1 c pumpkin puree or mash (store-bought or homemade, click here for recipe)
- 1/2 cup milk of choice
- 1 chai tea bag
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon + more for toppings
- 1/4 tsp each of ground cloves and nutmeg
- 1 & 3/4 c whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 6 tsp cream cheese (about half of block), cut into 1/2 tsp pieces
- Preheat oven to 325° F (165° C). Grease muffin tins.
- On the stove-top or in the microwave, heat milk to boiling. place tea bag in hot milk and steep 5-7 minutes.
- In a large bowl, whisk together oil and honey until well combined. Whisk in eggs. Then, stir in sugar, chai-infused milk, and pumpkin, followed by baking soda, vanilla, and spices.
- Add flour and oats. Mix with spatula until combined. If batter seems too dry, add an extra splash of milk.
- Divide batter into muffin tins, filling each cup to about a centimeter below the rim. Place 1/2 tsp of cream cheese in each muffin cup. If you want the cream cheese to be a filling, push it down into the batter. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon
- Bake 23-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Let them cool before removing from tin. You will probably need to run a butter knife around the edges of each cup to release the muffins. Enjoy!