Lunch With Loni

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Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins September 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 10:20 pm

Even though it’s 80 degrees in South Carolina and doesn’t necessarily feel like Fall (at least to this former New Englander), I’m seeing pumpkin recipes (and coffee, and candles, and décor) everywhere.  So of course I need to try one of them out!  These pumpkin cream cheese muffins are perfect for someone like me who prefers their baked goods on the not-too-sweet side.  I didn’t use a pastry bag, opting instead to use a teaspoon and put dollops on the parchment paper.  It worked out fine.  If you aren’t a cream cheese fan, I can tell you that throwing some chocolate chips in yields a tasty muffin as well.  I had a little batter left over as my silicone muffin liners make slightly smaller muffins than a standard pan, so I improvised (when does improvising by adding chocolate chips not turn out well?).

  Original Recipe Located At:

 Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins


For the filling: 

  • 8 oz. cream cheese (reduced fat is fine), at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. honey

For the muffins: 

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

For the topping:

  • 4 tbsp. white whole wheat flour
  • 7 tbsp. old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tbsp. turbinado (coarse) sugar
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. cold butter, cut into pieces


To make the filling, combine the cream cheese and honey in a bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.  Transfer to a pastry bag.  Pipe into 24 equal dollops onto a parchment-covered baking sheet.  I just used a teaspoon.  They didn’t look as pretty but once baked, I’m not sure how much of a difference it makes.   Freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, oil and applesauce. Mix on medium-low speed until blended. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  I usually use a spatula to mix the dry ingredients into the wet a little before using the mixer, otherwise I wind up with a cloud of dry ingredients in the air and nice dust of flour, etc. on the counter!

To make the topping, combine the flour, oats, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Transfer to the refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble the muffins, fill each muffin well with a small amount of batter, just enough to cover the bottom of the liner (1-2 tablespoons).  Place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely. Sprinkle a small amount of the topping mixture over each of the muffin wells.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving. (It may be hard to resist immediate consumption, but the cream cheese filling gets very hot!)  I barely waited long enough!


Greek Feta (Turkey) Burgers September 16, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 2:50 am

Grill season in South Carolina is pretty much year-round.  I’m trying to change things up when it comes to what goes on the grill.  We love to do fish packets, grilled veggies, and of course burgers.  Since I had some feta in the fridge, I decided to seek out something Greek inspired.  This recipe had a lot of flavor and worked fine with ground turkey instead of the beef.  Just don’t be like me and go from “diced” to pureed when it comes to the veggies (I got a little overzealous with the food processor) or the consistency won’t make it easy to shape the burgers!

  Original Recipe Located At:

 Greek Feta Burger


  • 6 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 4 ounces hothouse cucumbers (unpeeled), coarsely  grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 clove garlic, crushed to a paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (93 percent or 95 percent  lean)
  • 4 ounces zucchini, finely diced (about 1  cup)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta
  • 1/3 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black  pepper
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers,  drained  Do not skip these!  They add the right pop of flavor!
  • 4 sourdough rolls, split
  • Shredded romaine (optional)
  • Sliced cucumber (optional)


In a bowl, combine yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and juice; set aside. In another  bowl, mix beef, zucchini, feta, onion, marjoram, salt and pepper. Form beef  mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Coat a grill pan or grill rack with cooking spray. Grill patties over medium-high heat, flipping once, about 5  minutes each side, until internal temperature reaches 160°F. Divide roasted  peppers evenly among bottom roll halves; top with 1 burger, 1/4 yogurt sauce and  lettuce and cucumber, if desired. Top each with other half of roll.


Whole Grain Pancake Mix September 7, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — lonislens @ 8:53 pm

I love pancakes.  I especially love pancakes for dinner.  I feel like I can really relax and unwind over a plate of pancakes.  I’ve tried a bunch of recipes that have made me never need or want to buy pancake mix again.  When I came across this recipe on Annie’s Eats blog I thought it would be a great one to try out because I’ve been working fairly long hours lately and this makes for a quick and easy dinner.  I love that they’re whole grain and therefore have a little more nutritional value than my favorite plain pancake recipe (  It’s too easy to throw in some sliced banana, blueberries, or chocolate chips and change these up each time you try them.  I did omit the oil when making the recipe.  I wanted to be able to store it longer.  This is a little tricky because I have to add oil when I scoop the mix, and it’s not an easy measurement to divide (I am bad at math), but it’s worked out for me with no problems.

  Original Recipe Located At:

Whole Wheat Pancakes


For the pancake mix: 

  • 3½ cups (12¼ oz.) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 4 cups (1 lb.) white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup (4¼ oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tbsp. (1¼ oz.) sugar
  • 3 tbsp. (1½ oz.) baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • ¾ cup (5¼ oz.) vegetable or canola oil (I left this out of the dry mix and add it in with the wet ingredients when I make the pancakes.)

To make the pancakes: 

  • 1 cup whole grain pancake mix (above)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk (or ½ cup low-fat Greek yogurt plus ¼ cup low-fat milk)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. lemon zest


To make the pancake mix, add the oats to the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground (but not a powder).  Transfer the ground oats to the bowl of an electric mixer and add in the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.  Mix on low speed to combine.  Drizzle the vegetable oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running and continue to mix until evenly combined and the mixture clumps slightly when squeezed together. (Again, I didn’t add the oil at this point, so my mix didn’t have the clumps but I’ve used the mix several times adding the oil in with the wet ingredients and it has worked well!)  (This can also be done in a regular mixing bowl by hand.  Just be sure to mix the ingredients very thoroughly.)

Transfer the pancake mix to an airtight container.  This can be stored up to 1 week at room temperature or indefinitely in the freezer.

To make the pancakes, mix together 1 cup of the pancake mix with the buttermilk, egg, vanilla and lemon zest.  Whisk until the batter is mostly smooth.  Let the batter stand at least 15-20 minutes before using, to allow the whole grains to soak up the liquid.

Heat a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat and grease lightly with butter.  Ladle about 1/3 cup of batter onto the cooking surface for each pancake.  Allow to cook until bubbles begin to form on the top surface.  Use a large spatula to flip and cook the other side until light golden and cooked through.  Repeat with the remaining batter and serve warm.