Showing posts with label healthy snack. Show all posts
Showing posts with label healthy snack. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Pumpkin Muffin Tops from Cleo Coyle

I am not ashamed to say it. I am a lover of muffin tops. The kind you eat and the other kind, because mangia means love in Italian and love handles make it easier to hold on to the ones you love.

Of course, as a writer, I spend most of the day sitting on my assets. So, while I love indulging for the holidays (butter and I have a longstanding relationship), when it comes to daily eating, I'm always looking for recipes that taste good but aren't crazy-high in calories. This recipe does that for me. 

At the start of the week, I'll make a double batch of these babies and store them in the fridge. Each day I'll pop two in the microwave, spread a little butter on top, pour a fresh cup of coffee (of course!), and I'm good to start writing.

Cleo's Pumpkin 

Muffin Tops

Here is a lighter, healthier alternative to fried doughnuts or syrup-laden pancakes yet just as filling and satisfying with a hot cuppa joe, and it has the added nutrition and fiber of pumpkin...

Servings: about 12 muffin tops


2 large eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 and 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour 

NOTE: For higher, prettier muffin tops, you can increase the flour by 1/4 cup, but in my opinion they don't taste as good.


(1) One bowl mixing method: Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit. Place eggs in bowl and whisk. Add oil, milk, canned pumpkin, sugar, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, salt. Whisk until blended. Finally, sift in baking powder and flour. 

NOTE: Sifting the flour lightens it for better rising and texture. Sift after measuring for correct amount. Stir well to blend in the flour. Batter should be smooth but don't over mix. Now chill that batter for 15 to 30 minutes in the refrigerator. This batter really needs to rest and hydrate for best results.

(2) Prep pan and drop: For best results, line baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop batter onto baking sheet, about 2 tablespoons per muffin top (simply drop one tablespoon of batter right on top of the other). These will double in size so leave room between. On the 2nd batch, allow pan to cool before dropping batter or tops will spread too flat.

(3) Bake: Oven should be well pre-heated to 425° F. Bake muffin tops about 10 to 12 minutes (depending on oven). Rounds will rise slightly in center, resembling muffin tops. Serve warm with butter or dust with powdered sugar. Do not allow muffin tops to cool on hot pan. Bottoms may steam and become tough. Be sure to store in refrigerator (either wrapped in plastic or placed in an airtight container).


Pumpkin pie spice can be found wherever other spices are sold. Spice mixes like this (and apple pie spice) are good to keep in mind when looking for economical shortcuts to your holiday baking. If you would rather not use pre-made pumpkin pie spice, here are the ingredients to mix your own...

For 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice mix...

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon ginger 
1/8 teaspoon allspice or cloves 
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Eat (and read) with joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

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The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
15 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


(with mini plot summaries)

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Writer's Snack: No-Guilt Mini Pizzas from Cleo Coyle


Writing novels for a living appears to be a perfectly safe occupation. As my fellow authors know, however, the writing life comes with one major hazard. No, we don't dodge flying bullets or psychopathic killers (though our characters may). What we combat every day is a more sinister villain: Excess Calorie Man. He lurks behind every extra handful of peanuts, chunk of cheese, or silver of pie.

As you can imagine, it’s even worse for a culinary mystery writer. Testing recipes, especially delicious ones like the chocolates in Murder by Mocha or firehouse recipes in Roast Mortem, gives Excess Calorie Man free reign. Well, today I’m going to show you one way this writer reigns him in...

May you eat with joy
and in good health!

~ Cleo

Cleo Coyle has a partner in
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here and here.
Cleo Coyle's
Mini Pizzas

Journalist Mark Bittman became famous with his 101 foodie idea articles. I swear my Italian-born mother and aunt could have written one on 101 things to do with squash. 

As a kid, I took all my pop's homegrown veggies for granted. As an adult, I miss them dearly. This recipe makes good use of zucchini, especially baby ones at the start of summer. It makes a fun, quick snack or lunch. It's kid-friendly, too; my mom and aunt used to make it for me as a little girl. 

Of course, my family used homemade red sauce. And if you'd like to make your own meatless Italian spaghetti sauce from fresh tomatoes, click here for that recipe (or click the link below to download a free PDF of that recipe).
Click here to download a free PDF of
Cleo's homemade, meatless Italian
spaghetti sauce recipe from
fresh tomatoes.

Today, I took a shortcut in my recipe and used jarred pizza sauce. The brand I picked up was quite tasty, and I can recommend it as a time saver.


- Small to medium zucchini 

- Pizza sauce (jarred or homemade)

- Mozzarella, shredded (whole milk or part-skim)

- Toppings (see note*)

*Note: Use your favorite pizza toppings from veggies to meat, just be sure any meat is already cooked. Topping suggestions: sauteed, chopped mushrooms; sliced olives; chopped peppers; regular, turkey, or
meatless pepperoni or cooked and
crumbled sausage, etc.

Directions: (1) Cut the zucchini into slices of 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. You want the slices thin enough to cook fast under the broiler but thick enough to hold their shapes for handling after toppings are added. Place the slices on a sheet pan. 

Tip: for easy cleanup, line the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. 

(2) Spoon pizza sauce onto each slice. To save time, use jarred. (If you need a recommendation, I like the Ragu Homemade Style Pizza Sauce, "100% Natural.") Sprinkle on your shredded mozzarella and toppings. As noted, because these pizzas are finished in a flash, make sure your meat toppings are already cooked. If using mushrooms or peppers, I would chop them finely and saute them in a bit of olive oil before adding. 

(3) Place the pan of mini pizzas under your broiler for 1 to 3 minutes--time will depend on the intensity of your oven's broiler. No matter what, keep a close eye on these because they cook very quickly and the cheese can burn fast. Remove with (guiltless) joy!

F o o d i e 
P h o t o s

To download a free PDF of this
recipe that you can print, save
or share,
click here.

Eat and Drink

with Joy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Yes, this is me, Cleo (aka Alice). 
Friend me on facebook here.
Follow me on twitter here
Visit my online coffeehouse here.

To view the
Coffeehouse Mystery
book trailer, click here.

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
13 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 


(with mini plot summaries)
clicking here.

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Simply write an e-mail that says
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Now a National
Bestseller in Hardcover

A Coffeehouse Mystery 

*Starred Review* -Kirkus

"Top Pick"  -RT Book Reviews

"...a highly satisfying mystery."
-Publishers Weekly

See the book's
Recipe Guide
by clicking here.


Haunted Bookshop

Free Title Checklist,
with mini plot summaries,