Sunday, October 31, 2010

Welcome Livia Washburn!

The Season of the Pumpkin

I’ve always enjoyed Hallowe’en, but probably for different reasons than many people. You see, I grew up in the country without many neighbors, so my brothers and I never really trick-or-treated, and trick-or-treaters hardly ever came to our house. But we carved jack-o-lanterns, and since my parents didn’t like to waste anything, they didn’t like to throw away all that fresh pumpkin. We ate pumpkin pie and roasted pumpkin seeds. That was just the start of a whole season of good food that stretched all the way through Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Of course, you can do more with pumpkins than just make jack-o-lanterns – and pies. In my new novel THE PUMPKIN MUFFIN MURDER, the fifth book in my Fresh Baked Mystery series, retired teacher and reluctant amateur sleuth Phyllis Newsom makes some delicious pumpkin cheesecake muffins to enter in the Harvest Festival cooking contest. As always in these books, the question is not just whether Phyllis will win the contest . . . but when and how will murder rear its ugly head? The recipe as it appears in the book calls for canned pumpkin, but fresh pumpkin will work just as well. THE PUMPKIN MUFFIN MURDER will be released in just a couple days from Obsidian Books. Happy Hallowe’en, everyone!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffins

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese softened
1 egg
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons chopped pecans
3 tablespoons butter

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups canned pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups, or use paper liners. Fill any unfilled muffin cups in tin with water.

Filling: In a medium bowl, beat softened cream cheese until smooth. Add egg, brown sugar and vanilla. Beat until mixed, then set bowl in freezer to set while mixing other ingredients.

Topping: In a medium bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and pecans. Add butter and cut it in with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.

Muffin batter: In a large bowl, blend together flour, sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add eggs, pumpkin, olive oil and vanilla. Beat together until well mixed.

Place pumpkin mixture in muffin cups about 1/2 full. Take the cream cheese mixture out of the freezer then add one tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture right in the middle of the batter in the muffin cups. Having the chilled cream cheese mixture will help you keep the cream cheese from touching the edges. Sprinkle on the streusel topping.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Makes 18 muffins

Note: If you have dogs, add a heaping tablespoon of the leftover canned pumpkin to their meal. All of my dogs like pumpkin and it’s a healthy treat.


  1. Livia, your recipe sounds yummy. Those muffins would be delicious for breakfast this morning. I have your book in my TBR stack and can't wait to get to it. Best of luck.

    Thoughts in Progress

  2. Thanks so much for joining us today, Livia. I love your covers! They're always so cozy and enticing.

    I'm fascinated by the cream cheese that goes into the middle of the muffins. This is a recipe that I have to try!

    ~ Krista

  3. Happy Halloween, Livia! I love your story of growing up in the country with pumpkins all around - it's my favorite fall food, too, and brings back so many good memories. Your recipe is delectable--a must make for me, and your book is a must-buy, too. It's so wonderful to see you in our virtual Kitchen. I hope you'll come back again!

    ~ Cleo
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. Livia, last year I made pumpkin cheesecake. I never thought about making muffins! Great recipe. Your book like a "sweet" mystery. Love it.


  5. Great recipe, Livia. And I love your cover! Thanks for joining us here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen today!

  6. Yesterday I received The Pumpkin Muffin Murders with my latest book order. I'm a huge fan of this series. So happy to see you as a guest on this great blog and thanks for the yummy recipe.

  7. Hi, Livia!

    Welcome to the kitchen! I love this recipe and I, too, am a huge fan of this series. Phyllis is just wonderful. I can't wait to tuck into her next adventure.

  8. I think I just found the recipe for what I'll be baking for the office bake sale this week. Thank you for posting this!

  9. Welcome Livia, I love the cover of your book and will be adding this to my TBR stack. The recipe is wonderful too will be looking forward to trying it soon. Fall is my favorite time of the year.
    The World of Book Reviews

  10. Livia, I love your covers too. Makes you want to cozy up and read what's inside!

    This will be great for brunch during the holidays. Thanks so much for the new idea!

  11. Thanks for sharing the yummy recipe. I love all things pumpkin. Happy Halloween and Happy Fall.

  12. What a warm welcome. Thanks everyone for all of the kind comments. I was very lucky and very happy with all of the covers in this series. Hope everyone is having a very happy Halloween.

  13. These muffins look so good, and I love the idea of some form of cheesecake for breakfast. I pre-ordered your book so should be getting it on Tuesday. Can't wait!

  14. I love this series. Just finishing up Killer Crab Cakes and can't wait to order the new one tomorrow.

  15. Fabulous! I think pumpkin and cheesecake together in baked goods is my all time favorite combination! Now, let me see if I can tweak this recipe for a diabetic! Nurse Judy Mac