I must say a big thank you to the Barrow County Water Department. They noticed I had a big increase in water usage and went out to my house and found I had a water leak, but of course it was on my side of the meter.

I figured it was going to be Monday before anyone would come check it out, but my friend Don Jennings recommenced DRS Plumbing Service. I decided to call them on Friday evening. What a surprise to get an answer and was able to set it up for Saturday morning. He came and replaced a piece of pipe that had a hole in it, and there were no more leaks.

Then the air went out in my house. Thank goodness I have a home warranty and called them. Again, I thought it would be Monday. Called on Saturday afternoon and they came Sunday at 9 a.m. Sure am glad there wasn’t a Georgia game last weekend. 

If you go shopping in just about any store during this time of year, you are likely to find a section of pumpkin spice items. I have found you either love pumpkin spice or you hate it. I happen to love it, but my son hates it. I don’t eat sweets most of the time but I will have to say I recently had a pumpkin spice donut. It was worth all those extra calories.

If you are into pumpkin spice, the store I’ve found to have the best selection of items is Trader Joe’s. I make all sorts of pumpkin spice stuff to share with my pumpkin spice friends. Today’s column will feature some of my favorites to make.

Nothing like a pumpkin spice muffin with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee. These are very tasty and easy to make.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Ingredients 

Streusel Topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour 

1/4 cup granulated sugar 

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Pinch kosher salt

4 Tbsps. butter, melted

Muffins 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

3/4 cup granulated sugar 

1 tsp. baking powder 

1/2 tsp. baking soda 

1/2 tsp. kosher salt 

1 tsp. cinnamon 

2 tsps. pumpkin pie spice 

1 cup canned pumpkin 

2 large eggs 

6 Tbsps. butter, melted and cooled 

1/4 cup sour cream

1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract 

Directions 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with liners.  

Make crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Stir in melted butter until crumbs form.

Muffins: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Add pumpkin, eggs, butter, sour cream and vanilla, and mix until well combined. Divide batter into muffin liners. Top each with crumb topping. Bake until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let muffins cool in pan then serve. 

Another great recipe to serve with coffee is Pumpkin Crumb Cake. If you are serving a crowd, they are easier to make than a lot of muffins.

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

Ingredients 

Topping:

1/3 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter

3/4 tsps. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. salt

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder 

1 tsp. baking soda 

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup canned pumpkin 

3/4 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1/4 cup sour cream.

Directions 

For topping: In a small saucepan, cook brown sugar, butter and salt over medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat, whisk in flour until smooth. Let cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

For cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, pie spice and salt. In another large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar, oil, eggs and sour cream. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, whisking just until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Break topping into chunks and sprinkle over batter. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Adding cranberries to pumpkin and spices gives you a rather tasty bread to share with others.

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients 

1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

4 large eggs

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour 

3 cups sugar 

2 tsps. baking soda 

1 tsp. ground cinnamon 

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground cloves 

1 cup dried cranberries 

Directions 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 (10-inch) loaf pans with baking spray with flour.

In a large bowl, beat pumpkin, oil, 2/3 cup water and eggs with mixer at medium speed until combined. In another large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, beating until smooth. Stir in cranberries. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on wire racks. 

Another great recipe using pumpkin and cream cheese combo results in great-tasting bars.

Gooey Pumpkin Cake Bars

Ingredients 

1 (15.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix

4 large eggs, divided

1 cup unsalted butter, melted and divided

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

1 tsp. ground cinnamon 

1/4 tsp. ground ginger 

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg 

1/8 tsp. ground allspice 

1/8 tsp. ground cloves 

Garnish: confectioner's sugar 

Directions 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper letting excess extend over sides of pan. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat cake mix, 1 egg and 1/2 cup melted butter with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Spread batter into prepared pan. In another large bowl beat cream cheese with a mixer at medium-low speed until smooth. Add pumpkin and beat until combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add vanilla, remaining 3 eggs and remaining confectioner's sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves, beating until well combined. Spread into crust. Bake until center is slightly set, 40 to 50 minutes. Let cool completely in pan. Using excess parchment paper as handles, remove from pan and cut into bars.

Sift confectioner's sugar over bars, if desired.

A great Sunday dinner dessert is a combination of pumpkin and cream cheese to make a delicious pie.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Pie

Ingredients 

Crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Filling:

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

3/4 cup firmly-packed light brown sugar 

3/4 cup evaporated milk

2 large eggs

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. vanilla extract 

1/2 tsp. salt

Swirl:

2 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 Tbsps. whole milk

Directions 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

For crust: in a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients. Press the bottom and sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Leave oven on, turn down to 350 degrees. 

For filling: In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth, pour filling into prepared crust. 

For swirl: In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and milk with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Drop mixture by heaping a Tbsp. onto filling and gently swirl together. Cover edges of crust with foil. Bake until knife inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool completely on wire rack. 

Joyce Jacks is a native of Barrow County and a graduate of Winder-Barrow High School, Athens Technical College and the University of Georgia. She can be reached at georgiagirl2424@yahoo.com.

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