Kids in the Kitchen — Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

Eden is getting to be proficient in the kitchen.  She can read a recipe, follow the directions and come out with something edible almost every time.  She has been making this recipe for a while.  We enjoy them for breakfast, but today she is making them for a mid-morning snack break tomorrow, while we have friends visiting.

These muffins have two wonderful fall flavors:  cranberry and pumpkin.  The pumpkin adds sweetness, and the cranberries give a tart “pop” to the muffins.  They are much better chopped rather than whole.

Cranberry Pumpkin Muffins

Slightly adapted from The Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Hermann Loomis

Makes 12 large muffins


2 cups all-purpose flour (we use half whole-wheat pastry flour)

2 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground allspice

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¾ cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin puree (we use fresh baked pumpkin)

½ cup milk

2 cups cranberries, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a muffin tin with pan spray and muffin cups.  Sift together the dry ingredients, including sugar.

Whisk together oil, eggs, pumpkin and milk.   Add wet to dry and mix quickly and well.  Fold in the cranberries.  Fill the muffin tins two-thirds full with batter.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding and serving.

These can also be made with frozen cranberries and (thawed) frozen pumpkin puree.  We have had good success substituting blueberries as well.  They give a great taste of the combinations of fall flavors that we love.

As a side note — the next step for kids in the kitchen after learning to read a recipe and put it together well is to plan a meal and be able to schedule the timing for each step.  That is the step we are working on with the older kids now.  Do you  have a secret trick for how to plan meals to be ready at the right time?   Please leave a comment.


Kids in the Kitchen — Cornbread Muffins

Kids in the kitchen are one of the joys of my life.  I like cooking and eating good food, and when we all share in the process everyone knows the effort involved and is more appreciative of the food they eat.  Also, no one ever refuses to eat a food they helped prepare.  In addition, I like the independence it fosters from grocery store snacks and fast food.  My kids have been known to whip up a batch of yeasty potato rolls or pumpkin cranberry muffins just so they could have a mid-morning snack.  Fine by me!


I also believe everybody should have a specialty, because when you make a recipe over and over you become more efficient and confident.   That translates to quick help on days when cooking time is short.  My oldest daughter’s specialty is sourdough bread, my son’s is foccacia bread, and now Lulu has a specialty.  At nearly nine, she was ready to have her own cooking projects.  We chose cornbread muffins.   (No, our family is not gluten-free, obviously!  And we like bread, again, obviously!)


Muffins are an easy first independent recipe because they are quick, require no special tools or knowledge, and are very rewarding.  Who doesn’t like a hot muffin with their soup?  Once one muffin recipe is mastered, you can branch out into all kinds of varieties without too much effort.


Since Lulu has cooked along with me since she was tiny, she didn’t need too much help even the first time she made these muffins.  Since we buy oil in 5 quart jugs, she needed help pouring.  And she always likes help putting the pan into and taking it out of the oven.


Cooking is serious business

Cornbread Muffins

Adapted from Fanny Farmer Cookbook

Preheat oven to 425 degrees


Mix together:

¾ cup cornmeal

1 cup whole wheat flour or all purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt


In a separate bowl mix together:

1 cup milk

1 egg

2 Tablespoons oil or melted butter


Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Mix quickly but thoroughly.  Spoon into oiled or sprayed muffin tins or 8×8 inch pan.  Bake 15 minutes for muffins, 20 minutes for cornbread.  Serve hot.

We enjoy our cornbread with butter and honey or maple syrup. (Sugar addicts!)


This weekend Lulu made these to take with us as we went to my first half marathon race to go along with our vegetarian black bean chili.  Posting about that on Saturday!  Wish me luck!


Do you have a recipe you especially enjoy making with your kids, or that your kids make independently?  I’d love to hear about it.  Leave me a comment!