Fake It When You Make It…We Are Talking PUMPKIN Here!

I am all about shortcuts when it comes to cooking and baking, which is why I am starting a feature called “Fake It When You Make It.”

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix is available for a VERY limited time for $2.99 a box. They usually run out, so go grab a case today! Side note: one of my favorite writers, Stephanie Wilder Taylor, wrote a great article entitled Why I Hate Trader Joe’s (Don’t worry, she doesn’t really hate TJ’s…quite the opposite. I am SO with her on my everlasting love for this upbeat hangout…er…I mean grocery store!)

I have put together a collection of recipes that will have your guests oohing and ahhing over your delectable desserts and you can take a break from all that nonsense “from scratch” business. (Oh yeah, and someone WILL inevitably ask you- “Did you make this? From scratch?” Just smile and demure, saying “Oh, I just threw it together!” while in your head you are thinking “Yeah. From scratch. I scratched the price tag right off the box, jackass!”)

Also, if you want to do something crazy like cut the fat, you can substitute an equal amount of apple sauce for the oil.
The muffins turn out a bit sweeter, but still delicious and extra-moist (yeah, I hate that word too, but there wasn’t any other way to describe them. Wet? Nope…Ugh, worse!)

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

1 box Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix + ingredients

For the filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened 
1 cup powdered sugar

Instructions: To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar in a medium bowl and mix well until blended and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log about 11⁄2-inches in diameter. Smooth the plastic wrap tightly around the log, and reinforce with a piece of foil. Transfer to the freezer and chill until at least slightly firm, at least 2 hours. The mixture will still be some- what soft but firmer.

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). Slice the log of cream cheese filling into 24 equal pieces. Place a slice of the cream cheese mixture into each muffin well. You want to put the cream cheese lower than you think because it will rise a lot during the baking process. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin cups, placing on top of the cream cheese to cover completely.

Pumpkin Strudel Bread
1 box Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix + ingredients

For the topping:
1⁄2 cup sugar 
5 tablespoons flour 
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

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

Mix the bread according to the instructions on the box and sprinkle with topping just before placing in the oven.

Giant Pumpkin Cake

2 boxes Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix + ingredients 
Bundt pan 
Orange Frosting 
1 Swiss Cake Roll (Little Debbie or similar)

Mix bread according to instructions on box and pour into Bundt pans to bake. Let cool and mix the frosting/add orange food coloring to white frosting.

Turn one cake flat side up and frost the flat side (if your cake’s flat side isn’t so flat, use unflavored dental floss to torte the cake; see 30Second Mom video tutorial by Angie Mozilo). Turn the other cake flat side down onto the frosting. Frost the whole “pumpkin” liberally, making sure to fill the seam with additional frosting. Cut the Swiss Cake Roll in half and put on top for a stem. You can also pipe a few leaves on with green frosting.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 box Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix + ingredients 1 cup Chocolate Chips (more or less to taste)

Mix muffins according to instructions on box and add chocolate chips last. Bake according to directions on box.

Maple Glazed Pumpkin Bites

1 box Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix + ingredients 
Mini muffin pan 
3/4 cup powdered sugar 
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup

Mix muffin mix according to instructions on box and pour into mini muffin tins. Bake at normal temperature but watch closely to see when they are done. Let cool.
Mix powdered sugar, maple syrup and a tiny bit of water together to form glaze. Drizzle over mini muffins.

Double Pumpkin Parfaits
1 box Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix + ingredients 
1 15-ounce can Pure Pumpkin 
4 ounces Cream Cheese, softened 
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar1 tsp Cinnamon 
1/8 tsp Ginger 
1/8 tsp Nutmeg 
1 cup Heavy Cream 
2 Tbsp Sugar

Mix muffin mix according to instructions on box and pour into muffin tins; bake. and cool. Mix Pure Pumpkin, cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg until evenly combined. In a separate bowl, beat together the heavy cream and sugar until thickened.
To assemble the parfait, cut a muffin into thirds. Put the bottom of the muffin in a glass. Top with a dollop of the pumpkin mixture, a dollop of the cream mixture, the middle slice of muffin, a dollop of pumpkin mixture, a dollop of the cream mixture and top with the muffin top.