Thursday, October 6, 2011

Love for Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins (and my Chiropractor)

For the past several months, I have suffered from some terrible head pains that caused me to wonder if I had some major medical problem with my noggin. The pain would normally be dull and easy to ignore when I got up in the morning but would gradually intensify throughout the day, becoming nearly unbearable by sunset. I fretted about it for the longest time, and even mentioned it to my primary care physician who attributed it to stress and tension. When I mentioned it to a friend of mine, she recommended that I visit her chiropractor for an adjustment.

I finally booked my first appointment a few weeks ago. I was very apprehensive about taking Matthew with me since it was a very small office and I would probably be laying on a table the whole time and thus unable to stop his little, sticky fingers from gravitating towards the electrical outlets he loves to inspect (oh and those little protective covers do NOT work because he LOVES to pull them out). When we arrived, we were immediately escorted to an examination room where I was strapped up to an electric muscle stimulation machine that ran a current via an electrode along my back to stimulate and massage the muscles in that area. I was laying on my stomach with my face pressed into a small hole so I could only see a small section of the floor. The doctor then told me to "relax and enjoy" as he left me and Matthew alone, shutting the door behind him so my child could not follow him.

Let me tell you - it is very difficult to "relax and enjoy" something when the child is nervously pacing the room just looking for trouble. He knew that I was helpless and I think that thrilled him. He began circling the table, giggling and clapping. I could see his feet zoom by every 20 seconds or so as he made his laps. Then he discovered the little stool with wheels and began to push that around the room. From my limited viewpoint, I could see the stool being wheeled slowly around the table, followed by his tiny little feet. Then he became bored with that little game, and began to fiddle with the chords connecting the electrical stimulation machine to my back. Not only did this kind of hurt, but it freaked me out. I began trying to bat at him with my arm, but could not reach very far. He found this funny and began slapping my arm.

Then he bit me.

Not funny, Matthew!

Little barbarian.

Then he started running and counting to himself as he took another lap around the table. Suddenly, his foot hit a small button on the floor and the table upon which I lay began to move slightly upwards. He stopped, gave out a shriek of delight, and pressed the button again. This time I went down a little bit.

He pressed it again.

Up I went.
Up a little more.
Down a bit.
This is supposed to be relaxing?!?!
Up again.
This is getting REALLY annoying.
Matthew, Stop! *maniacal giggle*

And I could do nothing but enjoy this little ride. At least his finger wasn't in a socket.

Thankfully, the chiropractor returned to the room and broke up the fun fest. He then proceeded to adjust my back, shoulder, and neck muscles. Immediately after he cracked my neck (which honestly brought to mind the scene of John Malkovich snapping the neck of a female bank teller in the movie In the Line of Fire), I felt relief. He told me that I had a severely pinched nerve on my right side that was restricting blood flow to the muscles in my head, causing them to contract and tense. He was pretty confident that all those contractions were the source of my head pains. I was also informed that the nerve might try to retract to the pinched position and in order to keep it in place, I would have to come back for 2-3 additional adjustments.

My quality of life has improved so much from those adjustments that I view my chiropractor as a hero of sorts. In fact, I may love him. The only major flaw I can find with him is that he wears way too much cologne. Since the appointments are very....umm...hands on...I end up smelling like a Hollister store for the rest of the day. But I can overlook such a seemingly small defect.

While I hold great love and admiration for my wonderful chiropractor, I probably would choose a bite out of these pumpkin cream cheese muffins any day. These are a fabulous way to use fresh or canned pumpkin and are excellent as a special treat for breakfast one of these fall weekends. They do take a bit more effort and finesse than the average muffin recipe, but they are so worth it. So worth it. You will not be sorry.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
adapted slightly from Annie's Eats

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional - but I love this spice)
1 teaspoon cloves
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (store bought or your own!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

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

For the streusel:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
5 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

To make the streusel: Combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon in a medium bowl with a whisk. Cut in the flour until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the cream cheese filling: Whip the cream cheese until smooth and then gradually add the powdered sugar. Mix well to combine. Shape into a log and wrap tightly with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap. Freeze until firm (I had it in the freezer for 4 hours). Once firm, remove the plastic wrap and slice into 24 pieces.

To make the muffins: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, spices, salt, and soda. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, eggs, and oil. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir together until just combined.

To assemble the muffins, place muffin cups in 2 12-cup muffin liners. Place 1-2 tablespoon of the batter in the bottom of each well. You should have enough batter to completely cover the bottom of the muffin tin. Place a piece of cream cheese in each cup and then spoon some more batter over the top and up the sides of the muffin cup, being sure to completely cover the piece of cream cheese. Top each with a generous sprinkle of streusel (seriously, go crazy on the streusel!).

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack and let cool completely - or you may burn your face. I may or may not know this from experience.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator if not eating the same day. You can warm them up slightly before eating them by nuking them for 10 seconds in the microwave.

Make these. TODAY.


  1. I will have to try these...JP LOVES pumpkin

  2. I’m glad your headaches are gone. Now you can bake those delicious cheese muffins with ease! Headaches caused by pinched nerves are oftentimes unbearable and annoying. But there are ways to ease the pain brought by pinched nerves. If you feel the throbbing pain again, take some rest and stop any physical activity, as such might be aggravating the nerve. Also, alternately put cold and hot compress on the neck to alleviate the pain. If the headaches continue for more than a day, consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

  3. Matthew sure is having fun at your chiro’s office! Maybe he’s thinking of being one when he grows up! Haha. Kidding aside, subscribing to chiropractic care has a lot of benefits. Apart from body alignment, chiropractic care also promotes full body wellness and better mobility.