November – the official beginning of the holiday season. (Never mind that the stores had Christmas decorations out months ago!)

Growing up, I never liked pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie. Years later, I realized that it was the nutmeg I didn’t like, so I began making the pies with only vanilla and cinnamon. Amazing change!

Lots of people absolutely love everything pumpkin – pies, lattes – you name it, they’re down for it. This month, I offer you my favorite pumpkin recipe – simple enough for the kids to make, easy to transport, and no heavy spices to distract from the basic ingredients.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

4 eggs

2 c. sugar

1 (16-oz) can pumpkin puree

1 tsp. vanilla

1¼ c. canola oil

3 c. flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

12 oz. mini chocolate chips (I prefer the dark chocolate.)

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla, and oil together until smooth. Mix the dry ingredients together and then into the wet mixture. Fold in the chocolate chips. Fill non-stick (or lightly greased) mini muffin cups about ¾ full.

Bake at 400° for about 16 minutes. Let cool in the pan. Makes about 60 mini muffins.

NOTES: If you prefer regular-size muffins, just remember that you will need to bake them a few minutes longer. You can use regular-size chocolate chips in the larger muffins.

For those of you who do like the extra spices, I offer my mother’s (Lillie Fae Nail) pumpkin pie recipe. She and I put together a family cookbook back in 1992, and this was featured in it.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

1 c. firmly packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp. flour

½ tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice

1 (16-oz) can pumpkin puree

1 large can evaporated milk

1 egg, slightly beaten

Mix brown sugar, flour, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Add pumpkin, milk, and egg, and stir well. Pour into 9” unbaked shell, and bake at 375° for 50 to 55 minutes.

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Mona Tucker writes her “From the Hart” recipe column on the first Wednesdays of the month.