Whole Wheat Spinach n’ Feta Muffins

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Still warm and straight out of the oven, my 7 year-old grabbed one of these and said:
“Mom, this is like lunch and dinner in a muffin.” Bingo.
“It’s like a grilled cheese with spinach.” Right again.
“Mom, I’m amazed.”

These muffins, a complete balanced meal, not only satisfy salty cravings, but add fiber and smell divine. Everything works together: the carmelized onion, buttery spinach and pockets of creamy salted feta and cheddar.

These muffins will have you at first bite. Their crisp outside and soft inside make it impossible to stop.

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Whole Wheat Spinach n’ Feta Muffins (makes 21)

1 1/2 cups onion, chopped (1 large onion)
1 Tbsp butter
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Spray muffin pans with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a skillet, cook onion and butter over medium heat until onions are tender.
3. Add spinach and cook until just wilted.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and baking soda.
5. Add onion and spinach mixture, cheddar, feta, eggs, milk, and cayenne pepper (optional). Combine and mix thoroughly.
6. Distribute batter evenly into muffin cups.
7. Bake for 35 minutes. Serve warm.

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Cheese Meltin’ Muffins

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Just out of the oven, these muffins on the counter, my 7-year-old took one bite and said, “I love how it all melts together.”  They are gloriously cheesy, just waiting to be pulled apart.

The recipe is beyond easy. Use any cheese you have on hand. I was planning to use Colby Jack, but after returning from a road trip I discovered it was moldy, so I improvised with goat, mozzarella, American and parmesan.

Buttery crisp on the outside and molten inside, these muffins make a great snack for kids. Served with milk, they make a protein-packed meal. And, mini or regular sized, they make a wonderful portable appetizer for your next cocktail party.

Even better, they make great egg sandwiches. Leftovers may be halved, popped into the toaster and spread with jam. Delicious as-is, or with a bowl of soup.

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Cheese Meltin’ Muffins (makes 12)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 heaping cups cheese (I used goat, mozzarella, American and parmesan)
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter, melted
1 pat (1 tsp) butter (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in cheese.
3. In a separate medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and butter.
4. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir to combine.
5. With an ice cream scoop or spoon, distribute batter into each muffin cup.
5. Bake for 22 to 25 minutes until muffin tops start to brown.
6. As the muffins come out of the oven, rub a small pat of butter over the tops.
7. Serve warm from the oven with a pat of butter or jam.

Chocolate Ricotta Muffins

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These muffins are packed with protein and taste like smooth, creamy, cheesecake. Serve for breakfast, dessert, or after-school snack. My kids love the rich chocolate flavor, and I love the wholesomeness of the ricotta and milk.

Note: For best results, use whole milk ricotta, but lowfat also works well. You can substitute canola oil for some or all of the butter.

Chocolate Ricotta Muffins (makes 18)

1 cup ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cup milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled OR 1/4 cup canola oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated white sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pans with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk ricotta cheese and then add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add milk, vanilla extract, and cooled and melted butter, mixing well. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.
4. Add the ricotta mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined and then fold in chocolate chips. (Do not over mix this batter or the muffins will be tough when baked.)
5. Divide the batter amongst the 18 muffin cups using two spoons or an ice cream scoop.
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
7. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

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Cream Cheese Chocolate Muffins

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Rich, creamy, and decadent, these muffins look heavenly and make a perfect dinner party dessert. The chocolate is fudgy and rich. The cream cheese filling makes a creamy, chewy kind of sink-hole for the crunchy chocolate chips.

Chances are you may already have the ingredients for this recipe, which is easy to whip up last minute and only requires two mixing bowls. These are impressive for a bake sale, charity, or dinner party.

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Cream Cheese Chocolate Muffins (makes 18)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla

Filling

1 cup (8oz.) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/8 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips (or 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup peanut butter chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray, or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix well.
3. For the Filling: In a separate mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, sugar, egg, salt, and chocolate chips. Mix well.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon batter into muffin cups until half full.
5. Top each muffin cup with 2 Tbsp of Filling.
6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
7. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to place on a wire cooling rack.

Cheesecake Muffins

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Luscious and dainty, these cheesecake muffins are dusted with powdered sugar, inspired by the delicate dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Their sweet taste is tinged with a cheese-cake-y tang that is out-of-this-world. The vanilla extract and wafer cookie crust send a hint of caramel right to the heart of the cakes. And the bottoms are not soggy!

Rich and creamy, this great dinner party dessert is perfect for any season. The sprinkled powdered sugar on top suggests an edible winter wonderland. The velvety-smooth cream cheese makes a platter ideal for spring and summer and any holiday that highlights dairy foods.

These beautiful cakes are light but dense with flavor. They are sized just right for the calorie conscious and baked in small cups for little hands.

The best part of this recipe is that it’s so easy and effortless while still creating the illusion that a pastry chef has spent hours in the kitchen.

For a taste of New York, make cheesecake muffins ahead of time and serve, any time of the day.

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Cheesecake Muffins (makes 12)

24 vanilla wafer cookies (I recommend Nilla Wafers)
One 8 oz packages cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 egg
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
12 foil cupcake liners
1 Tbsp powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray or line it with paper liners and spray liners.
2. In a large bowl beat cream cheese and sugar. Add in flour and baking powder and beat until combined. Then mix in eggs, one at a time, lemon juice, and vanilla.
3. Fill a muffin pan with cupcake liners and place two vanilla wafer cookies at the bottom of each one. Divide batter between 12 liners, filling each cup up to about 1/4 inch from the top.
4. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Remove muffins from oven and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.
6. Chill in refrigerator for two to four hours.
7. Top with powdered sugar and serve.

Lemon Ricotta Muffins

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A wonderful way to start the day, these refreshing lemony ricotta muffins look fancy and taste delicious. Without the lemon, this recipe makes a great ricotta muffin. The almonds on top look great and add even more protein.

*Note: Omit almonds for young children.

Lemon Ricotta Muffins (makes 12)

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp lemon zest, finely grated (from 2 lemons)
1 egg
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/3 cup sliced almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the ricotta cheese and lemon zest. Add the egg, lemon juice, and almond extract.
4. Add the flour mixture to the ricotta mixture and stir until just blended. This is a thick batter.
5. Using and ice cream scooper, divide the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the almonds and extra sugar on top. Prod almonds into batter, slightly.
6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are a pale golden color.