Spaghetti Muffins

My kids love spaghetti. There’s something about the challenge– attempting to twirl the strands onto a fork and slurping up the strays. Pure fun. And what could be even more fun? Picking at the crispy, crunchy, toasted tops of spaghetti muffins.

Here is a great way to recycle and reformat leftover spaghetti. The topping is the icing on the cake of handheld spaghetti nests. They are whimsical for kids and delightfully suited to adult tastes, too.

If you have any leftover, they toast wonderfully.

Spaghetti Muffins (makes 12)

4 cups cooked spaghetti, tossed in cream, butter, or marinara sauce (option: cut spaghetti into about 2 inch strands)
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cheese, shredded
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 – 1/2 cup cooked meat, finely diced (optional)

Topping
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix eggs, cheese, bread crumbs, and meat (optional).
3. Add mixture to pasta and toss.
4. Scoop pasta into muffin cups.
5. Sprinkle Topping over each muffin cup.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
7. Allow to cool.
8. Remove from tins, serve, and enjoy!

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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.

Mashed Potato Muffins


While they bake in the oven, they may smell like French fries, but these muffins are a whole lot healthier. Their crisp, hash brown-y crust and fluffy potato middle will reinvent your leftover mashed potatoes.

Post Thanksgiving, load them up with leftover Turkey or take them to a new level with tons of cheese, bacon bits and chives. Keep them simple with just salt and pepper, or omit the chives on top for kids who prefer their muffin to look “clean,” without garnish.

MuffinizⓇ this classic comfort food and keep your forks in the silverware drawer.

Serve with sour cream.

Mashed Potato Muffins (makes 12)

3 cups mashed potatoes*
1 large egg
1 1/4 heaping cups Cheddar and mozarella cheese, shredded and divided
3 Tbsp chives, chopped and divided
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Grease muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a large bowl, combine mashed potatoes, egg, 1 cup cheese and 2 tablespoons chives.
4. Add salt and pepper and stir.
5. Use an ice cream scoop to divide the potato mixture into the prepared muffin pan (use the back of spoon to pack potatoes down into each cup for a flattened top or leave as is for a more puffy/textured muffin top).
6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown and crisp around the edges.
7. Remove pan from the oven, sprinkle muffin tops with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese, and return them to the oven for 3 more minutes.
8. Remove muffins from the oven and allow them to cool in the pan for 5 minutes.
9. Transfer muffins to a serving dish, top them with the remaining 1 tablespoon of chives (optional) and serve immediately.

Notes:
*To measure mashed potatoes, scoop and pack them into a measuring cup and then level it off.
*Mashed potatoes can vary in thickness. To thicken consistency, add an egg to the mixture.

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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.

Spinach Ricotta Frittata Muffins

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These spinach ricotta frittata muffins are the most go-to of my muffin repertoire. Muffinizing frittata is effortless and involves minimal steps. Each of these is a no-mess meal that requires not a single fork. Serving them for company is impressive, and they fit perfectly into school lunch boxes.

Dense with protein from the ricotta/spinach duet, these muffins are dainty but strong and full of flavor. Although they do not contain butter, their golden edges seem to hint of butter. They are delicious, right out of the oven, at room temperature, and even cold.

These muffins bring memories of Sunday brunch, but also work well for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner.

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Spinach Ricotta Frittata Muffins (makes 12)

4 large eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese (low far or full fat)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 cup (or one 10oz box) frozen chopped spinach
1/4 tsp salt
onion powder (to taste)
garlic powder (to taste)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. Thaw spinach in microwave and squeeze out extra juice.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and stir in ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses.
4. Stir in spinach, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.
5. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon mixture into muffin cups.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until muffins are set and golden on top.

Spinach and Ricotta Turkey Meatloaf Muffins

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This meatloaf muffin is the perfect spin-off of a culinary classic, which many children despised during the early twentieth century.

The muffin is densely packed with wholesome protein and vegetable, but it does not feel or taste heavy. The filling makes it moist, with creamy ricotta cheese in every bite. The confetti-looking pieces of speckled spinach add pizazz.

The ricotta/spinach combination works perfectly. Consider the two an inspired duo, helped along by the saltiness of Parmesan and good old-fashioned salt and pepper. The muffins stand alone beautifully and can be served with salad or a side of baked fries. The topping is optional for those who like marinara.

If meatloaf is on your menu this week, try this lighter version. If you intend to serve leftovers, omit the mozzarella on top because it does not reheat as well as the rest of the ingredients.

This recipe is great to make with beef or a mix of turkey and beef.

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Spinach and Ricotta Turkey Meatloaf Muffins (makes 12)

1 Lb ground turkey
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs (or 14 Ritz crackers, crushed)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Topping (optional)

1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine and mix thoroughly with hands the turkey, spinach, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.
3. Distribute turkey mixture into the muffin-pan cups and press with back of spoon.
4. Spoon the marinara evenly over muffin cups. (optional)
5. Sprinkle mozzarella over marinara (optional).
6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

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Stop Force Feeding Your Kids And Start Muffinizing

This article was featured in Real Woman on November 13, 2014.

Instead of battling with your kids to get them to eat healthier foods, try baking them into their diet, muffin style. You (and the kids) will love the results.

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I discovered the hard way that kids can be utterly maddening—inscrutable—when you’re trying to force fruits and veggies and other generally healthy foods into their diet. So I changed gears a few years ago—instead of trying to move the immovable object or stop the irresistible force, I baked my way into getting nutritious foods into my children.

Basically, I muffinized. (Muffinize (verb): to cook (something, such as broccoli and cheese in a muffin pan). If your kids roll their eyes over the same-old turkey burgers, turn the burgers into muffins.

Nutrition
Muffinizing pumps in nutritious foods without announcing health or sacrificing taste. Carrot muffins contain vitamin A (carrots) and anti-oxidants (walnuts). Quiche muffins are full of (loathed) vegetables but I have yet to find my son picking spinach from his. Chocolate ricotta muffins are full of protein. Spinach ricotta frittata derives protein from the eggs and ricotta cheese. Dinner is complete with a Thai turkey meatloaf or cheeseburger muffin. Dessert is full of healthy fat from the avocado in a chocolate avocado muffin.

Happiness
To encourage the child to eat healthy food, one must be mindful that the work of childhood is play. And it’s not just about the taste. Muffinizing food makes eating fun, especially for kids. A crunchy top adds interest to the multi-textured macaroni and cheese muffin. The tired PB&J sandwich comes alive in a peanut butter muffin with a surprise jelly center. The melted cheese “icing” on a pizza muffin is more alluring than the standard slice. And it’s easy. No straw required. No utensils necessary. Hardly a napkin needed.

Permission to eat with hands is liberating, and not only for kids but also for grown-ups who divvy muffins while driving from school to soccer practice. A handheld frittata muffin is a lot easier to manage than a dripping tuna melt.

Taste
Yum. ‘Nough said.

For nutritious muffin recipes, go to www.MuffinMama.org.