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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Flourless Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

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For my readers who have requested gluten-free recipes, I consider it my duty to muffinize™ the crumbly, dry baked goods they are generally stuck with.

Moist, rich, and decadent, these muffins satisfy the chocolate-peanut butter craving. The recipe is dairy-free, oil-free, and contains no refined sugar. So how could the muffins be good? Believe.

With the help of a blender, the batter is transformed in minutes. No gluten means no risk of over-mixing the batter, which could create tough muffins.

Thanks to the banana and honey, the taste is sweet but not too sweet, the texture fudgy but still cakey and springy like muffins. The peanut butter is there, but does not overwhelm. The chocolate flavor is enhanced by the ever-presence of mini chips.

These muffins are a wonderful way to justify having chocolate for breakfast.

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Flourless Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins (makes 6)

1 medium/large ripe banana, peeled
1 large egg
heaping ½ cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3 tablespoons honey (agave, brown rice syrup, or maple syrup may be substituted)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
heaping 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (for sprinkling)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. To the canister of a blender, add banana, egg, peanut butter, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt. Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
3. Transfer batter to a mixing bowl. Fold in heaping 1/2 cup chocolate chips and stir.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to distribute batter into muffin cups to ¾ full.
5. Sprinkle each muffin with a generous pinch of chocolate chips.
6. Bake for 13 to 18 minutes*, or until the tops are set, domed, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
7. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes until they’ve set.**

*Watch muffins closely and bake until done.
**These muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

 

 

Peanut Butter Blondie Muffins

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Instead of eating peanut butter from the jar with a spoon, satisfy your craving with this recipe. These muffins are rich and fudgy with a hint of peanut butter cookie.

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Peanut Butter Blondie Muffins (makes 12)

½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine melted butter and brown sugar. Mix thoroughly. Add in the egg and vanilla extract.
3. Mix in the peanut butter and combine thoroughly.
4. Add salt and flour.
5. Use an ice cream scoop to distribute batter to each muffin cup.
6. Spread batter evenly with the back of a spoon (optional).
7. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
8. Allow muffins to cool completely before removing to a wire cooling rack.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

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OK gluten-free lovers, here’s to satisfying your sweet tooth!

These are the fluffiest, most moist baked products on the global gluten-free menu. The texture is reminiscent of peanut butter fudge. They are more cakey than the usual muffin. The peanut butter does not overwhelm, and the banana flavor is barely detected, albeit the riper the banana the sweeter the muffin. The melty chocolate chips complement the peanut butter in every bite.

Let’s talk all the things these muffins are not. They are gluten-free, grain-free, soy-free, dairy-free, oil-free, and refined sugar-free. So how could they be good?

Trust, but verify.

With the help of a blender, the batter is transformed in minutes into the best excuse for eating chocolate for breakfast.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins (makes 12)

2 medium ripe bananas, peeled
2 large eggs
1 heaping cup creamy peanut butter
6 Tbsp honey (or agave or maple syrup)
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 heaping cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (for sprinkling)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. To the canister of a blender, add bananas, eggs, peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract, baking soda, and salt. Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
3. Transfer batter to a mixing bowl. Fold in heaping cup of chocolate chips and stir.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to distribute batter into muffin cups to ¾ full.
5. Sprinkle each muffin cup with mini chocolate chips.
6. Bake for 13 to 18 minutes*, or until the tops are set, domed, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter.
7. Allow muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes until they’ve set.**

*Watch muffins closely and bake until done.
**These muffins will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

 

 

 

 

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.

Pasta Muffins

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These muffins were a pure experiment when I found myself with a limited time frame and a hungry husband and child. I snatched the leftover pasta and other ingredients, threw them together, plopped the mixture into muffin tins, and eight minutes later, I had two busy, delighted, and satiated boys.

What a tasty way to recycle, and reformat, leftover pasta! This recipe is so easy and effortless to concoct. Once cooled, place these muffins in plastic bags and freeze and keep them stashed for later when they can be warmed up in a microwave in seconds flat.

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Pasta Muffins (makes 12)

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

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. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
6. Allow to cool.
7. Remove from tins, serve, and enjoy!

Tuna Melt Muffins

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There is something genuinely comforting about warm tuna covered by melted cheese. This is the famous “tuna melt,” which my father ate every day of his elementary school years, during the Fifties, when kids walked home for lunch. His was a sandwich of tuna, covered with melted cheese, slices of egg, and a pickle. The sliced egg and pickle were my grandmother’s idea, but the tuna melt has endured as the fish-version of cheeseburger.

But that was elementary school. Eating a massive tuna melt would be a difficult endeavor for a toddler, not to mention messy.

The solution: Muffinize. Turn the classic sandwich into a muffin. Now you have a hand-held package that’s packed with protein, moist and almost as fluffy as Wonder bread. This cheesy muffin is oozing with cheese in an inner pocket and crisped to perfection on the buttery-tasting outside.

The dill, lemon juice, and Parmesan add to even more zest to the flavors and charm of the recipe. The muffin tops give a nice bite to this recipe that does not include butter, just tastes like it.

The scent, emanating from the oven, brings back the days of childhood when school lunches meant grilled cheese and tuna fish sandwiches.

These are wonderful at room temperature, and even cold.

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Tuna Melt Muffins (makes 12)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chives, dried
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 ½ cup cheddar, Colby, or mozzarella cheese (or combination), shredded and divided into 1 cup and ½ cup
1 tsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup (15 oz) water-packed tuna fish, drained
Topping
1/4 cup cheddar, Colby, or mozzarella cheese (or combination), shredded
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in chives, pepper, and 1 cup cheese.
3. In a separate bowl, combine lemon juice, oil, egg, milk, and tuna.
4. Add wet ingredients to flour mixture and stir until just combined.
5. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin cups to ½ full.
6. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of each cup and spoon the remaining batter on top of each.
7. Sprinkle Topping on each muffin cup (first shredded cheese, then Parmesan).
8. Bake for 20 minutes.
9. Remove from muffin pan immediately and place on a wire rack to cool.
10. Serve piping hot, room temperature, or cold.

 

Sweet Quinoa Muffins

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Nutrient-dense, light, and fluffy, these muffins are a wonderful way to “sneak” health into a child’s diet. Plus, eating them is like eating clouds with a light, rich sweetness.

The combination of coconut oil with vanilla yogurt adds wonderful moisture to the recipe. The almond flour lends a buttery-almond flavor. You can substitute grated carrots for the puree if you want more texture. The chia seeds add even more fiber and protein.

Your toddlers will love these. They are great for breakfast, snack, or on-the-go meal.

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Sweet Quinoa Muffins (makes 15)

¾ cup plus 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
¾ cup plus 1 Tbsp almond flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp chia seeds, optional
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, optional
1 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup Greek vanilla-flavored yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
¾ cup carrot puree (or 1 cup loosely packed, grated carrots)
½ cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray, or line with paper liners.
2. Melt the coconut oil and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking soda and salt. Add chia seeds and sesame seeds (optional).
4. In a separate bowl, stir together quinoa, sugar, coconut oil, Greek yogurt, vanilla and eggs, carrots, and walnuts (optional).
5. Stir wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. The muffin batter will be about the same consistency as pancake batter.
6. Use an ice cream scoop to spoon batter into muffin tins, about ¾ full.
7. Bake 18-20 minutes, until the tops are a nice golden color.

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