Soft Pretzel Muffins

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If you grew up in South Philly you know that “Wawa” isn’t just the sound a baby makes. Your loved ones have probably sent you care packages with “Tasty Kakes,” and you know that a warm, chewy soft pretzel pulls apart at the knot and has just the right amount of salt crystals on top.

These muffins may be missing the traditional pretzel shape but they pull apart like the knotted version and their texture brings home the street vendor.

Serve warm, right out of the oven or leave on the counter and watch them disappear. These muffins are scrumptious by themselves, but you could serve alongside cheese or spicy mustard dip.

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Soft Pretzel Muffins (makes 12)

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave.
2. Add water, sugar, yeast and mix to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Add salt and flour and mix with a spoon until dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl (If dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time).
4. On a flat surface, knead dough with hands and form a ball.
4. Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
5. Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray.
6. Pull off golf ball-size pieces of dough and distribute into muffin cups (roll dough into mini ropes and twirl or just plop into individual muffin cups).
7. Brush tops of each muffin cup of batter with the egg wash and season liberally with the coarse salt.
8. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
9. Serve warm, right out of the oven with a condiment of your choice (cheese sauce, spicy mustard dip, ketchup, chocolate sauce).

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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.

Onion Soup Muffins

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Ladies and gentlemen, this is quite a muffin.

I have fond memories of ordering French onion soup at a small restaurant in Elkin’s Park, PA, named Winston’s. The French onion soup was to die for. I remember eating the cheese first by twirling the spoon and “cutting” by pressing the cheese against the side of the soup bowl. The cheese would dangle from the spoon. And once the cheese was gone, the bread and broth was full of onion-y deliciousness.

These savory muffins are as much of an experience as eating the melted, bubbly cheese on top of the bowl.

The layers of flavors in these muffins mimic the half-crisp, cheese-covered croutons half submerged and soaked in delicious onion broth. They make the perfect accompaniment to soup, eggs, or greens.

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Onion Soup Muffins (makes 6)

1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 medium-large onion, halved and thinly sliced into half-moons
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup milk (I used whole)
1 large egg
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 oz smoked Gruyere cheese, shredded (you may use Swiss, Asiago, Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, or any combination of cheeses instead of Gruyere)

1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat; stir in the onion and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook until the onions are a rich caramel color, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, thyme, black pepper, and remaining 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl.
4. In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, oil, and Worcestershire.
5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined, being careful not to over-mix. Fold in the caramelized onion and shredded cheese.
6. Fill each muffin cup with batter.
7. Fill the empty muffin tins halfway with water for even baking.
8. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

 

Muffin Pan Popovers

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Delicious and perfectly puffy, these popovers look like a picture in a magazine. They are crisp on the outside and custardy on the inside.

Before attempting this recipe, I thought popovers were tricky to make, only by pastry chefs in restaurants. But this recipe is full-proof – just whisk the ingredients, pour into tins, and bake (no peeking!). A half hour later, the most glorious puffed pastries emerge. These hollow culinary treats are nicely eggy on the inside and easy enough for my kids to make. You need only five ingredients and a muffin tin to pull them off.

It’s always best to eat popovers fresh from the oven, but if you need to make them ahead of time, just as you’re ready to eat, warm them at 350 F for about 5 minutes, until warm and crispy again. (My kids like them soggy, too, ‘though).

These popovers make a great side dish for a Christmas or holiday dinner. They are wonderful for breakfast with jelly or honey or butter.

Popovers freeze well – place in an airtight bag or container for up to three months.

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Baking Tips:

*To get the popovers to puff, heat the empty muffin pan in a very hot oven before pouring in the batter. Then, halfway through the baking time, lower the heat to let them dry out.
*Frothing the batter just before you pour it into tins helps popovers puff.
*Cutting a slit in the bottom of each popover helps steam escape as they cool, which gives a great effect.
*Keep the oven door closed during baking to ensure a consistent oven temperature and prevent the popovers from deflating.

Muffin Pan Popovers (makes 12 small or 6 large)

1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

1. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter until completely combined. Add flour and salt and whisk until frothy and bubbly.
3. Preheat oven to 450 F. Let popover batter rest while the oven heats (this adds texture and gives the flour time to absorb the liquid).
4. Put muffin pan in the oven for 2 minutes to warm.
5. Remove pan from oven and distribute remaining 2 tablespoons of melted butter between the muffin cups. Whisk the batter to froth, again, and fill each cup halfway.
6. Bake popovers for 15 minutes. Do not open the oven door during baking (or popovers will deflate).
7. Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes. Now you can open the oven door to check popovers. They should be golden brown, dry to the touch, and sound hollow when tapped.
8. Remove popovers to a wire cooling rack. Pierce bottoms with a knife to allow steam to escape. Cool just enough to handle comfortably.
9. Eat immediately.

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.