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.

 

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.

 

Pizza Muffins

Pizza Muffins

What child doesn’t like pizza? Mine! I’m continually perplexed that the even the smell of pizza doesn’t excite my kids. However, I’ve discovered that pizza in muffin-form is a gazillion times more interesting and fun.

This muffin doesn’t ooze or drip. The melted cheese on top looks like frosting on a cupcake. Try adding chopped mushrooms, onion, peppers, or sardines to the batter. Eat these muffins hot or cold. Serve for lunch or snack with a side of spaghetti or pizza sauce for dipping.

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Pizza Muffins (makes 18)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 cup tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (or mozarella or both), shredded and divided
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin cups with olive oil or cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, basil, oregano, and sugar. Stir well until blended.
3. Mix in tomatoes and 1 1/2 cups of cheese.
4. In another bowl, beat egg, whisk in buttermilk, and stir until combined.
5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups until half full.
6. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup cheese on top of muffins.
7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean.

 

Crustless Quiche Muffins

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In an attempt to tempt Michael to try spinach, I decided to mix the “loathed” vegetable with one of his favorite foods: eggs. Not only did he approve, but he gobbled down two! This recipe is also great for serving to last-minute company.

These individual, crustless quiches are perfect on-the-go meals. Whip up a batch (or two) on Sunday evening, and you have an easy go-to breakfast for busy weekday mornings. They’re also really versatile – this version features spinach and a combination of cheddar and mozzarella, but cooked broccoli and cheddar or crispy bacon can easily be substituted or added!

Note: Crustless quiches can be placed in a large ziplock bag or individually wrapped and frozen.

Crustless Quiche Muffins (makes 12)

4 large eggs
1 cup (or 1 10oz box) frozen chopped spinach or other vegetable
3/4 cup shredded cheese (I use a combination of mozzarella and Cheddar)
1/4 tsp salt
onion powder (to taste)
garlic powder (to taste)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pans with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. Thaw spinach in microwave and squeeze out extra juice.
3. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
4. Spoon mixture into the cupcake liners until 3/4 full.
5. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.

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Macaroni and Cheese Muffins

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Hooray for handheld mac and cheese! This spin-off of the traditional macaroni and cheese is an invitation for kids to eat with their hands. The layered textures are fun—the bottom, soft and decadent, melts in the mouth; the crunchy top is munchable. These muffins freeze well, re-heat easily and make tasty lunchtime treats.

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Macaroni and Cheese Muffins (makes 18)

2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
1 Tbsp butter
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 cup milk (whole or skim)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tsp pepper (to taste)

 

Crunchy Topping

1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded

1. In a bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, olive oil, and salt.
2. Add cheese.

 

Muffins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or grease tin with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook for about 8 minutes (until slightly firm).
3. Remove pot from heat, drain macaroni, and return macaroni to pot. Stir in butter and beaten egg until pasta is evenly coated.
4. Add to the pasta the Cheddar cheese, milk, Parmesan, mozzarella, and cottage cheese. Add garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Stir.
5. Distribute mixture into each cup of prepared muffin tin.
6. Sprinkle the Crunchy Topping mixture over the tops.
7. Bake for 30 minutes or until tops are nicely browned.
8. Allow to cool for a few minutes before removing muffins from the tin (this allows the cheese to set and muffins to take shape).