Lemony Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins

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This recipe takes the well-known concept of the blueberry muffin to a whole new level. These muffins are extra special because they have a surprise inside: delicious, lemony cream cheese! They are great on their own, but the lemon cream cheese filling with the plump, juicy blueberries makes these muffins marvelous.

My son didn’t notice the cream cheese filling until the second bite when his “mmmm” escalated to “MMMM!” He loved the surprise filling.

A fresh blueberry muffin with lemony cheesecake flavors in the mix is the perfect way to start any morning. Surprise your loved ones with these muffins-they will love them (and you for baking them)!

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Lemony Blueberry Cream Cheese Muffins (makes 9)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg, large
1/3 cup whole or skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Cream Cheese Filling:

3 Tbsp cream cheese
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp sugar
turbinado sugar (for sprinkling on muffins before baking)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.
3. In a small bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest. Rub sugar and zest together, until fragrant. Add to the flour mixture and whisk again.
4. In a separate medium bowl, mix canola oil, egg, milk, and vanilla.
5. Incorporate the wet ingredients into flour mixture. Add slowly and do not over mix. (The batter will be lumpy and thick.) Gently fold in the blueberries.
6. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, lemon zest, and sugar until smooth.
7. Fill each muffin cup half way with batter. Next, add about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese filling to each muffin cup. Cover each cup with remaining batter so you can’t see the cream cheese filling. Sprinkle each muffin with turbinado sugar.
8. Bake muffins for 17-20 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
9. Let muffins cool on a cooking rack.

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Orange Creamsicle Muffins

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“What on earth is that?” 5-year-old Michael asked. I’m sorry, Michael, for not exposing you sooner. But here it is in muffin form, a childhood classic.

These muffins are dense like fudge but as light and refreshing as a cold glass of orange juice. The orange flavors of orange juice and zest with creamy white chocolate chips makes a delicious combination.

Serve for breakfast, snack, or dessert and remember how sweet it is to be a kid.

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Orange Creamsicle Muffins (makes 12)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar, mixed with 1 tbsp orange zest
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup white chocolate chips

1.Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar/orange zest mixture, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together orange juice, heavy cream, egg, and oil.
4. Pour wet ingredients over the dry mix. Stir until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chips.
5. With an ice cream scoop, fill muffin cups 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
7. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling wire rack.

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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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Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Sugar Muffins

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There is a burst of chocolate in every bite of these tall, domed muffins with beautiful crackled tops. The batter is laced with cinnamon and nutmeg and stuffed with Nutella. Fresh-out of the oven, the muffins are dunked into butter so that every crevice is coated with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. The finished product has the fluffiness of a donut but the soul of a muffin.

Nutella was invented during the 1940s when cocoa was in short supply. An Italian pastry baker used hazelnuts to enhance the chocolate he had in his bakery. Mixed with hazelnut, a family could use a jar of spreadable chocolate for many weeks. Nutella owner, Michele Ferrero, sometimes referred to as a real-life Willy Wonka, died last Saturday (yes, Valentine’s Day) at the age of 89.

This recipe is a keeper not only because it’s scrumptious, but also because its ingredients are mixed in a single bowl. So get out your (one) bowl and start baking.

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Nutella-Stuffed Cinnamon Muffins (makes 8)

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk (cow, almond, soy)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
8 tsp Nutella

Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl mix together the butter and sugar. Mix in the egg, vanilla extract, and milk.
3. Gently stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. (Do not overmix – stir until just combined).
4. Into each muffin cup, spoon 1 heaping Tablespoon of batter. Then, add 1 teaspoon of Nutella in the center, and spoon another heaping Tablespoon of batter on top. (If the muffin tins are completely full, that is ok. They will not overflow.)
5. Fill the empty muffin tins halfway with water for even baking.
6. Bake at 425 F for 5 minutes. Keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce temperature to 350 F and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes until batter is set.
7. Allow muffins to cool for about 5 minutes.
8. While the muffins are cooling, make the cinnamon-sugar topping: Melt the butter for about 30-60 seconds in the microwave. In a separate small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.
9. Dip the top of each muffin into the melted butter and then dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture (swirl them around to ensure they are thickly coated). Set muffins upright on a wire cooling rack.

*Notes:

-Muffins stay fresh for up to one week in an airtight container.
-Muffins freeze well, up to 3 months.
-Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bring them to room temperature before serving in the morning. Or, zap frozen muffins in the microwave (10-15 seconds).

 

 

Popcorn Muffins

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As if “popcorn” is not the epitome of flavors, this buttered popcorn muffin is oozing with a creamy caramel center. The recipe blends the salt of popcorn with the sweetness of Dulce de Leche.

These muffins are made with air-popped popcorn. Make a double batch for your Super Bowl gathering or movie night. Serve for an after-school or midnight snack.

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Popcorn Muffins (makes 12)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
2 cups unsalted popcorn, popped
12 pieces of popcorn for decoration (optional)
¼ cup (12 tsp) Dulce de Leche Caramel spread

1.Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and butter.
4. Pour wet ingredients over the dry mix. Stir until completely incorporated.
5. Fold in 3 cups of popcorn and stir (popcorn will break up into smaller pieces).
6. Fill muffin cups 1/3 full. Spoon 1tsp Dulce de Leche spread on each muffin cup and cover with the remaining batter.
7. Place one piece of popcorn on the center of each muffin cup.
8. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

 

Pecan Pie Muffins

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This twist on a classic Thanksgiving indulgence is sweet, buttery, and energy-packed. Gooey on inside and crisp on the outside, pecan pie muffins disappear fast.

The recipe calls for finely chopped pecans, placed at the bottom of each muffin, where beautiful speckles disperse texture throughout. These muffins have crisp buttery tops and and are moist and fudgy inside.

These are easy to make – throw together while waiting for turkey to exit the oven.

Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or alongside fruit. Drizzle with chocolate or caramel.

Muffinize a pecan pie and bring smiles to your Thanksgiving table. Pecan pie muffins are a handheld delicacy, to devour without a single fork.

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Pecan Pie Muffins (makes 10)

1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 425. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, chopped pecans, flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, combine butter, eggs, and vanilla.
4. Pour butter mixture into dry mixture and stir just until moistened.
5. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of finely chopped pecans into each cup of muffin pan.
6. Use an ice cream scoop to distribute batter evenly over pecans in each muffin cup.
7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Leave muffins in muffin pan for five minutes before removing them to a wire cooling rack.

 

 

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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