Caramel Apple Muffins

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These muffins are great not only for Halloween but also for using fruit in a dessert. The warm caramel is gooey and, combined with cinnamon and apples, delicious.

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Caramel Apple Muffins (makes 12)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup caramel candy squares, diced (about 12)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
3. In another bowl, combine egg and milk. Stir in butter and vanilla extract.
4. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and stir just to blend.
5. Stir in applesauce and caramels.
6. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 full.
7. Bake for 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly pressed. Serve warm.

 

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!

The Ultimate Comfort Food: French Toast

This article was featured in Swirls and Spice on October 21, 2014.

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To kick off the pumpkin season, the food world seems to be baking with orange-hued vegetables like carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes. Culinary creators are enhancing dishes with seasonal spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger.

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These fall tastes bring memories of home and hearth so much so that there is no doubt about the level of comfort in the autumn-inspired muffin. Variations include pumpkin cream cheese, carrot cake, sweet potato, and honey corn.

However, when I think of Autumn and its ultimate comfort food, I think of French toast. It’s a breakfast classic. Often served with maple syrup or jelly. Sometimes finished with melted butter and salt.

My grandmother, whom I remember making breakfast in her hot pink bathrobe and slippers, would serve French toast dusted with powdered sugar. The following recipe takes me back to her. It’s a muffin that’s light and fine. Its taste is French toast. Its texture, more delicate.

Both toppings below are equally delicious. The first is a cinnamon and sugar glaze, and the second combines the traditional tastes associated with French toast: drizzled maple syrup and powdered sugar. As on French toast, apply the topping by drizzling. Or, dip each muffin into a puddle of maple syrup and a mound of powdered sugar or cinnamon-sugar mixture.

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

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French Toast Muffins

  • Servings: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (or allspice)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup dairy milk (or coconut milk* for dairy-free)
  • 1/3 cup butter or coconut oil, melted

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). Grease muffin cups with cooking spray or line with paper muffin liners.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture.
3. In a separate bowl, stir together egg, milk, and melted butter.
4. Add egg mixture to flour mixture; stir until just moistened (batter may be lumpy).
5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
7. Top each muffin with one of the two coatings (recipes below) and serve warm.

*Note: For dairy free muffins with coconut milk, you may need to add about 2 tablespoons more liquid, such as water.

Topping 1: Cinnamon Sugar Coating

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter or coconut oil, melted

1. In a bowl, combine cinnamon and sugar.
2. In a separate bowl, melt butter.
3. Dip tops of finished muffins in the melted butter, and then in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Topping 2: Maple Sugar Coating

  • maple syrup
  • confectioners’ sugar (icing sugar) for dusting

1. With a toothpick, poke a few holes in muffin tops.
2. Spoon over a good quality maple syrup.
3. Sprinkle powdered sugar on tops.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins

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A peanut buttery muffin with creamy, jelly-filled center trumps the PB & J sandwich any day. Its peanut butter isn’t sticky and its jelly doesn’t ooze all over the place. Plus, what child wouldn’t be pleasantly surprised to see frosting-like jelly inside.

The “frosting” actually contains some protein (cream cheese), which complements the amino acids in the peanut butter…shhh, don’t tell!

These muffins are quick and easy to prepare, requiring two mixing bowls and a whisk. They are fluffy, moist, soft and light. Perfect for breakfast, brunch, or snacks.

*Possible Substitutions:

  • For the milk, substitute unsweetened vanilla almond milk or soy, cow, rice, goat, or coconut milk.
  • For the jelly, use strawberry jelly, jam, or preserves (or raspberry, apricot, raspberry, grape or cherry).
  • For the peanut butter, use soy nut butter.

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Muffins (makes 18)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
1/2 heaping cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup jelly, jam or preserves
½ cup whipped cream cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg, buttermilk, milk, peanut butter, oil and vanilla extract.
4. Pour wet ingredients over the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
5. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 1/4 full.
6. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk cream cheese and jelly.
7. Spoon 1 tsp jelly filling onto each muffin cup. Top with batter to ¾ full.
8. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until tops are golden.

 

Grandma’s Pumpkin Muffins

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Just the smell of my grandmother’s pumpkin cake recipe brings memories of Autumn that make me think about apple orchards, the first day of school, and carving Jack-O’-Lanterns. I have turned her cake into nutritious muffins by adding a mix of golden and dark raisins and chopped nuts. If you bake these for Halloween, you might want to omit the nuts and raisins for young children. The recipe makes a great cake in a 10-inch Turk pan.

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Grandma’s Pumpkin Muffins (makes 30)

2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 can pumpkin puree (16 oz)
5 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dark raisins
1 cup chopped nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, and pumpkin.
3. Add eggs 1 at a time and whisk well after each.
4. In a separate mixing bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in the mixture.
5. Pour pumpkin mixture into flour mixture. Mix until just blended.
6. Wash and dry raisins and then sprinkle with flour and then shake in sieve to remove excess flour.
7. Stir in raisins and nuts.
8. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Chicken Pot Pie Muffins

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Chicken Pot Pie is an especially comforting comfort food in the form of a muffin. Even to those who did not grow up with the pot pie as a staple, these muffins are reminiscent of the moist buttery biscuit that generations of Americans have loved.

This recipe is full of nutrients in the form of chicken, cheese and vegetables. The possibilities of vegetables are endless. Go heavy on the peas if your kids love peas. At first, my kids questioned the blatant vegetables on top, but the buttery flavor of the muffins won them over and I’m not sure they even realized the muffin was made of…chicken.

As these muffins come right out of the oven, rub a small pat of butter over the tops. Serve these muffins warm from the oven with a pat of butter. Store leftovers in the refrigerator or freeze.

Enjoy!

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Chicken Pot Pie Muffins (makes 12)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
3. In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and butter.
4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
5. Fold in cheese, chicken, and vegetables (reserve about a tablespoon of vegetables for sprinkling on muffin tops). Do not over-mix batter or muffins will become hard.
6. Distribute chicken mixture into the muffin-pan cups.
7. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of vegetables on tops of batter.
8. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Apples & Honey Muffins

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Inspired by a Rosh Hashana playdate, these muffins are quite the comfort food and perfect for welcoming the Jewish new year. Made with crunchy rolled oats and honey, they are heavenly for the holy days. The combination of orange juice, applesauce, and cinnamon intensifies the flavor and makes these treats a perfect Rosh Hashana house gift.

This simple, delicious recipe is perfect for Rosh Hashana or just because. Start your own tradition by serving your next batch alongside sliced apples and honey. These muffins will definitely become a family favorite.

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Apples & Honey Muffins (makes 12)

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup rolled oats (or oatmeal)
l Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup applesauce
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, rolled oats, baking powder and cinnamon. Make a well in the center.
3. In a small bowl, mix together applesauce, orange juice, honey, oil and egg.
4. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients and stir just to moisten.
5. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 22 minutes.

24 Karat Muffins

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Yes it’s true, a 24 karat muffin counts as a serving of vegetables! I grew up eating carrot cake at my Grandma and Zayda’s. This recipe is a family heirloom now transformed into muffins. Loaded with tasty ingredients like pineapple, golden raisins, and walnuts, the combination of carrot and pineapple is wonderfully fresh. Thanks to this recipe, my son has discovered a love of golden raisins.

These muffins are so moist and delicious, you don’t need icing!

*Note: Omit walnuts and raisins for young children. To make a full-size cake, bake for 50 minutes.

24 Karat Muffins (makes 24)

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
3 (4 oz.) jars of carrot baby food
3/4 cup canola oil (or saflower or peanut oil)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup white raisins
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 small can (8 oz) crushed pineapple (1 Cup)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin pans with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a mixing bowl, mix eggs and sugar for 3 minutes. Add carrot baby food and oil.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon.
4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture (reserve a tablespoon to mix with raisins or nuts)
5. In a separate bowl, dredge walnuts and raisins in flour mixture.
6. In a separate bowl, mix vanilla and pineapple.
7. Add everything together, mixing walnuts and raisins in last.
8. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 full.
9. Bake for 20 minutes.

Invisible Apple Muffins

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Some kids don’t like “chunks.” These muffins are silky smooth and moist and still contain apples, just not in chunk form.

The sandy texture of the cinnamon/sugar on top may not go over well with toddlers. If that’s the case in your home, omit this delicious touch, and they’ll devour the invisible apples.

You can cut a dip in the “core” of the muffin and fill with jam. Serve with sliced apples or fruit on the side for even more servings of fruit.

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Invisible Apple Muffins (makes 18)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup applesauce

Topping

1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease muffin pan with cooking spray or line with paper liners.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour and sugar and mix well.
3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla.
4. Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients, add applesauce, and stir well to combine.
5. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling each muffin cup about 2/3 full.
6. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar topping (optional – see above).
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a knife inserted into the muffin comes out clean.

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Honey Muffins

 

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The honey flavor is outstanding in this recipe. These muffins are tender and delicious. They are light, fluffy, super easy to make, and lovely when warm, right out of the oven. Serve them warm with a little honey and butter drizzled over them or use a knife to insert a small pat of butter while they’re still hot.

This simple, delicious recipe is perfect for Rosh Hashana or just because. Start your own tradition by serving muffins instead of honey cake. These will definitely become a family favorite.

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Honey Muffins (makes 12)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup honey

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin cups or line with paper muffin liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a small bowl, combine egg, milk, butter, and honey.
4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened.
5. Fill prepared muffin cups three-fourths full.
6. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove from pan to a wire rack.