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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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.