Enliven meals on cold days with fresh muffins hot from the oven

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By Ann Cipperly

After elaborate holiday meals, weekday dinners during January can seem ho-hum or boring. Freshly baked muffins can make a simple meal seem special. Whether they are plain or embellished with blueberries, strawberries or pecans, muffins can be quickly mixed and fill the house with a sweet aroma on a cold day.

Almost everyone seems to like muffins, especially during winter months when bread hot from the oven is comforting. Muffins are the easiest type of bread to make. A few quick stirs and the batter goes into the oven. Let the children help make them.

Muffins are also easy to freeze. Bake several batches to keep in the freezer to pull out for breakfast, lunch or dinner. On cold morning, serve warm muffins with breakfast. They are much more appealing than cold cereals. Oatmeal and bran muffins are especially good in the mornings.

While muffins are good served plain, offer softened butter or a flavored butter to go with the muffins. Strawberry butter, orange spread and honey spread are simple to make. They add an extra punch of flavor.

Muffins baked in mini tins are great to have on hand for afterschool snacks or to serve at lunch with a cup of soup or salad.

Kelcie Carpenter makes delicious Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, while school teacher Kim Walker bakes yummy Banana Praline Muffins. Kim doubles the recipe and freezes one batch, and then reheats frozen muffins in the microwave on high for 1 minute.

Martha Tabor’s Glorious Morning Muffins are filled with oatmeal, carrots, apples and pecans for a delectable treat anytime. They freeze well and can be reheated in the microwave.

Sally McCormick serves Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon Curd for bridge luncheons. They are also delightful served with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

If you want to get fancy, make phyllo cups for regular sized muffins, layer two phyllo sheets brushed with melted butter and cut into squares slightly larger than the diameter of the muffin cup. Place pastry in muffin cups and spoon in batter. Bake until muffins are cooked. This will create edible, crunchy liners.

The Buttery Muffins go together quickly but are rich, so you may want to bake them in miniature tins. This recipe has been around for a while and is always popular when served. Once we stayed at a bed and breakfast inn that was serving these muffins at breakfast and at dinner with chives in the batter. Everyone at tables around us loved them, and a few people wanted to buy some to take home. I talked to the chef who gave me the recipe. She said she found it in a church cookbook.

Following are a wide variety of muffin recipes from sweet to savory. Some of the batters will keep in the refrigerator for a week to have on hand for breakfast, supper or a snack anytime.

Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com.

Recipes:

Glorious Morning Muffins
Martha Tabor
In large mixing bowl, combine:
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup oatmeal
In another bowl combine:
1 ½ cups grated carrots
1 ½ cups grated apples
1 cup oil
3 beaten eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup pecans
Add the second bowl into the dry ingredients and stir until moistened.
Bake at 375 degrees in greased muffin pans for 18-20 minutes. These freeze well. Can reheat in microwave.

Banana Praline Muffins
Kim Walker
Double the recipe and freeze one batch. To reheat frozen muffins, microwave on high for 1 minute.
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. sour cream
3 small ripe bananas
1 large egg
1½ cups pancake mix
½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Stir together pecans, brown sugar and sour cream; set aside. Mash bananas in medium bowl; add egg. Add pancake mix, sugar and oil, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Coat muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray (or use paper baking cups). Fill ½ to ¾ full. Spoon pecan mixture evenly in center of each muffin.
Bake at 400 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Kelcie Carpenter
Easy and delicious!
2¼ cups whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
½ cup oil
½ cup honey
½ cup chocolate chips
2 mashed bananas
1 tsp. cinnamon
Measure dry ingredients into mixing bowl. Add liquids and stir just until well blended. Drop by spoonful into greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with Lemon Curd
Sally McCormick serves these for bridge luncheons.
3 cups all–purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1 stick plus 2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1½ cups plain yogurt
1 jar lemon curd
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, poppy seeds and lemon zest.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; beat in eggs, then, alternating, beat in flour mixture and yogurt until smooth and a thick batter just forms.
Spread 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable spray or use paper liners. Divide batter evenly among cups. Make a well in each cup and fill with a heaping teaspoon of lemon curd.
Bake until muffins are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Cheddar Cheese Muffins
Inn at Half-Mile Farm in Highlands, N.C.
Good served with hot pepper jelly.
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. chili powder
1 large egg
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease an 8 muffin tin (medium size) with butter or non-stick spray.
In a bowl, stir together flour, cheese, sugar, baking powder, salt and chili powder. In another bowl, whisk together egg, olive oil and milk until well blended.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add milk mixture, stirring just until evenly moistened. The batter will be lumpy. Do not over mix.
Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each until level with the rim of the cup. Sprinkle sesame seeds over top if using.
Bake until golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin should come out clean when done. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. Unmold onto wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature with butter or hot pepper jelly.

Applesauce Muffins
Batter stores well in refrigerator.
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. soda
2 cups applesauce
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
Combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sift together dry ingredients and add to mixture. Add applesauce and nuts. Bake in greased muffin tins at 350 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Batter can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for a week. Muffins freeze well.

Orange Muffins with Orange Glaze
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ cup buttermilk
3 cups all-purpose flour
Grated rind of half an orange
¼ cup orange juice
Orange Glaze (recipe follows)
Cream butter and sugar until creamy; add eggs one at a time. Add baking soda to buttermilk; stir to dissolve. Add to sugar mixture. Stir in flour, orange juice and orange zest.
Spoon into miniature greased muffin tins. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 12 minutes.
Remove from tins and drizzle Orange Glaze on top and sides of muffins. Makes 4 dozen.
Orange Glaze
¾ cup orange juice
1½ cups granulated sugar
Grated rind of half an orange
Combine ingredients in small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Chill in refrigerator.

Buckhead Diner’s Yellow Corn Muffins
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cups fresh (or frozen) corn
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
4 green onions, finely sliced
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 cups buttermilk
¼ cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two muffin tins. Pour oil into skillet; sauté corn, jalapeno and onions until soft; set aside.
Combine dry ingredients. Mix eggs, buttermilk and butter together; add to dry ingredients. Stir in corn mixture.
Fill muffin tins 2/3 full. Bake about 20 minutes for regular muffins; 10-12 minutes for mini muffins.

Blueberry Muffins
Pat Randle
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 eggs (well beaten)
1/2 cup chilled butter (cut in 1/4-inch slices)
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
2 ½ tsp. baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted)
1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin pan. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until particles are the size of small peas; make a well in the center.
In small bowl, combine eggs and milk; add all at once to well in flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Fold in orange zest and blueberries. Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately remove from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: If using fresh blueberries, dust them lightly with flour; this helps prevent the blueberries from “bleeding” into muffins.

Strawberry Muffins with Strawberry Butter
10 oz. pkg. frozen sliced strawberries, thawed
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
Strawberry Butter
Do not drain strawberries. Reserve 2 tablespoons strawberries for butter.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir together remaining strawberries with juice, milk, eggs and oil. Make a well in center of flour mixture; stir in strawberry mixture until just moistened.
Spoon batter into greased muffin pan, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with Strawberry Butter.
Strawberry Butter
½ cup butter, softened
2 Tbsp. reserved strawberries
Stir together until blended.

Phyllo Muffin Cups
Box frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Melted butter
Stack 2 sheets at a time and brush with melted butter. Cut the pastry into squares slightly larger than the diameter of muffin cups. Place pastry in muffin cups; spoon in batter. Follow muffin baking time, and bake until muffins are done. The pastry makes an edible lining for the muffins.
For miniature muffins, use pre-baked, frozen phyllo dough shells. Place shells on cookie sheet; spoon in batter. Bake until muffins are cooked.

Oatmeal Muffins
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
½ tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine egg, butter, brown sugar and buttermilk. In another bowl, mix oatmeal, flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to buttermilk mixture; stir just until moistened.
Bake in greased muffin tins about 20 minutes.

Buttery Muffins
¾ cup melted butter
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup sour cream
Combine butter, flour and sour cream in a bowl; mix well. Spoon into ungreased muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Cheese Buttery Muffins
Mix 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese into batter.

Bran Muffins with Dried Fruit
Can store batter in refrigerator a week.
1 cup finely chopped mixed dried fruit of choice
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup All Bran cereal
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ tsp. pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1 egg
1 cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
Combine fruit with enough boiling water to cover; let stand 5 minutes. Drain.
Stir together flour and next 5 ingredients. Whisk together egg, milk and oil; add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened. Fold in fruit. Spoon into greased muffin tins, filling ¾ full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Sweet Potato Muffins
1¼ cups cooked sweet potatoes, mashed
2 cups sugar
1¼ cups oil
4 eggs
3 cups flour
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Confectioners’ sugar, optional
Dash nutmeg, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, oil and eggs; mix well. Add flour and cinnamon, stirring until just moistened. Mix in raisins and nuts. Spoon into greased muffin cups, filling 3/4 full. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Cool slightly; dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar and nutmeg.

Pecan Pie Muffins
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
½ cup butter, melted
Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; make a well in center of mixture. Beat eggs until foamy. Stir together eggs and butter; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
Coat muffin tins (I use miniature muffin tins) with nonstick spray. Spoon batter into cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 degrees or until done. Remove from pans immediately; cool on wire racks.
Recipe is easy to double.

No Knead Yeast Muffins
1 pkg. yeast
2 cups warm water
1 ½ sticks butter or margarine, melted
¼ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
4 cups self-rising flour
Place yeast in warm water. Cream melted butter with sugar; add beaten egg. Add yeast and water, then flour. Drop batter into greased muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Can be stored tightly covered in refrigerator up to a week.

Easy Orange Muffins with Honey Spread
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
4 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 egg
1 tsp. grated orange peel, optional
2/3 cup orange juice
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Honey Spread
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine baking mix, 2 Tbsp. sugar, egg, orange peel and orange juice; beat about 30 seconds. Fill greased muffin cups about 2/3 full.
Combine remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle over top of muffins. Bake 15 minutes. Serve with Honey Spread.
Honey Spread
½ cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup honey
Beat butter and honey until fluffy.

Cappuccino Muffins and Espresso Spread
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
2½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. instant coffee granules
½ cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup miniature chocolate chips
Espresso Spread
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. instant coffee
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ cup miniature chocolate chips
In a food processor or blender, combine spread ingredients; process until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir in coffee and milk until coffee is dissolved. Add butter, egg and vanilla; mix well. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 17 to 20 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool for five minutes before removing to wire racks. Serve with spread. Makes 14 to 16 muffins.

Lemon Yogurt Muffins with Lemon Glaze
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. honey
2 eggs, room temperature
1¼ cups plain or lemon yogurt
¼ cup melted butter, cooled
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
Syrup Glaze
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. water
Combine dry ingredients; set aside. In a large bowl, mix remaining muffin ingredients. Stir in dry ingredients until just moistened. Spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees about 15 minutes.
While muffins bake, combine syrup glaze in small saucepan. Boil 1 minute. When muffins are done, pierce top of muffins 2 or 3 times with a fork. Drizzle 2 to 3 tsp. glaze over the muffin. Cool 3 minutes; remove from tins.

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