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Muffins to savor

PAM ANDERSON | 9/24/2009, 10:55 a.m.

USA WEEKEND Food

A big salad, a hearty bowl of soup -- even yet another baked chicken breast -- becomes special when it's sided by one of these savory muffins in three flavors. Or maybe you need something different for a party nibble: Just bake in mini-muffin tins and pass the treats at your next gathering. Contributing Editor Pam Anderson is the author of five cookbooks. Her latest is "The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight & Eating Great" (Houghton Mifflin, $35).Ingredients:

Flavor ingredients (below)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tb. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 tsps. sugar

10 Tbs. butter, softened

1 Tb. Dijon mustard

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

Directions: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position. heat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare flavorings. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Whisk mustard and eggs together, then beat into butter until pea-sized lumps form. Alternating by thirds, Beat in the dry ingredients and the yogurt until a smooth, very thick batter just forms. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with 1/2-cup capacity (or four mini-muffin tins) with vegetable cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among the cups. (A spring-action regular or mini ice cream scoop works well. The muffin cups will be full.) Bake until muffins are golden brown. Cool slightly in pan(s) set on a wire rack. Remove muffins and serve.Creamy, Zesty & Tangy

Add 1 cup crumbled goat cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces) and 1 Tb. minced fresh rosemary to dry ingredientsand 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives to liquid ingredients.

Mediterranean

Add 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 1/2 ounces) and 1 Tb. dried oregano to dry ingredients and 1/2 cup drained, chopped sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil to liquid ingredients.

Italian Flavor Punch

Add 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces), 1/2 cup minced prosciutto (about 2 ounces) and 1 Tb. dried basil to dry ingredients.

COOKING TIME: 25 minutes for large muffins, 10-12 minutes for mini-muffins

SERVINGS: Makes 12 large muffins or 48 mini-muffinsItalian PER LARGE MUFFIN: 272 calories, 10g protein, 28g carbohydrates, 13g fat (8g saturated), 71mg cholesterol, 1g fiber, 662mg sodium

PER MINI MUFFIN: 68 calories, 3g protein, 7g carbohydrates, 3g fat (2g saturated), 18mg cholesterol, 0g fiber, 165mg sodium

Goat Cheese PER LARGE MUFFIN: 296 calories, 10g protein, 28g carbohydrates, 16g fat (9g saturated), 72mg cholesterol, 1g fiber, 608mg sodium

PER MINI MUFFIN: 74 calories, 2g protein, 7g carbohydrates, 4g fat (2g saturated), 18mg cholesterol, 0g fiber, 152mg sodium

Mediterranean PER LARGE MUFFIN: 275 calories, 8g protein, 29g carbohydrates, 14g fat (8g saturated), 72mg cholesterol, 1g fiber, 627mg sodium

PER MINI MUFFIN: 69 calories, 2g protein, 7g carbohydrates, 4g fat (2g saturated), 18mg cholesterol, 0g fiber, 157mg sodium

TIP: Be sure to check the capacity of your muffin pan's cups. Some are smaller than the 1/2-cup size called for in this recipe.