Southern Tradition: Comforting Food

The term “comfort food” has become a popular topic lately. Comfort foods consist of those heartwarming recipes we remember from our childhood. A hearty soup, chicken and dumplings, chili and cornbread and many others that seem to soothe our souls after a hectic day.

But, I’m thinking about something a little different – the Southern tradition of sharing food with those we love. Food you take to a neighbor or friend who is going through a rough patch or perhaps someone who would appreciate a warm comforting meal. These may be the same things we refer to as comfort food, but could also be something you know to be a favorite food or a new recipe you want to share. In this case, it’s really then about bringing comfort to someone’s life.

The options are endless. Chicken dishes are always a good choice. I think about my mother’s chicken pie made with her wonderfully flaky homemade crust. If you want something a little simpler to make, but with the same satisfying flavor, Easy Pickin’ Chicken Pie is for you. Frozen vegetables, a can of soup and an easy buttery pour batter crust simplify the preparation.

Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins
Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins

The food you choose to share doesn’t have to be a main dish to be appreciated. Warm blueberry muffins with a cheesecake topping are hit by using this recipe Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins. Taking the time to visit when delivering your muffins will make your thoughtfulness even more appreciated.

Scratch or Shortcut Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin quick breads like loaves and muffins are certainly a holiday favorite, but pumpkin has become a go-to muffin flavor all year round. The addition of pumpkin to any bread adds a depth of flavor and creates a dense moist texture. Canned pumpkin is convenient and works well in these recipes.

Perfect for a snack or breakfast treat, muffins are quick and easy to make from scratch or a mix. Here are a few tips to assure delicious muffins every time.

  • Standard method for scratch muffins is: mix dry ingredients in one bowl; mix liquids in another. Pour liquid into dry. Mix only until dry ingredients are moistened. Do not over mix as it causes toughness.
  • Use shiny muffin pans, if available. Dark pans absorb heat, browning more on the bottom than on the top. For dark pans, reduce original temperature by 25°F.
  • Spray pan with no-stick cooking spray or line with paper liners.
  • Using an ice cream scoop simplifies filling cups.

Here are three delicious pumpkin muffin recipes you can make all year long.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins are made from scratch with self-rising flour. Press a cube of cream cheese into batter and sprinkle with streusel topping. Delicious!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins, made with chocolate chip muffin mix, are dressed-up with pumpkin, cinnamon and pecans.

Pumpkin and Sausage Corn Muffins are made with Sweet Yellow Cornbread Mix, pumpkin and cooked sausage –  a delicious sweet and savory twist.

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Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Oatmeal Adds Comfort to Fall Baking

During the cool weather months, my mother would occasionally serve steaming bowls of warm oatmeal with plump raisins, sprinkled with brown sugar and drizzled with a little milk. That bowl of oatmeal was the perfect start to the day.

The whole-grain flavor and texture of oats not only make a comforting breakfast, but add a subtle heartiness to fall baked goods. As we move into fall and cooler weather, light refreshing summer foods are replaced by more comforting flavors. Oats not only add hearty flavor and texture, but hold moisture making moist and satisfying baked goods.

Our minds naturally go to the classic oatmeal cookie. If you’re looking to switch up the classic recipe, try combining the flavors of an old-fashioned peanut butter cookie and oatmeal. Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies are made from scratch, but are not hard to put together. Love the addition of salted peanuts if you’re looking for a little extra crunch or use crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy peanut butter.

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Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

If you prefer a shortcut vs. scratch cookie recipe, Easy Cowboy Cookies are made with a convenient Martha White® Chocolate Chip Muffin Mix and are a breeze to make. The combination of chocolate, oatmeal and pecans puts a twist on the classic.

Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins
Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins

And for a heart-warming school day breakfast treat, try this Oatmeal Applesauce Muffin recipe. By adding oats, applesauce and raisins or dried cranberries to a Martha White® Apple Cinnamon Flavored Muffin Mix, you’ll have a batch of warm muffins out of the oven in no time.

Make Blueberry Muffins from Scratch or Take a Shortcut

On several blogs, we’ve talked about similar recipes – one made from scratch and one that gets a head start with a convenient muffin mix. The recipe you choose may be determined by your cooking skill or simply the amount of time you have that day.

Homemade Blueberry Muffins

Today I want to share with you a recipe for Homemade Blueberry Muffins. Although it requires measuring out a few ingredients, self-rising flour actually simplifies this recipe. If you happen to have fresh or frozen blueberries, you probably have all the ingredients on hand.

This recipe is made by the easy classic muffin method:

  • Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl
  • Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the dry ingredients are moistened

The batter will be slightly lumpy, but that’s OK. Overmixing makes the muffins tough.

Blueberry White Chocolate Macadamia Muffins

For our shortcut recipe, I’ve chosen the delicious Blueberry White Chocolate Macadamia Muffins. It’s simple – make the mix according to the package directions. Stir in white baking chips and salted macadamias. Bake muffins according to package directions.  Let cool completely and drizzle melted white chocolate over the muffin tops.

If you want to make muffins from scratch with white chocolate and macadamias, you may certainly add the chips and nuts to the scratch batter and drizzle with the topping as directed in the muffin mix recipe. With either recipe, you’ll have delicious muffins for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack.

Mini Jalapeno Popper Muffins

The following post was written by our friend, Tina at Mommy’s Kitchen.

This time of year I’m always on the hunt for easy appetizers or finger foods. Whether you’re entertaining for a party or throwing a last minute get-together, portable appetizers are always a must.  These Mini Jalapeno Popper Muffins are the perfect little bite size appetizer and crowd-pleaser. If you’re a fan of Jalapeno Poppers then you’re going to love this recipe.

Fresh jalapenos, cheddar cheese, and cream cheese baked inside mini cornbread muffins. These tasty little muffins have everything you love about traditional jalapeno poppers, but in a corn muffin form. If you like things a little spicy, try using the Martha White Mexican Style Cornbread & Muffin Mix. Either way you will want to make a double batch, so there’s plenty to go around. Let’s get started on this easy appetizer.

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Ingredients needed: one packet Martha White Sweet Yellow Cornbread & Muffin Mix, milk, one egg, shredded cheddar or Colby jack cheese, cream cheese, 2-3 fresh jalapeno peppers.

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions, adding the milk and egg. Using a wooden spoon lightly mix to combine. Add the chopped jalapenos and shredded cheddar cheese to the cornbread batter, and mix until blended.

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Using a one inch cookie scoop or a spoon, add one tablespoon of cornbread batter to each mini muffin cup. Press one cream cheese cube into the batter, and cover with additional cornbread batter until muffin cups are 2/3 full. Bake 10 – 14 minutes or until the muffins are cooked and lightly golden brown on top. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then using a small offset spatula loosen the edges and remove muffins.

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Mini Jalapeno Popper (Cornbread) Muffins

Ingredients:
1 – 6 oz packet Martha White Sweet Yellow Cornbread & Muffin Mix
1/2 – cup milk
1 – Egg
2 – 3 – fresh whole jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1 – Cup cheddar or Colby jack cheese, shredded
6 – Oz cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin pan with non stick spray and set aside. Prepare cornbread mix according to package directions, adding the milk and egg. Using a wooden spoon lightly mix to combine.

Add the chopped jalapenos and shredded cheddar cheese to the cornbread batter, and mix until blended.

Using a one inch cookie scoop or a spoon, add one tablespoon of cornbread batter to each mini muffin cup.

Press one cream cheese cube into the batter, and cover with additional cornbread batter until muffin cups are 2/3 full.

Bake 10 – 14 minutes or until the muffins are cooked and lightly golden brown on top. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then using a small offset spatula loosen the edges and remove muffins.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Yields: 12 mini muffin poppers

Recipe source: www.mommyskitchen.net

 

 

Baking with Grains, Fruits and Nuts

An easy shortcut to help speed up the baking process is to dress up a convenient muffin mix. You can create your own signature muffins to fit your family’s tastes by simply throwing in a variety of compatible ingredients. Feel free to add anything to the basic batter that does not contain a lot of moisture.

I’m thrilled we have so many options for grains, dried fruits and nuts these days. I remember the great natural food revolution of the 1950’s and 60’s! It was the beginning of current food trends and responsible for the availability of many natural foods.

Martha White® offers several muffin flavors that blend well with grains, dried fruits and nuts. The Honey Bran, Apple Cinnamon Flavored, Apple Cider Flavored, Banana Nut Flavored and Sweet Potato muffin mixes all lend themselves to the addition of these natural ingredients.

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If you like bran, Loaded Honey Bran is a great recipe for you. Full of wheat germ, seeds and dried fruit, this is a good recipe to tailor to your own taste. Oatmeal is another wonderful ingredient for imparting natural flavor and texture. Oatmeal Applesauce Muffins may be made with either of the apple flavored muffin mixes. Or, if you like to make muffins from scratch, Homemade Oat and Apricot Muffins are delicious.

Homemade Oat and Apricot Muffins

Do you have any great ideas for adding natural flavor to your baking? If so, I would love to hear from you!

Quick Muffin Treats Anytime

The thought of muffins usually reminds us of breakfast, but muffins are so versatile.   Here are some tips for quick and easy ways to serve muffins any time of the day.

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Not Just for Breakfast

Muffins are an easy, portable anytime treat. Here are some ideas for serving muffins for meals other than breakfast.

  • A warm fruit muffin adds a nice twist when served with chicken, turkey or fruit salad for lunch.
  • Add a muffin to a sack or picnic lunch for a fun treat.
  • Mini-muffins make a perfect addition to a basket of assorted breads for brunch, lunch or dinner.
  • After school, at bedtime or anytime, muffins are a welcome snack.
  • Slice, butter and toast fresh or leftover muffins under the broiler to serve with dinner.

 

Spread the Joy

With a few pre-made spreads, it’s easy to put a new twist on the traditional muffin – making them perfect for breakfast or an after dinner treat / party snack.

  • Serve warm banana nut or chocolate chip muffins spread with peanut butter at breakfast.
  • Spread muffins with a swirl of prepared frosting for a quick party idea. Try vanilla frosting on strawberry muffins, cream cheese frosting on blueberry or chocolate frosting on banana nut muffins.
  • Plain, soft cream cheese is the perfect complement to strawberry, blueberry, wildberry or banana nut muffins. Try strawberry cream cheese on chocolate chip muffins for a rich flavor.
  • For a delectable flavor combination, try spreading raspberry jam on a warm chocolate chip muffin.

Quick and Easy PB&J Muffins are a great recipe for a snack or lunchbox treat by simply adding a few ingredients to the batter and topping with peanut butter.

Do you have any quick muffin treats you would like to share?

Stay tuned for more easy ways to serve muffins.