By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
If you have been laying low on muffin making lately, home decor experts have lots of suggestions for those empty tins as dividers of goodies. Keep your jewelry separated, like rings, pins, and earrings, or your office supplies, like paper clips and thumbtacks, or your mending items, like spools of threads and buttons.
However, maybe it's just your muffin recipes that need mending. Lately, I've reclaimed my tins, but my baking has been minus the muffins. Just like as a holder for buttons or earrings, muffin tins can provide delicious alternatives to muffins, saving time in the process as a perfect shaper of multiple single-servings.
To spur your imagination, the following are a few of my favorites. Ingredients, unless specified, are to taste. Always grease muffin tins well.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for preparing homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since these are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations. They can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
Whisk eggs with turmeric, cardamom, freshly ground black pepper and salt; set aside. Finely mince at least two vegetables of choice, such as mushrooms, carrots, bell peppers, spinach or broccoli. Fill bottom eighth of greased muffin tins with vegetable mixture. Fill muffin cups to two-thirds full with egg mixture and generously top with grated sharp cheddar cheese. Bake in preheated 375 F oven for 12-15 minutes, until eggs are fully cooked.
CHICKEN SALAD BY THE CUP
In addition to muffin tin cups being greased, press in wonton wrappers (along the bottom and up sides of tins) and spray the wrappers lightly with nonstick canola oil cooking spray. Bake in preheated 350 F oven for 3-5 minutes, until crisp and browned, but careful not to burn. Let cool. Fill with mixture of chopped cooked chicken breast, finely chopped celery, mandarin orange chunks, minced scallions, chopped cashews, and balsamic vinaigrette.
Cut crust from toasted cinnamon-raisin whole-wheat bread and press one-half slice each into greased muffin tins. Place a dollop of crunchy peanut butter and all-fruit strawberry spread into each and repeat toasted bread and peanut butter and fruit spread layering twice. Sprinkle flaked coconut on top. Place in preheated 350 F oven 3 minutes or until warm.
Press crumbled whole-grain crackers in greased muffin tins. Add a mixture of grated cheeses, bought for convenience in pre-shredded mixed packs or hand grated. Top with chopped green and black olives. Place in 375 F preheated oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is completely melted. Let muffin tins cool enough to touch. Serve from muffin tins as a warm dip for raw vegetables.
Shelly Westerhausen and Wyatt Worcel are excellent at brainstorming. They've come up with platter after platter that can make you look good with barely any effort. Platters and Boards: Beautiful, Casual Spreads for Every Occasion ensures that quick arranging is your expertise, rather than lengthy cooking times. This can be as intimate as a "breakfast-in-bed" board for your sweetheart or as public as a dinner party for eight eagerly grabbed by each guest from an elegant platter. Other occasions might call for a taste test, like various pickles or creatively filled deviled eggs. Visualizing your final results is no problem thanks to the colorful, mouthwatering photography.
Lisa Messinger at Creators Syndicate is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.