Saturday, May 31, 2008

Quinoa Muffins

A few months ago I picked up a box of quinoa. I didn’t know what it was or what I was going to do with it, but I’d been hearing a lot about it and figured I needed to get some. I found a lot of recipes for salad-type dishes that involved quinoa, and they all looked delicious, but I wanted to do something a little different. Then I got an issue of Everyday Food that included a recipe for quinoa muffins, and I knew where my new purchase was going to go.

In case you don’t know, quinoa is often used much like a grain, but these little guys are actually edible seeds. They naturally have a bitter-tasting coating and often come pre-rinsed. My box was labeled “pre-rinsed” but, since the recipe calls for a rinsing, I did it again anyway. The seeds are so small that they fell right through my strainer, so I soaked them in a bowl of water and then fished them out with my hands. If you have some cheesecloth handy, you’ll be in better shape than I was.

The rest of the recipe is really easy. It calls for oil instead of butter, which I love. I hate creaming butter. I'm too lazy to get out my mixer and I never remember to take the butter out of the fridge ahead of time. I’m very demanding and when I want a muffin, I want it now. Not 3 hours from now when the butter is soft.

So anyway, I’m really glad I found the recipe for these muffins. I love the bumpy textured top that the quinoa gives the muffins, and they’re really nice and moist inside. They are, however, a tad on the plain side. Next time I think I’ll play around with some spices, maybe cinnamon or nutmeg, but for now, some strawberry preserves will do just fine.

Quinoa Muffins
From Everyday Food
makes 12 muffins

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for pan
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, 11 to 13 minutes.

Meanwhile, brush a standard 12-cup muffin pan with oil; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, raisins, and 2 cups cooked quinoa; reserve any leftover quinoa for another use.

In a small bowl, whisk together oil, milk, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined; divide batter among prepared muffin cups.

Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 5 days.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lemon-Blueberry Mini Loaves

I bought some new toys last weekend at Crate and Barrel. I can never control myself in that store. They have the same standard stuff all the time, but somehow every time I’m there I find something new I have to have. This most recent time I picked up, among other things, a new citrus zester and a set of four mini loaf pans.

When you buy new toys you, of course, must find cause to use them right away. I knew immediately that I’d be making some mini loaves of bread, but I didn’t know what kind. I browsed through some recipes until I found one for Lemon Blueberry Bread. Perfect! I could use my new loaf pans and my new zester, not to mention those blueberries that had been sitting in my freezer, neglected, for far too long.

Truth be told, I often shy away from lemon-based recipes. I’ve had one too many dishes (and even made some myself) where the lemon zest was overpowering, and I really dislike that flavor. But I’m glad I went with this recipe. This bread is easy and delicious, and the lemon flavor is subtle yet bright. It’s pretty and tasty and makes a perfect light breakfast with a cup of tea.

Besides substituting frozen for fresh blueberries, I didn’t change much about this recipe. I did, however, adjust the baking time to accommodate four mini loaves, and I also decreased the baking temperature a bit because my pans have a dark finish. One other note: You might notice that the tops of the loaves are sort of shiny. That’s because, at the end, they were topped with a lemon-sugar glaze. It’s a tad sticky, but it’s finger-lickin’ good.

Lemon-Blueberry Mini Loaves
Adapted from Lemon Blueberry Bread
makes 4 mini loaves

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Lemon Glaze:
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (325 degrees for dark-finish pans) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter (or spray with a nonstick vegetable spray) the bottom and sides of four mini loaf pans (5.75"´3.25"´2.25"). Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until softened (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three additions) and milk (in two additions) alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Mix only until combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring the 1/3 cup of sugar and the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

When the bread is done, remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Pierce the hot loaves all over with a wooden skewer or toothpick, and then brush the tops of the loaves with the hot lemon glaze. Cool the loaves in the pans for about 30 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Easy Brussels Sprout Gratin

I’ve been thinking lately about seasonal recipes. In many respects, they’re fantastic. I’m very excited, for instance, about the fresh basil and strawberries of summer. But in other respects, seasonal recipes can be pretty limiting. I have two amazing pumpkin recipes that I’ve been dying to try, but a little voice in my head keeps saying, You cannot make pumpkin dishes in May. You must put those recipes on hold, hidden in a “November” file, where they must stay until they’re wanted.

You might call me insane. You might be right. But regardless of that, I do think it’s true that we have a habit of unnecessarily relegating certain recipes to a couple months per year. I mean, canned pumpkin is just as good now as it was six months ago, right?

Even so, I just can’t bring myself to make pumpkin fritters when everyone else is serving BBQ ribs and lemonade. But Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, are something I’m unable to resist. We normally don’t see these adorable little guys until Thanksgiving, but just last week I happened upon a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream. CI has this recipe in with its Christmas collection, but there was no way I could wait until December to make this dish. No. Way.

If you like cream and you like Brussels sprouts, you’ll love this recipe. But be warned: there’s lots of cream. That’s not a problem for me, but some of you may have significant others who are trying to lose weight and who complain that the vegetables you serve them are swimming in heavy cream. Ahem.

I followed the recipe exactly but, at the end, I topped it with a little something extra: a golden breadcrumb crust. Delicious! The golden crust is why I’m calling this a gratin, but, really, a traditional gratin is cooked in a béchamel or cheese sauce. You could certainly do that if you wanted to, but simmering the sprouts in cream is so fast and simple. The online version of this recipe requires you to have a subscription to CI, but if you don’t, don’t despair. I’m including the recipe below.

Easy Brussels Sprout Gratin
Adapted from Brussels Sprouts Braised in Cream

1 pound fresh small Brussels sprouts, rinsed, with stem ends and discolored leaves removed
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Ground black pepper
2 slices white bread, quartered
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat broiler.

Bring sprouts, cream, and salt to boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until a knife tip inserted into a sprout center meets no resistance, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in nutmeg and pepper.

Distribute sprouts between two individual gratin or baking dishes. Pulse bread slices in food processor to form fine crumbs, then toss crumbs with melted butter. Top dishes evenly with breadcrumb mixture, then set under broiler until topping is crunchy and golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Remove from oven. Baking dishes will be very hot, so allow to cool before serving.

Friday, May 23, 2008

BLAT Salad

I love a BLT. Mayo is sort of implied when you’re having a BLT, right? And any sandwich in which mayo is integral is okay by me. But have you ever had a BLAT? A BLAT is a BLT sandwich with avocado, and it’s delicious.

Would you believe that I used to think I didn’t like avocado? I must have had some bad guacamole, or something, and I automatically concluded that I didn’t like avocado. But then I had whipped avocado about a year ago at a restaurant, which was just pure avocado, maybe mixed with a bit of lime juice, and I realized, finally, how awesome avocado is. Now I try to incorporate it into as many meals as I can, and a BLAT salad was my most recent avocado-enhanced creation.

OK, I didn’t actually create this recipe. I found it on, but the avocado was my addition, thankyouverymuch. This salad has everything you’d find in a BLAT: lettuce, tomato, bacon, bread (in the form of croutons), and, my favorite touch, mayo (in the form of a basil-mayo dressing). You don’t normally find basil in a BLAT, but it’s really delicious in this dressing. All of the elements in this dish complement each other perfectly. It’s one of my favorite salads.

BLAT Salad
Adapted from BLT Salad with Basil-Mayo Dressing

1/2 pound bacon
1/2 loaf Italian bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Black pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 large heart romaine, chopped
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 ripe avocadoes, chopped and tossed with a couple squeezes of lemon or lime juice

Chop bacon into bite-size pieces and place in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in a small bowl, then drain most of the rest, leaving enough drippings in pan to thinly but evenly coat the bottom.

Add cubed bread to pan, still over medium heat. Toss to coat evenly with bacon drippings and cook until bread has reached the desired crunchiness for croutons, stirring frequently, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season with pepper to taste, then allow to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 tablespoons of reserved bacon drippings, mayonnaise, vinegar, and basil.

Divide chopped romaine between two plates, then top with tomatoes, bacon, and avocado. Scatter croutons over the top. Serve immediately with basil-mayo dressing.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Teeny Tiny Peanut-Butter-Cup Cheesecakes

Not too long ago, I saw Paula Deen make Peanut Butter Cheese Cake Minis. Has anyone seen this episode? Watching the show, I swear it looked like Paula used a mini-muffin pan, but the recipe calls for a standard-sized muffin pan. I was intent on trying to use the mini-sized tin, but my plans were on hold until I found some mini-muffin paper liners.

Finally, last weekend, at the farmer’s market, of all places, I found some mini-muffin-pan liners. I also found something else: teeny tiny peanut butter cups. Now, we’ve all seen the miniature Reese’s peanut butter cups, but these teeny tiny ones are even smaller than those. Observe:

That’s a miniature peanut butter cup with a teeny tiny one sitting on top. See how much smaller they are? I picked some up, thinking they might come in handy.

My initial plan was to use the miniature peanut butter cups and the mini muffin pan. The miniature PB cups do fit in the mini muffin pan; however, I found that my paper liners were a bit smaller than the cups of the pan, and that the PB cups were a tad large for the liners. I didn’t trust the recipe to work well without using the liners—I thought it would be too hard to get the cheesecakes out in one piece—so what I decided to do, finally, was use the mini-muffin pan, the paper liners, and the teeny tiny peanut butter cups.

This method worked out well. I got cute little bite-sized cheesecakes with a chocolate-peanut-butter surprise inside. I will say though that, because these peanut butter cups were so tiny, their flavor was very subtle, so you could use two or three per cup if you want a stronger chocolate-peanut-butter flavor.

I made 24 of these tiny cheesecakes and still had some batter left over, so I decide to make some more in the standard-muffin size. Instead of using a muffin tin, though, I used silicone baking cups from Crate and Barrel. These are great because they don’t need to be greased and, when the cheesecakes are done baking, you can leave them right in the silicone cups for as long as you want, and they keep things nice and tidy. Plus, of course, they’re reusable.

The taste? Pretty sweet and pretty good. Plus, you could change this up a million ways. I’m thinking this recipe would work well using Oreos for the crust instead of graham crackers and a Hershey kiss in the center instead of a peanut butter cup. Yum! If you come up with any other tasty combinations, let me know.

Teeny Tiny Peanut-Butter-Cup Cheesecakes
Adapted from Peanut Butter Cheese Cake Minis
Makes 36 tiny cheesecakes (cooked in a mini-muffin pan)

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted

36 teeny tiny peanut-butter cups*
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a paper cupcake liner in each cup of a mini-muffin pan.

For crust: In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until crumbs are moistened. Press about 1 scant teaspoon of crust into the bottom of each muffin cup. (You can use a shot glass to help pack the crumbs down. If the crumbs stick to the bottom of the glass, cover the glass with one of your paper liners.) Put 1 tiny peanut-butter cup into the center of each crust.

Beat cream cheese with a handheld electric mixer until fluffy. Combine sugar and flour in a bowl, then add to cream cheese, a little at a time, beating well. Add vanilla and then eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Spoon cream cheese mixture over peanut butter cups and graham cracker crusts. Bake until just set, about 13 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving.

*According to Candy Blog, you can find these at Trader Joe’s.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Noodle Love VI: Rotini

When I first saw Rachael Ray’s cauliflower mac-n-cheese, I had two thoughts. The first one was, Yum-o! (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist that.) The second one was, This reminds me a lot of Ina Garten’s cauliflower gratin, which I’ve made previously and really liked.

There are some fundamental differences between the two dishes. For one, the seasonings are different. Rachael's dish is seasoned with cayenne, paprika, and Dijon, whereas Ina’s dish features nutmeg. Rachael uses smoked Gouda, and Ina uses Gruyère. There’s also, obviously, the omission of noodles in Ina’s cauliflower gratin. Rachael’s recipe calls for cavatappi, but my store, much to my disappointment, has a pretty limited pasta selection and no cavatappi. I didn’t think elbows would work that well. I’d have to cut the cauliflower up pretty small to get it to be similar in size to the pasta, and I wanted to leave the cauliflower in larger chunks, like it is in Ina’s gratin.

What I finally settled on was the following: I went with Rachael’s seasonings (cayenne, paprika, Dijon) but used Ina’s cheese (Gruyère). I chose rotini for my noodles, because I thought they’d be about the right size, and their ruffly edges sort of remind me of the bumpy surface of the cauliflower. To finish the dish, I topped it with a fresh breadcrumb crust, just like in Ina’s recipe.

The end result was really good! I already want to make this again and experiment with the ingredients. I think a combination of cheddar and Gruyère might be good, and I’m also thinking I might try using nutmeg next time. Has anyone ever used nutmeg in a pasta dish before? I don’t think I have, and I’m intrigued by the idea.

Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese
adapted from Mac-n-Smoked Gouda with Cauliflower
3 servings

Coarse salt
1/2 pound rotini
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded Gruyère
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices white bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to season the cooking water, then add the pasta. Return to boil and cook for 3 minutes, then add the cauliflower and cook for 3 minutes more or until pasta is cooked to barely al dente and the florets are just tender. Drain well and return to the pot.

While the pasta cooks, heat a medium sauce pot over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons butter and heat until it melts. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes to sweat them out and turn the juices sweet. Raise the heat to medium, then whisk in the flour, cayenne, and paprika. Whisk together until the roux bubbles up, then cook for 1 minute more. Add the milk and, whisking frequently, bring the sauce to a quick boil. Once it bubbles, drop the heat back to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens, a couple minutes more.

Add the cheese to the thickened sauce and stir to melt it, a minute or so. Stir in the mustard and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Combine the sauce with the pasta and cauliflower and then transfer to a greased shallow baking dish.

Remove crusts from bread and pulse bread to fine crumbs in food processor. Melt the remaining two tablespoons of butter and toss with breadcrumbs to distribute evenly. Scatter breadcrumb topping evenly over cauliflower mac-n-cheese, then bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and topping is golden brown.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm Back!

So I’m back from my wine-tasting weekend in Shenandoah Valley. I’ve been looking through my pictures and just noticed that, though I took a lot, I don’t have that many pictures of the actual wineries. Which is strange, but kind of makes sense if you’ve been to a winery. They’re sort of dark inside, so you’d need to use your flash, and I guess I just didn’t want to draw attention to myself as everyone was enjoying their wine. Instead, I took pictures outside the wineries—see the flower pot above and the weather vane below.

I had the same issue with the restaurants I went to. On Friday evening Adam and I had dinner at The Joshua Wilton House, and the setting was candle-lit, quiet, and on the formal side. I had a beautiful meal—pork loin with panzanella, all drizzled with a delicious strawberry glaze—and I was dying to take pictures of it, but I didn’t think I was supposed to. I mean, I don’t know, what’s picture-taking etiquette? Have any of you ever whipped out your camera at a fancy restaurant?

There was one place, though, where I didn’t restrain my urge to take pictures. We had lunch one afternoon at Edinburg Antiques and Tea Rooms, which is an adorable little place where you can get some proper English tea and other assorted goodies, and Adam and I had our own little table in a private room, so I let my trigger (camera) finger run wild.

We had scones with strawberry preserves and clotted cream, along with assorted tea sandwiches, and the best Earl Grey tea either of us has ever tasted.

The tea sandwiches were ham, chicken curry, and, of course, cucumber.

I’m a sucker for tiny sandwiches and cute dishes, so I really liked this place—you might be able to guess that from all the pictures.

Aside from all the wining and dining, we did a bit of shopping as well. There was a farmer’s market where we stopped and loaded up on homemade goodies for the pantry, and, as luck would have it, there’s a book fair going on in the area right now, as well. Of course, I went right to the cookbooks. I got two hardcover “The Best of Gourmet” books (2002 and 2005), both with a list price of $40.00, for—are you ready?—$6.00 each! I was like a kid in a candy store. I also picked up a reprint edition of the original 1903 Good Housekeeping Everyday Cook Book for just $1.99!

This book is almost as much an instruction manual for domesticity as it is a cookbook, and I’m looking forward to some amusing reading with this one. Here’s a taste of what’s inside: “I have found in my teaching that only the pupils who do not know how to wash them properly dislike the washing of dishes. When I hear a young lady say, ‘I hate to wash dishes,’ I know she is not a trained worker and does not know the best ways of doing things.” So there you go. If you think you don’t like washing dishes, you just don’t know how to do it right! If you suffer from this condition, I recommend picking up a copy of this book. It has a whole section devoted to the fine art of dish washing.

So, as much as I loved the shopping and the drinking, and as quiet and beautiful as was the setting, it’s still good to be home. I missed my cat and my own bed, and I haven’t cooked anything in days! It’s time to get to work on that. Plus, I have 14 bottles of wine to work my way through. Cheers!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Three-Pepper Chicken Chili

It's been four days since my last post, and I've been trying to post something all week. I've had a busy week though. I am not a person who normally leads a hectic life, but the last few days have left me with no time left over for blogging. I've had deadlines at work and things that needed to be taken care of at home, and everything has to be settled before I leave town this weekend (I'll be spending a long weekend wine-tasting in Shenandoah Valley--yay!). So I won't be posting over the weekend, either. And yet, with all my stressful franticness of the past week, would you believe that, through it all, I kept thinking, I need to write a blog post before I leave for the weekend!

It sounds so silly, but I guess I realized that this little web-space of mine has become part of my daily (or semi-daily) existence, and I hate to leave it neglected. And I hate the thought of people checking my page (I know there are a couple of you out there who do!) and seeing the same tired content for a week straight. So finally—finally—I'm setting some time aside to post.

Last night I came home late from work and got started making some chili. I actually wasn't even hungry--I was too exhausted to have much of an appetite--but it was on the schedule (yes, I keep a meal schedule) and I'd already defrosted the chicken, so I got to cooking. I made Ina's Chicken Chili, which has been on my list forever, patiently waiting its turn, and finally came up in the queue. The Recipe Girl recently made this dish and it turned out fabulously. She served hers up with some chips for scooping—a very delicious idea. I served mine over rice with cornbread on the side.

I don’t know if anyone else has ever eaten their chili over rice, but it's pretty common in my family and sometimes that's what I'll be in the mood for. It's very tasty and pretty budget-friendly, too, as it lets you take a pot of chili and stretch it even further.

I changed the recipe very little, but I did add a seeded, minced jalapeno, hence the “three-pepper” part of the title. I’d like to write out the whole modified version for you, but I have bags to pack and dinner to cook, so I’m going to have to be quick. I sautéed boneless skinless breasts instead of roasting bone-in chicken, just to save time, and I cut out some of the liquid from the canned tomatoes to make the chili a bit chunkier. While the chili was simmering I baked the corn muffins and made the rice. I sautéed a shallot in a bit of butter in a pan before adding the rice and chicken stock (instead of water). When everything was finished I added some rice to a bowl, ladled the chili over the stop, sprinkled it with shredded cheddar and sliced scallions, and tucked a corn muffin along the side. Very filling, very warming. You can get the detailed recipe here.

OK, I’m off. Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Cheddar-Sausage Corn Muffins, Spicy or Sweet

I found this recipe for cheddar-sausage muffins a while ago. Sounds good, right? Somehow, either in reading this recipe or remembering it, I thought it was for cheddar-sausage corn muffins. So when I went to make these yesterday morning and realized that there was no form of corn anywhere to be found in the recipe, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I’d been thinking “corn muffin” for so long that I really wasn’t in the mood for anything else, but I didn’t know off the top of my head how to make a corn muffin. Nor did I feel like cleaning my hands, going to my computer, and finding another recipe. I have some corn flour in the pantry, and I was wondering whether simply substituting that for the regular flour called for would have given me a proper corn muffin. Anyone know? I suspect probably not. See, this is why I don’t bake more often.

I happened to have some Jiffy corn muffin mix in the pantry, which I like to keep around for just such emergencies. So I got it out, made it according to package instructions, and then added my sausage and cheese. I tossed in some chopped scallions, too, for freshness and color.

But I didn’t stop there. I knew these muffins would be good, but I wanted to see if I could make them even better. Some kind of jazzed-up butter, I thought. Adam likes things spicy, and I like them sweet, so I finally settled on two different butters: a roasted poblano butter and, my favorite, honey butter. I really liked this idea, because it allowed me to take the same muffin and enjoy it two different ways. And, as an added bonus, I used some of the leftover poblano butter to cook up some home fries this morning. Fabulous.

I served these muffins for breakfast, but I think they’d also be great as a side dish to a Mexican meal. I used breakfast sausage and sharp cheddar, but these would also be good with, say, some fresh andouille or chorizo and Monterey or pepper jack cheese. Yum!

Cheddar-Sausage Corn Muffins with Spicy and Sweet Butters

Makes 8 muffins

1 8.5-oz package Jiffy corn mix (or your favorite corn muffin recipe)
1/2 pound sausage, cooked and crumbled into small pieces
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare corn muffin mix according to package instructions (you’ll need one egg and 1/3 cup of milk). Add sausage, cheese, and scallion, and stir until just combined.

Grease 8 cups of a standard-size muffin tin. Distribute batter among greased cups. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until muffins are cooked through and edges begin to turn golden brown.

Honey Butter

1/2 stick butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons honey

Add ingredients to food processor, and pulse until thoroughly combined.

Roasted Poblano Butter

1 small poblano pepper
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
Juice of 1/2 lime

Heat broiler. When hot, please poblano, on a pan, on top shelf beneath broiler. Roast for 5 minutes, then turn pepper and roast for 5 minutes more, until pepper is blackened on all sides.

Place pepper in a small paper bag, closed tightly, for about ten minutes or until cool enough to handle. This allows the steam to loosen the skin. When cool, remove pepper from bag and gently remove blacked skins. Remove stem and seeds.

Chop pepper roughly and place in a food processor with softened butter and lime juice. Pulse until pepper is chopped in small pieces and evenly distributed through butter.

Note: You can use the same processor that you used for the honey butter, without washing it. Just scrape as much honey butter as you can from the food processor before beginning. I wouldn’t, however, recommend using the same processor to make the honey butter after the poblano butter. The pepper flavor may linger.